December 14, 2004



An essential element of the war-fighting strategy of the Mongols was to terrorize the conquered populations. It was an essential element because without it, the Mongols faced the risk of uprisings by subject peoples. The strategy consisted of extreme over-reaction to trivial acts of defiance, or "making an example of" them. For instance, if one inhabitant of a large city swore at a Mongol soldier, the entire population of the city would be put to the sword, and the city would be razed to the ground. The terror that this over-reaction generated in the populations of other cities tended to "chill" all rebellious activity. In the case of the Mongol Empire, the tactic seems to have been successful, at least in the short term, as the empire lasted for quite a while. An important result of the above tactic was that civilizations of the countries conquered by the Mongols suffer from the effects of that humiliation to this day, seven hundred years later and centuries after the Mongols became little more than a name in history books. It is clear that the United States has adopted this strategy in Iraq. Fallujah is an example to the rest of Iraq that if they don't obey the new masters, they will face massacres of their populations and ruin of their cities.

Americans desecrating a mosque in Fallujah. Pictures of the bodies of the tens of thousands of victims of this mentality are available on other websites. I picked this particular image because, like the Abu Ghraib pictures, it shows the mentality that makes the massacres possible.

Wait a second...Aren't we all about "winning hearts and minds"? Things are going great in Iraq, and they love us there. Don't believe the Mainsteam media. If the president tells us things are going well, that's enough for me. That photo was obviously photoshopped--the iraqis handing the soldiers flowers and candy were obviously erased by a pinko libral candian maple-syrup chugging reporter.
Good points on the Mongols. There is no analogy between the empire of the Mongols and anything going down today unless you wish to change the definition of empire. There is, though a “long memory” often employed as a rationale for aggressive action against centuries old offenses. The score is never settled as near or far as you go on the time line. The only solution would seem to be a “transformational” leader who annihilates the status quo. Autocratic rule in the post-Cold War era is on the wane. When people realize they have a voice and vote they will not condone being subjugated.
Steve and Madera, thank you both for your comments.
Steve, although what you say is in jest, it is actually quite true. The American strategy in Iraq is the "winning hearts and minds" strategy as originally practised by the US in Southeast Asia. That strategy, both then and now, consists of destroying everything that a subject population has, so that the subject population becomes completely unable to fend for itself, and hence completely dependent on the conquerers. Then the conquerers distribute food and other necessities of life among them. It is a process of manufactuing submission. That is what "winning hearts and minds" originally meant, and it is the real content of the strategy pursued in Iraq today.
Madera, although I appreciate your comments very much, I have to disagree with you again. If the American worldwide hegemony is not an empire, then I don't know what it is. The US has military bases everywhere in the world, and the purpose of those bases is to protect and further US interests and those of its tributary nations. I think the above are defining characteristics of an empire. As I subscribe to concrete models of history, rather than Spenglerian idealistic ones, I have to disagree with the rest of your analysis as well (in the same way that Jung's "collective unconscious," I think, is nonsense). So, to get back to concrete matters, I don't believe any kind of democratization is taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan today. Democracy cannot be imposed from without. The old warlords have already reasserted themselves in Afghanistan. And Allawi, Iraq's "provisional" President, has quite appropriately been dubbed "Saddam Hussein without a moustache." Not to speak of the most essential fact, which is that true democracy in the Middle East is contrary to US interests. To put it another way, a politically empowered Middle East would not suffer US hegemony for a single day.
You are being very select in your history lesson. Let me remind you, when America wants to ruin cities as a lesson or punishment, we ruin them - remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Your arguement is without merit.
Thanks for your comment, Cinders. Contrary to what the propaganda system has put out for sixty years, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not really a part of WWII. Rather, it was the last stage of the development of a new weapon system. The Bomb had been developed, and the momentum of its process of development led to its use on those cities. The bombings that were a part of WWII took place in Europe, the most well-know example of which is probably Dresden, where the bombing created a firestorm, destroying the historic city. I have heard that Americans are still hated in Dresden. Bombing of cities in Germany was a part of a strategy developed by the US and British Governments. The strategy's announced objective was to cripple Germany's industrial base. The hidden objective, however, was to terrorize the German people. Based on the historical evidence, the targets generally did not include industrial complexes. Rather, the bombing concentrated on population centers. This was thought to be the best way to terrorize the German people, weaken their morale, and turn them against their government. The amoral thinking that went into the strategy had a sound basis. Industrial complexes can be rebuilt, but a shattered morale stays shattered.
If you consider "desecrating a mosque" means to sit/lay around, chat with each other, and rest a little...then I guess you are correct.

How could I have known otherwise, doh!
I don’t frequent religious establishments of any kind, but even I know that one is supposed to behave with a certain decorum at such a place. Americans in particular should know this, since they are the most church-going people on the planet. And, of course, they obviously were aware of exactly what they were doing.
We are nowhere near the Mongols in terms of inducing terror in the subject population. I don't think you can seriously advance the noton that we are. Saddam, Hitler and Stalin came close. But we are simply seen as a weak colonial power. Tissue in the wind.
Some tissue, some wind... Thanks, BH, for your comment. It has prompted me to try to clarify a few points. I feel a lot of readers have misunderstood what I have been trying to say through this particular post, as well as in many of the other ones. But first, to answer your specific points. I don't feel there is any parallel between the terror being inflicted by the US on the Iraqi people and the terror inflicted by Saddam, Hitler, and Stalin. The primary factor that distinguishes the US from them is its omnipotence. It is the world's only superpower, and there is no-one that can rescue its victims from its clutches. There is nowhere to run to when the marines come calling. Saddam's Iraq was not a superpower, far from it, and he was a danger only to his own people and a couple of neighbouring countries. Hitler wasn't omnipotent either; he faced the combined forces of the world's major industrial powers. Stalin's whole raison d'etre was that the Soviet Union was not omnipotent, and the encircling enemy would not allow it to become what it wanted to become. The current situation is without parallel in the history of the world. Even Rome was not the world's sole superpower. The thing that puzzles and angers millions of people around the world is that this great might has almost always been used to inflict harm and suffering, rather than to do good. People wonder how the American people can allow these atrocities to be carried out in their name? How can the nation that gave the concept of government of the people by the people to the world, how can such a nation deprive nation after nation of the right to rule itself? How can such a nation be so blind and self-absorbed? These are the kinds of questions that people like me ask themselves, and they are questions that Americans seem unable to answer, mainly because they don't even understand the questions. Their government's propaganda has isolated them mentally from the rest of humanity, and they don't hear its call to come back and rejoin it. And, yes, the rest of the human family wonders how the American people, who as individuals are (or used to be?) some of the nicest people in the world, allow the methods of the Mongols to be used to impose their interests on the rest of the world?
That doesn't look like a mosque to me. It looks like one of those weapons positions/ammunition storage sites US troops kept running into in Fallujah. Muslims would never desecrate a mosque by using it as a military base, as so many buildings like this were in Fallujah, so I think its pretty clear that their were very few mosques, if any, in Fallujah. Or were there very few muslims? I don't think people would lie about being muslim- I don't see why. If a guy up in a tower with a sniper rifle says he's muslim, I'd give him the benefit of the doubt and agree, yes, he is. But then, please don't call the tower he's using a "minaret". US troops don't call their fortified positions "churches".
To sort of continue with my latest comment, I really cannot comprehend how an American--no, how a human being--can find the Fallujah holocaust comical. Apparently, some people think the picture of a city defending itself against foreign invaders is the height of comedy. The paradox is that this attitude is seen in a nation whose forefathers, in their Revolutionary War, taught the world how to stand up to foreign oppressors. But now to the specifics of the comment. Pictures are accepted as evidence in courts of law. Why is that? The reason is you can look at a picture, and derive conclusions from it, independently of any false evidence anyone may be giving. A rational non-partisan person who looks at this picture does not see an ammunition storage of the Iraqi Resistance, as the only ammunition in view clearly belongs to the American soldiers. From the soldiers' body language, it is more than obvious that they don't feel they face any danger. What the impartial observer does see is a group of individuals who have never in their lives been taught to respect other cultures and religions.
I find the attempted parallelism between "putting an entire city to the sword" and routing our Fallujah to be contrived at best. Warning was given days in advance that the USA's forces would be coming, for example.

With regards to the treatment of the mosques, if you are being fired upon by a person who has stationend themselves within a building, what should you do? The obvious answer is to return fire. Because the building is labeled a mosque, does that change things? I think not. In order to consider a mosque or other similar building to be a sanctuary, it's important to not use it as a fortress from which to wage war.

Thanks for your comment, Dave, but I feel I have already answered this type of objection. What astonishes me most is the lack of expressions of moral outrage on the part of most American people about what is going on in Iraq. Instead, they spend their time arguing that it is okay to kill off a quarter of a city's population rather than the entire population. Or they argue that even though Iraq had no WMD's and no connection to 9/11, who cares, at least the US has acted forcefully in attacking Iraq and killing a hundred thousand innocent people and maiming countless others. Are these the famous American "moral values"?
If you feel that we are desecrating Holy places by regrouping in them, What do you say to the fact that These "Holy Places" have been used to house weapons and to provide shelter for such acts as the torture and beheading of Relief volenteers.
Thanks for your contribution, but I have already answered this type of objection. Even if we believe the US Government's propaganda (think for a moment of their record of lies) that such places have been used to store weapons, etc., two wrongs don't make a right. The fact that a desperate Iraqi Resistance may have used its own mosques for purposes other than praying in, does not give license to the aggressors to desecrate such places.
do you think that US troops attacked fallujah just for the fun of killing?
do you think that soldiers enjoy battle?
no matter what you want to believe the fact remains that US commanders don't waist valuable soldiers lives for no reason.

as a former soldier i will tell you that i would throw off my ruck and rest anywhere i pleased as long as it was safe. during WWII US troops often took refuge in european churches. we even bombed an important monastary in Italy because we "suspected" the enemey might be using it as part of their defences. once again you are looking for morality in warfare. the only morality required of US troops is in the geneva convention, and the rules of engagement establised by their chain of command.
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