ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
In the halls of Congress & the Oval Office // They stand & cheer, applaud & bump fists
The Pentagon is given a blank check / The nation chants for more kill them heroes
like Andrew Jackson & his trail of tears.
Not A Peep About President’s Praise for War
Excerpts by Laura Flanders
27 January 2012
Post-show pundits on cable news praised the president’s comfort with his commander-in-chief role but none saw fit to mention recent newsof marines urinating on Afghan corpses, say, or Staff Sgt Wuterich walking free after participating in the killing of 24 unarmed men, women and children in Haditha, Iraq. Accompanying Obama’s next phrase, “Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example,” no one thus far has played vile viral video. The critics have been kind.
The president chose to celebrate the US military; the press chose not to raise a peep about the spread of US militarism. Yet US targets proliferate
with unmanned drones assassinating unconvicted suspects in innumerable undeclared wars. And militarism spreads at home. The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA] makes indefinite military detention without charge or trial a permanent feature of the American legal system. It’s kind of the critics not to mention that – or the president’s four-year-old pledge to close Guantanamo, and to restore the “rule of law.” . . . There are indeed things we can learn; things that many US troops have begged us to learn. That war dehumanizes the killer and the killed, and that war tactics have a habit of spreading from the war zone to the home. Successive generations have told us that military recruiters lie, and that “rules of war” exist only in legal minds. (Ninety percent of casualties in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were civilians.) Troops have begged us to learn just what we are celebrating when we celebrate “winning” and war.As far as I can se
e, Ralph Nader on Democracy Now was the lone voice of disgust on national TV.
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A Note to ChickenBones Friends
Dear Friends, last evening Mr. Obama gave Newt Gingrich a lesson in how one throws red meat to the mob. (See below.) You may note the construction of his Address: it begins and ends with US militaristic bravado. Speaking of flipping the script, the murdered becomes the murderer and the murderer the hero who knows how to complete his mission with a trillion-dollar budget. Who can tolerate in any good conscience this kind of chest-beating? America is Back? A large wealthy nation with a military more powerful than Russia, UK, China and a dozen other nations put together and Mr. Obama has the damn gall to boast of battering and disrupting and decimating fourth and fifth rate nations. Yet those peoples have the courage and fortitude to bog down a great nation for over a decade. Back? Poverty growing in black communities by leaps and bounds, wealth continuing to rush upward on Wall Street! What a vacuous and arrogant boast! What outrageous theatrical superficiality! And we think we are getting a bargain when the nation’s wealth is ripped from the nation’s poor and transferred into the hands of greedy elites or dropped as deadly bombs on the weak and impoverished! And we eat up as if we have been given cake! To paraphrase
(25 January 2012)
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Marine desecration of Taliban corpsesCraig Whitlock12 January 2012The Pentagon moved swiftly Thursday to try to prevent diplomatic damage and contain public disgust from the release of a video that appeared to show U.S. Marines urinating on three Afghan corpsesimages that spread quickly around the globe. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said he had viewed the video and considered it utterly deplorable. He telephoned Afghan President Hamid Karzai and pledge a full investigation. Prior to the call, Karzai described the video as completely inhumane and condemnable in the strongest possible terms. His administration called on the U.S. military to apply the most severe punishment to anyone found guilty in this crime.
The video, which runs for less than a minute, depicts four Marines in combat gear laughing and joking as they urinate on three male bodies. The caption refers to the corpses as dead Talibans, but it is unclear whether the men were civilians or fighters killed after a battle. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed total dismay at the behavior depicted in the recording, and said the vast, vast majority of U.S. military personnel would not engage in such actions.
Pentagon officials said that they were still trying to confirm the videos authenticity but that they had no reason to believe it was a fake. It certainly appears to us to be what it appears to be to you guys, Capt. John Kirby, a defense spokesman, told reporters.WashingtonPost
A shocking Internet video that appears to show four Marines urinating on the bloody corpses of three slain Taliban fighters sparked a Pentagon investigation yesterday. The 39-second YouTube clip, which US military brass fears could trigger an angry backlash throughout the Muslim world, shows the Marines grinning and joking as they relieve themselves on the bodies.NYPost
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Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address24 January 2012We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaedas top lieutenants have been defeated. The Talibans momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home. . . . As the tide of war recedes, a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sanaa to Tripoli. A year ago, Qaddafi was one of the worlds longest-serving dictators
a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone. And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change cannot be reversed, and that human dignity cannot be denied.
How this incredible transformation will end remains uncertain. But we have a huge stake in the outcome. And while its ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well. We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings
men and women; Christians, Muslims and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.
And we will safeguard Americas own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests. Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Irans nuclear program now stands as one.
The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent.
Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations. The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever. Our ties to the Americas are deeper. Our ironclad commitment
and I mean ironclad
to Israels security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.
Weve made it clear that America is a Pacific power, and a new beginning in Burma has lit a new hope. From the coalitions weve built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions weve led against hunger and disease; from the blows weve dealt to our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back. . . .
One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesnt matter. Just like it didnt matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates
a man who was George Bushs defense secretary
and Hillary Clinton
a woman who ran against me for president. All that mattered that day was the mission.
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I’m Getting Tired of Death
for Jeannette Drake
By Rudolph Lewis
From the sky
Hijacked jets flying into towers,
exploding, burning, strangers,
jumping out of windows.
It sneaks up on you like Obama drones
over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia
NATO humanitarian bombs
from the Mediterranean, falling on civilians.
From holes in the earth
Desert fatigued allied soldiers
captured a bearded head of state
and hanged him like a common thief.
Rogues, thieves, rebels,
from a sewer dragged & mocked Brother Leader
sodomized and murdered him
while our Secretary recited Julius Caesar.
In the halls of Congress & the Oval Office
They stand & cheer, applaud & bump fists
The Pentagon is given a blank check
The nation chants for more kill them heroes
like Andrew Jackson & his trail of tears.
From huts and hovels
Wails of destitute mothers raped
resound across the globe & toothless
grandmothers grieve for bloated bellies,
bloody & dying childrensons & daughters.
Gaza, the largest concentration camp
in history, is an oversight.
From a phone, a voice says
Your buddies just passed, and then
on Mothers Day, your mother is no more
and then, your Mama found rest, finally.
In a letter, I received today,
She says, Im in Rm 202
kidneys not functioning as they should
cancer in my bones, no cure.
Im walking the floor, rumblings
in my brain. Nikki sings, Peace be still!
Im never gone see the Light.
Hell come soon for me
Im getting tired of other peoples death.
26 January 2012
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Lyndon Johnson dropped napalm on little girls. But at least during his years it was possible for a poor kid to go to college without running up $80,000 debt. None of my young students know anything about that history. The prospects for a recall of governor of Wisconsin seem hopeless. He is receiving millions of dollars to brainwash the minds of the voters. It seems to be working. It seems to be working for Gingrich too. Anyway you have written an honest poema Philip Sidney poem. And I pray you have satisfied yourself. If not, then you have at least taught me a lesson.
There are many theories of art; most of them contradict one another. In the photo . . . we have the expression of one artistic theory.
Like yours, it is an eternal moral statement.
But there is another theory makes a poem somewhat more ephemeral. It says that the process of making the work can sometimes be the thing in itself. Does one spend a day rearranging words on a computer screen in order to rub one’s hands with satisfaction, saying: “Ah! There it is. My work of art.” Or is it enough to say that one has spent an a day in contemplation, and rearranging words on a screen? Thanks,
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Andrew Jackson and Other Kill Them HeroesWilliam Lorenz Katz25 January 2012He [Andrew Jackson] was the hero of New Orleans where he defeated a vastly superior British army, (and in this had the support enslaved and free African Americans, Choctaw and other Indians). But he was never a hero to Native Americansthey called him Long Knife.
He was elected President as a successful Indian-fighter and then authorized the US Army to remove 70,000 peaceful people from their homes in the southern states and deport them at bayonet point on the infamous Trail of Tears. As a Tennessee slave trader and slaveholder he could hardly be considered a hero of the families he held in bondage.
If ever Jackson showed his unrestrained belligerence it was when he led a U.S. invasion of Florida. His goal was to throttle an alliance of African American escaped slaves and Seminole Indians who had lived there for years, a rainbow coalition peacefully bringing up their families, defending their lives, freedom and land. He also planned to take Florida from a Spain that claimed it by conquest. An updated edition of my book Black Indians came out a week before Gingrichs words, and spends entire chapters on the Florida invasion, to destroy the Black-Seminole communities.
Since Southern US planters were driven to sputtering fury by the nearby presence of successful and armed communities of people of color, for years they had been sending armed slave-hunting posses into Florida. By 1818 the slaveholder grip on US foreign and domestic policies helped send Jackson and the strongest army in the Americas to defeat these freedom-fighters and take Florida.
This is what I wrote in the current edition:
Jacksons invasion of 1818 did more than take Florida from Spain. It threw the United States into a war to prevent the Black Seminole alliance from disturbing the Souths plantation system. Slaveholder James Monroe secretly ordered the invasion, and slaveholder General Andrew Jackson conducted it to provide the president plausible deniability. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams lied to Congress about the wars intent, massacres, and clear violation of the Constitution. Only Congress can declare war. Adams further declared opponents of the war were aiding the enemy and said Jacksons atrocities were efforts at peace, friendship and liberality. To these leaders Floridas African Seminole alliance was a dangerous beacon light, refuge and a massive underground railroad for their slaves, writes historian William Weeks.* They feared it would trigger a rebellion that could destroy the US plantation system. Their words and actions as government officials, Weeks writes, remind historians not to search for the truth in the official explanation of events.
Old wounds, fevers, and malaria aggravated Jacksons hatred as he threw himself into this savage and negro war. He ordered his men to destroy crops, take women and children hostage, and deploy savage dogs. He claimed self-defense and the purest patriotism, and at the end boasted to his wife, the enemy is scattered over the whole face of the Earth, and at least one half must starve and die with disease.
Jackson, Monroe Administration officials, and now Newt Gingrich, believe the General a gallant, selfless patriot fighting for a noble cause. Gingrichs take on history and Jackson as a kill them hero reveals how he intends to run for the White House, and suggests how he would pursue foreign and domestic goals. Counterpunch
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The Banality of Bush White House EvilFive years after the Abu Ghraib revelations, we must acknowledge that our government methodically authorized torture and lied about it. But we also must contemplate the possibility that it did so not just out of a sincere, if criminally misguided, desire to protect us but also to promote an unnecessary and catastrophic war. Instead of saving us from another 9/11, torture was a tool in the campaign to falsify and exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would be bamboozled into a mission that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. The lying about Iraq remains the original sin from which flows much of the Bush White Houses illegality.
Levin suggestsand I agreethat as additional fact-finding plays out, its time for the Justice Department to enlist a panel of two or three apolitical outsiders, perhaps retired federal judges, to review the mass of material we already have. The fundamental truth is there, as it long has been. The panel can recommend a legal path that will insure accountability for this wholesale betrayal of American values.
President Obama can talk all he wants about not looking back, but this grotesque past is bigger than even he is. It wont vanish into a memory hole any more than Andersonville, World War II internment camps or My Lai. The White House, Congress and politicians of both parties should get out of the way. We dont need another commission. We dont need any Capitol Hill witch hunts. What we must have are fair trials that at long last uphold and reclaim our nations commitment to the rule of law. NYTimes
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By Zbigniew Brzezinski
By 1991, following the disintegration first of the Soviet bloc and then of the Soviet Union itself, the United States was left standing tall as the only global super-power. Not only the 20th but even the 21st century seemed destined to be the American centuries. But that super-optimism did not last long. During the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, the stock market bubble and the costly foreign unilateralism of the younger Bush presidency, as well as the financial catastrophe of 2008 jolted Americaand much of the Westinto a sudden recognition of its systemic vulnerability to unregulated greed. Moreover, the East was demonstrating a surprising capacity for economic growth and technological innovation. That prompted new anxiety about the future, including even about Americas status as the leading world power. This book is a response to a challenge. It argues that without an America that is economically vital, socially appealing, responsibly powerful, and capable of sustaining an intelligent foreign engagement, the geopolitical prospects for the West could become increasingly grave.
The ongoing changes in the distribution of global power and mounting global strife make it all the more essential that America does not retreat into an ignorant garrison-state mentality or wallow in cultural hedonism but rather becomes more strategically deliberate and historically enlightened in its global engagement with the new East.
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By Fred A. Wilcox and Introduction by Noam Chomsky
Scorched Earth is the first book to chronicle the effects of chemical warfare on the Vietnamese people and their environment, where, even today, more than 3 million peopleincluding 500,000 childrenare sick and dying from birth defects, cancer, and other illnesses that can be directly traced to Agent Orange/dioxin exposure. Weaving first-person accounts with original research, Vietnam War scholar Fred A. Wilcox examines long-term consequences for future generations, laying bare the ongoing monumental tragedy in Vietnam, and calls for the United States government to finally admit its role in chemical warfare in Vietnam. Wilcox also warns readers that unless we stop poisoning our air, food, and water supplies, the cancer epidemic in the United States and other countries will only worsen, and he urgently demands the chemical manufacturers of Agent Orange to compensate the victims of their greed and to stop using the Earths rivers, lakes, and oceans as toxic waste dumps.
Vietnam has chosen August 10the day that the US began spraying Agent Orange on Vietnamas Agent Orange Day, to commemorate all its citizens who were affected by the deadly chemical. Scorched Earth will be released upon the third anniversary of this day, in honor of all those whose families have suffered, and continue to suffer, from this tragedy. Noam Chomsky & Fred Wilcox Book-TV
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 29 January 2012