The Masters of War

Despite the opposition of most of the world, the united states and united kingdom have subjugated, at least temporarily, the residents of iraq. Of course, as was the case in the american-led war against serbia several years back, most of the claims that were initially used to justify the invasion have proven to be false. There were no smallpox stores. The baathists had no ties to al-Qaeda. The old iraqi government had no capability to attack the united states, britain, or anybody else for that matter except some of its own subjects. It did not buy nuclear materials from niger. There is no evidence of any chemical or biological weapons program conducted by the military. In other words, the case for war was built on lies.

Once they were found out, however, the american and british governments decided that the real reason for the invasion was their desire to liberate iraqi people from an oppressive government. But, just as was done last year in afghanistan, the invaders have replaced one nasty and brutish government with another, after killing thousands of innocent people. The occupiers have declared a group of their puppets as the new government and have stifled any attempts by non-compliant iraqis to form any alternative structures that might challenge their power. They imprison 4400 people they call “security detainees,” who are denied even the limited “rights” granted to official prisoners of war. American soldiers bully, harass, arrest, and kill iraqi civilians who do not obey quickly enough. They invade people’s homes, tie up innocent people, and confiscate their weapons and savings. They shoot at journalists and wedding celebrants. Their kurdish allies expel arabs from their homes in villages around Kirkuk. Religious bigots are free to intimidate women into wearing head coverings and staying off the streets. American agents are rewriting the history books used in iraqi schools to reflect the occupiers’ version of recent history. Corporations whose owners and managers are friends of our rulers are making big money rebuilding a country whose businesses, utilities, and health care services were destroyed by sanctions, constant bombings, and outright war conducted for over a decade by american and british politicians. And then americans wonder why so many residents of iraq seem ungrateful and resistance to the military occupation continues.

After posing as liberators, american troops have shown their true nature. They are conquerors as surely as any other imperial military has ever been. They disarm any locals who do not demonstrate sufficient loyalty to the new regime. They intentionally kill peaceful demonstrators. They “accidentally” kill non-combatants simply going about their lives, and recently slaughtered a group of iraqi police officers trained by americans, shooting up a hospital in the process. They occupy hotels and government palaces and swim in the indoor pools of former rulers, while leaving their new subjects without adequate power, clean water, or medical care.

The “independent” american news media, in general, do their best to portray the occupiers in a positive light, while portraying the opposition as evil religious or “saddamite” zealots. No serious criticism is raised when united states troops use enriched uranium weapons that result in disease and death among non-combatants, slaughter civilians with “misplaced” aerial bombs, or kill motorists who fail to stop when ordered to do so. And no mention is made that the united states military itself possesses vast stores of precisely the “weapons of mass destruction” whose purported possession by the former iraqi government was used to justify the invasion in the first place.

In addition to frank cheerleading for the war, the newspapers, magazines, and TV news anchors choose their language carefully in order to encourage their readers and listeners to look favorably on united states military operations, and harshly at any iraqis who resist or simply do not follow commands. Heroic american soldiers carry out raids.   But iraqi “terrorists” “ambush” occupying troops. American administrators living and working in comfort in buildings confiscated from the former rulers are portrayed as do-gooders, while iraqi civilians who have started a private transportation service in Baghdad with buses the former government bought with money they stole from their subjects, are called “looters.” Iraqis trying to make a quick buck from selling oil on the black market are accused of responsibility for power shortages in Basra, while the destruction of much of iraq’s oil industry and other infrastructure during the continuous american bombing and embargo from the early nineties on is seldom mentioned. Needless to say, the reporters who were “embedded” with the troops are only too happy to listen to whatever they are told by their masters, sometimes reporting complete lies, like the whole fairy tale about Jessica Lynch’s capture and rescue.

While news media coverage has helped convince most americans to support the war and occupation, patriotic supporters of this bloody business should consider what the reaction of the american colonists would have been had some other nation decided to “liberate” them instead of letting them do it themselves. The revolutionaries would not have rolled over and played dead had france defeated the british colonial authorities, instituted a government that they believed best suited the needs of americans, and disarmed the militias. Instead they would have fought the french occupiers, just as so many iraqis are now waging a guerrilla war against the american and british invaders.

In afghanistan, too, where the occupiers have had more time to impose their will, armed resistance to the invaders and their governors of choice continues, as do challenges to the authority of the american-backed government in Kabul. Of course, the united states and afghan governments and their devotees in the news media label resistance fighters terrorists and rival politicians warlords. But none of this alters the fact that people in afghanistan, like those in iraq, do not appreciate being murdered and bullied by americans and their afghan servants any more than they enjoyed the predations of the former tyrants.

Of course the fact that the locals in these two countries continue to demonstrate their contempt for their new masters is unlikely to deter further meddling by united states politicians in the affairs of other countries. Aroused by their recent victories, the american warlords are now making threatening noises directed at north korea, iran, and syria, and ratcheting up the economic war against cuba. It is no wonder the despots in Tehran and Pyongyang, after witnessing what happened in afghanistan and iraq, are interested in acquiring nuclear weapons. It should be obvious to any thinking person that the willingness of the american military to bomb and invade any country it feels it can defeat rather easily serves to promote the proliferation of advanced weapons among countries that rightly perceive themselves to be on the hit list of the american government.

The rulers of the united states have taken advantage of their war to launch an assault on our limited domestic freedoms as well. The government has arrogated to itself the power to monitor what we read, where we travel, and what we say in meetings. Utilizing their increased powers under the patriot act, federal agents have carried out hundreds of buggings and surveillance operations and have visited a number of libraries and mosques to snoop around. They refuse to identify prisoners accused of terrorism and deny them access to lawyers or any other semblance of “due process.” People are secretly detained without charges as “material witnesses. Immigrants are being tricked into registering with government agencies and then deported. A judge recently imprisoned someone for creating an “anarchist” website with links to information on bombs, an area of study the government apparently considers its exclusive domain. While Ashcroft dismisses its critics as hysterics, the (in)justice department is seeking to expand the scope of the patriot act, even as the transportation security administration plans to implement a color-coding scheme for air travelers to advise screeners who can and can’t fly and who should be harassed even more than the run-of the-mill flyer. And this is all somehow supposed to preserve the freedoms which “our” enemies supposedly hate.

The former despots in iraq and afghanistan were brutal murderers, who are mourned by few but their families and cronies. And it will be a welcome event when the people in korea (both north and south), iran, and syria find the wherewithal to send their own nasty rulers packing. But that is a task for the residents of these countries, not foreign invaders who will simply come in and set up new tyrannies, albeit ones friendlier to the conquerors.

The best outcome of all, in the view of this anarchist, would be for people all over the world who are oppressed and robbed by governments and their corporate buddies to throw out their rulers and not simply replace them with new, more liberal or democratic ones. Abolishing government and the principle of force in human relations in the only method of instituting and preserving individual freedom of thought, action, and association. But such an outcome requires a complete change in the way most people view the world. Until individual people everywhere come to believe that they themselves are the best, and only, ones suited to make decisions affecting their lives, interests, and activities, the world will remain mired in wars and infested by governments and rulers-in-waiting.

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