"Remove justice, and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a vast scale? What are criminal gangs but petty kingdoms?
A gang is a group of men under the command of a leader, bound by a compact of association, in which the plunder is divided according to an agreed convention. If this villainy wins so many recruits from the ranks of the demoralized that it acquires territory, establishes a base, captures cities and subdues peoples, it then openly arrogates to itself the title of `kingdom,' which is conferred on it in the eyes of the world, not by the renouncing of aggression but by the attainment of impunity.
For it was a witty and a truthful rejoinder which was given by a captured pirate to Alexander the Great. The king asked the fellow, `What is your idea, in infesting the sea?' And the pirate answered, with uninhibited insolence, `The same is yours, in infesting the earth! But because I do it with a tiny craft, I'm called a pirate; because you have a mighty navy, you're called an emperor."
St. Augustine, The City of God, book IV, chapter 4.
One obvious difference between a common criminal gang, and the specialized version of a criminal gang called a "government," is this: Common gangs don't expect their victims to be abjectly grateful to be on the receiving end of criminal violence, and even to pay for the privilege of being plundered.
The more vicious variety of gangs called "government" not only expect such gratitude and tribute, they demand it. Indeed, they will literally kill to have it, sacrificing not only the lives of its victims, but of as many of its enforcers as may be necessary.
For five years, Washington has waged a war of aggression against Iraq in an undisguised effort to steal that country's energy resources and territory (the latter to be used as a staging base for additional imperial ventures in the region). Between the first and second Iraq wars, Washington led a multinational embargo of that country that annihilated hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and immiserated millions more. For several decades leading up to the 1991 Gulf War, Washington materially supported Saddam -- who was brought to power with U.S. assistance -- in his wars of aggression, both foreign and domestic.
And yet after all of this, with Washington losing its war in Iraq (as justice demands that it does), the political class that dominates our country has the temerity to rebuke Iraq for refusing to pay the costs of recovering from the damage "our" government has inflicted on it.
This is illustrated by a proposal favored by the Democrat-controlled Senate to "force the Iraqi government to spend its own surplus in oil revenues to rebuild the country, sparing U.S. dollars," in the words of an AP account.
According to Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who heads that body's Armed Services Committee, the only way to end the war and occupation is "to put continuous and increasing pressure on the Iraqis to settle their political differences, [and] to pay for their own reconstruction with their oil windfalls...."
As a long-time member of the parasite class, Levin has an uncanny instinct for finding exploitable wealth, and before listening to General Petraeus's pointless testimony on April 8 the senator pointed out that Iraq has $30 billion in "surplus funds" deposited in U.S. banks.
Speaking from across the exceptionally narrow divide separating the two branches of our Ruling Party, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine seconded Levin's suggestion: "Isn't it time for the Iraqis to start bearing more of [the war's] expenses, particularly in light of the windfall in revenues due to the high price of oil?"
Imagine, for a second, that you are an Iraqi whose country had been tyrannized for decades by one of Washington's most loathsome subcontractors, brutalized by a ten-year U.S.-led embargo, pummeled by three U.S.-arranged wars (the Iran-Iraq war and the two U.S.-led direct assaults), and rendered a complete shambles by a five-year occupation and escalating inter-communal war.
How would you, were you that Iraqi, react if you became aware that smug, comfortable, well-fed members of the U.S. Senate who most likely are profiting personally from this war had rebuked you for failing to pay your "share" of the costs for inflicting such misery and horror on your country, your community, your family?
Were I that Iraqi, I would be irresistibly tempted to tell such people that they could go inseminate themselves.
Washington is well on its way to losing the war in Iraq, and, once again, justice demands that outcome. We are constantly told -- even by His Holiness, Barack Obama -- that all Americans want the war to "succeed." This isn't true: Most Americans want the war to end, and have come to understand that it should never have been started in the first place.
At some point, many Americans are going to understand, and even be brave enough to say, that our government must lose that war, lest it be emboldened to carry out similar criminal ventures in the future. Indeed, marching out of Iraq now just as fast as we can is the only course of action that would prevent the disaster described by William Lind (and foreseen by many of us at the outset of the entire enterprise): The loss of an entire army in the Persian Gulf region.
The longer U.S. troops remain in Iraq, the likelier it is that they will be caught up in the war with Iran for which our rulers transparently lust -- and that war, as Lind points out, would mean that the U.S. force in Iraq would be cut off from re-supply and facing either a humiliating disorganized retreat or some time as involuntary recipients of Iranian hospitality.
The only rational alternative is to withdraw now, as quickly as possible. But at the Petraeus hearings, nobody in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body was willing to countenance that course of action, and the Grand and Glorious Decider has ruled that the troops will remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
The war took their children, now Washington wants to give them the bill: "Ungrateful" Iraqis, such as these fathers burying their murdered children, should help pay the costs of the war our government has inflicted on them.
During his face-time at the Petraeus hearing, Obama (cue trumpets, hosannas, and gasps of awe-struck reverence), the putative anti-war candidate for president, made a point of saying that although our "resources" are "finite," and the war in Iraq is an enormous strategic blunder, " no one is calling for a precipitous withdrawal."
My first reaction to that statement is to ask, "Why the hell not?"
On further reflection, however, I'm constrained to point out that Obama's assertion is entirely false -- unless, of course, removing our troops after five years of pointless brutality would be "precipitous" action, and the Republican Congressman representing Victoria, Texas who urges immediate withdrawal is named "No One" rather than "Ron Paul."
How many more "resources" -- that's collectivist corporate-speak for human lives, both American and Iraqi -- should be devoured by that war in order to spare the self-image of our political class? That's the only reason -- apart from the imperial designs beyond Iraq referred to above -- to keep American troops in Iraq. With the noble exception of Ron Paul (and perhaps a few others), nobody in either wing of the Imperial Party wants to see our government defeated in Iraq, and they're willing to keep wasting irreplaceable human lives simply to avoid that embarrassment.
Justice demands that the war -- which was rooted in deliberate lies, and has blossomed into an epochal atrocity -- be brought to an end, and that those responsible for it be tried for their crimes against the Constitution. But rather than renouncing the aggression against Iraq -- and repenting for it -- the criminal gang that rules us will continue to plunder that country, and our own economy, as it seeks to attain impunity.
There's nothing new or particularly unusual about this, of course. This is how the criminal syndicates called "governments" operate, at least until they are conquered by even more ruthless gangs, or collapse under the burden of their own accumulated stupidity and corruption.
Update: Bush says U.S. won't vacate Iraq until after war with Iran
In his speech earlier today (April 10), Bush oh-so-casually informed both U.S. servicemen deployed (or to be deployed) to Iraq, and the Iraqis themselves, that the occupation will not end until after Iraq, a country with a Shi'ite majority population and a Shi'ite-dominated government, takes part in another war with Iran:
"[W]hile this war is difficult, it is not endless. And we expect that as conditions on the ground continue to improve, they will permit us to continue the policy of return on success.
The day will come when Iraq is a capable partner of the United States. The day will come when Iraq's a stable democracy that helps fight our common enemies and promote our common interests in the Middle East.
And when that day arrives, you'll come home with pride in your success and the gratitude of your whole nation."
Of course, this new metric of "success" means that the homecoming won't happen until many years from now, if ever.
Earlier in the speech, Bush referred to Iraq as "the convergence point for two of the greatest threats to America in this new century: al-Qaida and Iran."
As everybody whose synapses have not been Hannitized can recognize, al-Qaeda did not have a foothold in Iraq until after the U.S. occupied that long-suffering country. It's difficult to believe that the Iraqis are suffused with gratitude to Washington for inflicting al-Qaeda on them. And despite the fact that Iran does aid its surrogates in the Iraqi insurgency, it is not widely seen as a threat in Iraq: Witness the fact that Iranian figurehead Ahmadenijad can strut around openly during his visits to Baghdad, while Bush has to make brief, furtive, unannounced visits to the country he supposedly liberated.
The line about Iraq being required to "fight our common enemies" isn't just a piece of throwaway motivational rhetoric: The Bush Regime has escalated its war propaganda against Tehran.
So the only way out of the disastrous Iraq war, according to the adults who script Bush's puerile sound bites, is to ignite a regional conflagration that -- as noted above -- will most likely result in the entire destruction of our military force deployed in the area.
And all of this is being done by way of presidential decree. The Regime insists that Bush, having taken us into two undeclared wars in the near East, can start a third with Iran at any time he considers suitable.
On sale now!
Dum spiro, pugno!