Today, I had the opportunity to listen to Jeremy Scahill, author of "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army" speak about his new book, "Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield." The crowd squeezed into the small venue of The Last Bookstore (an appropriate name for a bookstore nowadays) in downtown Los Angeles to hear him give a scathing indictment of the current policy by our government to conduct secret wars across the globe. The movie version of the book by the same title is on it's way to theaters soon, and has already won praise at Sundance. A quick google and you can view the trailer yourself.
The reality of the terror that is being inflicted across the globe in our name should be a concern to all American citizens. We are told we are bombing the "enemy," and we are taking out the terrorists before they have a chance to carry out their evil plans to kill Americans on our shores. We are assured that the kill lists that our government uses in order to take out these said "terrorists" is reviewed in depth, and approved by the highest reaches in our government, heads of the CIA and our own President. We are told, these are evil people who want to harm us, because of our "freedoms" here in the US. We are told this War on Terror is a war without real end. For every terrorist we remove, there will be more to take his place. It is truly an unwinnable situation. A perfect situation for the military industrial complex.
We invaded Iraq during the Bush administration under the concerns, we were told, that there were WMD's. That Saddam had weapons that would harm Americans, and he was intent on using them on us. We had to take action before the smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud appeared. Certain 24 hour news channels fed the lie over and over again that Iraq somehow had something to do with 9/11. While we know this is a false assertion, there are those who still believe that Iraq had something to do with 9/11. The fact that they still believe this lie is I believe a part of the problem for the public dialogue about the realities of war. Members of the previous administration proudly boast on national tv that they would, if given the chance, indeed do the same thing, and attack a nation innocent of any crimes against the United States of America.
The fact is, this is already happening, secretly, in many places around the world. America, unknown to most Americans, is the aggressor. While leaders claim we are "defending" ourselves against known "terrorists," our bombs are dropping into countries on the other side of the world, killing innocent women, children, and many times, innocent men. There are secret covert operations, secret prisons, secret places of torture, and secret renditions, still taking place. Americans are kept in the dark about such things, or maybe choose to turn a blind eye in the direction of such atrocities, because it is simply too hard to accept the truth of the matter. No one wants to really swallow that bitter pill that our country is performing such despicable acts on innocent human beings. We rally around our own injured and fallen, in attacks such as the one in Boston. We praise our heroes who ran towards the bombs. We set up a fundraising campaign for the injured. We don't talk too openly about those who lost limbs who have no health insurance. We show pictures of the innocent little 8 year old child who only wished for peace, and who's parents will forever grieve his loss.
Yet, for some reason, we do not shed tears for the innocent dead on their way to a wedding party, or on their way to bury their own dead as the result of a bombing a few days prior. Or the killing of a 16 year old child, an American citizen, for no apparent reason other than what Robert Gibbs is quoted as saying was the result of bad parenting. For some reason, because those over there, a world away, are of another ethic back round, are Muslim, or have darker skin than us, for some reason, those losses are not mourned. They are those who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. They were hanging around those known terrorist hot spots. Collateral damage. We're busy protecting American lives, so what if a few dark skinned Muslims have to die in the process?
No longer can we turn a blind eye and claim that we don't understand why a couple of young men in Boston would attack innocent civilians while in the meantime we don't acknowledge the terror we are inflicting on innocent civilians in other countries. No longer can we sit still and let our leaders sift through kill lists, becoming judge, jury, and executioner to those who are offered no day in court, no awareness of their supposed crimes, no lawyer to defend their rights, no voice to speak out on their behalf to the injustices that are being inflicted on them, on a daily basis. Is this justice? Is this the "democracy" we are spreading across the globe? Is this the kind of treatment we will allow our fellow human beings to endure in the name of God and country?
How long until those who've endured watching their loved ones being blown into pieces by American made bombs retaliate in the name of revenge and justice that they interpret as just and honorable? Can you close your eyes and imagine going to your sister's wedding and having most of your family blown up by drones from another country? We endured an attack on Boston, watched in horror as the video of a bomb exploding was replayed again and again, watched their stories unfold, witnessed their hopes and dreams being permanently altered by the violence inflicted upon them. In other places, this scenario is played out again and again as bombs fall across their countries. Children don't go to school for fear of drones. Local tribal leaders don't meet, for fear that the grainy images viewed on a computer screen somewhere in a bunker in New Mexico might be mistaken for an Al Qaeda conspiracy, and they'll be blown to bits.
The war on terror will never be won by inflicting more terror in the world. War does not promote peace. Dropping bombs does not promote democracy. Murder does not make us a free nation.
Jeremy Scahill is doing what so few others will do, or can do. He is pulling back the curtain to reveal the truth about what is being done in our name. It's about time we took a hard look at the truth, for only when we acknowledge the reality of the situation, will we be able to take a stand and do something to change it.