Friday, July 14, 2006

"Action itself is an inherent good"

Ron Suskind's interpretation of the rationale for Dick Cheney's "One Percent Doctrine." The basis of that doctrine was the abandonment of responsibility in the name of taking total responsibility, but notice the subtle move in it: the idea that even a 1% chance that Iraq had WMD was enough reason to go to war, because the responsibility for being "weak" was not acceptable. In the name of being responsible, in other words, the government must behave irresponsibly. Of course, as Suskind says: "It was a global experiment in behavior modification. That’s what it was. And that was the real thinking." But here's the problem with even that analysis: the scientist is never responsible for what happens to the lab rats. And in this "experiment," the people of the world are clearly held to be lab rats.

Too extreme? Consider the attitude of Donald Rumsfeld:

In his in-flight remarks to reporters, Rumsfeld emphasized the importance of an Iraqi political reconciliation.

"It's as much a political task as anything," he said. "They're going to have to engage in a reconciliation process" between Sunni and Shiite groups, including the Shiite militias that are engaging in acts of intimidation and violence in the Baghdad area, he said.

He said he could not predict how long that process would take.

Asked what the reconciliation process will entail, he said it would boil down to the Iraqis convincing as many people as possible to support the new government. "Anyone that doesn't want to, they're going to have to go find and do something about — that's what I mean," he said.

"We're at a point now where the security situation depends as much on the reconciliation process" and the strengthening of government ministries, including the justice system, he said. "Success in those areas will determine the success from a security standpoint. They have a big job."
Notice any acceptance of responsibility there for what the US has done? For how this situation came about in the first place? For crying havoc and letting slip the dogs of war?

No; neither did I.

Reconciliation is impossible without acceptance of responsibility by all parties involved. And that means accepting responsibility not just for unleashing people like Steve Green on Iraq (which he did indirectly, if not directly, in a war that has proven to have no justification at all). Just to be clear, this is the country we are talking about:

The day before yesterday was catastrophic. The day began with news of the killings in Jihad Quarter. According to people who live there, black-clad militiamen drove in mid-morning and opened fire on people in the streets and even in houses. They began pulling people off the street and checking their ID cards to see if they had Sunni names or Shia names and then the Sunnis were driven away and killed. Some were executed right there in the area. The media is playing it down and claiming 37 dead but the people in the area say the number is nearer 60.

The horrific thing about the killings is that the area had been cut off for nearly two weeks by Ministry of Interior security forces and Americans. Last week, a car bomb was set off in front of a 'Sunni' mosque people in the area visit. The night before the massacre, a car bomb exploded in front of a Shia husseiniya in the same area. The next day was full of screaming and shooting and death for the people in the area. No one is quite sure why the Americans and the Ministry of Interior didn't respond immediately. They just sat by, on the outskirts of the area, and let the massacre happen.

People are staying in their homes in the area and no one dares enter it so the wakes for the people who were massacred haven't begun yet. I haven't seen his family yet and I'm not sure I have the courage or the energy to give condolences. I feel like I've given the traditional words of condolences a thousand times these last few months, "Baqiya ib hayatkum… Akhir il ahzan…" or "May this be the last of your sorrows." Except they are empty words because even as we say them, we know that in today's Iraq any sorrow- no matter how great- will not be the last.

There was also an attack yesterday on Ghazaliya though we haven't heard what the casualties are. People are saying it's Sadr's militia, the Mahdi army, behind the killings. The news the world hears about Iraq and the situation in the country itself are wholly different. People are being driven out of their homes and areas by force and killed in the streets, and the Americans, Iranians and the Puppets talk of national conferences and progress.

It's like Baghdad is no longer one city, it's a dozen different smaller cities each infected with its own form of violence. It's gotten so that I dread sleeping because the morning always brings so much bad news. The television shows the images and the radio stations broadcast it. The newspapers show images of corpses and angry words jump out at you from their pages, "civil war… death… killing… bombing… rape…"

Rape. The latest of American atrocities. Though it's not really the latest- it's just the one that's being publicized the most. The poor girl Abeer was neither the first to be raped by American troops, nor will she be the last. The only reason this rape was brought to light and publicized is that her whole immediate family were killed along with her. Rape is a taboo subject in Iraq. Families don't report rapes here, they avenge them. We've been hearing whisperings about rapes in American-controlled prisons and during sieges of towns like Haditha and Samarra for the last three years. The naiveté of Americans who can't believe their 'heroes' are committing such atrocities is ridiculous. Who ever heard of an occupying army committing rape??? You raped the country, why not the people?

In the news they're estimating her age to be around 24, but Iraqis from the area say she was only 14. Fourteen. Imagine your 14-year-old sister or your 14-year-old daughter. Imagine her being gang-raped by a group of psychopaths and then the girl was killed and her body burned to cover up the rape. Finally, her parents and her five-year-old sister were also killed. Hail the American heroes... Raise your heads high supporters of the 'liberation' - your troops have made you proud today. I don't believe the troops should be tried in American courts. I believe they should be handed over to the people in the area and only then will justice be properly served. And our ass of a PM, Nouri Al-Maliki, is requesting an 'independent investigation', ensconced safely in his American guarded compound because it wasn't his daughter or sister who was raped, probably tortured and killed. His family is abroad safe from the hands of furious Iraqis and psychotic American troops.

It fills me with rage to hear about it and read about it. The pity I once had for foreign troops in Iraq is gone. It's been eradicated by the atrocities in Abu Ghraib, the deaths in Haditha and the latest news of rapes and killings. I look at them in their armored vehicles and to be honest- I can't bring myself to care whether they are 19 or 39. I can't bring myself to care if they make it back home alive. I can't bring myself to care anymore about the wife or parents or children they left behind. I can't bring myself to care because it's difficult to see beyond the horrors. I look at them and wonder just how many innocents they killed and how many more they'll kill before they go home. How many more young Iraqi girls will they rape?

Why don't the Americans just go home? They've done enough damage and we hear talk of how things will fall apart in Iraq if they 'cut and run', but the fact is that they aren't doing anything right now. How much worse can it get? People are being killed in the streets and in their own homes- what's being done about it? Nothing. It's convenient for them- Iraqis can kill each other and they can sit by and watch the bloodshed- unless they want to join in with murder and rape.

Buses, planes and taxis leaving the country for Syria and Jordan are booked solid until the end of the summer. People are picking up and leaving en masse and most of them are planning to remain outside of the country. Life here has become unbearable because it's no longer a 'life' like people live abroad. It's simply a matter of survival, making it from one day to the next in one piece and coping with the loss of loved ones and friends- friends like T.
That's the place Rumsfeld says is responsible for its own future, its own reconciliation. And the condition of that place is the result of a Vice-President who imagines action movies are a template for foreign policy.

This is where we begin. This is what we are responsible for. And we can start the reconciliation, and the acceptance of responsibility, by simply bringing our troops home. But perhaps even that is still too much acceptance of responsibility for us.

The responsibility of power; the responsibility of foolishness; the responsibility for what we have done, and why. This is what power is for. This is what power is about. Power never serves you, you only serve it. Power seeks its own ends, and nothing else, and nothing else comes from wielding it except destruction, and death, and horror.

Kyrie eleison is not a cry for power, or even reconciliation. It is simply a plea: for mercy. In the right context, it is a cry of despair; but never of despairing.

Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Kyrie eleison

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