Morley Safer was accompanying an American unit
on a Search & Destroy mission in Vietnam,
when the soldiers started setting fire to the
thatched roofs of villagers houses. Turning
to his camera man, and speaking to a world-wide
audience, Safer asked whether these missions were
the best way to win the hearts of minds of the
Vietnamese people. Soon after that, he received
a warning that if he didnt leave Vietnam,
someone might put a bullet in his back.
the carnage in Fallujah is like witnessing a terrible
replay of the Vietnam War. In a matter of days,
the U.S. military has turned a city of 300,00
people into an apocalyptic wasteland. Not to worry,
say the mainstream media. Fallujah might have
been a free fire zone, but most of the people
who lived there fled before warplanes dropped
500-pound bombs on their city. Because there were
so few civilians in Fallujah, we are told, there
was little collateral damage. According to independent
journalists in Iraq, more than 800 Iraqi civilians
died in the assault on Fallujah, while the British
medical journal, Lancet, estimates that approximately
100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since
the start of the war.
have no doubt that, like their counterparts in
Vietnam, the Marines who stormed into Fallujah
believe they are killing and dying for a noble
cause. Most of them are too young to remember
the clip of a journalist asking a commander in
Vietnam why his unit destroyed a Vietnamese village.
Sir, said the officer, we had
to destroy the village in order to save it, sir.
Ernest, idealistic, and likeable, the young officer
had no idea how bizarre his explanation for destroying
an entire village sounded. Nor could he have known
that his words would become a rallying cry for
people who had heard Henry Kissinger and Richard
Nixon insist, year after year, that using napalm
on women and children in Vietnam, bombing schools
and hospitals, torturing and executing thousands
of Vietnamese, would break the back of the resistance
to American imperialism.
doesnt surprise me that the arrogant men
and women who occupy the seats of power in Washington,
D.C. fail to see the irony, indeed the madness
of destroying Iraq in order to save it. Mr. Bush
and friends lied to the American people and to
the world about the threat Iraq posed to peace,
then ignored the pleas world leaders and millions
of concerned people to avoid war. As a result
of the sanctions on Iraq, 500,000 Iraqi children
had already died from preventable diseases, malnutrition,
and starvation. How, the world asked, would attacking
a people who had already suffered so much benefit
anyone? How would it help bring peace and justice
to the Middle East?
at this debacle from a distance, it might seem
that the American empire, led by a pretender suffering
from terminal hubris, is on a homicidal binge
that will end only when all of Iraq is turned
into a parking lot. Far from the violent shores
of North America, Ireland might appear to be immune
from the disaster in Iraq. But then theres
the case of Mary Kelly, a courageous Irish woman
recently found guilty of attacking an American
warplane as it sat on the tarmac in Shannon airport.
Mary Kelly was protesting a clear violation of
Irish neutrality, and she was stating in a very
direct and beautifully nonviolent manner: NOT
IN MY NAME.
the Irish people act to protect their nations
neutrality, the United States of America will
turn Ireland into another aircraft carrier for
its armada of bomb-laden attack planes. If that
sounds too alarmist, just look across the Irish
Sea toward England, whose Prime Minister behaves
like a clone of G.W. Bush. What does Tony Blair
really think his nation has to gain from sending
young men to the killing fields of Iraq? Why does
he commute across the North Atlantic, in order
to snuggle up with Bush and other true believers
in the art of destroying the village in order
to save it? Surely, he knows by now that the world
never believed his lies about the threat Saddam
Hussein posed to England. He must know by now
that Mr. Bush and company will parade him out
before the cameras, where he will read from a
prepared script and look like a tired little puppet
wrapped in the Stars and Stripes.
is just one of the American empires many
aircraft carriers, an important part of the vast
number of military bases spread around the globe.
Like organized crime, the empire uses bribery
and threats to get its way. And like the victims
of organized crime, when governments wake up,
assuming they ever do, its too late, the
damage has been done, there is no escape from
the clutches of those who believe they have a
god-given right, an obligation, to rule the world.
allowing U.S. warplanes to land at Shannon, the
Irish government has taken the first step toward
selling the nations neutrality to the American
war machine. And for what gain? So that young
Irish men and women can go off to fight and die
for greed-driven corporations like Halliburton?
So that Irish soldiers can come home from the
empires wars with missing arms and legs,
blind, deaf, and deranged? Who will benefit if
Ireland gives in to the demands of an American
administration that is committed to fighting endless
wars throughout the globe?
conquest of Iraq was doomed to fail even before
Mr. Bush gave the order to attack that nation.
More than a year after Mr. Bush declared Mission
Accomplished in Iraq, 1300 American soldiers
are dead, thousands more wounded. It is obvious
that Mr. Bush and his coterie of ideological fanatics
learned nothing from the Vietnam War. Like presidents
Lyndon Baines Johnson and Richard M. Nixon, Bush
and company are convinced that arrogance suffices
for intelligence, that mass murder, if done in
the name of democracy, is justified.
us hope that Mary Kellys courage and commitment
to Irish neutrality and to peace will inspire
others to join the nonviolent movement to end
the illegal, immoral, criminal occupation of Iraq.