Within the last 72 hours, soldier's cheered the closing of the gates and the end of the Iraq War which has destroyed more than the lives of nearly 4,840 soldiers (4,500 American) plus a conservatively reported 100,000 Iraqi lives.
It destroyed our trust in our capacity to overcome our nature. It also destroyed our belief in American exceptionalisms that had some merit (and there are some) and cost $800billion (£500billion) according to the US Treasury - but what price the abandonment of international laws, treaties and the Rule of Law?
The relentlessly passionate and conscience-driven website Fabius Maximus (FM) writes in it’s blog about the fallout of endless war that the US has now entered (and by default it’s allies like Australia). I recommend their posts:
- “Lawfare” – using the law to undermine the Constitution (a powerful tool in the quiet coup now in progress); and
- Fear the enemies within America more than those without (21 December 2011
FM also reference Glen Greenwald’s two articles:.
- “Congress endorsing military detention, a new AUMF“, 1 December 2011
- “The We-Are-At-War! mentality“, 3 December 2011
Also in the last 72 hours, a crowd gathered outside Prague Castle to mourn the death of the Czech Republic's first President, Vaclav Havel (of the blood-less Velvet Revolution). And the world cautiously tried to sound empathetic about the death of Kim Jong-il. That we ponder the present and future within a militarised terms of reference that defeats, and forgets, the context of Havel's legacy escapes us.
I find it difficult to reflect on the end of the Iraq war with any sense of justice or peace. It is especially so because what has escaped attention, including from the world’s media, is the passing of US legislation that, which for the first time attacks the core protections of the American Constitution. This ‘media blackout’, as Business Insider’s David Seaman (1 Dec, 2011) explains leads to “…[an] ignorance and unwillingness to cover the National Defense Authorization Act, a radical piece of legislation which outrageously redefines the US homeland as a “battlefield” and makes US citizens subject to military apprehension and detainment for life without access to a trial or attorney…”. This ”unacceptable” legislation has passed almost without coverage considering its damaging impact.
The poet, author and peace activist Vera Brittain, a former VAC nurse of WW1 who's memoirs in Testament of Youth lives like a seed for the peace activists of today, comes to mind often these days. A loss of idealism is only seen as a bourgeois footnote from the perspective of someone who uses ideas purely as a currency of acquisition. People who rarely generate ideas or make things from nothing. And it isn't good leadership for re-constructing post-war Iraq, if not a post-War on Terror world.
Havel's model of political practice sounds out of context to this climate of fear, endless war and the loss of our basic protections. I wonder if his passing makes people remember? But I don’t believe that we are condemned to repeat history if we can turn off our RSS feeds for a week, giving ourselves the imagination to generate images of the future from within ourselves, instead of leaving something this significant and shattering to politicians who are removed from the consequences of their actions.
2012 will also see the rule of law further tested by the trial of Bradley Manning and, possibly, Julian Assange in the US if he is extradicted. I don't think it's possible to appreciate Havel on the one hand and approve of the manner in which Manning and Assange's cases are being handled. Al Jazeera's Listening Post video covers this and other issues that defined 2011 (below).