Current Comedy, 4/9/10: "Greeting Us With Flowers"
To cop yet another opening riff from Jon Stewart, in what has got to be this year's most embarrassing example of the old classic 'takes-one-to-know-one" cliché, the president of the world's leading narco-state, Hamid Karzai, that paragon of virtue, is in a snit and has also finally come clean about the allegations of corruption in his recent "re-election." Karzai admits the election fraud was rampant but blames the ballot tampering on some disreputable drug buddies of his: the US government.
That's right, our hand-picked dictator for the last decade, who is the brother of the world's leading heroin producer, and is in bed with the world's biggest junkie, us, a man who treats corruption and bribery as if they were fashion statements, our business partner in crime, who is rumored to sniff a poppy or two himself, a man that is such a kleptocrat even his own citizens have tried to off him four times, that Hamid Karzai, he thinks we Americans play too dirty in when it comes to politics and he wants nothing more to do with us. To hear him tell it one of the Western World's innovations that America proudly brought to the presumably medieval Afghani electoral process is that we have shown them better ways to cheat.
There can be little doubt Karzai already knew a trick or two when it comes to dealing dirty; but if Bush-Gore and 2004 are how we export democracy, no wonder so many other nations complain that the "democracy" we bring them is damaged on arrival.
Now to hear Karzai tell it, the Afghanis want back the flowers they never threw at us and want to be left alone to grow more opium for them to sell to us. Even though our military has admitted that curbing Afghan opium production is counter to their mission, Karzai is saying the Taliban are beginning to look like a better date to the prom than us. Nine years in and our image has shriveled from initially unbidden unwelcome "liberators" all the way down to the imperial quagmire keepers and designated dopefiends.
How is it that truth, justice, and the American Way are losing out to the same drug dealing religious zealots who once blasted the crap out of a pair of internationally revered giant 2000 year old Buddha statues carved into a mountain side, because Buddhism didn't live up to their purity standards? America couldn't be that far off the mark, could we? How could we have possibly made ourselves look even worse to the Afghan people than those guys who would rather a woman die in agony from a curable malady than be touched by a male physician, who would rather throw acid in a woman's face than have her go to school? There's no way we could be worse than those guys.
Truth, justice, equality, opportunity, fair play. That's what America believes in, right? How could it be the Afghanis aren't in love with Americans and our American ideals?
Perhaps, it has to do with the fact that those ideals are mere marketing slogans we repeat as mantras to keep the reality of the American disasters we've created tolerably anesthetized. We may call those words our ideals but we are not living up to them, yet expect every other country to bow and scrape as if we were the jewel of the earth.
I know that over at Fox they've hardly had a moment to cover it, what with all the air time required to adequately create Tea Party fabrications that are clever enough to temporarily delude someone with a fifth grade education; but this week the international and liberal news media have been a-boil over yet another case of US military atrocities in Afghanistan.
This week they have uncovered yet another military cover-up where US soldiers "accidentally" shot five more innocent Afghan people including two pregnant mothers. Then in a gruesomely inept attempt to conceal their error, the soldiers violated the bodies of the dead Muslim women by cutting the bullets out and hiding them, then they swabbed the wounds out with alcohol to destroy evidence, and even concocted a canard about the women being stabbed to death before the US forces got there.
In the PR campaign the completely concocted incident was framed as another case of Afghani barbarity, yet another selling point on why we need to be there. You can almost hear the rationale as they made that one up: 'Oh, if only our boys had been there in time they could have protected the poor women from such acts of senseless violence.' And so on. As CNN reported it, a U.S. official claimed, "the women had been shot 'execution-style' and that the killings had 'the earmarks of a traditional honor killing.'"
Boggles the mind, huh? Add to it that this revelation comes the same week American mainstream media is doing their best to marginalize the latest US Iraq War Atrocity, a media bombshell that exploded when the whistleblower website, Wiki-Leaks presented info at the National Press Club and posted an instanta-viral video of US helicopters ... let's call it "engaging" with reporters from Reuters, to the tune of eleven dead, including a passerby who stopped to render assistance and got himself and his children shot up for his kindness.
This was also an honor killing in a way. The audio portion of the actual video including the voices of the helicopter gun crew. And you can tell they are honored to be murdering in the service of their country and listen how well their behavior honors us:
"Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards," says one crewman after multiple rounds of 30mm cannon fire left nearly a dozen bodies littering the street. A crewman begs for permission to open fire on the van and its occupants, even though it has done nothing but stop to help the wounded: "Come on, let us shoot!" Two crewmen share a laugh when a Bradley fighting vehicle runs over one of the corpses. And after soldiers on the ground find two small children shot and bleeding in the van, one crewman can be heard saying: "Well, it's their fault bringing their kids to a battle." And so on.
The Wiki-Leaks video, titled "Collateral Murder," runs almost 18 minutes and is said to be but the first of a series of leaked videos of deadly displays of US excessive force. With as previous hits such as Abu Ghriab and Fallujah already in the can, this long running big-budget production, "American War Abuses in Arab Lands" appears to have more episodes than "The Simpsons" and, like its predecessors, should be a hit at madrassas world wide.
Dan Froomkin's Huffington Post reporting covered both the incident itself and the furor that has erupted from Wiki's leaked video of the actual 2007 incident. As usual, as the controversy has unfolded, the military knew exactly which enemy to most target to counter the damage they had done: they blamed the whistleblower and declared that the Wiki-Leaks website, "represents a potential force protection, counterintelligence, operational security (OPSEC), and information security (INFOSEC) threat to the US Army." That's a government working hard for the common good, their own good.
At the time, the military issued a standard press release which the New York Times parroted--US personnel 'were hit by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The American troops called in for reinforcements and attack helicopters. In the ensuing firefight, the statement said, "the two Reuters employees and nine insurgents were killed."
Of course, that whitewash was generated by Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, commander of the Army's 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment. He's the guy who "told ESPN that the reluctance of Tillman's parents to accept the military's story that he was killed by enemy action, rather than friendly fire, was the unfortunate result of their lack of Christian faith."
As you may recall Pat Tillman, AZ Cardinal football hero, patriotically set down football to join the military to honor his country early in the war. He quickly soured on the war in Afghanistan, prepared to speak out against it, even started contacting reporters and Noam Chomsky, of all people, and promptly caught a bullet between the eyes. Friendly fire. What a lovely term for murder. The story the military and their lapdogs the press told migrated farther than a runaway teen with a hundred dollar bus ticket. Wikipedia summarizes the shifts the story took as our government reluctantly admitted the truth:
"The Army initially claimed that Tillman and his unit were attacked in an apparent ambush .... An Afghan militia soldier was killed, and two other Rangers were injured as well .... A more thorough investigation concluded that no hostile forces were involved in the firefight and that two allied groups fired on each other in confusion after a nearby explosive device was detonated .... On July 26, 2007, the AP received official documents stating that the investigating doctors performing the autopsy suspected that Tillman was murdered." And Tillman is only one of a string of "mysterious battle field deaths." According to a 2006 USA Today story as many as 40% of the deaths reported to surviving families were filled with distortions.
For us here in the US, American war corruption (pick a flavor--Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater, Triple Canopy, or last month's latest poster boy, Col. Kevin Davis) is but an annoying distraction between commercials. Like most of our dealings with all the narco-states America favors with our dollars (both in the form of military aid to "stamp out the evil scourge" over there and being their number one customer over here), places like Vietnam in the 60s, Nicaragua in the 80s, perennial favorites Mexico and Colombia and now the poppy capital of the world, thanks to none other than the policies of George W Bush; tolerating the local corruption is just part of doing business. But in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, the way America does business is a daily slap in the face.
The American public is routinely told we need to have faith. Though it may take decades and trillions America will rebuild Afghanistan in our own image. A drug fueled economy, corruption in high places, phony elections, and religious fanatics trying to control everything while the supposed watch dogs look the other way? We may already be there. And after spending 10 years in bed with the drug dealing Karzai brothers, it appears the flowers they've been greeting us with have been poppies all along and we're the ones who are hooked.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.