Hey libertarians and small government fans, some of your leftist friends probably turned into dewy-eyed Obamatrons in 2008, but dammit, Glenn Greenwald didn't! Today, due to another assassination of another Iranian nuclear scientist, Greenwald delivered one of his trademark columns which make partisan hacks sob into their pillows at night, wondering why he can't just fall into line. This time it's on the hypocrisy of the word terrorism.
Does anyone have any doubt whatsoever that if Iran were sending hit squads to kill Israeli scientists in Tel Aviv, or was murdering a series of American scientists at Los Alamos (while wounding several of their wives, including, in one instance, shooting them in front of their child's kindergarten), that those acts would be universally denounced as Terrorism, and the only debate would be whether the retaliation should be nuclear, carpet-bombing, or invasion? As always, Terrorism is the most meaningless — and thus most manipulated — term of propaganda; it's always what They do and never what We do. [Emphasis added]
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Regarding the question of who is responsible for the spate of scientist murders and explosions in Iran, it is true that there is no dispositive evidence on that question; that's one of the benefits of conducting most consequential governmental action behind a wall of secrecy: no public accountability. But as the links above demonstrate, there is strong circumstantial and even direct evidence that (a) Israel is involved and (b) the U.S. has engaged in substantial covert acts of war aimed not only at the Iranian nuclear program generally but at Iran's nuclear scientists specifically.
Speaking of convenient definitions, Gawker had some words about the controversy over footage of U.S. Marines urinating on some dead Afghanis who may or may not be Taliban soldiers, (notes The Guardian, they are not pictured with weapons). But, isn't it interesting that "desecration of a corpse" is a war crime when, ya know, war is kind of a war crime in its self?
So Gawker's Hamilton Nolan rants on this mass-media outrage rather splendidly below, but first the video if you feel a compelling urge to watch it.
Do you know what is worse than having your dead body urinated upon? Being killed. Being shot. Being bombed. Having your limbs blown off. Having your house incinerated by a drone-fired missile that you don't see until it explodes. Having your children blown up in their beds. Having your spouse killed. Having your hometown destroyed. Being displaced. Becoming a refugee. Having your entire life destroyed as a consequence of political forces far, far beyond your control.
War is horrible. War is sickening. Wars started for supremely righteous causes are just as horrible and sickening in their consequences as wars started for less than righteous causes. Politicians who sit in office chairs and start wars and wave flags as young men and women go off to kill and die and be psychologically and emotionally damaged for life are the most sickening of all. Politicians start wars and are rewarded with an appearance on weekend talk shows and Very Respectable Discussions with Very Respectable media figures and jokes at the White House Correspondent's Dinner and appearances on Leno and ghostwritten self-glorifying memoirs and lavishly catered fundraising parties with corporate executives. They should be rewarded with outrage. They should be rewarded with scorn. Starting a war is a monstrous, monstrous crime against humanity, as we know when it begins that no matter how cleanly it is conducted it will result in thousands upon thousands of bullets smashing men's skulls and arms and legs blown off by shrapnel and mothers and children incinerated by high explosives. And every extra day that a war is perpetuated unnecessarily is a crime anew.
Read both Nolan and Greenwald in full, they're worth it.
Really, treating humans like humans is not a bad idea — nor is respecting the bodies of humans, even those who are ostensibly your enemies — but this outrage still feels archaic in a World War I Christmas Truce-I'm-going-to-try-to-kill-you-again-come-January-1-but-for-now-let's-play-soccer-and-be-gentlemanly sort of a way. Even though there is some potential that the nasty video will become something for enemies of the U.S. to rally around, comparisons to Abu Ghraib are a little silly because most of the people in those photos were still alive and still suffering.
And hell, if the U.S. had anything to do with the Iranian scientist assassinations (which they deny) that would still not be as bad as all-out war, would it? Yet we're stuck with this attitude that one must be open and sporting about war and play by the rules; and if you think too hard about what war really is, that concept starts to seem more and more absurd.
It's not that urinating on corpses isn't disgusting and inhuman, and the Marines aren't doing the right thing by investigating, it's just that legally killing people is inherently a great deal more offensive than desecrating their bodies.
It's a shame people don't get more outraged over the deaths from drone strikes (which are now back for the New Year) and which have killed maybe 2400 Pakistani citizens since 2004, but that's maybe because the program doesn't officially exist. Which doesn't seem very sporting at all, now that I think about it.