Iraq: The War Card – The Center for Public Integrity (Thoughts After Killing bin Laden)

Clinton etal sitRm binLaden Reuters Peter Souza

Reuters, 5/7/11, us-yemen-drone-awlaki. Peter Souza

Dear Readers!

I’ve done my intentional best to ‘shut out’ sounds of cheering that first accompanied the killing of Osama Bin Laden.  Not because I’ve thought he was a ‘noble rebel’.  For whatever reasons, he engaged in a type of ‘war game play’ that has resulted in death and destruction.  His crimes include choice, will, to foster irrational passion in the hearts of young who’ve strapped bombs to their bodies, and we know of that extreme violence and misery.

My reasons for shutting out sounds of cheering have less to do with Osama Bin Laden and more to do with American potential integrity vs actual behavior.  By ‘actual behavior’ I mean how many behaved once Bin Laden was killed.  Actual behavior of speeches linking the killing to New York’s 9/11; and actual behavior of stunning silence about where we’ve been and what we’ve done ‘in the name of revenge’ since the 9/11 attack.

fallujah birth defects - see google images for more

fallujah birth defects - see google images for more

In my mind, I keep thinking:  “Wait a minute – how come we’re ignoring our trek to Iraq? Are we really so able to ‘conveniently set-aside’ any honesty about  our ‘revenge mode’ invasion of Iraq? Was it a ‘mere blip’ that we went there (Iraq,) committed atrocities, reduced buildings and infrastructure of a whole people to rubble, and left behind misery, death, and lingering ‘collateral human damage’ such as the birth defects in Fallujah?, (March 2011, research report).  All that – to get 1 villain and to ‘defeat his program’? And 10 years later, now that we finally ‘got him’, thousands of miles from Iraq, we’re unable to ‘see’ any smidgen of ‘monstrous’ quality in our own behavior?”  (See footnote ‘4’ below for two news report links on the Fallujah’s ‘collateral losses’ by birth deformities.)

I managed to keep my questions and thoughts to myself until yesterday when I decided I should ‘grow up’ and pay attention, at least a little, to popular American press on the Bin Laden killing.  (Since the killing, I’ve checked a few reports, but have sought input from outside American mainstream media. I’ve intentionally tried to avoid celebratory language, and to avoid reminders (by his public speaking*), that our president is placating, rather than offering leadership, at a time when we might practice reflection with our relief.)

It’s beyond my capacity to ‘justify/excuse’ our celebratory response to Bin Laden’s killing.  Yes – the 9/11 attack was a massive horror and trauma.  But after 10 years, after all we’ve done in the name of avenging the deaths, I find little to support a “champion of freedom” righteousness.

Yesterday, with the above thinking in mind, I caught mention of a US drone attack in Yemen. “?Yemen? ?Yemen!? What’s that about?”**.  I thought I’d surely missed some ‘just cause’ for the drone attack – for instance, an immediate one, and checked on-line news.  No special research – just any article that might clear up for me why we’d blown up some place in Yemen.  

Ah! – al Qadea.  That’s the reason. An especially bad character, al-Awlaki,  can be found there.  (See Reuter’s article –  similar to, but not the one I read yesterday, which I’ve not saved.) The Yemen drone article was brief;  I learned of al-Awlaki and the lingering chase after al Qadea.  I learned the attack was a ‘miss’, but that 2 key al-Awlaki people were killed.   (This makes it a bit of a ‘success’.) (See footnote ‘6’ below for more press references to the Yemen drone attack.)

So this”, I thought, “is our next unfolding? We’re going to wreak havoc here and there with our blind drones – we’re continuing this aggressive chase?”  It was reader comments on yesterday’s Yemen drone announcement that ‘really got’ to me.  Comments were brief and numerous.  One after another they ‘celebrated’ and ‘enjoyed’ our aggression. Remarks were ‘humorous’ (paraphrased but very close: “It’s a big ocean, lots of room for more bodies.”)  Not one cautionary thought or question.

I remind readers of our history with this quote extracted from a 2008 report found at The Center for Public Integrity, (CPI has since become “I Watch News.”)  (Underlined, ‘boldened’ is mine.)

“On at least 532 separate occasions (in speeches, briefings, interviews, testimony, and the like), Bush and these three key officials, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration’s case for war.

“It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to Al Qaeda. This was the conclusion of numerous bipartisan government investigations, including those by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (2004 and 2006), the 9/11 Commission, and the multinational Iraq Survey Group, whose “Duelfer Report” established that Saddam Hussein had terminated Iraq’s nuclear program in 1991 and made little effort to restart it.

“In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003.

via Iraq: The War Card – The Center for Public Integrity. Readers are encouraged to read the full report.

Next, I remind readers of Buckminster Fuller’s emphasis on our need to practice integrity with this quote (scroll down at link to find quote in “Only Integrity Is Going to Count“, 1983 interview) :

  1. I have to say, I think that we are in some kind of final examination as to whether human beings now, with this capability to acquire information and to communicate, whether we’re really qualified to take on the responsibility we’re designed to be entrusted with. And this is not a matter of an examination of the types of governments, nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with economic systems. It has to do with the individual. Does the individual have the courage to really go along with the truth?
  2. Integrity of the individual is what we’re being judged for and if we are not passing that examination, we don’t really have the guts, we’ll blow ourselves up.

Thirdly, I remind us of the meaning of the word ‘integrity:

integrity, n
1. adherence to moral principles; honesty
2. the quality of being unimpaired; soundness
3. unity; wholeness
[from Latin integritās; see integer]

I think there’s something to be noticed about ‘integrity’ by reading the 3 definitions from the bottom up:

3. Start with ‘unity, wholeness’,
2. understand that ‘unimpaired’ and ‘soundness’ are involved, and
1. realize that reaching ‘integrity’ requires honesty in moral principles.

My Best!!(I think we need all our bests!***)–MaggieAnn
*1. I acknowledge the appropriateness of President Obama’s address to the nation on the killing. I acknowledge appropriate reference to to 9/11. Obama’s initial address, however, sounded – to me – insincere and loaded with ‘popular pap’. ‘Popular pap’ thinking and sloganeering is significantly what’s wrong with American policy, at home and abroad. We’re entering yet another campaign onslaught. I’m with Buckminster Fuller’s observations as to our chances of America helping the world create a ‘safe and inspired’ future.
**2. I confess my ‘mind’ doesn’t gather and hold details, names, places of military matters.  It never has.  To those whose minds do hold and work such information, I surely seem ignorant.  I nevertheless stand by the principle theme and issues of this post.
***3. “All our bests”. It’s my belief we (not only Americans, but all humanity) must hold ourselves to the highest standards available to human imagination. Of course the ‘dream’ is radical, a call to extreme idealism, and possibly out of reach. But we dismiss it, and excuse our shortcomings, at our peril.
4. On photos: On Hllary Clinton’s body language, hands over mouth. She explains as allergy cough. As body language of  “felt” “this is unspeakable”, it’s a classic. For news reports on Fallujah’s birth deformity experience, see UK’s Guardian, and UK’s Daily Mail, and/or browse for more articles. For visuals beyond articles, try this link, fallujah birth defects, or use same key words in Google image search. Here is one more ‘collateral damage’ unspeakable outcome visual:

fallujah birth defects 2 - see google images for more

fallujah birth defects 2 - see google images for more

5. This post raises the question of human hypocrisy, human mis-match between claimed ‘highest values’ and  behavior and choice. My objection to hypocrisy is not that we fall short of our highest values, but that we practice pretending there is no mis-match at all. The pretense is dishonest and lacks integrity.

6. Saturday: I’ve found a more informative  article on Friday’s Yemen drone attack at Al Jazeera.  The article says it was also reported in the NYTimes, and the WSJournal. I have no idea why there were almost no ‘hits’ for my basic browser search. The  AJ article also says  Obama admin targeted Al Queda operatives in Yemen as early as November 2010.  It appears this bit of military action is generally considered ‘no big deal’ by general American ‘watch’? -MA


About maggieannthoeni

A description once given of me was "rooted in the earth while roaming the stars" - and this has felt 'right'. I believe in something akin to this for each of us. I am a passionate supporter of discovering the autonomous self while serving the whole as primary intent. I believe in discovery of innate principles, clearing the overlay of socialization that obscures this from us. I believe it is our responsibility to leave no one behind - most particularly to respond to suffering as best we can whereever we find it, whenever we are made aware. I believe in this for the insect as well as the most magnificent form of humanity. I believe in brother/sisterhood without boundary. I believe in righteous indignation when it is appropriate, but do not believe in an enemy. I believe in consciousness, in intelligence, in logic, in rationality, in emotion, in transcendence - and am convinced until we generally practice explore and honor all this in ourselves, we remain profoundly immature. (I believe real maturity is known and practiced by many young children, and not enough adults!)
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One Response to Iraq: The War Card – The Center for Public Integrity (Thoughts After Killing bin Laden)

  1. Isadore says:

    Getting involved with Yemeni affairs and politics is quite similar to getting involved in a bar room brawl. The country was basically invented to protect British interests in oil particularly in the vicinity of Aden in the south which has subsequently adopted a communist government, add to this a mix of Shia, Bathist,several brands of socialist factions then top it off with a large element of Al Qaeda members stir it up with a 65% unemployment rate and there you have it.

    For some military strategists in the West it is hard to differentiate collateral damage in this country, it has so many tempting targets that extremists could easily advocate carpet bombing rather than the surgically accurate bombing that the drones are capable all of. Which brings me to the major points of my comment, and that is to question why you have referred to the drones as blind and indiscriminate weapons when in fact they have vision far superior to that of a pilot in a fighter plane and can deliver their payloads with pinpoint accuracy day or night and in extreme weather conditions that would exclude the use of conventional or piloted aircraft.

    I am not advocating the use of any weapon to harm anyone, I am only commenting on the relative merits of the drones versus conventional weapons delivery platforms, I know it is a little disconcerting to have a hellfire missile dropped into your hip pocket, but unless you are a mortal enemy of someone deploying a drone against you this is highly unlikely , that is not to say that collateral damage does not occur especially in the case of a crowded target area however compared to conventional weapons systems the damage would be much less.

    Once again I must say that I am not advocating the use of any weapons against anyone, I am merely commenting on the technical aspects of a weapons system such as the drone. If we must use weapons against each other I concur with Abraham Lincoln and suggest the weapons we use would be cow pies.

    Good to have your comment! Yes, if I could get myself to accept warring, I’d accept the merit of drones for their general ‘effectiveness’ in successful targeting. (Of course, the Yemen event that drove me to post a blog was a ‘miss’, although not by much. I guess the vehicles were in motion and the targeted one was no longer where the ‘hit’ was to take place, so a different vehicle was hit, which leads to more ‘relative’ approval, as the two people who died were ‘bad guys’ too.)

    But I can’t accept warring. I wonder – IF we hadn’t been so inventive and enthusiastic so as to turn our hunting-for-food weapons into useful human power-struggle devices – what kind of world would we have created? (IF ‘bashing one another’ had never become what it has become.)

    When I first began farming in Canada, a musician friend, of no rural or farm experience, decided that he could not, in good conscious, eat any meat he was not willing to kill and dress himself. I don’t know if he continued in that belief – I don’t think he took up hunting – but he was sincere, and I – for the first time – thought about the ‘learning’ available in taking a life. Drones are among the least ‘acceptable’ weapons to me because they do not ‘force’ the killer to witness the act of killing.

    I much prefer Lincoln’s suggestion and believe there are enough cattle on earth to supply us with ammunition. In the meantime, I have begun to learn more about Yemen and started a post. It took quite a few hours just to round up references – I may get the post written and uploaded in a day or two. Your summary of the human ‘mix’ to be found in Yemen is most welcome! (It also suggests the ease-of-mind with which almost any external ‘power’ might assume the ‘right’ to launch “unnecessary to justify” attack on almost anyone there!)

    Thanks again! –MA

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