Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Good Germans and Good Americans

Sixteen or seventeen years ago, there was a German movie playing here in The States. “The Naughty Girl,” was the translated title I remember. It was about a young girl in a provincial German city; as a class project she began researching her city’s scene during the Nazi era—thirty years before, or so. Everyone had become “good” Germans—even anti-fascists—with the passing of time. They weren’t like everybody else, of course, and had never gone along with Hitler’s lunacy. Or so they remembered. When she began to talk about her discoveries, the town went nuts. She reminded them of what had really happened and they didn’t like that, at all.

For me, it brought up that old question: How did that madness happen, and why did the people go along with it?

And today, the question is, how have WE let this happen and why has America gone crazy? How can our government get away with torture? Why has our unilateral invasion of a sovereign country continued, especially since we have lots of proof that the justification for the invasion was a lie? How can the current administration go on with not just the war, but rattle more sabers at another country—two, if you count Venezuela along with Iran? We’re well educated, there is plenty of information about what’s really going on, the administration, additionally, is one of the most corrupt in the last one hundred years, habeas corpus has effectively been scuttled— —

Well, it ain’t all that different than what happened in the Thirties and Forties in Germany. Not when you get right down to it. People have pretty good lives, here. The government keeps promising more oil so people can drive their cars (no coincidence that the three countries I mentioned are all major oil sources), plenty of merchandise in the stores, lots of entertainment to keep people happy, and lots and lots of distractions. And a leader who keeps reminding us of our great nation-hood and what a chosen people we happen to be. Same old shit, different era.

The quote from Trooper Griffin, where he refers to the American soldiers’ view of the Iraqis as “untermenschen” reminded me of conversations I had with some members of our local National Guard units that were about to ship out for Iraq. They kept talking about “sand niggers,” “ragheads,” and “camel jockeys.” “Sand niggers,” yup. Speaking of same old same old.

Maybe, once this is over, and our history is (again) sanitized, we’ll remember how we were good Americans who didn’t go along with Bush and Cheney at all... Assuming we survive it.

SAS soldier quits Army in disgust at 'illegal' American tactics in Iraq
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 12/03/2006)

An SAS soldier has refused to fight in Iraq and has left the Army over the "illegal" tactics of United States troops and the policies of coalition forces.

After three months in Baghdad, Ben Griffin told his commander that he was no longer prepared to fight alongside American forces.

Ben Griffin told commanders that he thought the Iraq war was illegal

He said he had witnessed "dozens of illegal acts" by US troops, claiming they viewed all Iraqis as "untermenschen" - the Nazi term for races regarded as sub-human.

The decision marks the first time an SAS soldier has refused to go into combat and quit the Army on moral grounds.

It immediately brought to an end Mr Griffin's exemplary, eight-year career in which he also served with the Parachute Regiment, taking part in operations in Northern Ireland, Macedonia and Afghanistan.

But it will also embarrass the Government and have a potentially profound impact on cases of other soldiers who have refused to fight.

On Wednesday, the pre-trial hearing will begin into the court martial of Flt Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith, a Royal Air Force doctor who has refused to return to Iraq for a third tour of duty on the grounds that the war is illegal. Mr Griffin's allegations came as the Foreign Office minister Kim Howells, visiting Basra yesterday, admitted that Iraq was now "a mess".

Mr Griffin, 28, who spent two years with the SAS, said the American military's "gung-ho and trigger happy mentality" and tactics had completely undermined any chance of winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi population. He added that many innocent civilians were arrested in night-time raids and interrogated by American soldiers, imprisoned in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, or handed over to the Iraqi authorities and "most probably" tortured.

Mr Griffin eventually told SAS commanders at Hereford that he could not take part in a war which he regarded as "illegal".

He added that he now believed that the Prime Minister and the Government had repeatedly "lied" over the war's conduct.

"I did not join the British Army to conduct American foreign policy," he said. He expected to be labelled a coward and to face a court martial and imprisonment after making what "the most difficult decision of my life" last March.

Instead, he was discharged with a testimonial describing him as a "balanced, honest, loyal and determined individual who possesses the strength of character to have the courage of his convictions".

Last night Patrick Mercer, the shadow minister for homeland security, said: "Trooper Griffin is a highly experienced soldier. This makes his decision particularly disturbing and his views and opinions must be listened to by the Government."

The MoD declined to comment.

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