Crocker and Petraeus Do Washington

  All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz; and
  by and by I learned that, most appropriately, the
  International Society for the Suppression of Savage
  Customs had entrusted him with the making of a re-
  port, for its future guidance.  And he had written it, too.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve read it.  It was eloquent, vibrating with eloquence, but too high-strung, I think.  Seventeen pages of close writing he had found time for!  But this must have been before his — let us say — nerves, went wrong, and caused him to preside at certain midnight dances ending with unspeakable rites, which — as far as I reluctantly gathered from what I heard at various times — were offered up to him — do you understand? — to Mr. Kurtz himself.  But it was a beautiful piece of writing. The opening paragraph, however, in the light of later information, strikes me now as ominous.  He began with the argument that we whites, from the point of development we had arrived at, "must necessarily appear to them [savages] in the nature of supernatural beings — we approach them with the might as of a deity," and so on, and so on.  "By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded," etc., etc. From that point he soared and took me with him. The peroration was magnificent, though difficult to remember, you know.  It gave me the notion of an exotic Immensity ruled by an august Benevolence.  It made me tingle with enthusiasm.  This was the unbounded power of eloquence — of words — of burning noble words.  There were no practical hints to interrupt the magic current of phrases, unless a kind of note at the foot of the last page, scrawled evidently much later, in an unsteady hand, may be regarded as the exposition of a method.  It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: "Exterminate all the brutes!"

Might anyone care to explain to me how so-called counterinsurgency doctrine, as written and talked about, and as practiced these days, ca. 2007, by the Americans, differs in substance from the report that Kurtz prepared for the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs — with its grand assumptions that rights flowed from the Whiteness of the Europeans, its sense of supernatural beings confronting mere savages, of an august Benevolence lording over the exotic Immensity below, and, above all, its "unbounded power of eloquence — of words — of burning noble words"? 

Like flies and cockroaches to the Global Exterminator — this is how the majority of the people of this planet look to the Americans. 

No matter how eloquent and how noble their words sound, no matter what current of phrases streams over their lips — Red Scare this or that, the Cold War, the War on Terror – the Americans torture, they terrorize, they make war — and they lie.

Securing, Stabilizing, and Rebuilding Iraq: Iraqi Government Has Not Met Most Legislative, Security, and Economic Benchmarks (GAO-07-1195), David M. Walker, U.S. Government Accountability Office, September, 2007.  (For a summary of the report.  And for the easy-access file.)

Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq (Prepared Statement), General David H. Petraeus, September 10/11, 2007
Prepared Statement of Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, September 10/11, 2007

The Status of the War and Political Developments in Iraq, Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, September 10, 2007 
Iraq: The Crocker – Petraeus Report, Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, September 11, 2007
Iraq: The Crocker – Petraeus Report, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, September 11, 2007 

Renewal in Iraq (Homepage), White House Office of the Press Secretary
"Address by the President to the Nation on the Way Forward in Iraq," White House Office of the Press Secretary, September 13, 2007 

Counterinsurgency (i.e., "U.S. Army / Marine Corps Field Manual 3-24"), David H. Petraeus and James F. Amos, December, 2006 (as posted by the website of the Federation of American Scientists)
"Relearning Counterinsurgency Warfare," Robert R. Tomes, U.S. Army Professional Writing Collection, as re-posted from the journal Parameters, Spring, 2004
"Modernizing U.S. Counterinsurgency: Rethinking Risk and Developing a National Strategy," Sarah Sewall, Military Review, September/October, 2006
"Crafting a New Counterinsurgency Doctrine," Sarah Sewall, Foreign Service Journal, September 2007 

"Iraq violence in figures," BBC International, (no date). – Be sure to click on the "Civilian toll" option at the top of the webpage. (I should add that a serious undercounting fallacy follows from relying on the Iraq Body Count data, as the IBC’s methodology presents (i.e., presuming they perform their analyses correctly) a  tabulation of the reported fatalities inside the public sources that comprise the IBC’s media universe.  But nothing more.)
"Is the U.S. Responsible for a Million Iraqi Deaths?" Patrick McElwee and Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy, September 11, 2007
"September 2007 — More than 1,000,000 Iraqis murdered," Opinion Research Business (U.K.), September, 2007.  (And the accompanying Questionnaire.)  
"A Deafening Silence On Report Of One Million Iraqis Killed Under U.S. Occupation," Patrick Martin, World Socialist Web Site, September 17, 2007 
"ORB Survey And 1.2 Million Iraq Deaths Ignored By Australian And Anglo-American Media," Gideon Polya, CounterCurrents, September 19, 2007

"Iraq’s Own Surge Assessment: Few See Security Gains," ABC News Polling Unit, September 10, 2007
"Iraq poll September 2007: In graphics," BBC International, September 10, 2007
"U.S. surge has failed — Iraqi poll," BBC International, September 10, 2007
"Iraq poll makes for grim reading," Nick Childs, BBC International, September 10, 2007

"Mortality After the March 2003 U.S. Military Invasion of Iraq," ZNet, October 11, 2006
"‘By the Conjunction of Terrorism and WMD’," ZNet, August 21, 2007
"To Bomb Iran," ZNet, September 1, 2007
"No End In Sight," ZNet, September 7, 2007"
"Crocker and Petraeus Do Washington," ZNet September 10, 2007

Update (September 16): This past Thursday, September 13, after something like 20 years of work towards this end, the UN General Assembly adopted a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (A/61/L.67) by the overwhelming margin of 143 votes in favor, and only 4 against.  (With another 11 abstentions.  And 34 no-shows.)

In a fitting testimony to their histories of liquidating their own indigenous populations and stealing the land right out from underneath their feet, the four UN Member States to have voted against the Declaration were Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.  (Though one suspects that the vast majority of UN Member States share similar histories of dispossession and indigenous cleansing.)

As a friend of mine said in calling the four Nay-votes to my attention: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States are the Four "Genocidaires," after all.

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (A/61/L.67), September 13, 2007.  (And the accompanying UN news release (GA/10612).) 

"United Nations adopts Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples," UN News Center, September 13, 2007
"UNICEF welcomes adoption of Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples," UN News Center, September 16, 2007

"UN assembly backs indigenous people’s rights," Patrick Worsnip, Reuters, September 13, 2007

Update (September 17): From the dog-bites-man file: On the same date that the Israeli Air Force carried out a bombing raid in northern Syria for still-undisclosed reasons — unless it’s an obvious reason, such as testing the performance of the kind of Russian-built surface-to-air missile defense system that Iran has been stocking-up-on in anticipation of the worst — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his spokesperson Michèle Montas issued statements that covered (among other ground) the fact that the Secretary-General had participated in a joint news conference earlier that day in Khartoum with Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, where the two of them pledged to work for peace in Darfur, and announced that negotiations are to be held in Libya on October 27.

Montas even issued a statement on the Secretary-General’s behalf about his having been "deeply saddened to learn of the death of Luciano Pavarotti."  

But when Montas’ prepared remarks concluded, and she turned to the question-and-answer session, the very first question of all was about Israel’s bombing raid into Syria:  "I just wanted to ask whether the Secretary-General has any reaction to Syrian charges that Israel violated its airspace this morning and that they had to fire back."

Montas’ exact response?  "Not at this momentWe are monitoring the situation."

Can you imagine how this September 6 news conference might have gone, had it been Syria’s jets that launched a bombing raid into Israel earlier that morning, rather than the other way around? 

Of course you can.

But in terms of newsworthiness and in terms of the relative worth of the victim and perpetrator in this particular instance? 

Well.  This was just another illustration of the age-old adage about dog-bites-man versus man-bites-dog stories.   And to the best of my knowledge, as of Sunday eveing, September 16, the UN Secretary-General had not yet issued anythng remotely like an official condemnation of this all-too-typical Israeli breach of the peace.  

So much for the end of the "culture of impunity" in the 21st Century!

"Spokesperson’s Noon Briefing," UN, September 6, 2007
"Was Israeli raid a dry run for attack on Iran?" Peter Beaumont, The Observer, September 16, 2007

Update (September 21): From the Washington Post‘s Tom Toles. — The fat man in the ropes must be Democratic Senator Harry Reid.  (Because I doubt whether he’s Nancy Pelosi.)














Update (September 22):

"Ignorance of Iraqi death toll no longer an option," Les Roberts and Gilbert Burnham, September 20, 2007 

According to the editors at Media Lens, the superb British-based media-watchdog group, Les Roberts and Gilbert Burnham submitted this brief, 542-word-long commentary to three U.S. papers on September 20.  Through Saturday, September 22, they had not heard about the status of their submission.  But I wouldn’t be optimistic: Killing with their eyes wide-shut is as American as apple pie.

For a copy of Burnham – Roberts et al.’s last major study of deaths suffered by Iraqis during the American war against their country, see The Human Cost of the War in Iraq: A Mortality Study, 2002-06, Gilbert Burnham et al., October, 2006 (as posted by the Center for International Studies, MIT).

And for a copy of the recent survey by the U.K.-based Opinion Research Business firm, see "September 2007 — More than 1,000,000 Iraqis murdered," September, 2007.  (And the accompanying Questionnaire.))  

"But Then It Was Too Late," Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933 – 1945 (University of Chicago Press, 1966), pp. 166 – 173.
"No Past, No Future," Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman’s Blues (Blog), September 17, 2007
"At State Dept., Blog Team Joins Muslim Debate," Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, September 22, 2007 

Update (September 24):

Iran’s Future: An Open Letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Akbar Ganji, September 24, 2007

Given the wide acceptance of Ganji’s letter, as indicated by the 300-plus persons who have added their signatures to it ("We categorically reject a military attack on Iran," it asserts, way down in the second-to-last paragraph), and given the despicable performance earlier today by Columbia University’s President Lee Bollinger, who, while introducing the President of Iran for the first of the University’s World Leaders Forum lectures for 2007-2008, played-to-the-crowd and insulted the man unrelentingly, I’d like to draft a very simple letter of my own, and see how many of the 300-plus signers of Ganji’s letter — not to mention Columbia’s Bollinger — would agree to sign their name to mine.

No longer than 25 words long, mine would state:

  We hereby affirm the inherent right of the Iraqi people to resist all forms of alien subjugation, including armed resistance against the United States military.  

  Signed, ________________ .

Now.  Out of the 300-plus signers of Ganji’s letter, how many do you think would sign mine? 

David Peterson
Chicago, USA

Postscript. Of course, I could add a second sentence: One that acknowledges the failure of the UN Security Council, as the United States launched its war of aggression against Iraq, to live up to the Council’s functions and powers and mount a defense of Iraq against the U.S. forces, adding that until such time as the Council does take the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security, we also affirm the inherent right of other states and non-state agents to come to the defence of Iraq and its peoples, and to resist the foreign subjugation to which they are subjected. — But as it’s difficult to express all of this within 25 words or less, I decided to leave it out for now.

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