Jim Varagona

Category: 911

>”How Dare you, Mr. President…”

>As a follow up to my post from yesterday (9/11 To Me, and the American Crutch of Stupidity and Convenience), I am posting some materials that have come out in the past day that also reflect my feelings.

Last night, on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Keith addressed the administration with obvious emotion. I’m sure it will be labeled as part of the conspiracy of the liberal media, but if you’d like to label it that way, at least you have a Republican controlled government. Here is the video from last night (and transcript):

Howard Zinn, writer of A People’s History of the United States, offered this commentary about a week ago about current events:

War is not a solution for terrorism …By Howard
Zinn

THERE IS SOMETHING important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks, inevitably indiscriminate, are not only morally reprehensible, but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out.

The United States, in three years of war, which began with shock-and-awe bombardment and goes on with day-to-day violence and chaos, has been an utter failure in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel; indeed it has increased the number of its enemies, whether in Hezbollah or Hamas or among Arabs who belong to neither of those groups.

I remember John Hersey’s novel, “The War Lover,” in which a macho
American pilot, who loves to drop bombs on people and also to boast about his
sexual conquests, turns out to be impotent. President Bush, strutting in his flight jacket on an aircraft carrier and announcing victory in Iraq, has turned out to be much like the Hersey character, his words equally boastful, his military machine impotent.

The history of wars fought since the end of World War II reveals the futility of large-scale violence. The United States and the Soviet Union, despite their enormous firepower, were unable to defeat resistance movements in small, weak nations — the United States in Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan — and were forced to withdraw.

Even the “victories” of great military powers turn out to be elusive. Presumably, after attacking and invading Afghanistan, the president was able to declare that the Taliban were defeated. But more than four years later, Afghanistan is rife with violence, and the Taliban are active in much of the country.

The two most powerful nations after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union, with all their military might, have not been able to control events in countries that they considered to be in their sphere of influence — the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and the United States in Latin America.

Beyond the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time inevitably results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a “war on terrorism” is a contradiction in terms. Wars waged by nations, whether by the United States or Israel, are a hundred times more deadly for innocent people than the attacks by terrorists, vicious as they are.

The repeated excuse, given by both Pentagon spokespersons and Israeli officials, for dropping bombs where ordinary people live is that terrorists hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in Lebanon) is called accidental, whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (on 9/11, by Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate.

This is a false distinction, quickly refuted with a bit of thought. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the grounds that a “suspected terrorist” is inside (note the frequent use of the word suspected as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), the resulting deaths of women and children may not be intentional. But neither are they accidental. The proper description is “inevitable.”

So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a deliberate attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of innocent people dying inevitably in “accidental” events has been far, far greater than all the deaths deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reject war as a solution for terrorism.

For instance, more than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by US bombs, presumably by “accident.” Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the 20th century and they do not equal that awful toll.

If reacting to terrorist attacks by war is inevitably immoral, then we must look for ways other than war to end terrorism, including the terrorism of war. And if military retaliation for terrorism is not only immoral but futile, then political leaders, however cold-blooded their calculations, may have to reconsider their policies.

I only hope that others feel this passionately during these times and challenge what we are fed as the truth.

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>9/11 To Me, and the American Crutch of Stupidity and Convenience

>5 years ago today, my father, who normally would be at work, had the day off. He woke me up by telling me that we were under attack. He told me that planes had crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. I jumped out of bed to watch it on television.

Shortly after I turned on the television, the south tower collapsed. Of course, I don’t have to go into detail. Everybody’s seen the destruction and chaos from that day. Many compared it to something we had only seen in movies, because there was no precedent for it, especially in our country, the land of the free, home of the brave.

As much as I couldn’t turn away from the footage that day, I still had classes to attend. I questioned whether or not to attend my Elvis class. Obviously, this was more important than Elvis. Who knew if we had more to fear that day? I did go to my Elvis class, and we watched “King Creole”, but you could tell that we were all somewhere else. During our couple of breaks, the students wandered in a common area, watching the non-stop coverage on screens spread throughout the building.

I had another class on Political Philosophy that night. How fitting. We discussed whether or not we should be there. It was decided that we would go over the current class material, then discuss the events, and leave after an abbreviated class. When I left, I went right back to the TV. In fact I had snagged my mom’s pocket TV as I ran out the door to school. I stood outside, waiting for a ride, and watched the coverage, flipping from network to network. I watched the planes disappearing into the buildings again and again. At one point on FOX, they had showed some of the jumpers, which was criticized, but it was real and happening.

That period of time put me in a daze. It had only been a little over a year since my brother had passed away. We didn’t lose him to a disaster like this, but I kept thinking of the loss of anyone associated with the folks on those planes and in those buildings.

It made sense to go after the bad guys in Afghanistan, but how much progress has been made. A recent AP report states: “Despite about 20,000 U.S. forces fighting al-Qaida and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, and about the same number of NATO troops, and billions in aid, a resurgent Taliban resistance has shaken the country, while corruption has stymied development.” While we brought “freedom and democracy” to those people, which I dispute, we certainly have not brought stability.

And why Iraq? Bush and Cheney have been saying in recent interviews that it is central to the war on terror, but it was completely preemptive, especially considering all intelligence stating Iraq had WMDs was proven false. Apparently since Saddam had tried before, that was enough to go after him next, even though not much evidence of WMD production exists after the first Gulf War. We instead now have spent hundreds of billions (Congress has approved $432 billion to date for Iraq) and lost over 2,600 men of our own, not to mention hundreds of dead contractors, hundreds of foreign soldiers, and thousands of dead civilians. That’s the price you pay for freedom, I guess, even when you’re fighting people with no connection to those that instigated war in the first place.

Even though the other two in the “Axis of Evil”, Iran and North Korea, pose more of a real threat to us now, we have no man power to do anything about it. Suddenly sanctions and diplomacy sound a bit better, but that D-word won’t be had with nations that harbor terrorists. It’s been said before, but a terrorist to one nation is a freedom fighter to another. Our leaders even portray ourselves as “fighting for freedom”, a very dumbed down catchy slogan that doesn’t really give much detail. It’s good enough for those that have to work over 40 hours a week (with sometimes low wages) to feed their families, eat fast food because it’s fast and convenient (but a killer), and vote (when we feel like it) based on 30-second TV spots that a lot of the time are paid for by interest groups and have little factual basis. If it’s fast and simple, it’s more convenient, and we’ll take it. No one questions reasoning much anymore.

I’m not one to agree with or quote Andy Rooney much; old men with bushy eyebrows and hair growing in tufts from their ears have that effect on me. This past Sunday on 60 Minutes though, he said something that everyone and their mother should barrage each other with forwarded emails over (kidding, maybe).

“The disaster on September 11th…was manmade. Death by design. Some people who hated Americans set out to kill a lot of us and they succeeded.

Americans are puzzled over why so many people in the world hate us.

We seem so nice to ourselves. They do hate us though. We know that and we’re trying to protect ourselves with more weapons. We have to do it I suppose but it might be better if we figured out how to behave as a nation in a way that wouldn’t make so many people in the world want to kill us.”

I doubt that will happen anytime soon, but it’s a great idea, and really simple if you think about it. It’s just outside the box for a lot of people that think bombing the shit out of people will make them greet us as liberators and bring peace to the world.

John and Yoko put it well…

>Iraq War Blues

>The following is a song I wrote last year about the war in Iraq, which will never end. I just dug it up and thought I’d share it. It is obviously influenced by Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and Johnny Cash.

The Iraq War Blues
A couple of years ago
and a few days before
someone got the idea to go to war
freedom for these men
by killin’ some of those men
who do we kill first?
women and children

All these bombs flyin’ through the air
some of ’em goin’ to we don’t know where
all because he hate me
who? I don’t know
why? I ain’t sure
shock and awe ’em
that’ll be the cure

We’ll send our boys over to here and there
to fight an enemy that’s everywhere
Iraqis, Afghanis,
Shi’ite..I don’t know
mission accomplished
let’s take it real slow
people are dyin’
but our way’s the way to go

Fahrenheit nine one one
everybody grab a gun
and some duct tape
and a can opener
code yellow
code orange
code red
get it through your head
a Dick and a Bush are callin’ the shots
We’re in good hands
like Allstate

We’ll they’re doin’ it now
and they’ll do it again
the fleecing of America
plucking from our mother hen
so send some more of our boys over
and send some bodybags back
just don’t take pictures of their coffins

I’m gettin’ tired now
I’m gonna not vote
I love my country

copyright 2005-2006 Jim Varagona


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