A Commentary by Lloyd C. Daniel

Part I

As with the Pentagon Papers, that told the truth about what was actually happening in the war in Vietnam, once again, classified documents have been released, to the public, that confirm and clarify hard truths, including war crimes, about an already, largely, unpopular war. When the Pentagon papers were first released, there were those who insisted that either they were not factual or were just misinterpreted. A similar bogus defense is now being mounted against the documents that have been made publicly available through the New York Times, the British Guardian and the German Der Spiegal newspapers. Such a defense did not work with the Pentagon Papers and it won’t work with the over 800,000 pages of, until recently, classified documents recently released by the watchdog organization Wikileaks. Thousands of new previously unreleased documents continue to arrive. The truth will come out and that truth shall set us free, free from the disinformation, propaganda and lies told about the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and throughout the regions of Western Asia and North East Africa.
If you’re interested, as CNN pointed out, anyone with a computer may access these, once secret, documents, summaries and related analysis by going to www.wikileaks.org

What follows are a few of the revelations taken from the documents:

1) The Taliban have gained access to quantities of rocket propelled grenades and many shoulder launched surface to-air-missiles (SAMS). Ironically, many of the SAMS are actually surplus weapons given to the Taliban, and other guerilla movements, by the CIA when the United States was secretly supporting Mujahideen forces, including the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, in their fight against the Soviet Union’s invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Other SAMS are apparently being bought off the black market and possibly coming from pro-resistance elements within the Pakistani security services, including the army and from semi-autonomous sectors of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

2) The United States has deployed what civilians, in places like
El Salvador, Columbia and Haiti, call “death squads”, to murder people “suspected” of being Taliban or Taliban sympathizers. Earlier in the war, one of the most active Special Forces units involved in this kind of activity was known as Task Force 373. The unit still exists, but under another name. The work of these adhoc teams of assassins is similar to that of the Phoenix Program that committed thousands of murders during America’s war in Vietnam. This tactic has also been and is being used in other nations, including El Salvador, Columbia, Eritrea, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq. Regardless of reduced media coverage and spin, the civil war in Iraq continues.

3) Many members of the Pakistani army are Taliban and/or Taliban supporters who see the Taliban and militias as a hedge against India, which also has nuclear weapons.

4) Millions of dollars given to the Pakistani army to fight the Taliban have, for years, gone into the hands of the Taliban and numerous other nationalist and Islamic insurgents, including Al-Qaida.

5) An estimated 20,000 Afghani civilians have been killed by US and other foreign combat troops and in US air strikes. Many have died in revenge attacks, like the one carried out by Polish NATO troops. A large portion of these victims have been women and children.

6) Military reports, to media outlets, have intentionally exaggerated the number of Taliban guerillas killed, while, knowingly and consistently, underestimating the number of civilians who have died. The Pentagon Papers proved that the same propaganda strategy was employed during the war in Vietnam.

7) The Taliban and other resistance fighters have far more strategic understanding, resilience and popular support than previously thought or admitted to.

8) There are secret prisons in Afghanistan, where, in violation of the Geneva Conventions, prisoners of war are being held without charges or trials and tortured. Some are being sent off to other countries where they are left to endure these war crimes.

9) The people of Afghanistan, Iraq and dozens of other country’s national and international intelligence networks have long known about these so-called “secrets”.

10) Over 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed during the United States’ so-called Operation Iraqi Freedom.

11) The United States has over 80,000 troops and over 100,000, barely regulated, mercenaries, and so-called contractors, in Afghanistan.

Ironically, it has been the American people who have been kept in the dark, out of fear that they might support the illegal wars, even less, if they find out what’s really happening.

Gangsterism and preemptive war is not the just way forward. For me, a drive by is a drive by, whether it be done while riding in a drop top ’65 Chevy, an F-16 jet or carried out by a predator drone. Whether the gangsters are in the streets or the suites, the violence needs to stop.

Plus, growing up in Ward Chapel and Allen Chapel A.M.E. churches, it’s my understanding that Jesus said, “Love your enemies”, not bomb them.

Occupying other people’s countries because they have something we want, that they don’t want to sell and we don’t want to pay for, is wrong. It was wrong when Hitler was doing it and just because it’s now being done by the United States, doesn’t make it right.
Part II

Occupation is occupation and it is a crime in and of itself. Just ask the people of Palestine who languish beneath the jackboot of “Israeli Apartheid”, as former President Jimmy Carter, recently, implied. Boycotting investment in, what was then, the US-backed, white racist South African dictatorship was a major force in changing that government’s mind. Now is the time for a similar, world wide, movement in relation to the arrogant, racist, brutal and recalcitrant government of Israel. The people of Palestine have a right to choose their own leadership, just as they have a right to reestablish and return to their own land. By the way, specifically, who monitors Israel’s nuclear weapons programs?

When Bush was pursuing this strategy he was wrong. Just because an intelligent, articulate and smiling Black man, President Obama, is now pursuing a similar approach does not make it right. Just because a man, whom many of us support and voted for, is now leading the process doesn’t change wrong to right. If President Bush was mistaken on these conflicts, so too is President Obama. “Dippin’ wrong in chocolate, don’t make wrong right.” The sad fact is that the first US who happens to be Black, has along with a handful of, has-been, European colonial powers, invaded Africa on behalf of the rouge transnational military/corporate elite.

One of the biggest misconceptions about why we’re in Afghanistan is that we’re there to help the women. Then why don’t we invade and occupy Saudi Arabia. The US already has troops in the Kingdom. There, all women and most men are not allowed to vote. Women are not even allowed to drive a car. Plus, that’s where most of the people that the United States government claims participated in the 911 attack originated. We should check the film entitled, “Loose Change”. It’s on the Internet. But we don’t put any pressure on the Saudi government, even though they have invaded Bahrain and brutally crushed those calling for democracy, because they’re corrupt and willing tools of US foreign policy. It’s also important to note than the US Navy’s 5th Fleet is anchored in Bahrain. The reality is that the US power-elite only backs so-called “democratic” movements when they don’t fight against foreign control of their nation and its natural resources.

As popular resentment festers, the corrupt and brutal monarchy, which runs Saudi Arabia, refuses to allow freedom of speech and other basic human rights; the United States continues to play Rent-A-Cop to keep the greedy royal family in power. Every day, other nations such as, Tunisia, Yemen, Mauritania, Algeria, and Jordan and Egypt look more and more like Iran, before the tyrannical US-backed Shah was forced to flee, opening the door for Ayatollah Khomeini and the first modern-day Islamic Revolution. Throughout the Arab world, led largely by the young, “People Power” has become a significant force that challenges US-backed elites.

America’s current wars, unlike WWII, are not about protecting the people
of this country or any other country. They’re primarily about corporate interests, natural resources and a failing attempt, by the United States’ military industrial complex, to continue controlling, to its own advantage, other nations and their wealth, an elaborate, sophisticated and deadly for of “international bullying”, a process commonly known as imperialism. It’s an elaborate, greedy and deadly form of international bullying. Over the past 60 years, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Spain, Japan and Great Britain have all faced similar circumstances as they’ve watched their hopes for greater imperial conquests slip away, as much of that stolen wealth was being returned, for better or worse, to its rightful owners. As the noted writer, James Baldwin, put it, “Once the sun never set on the British Empire. But now the sun can’t find it”. In most of these countries, an increase in ultra-conservative and fascist movements, have accompanied their nations decline in world status. Look at the United States and across the European Union. This is a world wide crisis for monopoly capitalism and those who live in and under it.

This decline in world status often begins, not when empires are weak, as one might think, but when they’re actually quite strong. So strong that false pride, breathtaking contempt for the rights of their own citizens and people in other nations, along with strategic over-reach become the order of the day.
It has been said, that a nation cannot be a republic (a democratic nation) and run an empire at the same time. I believe this to be true. America will be forced to make a choice. Will we continue to accept unregulated corporate influence and one international jack move after another for fun and profit after another or will we resist this direction in favor of what most of us know to be right? In the 1930s and ’40s the people of Germany faced a similar circumstance. They made the wrong choices and extraordinary global catastrophe ensued.

The United States should get out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Iran, and Yemen, etc. The strategy being pursued and the tactics being applied in these places are not primarily about suppressing Islamic guerilla movements; they’re actually enhancing and accelerating these groups ability to recruit fighters. The current strategy is not wining over the “hearts and minds” of the general population being engaged. In the absence of broad popular support from the indigenous people, wars like these are virtually impossible to win. We, as citizens of the United States, must realize that these wars are, largely, about other nation’s natural resources, especially oil and the planned construction of a pipeline through Western Asia to the Caspian Sea, over which globalized energy monopolies like Exxon Mobil, BP and Halliburton are salivating, not the Taliban or similar nationalist groups. On top of that, most people, other than the people of the region, don’t know that Afghanistan has been blessed with huge amounts of untapped coal, gold, silver, copper and iron ore deposits. This booty has tempted foreign adventurers, buyers, thieves and pirates for generations. The bloody crusade continues.

My grandmother once told me that, “Taking what belongs to somebody else, doesn’t make it yours. It just makes it stolen”. The same is true whether you’re jacking your neighbor’s big-screen TV or another nation’s natural resources, dignity and right to self-determination. All the while our government is wasting tax dollars that could help create jobs, in this country, jobs that don’t lead to mayhem, destruction, death and more profits for the already filthy-rich ruling classes.

What would we, in this country do, if we were occupied and being pushed around by a huge technologically advanced foreign army that was torturing and killing our people while dictating who our leaders should be? If you know Americans, you know good and well, that most people would support trying, all they could, to, as we used to say on the Ram Jets little league baseball team “knock fire” from the invaders. Many Americans try hard to convince themselves that the people we invade think differently? But believe it or not, people are people, everywhere.

Americans are not the only people with a sense of national pride and patriotism. But, many of us, unable to see through our prejudice, hatred and brainwashing, don’t see most of the rest of the humans, across the globe, as people with a right to determine their own destiny. Americans wouldn’t think of giving up that right. But we, regularly, deny it to millions around the world by supporting dictatorial regimes eager to do the bidding of transnational corporations, while they hold their own people in illiteracy and poverty. That’s why we don’t know, for sure, how many people, including civilians, in Iraq and Afghanistan have been killed, because our government has chosen not to count them all. Counting all the displaced, killed and murdered would make for bad, but true, headlines.

It’s as if these civilians, often innocent men, women and children don’t matter, as if they were just “collateral damage”. Why can’t we see that that’s the same madness spewed by Timothy McVeigh and the ultra-white nationalist, fundamentalist Christian terrorist in Norway? This mentality is why, as if programmed, many Americans, including members of the armed forces, so easily call the people of Western Asia and Northern Africa “rag heads”, “niggers” and “sand niggers”.

In Vietnam the indigenous people, the native people, the ones we chose to invade, were often referred to as “gooks” and “slopes” and other derogatory names I choose not to repeat. It’s easier to kill people, in their own country, if you, first, dehumanize them. If you don’t it might dawn upon you, as Frederick Douglass suggested, who the real savages are. During the time the United States was fighting the resistance in Southeast Asia, we killed approximately 2,000,000 people. The vast majority of the people killed were Vietnamese, but many were Cambodian and Laotian.

Part III

In the minds of the war hawks, their opponents are not people, who just happen to be different and have a different point of view. Instead, they’re only simple-minded pawns of people of like Queen Nzinga and Harriet Tubman, the Maroons, the Mau Mau, FRELIMO, SWAPO, MPLA, the Sandinistas, or New Jewel, etc. who have no “legitimate” grievance. They don’t matter. They don’t feel their lives to be as valuable as our own. Such cruel rationalizations became the moral justification for the occupation and extermination of the Native people in North America, South America and the Caribbean, the enslavement of Africans and their transport to this hemisphere. People of color, particularly Black people, who take on this horrible and genocidal worldview, while continuing to rail against prejudice and injustice in the United States, will hopefully, one day remember which morning it was when they stopped “waking up in their right minds”.

Aggressors and exploiters must dehumanize those they plan to steal from and murder; otherwise they might be forced to reconsider their role in war crimes being committed. We did the same thing to the Native American population. Everyone knows the deadly game of “Cowboys & Indians” and who wins. Or maybe it should be called “Calvary & Indians”. We don’t have to go to Africa or Europe to find examples of genocide. But at least in Germany, you don’t hear of people playing “Nazis & Jews”. In fact, in Germany, it’s illegal.

But, in this country, even on the day set aside to honor The Prince Of Peace, many of us are still inclined to buy and play computer game versions of “Cowboys and Indians”. Within these “games” and in the minds of the players, we’ve created new Indians, they’re known as North Koreans, Vietnamese, El Salvadorians, Iraqis, Afghans, Somalis, Venezuelans, Iranians, Nicaraguans, Cubans, Eritreans, Grenadians, Congolese, Yemenis, Bolivians, Hondurans, Congolese, Columbians, Zimbabweans, etc. and anyone else we choose to generally portray as “terrorists” or “bad guys”, because of their dogged, “unreasonable” and “incomprehensible” insistence on charting their own course as human beings. Actin’ like dey’ free or somethin’.

But how do you distinguish between a “terrorist” and a “freedom fighter”? If the term had been popular in the late 1700s, King George would have certainly called George Washington a terrorist. The colonies in North America were, legally, part of the British Empire. Washington led an army using unconventional strategies and tactics. In the eyes of the Crown, the British subjects’, revolutionary fight, on the mid-Eastern coast of North America, their resistance to and the killing of young British boys just doing their job on behalf of King, God and Country, was clearly unjustified and absolutely illegal. But for roughly a third of the colonists the time had come for war against, what was then, the most powerful military machine in the world. One-third proved to be enough. Having tried all other means, for the American patriots, it was time for independence, time for revolution.

More recently, while incarcerated, for 27 years, Nelson Mandela, the leader of the armed freedom fighting coalition, known as the African National Congress, was repeatedly labeled, by most Republicans, many Democrats, including Democratic Presidents, the Israeli government and other supporters of European and American corporate domination of Africa, a “racist Black nationalist terrorist and murderer”. But we know, he was then and remained a revolutionary freedom fighter of the highest caliber.

Notably, not until July 5, 2008 was he and the ANC removed from the official US No Fly terrorist list. When freedom fighters have dreams, oppressors have nightmares.

There are specific reasons why so many people around the world oppose many parts of America’s foreign policy. Having had the opportunity to travel to a few other countries, as a civilian, I know it’s not because they’re jealous of our “freedom” as the right-wing would have us believe.

Most Americans don’t know that it’s because, over long stretches of time, our government has committed horrible crimes against many of them, their children, their heroes, sheroes and their futures. This has been accomplished through exploitive economic relationships and a form of American state terrorism, always approved, with reasonable deniability, by US Presidents, and conducted by the CIA, Special Forces, mercenaries and other paramilitary elements, in secret programs that are termed “covert”, “black” and “low-intensity” operations.

Knowledge of these operations has been kept secret, secret from the American people, but of course they’re well known and embedded in the minds of the people against whom we commit these criminal acts. They know and remember them the way many older Americans remember Pearl Harbor or the assassination of Dr. King. Using our tax dollars, for decades, these barely visible acts of destabilization, assassination, invasion, piracy and murder have been committed, in the name of democracy, often resulted, in the bloody overthrow and attempted overthrown of popular democratically elected governments, the murder of legitimate leaders and millions of innocent civilians around the world, in places like Greece in 47 and 67, Italy in 48, Iran in 53, Guatemala in 54 and 81, Vietnam 54–75, Laos 57-73, Congo in 61, Ecuador in 61-63, Dominican Republic in 63, Brazil in 64, Indonesia in 65, Uruguay in 69, Cambodia in 70, Bolivia in 71, Chile in 73, Angola in 75, Australia in 75, El Salvador in 80, Nicaragua in 81, Columbia in 81 and 82, Grenada in 83, Panama in 89, Venezuela in 2002, Honduras in 2009, Ecuador in 2010, Bolivia in 2010, Haiti 1959-2011 and on and on. Taking all this, and more, into consideration, for the United States to call other nations and their methods “undemocratic” is noting more than the height of self-delusion.

In dozens of countries, these murderous acts have been and are being committed by US-trained and CIA-monitored host army units and American contracted mercenaries in so-called “death squads”. For details and personal accounts from people who committed these violations of human rights and war crimes, read “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”, by John Perkins. Or read John Stockwell’s book “In Search of Enemies”. Stockwell is the highest ranking CIA agent ever to go public with the truth about the organization’s criminal past and current missions, approved by a long series of Presidents and their use of corporate media to cover their tracks. Or you can go to the Internet and watch one of Stockwell’s many lectures.

In his writings, lectures and speeches Stockwell tells unadorned truths about United States foreign policy, which at this point in time is a revolutionary act in and of its self. In the late ’70s, Stockwell predicted that if the Soviet Union ever collapsed, which most people, at the time, thought to be highly unlikely, the United States would find a new boogieman man to justify America’s national security state and use of trillions of our dollars in an aggressive corporate push for profits, power and control. And now, like clock work, it’s not the communists, but Muslims. Tomorrow it will be China or something or someone else.

Part IV

In the 1980s, the former Soviet Union invaded and occupied Afghanistan for 10 years. The Soviet forces suffered approximately 15,000 troops killed and over 50,000 sick and severely wounded. The Soviets killed an estimated 1.2 million Afghans and wounded over 3 million; most of the casualties were civilian. After a decade of fighting, the Soviet army left, in humiliation, with nothing to show for the venture, other than thousands of veterans suffering from terrible injuries, post-traumatic stress syndrome and heroin addiction. Many analysts contend that the combined effect of the incredible amounts of money and prestige wasted in attempting to subdue the resistance, in Afghanistan, amount to the straw that broke the back of the Soviet economy and military, leading to the disintegration of the USSR. What is it that the United States is planning to do, in Afghanistan, that the Soviets didn’t think of doing?

The idea of a New World Order dominated, solely, by the United States, is as much an unlikely pipedream as was Adolph Hitler’s notion of a Third Reich. The United States does not have the right, wisdom or ability to run Planet Earth. The US has over half a million military personnel, including contractors and/or mercenaries on over 1,000 bases, in over 150 countries. Brazil, India and China have no bases outside their owe nation. This fact is one of the primary reasons these nations have the capital and cash necessary for rapid development of its human/physical infrastructure and we don’t. The United States must be prepared to make deep cuts in its military’s budget. Cutting the military budget, which takes up more than 30% of the government’s discretionary spending, would run contrary to the “let’s conquer the world” mentality which grips the minds of those who constitute the real government, that unelected group of super rich corporate elites, military and Sneaky Pete intelligence-types whom President Dwight Eisenhower originally called, the military industrial complex, of which prisons are now a major part. But until this mad strategy is ended, there will be no real economic recovery for working people, including the working poor, in this country.

China has a large able army and a formidable nuclear arsenal. But it’s not stretched all over the world, wasting time, money, and honor trying to control and otherwise run other people’s nations via fear, subversion and murder. China’s approach to world affairs is, primarily, based on bilateral economic cooperation. In the absence of an overreaching foreign military budget and low wages, when compared to most workers in Western countries, China has the capital necessary for the rapid economic growth and development of their country while the US doesn’t. The long standing US foreign policy of gunboat diplomacy, now, unsustainable. Yes, there must be budget cuts in the US, in particular cuts in military spending. This will free up billions of dollars that need to be spent on the cultivation of the human and physical infrastructure of this nation. The modern struggle to win allies and gain influence around the world is no longer based primarily on military encounters, but on economic competition and cooperation. An engagement that requires an educated populous, not one that is hyper-militarized; held down like a humming bird with an eagle’s beak. Chanting, “USA, USA, USA”, will not change this reality.

History speaks. And one of the things it tells us is that whether it’s David Walker, Harriet Tubman, Crazy Horse, Emilio Zapata, Eugene Debs, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, Daniel Ellsberg and John Stockwell back then or Minister Louis Farrakhan, Wikileaks and Bradley Manning now, unauthorized bravery is often unpopular, particularly within the minds of the super rich class and their minion who actually run this country. In the United States, what we are living under is a form of government that is, “Of the rich, by the rich and for the rich”. The top 2% of the United States controls more wealth than the remaining 98% of the population combined. Countries like this one are called “oligarchies”, rule by the rich, not democracies.

As working people continue to struggle to do for ourselves and for access to our own tax dollars and against one harebrain vampire corporate scheme after another, we must take into account the fact that the United States owes China, the fastest growing major power in the world, which happens to be an officially atheist nation, over $1 trillion, the vast majority of which was borrowed, largely, to clean up the financial disaster created by the deregulation crazed “Baby” Bush administration and the on-going wars. For our own good, we as citizens of this country need to wake up, smell the coffee and stop idealizing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and heed his brave words of wisdom, which, now, ring so prophetic.

On April 16, 1967, from his daddy’s pulpit, in Atlanta, Dr. King warned,
“And don’t let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman for the whole world. God has a way of standing before nations with judgment. And it seems that I can hear God saying to America, you’re too arrogant. And if you don’t change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power and place in the hands of a nation that doesn’t even know my name. Be still and know that I’m God!”

Editor’s Note: Lloyd C. Daniel is a writer, educator, poet and a former member of Missouri’s House of Representatives. He’s author of the book, Liberation Education: A Strategy for the 21st Century. You may read, watch and listen to more of his work on his website. The address is http://lloyddaniel.info

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