July 28, 2007
been no stage in the grim progress of the US onslaught on Iraq at
which the New York Times hasnít been shoving the whole ghastly
enterprise along. First there were Judy Miller and Michael Gordon
promoting the WMD rationale for attack. More recently there was
Michael Gordon selling the surge.
itís John Burns, pushing the notion that if the US withdraws
thereíll a bloodbath of unimaginable proportions as the Iraqis
slaughter each other. The administration is seizing eagerly on this,
which is a bit like Dracula saying his castle is the best security
guarantee against local peasant girls being attacked by vampires.
certainly be no prospect of peace so long as US troops are occupying
Iraq. Ask Iraqis, whom we can safely assume have a clearer grasp
than Burns of what might improve the awful conditions of their lives.
Outside Kurdistan, continued American occupation is not a popular
view. Over 80 per cent of Iraqis tell pollsters they want the Americans
things get worse if Americans leave? Probably so, at least for a
while. In 2005 the US said there would be a bloodbath if they left.
So they stayed and thereís been a worsening bloodbath.
Pollack and Dan Byman of the Brookings Institution wrote an influential
shock/horror scenario about the policy pitfalls of withdrawal, predicting
a terrible refugee problem.(Pollack was previously a prominent salesman
of Saddamís nuclear arsenal.) Right now, amid US occupation,
the UNís High Commission on Refugees says 2000 Iraqis a day
are fleeing their homes. Since the Americans invaded, two million
Iraqis have fled their homes and two million more are refugees inside
Iraq. Itís the worst refugee crisis in the Middle East since
the Second World War, outstripping the Israel-induced flight of
Palestinian refugees in 1948.
its doomed "surge" the Bush administration is already
maneuvering towards a set-up of the Democrats as forcing a premature
withdrawal just as the surge was disclosing light at the end of
the tunnel. A pell mell withdrawal would of course magnify the prospects
of mass killings, as opposed to an orderly withdrawal with a respected
neutral force left behind. But of course the US has virtually destroyed
the prospects for assembling such a genuinely neutral force.
Road to Abu Ghraib
arraigned for dog abuse last Thursday, the black football superstar
Michael Vick sounded muted, as well he might since it seems his
closest associates are now going to testify against him.
violent elements in American popular culture Ė- football,
rap and dog-fighting -- have intersected in this sensational case.
On July 17 a federal grand jury in the state of Virginia indicted
the 27-year old Vick and three associates on charges of operating
an enterprise called "Bad Newz Kennels" to breed pit
bulls for high-stakes fights to the death, also of killing off dogs
who performed poorly by dousing them with water and then electrocuting
them, slamming them into the ground or shooting them with a .22.
can imagine the satisfied chortles in the office of the US Attorney
in the eastern district of Virginia as they crafted the indictment.
One count in the 18-page indictment described a "rape stand,
a device in which a female who is too aggressive to submit to males
for breeding is strapped down with her head held in place by a restraint."
assistant US attorney in that East Virginia District office is Gordon
Kromberg, accused of anti-Muslim prejudice amid his persecution
of Sami al-Arian. It was Kromberg who allegedly said of a request
to delay Al-Arian's transfer to Virginia before the Muslim holy
month of Ramadan, "If [Muslims] can kill each other during
Ramadan, they can appear before the grand jury." The US Attorney,
Chuck Rosenberg strongly defended Kromberg.)
stark language of the indictment has gone a long way towards destroying
Vick long before he gets his day in court. If convicted he faces
six years in prison. The National Football League, aghast at the
damage to its image wrought by the descriptions of "Ookie"
Vick and alleged co-conspirators such as "P-Funk" Peace,
torturing dogs at Bad Newz Kennels, have told him not to attend
the Falconsí training sessions which commenced on July 26,
the same day Vick and three others were formally arraigned.
has led a long, semi-covert existence in white redneck culture.
Lately itís also become associated with hip-hop. Owners, dogs
and fans travel hundreds of miles to face-offs between pit bull
champions, male and female, which continue till one dog is killed
or surrenders. The indictment describes defeated dogs on the Bad
Newz strength being shot out of hand after defeat. It also details
the wagers, ranging from $3,000 to $20,000 on a single contest.
Whitlock, the Clarence Thomas of black sports writers, based at
the Kansas City Star and with a specialty in onslaughts on his own
people, swiftly wrote an acrid column about the links between dog
fighting, rap and
believe Vick got involved with breeding vicious pit bulls because
rap-music culture made it the cool thing to doÖ Vick didnít
do it for the money. The Atlanta Falcons gave him all the money
he could ever hope to spend. Vick was involved in pit bull breeding
(and quite possibly dog fighting) because he enjoyed it. Heís
a product of a culture that makes the 'professioní
acceptable and honorable. Itís the same culture that has
turned the dope dealer into mayor of the neighborhood. It speaks
to the grip the negative aspects of hip-hop culture have on young
Dog fighting is on the rise, or so the American Humane Society avers.
The animal shelters say that these days sometimes 50 per cent of
the abandoned animals they pick up in the streets are wounded pit
bulls dumped by their owners. Thereís no rapper monopoly here.
White crackers certainly outnumber black rappers in the fancy. White
complacency doesnít take long to puncture either. Rudy Giulianiís
wife Judith, worked for US Surgical in years gone buy, as part of
a sales force that demonstrated sutures on dogs they slashed, then
later killed. It was white Ivy League psychologists, not rappers,
who devised the interrogation techniques at Abu Ghraib, where dogs
were trained on the torture games inflicted on naked prisoners.
You canít blame it all on rap-music culture, just one little
rivulet in the imperial watershed.