Monday, September 15, 2003

An Open Letter to Most Americans

You've Lost Your Alibi!

Dear Americans (I am here addressing only those of you who are rationally
choosing to prolong the suffering of the human race for 4 more years):

Just this past week, Iraqis had the equivalent death toll of 9/11. In fact,
they have one every week or two, on average, thanks to your sickening and
utterly irrational support for the neo-con gang at the helm of power in
I, and I bet most people around the earth, cannot take it any more! The
pictures from Iraq are gruesomely clear: your armed forces are committing awful
war crimes, killing Iraqis in a wedding party (1); killing Iraqis dancing
around a burnt out Bradley (2); killing Iraqis in custody by beating them to
death (3); killing Iraqis sitting in their homes, sleeping on their roofs to
escape the heat, or walking down the streets; just killing, butchering with
impunity, brutality and nauseating repetitiveness.

And when they are not murdering, your proud soldiers are shattering souls and
trying to efface human dignity. They torture prisoners with a barbarism that
was thought extinct. A 14 year-old was "bleeding from his anus" after your
soldiers raped him with a metal object (4). Two more children were terrorized
by dogs "for the purposes of a game between the two dog teams to see ... if
they could get their bowel or bladder to move."(5) Another child was raped in
detention, while older inmates were "ridden like animals" or "forced to eat
pork and drink alcohol in contravention of their religion."(6) A teenage girl
was "repeatedly raped" by your servicemen, while older female prisoners were
paraded "naked in front of male prisoners."(7) Prisoners were put on dog
leashes, stripped naked for days on end, severely beaten, bruised, made to
lie "in their own faeces."(8) A prisoner was sodomized with a "chemical light,"
others with a "broom stick."(9) Simply put, Iraqi detainees -- held without
due process, without charges or trials -- were subjected to "sadistic, blatant
and wanton criminal abuses," as US general Taguba, who investigated the Abu-
Ghraib torture, wrote.(10)

Your leaders who issue the orders to those soldiers(11), who free them of any
obligations before international law (12), and who create the racist
environment conducive to their unforgivable behavior, have stopped perceiving
Iraqis as humans a while ago. But lately they themselves seem to have lost any
semblance of human behavior; they've lost whatever claim to morality or human
decency they ever had.

And when you mourned the death of more than 1,000 of your fallen soldiers,
those brainwashed killing machines, you were apathetic towards the estimated
37,000 Iraqis who were killed (13) as a result of your illegal war and even
less legal occupation. Are you still capable of recognizing them as fully
human? I hope so, for failing to do so would entail a corresponding failure on
your part to recognize the human in yourselves. Your intrinsic human trait of
feeling compassion for fellow humans seems to have been deeply corrupted,
blunted or tranquillized. We, Arabs and/or Muslims, simply do not show on your
radar of relevant humans.

You've lost your alibi!

In a democracy, the majority deserves no better than the leaders they elect. No
better. No worse. You seem to have chosen Bush. You deserve no less a menace to
everything humane, civilized or ethical than him.

Barring an unforeseeable turn of events, Bush seems to be comfortably heading
towards a second term, this time he will not need a mediocre court ruling to
instate him; he will democratically win a valid majority of American votes.
After four years of having the almost perfect, nearly credible alibi, "we did
not really elect him," come November, you shall have to finally look the entire
world in the eye and defend why you've chosen as your leader a time-tested
racist, ruthless, semi-intelligent, religious fanatic who has committed enough
war crimes to warrant being locked up for life at the Hague.

I used to wonder how Israelis had lost their patent PR genius when they elected
for prime minister Ariel Sharon, their most hideous, certified war criminal who
orchestrated the Sabra and Shatila massacre of more than 2,000 Palestinian
refugees in Beirut in 1982. Now it seems you've been infected with the same
virus. Your lives are legislated by an Israeli-occupied Congress -- this
euphemism is not even funny any longer. Your White House is infested with dual-
loyalty characters -- how do you define a 'spy' given such an Israel-first
dominated government? And, on top of it all, you are blessed with a president
who, in four more years, is liable to turn Sharon, in comparison, to the "man
of peace" that he once labelled him. But, unlike Israelis, you genuinely do not
give a damn about world opinion. You fail to attach any significance to those
beyond your empire's gates. Have you learned anything from history?

After November, I assure you, the rest of the world will accuse you of
complicity. For four years now, you've enjoyed the world's benefit of the doubt
about your intentions, your true moral stance on the crimes committed in your
names, your continued, peaceful membership in the community of nations. In
November, this goodwill will have expired. You will have lost your alibi.

In all likelihood, you shall stand guilty of renewing the mandate of Bush and
his militant regime, effectively allowing them to continue battering,
pillaging, ruining, dividing and hating the world, while erasing whatever is
left of your civil and economic rights on their way. You've chosen that path,
no question about it. But then again, you did not have much of a choice,
really, given that other plastic, spineless, lobby-corrupted and just mildly
less immoral candidate. No one envies you for such a choice between a witless
yet ruthless emperor and a clinically confused emperor-to-be. Isn't it utterly
pathetic that a major subject of competition between the two is military
service in Vietnam? Vietnam was without doubt a solid case of genocide. Your
leaders ought to be ashamed of, not to mention put on trial at the
International Criminal Court for, having anything to do with it. That is
probably Bush's only moral bright spot: that he was too much of a coward to
actually take part in your savagery against the Vietnamese, another sub-human
species from your perspective at the time. Imagine German candidates for
Chancellor competing on who participated more actively in the Holocaust!

Nevertheless, I want to make myself perfectly clear about how I think the world
should treat you after November. I am categorically opposed to terrorism in any
shape or form, regardless whether it comes from your government -- as is the
case most of the time -- or from any of your many victims seeking revenge.
Terrorism is criminal, immoral and illegal, period. Rather than seeking justice
and redress, it is a fundamental transgression against the essence of being
human, and, therefore, is never justifiable, irrespective of the context, as
important as the latter might be in understanding its root causes.

You chose empire. You are therefore guilty by association or by being an
accessory to crime. However, most of you are to be blamed more for ignorance
than for conscious participation in premeditated crime. One is obliged to
differentiate between conscious builders of empire and the unconscious majority
that is spirited along. Empire will never serve most of you, unless you are in
the oil business, the military industries, the Israel-first lobby, etc. Did
German workers gain anything by supporting Hitler? Did Italian masses benefit
from standing firmly behind Mussolini? But, in a democracy, the responsibility
for ignorance ultimately falls upon the shoulders of its citizens. You are
responsible for suffering under a silly, periodic exchange of power between two
versions of the same anachronistic, stupefying, comic and hubris-filled
circus: the Republican and the Democratic "parties." They are parties alright,
and very raunchy at that! You remain the world's greatest democracy, not a
third-world junta-controlled tyranny, as much as one is tempted to believe
otherwise, of late. No one can forever suppress your right to establish
alternative political parties that represent your diverse interests if you have
the will to exercise that right.

Despite that, moral consistency necessitates distinguishing between you, the
voters for and enablers of empire, whether conscious or not, and the
significant minority of Americans who have opposed it. And pragmatically
speaking, this is not any minority. This is the only remaining hope that empire
will one day be defeated. We all know that our chances of success in our
resistance to empire are slim without the courageous support of progressive

Based on the above moral and political considerations, the world outside empire
will be urgently called for after November -- after your emperor defies law,
logic and ethics to sit again in the oval office -- to initiate or enhance
already existing international campaigns of boycotts and sanctions against your
industries, especially the weapons sector, and against your militaristic
cultural products, such as G.I. Joe-type toys, RAMBO-like movies, your death-
emanating "music," your racist video games, your health-busting sodas,
cigarettes and fast "food," your genetically modified craze, your IT
monopolies, etc.

The United Nations ought to be moved soon to any neutral city, perhaps
Stockholm or Durban. Investments should be withdrawn from your global finance
machine and reinvested in China, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt, India, just any
place outside the immediate grasp of empire. Oil should be sold in a combined
basket of currencies (as has been suggested by some analysts lately), where the
dollar gradually loses its untouchable prominence. Governments should be most
pressured to avoid buying your weapons -- perhaps they'll do well not to buy
any weapons! Let those gigantic manufacturers of death go to hell to sell their
firepower. Bright minds should seek education anywhere outside your borders.
After all, in four years' time, Orwell would be horrified by the controls and
intrusive watch mechanisms Uncle Sam will have deployed over them. It is high
time for a reverse brain drain.

The world ought to exact a just, legal and morally sound punishment against
you. That's how hoodwinked, obedient subjects of empires learn to question
authority, to challenge arrogant xenophobia, to reject relative humanization of
the rest of the world, and to jealously guard their rights in harmony with
international law and universal moral principles. It is a cold shower of sorts,
if you will.

Perhaps you shall need four more years of Bush to wake up and smell the
injustice, to see through the dense fog that has clouded your vision and your
moral compass alike. I do not say this lightly, I must add, as I can only guess
in unreserved horror what price the rest of us will be made to pay for you to
have this soul-searching four-year experience. It will feel like an eternity
to Palestinians suffering under Israeli apartheid and colonial oppression; to
Iraqis praying for your smart bombs to miss them; to Africans still struggling
to escape the historic legacy of slavery manifested in AIDS, abject poverty and
despondency; to Latin Americans dreaming of life without your well oiled
juntas, death squads and economic mafias; to south Asians striving to escape
the grinding axe of your inhumane globalization; to those Europeans who are
hoping to shed their colonial heritage, to fight the reemerging national
chauvinism in their midst and to promote a dialogue of civilizations; to most
Americans who are losing their livelihoods, their children's education, even
the remnants of their already abhorrent health services.

Rather than finding another alibi, please take a stand against empire. Make
this coming sacrifice worth our collective while.

(10) Ibid

Omar Barghouti is an independent Palestinian political analyst. His
article "9.11 Putting the Moment on Human Terms" was chosen among the "Best of
2002" by the Guardian. He can be reached at:

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