Category Archives: American military

Israel Hates Fireworks

(Originally published on http://www.paradiseofstorm.tumblr.com on July 16, 2014)

by Guy Walker

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The little boy was running down the narrow alleyway, past all that torn sad rubble, past the fresh market with the thousand shouting vendors and their thousand scents, and the call to prayer summoned all the holy merchants to their knees, and the evening pushed its better light upon the walls of all the buildings. The boy knew he would be late for supper if he didn’t run, and he had promised his mother he wouldn’t be late. But it was just a little further now.

At the same time, an Israeli warplane was lifting off from the tortured dusty grounds of a military base. It headed towards Gaza. The sky between Israel and Gaza just a thick traffic of clouds from planes and rockets.

Minutes passed. The boy arrived home just on time, just as the evening sun warmed his family’s blue front door. Then the stray sad dogs looked up and started barking madly, yelling at the sky. A flock of pigeons burst from their perch. Then everything was bright and horrific and deafening. The building to the family had been blown to bits. The streets were filled with running screaming mothers, children everywhere, a cathedral of rubble and agony behind them emerging from the ashen air.

Another attack aimed at the Islamic militant group Hamas struck a Palestinian family instead. The Islamic militants have so far fired more than 1,200 rockets towards Israel, fueled by a several-decade feud over land occupation. Israel’s Iron Dome defense system has intercepted at least 150 of the missiles fired, resulting in its first Israeli death. As of July 15, after eight days of Israeli retaliation, at least 220 Palestinians have been killed. No major reports could be immediately confirmed about exactly who was killed, but the Los Angeles Times offered that about half of those deaths were women and children. The reports couldn’t be confirmed because the attacks were on civilians, not the Islamic militants themselves. In other words, a bunch of praying families in their homes. Israeli supporters call the innocents that have been killed ‘collateral damage,” meaning a mother or child or shopkeeper that may have been killed was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. But collateral damage doesn’t exist in the storm of war. On July 16, an Israeli naval ship bombed and killed four Palestinian children playing on the beach in the Gaza harbor. When the remaining surviving children ran for cover, a second shell was reportedly aimed at them.

The rockets being fired from Gaza are more like very banal forms of firework shows. Kids with sparklers could hurt more Israelis than Hamas militants. A 2012 analysis revealed that roughly 12,000 rockets fired over twelve years resulted in twenty-two Jewish deaths. That is, a kill rate of 0.175%. In 2013, of all the proud sparkling skies in the United States, an estimated 11,400 injuries were reported from fireworks. That is, when it comes to rockets, a drunken howling patriotism is possibly more threatening than the Hamas militants.

President Obama has offered to moderate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, calling for a peaceful resolution. Secretary of State John Kerry called Israel’s Prime Minister Netanayhu directly by phone, telling the Prime Minister he thought it was a good idea if everyone stopped killing each other, and that the United States could actually broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. But Netanyahu said before a Cabinet meeting on Sunday, “We don’t know when the operation will end. It could take much longer.” He assured that Israel would only continue to act “in a patient and levelheaded manner,” as it always has, in places like the Gaza harbor, restoring peace and security to its country. Egypt also proposed a ceasefire plan. Israel accepted, while Hamas said the proposal, “was not worth the ink it was written with.”

As President Obama imposes new sanctions on Russia for their attacks on Ukraine, he ignores the significant threat of enduring war in the Middle East—US money and weapons. Since the Israeli state was formed in 1948, the United States has contributed more than $234 billion towards the stability and security of the state. Moshe Arens, former foreign minister and ambassador to Washington, puts it another way: “As a democratic country, the U.S. has good relations with other democratic countries, which have economic and military importance. In the past, during the Cold War period, Israel sided with the United States and today Israel is the best partner America has in the war on terror.” The best partner in the war on terror doesn’t just mean killing children playing on the beach, or killing eighteen members from the same family—it also means the Israeli children longing to “return to their ancient homeland,” something that the few remaining Native Americans surely empathize with the Israeli-dependent defense system. That is, $234 billion dollars to kill Palestinian families, to further divide the Middle East into a lawless arenaceous dystopia of broken gods in misery. That’s close to $6.5 million a week, every week, for six and a half decades. But the United States is not foolish with its money—it has already made some of that money back. In 2001 alone, the U.S. sold a hundred F16s to Israel for close to $3 billion. In 2013, it sold $10 billion worth of arms to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, “provid[ing] missiles, warplanes and troop transports to help them counter any future threat from Iran,” says the New York Times. In other words, the U.S. is giving Israel huge amounts of money so they can spend a little bit of that money buying an American military arsenal. The “threat from Iran” means the threat from some volatile Arab nuclear state. Nobody wants a nuclear war, except maybe Ann Coulter, who wants to corral all the Arabs and all the soccer balls together, and kill them or turn them Christian. But Israel might actually be worse than Ann Coulter. In May of 2010, the Guardian reported, “Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state’s possession of nuclear weapons.” Pretty much everyone wants the escalation of misery—it makes people happy.

Israel is the American military’s ‘A’ student, as its sordid escalation of death is almost as good as death itself. Israel’s reaction against Hamas-dominated Gaza is something strikingly similar to the U.S. military’s Battle of Fallujah in March of 2004. Iraqi insurgents had ambushed a convoy of Blackwater USA, the private mercenary company now known as Academi, under the umbrella company Contellis Holdings, killing four American private mercenaries. The U.S. military responded by invading the city of Fallujah, under the name Operation Vigilant Resolve. It didn’t resolve much. It killed at least 600 Fallujahns, at least half of which of non-combatants. In violation of the Geneva Convention, the Marines closed both of the city’s main hospitals, positioning U.S. snipers atop one of the hospital’s water tower. It was a very patriotic moment for the military and for its taxpayers, as Sgt. Maj. William Skiles described it, “may the dogs of Fallujah eat hardy off our dead enemy.” And a few days later, when Paul Bremer announced a ceasefire, wanting to facilitate negotiations itself. And the stray dogs roamed the streets and chewed on all that enduring fatless misery.

Israel is modern romance compared to Iraq. No American troops deployed. No bad press. A potentially endless war, requiring an endless arsenal of death, bought from the United States itself. But even the Iraq war was mature and thoughtful in its own right. By attacking a country preemptively, and wrongly predicting they had weapons of mass destruction pointed at the Americans, the United States would have made Niccolo Machiavelli like a proud young father staring down at his firstborn. Still bloody and screaming and blind, our umbilical cord has finally been cut. Now we can scream freely into all that florescent light above. After 500 years of our gallant heights of Western misery, the United States has turned Machiavelli’s prime written wisdom into the real thing. No matter how immoral, Machiavelli argued, the ends always justified the means for preserving and restoring political authority. By this philosophy, the four children playing on the beach really were collateral damage—they were in the way of the machine. And the family of eighteen really was not a decent enough substance against U.S.-made and sold F16s.

Just as nobody knows why we really went to Iraq, and killed an estimated 500,000 of their men, women, and children, nobody really knows why the United States gives Israel so much money and so many weapons. “As for Israel,” says Obama, “our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values.” This kind of vague sardonic torment of the human capacity for clear communication is something only Machiavelli could teach. Never reveal your true intentions, he wrote, and “act against mercy, against faith, against humanity, against frankness, against religion, in order to preserve the state.” And so another missile strikes. And the mothers scream.

When New York Times, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond was asked what book he would require President Obama to read, Diamond answered with Machiavelli’s The Prince, because it illustrates that “we are not helpless in the hands of bad luck.” No we are not. The children playing on the beach are. The family of eighteen is. As are the rest of the 220 Palestinians killed so far.

But across the desert there is a river running smooth and slow. And a little boy has run all the way from school to sit and watch the fish roam and sometimes look up at him. And he drops little pebbles in to see the fish turn their heads again. And the sun goes down near the horizon and turns the trees many colors, and the boy thinks to himself that he is very lucky to see all these pretty things. And then the sky turns completely white.

ISIS, the Beautiful

(Originally published on http://www.paradiseofstorm.tumblr.com on July 5, 2014)

by Guy Walker

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They are pushing further and further, routing through the scarred and desperate areas, their borders swelling like the scare of some empyrean sickness you see spreading on a world map. But instead of the Plague, it’s the world’s wealthiest and most well-equipped militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, a separated division of Al Qaeda. It’s like the angry kid growing up, he’s just a little more sophisticated and a little more angry this time. Their caches of weapons and U.S. antipathy are already substantial, already tromping through police stations and security posts, taking possession of more and more stockpiles of weaponry. Predominately Sunni Arab militants, ISIS “has already seized large swaths of northern and western Iraq, including Mosul, Iraq’s second-most populous city,” reports the Los Angeles Times, also “reportedly snatched the equivalent of close to $500 million in cash from a Mosul bank … “its riches easily eclipse those of Al Qaeda under Osama bin Laden.” They have taken hold of weapons stores from multiple Iraqi army divisions, collecting munitions enough for some 200,000 soldiers.

This is the Sunni’s most luxurious war, like some tragic parade of death, it marches through the desert and seizes oil fields and cities like they were new frontiers. They are recruiting children as young as ten years old, convincing them that “Allah chooses you” to fight for the Islamic state, to restore the caliphate as a literal successor to Muhammad. But they aren’t just another rebel group, they aren’t an accident of hate that swelled in the exhaust of war. ISIS is the maturing grandson of U.S. occupation and military training. As the U.S.-trained Iraqi army and Iraqi police forces flee their posts like roaches on a kitchen floor, and ISIS militants seize U.S.-made armored Humvees, a helicopter, rifles, rockets, trucks, and a myriad of other munitions, the U.S. has again unwittingly armed the enemy. And the U.S. response to ISIS as a growing threat is not that unusual: arm and train the opponents of ISIS. President Obama now seeks $500 million from Congress in order to train the “moderate Syrian opposition.”

Arming the opponent of the current threat to the United States is nothing new. Facing an unforeseeable future war with U.S. trained, equipped, and financed militants is also something of a favorite pastime for the U.S. government. Most famously since World War II, the United States has trained, equipped, and financed the opponents of their current opponents, only later to fight against their former perversions of allies. In World War II, the United States befriended the communists to fight the fascists. In the Cold War, they took the fascists under their wing in order to fight the communists. As Soviet and British forces occupied Iran, taking it as their own oil state, the U.S. used Iran’s airports and roads to transport around $18 billion worth of military aid to Stalin. But then there was the Cold War. Quite literally, the CIA enlisted former Nazis as their own. Mikola Lebed, for example, led a Ukrainian “terrorist organization” (as described by the CIA itself), was later recruited by the Agency and described as “rendering valuable assistance to this Agency in Europe.” During the Korean War, the CIA dropped guns and ammunition into Burma, arming general Li Mi and his band of nationalists, pointing them to fight Mao’s advancements. They did not advance. Twenty years later, the CIA ignited another war in Burma to kill off the heroin labs and the global drug empire Li Mi and his men created. In 1953 the U.S. attacked the same Guatemalan army forces they originally trained to topple Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz. In 1959, several officers of the intelligence agency described Fidel Castro as an ally, offering that he deserved U.S. guns and money. The U.S. poured billions of dollars worth of arms into Afghanistan, into the hands of Islamic guerrilla warriors, in order to fight off the Soviets. Hence, the Taliban. Hence, Al Qaeda. A seemingly endless war on terror is in effect. And too often it’s armed on both sides with U.S.-made weapons. In 2010, the ATF allowed guns from the U.S. to pass freely into the hands of gun smugglers so they could be traced to the Mexican drugs cartels. The operation was named Fast and Furious. They lost track of the guns, hundreds of them, one of which was later used in the fatal shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Since late 2013, and perhaps even earlier, the U.S. has been sending weapons to Syrian rebels, many of which are falling into the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra, another Islamic terrorist organization, as described by the United States itself.

$500 million to train the “moderate Syrian opposition.” Modesty to save the Middle East. Because the moderate opposition—armed with glistening caches of western weapons and a stipend of half a billion dollars—won’t turn their backs later. Western thought has always loved its modesty. Modesty to rule them all. Modesty—that is, armed-and-heavily-trained-and-financed-modesty—has always loved its promise of furthering war. It’s a symptom of western thought. Aristotle’s Eudemian Ethics argues that the moral good always lies between two extremes, that moderation is a virtue of the great. No one less than Alexander the Great turned to Aristotle’s philosophy as his own, looking to modesty as a virtue of his own, later slaughtering hundreds of thousands who were apparently not modest enough. Nothing has improved since Alexander. The West has just outsourced its imperial construct with a little more tormented hilarity than it has before. A modest opposition doesn’t exist here. There was nothing modest about the Afghani rebels who fought back the Red Army. We know that now. And today there is nothing modest about Jabhat al-Nusra, who affirms its allegiance to Al-Qaeda, who has orchestrated various car-bombs, suicide attacks, assault of military bases, assassinations of political figures, who fighters have been filmed eating human hearts. The weapons will invariably end up in the hands of the enemy. It’s never done otherwise. These momentary allies, poised like gurgling perversions of chanting friends, don’t likely believe in a coming American Dawn. Because it’s just another violent tragic dawn.

If Aristotle wrote a book on ethics, and Alexander drew pictures of swords and horses in its margins, then the U.S. government wrote the treatise on peace and said more guns could achieve it. According to the New York Times, the United States tripled their weapons sales in 2011, primarily driven by the Persian Gulf allies and their concern of Iranian ambitions. The United States sold $66.3 billion worth of weapons oversees in 2011, more than three-quarters of the global arms sold. It’s impossible to account for those weapons. Fast and Furious was supposed to be a controlled operation, and it lost control, losing track of its weapons. It’s impossible to know how many of those $66.3 billion worth of weapons ended up in the hands of the enemy. And it’s impossible to know who the ally really is. Because the ally has before so often turned towards the enemy.

Alexander never satisfied his diabolical lust for modesty—there was not enough world for the world’s most modest. And no republic has ever lived more than three hundred years—and the United States is now two-hundred and thirty-eight, and is giving weapons to angry men in the desert. So another sort of plague spreads across the ancient dusty frontier, and America celebrates another birthday.