March 6, 2009 by J. Madson
Wednesday nights at the White House are party night. George Bush had his vacations, and now Obama has his cocktail parties and the life of a socialite even Paris Hilton would envy. We are told that the White House hopes to continue these soirees that have featured Stevie Wonder, the foot-stomping sounds of Sweet Honey in the Rock, the music of Earth, Wind and Fire, cocktails and yes, even the conga line.
With many more Wednesdays to come and more entertainment for the ruling class, the media will find ample opportunities to fawn over Michelle Obama’s short sleeve dresses, impeccable fashion, and the hip, young, cool couple occupying the White House.
After all, Obama is a “cool cat,” with
“Nary a crack. You may as well try to find the Dalai Lama’s Achilles heel. I suspect that if you cut Obama open, you’d find a little Buddha sitting inside, smiling.”
The public adoration and festivities could be overlooked but for the hypocrisy of celebrating while our war machine destroys families, homes, and nations. For Mr. Syed Mohaammed and others living in mud brick huts in the dusty hell of Afghanistan there is little to celebrate. The Obama “surge” has come. In our commander in chiefs first major troop deployment, Afghanistan will see 17,500 new troops.
It has been called the land where empires go to die and if history is any guide, the American empire will eventually leave Afghanistan. The only question is how many American and Afghanis will be killed in the interim. The civilian death toll has nearly doubled and now stands at 2,118 in 2008 alone.
“The number of civilians killed in Afghanistan leapt by nearly 40 percent last year, according to a survey released Tuesday by the United Nations”
We can also expect what Joe Biden calls an “uptick” in deaths. American deaths of course since only those concern us. When asked whether Obama’s surge in Afghanistan would lead to more American casualties, he said:
“I hate to say it, but yes, I think there will be. There will be an uptick.”
and so the usual sacrifice of civilians continues and yes the conga line goes on….
And so we return to Mr. Sayd Mohammed, another victim of this war. In the middle of a NY Times article last month we find this shocking account worth reading in its entirety
“One day this month, an old man who called himself Syed Mohammed sat on the floor of his mud-brick hut in the eastern Kabul neighborhood of Hotkheil and recounted how most of his son’s family was wiped out in an American-led raid last September.
Mr. Mohammed said he was awakened in the early morning to the sound of gunfire and explosions. Such sounds were not uncommon; Hotkheil is a Pashtun-dominated area, where sympathies for the Taliban run strong.
In a flash, Mr. Mohammed said, several American and Afghan soldiers kicked open the door of his home. The Americans, he said, had beards, an almost certain sign that they belonged to a unit of the Special Forces, which permits uniformed soldiers to grow facial hair.
“Who are you?” Mr. Mohammed recalled asking the intruders.
“Shut up,” came the reply from one of the Afghan soldiers. “We are the government.”
Mr. Mohammed said he was taken to a nearby base, interrogated for several hours and let go as sunrise neared.
When he returned home, Mr. Mohammed said, he went next door to his son’s house, only to find that most of his family had been killed: the son, Nurallah, and his pregnant wife and two of his sons, Abdul Basit, age 1, and Mohammed, 2. Only Mr. Mohammed’s 4-year-old grandson, Zarqawi, survived.
“The soldiers had a right to search our house,” Mr. Mohammed said. “But they didn’t have a right to do this.”
Bullet holes still pockmarked Nurallah’s home more than four months after the attack, and the infant’s cradle still hung from the ceiling.
The day after the attack, a senior Afghan official came to the door and handed Mr. Mohammed $800.
“If you spent some time here, you would see that we are not the kind of people who would get involved with the Taliban,” Mr. Mohammed said. “Anyway, what was the fault of the babies?””
Is this what our president hopes to continue? The same article reports that the UN has singled out Special Forces military units for killing civilians. Groups like the Navy Seals or other paramilitary units operated by the C.I.A. wander through the Afghani lands conducting raids and killing civilians without any accountability.
We have learned that these groups operate “outside the normal chains of command,” cannot “be held accountable for their actions,” and “their presence and movements are not always known by regular field commanders.” Are these groups terrorists? Murderers? How else can we characterize forces operating outside the “chain of command, killing civilians, and bowing to no outside authority?”
At Empire Burlesque we find an answer to Mr. Sayd Mohammed’s plea:
“The fault of the babies, Mr. Mohammed, was to be born to people who do not matter, who do not count, who are just so much roadkill beneath the wheels of the great Terror War engine, as it grinds through one country after another: mindless, heedless, omnivorous. The machine has a new driver now, but it is still headed in the same direction.”
Chris Hedges asks the relevant questions
“Do the cheerleaders for an expanded war in Afghanistan know any history? Have they studied what happened to the Soviets, who lost 15,000 Red Army soldiers between 1979 and 1988, or even the British in the 19th century? Do they remember why we went into Afghanistan? It was, we were told, to hunt down Osama bin Laden, who is now apparently in Pakistan. Has anyone asked what our end goal is in Afghanistan? Is it nation-building? Have we declared war on the Taliban? Or is this simply the forever war on terror?”
And so it goes, more killing, more sacrifices to the gods of war, more children passing through the fires of Moloch, more cocktails, more entertainment, and much more of this to come. And of course, the conga line goes on.