Tuesday, October 30, 2007


In two previous posts we reviewed some candidates to accept responsibility for the tragedy that we have created in Irak:


We focused on different individuals or groups who might be responsible for this:

All told, I have only presented 31 out of over 800 photos I have collected since 2004 of children in Irak. Even a single case of a mutilated child should cast a pall over any person with a grain of humanity. Instead, we over and over justify this carnage as "collateral damage."

Bull shit. Just BULL SHIT. This is outright murder and will be seen as such by any sane world that emerges from the chaos we have created. (The possibility that we are on the fast track to creating an uninhabitable World making this emergence moot has certainly occurred to many of us. As for Americans being oblivious to it all, see the spirited comments of Arthur Silber.)

We came to the conclusion that WE, most of you and I, the "American People," are to blame for this (The Growlery, feels that the British may carry some responsibility too. See his Comment to Responsibility-II.) Now there comes the task of predicting how this will work out in the future; an impossible task at best.

First and foremost we Americans need to accept this awful mantle. We need to internalize the responsibility, be aware of the connection between our actions (or non-actions) and the maiming and death of children in that unfortunate land. It is not enough to say that "Well, I didn't vote for George W. Bush." No, it is not enough. Because when we learned that we had been lied to, we looked away. Because when we finally got it through our thick heads that it was all about oil, all about greed, all about MONEY, we looked away.

We learn nothing from History. Wilkie Collins, who wrote The Moonstone, one of the first modern mystery novels, also wrote an obscure novel called Antonina (1850). Not a good read but interesting in that it describes the final days of Rome in 476. One cannot help but be struck by the dissipation and indulgence of the citizens of Rome as compared to the barbarians at the gate. As sophisticated as the Romans were, the were unable to prevent the dissolution of their society. (Collins also has some pithy comments on how organized religion, in the Roman's case Christianity, plays into the farce.)

I am not for a moment suggesting that militant Islam is the barbarian at the gate of the new Roman Empire. But I am suggesting that our "American Civilization" is in internal crisis. In particular, there is a high degree of possibility that the economic system that has held it together is much more fragile than we could have imagined. It is, to my mind, inconceivable that the division of wealth can continue at its present pace; it is just not sustainable.

Is it possible for us to somehow stabilize and then expiate the responsibility for all the horror that we have created? Sadly, I doubt it. It would take a massive reorientation of American Society. It would require complete reversal of that trait of "Exceptionalism" that so drives us, inculcated from birth. It would take an honesty looking at ourselves that we have never displayed.

Maybe our children will do it:

Flower by Mikaela on 10/30/07.....

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I blogged on this issue last week. I had originally tried to create a video of pictures of Iraki children but, when I wasn't successful, just interspersed them in the text. For this first post see:


When nations are involved in serious events, as the United States is involved in Irak, it is incumbent upon the World to assess where the responsibility lies when things go terribly bad (even if things had gone well the invasion and occupation would still have been wrong.) That things are terribly bad in Irak is plainly obvious to everyone. The fact that over a month after General Petreus claimed that things were improving they are actually worse, with more civilian deaths, more bombing attacks, curfews in the major cities and exclusion of vehicles from Fallujah shows how distorted his claims were. As Bob Dylan famously said, "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing."

Please remember who we are talking about:

The first two pictures show physical pain. It is almost impossible for me to view these without cringing. But the third picture is worse. This child is expressing unalloyed grief. Question: Have you ever seen an American child display grief like this? Ever? I have not.

We considered some candidates for responsibility for this tragedy last time. We considered Saddam Hussein and the World/United Nations. While the first was certainly responsible for much death and misery, he was most certainly not responsible for the horror these children have experienced. Though, I am aware of the twisted logic that our leaders employ when the do say that someone like Hussein will "be responsible" if they "don't do what we demand," it is a rather specious logic. The World/United Nations is a little more culpable. But we will leave it at that.

Is the long list of American military men (and women) responsible for this child's distress? For these babies? Well, the situation gets very sticky at this point. While many of the children who have suffered in Irak have done so as the result of insurgent activity and suicide bombs, there are still many who have suffered as a result of that horrible euphemism, collateral damage.

Consider the Nuremberg trials mentioned last time. For the first time, senior military personnel were held responsibility for atrocities that were carried out by men in their command. This is incredibly important, this last point. While the actual perpetrators of horrors of that time, the soldiers and technicians who pulled the trigger or released the gas, were not usually prosecuted. (The horrors of WWII did not only occur in the death chambers or Auschwitz, but in many a village and town of the lands occupied by the Nazi Wehrmacht.)

This immediately inserts a quandary into establishing responsibility. Where do you establish the line when a military man is ordered to kill innocent civilians? This is no trivial matter. I have it from a personal source that Col Paul Tibbets has not to this day expressed remorse for piloting the Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Not only was he "following orders" he was also far removed from the carnage that occurred. This inserts a second problem with inculpating the military, mechanical warfare. Consider the Israeli pilot who dropped cluster bombs on South Lebanon. In order to establish first hand responsibility we feel you should be administering death first hand, not destroying a life a month later from an unexploded ordinance. Yet, the child is dead. And someone is responsible.

What of our leaders? What of President George W. Bush? Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney? What of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama? Well, I think there is an awful lot of responsibility here. What is most frightening is that all of the just cited politicians appear to have no remorse. They do not grieve for these injured and dead children. They only talk incessantly of continuing the tragedy. Is Bush more responsible than Clinton? Only to a degree. While Bush willfully created the tragedy, Clinton, who was in a position to protest, did nothing. I am sorry, Senator Clinton, words mean absolutely nothing. Not one of these children that we have shown here is one iota better off for all your words. Did we want you to sacrifice your career to stop this horror? Absolutely. So now we know where you stand.

But, in the end, there is one more responsible party.

This has been labelled Bush's War. Do not believe this for a moment. This War belongs to every single American. But among these 300 million souls, it is we who know the real sorrow and who do nothing who bear the most responsibility. It is we who were raised believing that America was a democracy, governed by the People, that have let that reality slip from our grasp (if it was ever real) that should hang our collective heads. Someday (in the not too distant future) George W. Bush will retire to his ranch in Texas. Nothing will happen to him. He will live to be an old man and his daughters will give him grandchildren. They will live in luxury without a care in the world. Meantime:

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Crab Blogging

This drawing is interesting from several standpoints. First, I think there is lightening coming out of the clouds. Then the crab is in the sky and not the water (though there is a bird). Why these things are interesting is because the boat is a work boat, i.e. one that her father uses to harvest crabs. She is a vanishing species; the daughter of a real Waterman.

Tea ball and bas ball are very popular around here. But just look at the diversity of this child's mind. I think all the math is correct.

These are twins. The cats are cool, but the crab is a token.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Responsibility - I

I created a video of 50 pictures (out of 800 that I have collected) of Iraki children, but for some reason the video won't load. So,I will just have to give samples here. I will intersperse them in what I have to say.

We have destroyed a large part of the life for these children.

In addition to the physical pain and suffering, often of unimaginable magnitude, we have been responsible for the destruction of a large part of the underpinnings of their society.

The next time you are in the hospital, just think about how much pain this child had to suffer without respite. The mother does not even have the luxury of an IV pole.

This child might never see again (if he is alive).

Yet the children of Irak are not monsters. They are part of a culture that stretches back thousands of years. They act and behave like children everywhere.

Except for the grief and anxiety that we have inflicted upon them.

In the sixty years since WWII, the World has learned a lot about responsibility, particularly at Nuremberg.

Who is responsible for these children's burns?

Is it Saddam Hussein? A despicable man to be sure, but still the leader of a sovereign nation whose principal fault in 2003 on the international stage was not to order his army to roll over and play dead. Yes, it is possible that he has some responsibility for the death and destruction of "Shock and Awe" and the subsequent American invasion.

Is the responsibility with the World at large? With the United Nations which failed in its mandate to stop America from invading Iraq (for crying out loud, it is one of the major tenets of the Charter for that organization, preventing aggression of one country against another. How smug we were in 1948 when we finally got approval of the Charter, the shadow of the League of Nations that Congress had denied Wilson.)

Maybe the World is more responsible than we might believe. There are those who charge all non German nations with not stopping the Holocaust of Jews during WWII. I am going to have to think about this for a while.....

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Rule of Law

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent post (once again) this AM about the Rule of Law. If you care about your country, whatever country and wherever you may be, you owe it to yourself to read this column. It sums up so much of what has gone awry in America in the last six years. The observation is an elementary one: The very bedrock of a free and democratic government is the rule of law administered by an independent judiciary. The current effort by Bush, many in Congress (including Democrats, including Hillary) and now the media (the Washington Post as cited in Greenwald's post) to pass a law exempting large telecom firms from law suits in the warrant less wire tapping scandal most certainly flies in the face of the rule of law.

As a country, America is now in the position of having followed a Constitution protecting individual liberties for 200 years. It is in the position of having passed a law in 1978, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which protected Americans against the abuses of its government by the Nixon and previous administrations. But because of George W. Bush unilaterally deciding to violate the Constitution and break the law, involving the telecoms in his perfidy, we are now in the position of passing another law to counteract both the Constitution and FISA.

America will then be in the position of having to pass yet another law overturning the law that overturned the FISA law, if we are to come out of this with our Constitution bruised but intact.

This is just too damn many acts of idiocy.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Crab Blogging

There are several interesting things about this crab. I call your attention to the Hersey Bar and the strange thing in the other claw. Wire rimmed glasses are also a first. Also, I was not aware that Crabs favored the Steelers but, since I know little about football, I guess everyone has their idiosyncrasies.

It was explained to me that this was a dog. OK.

There is a wealth of information in a child's picture. The presence of the sun (with clouds) is a good indicator. The presence of ground, with a tree is also good. The windows have panes but the crossbars are accentuated. This is questionable. I wish there was a roof with a chimney with smoke. Something to tell me someone was home. The door is small, which may be significant. And so on.....

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Just a little tardy, don't you think?

Four years later:
UN questions contractor shootings
By KATARINA KRATOVAC, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD - U.N. officials in Iraq stepped up pressure on the United States on Thursday to prosecute any unjustified killings of Iraqi civilians by private security contractors, saying such killings could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity if "done in cold blood." (emphasis added)
What about the other 999,980 Iraki civilians that have been killed by this War?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Iraq Cholera Trucks and Snow

See UPDATE below:

There is a cholera epidemic in Iraq. In my opinion, this has been well documented by Gorilla's Guides from which I have taken this map of the current distribution of the disease:

(Click on Map to enlarge)

And from the WHO here:
Cholera in Iraq - update
14 September 2007

Between 23 August and 10 September 2007, the cumulative number of cases of acute watery diarrhoea reported from Sulaymaniyah province stands at 6,142 including 9 deaths (case fatality rate, CFR: 0,14%). Of these reported cases, Vibrio cholerae has been laboratory confirmed in 392 stool specimens.
Pretty awful, you will say. Just one more insult to the Iraki people. But why haven't we heard about this? I mean, after all, it is a major epidemic in a land where we hold the power. (Any contention that Irak is being governed by its "government" went out the window a long time ago and has only been reinforced by the inability of that "government" to deal with the slaughter of Iraki civilians by Blackwater and Otherwater mercenaries.)

Cholera is a disease that is transmitted in contaminated water as described by John Snow in London in 1854. Although apocryphal, it is said that they stopped the epidemic by taking the handle off the "Broad Street Pump." With the advent of chlorine treatment of water, there has been little or no cholera in countries that use this for many years. Irak, of course, being a relatively advanced land before our invasion, chlorinated the water in its larger cities. This chlorine was transported by rail and trucks.

Insurgents discovered that blowing up a chlorine truck was a particularly nasty way of delivering a suicide bomb with many people dying from the escaped chlorine (this is an incorrect statement; see below).

This led, of course, to the American Military interdicting the trucks as they tried to cross the border into Irak.

No chlorine -> no water treatment -> cholera. Pretty simple.

It is long past time for America to leave Iraq.

UPDATE: Commenter Dubhaltach from Gorilla's Guides(who has expertise in this field) has corrected my statement about civilians dying from this particular toxic gas escape:
Nobody died of chlorine poisoning during any of those attacks. Many people were poisoned and made ill - but nobody was killed by the chlorine. In that concentration you would have to be in a relatively enclosed space for the chlorine to kill you
I apologize for the error.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Banality of Banality

To paraphrase Maryam: "What are we going to talk about this morning?"
Women and children killed in US raid
AFP Published:Oct 05, 2007

BAGHDAD - At least 17 Iraqis including women and children were killed in a US air raid near the city of Baquba today, Iraqi officials and witnesses said.

"Seventeen people were killed, 27 were wounded and eight are missing including women and children," a defence ministry official told AFP.

US helicopters attacked the village of Al-Jaysani, near the mainly Shiite town of Al-Khalis, around 2 am (2300 GMT), destroying at least four houses and killing up to 25 people, witnesses said.

Yet the "Top Stories" are:

Beef recall forces Topps to shut down AP - 7 minutes ago
Tests help mutt owners find identity AP - Sat Oct 6, 7:18 AM ET
Jena mayor calls song inflammatory AP - Sat Oct 6, 7:19 AM ET
Ramirez's homer in 9th lifts Red Sox AP - Sat Oct 6, 7:20 AM ET
New prototype phone gives fitness check AP - Sat Oct 6, 7:17 AM ET

And yet, we still don't "get it."

The Banality of Evil is a phrase coined in 1963 by Hannah Arendt in her work Eichmann in Jerusalem. It describes the thesis that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths but rather by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal (emphasis added).
It may seem paradoxical to any who have followed the posts here on Free Will that I should be concerned about guilt. For surely, if there is no Free Will there supposedly would be no guilt. But, the lack of Free Will actually demands a revised Ethics, and in that Ethics there is responsibility. But I have to think about this before we look at it further.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Crab Blooging

This is an excellent representation of the Chesapeake Bay. However, there is only one crab. A happy critter, he. Oh, and I am not sure how the spider got in there and mess up this idyllic setting.

This is an unknown entity floating above your usual crab. Perhaps it is a CIA agent?

Soooooo handsome!