Liberate Knowledge

…to democratize power in all its forms.

Monthly Archives: May 2011

What The United States Really Means By “National Dialogue” and “Humanitarian”: The Bloody Crackdown in Bahrain

This is the face of the little-reported crackdown against protesters that is taking place in Bahrain, which comes after the Obama administration approved Saudi Arabia’s military action in the country to “restore order” for the ruling family. Beware, this is what the U.S. means when it calls for a country facing revolt to have a “national dialogue

Tanks currently patrol the streets and security forces torture anyone they think may have possibly been a protester during the time the nation teetered on revolution, an uprising that was inspired by the downfalls of the brutal US-backed regimes in Egypt and Tunisia. In these three countries – Egypt, Tunisia, and Bahrain – the Obama administration and its European allies insisted that a vaguely defined “national dialogue” take place in order to “resolve” the crises. Of course, in Egypt and Tunisia, the people themselves spoke through the struggles that brought their oppressive (US-funded) governments to their knees. In Bahrain, the Obama administration allowed (and remained quite about) Saudi Arabian military forces that swept into the country for the sake of “restoring order” (read: unquestioned government rule). In fact, not only did they allow this invasion to take place, but they actually traded it in exchange for Saudi Arabia’s backing of the Western military campaign in Libya.

And thus, a “national dialogue” in Bahrain was imposed. This is a dialogue in which anyone suspected of having sympathies for the uprising can be rounded up and never heard from again; doctors and nurses are abducted from hospitals on suspicion of healing and “arming” protesters; people are kidnapped in front of their families and taken away to be tortured; tanks and helicopters keep Shia villages on lock-down; and people are shot on the streets or in prisons simply on the whims of the security forces.

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The Dangers of this Nationalistic Fever and Bloodlust over Osama bin Laden’s Death

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Update: A slightly edited version of this has been reposted over at Mondoweiss.

Look, I’m glad Osama is gone. Now I wish for the swift crumbling of the US empire as well as the liberation of all the people it oppresses and kills around the globe.

Yet, make no mistake: his assassination will be used to continue and potentially escalate the so-called “Global War on Terror.”  Already I hear the media drum beat growing that “the war must go on” and “we must fight against those that would retaliate.” Each time you feed the Global War on Terror, a by definition never-ending war,  it simply grows and grows. Right now this growth is being cultivated through the calls we’re hearing to be “steadfast” in the face of the “retaliations” that are “sure to come.” (Which begs the question: why did we even assassinate Osama, who by many accounts was now just a figure head and had no operational power, if we knew it would result in retaliations against even more innocent lives?)

However, there is one impending and already manifesting danger even greater than the retaliations from Osama-allies that our politicians and media outlets are fomenting fear over: the immediate explosion of  nationalistic fever and bloodlust that swept across the nation directly following the announcement of bin Laden’s assassination. I direct your attention to the short clip below of students celebrating on the University of Massachusetts, Amherst campus – which is fairly representative of the simultaneous celebrations engulfing the nation well into the early morning of May 2nd.

(P.S. The next time some American media outlet plays videos of Arabs or Muslims burning something while declaring “how barbaric” they are and “how much they hate us,” show them that clip).

Images like these swept over the country, with young people in the streets and even in front of the White House cheering “we won! USA! USA!” and “it’s over! It’s finally over!”, on repeat throughout the night. I had to ask myself while watching these events: they really have no idea, do they?

If by “we won” and “it’s finally over,” these jubilant celebrators meant that our “win” was killing the ultimate terrorist boogeyman – than, yes, I suppose the specter of bin Laden has been defeated. Yet, the Ghost of Osama will keep the eternal “Global War on Terror” (GWOT) and the mass killings (perpetuated primarily by the United States) going and going. The GWOT is by definition an un-winable, never-ending war. It is a “fight” against a vaguely defined concept, meant to keep us on our toes anytime we determine there is a new boogeyman that must be defeated. And the great thing is that it’s global! We’ve got the whole world to scour over for terrorists! We’ll never have a shortage.

What’s important here, however, is that Osama’s assassination is being used consciously and subconsciously to justify and forget about all of the Afghanis and Pakistanis who have died. And, most likely, even the dead Iraqis as well. Don’t forget, we invaded (and continue to occupy) Iraq on the lie that Osama and Saddam were collaborating to kill Americans. (I’m serious: be watchful for the first time you hear “we killed Osama!” as retroactive nonsensical justification for the war in Iraq. I have already heard it mentioned once.). I repeat – the basis for our invasion of Iraq was a lie, and hundreds of thousands have died in Iraq as a result of it. That’s 9/11 over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. (And it’s still going on).

The problem is that American patriotism is so blinding that many Americans can’t even perceive how the death of this one asshole doesn’t justify the death of 14,000-34,000 Afghanis, thousands of Pakistanis, hundreds of people in Yemen, hundreds of thousands in Iraq, and thousands of more Americans. Not to mention the destruction these wars have brought to our environment, nor the financial and social cost we have burdened at home for them. (And by “we” I mean mostly the poor, women, and other historically marginalized communities. Those weapons and oil corporations seem to be doing pretty well for themselves.) So to all those Americans screaming “mission accomplished!” at the top of your lungs: I don’t really understand. What was the mission? To kill Osama? Tell that to the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of innocent people that died before him in that effort, as well as to those that are still yet to perish in the wake of the “great” and “mighty” USA.

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