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Thursday, August 05, 2004

THE WAR THAT WASN'T 

By Jack Random

Of all the manipulations of the Bush propaganda machine, one of the most dangerous was the assertion that the tragedy of September 11, 2001 was the first volley in a war of the ages. While politicians have a predisposition to dramatize all events, the tragedy of that horrific day required no dramatization. This was an assertion with implications far beyond the typical media sound bite. It redefined the event in a manner that would serve a preconceived policy of preemptive war and global dominance. It served to prepare the nation for a state of perpetual war.

In times of war, measures can be taken that would be unthinkable at any other time. Bloated military spending, record deficits, job loss, declining wages and draconian laws can be rationalized. Dissidents can be silenced, harassed and detained without reasonable cause and entire classes of American citizens can be confined to concentration camps. In times of war, fundamental rights can be suspended or denied.

The war in Afghanistan was questionable, the war in Iraq indefensible, but the war on terrorism, like the drug war and the cold war before it, is not a war at all.

For the purposes of international law and international codes of conduct, war has a very specific meaning. It describes an armed conflict between states or nations; Al Qaeda is neither. It is an outlaw organization without status or legitimacy. To define it as an enemy in war is to give it a level of legitimacy it does not deserve. It empowers an organization of criminals and rallies to their cause others who share nothing with Al Qaeda except a grievance – real or perceived – against the United States of America.

This nation would have been far more secure had we attacked the problem of international terrorism with the sword of international justice. The president has squandered an opportunity to form a united front against a common enemy and, in so doing, divided the world into “us and them” for decades to come.

If the war in Iraq ended with the fall of Baghdad, then this nation is no longer at war. We are an occupier of one nation and an occupier-by-proxy of another. Not long ago, the president sent his emissary to the United Nations in an attempt to win for the occupation what he could not win for the invasion. He failed. The president was right though he was clearly insincere. It is time to return to the United Nations – this time with open arms. In the interest of our soldiers and our nation’s security, it is time to give up control of Iraqi oil. It is time to give up control of the contracts. It is time to give up control of the occupying forces. It is time to end this constant state of siege and the public terror alerts that serve no purpose save to maintain a level of fear in the electorate.

We are not a nation at war. We are confronted with a problem that much of the world has long endured. It cannot be eliminated with bombs and missiles. It can only be contained through the decisive actions of nations with a common cause. It can only be defeated when the root causes of discontent are effectively addressed.

The war with terrorism is over. It is the war that never was. Let us now elect a president who can declare the peace.

Jazz.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

AMERICAN MERCENARIES 

CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

By Jack Random

“This is our situation and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils: a ravaged country, habitations without safety, slavery without hope, our homes turned into barracks and bawdy houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.” Tom Paine – The American Crisis I.

A nation with a righteous cause and the support of its people would never resort to mercenary forces to supplant its legitimate military. The horrid events at Abu Ghraib pointed out the role of private contractors in critical positions of power and influence in the Iraq war. We learned than some 20,000 hired guns are in Iraq and their legal status is somewhere between limbo and blanket immunity. Among them are highly trained black operations specialists from Blackwater USA, former thugs from the terrorist units of former Chilean dictator Pinochet, former apartheid security forces from South Africa, and an assortment of special operations units from the United Kingdom. Some wear uniforms and others do not. Some operate under the banner of intelligence while others appear to operate independent of any chain of command.

It is clear that the use of mercenaries is in part designed to enable our military to avoid accountability. Like civilians and enemies, we do not count dead and wounded mercenaries. It has also been suggested that it is a cover for the obvious fact that we do not have sufficient forces. I would push the accusation a step further: It is a means of forestalling military conscription until after the presidential election. In the end, it does not matter. Both the draft and the use of mercenaries are crimes against humanity and give testament to an immoral cause.

It is the mark of a conquering army whose cause is so dubious it cannot raise an adequate army of volunteers and whose ambitions are so expansive that the need for soldiers is insatiable. The invading armies that rely on corporate warriors are universally resented and despised both for their brutality and for the hypocrisy of hiring others to carry out duties that traditional military personnel cannot or will not do. It carries a high price in both money and prestige. If the American people are committed to this war, why are there not enough volunteers to fight it? It is one thing to support our president; it is another to die for him.

It is an axiom of war that if there are not enough soldiers to fight, then that war should not be fought. It is as true now as it was in the days of the American Revolution, when Great Britain hired an army of indentured warriors from Germanic overlords to supplant British regulars. It was a measure of cowardice and a sign of weakness. The Hessians did not face the same problem as the British Redcoats: there was no reluctance to kill their brethren. They faced a different problem: they had no passion, no conviction, no commitment to the cause or loyalty to its leadership. They were unwilling to sacrifice life or limb for a monarch who thought no more of his hired subjects than of his cattle or sheep.

Recall Tom Paine’s American Crisis papers. His account of the Hessians paid by a corrupt King to kill British colonialists on American soil so roused the righteous indignation of Americans that it helped to raise a colonial army at a time when that army could hardly be fed, clothed and supplied with arms. There is something fundamentally offensive about hiring a third party to do your dirty work. There is something demonic about individuals and corporations that kill for money.

Is this the crusader’s gift to the world: killing machines to the highest bidder? Soldiers without cause or loyalty, who answer to no commander, who are accountable to no authority, are no better than mafia hit men.

Is this what America has become: the biggest thug on the block, putting out contracts on selected enemies, cornering markets for our corporate partners, defying the rule of law, handing out bribes and kickbacks, and letting the foot soldiers pay for the crimes of the overlords?

If the people do not awaken soon our beloved nation, birthplace of democracy, defender of liberty, refuge to the oppressed and weary, will have become the essence of what our ideals have always opposed. The Soviet beast – an authority of force alone, a ruthless oppressor, a power defiant of law and moral restraint, and the evil empire of Reagan’s nightmares – is dead. Shall we now replace that monster with its American equivalent?

We have so offended the nations and citizens of the world that they can no longer distinguish between our terrorists and theirs. This crusade of endless war must be brought to a close. These crimes against humanity must be brought to justice. This doctrine of war that gave them birth must be buried now and forever.

Jazz.

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Sunday, August 01, 2004

BRADY BILL BOGUS 

A RESPONSE TO NATIONAL SECURITY BY MICHAEL SECORE

Hi.  I found your flyer in the city, and am enjoying your site.  I must, however, point out a small discrepancy in some information contained in one piece.  While it is a small point, it is something that is very powerful and has the potential to shape people's opinions.  Here is the line which I refer to:  "We are constantly warned that terrorist cells are operating within our borders yet the president has done everything in his power to rescind the ban on automatic weapons (the Brady Bill). "
 
I can say with confidence that the Brady bill did not have to do with automatic weapons. It did, in fact, have to do with certain aesthetic features of certain rifles in production.  It was a lame effort to appease those who fear because they are told to.  There were 5 basic points which were identified as constituting an "assault" rifle.  These included a separate handrip, a bayonet or lug to mount one, a flash suppressor, a high capacity magazine of more than 10 rounds, and a folding stock.   The combination of more than 2 of these features was their definition of an "assault" rifle. 
 
If you would like to refer to a piece of legislation that put a restiction on automatic weapons for the civilian market, please see the National Firearms act of 1934. http://usgovinfo.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/26/ch53.html
 
I had the displeasure of sitting home during the summer of 1994 and watching c-span live when the Brady bill was debated and passed.  It was a truly digusting display of self-serving corporate and political agendas, as well as a sad example of ignorance , both by the legislators and the public at large.  The end of the Brady bill is something to simply ignore as we did the creation of it.  noone will notice a difference in their daily lives without it, just as they noticed no change when it passed.  The Brady bill basically failed to do anything to prevent any sort of crime.  There is no true evidence to support its effectiveness, as it did not stop any criminals.  Criminals don't purchase their guns legally.  It did, however, interfere with a number of purchases by people who were lawfully entitled to purchase firearms.
 
I would like to compliment your publication for doing something to help change the state of things.  I do feel that it is important to state the facts accurately, though.  That said, keep up the good work!
 
-Michael Secore
 
PS  Here is another link I found while researching this topic that may interest you
http://www.jpfo.org/GCA_68.htm

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