Reply to “On Violence”: We are Holier than Thou

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“It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes… we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions – especially selfish ones.”-Alexander Solzhenitsyn

This is a reply to a post on a very interesting blog On Violence that I read occasionally.

The argument put forward in the post We are Holier than Thou is as follows:

1. Americans, and the West, must fight wars according to our moral, ethical and legal principles.
2. Terrorists–be they Christian, Muslim or other–twist ethics to justify their immoral behavior.
3. As a result, Americans and the West tend to fight wars more ethically, morally and justly than non-state groups acting out of zealotry.
4. And most importantly, this isn’t a bad thing.

These are apt points, if not for the reasons they were intended.

1. Americans, and the West, must fight wars according to our moral, ethical and legal principles.

The sentence itself logically makes sense, if one concedes that wars are in fact something that “must” occur. The next step is to define America’s “moral, ethical and legal principles”. Words are only that; words. So it is necessary to demonstrate America’s values through the submission and review of empirical evidence.

Without delving too far into the past, although this would only strengthen the point I am going to make, we can begin to establish American values by reviewing some of the deeds done by the late great “Ronald Reagan”, then some of the “leaders” that followed him .
Reagan has been placed on a podium so high in the psyche of America for one reason: So that his memory can avoid drowning in the rivers of blood split during this war mongers reign.

  • 1983- Operation Urgent Fury-Reagan’s attack on the island of Grenada. The invasion was criticized by the United Kingdom, Canada and the United Nations General Assembly, which condemned it as “a flagrant violation of international law” .
  • 1985-Reagan “strapped on his cowboy boots” and declared a state of national emergency warning that the “fearsome” Nicaraguan army was only “two days driving time” from Texas.  So Americas “Ethical and legal” choice was to use the CIA to covertly and illegally sell arms to the revolutionary government of Iran and then use those funds to finance a congressionally forbidden insurgency against the elected government of Nicaragua.
  • 1983 on- Reagan was a staunch supporter of the Salvadorian Military regime in El Salvador. Human Rights Watch reported: “During the Reagan years, in particular, not only did the United States fail to press for improvements . . . but, in an effort to maintain backing for U.S. policy, it misrepresented the record of the Salvadoran government, and smeared critics who challenged that record. In so doing, the Administration needlessly polarized the debate in the United States, and did a grave injustice to the thousands of civilian victims of Government terror in El Salvador.”
  • 1985- Reagan decided to visit the Bitburg Cemetery in Germany.  This is where all the SS soldiers are buried.  Very Moral. Very Ethical, not to mention very sensitive.
  • 1988- Saudi and American backed fundamentalist Islamists, favored by Reagan, using arms supplied (according to Amnesty international) by Saudi and the US, over threw the Nijibullah Government.  The subsequent suffering was so extreme the Taliban were welcomed by the people.

On to Bush numero Uno….

  • 1991- During the first Gulf war, Bush had the US military drop some 90,000 tons of bombs on Iraq in the space of 43 days, “intentionally destroying the civilian infrastructure, including 18 of 20 electricity generating plants, and the water pumping and sanitation systems.”
  • 1989- Operation Just Cause, a cynical name if ever there was one, was launched.  Manuel Noriega, a CIA asset, got out of line and it was determined he had to be taken care of.  During the invasion, which the country of Panama to this day has a date for the national morning of the event, the US bombed the Chorillo slums and other civilian targets in Panama city killing thousands of poor people.

Moving on to Bill Clinton, one of the slickest players in the game.

  • 1995- Suharto (you’ve heard of him. Indonesian president, killed about 500,000 people after a coup in 1965, responsible for 250,000 deaths in East Timor in 1975, thousands more since in various Indonesian provinces: that guy) visited the White House. After the meeting between he and Clinton, a top Clinton aid was quoted in the New York times as saying “Yeah, Suharto is our type of guy.”
  • 1993- Clinton bombed Baghdad in retaliation for an alleged but unproven Iraq plot to assassinate former President George Bush. Eight Iraqi civilians, including the distinguished Iraqi artist Layla al-Attar were killed in the raid, and 12 more were wounded.
  • 1999- UNICEF reported that “more than 1 million Iraqi children under 5 were suffering from chronic malnutrition, and some 4,000-5,000 children are dying per month beyond normal death rates from the combination of malnutrition and disease.” This was due to sanctions against Iraq set by Clinton and his cronies.
  • 1998-1999- Clinton had advanced knowledge of the Indonesian plans to interfere with the referendum and eventually to take revenge for any ensuing defeat, but did nothing whatsoever to prevent this criminal performance. Tens of Thousands dead and tortured due to Clinton’s “Moral” and “Ethical” weakness and inability to act.

Bill Clinton is a tough act to follow, so George W. Bush really had to up his game, and he did.

  • 2003-the decision to invade Iraq made possible the horrors of Abu Ghraib, the destruction of Falluja and Ramadi, the tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, civilian massacres like Haditha, and on and on. George W. Bush is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity, that being an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation. We all know that the sad constantly fluctuating pretenses that this military invasion were based on turn to dust and blow away with the breeze after a single moments criticism.

Bush required only one point, although there are many more that I will spare you the details on in this post.

President Obama is currently involved in War Crimes. He has authorized the attacking of civilian targets, sanctions that are starving people, and is likely pushing the United States towards a very unnecessary war with Iran. I will not go into further detail at this time because I think I have firmly illustrated what Americas “Moral, Ethical and Legal principles” are based on ACTIONS and EVIDENCE, not just words and rhetoric.

2. Terrorists–be they Christian, Muslim or other–twist ethics to justify their immoral behavior.

This is true, and America (I suppose we fall into the “other” category) uses the same principles to justify its terrorist actions abroad. We used the first Atomic bomb, a weapon of mass destruction, clearly against the laws of war as we targeted civilian population centers, and we did it because “in the long run we were saving American lives”.  In reality we were testing out the new toy and trying to intimidate Russia.  That was a Terrorist action.
American Exceptionalism blinds us and we can’t understand that to a large part of the world, we are the bad guys. We are the terrorists. It isn’t our might that makes people angry, it is the way we use it.

3. As a result, Americans and the West tend to fight wars more ethically, morally and justly than non-state groups acting out of zealotry.

If you define Morals in any way that are somehow imperative and universal than based on the empirical evidence, this is a patently FALSE statement. If however you define morals based on what you want, need and can physically take from another person then sure, this is just fine.

4. And most importantly, this isn’t a bad thing.

What a convenient thought; if you are the one wielding the club.