However, this one blew me away. Even after all the killing, all the injustice toward the United States -- including insults and frothing from some of its own benighted citizens – even after all that, NewSisyphus manages to articulate what is at the bottom of many hearts in this country.
Read. Weep for the fallen. Then make your own silent resolution:
Srebrenica, Kosovo, Unknown
Two U.S. soldiers missing since an attack on a checkpoint last week have been found dead near a power plant in Yusifiyah, south of Baghdad, according to U.S. officials, and Iraqi officials say the soldiers had been tortured.
Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Muhammed-Jassim, head of operations at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, said the soldiers had been “barbarically” killed. U.S. officials would not confirm or deny that the men, who were identified Monday as Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore., had been tortured by their captors.
-- Washington Post, June 20
It was a small event, but a taste of things to come, the way things would be. Early on in the Afghan Campaign--you remember that one, the one that was an illegal war of mass punishment, doomed to failure due to the harsh Afghan winter, the one that would cause no less than 200,000 civilian casualties and set off a horrific famine, the one that was foretold would tie us down for years just as the Soviets were, the self-same war that the self-same critics now praise as a model of a “good” war they could support, unlike, sadly, the Iraq War--an American soldier was caught on a mountainside by a rush of Taliban fighters. A circling American helicopter filming the battle caught the moment.
Just prior to realizing that he was without escape, the American soldier turned to face the onrushing mob of Taliban and raised his hands. He was grabbed by the head and forced to his knees and a man with a knife cut his torso open from side to side. The American soldier, in full uniform, fighting in a declared war, having just surrendered, was executed on camera.
There were no thundering editorials in the New York Times decrying this violation of the most basic of the rules of war, nor sophisticated leaders in the Guardian worrying aloud what this latest violation of international human rights bode for the future of humanity.
This is how the world works: American soldiers are supposed to be brutally executed as a matter of course. A simple prisoner of war camp where men such as that that executed our soldier are treated to Muslim chaplains, three halal meals a day, an exercise yard and calls to prayer, however, is clearly illegal and a matter of grave international concern.
The pirated tape of the execution is available for download at any number of Muslim websites or, if you lack Internet access, as a video or DVD at any number of Muslim bazaars from Indonesia to London. Act now and we’ll throw in the beheading of the Jew spy Daniel Pearl for half-price. No need to hide such things. They are sold openly. Actually, not very far from the Guardian’s offices, which doesn’t strike me as entirely coincidental. After all, speaking truth to power in the form of George W. Bush won’t get you killed. Printing a cartoon or saying the wrong thing, however....
Best to be smart and play it safe.
And any minute now footage of the deaths of Tucker and Menchaca will be added to the list of attractions, though given the fact that they weren’t paraded around before cameras before being tortured and killed I hold out hope that these two soldiers fought on. From the air conditioned palaces of Dubai to the shanties of the West Bank, Al-Sturmer will thrill the masses with yet another bloody spectacle.
But there will be no outrage, no expressions of sorrow more than perfunctory messages of official regret. From London to Paris to Berlin to Madrid, knowing sneers will return to all-knowing faces: we are getting what is coming to us. For liberating 50 million from a nightmare regime, for building schools that teach female children, for pouring billions in reconstruction money that dwarfs the Marshall Plan, for believing that even a Muslim people brutalized for decades by the degradations of a totalitarian state deserve a chance to breath free. We are getting what we deserve. Only when we learn to roll over and play dead like a good Spaniard will we ever know wisdom.
Another day, another dead American. We are expected to die. The world has long since past expected that Americans be treated with honor and respect or according to the basic rules of war.
In Korea, we were expected to take the lead in the fight. Our captured soldiers were horrifically tortured. In Vietnam, we were on our own. Our captured soldiers were horrifically tortured. In the Iraq War, we were expected to take the lead in the fight. Our captured soldiers were horrifically tortured and, since our captured then included, for the first time, women, raped.
None of which was or is thought by the world community as a weakening of the laws of war, of the Geneva Conventions. Those are what Americans fight by. You can’t expect those oppressed people who America is unjustly fighting to respect those, can you?
And through it all, the American people, quietly but intently, are watching.
They are listening, reading, thinking, weighing, reasoning.
The time has almost come for them to make their voices heard. When they speak it will be a terrible thing to behold and the world, displeased now, will be more displeased then.
There will come a time after that, sooner rather than later I think, when eyes will turn to America seeking help. And the great silence that will arise in this busy nation, content in its understanding and newly aware of the rules of the game, will cause despair in the onlookers.
We see you and what you think of us. We see our deaths and what you think of them. We know you and what you are worth.
Oh, you smiling young men of Barcelona, Lyon, Antwerp, Swindon, Rotterdam, Munich, Turin: fate comes for you, and soon, and no hope from over the ocean will ever, ever again arrive.
It’s over, over there.
(To which I would only add, let us close the military bases that have operated for some sixty years, guarding the safety of our faithless friends. We have real allies in other countries who can take up the task with more attention to duty and to honor. Friends who remember only too well their own oppression and will fight to prevent ever going under again.)