"When they commit atrocities, it is called "terrorism." When we commit atrocities, it's called "national defense."
We can develop all the nuclear weapons we want. We can even sell nuclear weapons to our "friends" like Israel. But if a country like Iran tries to develop nuclear weapons as a check against U.S. and Israeli aggression, that simply won't be tolerated. Never mind history. The CIA helped put the brutal regime of the Iranian Shah in power, a regime so hideous that it was driven from power because it killed and tortured its citizens. Never mind the fact that the Reagan and Bush presidencies propped up Saddam Hussein and gave him weapons to fight a long and bloody war against Iran before Saddam was considered a bad guy by the American political elite. No, we must protect ourselves against Iranian aggression. We can never be aggressors.
None of this would matter if it weren't for the current set of Republican presidential candidates beating the drums of war in a pathetic showing of who can be tougher against Iran. The sole exception to this madness is Ron Paul, the candidate whose candidacy the major news media refuses to even acknowledge. If a Republican is elected, there is the very real chance for yet another war in the Middle East. America is too broke and has shed enough blood.
The same goes for Cuba. The now-deified John Kennedy saw no problem in placing nuclear weapons aimed at the Soviet Union in Turkey. In April 1961 the U.S., through the CIA, sponsored the Bay of Pigs invasion, which was essentially a failed terrorist plot to overthrow a sovereign government. So in 1962, the Cuban government welcomed nuclear weapons into the country for the purpose of deterrence against unchecked U.S. aggression. Again, the U.S. would have none of this. What is good for us is not okay for anyone else. Just like we wouldn't permit the Cubans to determine their own form of government--a government which was popularly supported by the people-- we certainly wouldn't allow them to protect themselves. No way. So Kennedy, being the foolish risk taker that he was, damn near led us to nuclear armageddon in a deadly game of chicken.
To this day, the U.S. policy of blockading Cuba by force is state terrorism at its best. We are saying "You don't have the right to determine your own form of government. We must decide that for you. If you won't play the game our way, we will starve your women and children until we get what we want."
At the Republican debates, Newt Gingrich said that he wished Fidel Castro would go to hell. I wonder how Castro must feel, considering the declassified documents by the CIA showing that there have been over 300 attempts on Castro's life. Despite forty years and being only 90 miles off the coast of Florida, Castro has held on. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union and through the U.S. embargo, Cuba has adapted itself to survive. The literacy rate in Cuba is 99.8%. The health and mortality outcomes in Cuba are above those of the United States. This is astonishing considering the small size of the Cuban economy and the hardships it has had to suffer because of U.S. aggression.
Political elites will say that Cuba is a rogue state that violates human rights by imprisoning political dissidents and commits torture. Sound familiar? Because surely we don't have indefinite detention, targeted killings, and torture, here, right? I forgot--when they do it, it is terrorism. When we do it, we are protecting our freedoms. Looking at the matter objectively, George W. Bush is far more of a murderous war criminal than Fidel Castro. Bush's concocted war in Iraq has led to the deaths of more than 500,000 Iraqi civilians and soldiers, not including the 5000 or so American lives lost. But we only count the American lives lost. Lives of those other people really isn't worth all that much, not when you are "defending freedom".
Take Afghanistan. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, that was considered unacceptable aggression. You need to boycott the Olympics for that. But when George W. Bush threatens to bomb the country until suspected war criminals are turned over, that is perfectly fine. No problem.
Liberals are just as blindsided as conservatives. If George W. Bush uses drones to kill people, tortures, or illicitly detains people and unconstitutionally suspends habeas corpus, then that is terrible. Never mind the fact that Barack Obama has doubled down on the same terrorist methods. It's okay so long as a Democrat is the one committing the atrocities. After all, Obama is a nice guy who surely can't have anything but the best of intentions, not like those nasty Republicans.
Look at what happened with Osama Bin Laden. No one will argue that Bin Laden was a good guy. He deserved to die. He was a menace. No one can forget the unspeakable loss of life because of the 911 attacks. But if we are supposedly the good guys, then you would think we would value the rule of law and not use terrorist methods. This is entirely not the case. The American media didn't report it, but if you looked closely at the international press, you would see what really happened. Without getting consent from the Pakistani government, we violated their airspace, illegally entered the country, murdered not only Bin Laden but killed a few other people too, and wounded one of Bin Laden's wives. Bin Laden was dragged outside and executed in front of his children. Then the body was dumped at sea to get rid of the evidence. You would have thought that American legal scholars and lawyers would have been shocked at the violations of international law. Bin Laden had been stunned with a stun grenade. He was unarmed when shot. He could have been arrested and faced trial. This is what happens if you are a country that values the rule of law. Since we don't, we considered it too bothersome to make him face trial. Better to just off him and be done with the matter. No one seemed to mind that the government essentially sent in a team of assassins to kill a private citizen. If the Mexican government sent in a team of assassins into L.A. or Dallas to kill a private citizen, the U.S. would have a fit. Imagine if Castro ordered such a hit. It would have led to war. Yet when the U.S. does it, Obama is a big hero and no one asks questions. Disgusting.
Don't get me wrong. The United States has some major benefits compared to other countries. From a freedom of speech perspective, we are far freer than anywhere else in the world, even places like France, where you can go to jail for what they consider "hate speech." But we must also be objective and realistic. We must watch out for hypocrisy. We can't expect to live by different moral standards than others. We can't expect to be special. Not when we are a country that exists because of the mass genocide of the Native Americans. Not when we have a history where the founding fathers agreed that a black slave wasn't a full person under the protection of the law. And not when we are a country that put people in concentration camps for the crime of being of Japanese ancestry. God doesn't think we are special. There is no such thing as Manifest Destiny. American Exceptionalism is a lie.
Even to this day, the government uses the police force of the state and the courts to profit off the poor. The war on drugs, for example, has nothing to do with stopping the use of illegal drugs. The harmful effects of illegal drugs are nothing compared to the harm that ordinary alcohol and tobacco usage causes. Nothing is more expensive to our society in terms of health costs, violence, car accidents, and injuries than alcohol abuse. Few things are more dangerous to one's long term health than smoking tobacco. Yet these things are not criminalized. Marijuana, on the other hand, that is what poor people, illegal aliens, and working class people use. These folks are easy targets. Constantly arresting and pushing poor people through the court system gives judges, magistrates, lawyers, bailiffs, and the prison system jobs. It is much easier for police officers to arrest the poor with marijuana than to spend time catching white collar criminals like Bernie Madoff or Wall Street criminals who defrauded and bankrupted the entire economic system. To this day, Obama hasn't sent more than one or two corporate fraudsters to prison. No, we must stop the marijuana users. That is dangerous and must be stopped at all costs. Everywhere there is the risk of people pigging out on Doritoes and taking naps. No, this menace must be stopped at all costs. As we speak, the Obama Justice Department is cracking down on state run medical marijuana operations in California and Colorado. The menace of the munching Grandma must be stopped. All of this despite Obama's pre-election promise to not use Justice Department resources to crack down on medical marijuana users.
The same goes for illegal aliens. When the American government gives smallpox infected blankets to Native Americans, or just openly slaughters them as they did at Wounded Knee, where 150 men, women and children were massacred, that is perfectly fine. Again, as we speak, the Obama Justice Department is cracking down on illegal aliens, many of them students and small business owners who employ people, for political purposes. Obama is trying to show how tough he is compared with the Republicans against the weak and defenseless. Never mind the fact that he can't stand up to John Boehner or Mitch McConnell. He is tough when it comes to killing people with drones, ordering hit squads, or deporting those who are powerless.
The system works perfectly to keep the terrorist policies going. Look at the 2012 election. We have a choice between a beast with two backs--the Republican or the Democrat. Each one is sold out to corporate power and special interests. Barack Obama in 2008 received more money from Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms than John McCain. In this election, Newt Gingrich just received 10 million dollars from Sheldon Adelson, who has essentially ordered Gingrich to take a far Right position on Israel. Gingrich now claims that the Palestinian people "are an invented people." Ten million dollars can buy people out of existence. This would mean even a more hardliner U.S. stance against Iran under a Gingrich presidency and more violence when Israeli interests are threatened, possibly even another war.
All the while, the corporate American media refuses to acknowledge alternative voices. Ron Paul, the only mainstream candidate with a dovish stance toward the Middle East, is ridiculed for even running. Despite his early positive polling numbers, he was dismissed out of hand by the media. One reporter on NPR last week chided Ron Paul as being a "spoiler" if he were to run as a third party candidate for the presidency. The mainstream media refuses to even acknowledge an alternative voice for the presidency. Outside of the two party system, which is funded by corporations and special interests, you are not even permitted to run without being ridiculed. It is damn near unpatriotic to exercise your right to be a candidate outside of the two party system. This is how the corporatist state holds onto its power.
To end American terrorism, it simply will not happen from the top down. Barack Obama or any other mainstream candidate is not going to be our savior. Anyone willing to sell themselves to the highest corporate bidder is not going to have the moral courage to lead America away from its current path. Real change has always only happened from the bottom up. When the working class asked for help during the Great Depression, FDR said "make me help you." He knew that he couldn't do it alone. The system wouldn't let him. It took the hard and dirty work of labor unions, sit down strikes, protesters, and grass roots organizations to force real change. The system will not allow better behavior unless forced to do so. Barack Obama will not do the right thing unless he is pressured to do so by the voters.
There is renewed hope. The Occupy Wall Street Movement has been a loud and clear voice for reform. In the spring of 2012, the protests will continue. There is hope here for real change because the people will demand it. Nothing short of this will matter. Unless the people tell Obama that they are going to stay home on election day unless he stops his current unjust policies, nothing is going to change. The same goes for any Republican president. Unless the people demand that there be no further wars in the Middle East, there will not be peace. War is too lucrative to the defense contractors and to the hard line war mongers who run the Israeli government, not to mention the political cohesion and sense of power war brings to the president himself.
The bottom line is that we matter. It is up to us to demand change and accept nothing less.