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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Hearts and Minds


Fred A. Wilcox • 17 November 2004

Journalists 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 didn’t leave Vietnam, someone might put a bullet in his back.

Watching 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.

I 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.

It doesn’t 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?

Looking 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 there’s 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.

Unless the Irish people act to protect their nation’s 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.

England is just one of the American empire’s 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, it’s 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.

By allowing U.S. warplanes to land at Shannon, the Irish government has taken the first step toward selling the nation’s 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 empire’s 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?

The 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.

Let us hope that Mary Kelly’s 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.






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All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

19 November 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Another Fine Mess
Mick Hall

Dr. John Coulter

Address to QUB Vigil for Fallujah
Brian Kelly

Hearts and Minds
Fred A Wilcox

Smell the Coffee, not the Latte
Kristi Kline

Arresting Vanunu While Burying Arafat
Mary La Rosa

Weary of those stubborn indigenous resistance stains? Pretend they're not there...
Toni Solo

The Village
Anthony McIntyre

15 November 2004

Scapegoats & Swastikas
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Death of a Leader
Anthony McIntyre

Ruairi O Bradaigh, RSF Ard-Fheis Address 2004
Ruairi O Bradaigh

Anyone But Kerry
James Davis

Rubber Boa Studies
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain

'8 years in The Belfast SWP - A fraternal parting', and Part 2 of 'The ARN, - A Movement'
Davy Carlin



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