July 17, 2005

All victims are not created equal

In the wake of the London bombings, sympathy for all victims, of whatever nationality, whether British, American, or Iraqi, has been urged upon us. People who are sympathtic towards the victims of the much larger Iraqi tragedy have been told that all victims are the same, and no-one is a bigger victim than anyone else. We have been told that British or American bombing victims and war casualties deserve as much sympathy as the Iraqi victims of British and American policy. We have been told that making such distinctions would amount to committing the sin of blaming the victim, a deadly sin according to the liberal scripture.

But there really is no equivalence of victimhood. We, as citizens of Western nations, are responsible for most of the evil that has characterized the last hundred years, whether we are willing or able to admit it or not. Majorities of us have again and again voted in governments that we knew were a curse to the rest of the world. Why did we vote them in? Because they promised us tax cuts, jobs, and the rest of the self-centered package that voters are bought with. We have again and again voted in governments that we knew were intent on plundering the rest of the world. Why did we do it? Because they plundered it for our benefit.

Specifically, there is no equivalence between victims of American terrorism and those of Islamist terrorism. Why? Because the West, and most especially the US government, is the source and origin of both varieties of terrorism. The US government is the source and origin of Islamist terrorism because: (1) With the complicity of its old buddy-in-plunder, the British government, it established and has continued to give its unconditional support to the State of Israel. The depredations of the government of Israel have been an endless source of misery among Palestinians, fueling political and religious extremism, and retarding political growth in the Middle East as a whole. (2) The US Government, through the CIA, brought down the secular democratically-elected government of Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, returned the despotic Shah to power, and set back that country's political development for many decades to come. Iran is still suffering the consequences. (3) The US Government, in the 1980s, created various terrorist groups in Afghanistan to attack Afghan government and Soviet forces. Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban, and various other re-energized forms of extremism throughout the Moslem world are the direct fruits of that project. (4) The US Government, through its Cairo embassy, made contact with the “CIA asset” Saddam Hussein in 1959, eventually helping the Baathists bring down the government of Iraq in 1963. And, as is more widely-known, the US government was Saddam’s primary supporter in his war against the democratically-elected government of Iran during the 1980s.

I won’t go on. We, in the West, are all responsible for this, every one of us, whether by being directly complicit in the crimes, or by bringing such governments to power in our countries, or by not doing enough to defeat them and the socioeconomic ideology that they represent.


Stephanie said...

I really like your blog, and that it's dedicated to discussing important issues. Keep up the good blogging.

uDA said...

nice blog here. good writing. :-)

regards, from malaysia.


Vavoom said...

This is a wonderful blog. In this post you've managed to voice an all true and unpopular opinion with grace. I am very very impressed.

lostkiddie said...

its time the west acknowledged the proxy war waged by the cradle of terror on its neighbour in the sub-continent.
the military of this rogue nation shares resources with the terrorist outfits, which the CIA and the western intelligence agencies are well aware of.
yet the bushmen are hammering a sale of f-16 fighters n other warfare munitions n tech to this rogue nation.
there's so much muck beneath the carpet, and the governments (of the west) are scared to admit it, lest it sparks off a revolution?

what cannot be ignored is terrorism is targeted against civilians. hence it is branded 'terrorism'. it aint military vs. military.

this is the aftermath of the double standards exercised by the west. the civilian populace was left out of picture when these military strategies were engineered.

this can be inferred from one of fact that post 9/11 security personnel in airports were briefed to look for suspicious bruises, scars etc on people of one religious community arriving from particular countries, possibly from terrorist camps.

the chilling truth could be that terrorist attacks in the sub-continent could be 'laboratory experiments' in the part of a larger sinister scheme, which is to be slowly unleashed.
n thanx for hitting my blog!

Embee Breedlove said...

thanks. i wish more people realized that we are disliked for some very good reasons. i spend a lot of time thinking about how to contribute as little as possible to the opression machine, but living in the us makes it almost impossible...

animadvert said...

Since the mid 19th century when the U.S. opened Japan trade by force of arms the west has envoked an ever increasing policy of worldwide manipulation. While not in disagreement with your commentary I wonder what it is that you would suggest be done at this juncture?

Mario said...

Is it not ironic how the people who elect and trust the government are the ones to die in the wars started by the government, or by the terrorist attacks provoked by the government...

animadvert said...

Allow me to digress on my earlier post. Yes, the west has intervened is many ways over the past 150+ years. The U.S. did not intervene in WWII soon enough for many and receives criticism. We did not interevene at all the Soviet expansion in 46 thru 47 and the entire world paid a very heavy price. We did interevene in Nam but very poorly...more criticism. Afghanistan...could have left Russia alone...mebbe they'd have held on mebbe not. The U.S. sponsored Bin Laden..who now bites the worlds back-side.

The point is that hindsight is always 20/20. We do want to learn from history. Your posturing does have merit. So. what now? What should the world do to find directions to co-existance nirvana? There's lots of critique but little in the way of constructive input. ANYONE please??

Mohammad - محمد said...

I'm sick and tired of people like "monkeyslovebananas" telling me "if you don't like it here, why don't you leave." I quote from Al's post:
"The US Government, through the CIA, brought down the secular democratically-elected government of Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, returned the despotic Shah to power, and set back that country's political development for many decades to come. Iran is still suffering the consequences."
That's the reason I'm here. You and your governments have created a situation for me and millions like me that has left us little choice but to leave our families and our beloved countries and come to your precious civilized countries. So don't blame us. Blame your precious democratic institutions that have created such a situation.

Mario said...

animadvert I believe the activists that supported the "make powerty history campaign" was the kind of constructive input you ask for. The thing is that governments refuses to listen to what people from other countries say... hell it even ignores it's own citizens at times (this is especially true for the US govt).

animadvert said...

Mario...agreed that the effort in that campaign targeted at least one underlying cause of world strife/in-equality. Yet it still did not give any methods..just the wants. For example do poorer countries expect to be socially underwritten by wealthier ones (then where's the incentive to modify that?) as part of a bigger scheme to upgrade world intelligence. In other words how do we do that..without some group becoming so alienated that they, in-turn, become the oppressed inclined to inflict violence to correct what they see as wrong?

A key underlying dilemma in this conundrum is that the seriously effective tools of terror are available, small and extremely deadly. Just about anyone with a pocket book or college chemistry can establish a terror campaign. So as one group seeks to perfect their concept of the best world others even in small numbers can inflict what we see now...grossly un-nerving terrorism.

So, even though the U.S has clearly blundered in recent history it's not so simple to unravel and redirect. It's also is hard to say that any other country, taking another course with the finest intentions would have been any more, or less successful. A world still with Saddam may have been looking at atomic warfare in the short or longer term. He hated the west and had the $$$ to get his way.

anne said...

First, I as well stumbled upon your blog randomly. And I applaude you for providing a civilized outlet for constructive interpretation of not only the problem, but the possible solutions as well.

I feel that we as a nation, though powerful we might be, rely too much on our image of power, and forget that even though we have come very far since the creation of the nation, we are, however, a very young nation. And we have much to learn from other nations, cultures, and yes, the history as well. It is true that hindesight can be cruel, but it is supposed to be just that. Hindesight. We should be learning from our mistakes and listening to the people that the government was elected by. I appreciate this blog because often people are left without a means for open communication without arguement.

animadvert said...

Anne...agree 100%...and that's pretty rare for me!! ;)

SERGIO said...

I agree too.


To say that this is not a war against Islam is naive and dangerous. Take Islam out of the loop and it's over.
If I am told it's my fault one more time I think I'll puke! No country has done more for the rest of the helpless world than guess who. How is it that this country has come so far in such a short time while others have had centuries to get it together? FREEDOM! Freedom to screw up and freedom to speak and freedom to know when to shut up and start fighting back. The rest of the world will be sorry when we have had enough and they go back to begging us. We have givin the world a perfect example of how to leave a dirt floor. Take it or leave it but don't tell me it's my fault.

animadvert said...

Dangerous territory hte war against Islam. Yet our host also noted that one major reason for the conflict is our continued sponsorship of Israel. So it does dovetail very nicely. Recently the A.P. reported a poll of Muslim countries assessing their acceptance of suicide bombing in support of Islam. The lowest number was 10% O.K. ...the highest over 50%...with a median of around 25 to 30%. I don't know the religion and many aver that it's a peaceful religion. If so then where are the Mullahs to decry the terrorists and demand the peace? So, again a direction...how about abandoning Israel and pulling out of the area entirely? We'll gear up fuel cell technology and let the rest of the planet worry about fossil fuels and who owns them. How about nuking the whole mess of them? No Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and so forth. Any other useless and pointless ideas?

News from Mad Plato said...

FIND ME @ www.madplatonews.blogspot.com

Al S. E. said...

Once again, I would like to ask the commenters who write to oppose the views expressed in this post, or in this blog in general, to please read the blog's rules at the top of the page. We are here to discuss ideas, and perhaps try to enlighten each other, not to insult and degrade each other. Please feel free to discuss, agree with, or oppose ideas, without name-calling and trying to degrade the person who expressed the ideas. Thank you.

Mario said...

MYOPINION, The US has plaed a very important part in the world several times, and especially during ww2, when you died aiding your European allies. But if you think good and well about it, was this entirely because you wanted to help, or did the US realize that if Hitler conquered Europe and allied himself with Japan, US would eventually be in deep poo to in some years? Anyway, I don't want to suggest that the american soldiers that died freeing Europe weren't heroes, I just want to create a perspective on things. Now, give me some good examples of military US campaigns where US had no self interets. You may come up with a few (like the balkan wars, where the US was asked to help), but please don't be naive... The US has done a lot of things in the world, but few things FOR the world.

Brick Sykes said...

I just stumbled across your blog, too, and so far I agree with most of what you're saying. I think you need to know how most American Liberals are thinking, so I'll take a few minutes to share with you.

Please don't be too quick to condemn the American people with blanket complicity or any kind of tacit approval being perceived by the world today in the face of the present administration and their policies. Rest assured that it does not reflect the true feelings of all 'Yanks.' Most Americans (us Yanks) are as appalled by the actions of the RightWingers as you are. The reason are these, among others: Our wonderful FDR at one time suggested that the Democratic Party was a party of "trying" things, which is to say that an idea has a right to be tried in the public to see if it works. He said, "Try things, and if they don't work, stop, and try something else."

Well, after the bizarre 2000 and 2004 'elections', all of us are standing back to see if what the RightWingers have said they want to do will work. So far, we have seen, most of what they have proposed has not worked. Sorrowfully, the worst that they've caused has cost real human life. The other things, financial, legal, domestic, foreign policy , etc., will take time to be fully disclosed. Most Democrats down here truly believe in "Truth Will Out", "Crime Does Not Pay", "Thou Shall Not Steal", etc., and believe that it will just be a matter of time for Providence to "out" all of the derring-do that has occurred in the last 30-40 years at the hands of 'You Know Who.'

One of these days, for example, the whole world will know without doubt who was responsible for JFK's death. We will also know exactly how the 2000 and 2004 elections were rigged and stolen, and just who did it. The people responsible might have died before that happens, but humanity will know and it will make us better humans for waiting to find out. As silly as it sounds we will all one day thank the RightWingers for committing suicide right in front of us and the whole world because through their sacrificial actions they will have shown us where our wonderful Constitution had become deficient and exactly where it needed fixing. After we, or a future generation, fix it America will continue as the beacon of Liberty and Freedom it has been up to now.

Before anyone decides that Democracy is dead, Al, just remember how the world as a whole has regarded the American Constitution these many years, i.e., the most magnificent document conceived by the mind of man. This regard is no accident but simply the work of men of conscience and decency, the names we know so well, Franklin, Madison, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, et. al. We all know that they created the document that will live for all time no matter the attacks being made upon it today. The genius we see in it is best viewed in the light of all the recent attempts to change it only to find that it is more rigid and certain than the Sinai Tablets, and that stands at the root of frustration we see in the faces of the insanely maddened faces of those who would distort it for their own gain. We can only watch as they self-distruct in their attempts to destroy this most magnificent product of Liberal minds.

The US government will be temporarily inconvenienced by the absence of that party, but it seems there is nothing that we can do, they simply wiil not listen or stand to reason. They wish we would join them in their vulgar tirades, but most liberals can't do that because their conscience won't let them; it is not because of the usual things they say we can't. Herein lies the difference in our values. No Liberal believes that any kind of Greed is good; or any kind of Death; or any kind of Theft; or any kind of Lie or Deceit; or any kind of Hate. These are the value-notions that the RightWingers despise because they are incapable of them. They are truly deserving of Pity.

A month or two ago the Tomlinson man (at Public Broadcasting) had a survey done to see if the programming on PBS was balanced or one-sided in favor of Liberals. The survey showed that 80% of those surveyed thought it was okay. Well, he hid these statistics because they didn't say what he wanted them to say. You see, he was wrong but was AFRAID to admit it, a common affliction of those people, as I am sure you've seen already. So who's going to get in his face and try to convince him he's wrong? Nobody, because it won't do any good. We just have to wait him out, and let him ultimately hang himself.

The movers and shakers behind this whole movement are the ones more deserving of disdain than the ones we're used to seeing everyday. They know who they are, the moneymen behind all the RightWing "think-tanks", (Boy, is that a misnomer!), and we know the names of most of them. They will likely never be seen after this thing is over, but will simply slither back under their rocks, as they say, and good riddance.

So, Al, to answer your question, which you never really asked, let me assure you that Democracy is safe in the hearts of millions of Americans who have been living it since 1789. You're right, what is happening because of some of us Americans is awful and should not be allowed to happen. You have to know that only a handful of people have caused these things to happen, and they will have their day in court. They have done nothing, though, to our Constitution, it stands back there in time just as strong as it was when Nixon left, and it will be there long after this bunch is gone.

Mohammad - محمد said...

I was going to say something about "Brick Sykes" comments, but I thought it would violate the rules of this blog. My comment had something to do with “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Anyway, back to our discussion, I just thought it would be appropriate to quote from the mayor of London. He says: "You've just had 80 years of Western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of a Western need for oil. We've propped up unsavoury governments, we've overthrown ones that we didn't consider sympathetic. I think the particular problem we have at the moment is that in the 1980s ... the Americans recruited and trained Osama bin Laden, taught him how to kill, to make bombs, and set him off to kill the Russians to drive them out of Afghanistan. They didn't give any thought to the fact that once he'd done that, he might turn on his creators.."
This is not something that I say, or some lunatic suicide bomber or a mullah in Iran or Saudi Arabia says. This is what mayor of London says after the bombings in London. So there is a difference of opinions. There are people like Dubya and Blair who are still looking for the 'evildoers' in Iran, Iraq and all those nasty little places with their comical customs and uncivilized traditions. On the other hand, there are people like Ken Livingstone who don't go too far to find the 'evildoers.' They find them right here, in our own wonderfully democratic and civilized neighbourhoods.

animadvert said...

There is an aspect to today's world problem which has yet to be covered. Russia and the U.S. spent decades wrestling for control where one or the other was looking to influence various countries. Russia, like the U.S., seeded various factions, trained and armed them for warfare. Now of course Russia no longer a player in that capacity but the factions and the arms they founded remain "loose" if you will. Some theorize that many of the world hot spots have flared because of the collapse of the cold war. Now factions use their training and arms to fight for their own causes.

If in a parallel universe the U.S. chose not to help the indigenous Afghans free themselves from their Russian occupiers where might our situation be today? What we have today is a bell which cannot be un-rung. It's history. The U.S. is being assessed and faulted given hindsight. Agreed some perhaps many actions were wrong. But the entire complexion of the scenario is not soley the making of the U.S. but of other countires, Russia most notably. And, while todays situation is not good who's to say it would not be a whole lot worse IF some of these actions were not undertaken.

I truly look forward to the day when the leaders of this country stop assuming that the U.S. needs to be the world police force or the purveyors of worldwide democracy. On that same day I hope the balance of the countries can defend themselves from internal or external incursions and that everyone is happy with the form of government under which they live.

Mario said...

You are right Lone Ranger, but the question is how should this democracy emerge? Should the west occupy these country and enforce democracy? Also, you missed one thing out of your eqation. The US has several times supported these leaders you talk about in order to keep stability in the region. Let's face it, the western economy is not very well off with a huge revolution in the middle east.

katy said...

This is my reply comment to mario. (I'm the one who got upset)

I am not going to do another blog.

There are far too many people who have too much time on their hands and think they can put the world to rights by writing on someones website.

I have never been keen on the internet but my IT manager showed me how to set up a blog and write stuff. I thought what a good idea, people from around the world can write about life etc.

But the first other blog I came to was not the country club.

Now he is entitled to his opinion but what you all have to remember is that without Britain/America and every free country in the world fighting for justice, we wouldn't have the freedom of speech to do this. The internet would never have been allowed.

I had an Albanian Pen friend who longed to live in Britain. Her letters were censored before she could post them. Imagine if we all lived like that? You wouldn't be able to have any views let alone be able to share them with the world.

Why do people get more upset by hearing about british or american deaths? Well it is simple. I can relate to someone in London better than someone in Iraq. I knew people affected by the bombs in London. I don't know anyone in Iraq.

That is not saying I don't feel sorry for those people killed in Iraq. It simply means that the bombs in London affect me more.

The man behind the Al.se website seems to overlook this fact.

You also seem to over look the fact that no one person can be blamed for this. Bush isn't all to balme and nor is Bin Laden. However, the ways and means in which Bin laden expresses his displeasure is uncivilised in this day and age. And deep down you must know that targeting innocents is not the right way.

Also, before you defend all the Iraq people, 2 Iraq men blew up a car next to american soldiers who were handing out sweets to kids.

Now tell me why you are defending these men who kill their own? They killed their own kids.

There is good and bad people in every race. You all seem to think the West is the supremacy of evil.

Well I beg to differ. We have not beheaded anyone live on tv and if anyone did they would be tried for war crimes.

I think people should unite together to combat evil, not point fingers like little kids at people you know nothing about.

Without Britain, America, France etc joining together, Hitler would have invaded our way of life and anyone who wasn't an aryan (blonde hair and blue eyes) would be a second class citizen. Jews would've been exterminated, Gypsies all slaughtered and anyone who had a handicap would have been put to sleep.

Millions of decent young men gave up their lives, gave up their futures so that their kids, so that other people could have a better future. Those men left behind wives, mothers, fathers and children. All for the sake of freedom and all for the sake of justice.

Why do people think the West is so evil?

The Chinese have killed millions of their own people over the centuries. They tortured millions who didn't share the same opinions.Why don't some people read Historic books about other countries before saying how terrible the West are. The Romans were terrible to the Greeks. They slaughtered thousands.

The West have always encouraged free thinking.

I don't like wars. I don't fully agree on getting involved with the Iraq war. But I will not let people say how evil the west are. We have not gone to Iraq and intentionall killed young children. Most of the causalties in this war have been from Iraqi men killing other Iraqi men who have become policemen.

Why can't people just grieve for everyone rather than just certain people.

Trée said...

I appreciate the passion in your posts. Keep up the good work.

Snow said...

greetings.. to clear things, there's no such thing as Islamist terrorism. bcoz islam doesn't condone terrorism in all its form.

Al S. E. said...

There is no such thing as Islamic terrorism, Nisa, but there is, obviously, such a thing as Islamist terrorism. The phrase "Islamist terrorism" refers to the practice of individuals who misuse the name of Islam as a pretext to commit crimes, and as a point of reference for propaganda purposes. You are right insofar as such individuals cannot in any sense be considered real Moslems, in the same way that George W Bush and his type are not real Christians.

J said...

I agree and disagree with you. Yes, the US government has helped to engender terrorism with its nefarious interference in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and countless other countries. But I, as a citizen of the US, do not share in the responsibility for these atrocities. The US government does not seek nor has it ever earned the right to do this in my name or any citizen's name. That's because we don't truly have a democracy--ours is an oligarchy. A handful of rich, ignorant, corrupt, and odious individuals operate without restraint and with incredible hubris--to initiate coups, sell weapons and arms, make war, and destroy many lives. WE THE PEOPLE are also victims.


Snow said...

i just don't like the word islam to be linked with terrorism. maybe you can differentiate it, but not all people can. some will see the link & think islam condones this. that's why i don't prefer the term.

e.g.: if some people support you, yet suddenly go overboard & topple a government by force, in your name. would you be happy if the media call them alseist terrorism? it struck me, when islam is used with such a negative word.

hope it makes sense to you.

Al S. E. said...

"Alseist terrorism" : ) That was very funny. Thanks Nisa.

laura k said...

Well I beg to differ. We have not beheaded anyone live on tv and if anyone did they would be tried for war crimes.

Are George Bush's crimes any less because we don't see them on TV? Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, etc. have murdered tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians who never did harm to the US. The government- and corporate-controlled media doesn't show us the pictures, but the deaths are real, the maimings are real, the destroyed cities are real. And they are war crimes.

And there is so little respect for the young men and women who Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld send to their deaths, that we aren't even allowed to see their coffins.

P.S. I thought everyone knew that beheading was fake. The man was dead already.

I doubt this person is reading this comment, but that "beheading on TV" bullshit just got to me.

Al S. E. said...

These days, I try not to let the Right's idiocy get to me, L-Girl. I just try to ignore their existence. Ignoring them won't make them go away, or make their leaders' crimes disappear, but not ignoring them won't do any good either. It will just make us uselessly dissipate our energies. I feel something must have gone horribly wrong in their upbringing if they believe Dubya, Chenery, Rumsfeld, and Rove are the greatest things that ever happened. And, considering their obstinate clinging to false and unfounded beliefs, I feel it is futile to try to remedy the character flaws created by their upbringing.

laura k said...

Well said! Al, I agree with you. I mostly use the same approach. Someone read my comment here, and came over to my blog to flame me. No matter. I wasn't speaking to him/her anyway - as you said, there's no point.

Sometimes, though, you just gotta sound off... :)

Al S. E. said...

I should have added before, L-Girl, that I do appreciate your "sounding off" in reply to Katy's comment. Often it is best when rebuttals come from a third party, because it is then clear that the person isn't just protecting his/her own ego. We may not succeed in converting the Right, but we may succeed in enlightening left-leaning individuals and "moderates" who have been misled by the media and the government.

Al S. E. said...

Once again, I would like to ask the commenters who write to oppose the views expressed in this post, or in this blog in general, to please read the blog's rules at the top of the page. We are here to discuss ideas, and perhaps try to enlighten each other, not to insult and degrade each other. Please feel free to discuss, agree with, or oppose ideas, without name-calling and trying to degrade the person who expressed the ideas. Thank you.

whatisyourproblem said...

Ok Al. You will probably delete this but its meant for you so who cares.

You started the personal attacks not me. You were the one to mention up-bringing. Now that is personal. my family is nothing to do with this post so you have commited your own sin there.

Secondly, You allow a supporter to call my opinoin bullshit but you don't let me defend my opinion?

She actually swore which if you had bothered to notice, i did not do in my previous posts. Your own supporters have been breaking your rules.

Now we disagree on this Al but I really don't want to get into a slagging match.

So if you will publicly take back your statement about up-bringing I will not bother your site again. And I really do mean that. I am not threatening - I'm a 22 yr old girl for heavens sake. I just want you to take back that very

Al S. E. said...

Yes, you are right, it seems I did break my own rules. I think the rule-breaking was so slight that I wasn't aware of it until you mentioned it. In other words, considring the obscenities that Bushites have hurled at me for expressing my opinions, I think what I said was understandable. As you said, though, it was against the rules, and it won't be repeated.

monkey said...

thank you for that.

To be honest, I don't disagree with all of your opinions. But the bombs in london affected someone I know and that is why this site touched a nerve. I am not saying my opinion is any better than yours or any other person on this site. I'm just saying my opinion is related to my own personal events etc.

So when you lose someone you love, you tend to see things from a different angle from others. That is not to say my angle is a better one - just different that's all.

I really hope your blog does well and that maybe one day, people will be blogging about how great the world is cos all wars have stopped and all people in the world are equal.

It might happen one day, you never know.

Al S. E. said...

"Monkey": If you agree with anything I say in this blog, and if you hope for world peace and, especially, equality, then, believe it or not, you are not a member of the Right political wing. So I would say there was no reason to take offence at my comment about the American ultra-conservatives to begin with. I agree that my comment broke the rules of this blog, but it was definitely not directed at anyone other than individuals on the Right who seem to have no sense of humanity or compassion, and no desire for peace and equality.