Wed, 9 July 2014
4th of July Fireworks, In Marietta GA, and in Gaza
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
"This year as always, the Israeli fireworks in Gaza are artillery shells fired from tanks, or air to ground missiles shot from drones..."
The nightly news covered the fireworks in downtown Marietta GA where I live. But they didn't mention the fireworks in Gaza at all, even though some of the fireworks in Gaza took place at the same time. In Marietta they shoot these fireworks off every 4th of July. In Gaza they happen at the whim of the Israeli occupiers.
So many people came to see the fireworks in Marietta that the news broadcast traffic warnings. I imagine people in Gaza, news or no news, mostly tried to hide or flee the areas being fired on, if they could, and if there was anyplace to shelter or go to.
In Marietta the fireworks were crackling red, white and blue sparklers. They flared and glittered and mostly burned out against the night sky before falling harmlessly into the park. They smelled like fireworks, like gunpowder and burning paper. Whole families sat on parked cars and trucks and lawn chairs and curbs to see.
This year as always, the Israeli fireworks in Gaza are artillery shells fired from tanks, or air to ground missiles shot from drones and from the F-16s manufactured at the Martin-Marietta Lockheed plant only a couple miles away from here in Marietta Georgia. Past fireworks displays over Gaza have included white phosporus, a banned substance that self-ignites and burns white hot when exposed to air. But unlike the fireworks in Marietta GA, white phosphorus continues to burn after falling to earth, through walls and rooftops and flesh and bones. Israeli fireworks in Gaza certainly include high explosive rounds, and in the recent past even depleted uranium with lasting radioactive contamination.
"The nation that celebrates its anniversary on July 4 was built with stolen labor on stolen land. Many who did the stealing and their descendants celebrate the notion that their god blessed that theft.."
I don't know what burning schools and libraries or farms and irrigation works or blasted grandparents and aunties smell like, and they don't let people on the nightly news who know these things to tell us. We can only guess.
I suppose things are just different over there in Gaza. But maybe not so much.
The nation that celebrates its anniversary on July 4 was built with stolen labor on stolen land. Many who did the stealing and their descendants celebrate the notion that their god blessed that theft. You can't miss that on the 4th of July weekend, many of the white churches, and even a few of the black ones were ringed with hundreds of American flags planted every few feet. How different is that from state supported Israeli rabbis and politicians waving blue and white flags calling for the expulsion or extermination of Palestinians?
The differences are that (1) genocide and dispossession of native Americans was pretty much complete a dozen decades ago. Our authorities can now afford to manufacture and export the firepower to our allies in places like Israel where similar chores are being undertaken; and (2) that we and the world don't have to allow the brutal and genocidal occupation of Palestine and Palestinians to continue.
We can build and contribute to the global BDS movement, to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel and the Israeli state, until the day that Israel-Palestine becomes not an ethnocracy, only for those with J-positive blood, as Max Blumental puts it, but a state of peace, refuge, equality and prosperity for all who live within its borders.
And maybe back in Marietta GA, we can convert that Lockheed plant, the county's biggest private employer, away from manufacturing instruments of murder to making things that help people live better lives.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web atwww.blackagendareport.com, and be sure to subscribe to our free weekly email updates not on Facebook or Twitter but directly atwww.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That'swww.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Wed, 9 July 2014
Coming to America: Mercenary Justice
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford
“As long as the United States is allowed to act with imperial impunity on the world stage, its uniformed and civilian armed forces will recognize no limitations on their behavior.”
The trial of fourBlackwater mercenaries in the unprovoked massacre of Iraqi civilians in 2007 is probably not the biggest news item of the day for Iraqis, faced as they are with a national crisis of potentially apocalyptic dimensions. However, the events unfolding in a Washington DC federal court should be of critical interest to Americans, who will one day find themselves under the guns of mercenaries licensed to kill with impunity. In fact, it has already happened, in New Orleans, after Katrina.
Two years before the atrocity in Baghdad, Blackwater descended on New Orleans in force in the wake of the 2005 hurricane, setting up a downtown headquarters and deploying its troops in full battle gear, armed just “as they would be in Iraq.” Jeremy Scahill, reporting at the time for The Nation magazine, said Blackwater troops told him that in addition to having been authorized to use lethal force, they were also empowered to arrest citizens. Many of them had flown in straight from Iraq to occupy a great Black American city.
At least five mercenary companies patrolled New Orleans under contract with Homeland Security, including an outfit of Israeli ex-special forces troops under a company named Instinctive Shooting International. Civil liberties activists warned at the time that placing an American city under mercenary occupation is illegal, but neither President Bush nor Barack Obama nor the Congress or the courts have clarified the question of mercenary deployment. Therefore, it is all but inevitable that legions of hired killers and “instinctive shooters” from around the world will again be sent to U.S. cities, with consequences that will rival the carnage at Nisoor Square, in Baghdad.
The Long Mercenary Legacy
Mercenaries have a long history in the United States. The granddaddy of them all, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, founded in 1850, specialized in both raw thuggery and advanced intelligence gathering techniques to make millions defending ruling class privileges and property. The Pinkertons broke scores of strikes and created the first national criminal data base. The State of Ohio outlawed the Pinkertons in 1890, fearing it had become a private army, or an independent militia. By that time, the Pinkerton’s were a larger force than the standing army of the United States. In 1999, after almost a century and a half of service to the rich and powerful, the Pinkerton agency was sold to Securitas Security Services USA, which six years later took part in the Katrina occupation.
However, we must be clear that the driving force behind the explosive growth of killer corporations is the U.S. military, which trains the assassins and sends them on missions of murder around the globe, and later hires them at fantastic salaries through mercenary corporations, which in turn become indispensable to the U.S. war machine. As long as the United States is allowed to act with imperial impunity on the world stage, its uniformed and civilian armed forces will recognize no laws, no limitations on their behavior. Private soldiers and mercenary corporations are only reflections of the government that gave them birth.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. Go to BlackAgendaReport.com to sign up for email notification when we put out a new issue, each Wednesday.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.