Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ajami's silence and American firepower

As a young refugee in Europe, I came to France
speaking five languages, of which German was the only
one many people spoke in Paris. The price of that was
submission to incredible brutality from the Jesuit
teachers and fellow French students. How is it that
they take out their rage against the "salo Boche" on a
poor Romanian kid who happens to speak only one
language in common with them, German?

I never quite grasped the one sidedness: tears for one
side, hate for the other, that I confronted as a
refugee trekking across Europe. But it wasn't all bad.
Teachers, professors, intellectuals and most clergy
seemed far more humane, forgiving and understanding my
innocence. In fact, I came to think that intellect was
my only refuge from this incredible one-sidedness. The
ultimate I witnessed was in Israel where many people
were so highly intellectual as to maintain perspective
on the grievances of the "other," even when they lost
a child to terror.

With this I wish to introduce the start of Ajami's
Wall Street Journal article under discussion:

"The remarkable thing about the terror in Iraq is the
silence with which it is greeted in other Arab lands.
Grant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi his due: He has been
skilled at exposing the pitilessness on the loose in
that fabled Arab street and the moral emptiness of so
much of official Arab life. The extremist is never
just a man of the fringe: He always works at the outer
edges of mainstream life, playing out the hidden
yearnings and defects of the dominant culture. Zarqawi
is a bigot and a killer, but he did not descend from
the sky. He emerged out of the Arab world's sins of
omission and commission; in the way he rails against
the Shiites (and the Kurds) he expresses that fatal
Arab inability to take in "the other." A terrible
condition afflicts the Arabs, and Zarqawi puts it on
lethal display: an addiction to failure, and a desire
to see this American project in Iraq come to a bloody
end."

Now that to me is amazing, especially since I first
came across Ajami when he was criticizing American
one-sidedness. Now he tells us how silent is the Arab
Street over Zarkowi's crimes and bestiality as if to
thus condemn Arabs to the Hell that is this Bush war.
But I don't recall his analysis of American firepower,
as he did long ago in the past. Had he really sought
to draw attention onto a universal moral set, he would
not begin his critique truncated at the silence of the
Arab Street. I wonder if he ever came under American
firepower. I wonder if he ever noticed that his team
substituted firepower for intelligence, thus hitting
anything that lights-up their night scopes with body
heat.

The Arab Street, I would remind him-- at least in
Baghdad-- welcomed the Americans as liberators, much
as the Ukrainians welcomed the Germans at the start of
Operation Barbarossa in WWII. But our indiscriminant
brutality, according to the British GUARDIAN, caused
even to convince the General Staff of our British ally
that we were behaving like the Germans. Zarkowi never
bought stealth bombers and Abrams tanks. So he had to
cut the throats of his victims the old fashion way, by
hand. But Bush, Rumsfeld, the neocons, and Gen. Franks
did it like a computer game, "powing" and "blasting"
the figures on the screen. Nevertheless, people died.
According to the LANCET over 100,000 (though Cris
Hitchins in his hangover debate with MP Galloway
called the LANCET a "rag" as if confusing it with the
rags from which he draws his sustenance, it is the
premier medical journal). Ajami, however, joined the
neocon street, silent on our butchery, the very
butchery that made so many Iraqis dead long before
Zarkawi got to practice his. When Iraqis began to join
the shaheeds willing to die to avenge the dead under
Zarkawi's lead, making America's true heroes literally
toast, Ajami suddenly found his voice.

But my voice, like that of many others, though I was a
strong Bush supporter until March 19, 2003, rose at
the criminal negligence of the Bush administration and
the neocons that caused the death of so many innocent
Iraqis and American heroes because our policy-making
"chickenhawks" could not hold off on ordnance, nor on
invasion, until the intel sorted out who is who in
Iraq.

Yes, to me, Rumsfeld is a war criminal because in his
end-stage testosterone surge he chose to cut off the
State Dept. Experts who had a plan, substituting his
Napoleonic, "first we blow-up, the we see." And THIS
is what outraged so many who at first cheered the
toppling of Saddam. Yet to cover his you know what, he
labeled them all losers who just don't get it.

There is this thing about Americans-- not just
Rumsfeld but also McGovern. My first experience with
ordnance was in Bucharest as a child when possibly
McGovern's bomber, on its way back from a bombing run
on Ploesti, did not want to "waste" the unused bombs
dropping them on a field, so he hit the Romanian
capital-- strategically a non-target-- because then
the bombs would blow up "something." That something
happened to be my family. Yet, here he was, like some
Evangelical preacher, denouncing our bombing of North
Vietnamese supplies headed to the war in the South.

My point is that Americans pick and choose their moral
indignation and never seem shocked by their own neat
killing-- though the Nazi Holocaust they consider
horrific specifically for its neat efficient murder.
It is time for gung-ho Americans to stop turning a
blind eye to their actions and take personal
responsibility for what is done in their name. Unless
we do that, we become THE enemy and never seem to
understand why. Bush's bovine ambassador, Karen
Hughes, sent to peddle his babble-message to the
Middle East is no palliative, it is only fuel on the
fire.

Power is SELF-destructive in the hands of people who
don't know what they are doing. And, it is now
historical fact that the Bushites didn't know what
they were doing. Ironically, it was the CIA that took
the blame, though it had warned: don't jump before you
look!

Ajami of course doesn't get it because he is isolated
in an ivory tower contemplating his next attention
seeking device. He has indeed become "Westernized" in
decrying the Zarkawi butchery but not a word about our
high-tech massacres. As an American I am willing to
take the blame and that is why I so avidly oppose this
war. It was started blind with the intel folks just
shaking their heads in helplessness. When will we ever
learn?

Daniel E. Teodoru

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