Tuesday, May 26, 2009

USA: Land of the Weak and the Wussy

_Human Rights_ (http://www.smirkingchimp.com/taxonomy/term/117)
by _Dave Lindorff_ (http://www.smirkingchimp.com/user/dave_lindorff) | May
26, 2009 - 10:49am

There may have perhaps have been a time when America was a land of at least
some brave people. although arguably a nation that celebrates as heroic a
history that features lots of people with modern guns and cannons
conquering and destroying another people who were living in the stone age and
fighting back with bows and arrows, and that built its economy on the backs of
men and women held in chains certainly has a tough case to make. What is
clear though is that there is nothing brave about modern-day America.
Whatever we were, we have degenerated into a nation that finds glory in
deploying the most advanced high-tech, high-explosive weaponry against some of
the world's poorest people, that justifies killing women and children,
even by the dozens, even if by doing so it manages to kill one alleged "enemy"
fighter. A nation that exalts remote-controlled robot drone aircraft that
can attack targets in order to avoid risking soldiers' lives, even though
by doing so, it is predictable that many, many innocent people will be
killed. A nation that is proud to have developed weapons of mass slaughter, from
shells laden with phosphorus that burns to death, indiscriminately, those
who are contacted by the splattered chemical to elaborately baroque
anti-personnel fragmentation bombs that spread cute little colored objects
designed to look like everything from toys to food packages, but which upon
contact explode, releasing whirling metal or plastic fleschettes which shred
human flesh on contact.
The Marines who battled their way up the hillsides of Iwo Jima, or the
soldiers who struggled ashore under withering fire on the beaches of Normandy
would be appalled at what passes for heroic behavior in today's American
military. But that's not the worst of it.
The worst of it is back home in the USA, where millions of citizens who
bitch about their taxes and who pay as little attention as possible to the
fact that their nation is deeply mired in two wars, routinely refer to those
who do their fighting for them as heroes, but then want nothing to do with
the consequences of those wars (or for that matter the people who actually
fight them).
One particularly telling consequence of those wars is that the US now has
several hundred prisoners, mostly at the prison camp on the US Naval Base at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, whom the American people don't want to have moved to
their shores. And why won't we Americans accept the responsibility for
incarcerating and trying these captives? Because we are so afraid that their
comrades will strike back at us with acts of terrorism if we bring them
First of all, a moment of rational thought, please. Does anyone seriously
think that the radical Islamic groups and independence fighters who are
battling American forces in places like Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan are so
symbolically obsessed that they would only attack places in America where
their fellows are actually being held? Do people actually think that such
people would not attack some place in the continental US right now if they
could, in retaliation for people being held at the inaccessible base in
Please. Let's get real.
Moving captives from Guantanamo to prisons in the US, pending trial, would
merely make the job of agencies like the FBI easier by narrowing the list
of likely terrorist targets in the US from thousands to dozens. But even
then, is there any reason to think that a prospective terrorist group would be
more likely to bomb Leavenworth Prison or the town of Leavenworth than the
White House or the Pentagon to protest the holding of people at
Leavenworth? Of course not.
The goal of a terrorist action is to cause as much fear and disruption as
possible, and bombing some remote commuity where a federal prison is located
isn't going to do that. You want to bomb a transportation or
communications hub, or a major population center. So bringing prisoners to the US from
Guantanamo doesn't really do anything to raise the risk for anybody.
But we Americans are irrational, panicky cowards. We worry that the
terrorists will come and get us.
My guess is that a lot of this is mass guilt. Whether people admit it or
not, I suspect most people know on some subconscious level that we Americans
have been living off the rest of the world's misery. We know we're stealing
oil from the people of nations like Iraq and Nigeria. We know that our
toys, our electronics devices and our fancy name-brand running shoes are being
made by people who cannot afford to buy them themselves. We know that for
decades we have been overthrowing elected governments and propping up
fascist dictatorships to keep the exploitation going so that we can buy cheap
goods and extract cheap resources (As Marine Medal of Honor hero Smedley
Butler long ago admitted, that's what our "heroes" in uniform are generally
doing overseas).
The whole thing is sickening--a kind of nausea-inducing feeling that comes
on me whenever I hear the last screeched line of the "Star-Spangled
Banner"--but there is something particularly pathetic about this latest bout of
collective wussiness on the part of the American people.
I mean, even if you bought all the tripe about our soldiers having to kill
and occasionally die in Iraq and Afghanistan so we can "fight the
terrorists there instead of here," even the charlatans in the White House and the
Pentagon are claiming that keeping captives in Guantanamo is generating
hatred abroad and putting US troops at greater risk, so you'd think it would be
the least that this "home of the brave" could do to close that base and
accept some of the added risk--if there even were any--of bringing those
prisoners here.

If we can't even handle that, we're simply going to have to write a new
ending for the national anthem:
"...Oh say may that Star-Spangled Banner yet flap
O'er the land of the weak, and the home of the sap."

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