Wednesday, June 09, 2004

A Nation of Enablers 

While it's always gratifying to see the Washington Post finally get a clue, it's less so when it replaces one set of Official Lies with another in the process:

For decades the U.S. government has waged diplomatic campaigns against such outlaw governments -- from the military juntas in Argentina and Chile to the current autocracies in Islamic countries such as Algeria and Uzbekistan -- that claim torture is justified when used to combat terrorism.
(via Eschaton)

One needn't review the sordid history of Nixon Administration's complicity in Pinochet's overthrow of democracy in Chile (9/11/1973, appropriately enough), the Carter Administration's reliance on the Argentinian junta to provide asylum to Somoza and the Nicaraguan National Guard after the Sandinista triumph, or the Reagan Administration's cynical distinction between good "authoritarian" regimes, whose human rights abuses were excusable, and bad "totalitarian" ones.

Consider instead a more proximate nexus between today's national disgrace and yesterday's conveniently forgotten crimes. Writing last month in Online Journal, Chilean activist Tito Tricot notes that the U.S. was using many of the same people in Abu Ghraib that tortured his people under Pinochet:

Allow me ... to express my scepticism regarding Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt`s statement saying he was "horrified" at the abuse committed by his troops on Iraqi prisoners of war. Because the use of torture is nothing new for US troops, in fact, back in 1996 it was discovered that the School of the Americas, that had then been moved to Fort Benning, Georgia, included torture manuals in their academic syllabus. These manuals recommended the utilization of intimidation, executions, beatings and kidnappings, among other torture techniques, to obtain information from the enemy.

Therefore, what happened at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad cannot come as a surprise....

There is another frightening connection between Chile and Iraq, for the United States' partial privatisation of the war has reached our continent too. The US Blackwater Security firm has recruited at least 135 Chilean mercenaries to travel to Iraq to perform security duties. Needless to say they hired former members of the dictatorship's repressive apparatus and Special Forces. They were trained at a company installation in Moyock, North Carolina, but they also underwent training on Chilean soil. Indeed, at a secret location in El Arrayan, eastern Santiago, they organised their own paramilitary training camp. This, of course, is prohibited under Chilean law, but for some unknown and strange reason, Chilean authorities seemed to have turned a blind eye to the activities of "Red Tactica" Consulting Group, the local subsidiary of Blackwater. Thus, the first hundred of an expected total of 800 Chilean mercenaries left for Iraq.

Many would like to think that the unfolding disaster that is the Bush Administration is something sui generis in our country's history, but it's not. The difference is quantitative, not qualitative. Our national culture has been dysfunctional for decades, at nearly every level. And as any student of dysfunctional relationships knows, an essential component is self-deceit. The groundwork for the current Administration's usurpation was laid by years of complacent, self-regarding crap like this from the media, punctuated only by brief spasms of fake self-scrutiny when the official lies can no longer be sustained.

Daddy doesn't get like this because he's had a bad day, or because Mommy did something wrong. Daddy is like this because he's sick, and has been for a long, long time. Moreover, he acts like this because we let him. The rest of the family needs to confront this truth, if it's to put a stop once and for all to its long, sad, downward slide.

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
~ current ~

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