(Instead of a Sunday Homily) War Mongering at the New York Times: There’s always a “Why”

Urinating soldiers

Today The New York Times published an inflammatory editorial called “The Fundamental Horror of ISIS.” The evident but unstated purpose of the piece was to strengthen support for the latest waste of our tax-payer dollars on the most recent phase of the so-called “war on terror.” Like its predecessors, that phase has nothing to do with protecting our “homeland.” Rather as Dennis Kucinich has observed, it’s yet another phase of the (by-now) 25 year long war against the impoverished masses who have the misfortune of finding their homes floating on top of a vast sea of oil controlled by foreign outsiders.

To help the White House justify its consequent greed-based aggression, the NYT editorial trotted out the well-worn thesis that ISIS represents unmitigated, irrational evil entirely foreign to the sensitive minds of its gentle readers. So it rehearsed “the beheadings, crucifixions, tortures, rapes and slaughter of captives, children, women, Christians, Shiites.”

This, of course, represents a highly familiar litany relative to our state’s designated enemies. The “presstitutes” made similar allegations against “the Russians” during the Cold War as well as the Chinese Communists. It was also the case with the Sandinistas, the PLO, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Similarly, Manual Noriega, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Muammar Kaddafi, and (until recently) Bashar al-Assad all represented unmitigated evil. Now it’s the turn of ISIS and (as of last Tuesday) Khorasan.

In all of these cases the designated enemies in question have represented pure evil without any legitimate grievance other than sadism that strangely and inexplicably has (according to the Times in the case of ISIS) “attracted hundreds of willing followers — yes, also from Europe and America.”

Times editors put it succinctly in today’s rant: “Comparisons are meaningless at this level of evil, as are attempts to explain the horror by delving into the psychology or rationale of the perpetrators. . . as Roger Cohen, the New York Times columnist, wrote in a recent piece about ISIS, there is no “why” in the heart of darkness.”

To repeat, this level of evil is entirely foreign to the civilized westerners.

Really?

Try explaining that to the victims of the 25 year war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They remember:

• The million and a half civilian deaths in Iraq caused by the U.S.’s naked “war of aggression” against that country – the “supreme international crime” in the eyes of the United Nations.
• YouTube films of U.S. military personnel urinating on the bodies of dead Iraqi patriots defending their “homeland” from barbarous Marines, Special Forces, and Navy Seals.
• Abu Ghraib and its broadly smiling heroes (from next door) sexually assaulting their victims and proudly posing with thumbs up over bodies of those they’ve just tortured to death.
• President Bush and Dick Cheney not only ordering the war crimes of water-boarding and other acts of torture, but joking about it.
• Fallujah and the use of illegal white phosphorous.
• Haditha and the heartlessness of U.S. soldiers systematically slaughtering entire families there.
• The frequent reports of wedding parties and funerals routinely devastated by drones in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Bahrain, Yemen, Pakistan, and who knows where else?
• Chelsea Manning’s release of the film “Collateral Murder,” where U.S. “pilots” joke about “wasting” international journalists and the civilians who came to their aid.
• U.S. insistence on using cluster bombs whose known effect is to blow arms and heads off children attracted to explosives disguised as toys.
• Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s justification of the effects of U.S. sanctions on Iraq, which she admitted killed 500,000 Iraqi children. “Yes, Leslie,” Ms. Albright said to interviewer Leslie Stahl, “we think it was worth it.”
• U.S. supply of arms enabling Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” which wantonly slaughtered more than 2500 Palestinians in direct attacks on civilians and the infrastructure of Gaza.
• U.S. stated intent to adopt similar policy of “relaxed rules” around tolerance of civilian deaths in its latest attacks on Iraq and now Syria.

All of that would easily inspire Al-Jazeera editors to write:

“Comparisons are meaningless at this level of evil, as are attempts to explain the horror by delving into the psychology or rationale of the perpetrators. . . as one of our reporters wrote in a recent piece about the United States, there is no “why” in the heart of darkness.”

But of course, there’s always a “why.”

The difference is that the “why” in the U.S. heart of darkness is greed for oil and the protection of an oil economy that will predictably destroy our planet.

Meanwhile the unexamined “why” of ISIS and the thousands attracted to its cause is intimately connected with response in kind to the Original Aggression of colonialism’s systematic rape of the Middle East. ISIS is responding in kind to U.S. crimes. It’s all blowback.

And the gentle editors of the New York Times (speaking for their employers in the military-industrial complex) can’t stand what they see when they look into the mirror.

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 40 years. Three grown children. Four grandchildren.

3 thoughts on “(Instead of a Sunday Homily) War Mongering at the New York Times: There’s always a “Why””

  1. Thanks for your truth telling Mike. The denial of our crimes insulates us from consciousness and truth, thus insuring our continuing patterns of evil behavior. To the extent that ordinary Americans hide from and deny the truth about our country’s awful crimes, we become abettors of those crimes. To find out and speak the truth is the responsibility of every human being. How will we ever atone for these awful crimes if we avert our eyes and remain silent?

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    1. I agree, Mike. For U.S. politicians and journalists to “take the high ground” in these matters is the height of hypocrisy. It closes doors to dialog and negotiation. But, of course, our politicians and those they so abjectly serve want anything but diplomacy, dialog and negotiation. Instead they consistently resort to bombing and war as a first resort.

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  2. I love your effective use of the bullet points Mike.I must copy before I next go back to Ireland as part of my mission to the Dublin cab-drivers! They like short and snappy.
    Also HOPE maybe coming over the hill on white horses as this week the Synod of world Bishops will take place and we will be waiting for their efforts to address the apocalyptic world’s problems you so well address weekly – and leave us to figure out for ourselves if we are living in sin or not. (Ah the good old days!) Another historically tested and proven form of terror based fear is sin . (BTW the “short act” of contrition for those of us who go back that far always turned me on. Whispering in an ear in hi traffic – teetering on the lip of hell!.) But cynical old me has already abandoned all hope on that count. More stacking of more angels on more pin heads. No shortage of pinheads when it comes to our present crop of vicars.
    Francis should fire the lot of then and resign himself – to leave it to the nuns for a trial year. Then the corporate-press and Mad. Ave. would start to take them seriously. Both know the magic of mullah.
    In the meantime it’s back to old-time pomp, ceremony, hypocrisy – sprinkled with a dash of holy water!
    Keep it up Mike, you are an integral part on the road towards the Light.
    jim

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