How would US citizens take relentless bombing by drones?

In front of tearful crowds gathered at the site of the towers, president Barack Obama read from the Bible and George W. Bush read a letter written by  Abraham Lincoln as president to a widow who had lost five sons in the Civil War. The letter said that those deaths were “a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”

The crowd heard that the US had overcome slavery and Civil War, bread lines, fascism, recession, riots, communism and terrorism and was reminded that, while the US is not perfect, its democracy is durable.

Such lofty ideals and moving sentiments were echoed by secretary of state Hilary Clinton at another event in New York. She stated that the US and other nations of the world face a long-term struggle against the ‘murderous ideology’ of terrorism that continues to incite violence around the world.

Draped in the national flag, the US mainstream media wallowed in conveying such sentiments on a day awash with sound bites of a nation united in sorrow and determined to defeat the forces of barbarism.

But, one question for Mrs Clinton: Who is to save the world from the barbarism of the US? Not the US media, that’s for sure.

Instead of getting drunk on the aphrodisiac of self-serving sanctimony on the anniversary of 9/11, the media could have done much better by focussing on the much wider picture, as did the organisers of a recent press conference for the ‘Millions March’ in Harlem.

The conference heard Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockman from Nicaragua state that there are no people who know less about what the United States does abroad than the American people themselves who are systematically deceived. Brockman concluded that this is the very foundation of what they call democracy in the US.

The Millions March rally heard speaker after speaker denounce US imperialism abroad, while stating that, at home, police brutality and harassment, housing foreclosures, destruction of public education, hospital closures and the workings of the penal system all conspired to enslave black people.

New Black Panther Party head attorney Malik Zulu had a powerful message for the US government when he said that your enemy is not ‘our’ enemy, Afghanistan and Iraq are not ‘our’ enemies. He argued that black people’s enemies are right here in the US — budget cuts, racism and white supremacy — and that you don’t have to go abroad to fight them.

Stark contrast
Such talk is in stark contrast to the usual self righteous platitudes spewed out by politicians and the media who privilege US democratic ideals ahead of other countries’ values. Let’s move beyond such establishment rhetoric for a moment and hold the US and its much touted democratic ideals to account.

The US’ support for undemocratic, repressive regimes is there for all to see, whether it is Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the former Mubarak regime in Egypt or elsewhere. It has toppled democratically elected governments in Latin America and has torched, scorched and poisoned civilians throughout Southeast Asia.

It sells arms to repressive regimes, not least Israel to help suppress Palestinian people, and reports from numerous agencies document its creation of civilian bloodbaths across the world, from Nicaragua and Iraq to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Indeed, leading academic and activist Noam Chomsky provides detailed accounts of US acts of aggression over many decades that place it at the top table in terms of global terror states.

Imagine if the US were being attacked on a daily basis by unmanned drones. Imagine external forces were financing opposition parties there to topple the Obama regime.

Imagine if outside sanctions were effectively killing millions of its citizens. Imagine, on the premise of some bogus ‘war on terror’, an outside country striking at will to ‘punish’ the US or take out individuals there for not falling in line with that country’s policies. And imagine if that other country’s secret service were able to carry out or instigate acts of terror, revolt or destabilising tendencies within the US in order to ferment unrest, civil war or partition of the country. And imagine that country committing war crimes and getting away with it...

The worst thing is that most US citizens could not imagine such things happening to their own country. It would be beyond the pale. They could not imagine it because they remain blissfully unaware that such actions are being, or have been, carried out in their name in Pakistan, Venezuela, Iran, the former Yugoslavia, Sudan, Libya, Iraq and elsewhere throughout the world.

Such things are either not mentioned by the US media, are spun in a positive light (civilising the barbarians), or tend to be brushed aside as ‘unfortunate’ events in the US’ struggle to bludgeon and bomb people into accepting ‘freedom’.

When all of the havoc brought about by the US abroad and at home is taken into account, it kind of puts the 3,000 deaths, passages read from the Bible and talk of ‘sacrifices at the altar of freedom’ into perspective, doesn’t it? Maybe not for most in the US, but it certainly does for many of us outside who are tuned in to the wider picture.

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