Americans, Muslims, Jihadis and the CIA
Until the American government starts obeying the law and stops killing people for flimsy or nonsensical reasons, Americans are in no position to criticize Muslims for failing to stop extremism among their co-relgionists
For twenty some years people have been killing themselves in order to kill other people, randomly murdering people in the name of Islam, while throwing their own lives away. It’s a remarkable and horrible phenomenon. This pattern has been going on so long and is so widespread, I sometimes think, “Why don’t people show how strongly they object to this by simply refusing to be Muslim and abandoning Islam?”
Then again, I’m an American citizen. What horrible thing can the US government do such that I will no longer want to be American? Well, nothing. I will always be American, no matter how much I object to the behavior of my government. Muslim people have about as much control over Jihadis as I do over the CIA. We have identities, Muslim or American or Muslim and American, or whatever, and chose to define for ourselves what these identities mean and not let extremists and killers do it for us.
I would hope that the US state would be moral, democratic and ethical such that comparing my own government to fanatical murderers would be excessive. Unfortunately, my government is so immoral, so out of the bounds of domestic and international law, and so bloodthirsty that I can very easily compare my own state to band of evil Jihadis in terms of depravity.
As an American, before I try to tell Muslims that there may be something wrong with their religion I had better make it clear that the killing done in the name of the people of the United States is not okay with me. The Vietnam War was profoundly evil and wrong. Two million people died. The various interventions in Central America were wrong and lead to much loss of life. The invasion of Iraq is also completely unjustified and lead to the loss of more than a million lives. War and famine right now in Yemen is wrong. Overthrowing Qaddafi and supporting Isis against Assad in Syria were also all terrible crimes against humanity done by my own government.
No plausible reason for American intervention in Vietnam has ever existed. The Vietnamese communists were never part of an international movement to dominate the world and no Vietnamese government was ever a Chinese of Soviet puppet state. The fighting forces in Vietnam were always seeking Vietnamese self-determination and, as such, had international law on their side throughout the conflict.
In invasion of Iraq was an act of aggressive, illegal war. The Nuremberg trials convicted more Nazis of aggressive war than genocide. The US government committed aggressive war in 2003. Also, the US is a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture but committed thousands of acts of torture as part of official policy, with no punishment for those creating the policy. No plausible justification for this invasion has ever been offered to the world.
The 2002 American intervention in Afghanistan was legal under both domestic and international law. The US had been attacked by an entity based in Afghanistan on 9/11/2001, the UN had approved the intervention in Afghanistan, and the US congress voted to invade. There was nothing illegal or immoral about that military action. The 1941 decision to go to war against Germany and Japan was legal and moral. The Korean war was legal, approved by the UN following an international invasion. The First Gulf War was legal. However, Bush I committed troops to the war without congressional approval, only going back to congress after hostilities were about to begin. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was a legal casus belli. Thus, the US has been involved in four essentially legal and justifiable wars in the past 75 years. One war per two decade period on average should be enough for us. Even the legal wars should be avoided and may not have been good policies (to say a war is legal is not to say it was a good idea).
Like Vietnam and Iraq, on the other hand, in Nicaragua, Panama, Cambodia, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, and Somalia domestic and international law were routinely ignored by the US state. If we include actions taken by the CIA and NSA, we would have to add more than 100 more countries to this list of illegal actions. From about 1945 to 1989 the US claimed that it was fighting an “evil empire” that turned out to be a weak and floundering multi-national state that could come apart at any moment. From 1989 to 2001, the American military machine lacked a clear enemy that could scare the American people into providing an average of about 700 billion a year in funding (in today’s dollars). Then, Osama bin Laden’s organization struck New York. Jihadis replaced the Soviets as the evil we needed to fight and endless war continued into a new century.
Americans have a moral duty to object to the actions of their government. It is true that other entities are also immoral. France and England participated in the overthrow of Qaddafi. The UK also invaded Iraq. The re-education camps of post-war Vietnam were an abomination. Jihadis and extremists exist now outside of any CIA manipulations and are a blight on humanity. The list of evil that has nothing much to do with the US government goes on. There always has been and there is now evil in the world. What is fairly clear is that American lawless imperialism is not making the situation better in any way.
What would have happened if the US had recognized Ho Chi Minh’s government in 1945 as FDR wanted to do before he died? What would have happened if Saddam Hussein remained in power for another ten years? What would have happened if the Sandinista government had been allowed to succeed or fail based on internal dynamics? What would Libya and Africa generally look like if Gaddafi were still in control? We can never know. All we can know for sure is that America flagrantly disregarded domestic and international law, presented false information to justify illegal actions, and as a result innocent people died outside of the justifiable use of force as defined by law in every case.
America has a military presence in more than 100 countries. If that is not an empire, I don’t know what an empire would look like. For more than 70 years of the American military has engaged in covert and overt actions that changed governments, tortured and killed innocent people, including those fighting for self determination. The world, and America, is in no way better for this lawless empire and we as a people should not tolerate this pattern of crime conducted in our name. While all of this crime was going on, Detroit died, life expectancy in the US began to decline, and educational results tanked.
America must get out of the empire business and obey domestic and international law. The United States gets no say in who controls Syria. As an American citizen, I actually don’t care. It’s not my business. We cannot support the Saudi war in Yemen because international law does not allow the Saudis to colonize Yemen, nor is the intentional withholding of food from people under occupation legal, nor targeting civilians. The US could not legally decide to overthrow Qaddafi without 1) congressional approval and 2) a legally binding and true casus belli. As the US government had neither approval from congress nor a legal reason to overthrow Qaddafi, the Obama intervention there was illegal, not to mention a strategic catastrophe.
So let his blog post serve as my statement that I am aware of the criminal behavior of my own government. There is a pattern of abuse of prisoners and civilian populations in the context of wars that were not declared legally according to the US constitution and do not meet internationally recognized standards for legal war, such as self defense or for other reasons. Until that stops, Americans have no moral grounds for criticizing other people. Putin, China, Jihadis: none of them claim to serve my interest. The US government claims to be “protecting” me from various invented or exaggerated enemies with my own money. While I lack the power to stop the US government from so doing, I do not lack the power to say that I object to US militarism and to this lawless, useless, immoral empire of death.