Category Archives: Bush legacy
“Why do they hate us? We’re setting them free!”
– a foot soldier
They were expecting
sweaty hugs and kisses
from dark veiled women
and their adoring children.
Ears cocked, they anticipated the struggle
of the local band in playing
their beloved anthem,
as if it were not foreign.
But only hollow,
sporadic shouting of men
who gathered from nowhere
welcomed the forces.
The army was laden
with a quick,
craving for popular jubilation.
Instead, this caricature of a show
put on by these nowhere men.
Stick figures in the desert sun,
sure of only one thing:
Tear down the giant statue
by a previous generation
This show had been triangulated
for the world to see
moment by breathless moment
on their most trusted TV.
And then what? An awkward silence
as the statue grates to a stop,
refusing to crash down. A monologue broken
by coughing in the background, off-camera.
Days later when the local population
finally came out with their voices raised,
the victorious gobbledygooks felt
strangely welcome, unable to decipher
Joy and ecstasy from utter hatred.
It is only now with proper translation
years later that we have
a clear understanding of gang rape.
Last night during the local weather report the meteorologist (hmmm, that’s what they called him) said today, 20 March, was the equinox. I thought it was also the day of something else in recent history, but couldn’t quite put my finger on which. When I was browsing through my files looking for translations I had done of earlier works, I stumbled upon this poem which was written in 2008. I haven’t tried to translate it to Filipino, perhaps one day. As it turns out today, according to Wikipedia (haven’t verified other sources yet), is the day of the US Invasion of Iraq.
This poem (if it is one) was written largely in response to a documentary called Control Room.
Howard Zinn, 1922-2010
“We’ve got to rethink this question of war and come to the conclusion that war cannot be accepted, no matter what. No matter what the reasons given, or the excuse: liberty, democracy; this, that. War is by definition the indiscriminate killing of huge numbers of people for ends that are uncertain. Think about means and ends, and apply it to war. The means are horrible, certainly. The ends, uncertain. That alone should make you hesitate. . . . We are smart in so many ways. Surely, we should be able to understand that in between war and passivity, there are a thousand possibilities.”
In the past two days I have had three “curious” replies to a post in matangmanok regarding Yvonne Ridley, the British journalist who had converted to Islam. I have approved one of the replies to show that if there is genuine discussion needed on a subject I am willing to open the doors. But the two other replies to the same post that are now pending my approval have forced me to wonder if there is a new anti-Muslim wave I am unaware of.
I would like to invite the two people who have swamped me with these strange correspondences to please understand, I prefer to keep this space open for all who wish to contribute their thoughts without attacking another person’s choice of faith.
Mr Fulgente Antonio, I permitted your initial reply to the article concerning reports by Yvonne Ridley. Your follow-up is far too long and too similar to the other person who posted a reply on the same day, forcing me to wonder if you know each other in more ways than one.
Mr Jeffrey Lang, this is how your reply started:
It is really a pity that an educated British lady converts to Islam and fails to get to know the realty of Jesus, the LIGHT OF THE WORLD. I had earlier went through the same experience of being led astray by the PROPHET OF DOOM, Mohammad, but later I realized that was stepping into hell. I would like to list a comparison between the Lord of Light, JESUS, and the Prophet of Doom, Mohammad, so that the message would be made clear to Yvonne Ridley and all misled Muslims. I would like also to note that I have returned safely to the Lord Jesus and abandoned the bleak image of Mohammad.
Jeffrey Lang (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The rest of it, I am sorry to say, will take up too much space on my blog. I will gladly forward the rest of the lengthy text to anyone who kindly requests it.
I grew up in a now predominantly Catholic country. Before the Spanish colonizers arrived it had been largely Muslim, but there were many other belief systems among the myriad tribes. The Europeans stayed for over 300 years, and in that time countless lives were lost in the effort to convert the population to the lovely religion of Christianity. Numerous rebellions took place, villagers took to the hills to avoid being forced to accept a foreign belief system.
If you look at the history of religions – not just Christianity – that tried to impose their belief systems on others, you might just find that weapons of destruction accompanied such flag-waving campaigns. In the end the “triumphant” religion seems to have taken over the pre-existing one, but in fact it often gets changed as well in the process.
The “subsumed” religion, just like any organism, seeks ways of surviving in the most amazing ways. I dare say that animism and ancestral worship continue to bleed through the bandages of the Christian faith – one has to know where to look. Though that is a matter for another time.
For now these are the things I would like to mention. It is easy to wave a flag and brand someone. With that, the flag-waver and brander calls attention to him/herself. What cause are you fighting for? What box do you stand on? Or is that a coffin? Have you measured it?
Choosing a faith – or for that matter, rejecting one or all – is a very personal matter. And so there is an arrogance that carries with it a terrible blindness when one decries a particular religion, condemning every single person who might be its follower.
A few steps away from that dangerous activity is the closing of doors to a common humanity.
The grand tour of Africa that Mrs Clinton is conducting cannot be dissociated from the plan to make AFRICOM a little more enticing. Someone who wears a high-heeled shoe can still carry a submachine gun. For sale or just for show?
“We’re the good guys. Trust us. We’re telling you the truth. This time.”
Policy-makers seem to have forgotten the legacy of US intervention in Africa. During the cold war, African nations were used as pawns in postcolonial proxy wars, an experience that had a devastating impact on African democracy, peace and development. In the past Washington has aided reactionary African factions that have carried out atrocities against civilians. An increased US military presence in Africa will likely follow this pattern of extracting resources while aiding factions in some of their bloodiest conflicts, thus further destabilizing the region.
Dear Mrs Clinton, save your breath. Africa does not need more killing machines. That goes for the rest of the world.
I could be wrong in all this, of course. Maybe she’s just here to share some naughty secrets. Bedtime stories perhaps?
The cover-up of Bush-era crimes is taking a shocking but not unexpected turn. A fateful move has been made and it is certain to backfire.
A prisoner who was horribly tortured in 2002 until he agreed – at the demand of Bush torturers – to say that al-Qaeda was linked to Saddam Hussein is suddenly dead. Several weeks ago, Human Rights Watch investigators discovered the missing inmate and talked to him. He had been secretly transferred by the administration to a prison in Libya after having been held by the CIA both in secret “black hole prisons” and in Egypt.
Under conditions of extreme torture, the prisoner, Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, agreed in 2002 to supply the Bush-ordered interrogators what they sought as a political cover for Bush’s marketing of the pending war of aggression against Iraq. Mr. Libi agreed to tell them whatever they wanted in exchange for an end to the torture. The now famous Torture Memos providing legal cover for the torture were written at the same time starting in the summer of 2002.
Libi’s tortured and knowingly fabricated testimony was the source of information used by Bush to sell the war to the U.S. Senate, and the source for Colin Powell’s bogus and lying presentation to the United Nations in 2003.
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice are now running around saying that the torture regime “protected the country from terrorist attack.” But the torture was used for the personal political goals of Bush and Cheney: namely, to sell their Iraq invasion to a very skeptical and disbelieving country.
Having been discovered by human rights investigators two weeks ago, Mr. Libi’s story coincided with the release of the Torture Memos and the growing clamor for criminal prosecutions of Bush officials.
His testimony is the smoking gun that would reveal that the torture regime was not for “national security” but for the personal political aims of Bush and Cheney.
He was Exhibit A in the indictment that alleges that tortured confessions and the contrived legal justifications of torture set up by Justice Department lawyers in July/August 2002 were central to the launch of the war against Iraq.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died and tens of thousands of U.S. service members have either been killed or badly wounded in a war that was based on lies fortified and promoted by the most sadistic torture.
In his world-prominent speech to the Middle East on June 4, Obama mentioned that “In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.” So we have the president of the United States admitting to a previous overthrow of the Iranian government while the United States is in the very midst of trying to overthrow the current Iranian government. This will serve as the best example of hypocrisy that’s come along in quite a while.
So why the big international fuss over the Iranian election and street protests? There’s only one answer. The obvious one. The announced winner, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a Washington ODE, an Officially Designated Enemy, for not sufficiently respecting the Empire and its Israeli partner-in-crime; indeed, Ahmadinejad is one of the most outspoken critics of US foreign policy in the world.
So ingrained is this ODE response built into Washington’s world view that it appears to matter not at all that Mousavi, Ahmadinejad’s main opponent in the election and very much supported by the protesters, while prime minister 1981-89, bore large responsibility for the attacks on the US embassy and military barracks in Beirut in 1983, which took the lives of more than 200 Americans, and the 1988 truck bombing of a US Navy installation in Naples, Italy, that killed five persons. Remarkably, a search of US newspaper and broadcast sources shows no mention of this during the current protests.6Washington Post saw fit to run a story on June 27 that declared: “the authoritarian governments of China, Cuba and Burma have been selectively censoring the news this month of Iranian crowds braving government militias on the streets of Tehran to demand democratic reforms.”
Can it be that no one in the Obama administration knows of Mousavi’s background? And do none of them know about the violent government repression on June 5 in Peru of the peaceful protests organized in response to the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement? A massacre that took the lives of between 20 and 25 indigenous people in the Amazon and wounded another 100.7 The Obama administration was silent on the Peruvian massacre because the Peruvian president, Alan Garcia, is not an ODE.
… The issue is Washington’s long-standing goal of regime change. If the exact same electoral outcome had taken place in a country that is an ally of the United States, how much of all the accusatory news coverage and speeches would have taken place? In fact, the exact same thing did happen in a country that is an ally of the United States, three years ago when Felipe Calderon appeared to have stolen the presidential election in Mexico and there were daily large protests for more than two months; but the American and international condemnation was virtually non-existent compared to what we see today in regard to Iran.
President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras was overthrown in a military coup June 28 because he was about to conduct a non-binding survey of the population, asking the question: “Do you agree that, during the general elections of November 2009 there should be a fourth ballot to decide whether to hold a Constituent National Assembly that will approve a new political constitution?” One of the issues that Zelaya hoped a new constitution would deal with is the limiting of the presidency to one four-year term. He also expressed the need for other constitutional changes to make it possible for him to carry out policies to improve the life of the poor; in countries like Honduras, the law is not generally crafted for that end.
At this writing it’s not clear how matters will turn out in Honduras, but the following should be noted: the United States, by its own admission, was fully aware for weeks of the Honduran military’s plan to overthrow Zelaya. Washington says it tried its best to change the mind of the plotters. It’s difficult to believe that this proved impossible. During the Cold War it was said, with much justification, that the United States could discourage a coup in Latin America with “a frown”. The Honduran and American military establishments have long been on very fraternal terms. And it must be asked: In what way and to what extent did the United States warn Zelaya of the impending coup? And what protection did it offer him? The response to the coup from the Obama administration can be described with adjectives such as lukewarm, proper but belated, and mixed. It is not unthinkable that the United States gave the military plotters the go-ahead, telling them to keep the traditional “golpe” bloodiness to a minimum. Zelaya was elected to office as the candidate of a conservative party; he then, surprisingly, moved to the left and became a strong critic of a number of Washington policies, and an ally of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia, both of whom the Bush administration tried to overthrow and assassinate.