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The Institute for a Just Socio-Economic Order

Imperialism, "Just Wars", and the War On Iraq

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(C) Copyright 2003-2004
Muhammed Asadi

“The imperialist claims and actions of these corporations, and of their governments, cannot be maintained today without violence and the threat of violence. They rest upon nothing else, but they cannot for long rest upon merely local violence. Western civilization began in the Middle East; the beginnings of its end could also occur there.” (C. Wright Mills, The Causes of World War III, 1960:128)

As the continuous drift towards war becomes a permanent way of life, institutions that describe our lives are altered for its accommodation. Thousands of graphic images and sound bytes infringe upon us from all sides, in numbers and intensity beyond our psychological limits. Repetitive rhetoric, managed fears and channeled communication impacts us in countless ways. As a result indifference towards the human condition and the human dimension of wars is institutionalized in a massive and mechanical fashion. Opinion polls across time, with the media acting as the only (mass) intervening variable, swing from one end of the spectrum to the other , revealing that society is being controlled in an almost push-button fashion. With a control so subtle and automatic, reason and reflection and hence personal freedom are compromised. The German sociologist, Georg Simmel described in 1903, what has now reached an advanced stage in modern American society:

“The same factors which have thus coalesced into the exactness and minute precision of the form of life have coalesced into a structure of the highest impersonality; on the other hand, they have promoted a highly personal subjectivity. There is perhaps no psychic phenomenon, which has been so unconditionally reserved to the metropolis as has the blasť attitude..."(Georg Simmel, The Metropolis & Mental Life, 1903).

In the justifications that are drawn up for wars by the media, it is seldom realized that no war can be described as a “just war” when it involves the daily killing of civilians, the continuous psychological terrorizing of entire populations of civilian cities, or when it forces people to leave their homes and become refugees, or when it destroys the civilian infrastructure and disrupts the provision of daily necessities to the common people. My purpose in this paper is to try to bring facts in line with their human consequences, to restore reason and reflection that are so often robbed from us by those whose desires for continuous war are seldom affected by humanitarian concerns. Given the nature of weapons possessed by militaries around the world, the concept of the traditional “just war” has become completely outmoded. The use of these weapons in all cases, in spite of the claims of them being “smart”, involves the killing of unarmed, noncombatant civilians.

Given the mode of modern warfare, we must differentiate between the concept of war and that of self-defense. Self-defense, would, as the term implies, mean a limited engagement between combatants where one is the aggressor and the other the defender. Self-defense can be justified, overcoming aggression can be justified but no “shock and awe” preemptive bombings of civilian towns can ever be justified as “self defense”. Shocking the civilian population of entire cities is nothing new in war campaigns that the major powers have carried out in the last century. General McArthur’s military secretary and chief of psychological operations during the 2nd World War, Bonner Fellers, stated in an internal memorandum dated June 17th 1945, “The civilian bombings of Japanese cities was one of the most ruthless and barbaric killing of noncombatants in all history.”-(As quoted by John Dower in his book, Embracing Defeat). He was referring to the bombing other than the use of the Atomic Bomb, which surpassed the ruthlessness of any conventional weaponry, and which was used not once but twice.

Lethal weaponry that is specifically designed to destroy everything across a wide perimeter, like the MOAB bomb, reveals a predetermination of “mass destruction” on the part of those who design such weapons. Most of the weapons of mass destruction are designed in the United States. Similarly, any move of taking combat to non-aggressors or to civilian areas in my opinion makes any war an unjust war. What we see in the popular culture is confusion between the concept of just wars and that of just causes. We can very well have a “just cause” but using war as a means to attain it, is not justified. To attain a “just cause”, just means must be used.

In wars that are planned at the present time, the people leading us into war are certain of civilian causalities- they are certain before the event that civilians are going to get killed in large numbers- yet they proceed to carry on with the same war plans- this amounts to premeditated mass murder. There is no morality and no justice in such war planning. The people who do such planning are not national heroes or defenders, they are war criminals.

“In the wars of the 18th, l9th and early 20th centuries, only about half the victims were civilians while in the closing decades of this century the proportion of civilian victims has been rising steadily: In World War II it was two thirds, and by the end of the 1980s it was almost 90 per cent.” (As quoted by the PEACE PLEDGE UNION, LONDON, ENGLAND)

Even though the ends are uncertain in almost all wars, the means have been well calculated and assume civilian casualties and the destruction of the “life lines” of a civilian society. In World War 2 and in all the wars that the major powers have fought ever since, civilian areas have been deliberately targeted. The ones who suffer and the ones who do the fighting are the common folk, the masses, but the ones who initiate hostilities or provoke hostilities or decide upon using weapons of mass destruction are always the “well-protected” elite.

It is dishonest to talk about a “volunteer army” when it is disproportionately made up of people from the lower socioeconomic classes and racial minorities- people who are forced to volunteer because the institutional arrangement of society offers few if any alternatives to them. And this is another reason why no war of the elites can ever be justified, when the masses have to do the fighting and suffer casualties on their behalf.

"Media reports said that among the US soldiers who went to the front, most were poor whites, blacks and other minorities...And black people, 12 percent of total population, stand for 21 percent in army...An officer responsible for recent recruitment in Los Angeles admitted that there were mainly three kinds of people who came to sign up. First were those wishing to fix their immigration status.

Most of them were green card holders of Chinese and Spanish origins who hoped to get permanent residence through military service. Second, high school students longing free university after quitting from the army. Third, poor people, especially those facing unemployment who wished to pull through economic difficulties in the army and secure government's care for their families."

Irving Horowitz writes in his 1964 book, The War Game:" A framework that holds the individual in little or no regard, or considers the person only as fodder for the requirements of the State, must hold the preservation of life as incidental..." Humanity cannot afford to have its existence treated as incidental to the desires of the elite. If human life is held incidental, and in many cases less than incidental by our militarist civilian leaders, as history has shown time and again, then all the popular war propaganda slogans of democracy, of freedom, and liberation, become quite meaningless and hypocritical. It is the most basic human right, the right to life, without which all other rights are meaningless. No one has more right to live than another and no one should be given a blanket right to determine life and death decisions for others because they claim access to greater resources, resources that have offered them access to public office which is then sold to the masses as “democracy” by the establishment mass media. .

Writing in the 1950s, sociologist C. Wright Mills, who was one of the first to document the economic-military alliance in America, states in his pioneering work, The Power Elite (1956):

“What the main drift of the twentieth century has revealed is that the economy has become concentrated and incorporated in the great hierarchies, the military has become enlarged and decisive to the shape of the entire economic structure; and moreover the economic and the military have become structurally and deeply interrelated, as the economy has become a seemingly permanent war economy; and military men and policies have increasingly penetrated the corporate economy.” (C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, 1956:215)

Thus in the United States, similar in principle to all other military dictatorships around the world, the economy is based on/ dominated by a Military Industrial Complex, - about which President Eisenhower warned the nation in his farewell address. Unlike military dictatorships however, this domination is carried out through informal bureaucratized links that are not openly visible but have to be discerned through indicators- they are not crudely explicit. The Military Industrial Complex requires heavy state involvement in the economy- contrary to free market capitalism that is often advertised. Here we have a grand contradiction. The Military Industrial Complex was promoted as necessary in a fight against communism during the Cold War. Yet the whole system is based on state intervention and not free market capitalism the so-called “way of life” that was being defended.

Such contradictory propaganda is commonly used in support of wars based on economic greed and empire building. Thus we are presented with a justification to go to war to enforce UN resolutions, but when the time comes for the war to be authorized by the UN, we ignore its authority. Also contradictory is the use of preemptive terror and “shock and awe” campaigns in order to fight speculated terrorism (such and so might give weapons to terrorists) in the future. The first casualty in this war to protect "freedom"- as the so-called war on terrorism was promoted as being- was freedom itself as we saw with the passage of the Patriot Act.

Let us consider the excuse of “democracy” that is often used in provoking or promoting so-called “just wars”. It was not surprising for me to hear a (non-elected) President (Bush) saying that he "respectfully disagrees" with popular public sentiment in carrying out his "public" duties. The execution of public duties does not give any one the privilege to “respectfully disagree” with public opinion. Stating that "democracy is a beautiful thing", as the President said in the days preceding the war, while going against, in practice, the majority world and home opinion at the time, amply proves to me that the so called "democracy" that is talked about often in support of wars and promoting US foreign policy, is merely a popular propaganda slogan of politicians as they serve their minority elite interests.

"In economic and political institutions, the corporate rich now wield enormous power... Every such naked interest, every new unsanctioned power of corporation, farm bloc, labor union and government agency that has risen in the past two generations has been clothed with morally loaded slogans. For what is not done in the name of public interest? As these slogans wear out, new ones are industriously made up, also to be banalized in due course. And all the while, recurrent economic and military crisis spread fears, hesitations, and anxieties which give new urgency to the busy search for moral justifications and decorous excuses." (C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite 1956:344)

Let us also look at the so-called democracy of world opinion in the United Nations: Israel has been flouting UN resolutions for the past five decades (over 60 Resolutions) including Resolution 673 that deplored Israel for not cooperating with it, and Resolution 517 that "censures" Israel for failing to obey UN resolutions. Israel not only flouted the UN resolutions for over five decades but also those that asked it not to flout the resolutions. Why don’t we hear about UN irrelevance in the case of Israel, a country that has attacked its neighbors, possesses weapons of mass destruction and is occupying land that is not part of its territory? Why do we veto resolutions regarding Israel, going against the majority of the members in Security Council and then condemn France when it threatens to use its veto?

Over the past 5 decades democratically elected governments in Guatemala, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Syria, Indonesia, Greece, Argentina, Bolivia were over thrown by pro-capitalist militaries assisted by the US national security state causing dreadful devastation to indigenous populations (Parenti 1995), yet we present “promoting democracy” as pretexts to initiate "greed" wars- the reality of the situation is much different and can never constitute a “just war”.

“Americans believed as they usually do when their government and their television tell them something, but the rest of the world laughed every time George Bush or Colin Powell or Donald Rumsfeld thought up yet one more scary reason to invade Iraq. The ill constructed, clumsy untruths were surprisingly crude for people who have had years to practice the (media) craft of mass deception, and they had only to speak their latest falsehood to be cheered by their countrymen and disbelieved by non-Americans everywhere.” (Hoffman 2004:2)

Massive state intervention in a military based economic system, as there exists in the U.S. comes either through the provision of contracts or through heavy subsidies or sometimes through direct control and interference. It is often accompanied by threats and military interference in the internal affairs of other countries. It is a major cause of wars. It is reckless, irresponsible and in almost all cases inhumane. Public support to maintain such a military dominated economic system is usually obtained by scaring the masses, or as Senator Vandenberg put it, “To scare the hell out of the American people.” Over 46 percent of all our taxes, (see in the U.S. go into maintaining the Military Industrial complex (includes past obligations that are currently being met). This figure reaches 90% according to some estimates, if we take out Social Security contributions from taxes the government receives (Vidal 2004:99). The fictitious "lack of security" is the number one marketing concern of the Military Industrial Complex, while deliberately provoking situations abroad, ensures their survival and profitability. Government scientific research is also heavily concentrated in the military order.

“…an expensive arms race, under cover of the military metaphysic, and in a paranoid atmosphere of fright, is an economically attractive business. To many utopian capitalists, it has become the Business Way of American Life.” (C. Wright Mills, The Causes of World War III, 1960:68)

The Congress in the United States, with its role in popular legend, as a check upon the Executive branch, has always fallen in line behind the President, whenever he seeks to embark on a military adventure. In all non-local issues, issues that deal with the country as a whole (and foreign affairs), it has abdicated its duty, which has resulted in the drift towards almost monarchial powers for the President. The President in turn is influenced by a small number of coherent interests (Mills 1956:255). The Power Elite, as C. Wright Mills pointed out, involves the “uneasy coincidence of economic, military and political power” (Mills 1956:278), where chosen elites move within and between the three groups. The idea of a Power Elite cannot be dismissed as conspiracy theory; it is based on hundreds of hours of quantitative and qualitative scientific research on America’s business, government and military elite, within a sound theoretical framework.

The Power Elite as Mills pointed out possesses a specific and clear ‘class consciousness’ and unique image of self as a psychological fact, regardless of ideological label or party membership. Factions might exist among the Power Elite but their coinciding “community of interests” and the resulting inner discipline bind them together even across warring boundaries (Mills 1956:283). Given these forces that are at play among them, the way they have emerged and the institutions that have shaped them, it is impossible for them to break away from the corporate world and its interests in the decisions they make while in public office- Dick Cheney is the current case in point:

“The interesting point is how impossible it is for such men to divest themselves of their engagements with the corporate world in general and with their own corporations in particular. Not only their money but their friends, and interests, their training-their lives in short- are deeply involved in this world…To ask a man suddenly to divest himself of these interests and sensibilities is almost like asking a man to become a woman. (C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, 1956: 285)

To deconstruct the layers of social programming by the mass media upon us consider this simple exercise in role reversal. How would you feel if you heard the news one morning that Russia together with the European Union and China in a joint declaration had said that America's weapons of mass destruction were a threat to world peace and that they would form a coalition of the willing, going against international law to disarm the U.S. and change its government? Would we welcome them with flowers and candy?

The ethnocentric propaganda of the establishment mass media made the mass society so blind to the reality of the situation in Iraq before that war that it expected "flowers and candy" to be handed out to troops by Iraqis in return for bombs and death that the administration brought upon them. Think for a moment now about someone bringing the level of destruction to our entire towns and cities- the destruction U.S. regimes have repeatedly brought upon civilian cities around the world, in over 200 direct or indirect military interventions (see, against countries that never attacked us first in any way- and all those adventures were marketed to the public as “just wars” using the same slogans of freedom, liberation and democracy (see

The United States’ entry into World War 2 against Germany was marketed to the public as a move to defend helpless countries against an evil foe that had violated the principles of nonintervention into the affairs of other countries. Considering the track record of the U.S. at the time of entry, this appeal to “liberation and freedom” was hypocritical to the extreme. The historian Howard Zinn in his, “A People’s History of the United States: 1492 –Present” (1995), summarizes U.S. military intervention in the affairs of other countries prior to World War 2:

“The U.S. had instigated a war with Mexico and taken over half that country. It had pretended to help Cuba win freedom from Spain, and then planted itself in Cuba with a military base, investments and right of intervention. It had seized Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam, and fought a brutal war to subjugate the Filipinos. It had opened Japan to its trade with gunboats and threats…It had sent troops to Peking with other nations, to assert Western supremacy in China, and kept them there for over thirty years… It had engineered a revolution against Colombia and created the “independent” state of Panama in order to build and control the canal. It sent 5000 Marines to Nicaragua in 1926 to counter a revolution and kept forces there for seven years. It intervened in the Dominican Republic for the fourth time in 1916 and kept troops there for eight years. It intervened for the second time in Haiti in 1915 and kept troops there for nineteen years… Between 1900 and 1933, the United States intervened in Cuba four times, in Nicaragua twice, in Panama six times, in Guatemala once, in Honduras seven times. By 1924 the finances of half of the twenty Latin American states were being directed to some extent by the United States. By 1935, over half of U.S. steel and cotton exports were being sold in Latin America. Just before World War 1 ended, in 1918, an American force of seven thousand landed at Vladivostok as part of an Allied intervention in Russia and remained there until early 1920. Five thousand more troops landed at Archangel, another Russian port…”.(Zinn 1995:399-400)

With such a military establishment, an establishment that serves the economic interest of the elite, all talks of "just wars" are simply nonsense. Not only are the ends in such wars unclear, they are in most cases based on ulterior motives and the means used are often similar to treating the entire population of a region as guinea pigs, in a controlled experiment, experiments that are subsidized by public money but benefit private corporations, as they kill common folk across national boundaries (see, /AspStories/story.asp?storyID=106034) . This not only is inhumane, it is barbaric and racist in that it assigns grades of extendibility to people of different races, religions and nationalities.

“Behind these well reported facts are the structural connections between the privately incorporated economy and the military ascendancy. Leading corporations now profit from the preparation of war. In so far as the corporate elite are aware of their profit interests...they press for the continuation of their sources of profit, which often means a continuation of the preparation for war...the combination of a seemingly "permanent war economy" and a "privately incorporated economy" cannot reasonably be supposed to be an unambiguous condition for the making of peace.”
(C. Wright Mills, The Causes of World War III, 1960:67)

Television interview, "60 Minutes",
May 12, 1996

Lesley Stahl, speaking of
U.S. sanctions against Iraq: "We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And -and you know, is the price worth it?"

Madeleine Albright:
"I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."

(The above Albright quotes are taken from William Blum's,
Rogue State)

"On the morning of
12 September 2001, without any evidence of who the hijackers were, Rumsfeld demanded that the US attack Iraq. According to Woodward, Rumsfeld told a cabinet meeting that Iraq should be "a principal target of the first round in the war against terrorism". Iraq was temporarily spared only because Colin Powell, the secretary of state, persuaded Bush that "public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible". Afghanistan was chosen as the softer option. If Jonathan Steele's estimate in the Guardian is correct, some 20,000 people in Afghanistan paid the price of this debate with their lives." JOURNALIST JOHN PILGER, A NEW PEARL HARBOR

In any “just war theory” the concept of proportionality figures in as a major factor. The wars that have been fought in recent history have all been disproportional. Around 900 billion dollars are spent around the world on arms and armament, while people die of preventable diseases and starvation around the world. With the current increases in military spending, the
United States will be spending almost the same on its military establishment as the combined total military spending of all the other countries of the world-, and this is being sold to us as being necessary to fight people who attack us with "box cutters".

There is no bravery involved in attacking a nation that has less than one percent of the firepower possessed by the United States and spent less than one half of one percent of what it spends on its military establishment. Lobbing hundreds of missiles from hundreds of miles away at civilian cities, cities whose defenses don’t stand a chance in a million to protect its civilian inhabitants does not constitute bravery by any definition. Those who believe their causes are righteous do not pick on weak targets. What is even more embarrassing for the administration is the deliberate use of forged documents as UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix pointed out and faulty intelligence which didn't check out (whether purposefully or through incompetence) about the claimed weapons that Iraq possessed which posed a threat to the US.

“These men (of the Power Elite) have replaced mind with platitude, and the dogmas by which they are legitimated are so widely accepted that no counter-balance of mind prevails against them. Such men as these are crackpot-realists; in the name of realism they have constructed a paranoid reality all their own…They have replaced the responsible interpretation of events with the disguise of events by a maze of public relations…”
(C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, 1956:356)

If protecting us is the "real agenda" for the ruling elite as is claimed, why don't they do something about problems caused by environmental depletion and pollution? The military industrial complex, disproportionately contributes to environmental pollution and depletion- rather than protect us, it is ensuring our early demise, through death and disease, on a scale much grander than any terrorist act.

If we care about our troops why does the military use Depleted Uranium in its armament. Since the Gulf War, cancer rates in
Iraq among common people went up by more than 700% as a direct result of using such armament. This contamination is not accidental or something new that is being done. The same was done in Vietnam
, and its effects are well documented. In Vietnam, as a direct result of the 18 million gallons of Agent Orange and the 400,000 tons of Napalm that was dropped, the population developed one of the highest rates of liver cancer- a disease that was virtually unknown in the prewar era (Parenti 1989). We scare our population by fictitious accounts of others using “dirty bombs”, yet we use them routinely in our military adventures abroad in the form of Depleted Uranium.

“In 1991, U.S. forces fired a staggering 944,000 Depleted Uranium (DU) rounds in Kuwait and Iraq. The Pentagon admits that it left behind at a bare minimum 320 metric tons of DU on the battlefield. One study of Gulf War veterans showed that their children had a higher possibility of being born with severe deformities, including missing eyes, blood infections, respiratory problems, and fused fingers.”
(Chalmers 2004)

The truth behind the excuse of liberation that was used for the suffering Iraqi masses becomes clear when we consider that over 1.5 million Iraqi people have died as a direct result of the sanctions regime imposed by the same people who now want to liberate the “suffering” people. According to the 1998 UNICEF report over 250 Iraqis, a disproportionate number of them children, died every day as a direct result of sanctions, representing a 345% increase from the
pre Gulf War rate. The deaths in children less than five went up 16 fold (1600%) in Iraq after the first Gulf War. The sanctions that these liberators kept in place because of "invisible" weapons that were never found, and the same sanctions which they wanted removed (after the war) without even starting to look for those "invisible" weapons which they knew "existed", shows the shallow, inhumane nature of their " just causes". After destroying the infrastructure of urban Iraq in the name of "liberation", the so-called "liberators" showed complete indifference and disregard to the destruction of the cultural/historical heritage of Iraq and the security of the vast majority of the inhabitants of Baghdad. However, they wasted no time acting as policemen to secure the oil wells of Iraq
at the very start of the conflict, even moving their war plans up because the security of the oil wells (and not the Iraqi people) was threatened.

"Surely the extermination of Jews in gas chambers is not comparable to the slow death inflicted in Iraqi children by deprivation. But from another angle the latter is even more despicable. The genocide against Jews was perpetrated in the greatest secret and without the blessing of the "civilized world". The crimes against Iraqi civilians are committed in full daylight, with the blessing of the ruling "civilized nations" and with the tacit support of the educated classes in these nations. Those who keep silent and are legally able to speak up, are morally accomplices to this crime."
(Elias Davidson, Musician and a Palestinian Jew, 16/4/1999)

Anyone who knows anything about basic economics will never conclude that the palace building of Saddam caused the preventable deaths in
Iraq, despicable as such conspicuous consumption might be. Yet the media and Ari Fleischer, the President's spokesperson, often presented them to be such in the days before the war. Iraq’s GNP fell by 75% after the first Gulf War due to sanctions. If you cut the GNP of the US by 75%, simple statistical projection can show that the rise in proportional deaths consequently, ceteris paribus (other things being equal), would be similar to what we see in Iraq, regardless of the real estate activity of the corporate elite. By 1994, according to the US department of Health and Human Service statistics, the mortality rate for black children ages 10 through 14 in the USA was nearly 65 percent higher than the rate for white children in that age group, 81 percent higher for children ages five though nine, and twice as high for children ages one through four. Are these numbers the result of the real estate activity of the elite in the U.S.
or the de-facto institutional “sanctions” (based on race) built into our economic system?

"In the expanded world of mechanically vivified communication, the individual becomes the spectator of everything but the human witness of nothing... The cold manner enters their souls and they are made private and blasť. In virtually all realms of life, facts now outrun sensibility. Emptied of their human meaning, these facts are readily got used to. In the official man there is no more human shock; in his unofficial follower there is little sense of moral issue...the level of moral sensibility, as part of the public and private life, has sunk out of sight. It is not the number of victims or the degree of cruelty that is distinctive; it is the fact that the acts committed and the acts that nobody protests are split from the consciousness of men in an uncanny even a schizophrenic, manner. The atrocities of our time are done by men as "functions" of a social machinery- men possessed by an abstracted view that hides from them the human beings who are their victims and, as well their own humanity. They are inhuman acts because they are impersonal. They are not sadistic but merely businesslike; they are not aggressive but merely efficient; they are not emotional at all but technically clean-cut.... For today if men are acting in the name of "their nation", they do not know moral limits but only expedient calculations."

(C. Wright Mills, Causes of World War III, 1960:88-89)

Consider for a moment what happened on February 26th and 27th, 1991 when Iraqi soldiers were withdrawing from
Kuwait in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 678. On the sixty miles of coastal highway, now famous as the "highway of death", US warplanes, completely unprovoked, after the withdrawal had already started, killed thousands of Iraqi and Palestinian civilians (who were fleeing Kuwait fearing reprisals) and withdrawing soldiers who never fired a shot. A US pilot remarked, “"It was like shooting fish in a barrel.” Major Bob Nugent, an Army intelligence officer said, “Even in Vietnam
I didn't see anything like this. It's pathetic.” ( Colin Powell at the time called it a “massacre”. How can massacres be part of a “just war?”

When the
U.S. military in its adventures abroad commits massacres, there is seldom any accountability. Rather, these acts are conveniently and tactfully removed from public consciousness and even though they are massive, systemic and repetitive, they are never labeled as the “uncivilized” actions of a “barbaric” nation, like the acts of opponents are. The routinization of such double standards by the U.S.
media ensures that our fears and emotions are properly channeled, controlled and institutionalized in an almost robotic/push button fashion.

“Bad conscience has once and for all been transferred to “moral” machines… while man self-righteously washes his hands. Since all these machines can do is evaluate profits and losses, they implicitly make the loss finite, and hence justifiable, although it is precisely this evaluation that destroys us, the evaluated ones, even before we are actually destroyed. Because responsibility has been displaced on to an object, which is regarded as “objective”, it has become a mere response, the Ought is merely the correct chess move, and the Ought Not, the wrong chess move…. To mistrust the solutions provided by the machine, i.e., to question the responses that have taken the place of responsibility, would be to question the very principle of our mechanized existence. No one would venture to create such a precedent.”

(Gunther Anders; Quoted by Eric & Mary Josephson, Ed. 1962:292-294)While we talk about “liberating” the Iraqi people, the same people that the U.S. regimes- both Republican and Democrat- have been killing for the past 12 years through economic sanctions, and directly by use of lethal and indiscriminate force (like dropping 2000 pound bombs and cruise missiles in urban centers) in two major wars, and the ones mercilessly killed on the "highway of death" during the first Gulf War, let us consider the suffering masses at home in the U.S. that need "liberation" as well:

1- Thirty-four million people in the U.S., more than the entire population of the country of Iraq, including 13 million children, live in households that experience chronic hunger or the risk of hunger

2- Thirty Seven million in the U.S., or one out of every seven Americans, regularly use emotion controlling medical drugs that are pushed by pharmaceutical companies. Two million non-hospitalized persons are given powerful mind-control drugs, sometimes described as "chemical straitjackets." Recent estimates suggest that up to 80% of U.S. society displays some form of psychological symptoms, and that up to 22% have psychological problems serious enough to interfere with their day to day living, which are diagnosable (Chicago Tribune 12/1999). Over half a million are treated in emergency rooms for failing to kill themselves in attempted suicide, every year. The numbers show extreme distress and not a very “liberated” state of affairs.

3- According to estimates, around 3 million to 4 million women are battered every year in the U.S., or one every 9 seconds, 5000 to 7000 of them die. Domestic violence is the single largest cause of injury and second largest cause of death to women ages 15 to 44. Nearly 31% of all American women are abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives, according to a 1998 Commonwealth Fund survey. According to estimates, 670,000 women are victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault every year in the U.S. (National Crime Victimization Survey. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, 1997.), or one every 45 seconds (CNN, January 3, 1997), Variation in rape figures is due to the fact that almost 42 percent of women do not report or tell anyone about it according to surveys, the actual figures are thus much higher.

Data in the United States also shows that 25 to 35 percent of girls are sexually abused, usually by men well known to them (Kilbourne 1999:253). This number 25 to 35 percent of U.S. women comes to a total number greater than the combined female populations of Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. A high percentage of women so assaulted in the U.S. suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (the same disorder that a large number of Vietnam veterans suffer from), which leads to addiction and substance abuse and eventually to poverty and homelessness. This condition of women in the U.S. simulates a psychological reaction similar to that in a combat zone. Our “leaders” talk about liberating Afghan women from the Taliban, yet never mention the abusive conditions that U.S. women face in their day-to-day living.

4- 4- Forty three million or more in the U.S. are without health insurance or protection from illness for the entire year, while over 82 million have been without it at some point during the past two years, according to research carried out by Families USA, based on U.S. Census data. Over 60% of Hispanics, 43% of African Americans and 24 % of Whites are uninsured (Reuters, June 16th 2004). A vast majority of the population will lose health insurance as soon as they lose their jobs. Thus corporations literally determine their life and death. Five million workers are injured on the job; 150,000 of whom suffer permanent work-related disabilities, 15000 of them die, every year (Parenti, 1996).

5- Over 10 million suffer from symptomatic asthma, an increase of 145% from 1990 to 1995 (Parenti, 1996), due mostly to the quality of air we breathe.

6- 1.8 million elderly who live with their families are subjected to serious abuse such as forced confinement, underfeeding, and beatings (National Center on Elderly Abuse). Around 2.9 million children are subjected to serious neglect and/or abuse, including physical torture and deliberate starvation in the US.

7- While our leaders talk about “freedom” abroad, the American system is busy incarcerating people at home. The “land of the free” has the biggest prison population (over 6.6 million) in the world and the highest rate of prisoners per capita of all countries. 1 of every 32 adults in the U.S. is either in jail, on parole or on probation (BBC news report, 26 August, 2002). Between 1980 and 2000, the U.S. population grew by 21% but federal inmates soared by 312%- not taking into account military prisons and INS detentions, which makes this increase even greater.

8- Also consider the tens of millions who live in the inner cities in the US. Minorities whose communities suffer from the effects of chronic crime, drugs, disease, homelessness, and unemployment, at levels (in many cases) worse than the levels in the Third World (see Note 3 below). The people trapped in inner cities, due to the policies of both Democratic and Republican regimes in the US, are in need of liberation as well.

“It is a terrible, an inexorable, law that one cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one’s own: in the face of one’s victim, one sees oneself. Walk through the streets of Harlem and see what we, this nation have become.” (James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name, 1960:66)

As outrage among the masses is replaced by organized compliance, as desire for constructive change is replaced by survival and adaptation to the pressures of everyday living, as our work, our leisure and the institutions that describe our lives are increasingly detached from almost all independent decisions on our part, as narrow routines force us to lose the capacity for constructive thought, we need to ask ourselves whether we are truly free or in cheerful bondage. Culture among the masses is increasingly being shaped not by social tradition but by the media of mass communication and the organizational machinery generated from on high, resulting in mediocrity, standardization and complete boredom and alienation, among the masses.

Meaningful group life is effectively destroyed, human creativity and reflection that produces exceptional cultural products of art, architecture and literature are increasingly absent, as society’s energies are converted to mass consumption. This gives rise to a gigantic advertising industry that seeks to create mythic symbols of emotional affinity between the consumer and material objects that are being offered for sale (Real, 1971:29; Kilbourne, 1999). An alienated individual, with weak family and group ties, makes the ideal consumer- the type sought by corporations for maximum profitability. To this they add planned obsolesence knowing well the short timed nature of the emotional “high” provided by these products, thus giving rise to the public’s total enslavement to material objects. Alcoholism and obesity on a social level (given the large number) are just a couple of indicators of the alienation now so widespread in American society..

The salesman ethic, with its polite insincerity (and synthetic smiles) and its dominant values of money making (see note 2), is institutionalized, resulting in a personality market and its standard ‘outgoing personality’ that is sought for jobs by companies that now control every aspect of our lives. Those who don’t ‘fit in’ are marginalized- the pressures on the individual are intense. Everything is for sale, as money becomes the measure of all things. Given the state of America and the actions and inactions of its Power Elite, at home and around the world, we cannot talk about taking things, which we ourselves have either lost or never truly possessed- freedom, democracy, and enlightenment- to other nations..

“In our time, must we not face the possibility that the human mind as a social fact might be deteriorating in quality and cultural level, and yet not many would notice it because of the overwhelming accumulation of technological gadgets?…Those who use these (technological) devices do not understand them; those who invent them do not understand much else. That is why we may not, without great ambiguity, use technological abundance as an index of human quality and cultural progress.” (C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, 1959:175).

Few people understand the hoax of American “freedom” that is massively advertised to the rest of the world. In a highly bureaucratized/automated society in an advanced capitalistic stage, like America, the accumulation of advantages at the very top, implants freedom of decision only to a small Power Elite. The mass society’s bondage to the method of life generated from on high is so complete that the power of reflection itself is usurped from the individual- his work, his leisure and even the kind of personality he is supposed to have is implanted into him (or her) by the institutions that describe the routines of life, the mass media and those sectors of formal education that are increasingly market oriented. As a result there is political apathy at home with organized indifference to the affairs of the world and the emergence of a mass consumption society.

In societies that have not “developed” such a level of bureaucratization of conduct, the so called “less developed” nations, the level of freedom that exists for individuals is, as a result much greater. Even under tyrannous dictatorships, in spite of all the coercion, the implicit control of the type that exists in “advanced” societies does not exist; explicit, coercive control can never be so thorough and complete- or affect as many people as implicit control, which affects the very being of the masses- their social psychology, be it in a polite manner.

The effects of this greater freedom in “less developed” nations is easily discernable by its link to regular political crisis and unrest that those nations face- unrest that reflects a conscious public, prompted of course by economic oppression. Positive change is only prevented in such societies by the so called “advanced societies” keeping a close relationship with the one part of their society that is bureaucratized, i.e. the military. As a result, political unrest is normally followed by a military coup in “Third World” nations, where the military is usually friendly to the desires of the elite in the West or keeps a close watch on the civilian government and its economic conduct. The more “developed” (though not in the real sense of the word) and bureaucratized a society is, the less freedom of thought and action its public possesses.

This lack of freedom in “advanced societies” like the U.S. was what sociologist C. Wright Mills had in mind when he talked about the rise of the “cheerful robot” and the “technological idiot”. The same theme is found in Max Weber’s writings on bureaucracy and authority. It is what the French sociologist Emile Durkheim described as the “extrinsic coercion” upon the individual, a coercion that has objective existence as “social fact”, which when taken within a bureaucratic framework becomes massive and complete. A lack of freedom that Karl Mannheim described as “functional rationality”, that guides every behavior towards predetermined goals where chances for substantive reason and independent reflection are few. The so called “free” speech is itself drowned in a sea of irrelevance and information overload with only the elite having access to millions by domination of the media air waves, while the rest of us reach almost no one.

We see the effects of this control when the mass society in the U.S, cheerfully agrees to its members being killed in the continuous military adventures of its elite, year after year (an abnormality to someone looking in from the outside) and asks no questions when massive deficit spending robs its future generations of wealth or when their tax money is squandered on useless military hardware, even though a good proportion of them (43 million) don’t have access to basic healthcare or adequate nutrition (34 million), or when manufacturing jobs that have described their lives for generations are replaced by low paying service jobs, for the benefit of corporations who exploit labor everywhere, or when their family units are transformed and shredded in subordination to the economic. As facts are routinely divorced from their human consequences, ‘inhumanity’- of which racism is but one indicator, has been institutionalized and made universal.

“The metropolitan man’s biography is often unknown, his past apparent only to very limited groups…Intimacy and the personal touch, no longer intrinsic to his way of life, are often contrived devices of impersonal manipulation. Rather than cohesion, there is uniformity, rather than descent or tradition, interests. Physically close but socially distant, human relations become at once intense and impersonal- and in every detail pecuniary.” (C. Wright Mills, White Collar, 1951:252)

Freedom in America exists as a meaningless slogan that is itself generated from on high and designed to evoke “religious” feelings of solidarity for the purpose of manipulation. Like all tools of manipulation it grants no real utility to the ones who rally around it. C. Wright Mills wrote (in the 1950s):

“From both sides there is the increased dependence upon the formal media of communication (for the man in the mass in America
), including those of (formal) education itself. But the man in the mass (society) does not gain a transcending view from these media (or such formal education); instead he gets his experience stereotyped, and then he gets sunk further by that experience. He cannot detach himself in order to observe, much less to evaluate, what he is experiencing. Rather than the internal discussion we call reflection, he is accompanied through his life-experience with a sort of unconscious, echoing monologue…He is not truly aware of his own daily experience and of its actual standards: he drifts, he fulfils habits, his behavior a result of the plan less mixture of the confused standards and the uncriticized expectations that he has taken over from others…

He loses his independence, and more importantly, he loses the desire to be independent…He does not formulate his desires; they are insinuated into him. And, in the mass, he loses the self-confidence of the human being- if indeed he ever had it. For life in a society of masses implants insecurity and furthers impotence; it makes men uneasy and vaguely anxious; it isolates the individual from the solid group; it destroys firm group standards. Acting without goals, the man in the mass just feels pointless..."
(C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, 1956: 320-323)

In the history of societies, says the Koran, is a lesson for “people that understand ” (Koran 12:111). History shows us that as empires built upon human misery approach their end, irrational madness among their leaders becomes clearly visible. As the concentration of wealth towards the top few in America proceeds unabated, the institutions that describe the lives of its masses are invariably altered and eventually destroyed under economic pressure. The effects of this coming “doom” of American society have already appeared on the horizon. It can be witnessed by indicators, of which the crumbling American family is the most obvious.

Alienation and neurosis become, in these conditions, not the exception but the rule. Mass reality is shattered and the public eventually awakes from its deep slumber to reclaim what has been stolen from it so methodically. No amount of propaganda now can keep it from acting. A bureaucratized system where everything was previously clear-cut and business-like, now no longer defines the course. Due to the system’s massive control over reality in the past, now that it has shattered, it produces hysteria that is itself massive and much more dangerous than any that occurs in traditional societies, as sociologist Karl Mannheim has suggested. The decline of the empire is already under way, and its end is fast approaching. The world eagerly awaits the dawn of a new day.

“An old order is dying, and a new one, kicking in the belly of its mother, time, announces that it is ready to be born. This birth will not be easy…but the Western party is over.” (James Baldwin, No Name in the Street, 196-197)

NOTES: Note 1:During the Democratic primaries, Howard Dean, the progressive anti-war candidate was leading in the polls, but the media introduced the idea that he was unelectable against Bush- an idea contrary to what the polls were showing at the time. As a result Kerry and Edwards defeated him. Similar swings in polls due to news management were seen before the Iraq war. Towards the latter part of 2002, ABC polls revealed that only 39% of Americans supported the war without UN approval, this changed to 59% in the days before the war after the administration stressed that a link existed between 9/11, Al-Qaeda and Saddam, and if left unchecked, they would soon see a mushroom cloud go up in one of their cities.

Paul Lazarsfeld and Robert Merton’s work suggests that mass media channels vague tendencies into specific directions. C. Wright Mills argued that mass media affects behavior and belief , by giving us identity, aspirations, technique and providing escape (see Real 1977:47).

Note 2:“Under the regime of individual ownership the most available means of visibly achieving a purpose is that afforded by the acquisition and accumulation of goods; and as the self regarding antithesis between man and man reaches fuller consciousness, the propensity for achievement- the instinct of workmanship- tends more and more to shape itself into a straining to excel others in pecuniary achievement.” (Thorstein Veblen; Quoted by Eric & Mary Josephson 1962:28)

Note 3:In a 1996 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, University of Michigan researchers discovered that African-American females reaching age 15 in Harlem had a 65% chance of living to age 65, about the same percentage as women in India. Harlem's African-American males had only a 37% chance of living to age 65, about the same as men in Angola or Congo. The infant mortality rate in Harlem is closer to that of Sri Lanka and Thailand than the affluent parts of Manhattan, according to Peter Arno of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx (See


This writing is based on a presentation made by the author at the University, April 2003, titled, “The War on Iraq: ‘Just War’ or Imperialism.”

1. C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, 1956. Oxford University Press.
2. C. Wright Mills, White Collar, 1951. Oxford University Press.
3. C. Wright Mills, Causes of World War III, 1960. Oxford University Press.
4. C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, 1959. Oxford University Press.
5. Chalmers, Johnson. The Sorrows of Empire. 2004. Metropolitan Books.
6. Hoffman, Nicholas Von. Hoax, 2004. Nation Books.
7. Howard Zinn, Declarations of Independence, 1996. Perennial Books.
8. Howard Zinn, The Twentieth Century, 2000. Perennial Books.
9. Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, 1995. Perennial Books.
10. Irving Horowitz, The War Game, 1964.
11. Koran, translated from the Arabic.
12. Kilbourne, Jean. Deadly Persuasion, 1999. Free Press.
13. Michael Parenti, Against Empire, 1995. City Lights Publishers.
14. Michael Parenti, Dirty Truths, 1996. City Lights Publishers.
15. Michael Parenti, The Sword & the Dollar, 1989.
16. Vidal, Gore. Imperial America, 2004. Nation Books.
17. William Blum, Rogue State, 2000. Common Courage Press.
18. Eric and Mary Josephson, Editors, Man Alone: Alienation in Modern Society, 1962. Dell Publishers
19. Michael Real, Mass Mediated Culture, 1977.Prentice Hall
20. John Dower, Embracing Defeat, 2000. W. W. Norton & Co
Other sources are acknowledged within the text for clarity.



The value of every individual human life, man or woman, of whatever race, creed or religion, given by the law of the Koran, is unsurpassed in other world literature or law. In it is a lesson leading to total world peace for us all. :

"…Whosoever kills even one human being for other than manslaughter or mass destruction on earth, it shall be as if they had killed all of humankind and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if they saved all of humanity." (Koran 5:32).


Nobel War Prize

The nomination of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair last week for the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, that was widely advertised in the US media, must certainly rank among the most absurd nominations presented to the Nobel Foundation. We have a president who midway between his first term has already launched two different wars of aggression on two much weaker countries, under shady pretexts, laying both of them to waste, killing thousands of people and forcibly changing regimes. He was hardly done with his second war (on Iraq) when he started threatening two other countries (Iran and Syria). His administration (during this short term) provoked North Korea to go down a dangerous path of nuclear deterrence because it fears a similar war of aggression from him, jeopardising the peace and lives of hundreds of thousands in that region.

He pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty and wants to develop low-yield tactical nuclear weapons for use in the battlefield. He has dramatically increased US spending on arms and armament -- the US is now spending more on its military establishment than all the other countries of the world combined.

His administration has divided up Europe into "old" and "new", pitting one against the other. His secretary of state threatened France with "consequences" for non-appeasement. His doctrine of "pre-emption" led India to almost start a nuclear confrontation with Pakistan. He stood by, giving a green light to Ariel Sharon when the latter launched a massive military reoccupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and called him a "man of peace".

And what is truly scary is that he isn't done with his assault on peace around the world yet, and they want to nominate him and his cheerleader Blair, for the Nobel Peace Prize? This is outrageous.

M Asadi

The letter above was published in
's Al-Ahram Weekly

A copy of this letter was sent to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, strongly opposing the nomination.

Dead end roadmaps


The current US- brokered "roadmap" like the previous "peace- seeking" illusions will amount to nothing. As history has shown time and again, these "roadmaps" are distracting tactics that aim to delay the efforts of those who seek real avenues for a just peace. History has also shown that after ensuring their failure, the oppressors have used them as propaganda tools, to strengthen their support with their own masses. They should not be given the same opportunity once again. Stating that the Palestinians get rid of "terrorism" is a demand that deliberately ensures the maintenance of the status quo by Israel and its "peace-broker". This demand requires in essence that the effect of a social problem be taken care of without any concern for its cause.

When suicide becomes a part of the daily life of a community, it is an abnormality that must have a social context and cause. This "opposition culture" can only be neutralised if what nourishes it is eradicated. Israel's oppression and humiliation of the Palestinian people is legitimate reason for the would-be suicide bombers, in their mind, to indulge in what they do -- this is how an "opposition culture" operates. Similar conditions in the inner cities in the
lead to an oppositional "code of the street" and perpetuates street crime. No brutal police crackdown will ever fix the effect without addressing the cause.

No one has to command or inform the would- be suicide bombers, who are willing to give up their lives, about what is going on or what to do. They see oppression, humiliation and hopelessness all around them on the streets of the occupied territories every day. Tanks rolling into civilian areas and firing at will is not a "normal" situation to live in. This is the anatomy of the problem, yet it is deliberately ignored.

If it weren't for Israel and its political clout in the US and the (oil) resource richness of the surrounding Arab countries, the suffering of the Palestinians and their desire to regain their homeland from illegal occupiers, would not even receive token media coverage in the US. The so-called "peace-brokers" would ignore it just as they ignore other simmering areas in Asia and Africa.

The timing of the current "roadmap", where it was proposed at the time to take the heat off the illegal US invasion of Iraq, also reveals the "sincerity" of the "peace-brokers". In the face of this inhumanity, let us seek alternative peaceful paths to justice and not get distracted by these insincere "roadmaps". The US- brokered "roadmaps" got "old" decades back. In my opinion, we should ignore them and move on. .

M Asadi

The letter above was published in
's Al-Ahram Weekly


Forging history


Inherent in Prime Minister Blair's statement to the US Congress that "History will forgive us (for the Iraq invasion, even if no link is found between Saddam, WMDs and terrorism)", is his assumption of "the White Man's Burden". In this concept's present day refinement, one select country and its sidekick can enforce life and death decisions upon the rest of humanity, based upon their assumed superior morality and "leadership", without any concern for justice or factual reality. The people who are "sure" that history will forgive them were similarly "sure" before the war that WMDs existed in Iraq.

Can we, who live in the US, ever imagine thinking of similar statements made by leaders of other countries banding together to invade the US, justifying their actions by resurrecting decades-old events and charges that are forged, exaggerated and ultimately proven false? Can we then picture those leaders having the audacity to talk about "forgiveness by history", after they have destroyed our homeland and made life unbearable for millions? If we cannot imagine such a scenario, but still justify the invasion of
, then know that it is because of the unconscious attestation of "the White Man's Burden" -- racism that is explicitly denied by this society but has implicitly become second nature due to social programming under the guise of patriotism and hollow "freedom" slogans.

History will forgive Blair no doubt, but only because his friends might get to write it .

M Asadi

The letter above was published in
Egypt's Al-Ahram Weekly