Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Book Review From "The Cylinder"

Okay, ... to be clear, "The Cylinder" is only linking to the book review in question: Dahr Jamail’s Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq.

The review is by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, and I especially like the last part that

More than anything, the book is a sad reflection on the state of our society which in its complacent inaction is complicit in the horrors perpetrated abroad. Its feeble protestations, often inspired by a need to relieve guilty conscience, are far outweighed by its willingness to tolerate the most horrific of crimes, so long as they are accompanied by the appropriate high-minded rhetoric. Its capacity to allow civilizational myths, faith in its constitutionally benevolent disposition, to supersede reality inspires both shock and awe. It is also a reflection on the deep-seated malaise that produces the porno-torturers of Abu Ghraib or the moral rot that manifests itself in the butchery at Haditha. The inescapable conclusion here, one summed up a long time back by I. F. Stone in his pithy aphorism, is ‘governments lie’. Let no one be deceived by fatuous oxymora such as ‘humanitarian intervention’ and ‘benign occupation’ any more. (emphasis

For the record, I don't protest that much because I don't think present protest tactics are effective. (I want to post on this in the near future.) But more and more, I become amazed when Westerners express the opinion that somehow we're different in the West. We're not "evil" or "crazed" like the Muslims, or the Chinese, or the communists, or the Kazakhs, or whoever it is we're supposed to be attacking next.

This is part of the reason why most Westerners are so apparently incapable of constructing any sense of why we might be hated in many parts of the world. We see some videos of terrorist-kidnappers beheading people and we think "monsters," but US soldiers, or NATO bombers can blow hundreds of villages to smithereens, US Marines can rape a teenage girl and burn her and her family to death, innocent civilians can be shot to death in the hundreds at road check-points, innocent civilians can be kidnapped, tortured and sexually humiliated, ... but somehow Western airheads "know" that our victims will appreciate the "real" story of our presence in their country (presumably from flag-waving cretins like Michael Yon), and all the atrocities, murders, rapes, and thefts, the cold cynical cruelties, will be forgotten, and they'll love us.

Finally, let's consider the part about our governments lying. Yes, they lie. And they kill. And for me, Vietnam was the last excusable democratic war. And people woke up during that conflict and naked Western imperialism was discredited. But along comes Haiti, and Bush Sr.'s Gulf War, and Kosovo, and Afghanistan, and we're back believing fairy tales told to us by lying, anti-democratic leaders, while the usual suspects suffer and die.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the plug, Thwap! Not so much for the blog (although that is much appreciated) as for Dahr Jamail's book review by M. Idrees Ahmad whose link by the way you need to correct [The one you have is not working. It's this one: http://fanonite.org/2007/09/09/occupied-iraq-a-horizontal-view/].

And I read you. It's all so depressing. Still, the "West" may be calling the shots for now, but for how long? Others (China, India, Russia, for starters) are building capacity to challenge the US Hegemon. When it falls, we - its minions - will all go down with it. Canada could have laid claim to some clemency but with Harper, the façade that it had managed to maintain of being separate from the "Empire" is all but gone. So much for that.

In some sense the West has already lost and that is tragic for what that means is that only brute force and barbarity will prevail.

I was re-reading Doug Stokes' Analyzing Empire today and once again I was struck by the level of compliance and subservience of the other western countries vis-à-vis the US, and not for the well-being of their citizens, mind you, but for that of that macabre elite who do not seem to mind preying on the corpses of the poor and defenseless to feed their greed and their hunger for power.

thwap said...

look forward to reading your links tomorrow!