The war criminals’ freedom, the jesters’ democracy, the fat banquet and those mountains of corpses that nobody cares. But the Emperor is naked.
By Gabriele Zamparini (*)
“The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same form of mental pathology does not make these people sane.” - Erich Fromm, The Sane Society, 1955
What a banquet! The Independent reports: “A total of 61 British companies are identified as benefiting from at least £1.1bn of contracts and investment in the new Iraq. But that figure is just the tip of the iceberg; Corporate Watch believes it could be as much as five times higher, because many companies prefer to keep their relationship secret.” (1) But of course – as The Independent knows – “Ousting a dictator is one thing; sowing and watering the seeds of democracy where none existed is an undertaking of quite a different order.” (2) Freedom! Freedom! Democracy! Democracy!
The Guardian, that “with its honourable radical history is still very much a going concern. It is prepared to put hard questions to the government of the day.” (3) publishes an article by Oliver Kamm, with the title “We were right to invade Iraq”.
Mixing up insults, untruths, denials, non-sense and obscenities, Kamm writes “Even with personalities of greater competence than Hans Blix and higher morals than Jacques Chirac…”; “the Islamists and Leninists of the Stop the War Coalition… describing themselves as anti-war, rather than anti-American and anti-British”; “The failures of the occupation are legion: delayed elections, inadequate security, eroding infrastructure, complacency over the tortures at Abu Ghraib, and a heavy death toll among Iraqi civilians and our troops”; “The absence of WMD was a huge intelligence failure; so it is fortunate that we are no longer reliant on Saddam's word.”; “But we can be certain that the security of the region and of ourselves, as well as the welfare of those to whom we have obligations, will be damaged if we fail to support Iraqis against theocratic and Ba'athist totalitarianism. We at least have the advantage in that struggle of having confronted Saddam at a time of our choosing.” (4) Freedom! Freedom! Democracy! Democracy!
Among the “failures of the occupation”, there might be as many as 300,000 Iraqi civilian deaths. (5) If this number makes you shiver, hold your breath.
In 1991, there were between 142,000 and 206,000 Iraqi deaths directly attributable to the Gulf War. (6) How many deaths as a result of the sanctions? Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (1997-98) who resigned after thirty-four years with the United Nations, in protest over the effects of the embargo on the civilian population, said: “I had been instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that had effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults.” (7)
Since Hiroshima Day 1990, for the past fifteen years and with the complicity and silence of most of the so-called “international community”, Washington and London have waged a war against the people of Iraq that has slaughtered over 2,000,000 people. Most of them women and children.
Proportionally to its population, it’s as if a war against the United States had killed 23 million of innocent Americans. Freedom! Freedom! Democracy! Democracy!
BBC State Department correspondent Jonathan Beale recently wrote: “India is the world's biggest democracy, a shining, though not perfect, example of the kinds of values President Bush wants to spread around the world.” (8)
One wonders which “kinds of values President Bush wants to spread around the world”. Don’t wonder! “Yes democratic values. I write that on the basis that it’s President Bush's main foreign policy goal - the fact that the administration is spending billions of dollars every year on promoting democracy around the globe. I am sure you can decide as to whether it’s working or not.” (9)
How stupid of me! Why asking the BBC State Department correspondent when I could read that directly from the source. The US State Department has just published “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2005”. The introduction reads: “President Bush has committed the United States to working with other democracies and men and women of goodwill across the globe to reach an historic long-term goal: ‘the end of tyranny in our world.’”(10) Should we attempt the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ ?
On January 29, 2003, at the State of the Union speech, Bush said: “America is a strong nation, and honorable in the use of our strength. We exercise power without conquest, and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers. Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.” Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
According to Nabil Shaath, who was Palestinian foreign minister at the time, Bush said to a Palestinian delegation during the Israeli-Palestinian summit at the Egpytian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, four months after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I am driven with a mission from God'. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did." … "And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East'. And, by God, I'm gonna do it." (11) Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Recently, “Blair answered ‘yes’ when asked (…) if he had sought holy intervention” when deciding whether or not to send UK troops to Iraq. (12) Getting ready for the carnage, Blair and Bush “prayed together in the lead up to the Iraq war and shared a ‘spiritual affinity’”. (13) War criminals, mass murderers and part-time acolytes? Revolting!
Coming back to planet earth, kind of. “An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and more than one in four say the troops should leave immediately” a recent Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows. Not really surprising, isn’t it? More interesting instead it’s that “almost 90% think war is retaliation for Saddam’s role in 9/11". (14) I wonder who told them this bloody lie… Despite all the propaganda bombing by the state-corporate media, Freedom! Freedom! Democracy! Democracy! must not have been enough to convince young men and women from South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin to go to fight an unknown enemy, far away thousands of miles, to some place they had never heard before.
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who in this land is fairest of all?”
On February 25, 2006, the Guardian published “Extremism: the loser's revenge” by Ian Buruma. In a 2,069 word essay the author asks “Does masturbation lead to suicide bombing?” (15) It must be read to be believed!
Paraphrasing the fascinating subtitle of the article “Can sexual inadequacy or deprivation turn angry young men into killers?”, shall we ask “Can sexual inadequacy or deprivation turn angry young men into writers and journalists?” ? At the Guardian, it would seem so.
At the end of February, 67-year-old historian David Irving “was sentenced to three years in jail by an Austrian judge for denying, in two speeches he made 16 years ago, the existence of the gas chambers of the Second World War and the murder of six million Jews.” (16) Voltaire could be happy and proud to have left such an indelible sign in the civilized Europe!
Jumping from genocide to a trial for genocide. Now that Slobodan Milosevic died, my thoughts go to the International Defamation League. On The Times, David Aaronovitch writes: “Some of these apologists have never gone away. Recently, after a published interview with the antiwar intellectual Noam Chomsky, The Guardian erased the article from its website and apologised to Professor Chomsky for the interviewer’s suggestion that either he, or Diana Johnstone Ñ an author whose work he praised Ñ had denied that the Srebrenica massacre had taken place. This correction was entirely wrong. In the sense that the world understood there to have been an act amounting to genocide at Srebrenica Ñ ie, an act that we would have been justified in attempting to prevent by force Ñ Johnstone certainly, and Chomsky implicitly, had most certainly denied the massacre” (17) What did Buruma write about “the loser’s revenge”?
From the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to the International Criminal Court the distance is short. Is it really? On 9 February 2006, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, wrote a letter replying to the “over 240 communications concerning the situation in Iraq. These communications express the concern of numerous citizens and organizations regarding the launching of military operations and the resulting human loss.” Independently from the ICC’s jurisdiction, the letter is a masterpiece of legal and moral hypocrisy and inanity, where formalities and legal technicalities hide facts, evidence and truth. (18)
Finally, “The Emperor’s New Clothes – The Sequel”. Brian Kelly and Lauren Giaccone, two Pace University students in New York were threatened with disciplinary actions ranging from warnings to expulsion. Their ‘crime’? “Lauren Giaccone and Brian Kelly stood up and called President Clinton a war criminal and cited the atrocities he committed during his time in office. The two students referenced Clinton’s inaction during the Rwandan genocide, the bombing of a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory, the increased ethnic cleansing in Bosnia as a result of U.S action and the renewed sanctions and bombings against Iraq which murdered countless people.” (19)
The insane society fears acts of sanity. The “Emperor is naked” can be contagious. This is why we must support Brian and Lauren (20), and with them cry THE EMPEROR IS NAKED!
1) The War Dividend: The British companies making a fortune out of conflict-riven Iraq, By Robert Verkaik, the Independent, 13 March 2006
2) Leading article: The perils of planting democracy in a hostile land, The Independent, 13 December 2005
3) In praise of…The Guardian, John Eldridge, Fifth-Estate-Online
4) We were right to invade Iraq, Oliver Kamm, The Guardian, March 14, 2006
5) Do Iraqi Civilian Casualties Matter?, Les Roberts, AlterNet, February 8, 2006
6) Source: U.N. 1991 the Ahtisaari report; Daponte 1993
7) The New Rulers of the World, by John Pilger, Verso, 2002
8) US nurtures key South Asia ties, Jonathan Beale, BBC News website, Thursday, 2 March 2006
9) email from BBC State Department correspondent Jonathan Beale to Gabriele Zamparini
10) Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Δ 2005. Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. March 8, 2006
11) George Bush: ‘God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq’, Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, October 7, 2005
12) Blair ‘prayed to God’ over Iraq, BBC News website, Friday, 3 March 2006
13) Blair: God will judge me on Iraq, George Jones, telegraph.co.uk
[A Man of Faith: The Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush, by David Aikman, W Publishing Group, 2004]
14) U.S. Troops in Iraq: 72% Say End War in 2006, Zogby International, February 28, 2006
15) Extremism: the loser’s revenge, Ian Buruma, The Guardian, February 25, 2006
16) Irving gets three years’ jail in Austria for Holocaust denial, Ruth Elkins, The Independent, 21 February 2006
17) The meaning of Milosevic: how the Butcher of the Balkans changed us, David Aaronovitch, The Times, March 14, 2006
19) Why We Called Bill Clinton a War Criminal, PRESS RELEASE March 7, 2006
20) Please, show your support to Brian and Lauren. More info here:
(*) Gabriele Zamparini is an independent filmmaker, writer and activist living in London. He's the producer and director of the documentaries XXI CENTURY and Peace! and author of American Voices of Dissent (Paradigm Publishers). He’s a member of The Advisory Committee of the BRussells Tribunal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org - Find out more about him and his work at http://TheCatsDream.com