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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Klein: Status of Iraq Occupation

How is the occupation of Iraq going, you ask? Naomi Klein writes that between 2006-07 "all the major U.S. reconstruction contractors pulled out of Iraq, their billions spent, the bulk of the work undone. Parsons was handed $186 million to build 142 health clinics. Only 6 were ever completed." And the treatment of suspected insurgents? Klein writes: "In the first three and a half years of occupation, an estimated 61,500 Iraqis were captured and imprisoned by U.S. forces, usually with methods designed to 'maximize capture shock.' Roughly 19,000 remained in custody in the spring of 2007. Inside the prisons, more shocks followed: buckets of freezing water; snarling, teeth-baring German shepherds; punching and kicking; and sometimes the shock of electrical currents running from live wires . . . The Red Cross has said that U.S. military officials have admitted that somewhere between 70 and 90 percent of the detentions in Iraq were 'mistakes' . . . In January 2005, Human Rights Watch found that torture within Iraqi-run (and U.S.-supervised) jails and detention facilities was 'systematic,' including the use of electroshock . . . Iraqi jailers were also using the ubiquitous symbol of Latin American torture, the picana, the electric cattle prod . . . [Paul] Bremer was sent to Iraq to build a corporate utopia; instead, Iraq became a ghoulish dystopia where going to a simple business meeting could get you lynched, burned alive or beheaded. By May 2007, more than 900 contractors had been reported killed and 'more than 12,000 wounded in battle or injured on the job,' according to a New York Times analysis." Shock Doctrine, pp. 357-74.

Can this possibly constitute moral behavior by the United States? Is it legal for a state to persist in an occupation that is inflicting such widespread suffering, with no end in sight, other than the promises of Obama and Clinton to end the war? Imagine the psychological state of the average Iraqi when s/he hears Bush or McCain saying there is no timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces. Mental cruelty is a recognized offense in marital relationships. Should not mental cruelty inflicted on one state by another be regarded as a contravention of the laws of human decency? Why aren't any Iraqis initiating legal proceedings in the Court of International Justice at the Hague? All the prosecution would have to do would be to hand the judge The Shock Doctrine.

One wonders what the future holds. I heard soft-spoken historian and social activist Howard Zinn on CCTV the other night say (and I have not corroborated this) that the U.S. has military bases in 100 countries. Is this empire-building? I thought that era was over. And I thought US military capacities were such that we could project military force, via aircraft carriers and long-range bombers, to any area of the world within a short timeframe. What gives with all these bases?

One hears these things and thinks about these things, and the act of screenwriting, at least screenwriting about gangsters, strikes one as the height of frivolity.


Patty McNally Doherty said...

Maybe a screenplay of The Shock Doctrine?

Richard McNally said...

I'm thinking about it, actually.

Patty McNally Doherty said...

I would like to play a small walk on part in this screen play. Like in the middle of the most tense negotiations, when all the sides are at each others throats, I want to step into the scene and recite your poem on all world leaders taking naps.

Richard McNally said...

Now you're talkin'. (And you can have a custom-fitted costume in any style you choose.) Tried my hand at some shock doctrine economic material tonight and I was able to fake my way through it fairly well. No girl roles yet but that will come. Gotta have a love interest. Love of country maybe. You can be the Statue of Liberty.

Patty McNally Doherty said...

Get a girl role in there. I don't want to be some hulking statue of liberty, either. Maybe I'll be the ghost of liberty past.