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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 05/01/2011 - 05/08/2011
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Chomsky: more on the execution of Osama

as with my previous post citing glenn greenwald, noam chomsky makes a typically articulate, well-reasoned case against the u.s. policy of extrajudicial assassinations and, for good measure, throws in the incredibly offensive use of a native american hero to identify the target...
We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic. Uncontroversially, his crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s, and he is not a “suspect” but uncontroversially the “decider” who gave the orders to commit the “supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for which Nazi criminals were hanged: the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country, the bitter sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region.

There’s more to say about [Cuban airline bomber Orlando] Bosch, who just died peacefully in Florida, including reference to the “Bush doctrine” that societies that harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves and should be treated accordingly. No one seemed to notice that Bush was calling for invasion and destruction of the U.S. and murder of its criminal president.

Same with the name, Operation Geronimo. The imperial mentality is so profound, throughout western society, that no one can perceive that they are glorifying bin Laden by identifying him with courageous resistance against genocidal invaders. It’s like naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk… It’s as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes “Jew” and “Gypsy.”

There is much more to say, but even the most obvious and elementary facts should provide us with a good deal to think about.

as my brother said in our conversation yesterday, it's more than a little disturbing to tune in to the news channels and get the flavor-of-the-week, "all osama, all the time"...

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Glenn: the case against the execution of Osama

leave it to glenn to make a powerful, reasoned argument for due process and the rule of law, principles we seem to have forsaken in the united states...

The Allied powers could easily have taken every Nazi war criminal they found and summarily executed them without many people caring. But they didn't do that, and the reason they didn't is because how the Nazis were punished would determine not only the character of the punishing nations, but more importantly, would set the standards for how future punishment would be doled out. Here was the very first paragraph uttered by lead Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson when he stood up to deliver his Opening Statement:

The privilege of opening the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated. That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.

And here was the last thing he said:

Civilization asks whether law is so laggard as to be utterly helpless to deal with crimes of this magnitude by criminals of this order of importance. It does not expect that you can make war impossible. It does expect that your juridical action will put the forces of international law, its precepts, its prohibitions and, most of all, its sanctions, on the side of peace, so that men and women of good will, in all countries, may have "leave to live by no man's leave, underneath the law."

I actually believe in those precepts. And if those principles were good enough for those responsible for Nazi atrocities, they are good enough for the likes of Osama bin Laden. It's possible they weren't applicable here; if he couldn't be safely captured because of his attempted resistance, then capturing him wasn't a reasonable possibility. But it seems increasingly clear that the objective here was to kill, not capture him, no matter what his conduct was. That, at the very least, raises a whole host of important questions about what we endorse and who we are that deserves serious examination -- much more than has been prompted by this celebrated killing.

i am adamantly opposed to killing in any form except in the purest case of self-defense, and i am even more opposed to its glorification...

was bin laden a bad man...? i think that's beyond question... did he deserve extrajudicial assassination...? no... he deserved what any country that espouses due process and the rule of law would require without hesitation - a trial in which there would be a full accounting of his crimes and appropriate punishment meted out accordingly... was bin laden even the one behind the 9/11 tragedy...? without due process, we will never know...

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Poor country gov'ts accept bribes; rich country gov'ts enable corporate theft

it's a beautiful friday morning here in kabul after a very rare cloudburst cum hail yesterday afternoon that left the air cool and fresh and mud puddles on some of the streets up to the bumpers of small cars...

friday is our one-day "weekend" here, cherished downtime in a six-day work week... we had a delightful gathering last night in a local restaurant with an afghan couple who just celebrated their one year wedding anniversary... good food, good company, and lots of laughs...

despite the glory of a beautiful day, it's important to be ever mindful of the fact that we - afghans, americans and the rest of the world's citizens alike - are continually being fleeced by those for whom "enough is never enough"...

jeffrey sachs

The world is drowning in corporate fraud, and the problems are probably greatest in rich countries – those with supposedly “good governance.” Poor-country governments probably accept more bribes and commit more offenses, but it is rich countries that host the global companies that carry out the largest offenses. Money talks, and it is corrupting politics and markets all over the world.

Hardly a day passes without a new story of malfeasance. Every Wall Street firm has paid significant fines during the past decade for phony accounting, insider trading, securities fraud, Ponzi schemes, or outright embezzlement by CEOs. A massive insider-trading ring is currently on trial in New York, and has implicated some leading financial-industry figures. And it follows a series of fines paid by America’s biggest investment banks to settle charges of various securities violations.

There is, however, scant accountability. Two years after the biggest financial crisis in history, which was fueled by unscrupulous behavior by the biggest banks on Wall Street, not a single financial leader has faced jail. When companies are fined for malfeasance, their shareholders, not their CEOs and managers, pay the price. The fines are always a tiny fraction of the ill-gotten gains, implying to Wall Street that corrupt practices have a solid rate of return. Even today, the banking lobby runs roughshod over regulators and politicians.


[N]ext time you hear about a corruption scandal in Africa or other poor region, ask where it started and who is doing the corrupting. Neither the US nor any other “advanced” country should be pointing the finger at poor countries, for it is often the most powerful global companies that have created the problem.

sachs makes a very important point... corruption is fueled by money and to really understand the full scope of the problem, we only need to remember the tired but true maxim, "follow the money"...

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Rejoicing in a corpse with half its head blown off

observing the orgasmic reactions of the news media over bin laden's murder from here in afghanistan is an interesting experience to say the least...

probably about half the afghans i know have said over the past few years that they aren't so sure that bin laden even existed, suspecting rather that he was a myth concocted and nurtured to feed the insatiable u.s. need for a "great satan"... in any case, the most common afghan reaction to the bin laden story was to ask those of us from the u.s. how WE felt about it, to remind us repeatedly that they had told us all along that he was in pakistan and to insist, as they have done ever since i've been coming here, that pakistan is the principal - if not the only - real source of the continuing violence in their country...

it's also interesting to note the hand-wringing in the u.s. over releasing the photo of bin laden's corpse... here in the house, we have access to a number of news channels in india and they splashed the photo all over their news reports within hours of the story breaking... whether they were the real thing or not is open to question, of course, but i can assure you, there was no hand-wringing...

meanwhile, back in the u.s., the blood lust is at fever pitch...

from glenn...

The Washington Times Editorial Page:

Those primitive, bloodthirsty Muslim fanatics sure do love to glorify death and violence.

yes, those nasty, vicious muslim fanatics...

meanwhile, i will sit here at my laptop for a while longer before heading off for a shower, breakfast, and spending the day working around a houseful of some of the most gentle, polite, good-natured, devout afghan muslims it's been my privilege to know...

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Sunday, May 01, 2011

How our world is being engulfed in a corporate takeover and what we can do about it

the more i am exposed to the thoughtful and unyielding common sense of vandana shiva, the more impressed i am... she's a force of nature...
Vandana Shiva: Understanding the Corporate Takeover

"The American people should see that corporations have abandoned them long ago," says scientist, environmentalist, and food justice activist Dr. Vandana Shiva, named one of the seven most influential women in the world by Forbes magazine. "The people will have to rebuild democracy as a living democracy."

i hope that, as time goes on, people like vandana shiva can command more and more of the world stage...

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