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14 de Octubre, 2007

Unrelated Quotes, Pt. 42 [BadApple Remix]

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Notes: Between 1200 and 1450, roughly, a period of general decline set in. A dozen cities of Northern Yucatán were dominated by Mayapán. People no longer self-sustaining, but increasingly dependent on tribute. "Parasitic dependence." We see rise of mercenaries.

"The new rulers established a strongly-centralized regime maintained by Mexican mercenaries, by intermarriage, and by forcing all local chiefs from outlying areas to reside in Mayapán as hostages."

—Nezua's notes and quotes from The Course of Mexican History, CHAPTER 3: Times of Trouble, Post-Classic Mexico, Oxford Univ Press, Sixth Ed.

The last important Pharaoh was Ramses III, who reigned from 1198 to 1167 B.C. By this time, however, the Egyptians had lost the will to fight. They had given over the protection of their country to paid foreign soldiers, or mercenaries. Not only was this expensive, but it was also dangerous, for mercenaries cannot be depended upon in an emergency."

—From The First Book of Ancient Egypt, The Fall of Egypt, Franklin Watts, Inc, 1961

BAGHDAD, Oct. 12, 2007 — Fresh accounts of the Blackwater shooting last month, given by three rooftop witnesses and by American soldiers who arrived shortly after the gunfire ended, cast new doubt Friday on statements by Blackwater guards that they were responding to armed insurgents when Iraqi investigators say 17 Iraqis were killed at a Baghdad intersection. [...]

'I call it a massacre' said Omar H. Waso, one of the witnesses and a senior official at the party, which is called the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. 'It is illegal. They used the law of the jungle.'

Many of the American soldiers were similarly appalled. [...] The case has angered many in the military who believe that the conduct of the security guards makes the troops’ jobs harder. 'If our people had done this,' another American military official said, 'they would be court-martialed.'"

—nytimes.com, New Evidence That Blackwater Guards Took No Fire

COURTMARTIALED and used, and blamed for the entire disastrous mess, just as happened with Abu Ghraib. So, is this a sign of a new frame with which to right this crooked Iraqi picture? Bad Apple Blackwater? Will such a dire contrast of lawlessness restore the sheen to our own military, their image still stained by more than a couple cases of abuse and cruelty as well as the original lawless and murderous act called Shock and Awe?

Was Abu Ghraib an isolated event? Was all the evil that blossomed into photographic evidence there now done with and gone from Iraq simply because a few people were blamed and jailed?

And is Blackwater really the problem? Or is our reliance upon them but a symbol of decayed morality and exhausted political and physical might? If these are not the reasons we now grapple with a mercenary army wreaking havoc on our behalf, it seems the exception would be a historical precedent for any society employing such means and suffering such consequences.

But it seems basic, no? You cannot legalize mass murder and invasion and hope to contain such energies and spirits. Many of us keep saying it. In our different ways. I think it's important we keep reminding ourselves. That all these instances of cruelty and murder and torture that keep arising are all flowers that were planted by the very first bombing run, and are still now blooming. War is a cruelty and pain festival. It is a celebration of death and power unrestrained. It is an illusion to think you can have a tidy war, even if you call your bomb-dropping "precision strikes" or "surgical" in their aim.

I am worried that Blackwater will be used as the perfect scapegoat to distract us just a little bit longer from the important truths we need to finally face about what we have done and are doing in Iraq. Everyone has a reason to pile on now. It feels good to have an uncontested scapegoat. The USAmerican people thirst for a clear moral foothold, the pro-war faction needs a reason to excuse all the failures of the war, the military has obvious benefit from pointing at Blackwater, and so does the White House. But really, Blackwater is but another patch of decay on the face of a fruit that is rotten to the core.

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Comentarios (12)

RickB dijo:


Spot-fucking-on my friend. Oh and Citizen Orange looks fantastic, really, really pleasing to my eye.

Rafael dijo:


True enough. Blackwater is a symptom not the disease although like a bleeding skin sore, it spreads it around that much faster.

Dead Inside dijo:


I'm not going to do a good job describing this, so I apologize in advance.

After Al Gore won half a Nobel Peace Prize, which I'm sure he earned, I hear a lot of people saying how things would be so different if he had won the election in 2000. And I'm sure they would be. Except, the way I keep hearing it, it's like he would have brought peace to Iraq when seriously, he would have just continued the bombing and containment and starvation that had been killing Iraqi people just as dead. Is this how quickly we forget? Certainly there are differences in degrees and methods, but Gore never ran on a platform of invoking any change in the previous murderous Iraq policy.

I'm not saying it's good he didn't win, especially in the way that it went down. But your point, if I'm reading it correctly leads me to believe that just because we weren't hugely aware of the devastation we were doing to Iraq doesn't mean it wasn't happening under Clinton. Yes it's worse now and for a whole lot of reasons, but it wasn't good then and we were a big part of the problem. It wasn't just the "Evil Saddam" that was killing Iraqis in the late 90s. How long haven't we been killing Iraqi people?

Supporting both sides in the Iran/Iraq war.

Um, pretend there's some really well-written thing here that wraps up my thoughts, please.

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez Author Profile Page dijo:


jeje..."which i'm sure he earned." that's sort of funny. no, i hear you. gore is not the "cure all" for the world. our joy with gore is just a symptom of how desperate we are in the clutch of an uneducated, inarticulate, condescending and artless liar whom we have not much choice right now but to call our "president."

and you are right in that we've been strangling iraq for quite a while. and this can and should take us right into a conversation about our behavior with the entire world. i mean, as far as i can tell, you read my point right. in fact, you are agreeing with it. aren't you? you are also, though, tying my feelings about gore here to a larger and more generalized sentiment, i think. i don't know its exactly the same. i'm not saying what you say "a lot of people say." i'm just saying please give us a good and decent person who actually cares about human beings as president.

your thoughts make sense to me.

Dead Inside dijo:


Definitely agreeing with you. Both in the original and your response to my not-very-well-though-out comment. But there's something there, right? And I guess the "lot of people" is the WHITE_PROGRESSIVES, now that I think about it.

I'm just trying to read and integrate lately. Whenever I comment, it's because of some pent up desire to comment on five hundred other things I've read that aren't integrating. None of it here, not to speak of. Which is only to say that I don't want to just read what you've written and unquestioningly make it part of myself, but to actually think it through and understand it, which I'm pretty sure anyone would want anyone to do.

But yea, decency and goodness, I'm all about that. Except when I'm just a hollowed out shell filled with rage and screaming which is more often than not. But if there had been decency and goodness throughout my life, I wouldn't be that shell and wouldn't be filled with rage and screaming. So, yea, all about decency and goodness.

I'm definitely not trying to tell you what you're saying, is what I'm saying.

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez Author Profile Page dijo:


me too. goodness and rage. keep the faith, fellow traveler. :)

Malicia dijo:


well on one hand there are a lot of great people in the military...friends and family of mine, all though I do question why people sign up for it, especially these days...I dated a guy in the military (I said I would NEVER date a military guy...and I did...he was Puerto Rico born and raised, so he wasn't a typical American Navy guy. just for some background - and I do think that gives him an edge when he goes to other countries to be respectful of other cultures and the knowledge that we are more alike than different) and I told him to read the constitution because he never had...I told him to know what rights he was defending and what actually WASN'T in there...for example anything saying torture is OK. It's interesting to note that even if you hate McCain (and I wouldn't vote for him) the people pushing loudest to bend the legal rules of torture, like Bush and Cheney, have never actually experienced war, and just about everyone who HAD experienced war firsthand like McCain are very quick to say torture needs to end.

However a lot of the Blackwater people are retired military, and their real training came from US military. Not everyone who joins the military is a blood thirsty ass that loves shooting at people...not the friends and family I know, but I've heard enough stories about the ones that are from the news (we all have) and just the damage from one is too much. The training from the miltary sure does seem to keep the bloodthirsty part of the assholes alive - like alchol to an alcoholic. And sadly it only takes one person to set a cycle of violence in motion that never stops. An Iraqi is killed by an American soldier, their friend who saw it gets mad and kills a soldier in retaliation, then the US military is given leeway to get even more violent in retaliation and some more Iraqis get killed. It doesn't matter whether those Iraqis killed did something wrong or not, the Iraqis were all ready skeptical of the Americans and each incident they hear of just causes more Iraqis to get pissed off and continue the violence....even if there are whole swarms of good military people it just takes one asshole to keep the violence alive.

So I guess my personal stand it to take every military person I meet as an individual. I live in a Navy town (Jacksonville what what!) and us military brats usually have a more global outlook than our peers. Some have live overseas as kids in Spain, Italy, Japan. Depending on the kind of kid, length of time, and the size of the American community where they are at it doesn't affect some that much, but others it affects so profoudly it's like they have no home country because they can't relate to the US, and yet they aren't really of the culture they came from. One guy I dated lived in Germany from prolly ages 5 to 15 or so. He ended up speaking fluent German, hating American high school when he came back here, is now back in Germany and would give up his US citizenship for a German one in a minute. Another friend who lived in the South Pacific for such a long time that when she meets other people from there she feels homesick, even though she's white and not of any Micro-Mela-Polynesian descent. She learned Papua New Guinean pidgin english and when she meets other people from the area just marvels at seeing what things are the same/different in their languages as to the one she learned.

I have friends who know what the North Koreans and South Koreans that live at the border are like intimately because they lived among them. My mom's friend lived in Saudi Arabia when her husband was stationed there. The military has brought people of every race, religion and nationality together. I have friends who's fathers met their wives everywhere from Iceland to Micronesia because of the military. On the other hand one of my favorite teachers was an Army reservist, a woman, who married a German guy she met over there - both bilingual. And then there's my friend who lives in Spain who's mom is a military brat and met her husband in Spain. She took flamenco lessons as a kid over there and danced in the talent show at my elementary school :D That might not be such a big deal to someone living in Los Angeles or New York where diversity is on every corner - but here where I'm from I love these daily reminders that the world is a mixed up changing place, has been and always will be, and military people seem to be more accepting of that and thinking it's beautiful that most of the other people here.

And for all the talk of southern hicks being the main bloodthirsty people joining the military - I don't see many white folks join it here these days. If you see a white guy under 35 here in the military chances are he came from some other state to be stationed here. most of the people joining from my neck of the woods are black, hispanic, filipino...my best friend's parents are Filipino and the dad joined the Navy as doctor when we still had a base there...my high school boyfriend's dad met his mom in the Filipines when he was stationed there (ok his dad was a southern arkansas NRA republican hick, so there are some :D) - and let me tell you what class acts most of the black women soldiers I meet are, and what good moms the ones that have kids seem to be, some of my favorite customers at the bookstore I work at are black military women who are always enocuraging their kids to read and learn (and not trash the store - I love good parents!) The fact of the American soldier is so different from what many people think it is.

I don't know what to say. My heart detests violence. A lot of military families, mine included (ok I'll spill the beans, dad and both grandfathers are Navy) don't like this Iraq war. But for every American who can't point to Uzbekistan on a map - ask someone who had a loved one stationed there and they'll know.

I know I'm rambling but the military is a problem right now - just look at the commander in chief - but there are so many people in it, webs it's spun, and people connected to it it also has to be part of the solution. Not to mention that the military has not just trained bloodthirsty people how to kill, but they've also trained people in technology and some wonderful doctors (a lot of cocky arrogant doctors too, though, I hasten to add, I have one military doctor I can never forgive and I am a pretty forgiving person, some military doctors are very cocky) and their talent will be needed for the future. Talent is a shame to waste.

The US has too many military bases in places that make no sense why we're still there, even to staunch military people. But many bases have closed down - Puerto Rico and the Philippines are two recent interesting ones to look at. Yet their impact will still be felt long after they are gone. And their imapact is still felt in the US as well. If future bases close it will be the same, just because they go doesn't mean they weren't a part of US history that is still felt by anyone who, for example, knwos the sweet old German waitress at the restaurant down the street who married her American soldier boyfriend she met back in Germany.

The military has caused a lot of problems - I wonder if those of us who have learned from our exposure - learned that the world is interconnected, interdependent, and who want to hold up a God bless humanity sign (NOT just God bless America - but God bless EVERYONE) like the Iranian person in Nez's awesome picture blog because it has given us such wide exposure...I wonder if people like me can also be part of the solution. And yet I wonder if the assholes will win the military battle because voices like mine aren't heard. Yet there are many people on the left who are as ignorant to what military families are like. It's not different from Americans who are ignorant amd stereotype about Mexicans, por ejemplo. The people who want change need every voice they can get, and there are a LOT of voices like mine who have some military background.

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez Author Profile Page dijo:


thanks for sharing so much of your experience with us, malicia. a lot to think on. a lot of different things you've said. and taking every person as an individual. that was a good part, too. gracias.

Richard dijo:


I think you're one of the few people to have caught on that Blackwater is not disease, but only one of the symptoms.

As "Malicia" correctly points out, us white hicks are not the problem either.

The disease -- our need for imperial power -- is not going to be easily treated without radical surgery. Blackwater is only one mercenary force (and used to hide the true costs of this adventure -- how many mercs have been killed, wounded, maimed, etc), as is the use of the poor. If you look at the white kids in the military, they are us hicks -- rural poor people. Our ghetto may have cows, and our version of the low rider is a pickup truck, but we are as put upon and intellectually/socially disadvantaged as any other poor kid who sees the military as a step up (and, to the military's credit, it has done a good job of moving poor and disadvantaged people into the middle class).

What ever happened to the Abrams Doctrine anyway (you shouldn't fight a war unless you have the support of the citizens -- i.e., you're willing to risk your kids getting their asses blown off, not just "their" kids)?

democcommie dijo:



I'm a guy who has silly, impractical ideas.

When people were talking about the way to safeguard U.S. civilian aircraft from hijacking I suggested that each boarding passenger be handed a cue ball (later changed to a baseball in deference to it being "America's Game"--largely played, very well, by Afro and Hispanic Americans). My theory was that 100 or so passengers v several hijackers--the balls would even things out, without compromising the pressurized aircraft cabin.

When there was talk about invading Iraq I suggested that we should offer a $B for Saddam's head, in a freezer bag--as soon as we could be sure it was his. People said, "Oh, that's so stupid. He's too well protected; that's barbaric; it's too expensive". Fortunately, for them, things have worked out quite well re: the overthrow of Saddam and storation (there was not any to "re" store) of democracy in Iraq.

My latest suggestion, re: Blackwater is to employ the expedient practiced by the U.S. War Dept. after Pearl Harbor, when Claire Chenault's, "Flying Tigers" were simply made part of the U.S. Army Air Corps. Yup, just give all them fellers dogtags, cut their pay by about 90% and make them subject to command and control (such as it is) and the UCMJ--Win, win--SWEEEEEET!!!

RC dijo:


I should have looked in here on the 14th to appreciate the words of Malicia. I hope to read much more of her thoughts in the future. Thanks Malicia, as a Vieques resident, I know you have information worth hearing, so say it. I'll be looking out for your comments from now on.