Black days, remembered


Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 2009

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 2036

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1997

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/planetwa/www/polwaves/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 2026

At long last, the ooze is beginning to bubble in the fissures of the faux-empire Bush erected; and Blackwater founder, Erik Prince — the man who our Duibby praised for his “faith and commitment” — turns out to be the Christocritic thug and wingnut mercenary … who bleeds, in his own words, “red, white and blue” … that we suspected him to be — but then you already knew that. I’ve been covering this since 2005.

That Prince is likely not just the puppet-master, but also a participant in killing and gun-running may be just the thing that brings attention back to this whole notion of ‘contractors’ behaving like gunslingers. These aren’t the kind of contractors that build yer house; they’re the kind that work for Murder, Inc. We still use them, across the globe; and like it or not, they represent the face of America.

You’ll find a chronology of the Blackwater Boyz, from the archives, below, from Jeremy Scahill who wrote the bestselling Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. He’s still da Man to talk to. And, naturally, MSM still hasn’t picked this up in any but a cursory way — yet there is apparently much more to this story that will seep out in the coming months and we’ll be there to track the war crimes. Greenwald notes that we talk a better game on that than we walk it; administration, heal thyself!

As bonus, we’ve come to another anniversary of Hiroshima; a few links and reads, and again from the archives, a couple of articles from 2007 that speak to the moral ramifications of nuclear devastation; with a recent poll indicating that over half of Americans think it was fine and dandy to drop those bombs, it appears a moral inventory is in order. At the time we had no notion of the power delivered from the belly of the beast; we have no excuse now. Be sure to open the Greg Mitchell link to read about the cover-up that lasted for over 25 years!

While some of us examine birth records in desperate hope that the current American president is neither, others of us wonder how it’s possible that we could cremate innocent civilians by the thousands while they’re still alive … and believe it to be victory.

Click here to sign the United For Peace And Justice petition for abolition of nuclear weapons.

In other news, the Big Dog did a good thing … a very good thing, arranged over weeks of string-pulling by the administration; L’il Kim got to point his finger at Bill while the camera’s clicked in exchange for our two hostage journalists. Oh, and while we’re marking anniversaries, Woodstock is turning 40 … gosh, time flies! Prob’ly means its time for another [R]evolution!

Jude

The Crusader Prince
Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic
05 Aug 2009

A new insight into the mindset behind Blackwater comes from whistle-bowers in the Bush-Cheney military-industrial-mercenary complex. Among the charges, reported by Scott Horton:

    Both men requested anonymity to avoid mortal threats. “It appears that Mr. Prince or his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities,” said John Doe #1. John Doe #2 says he received personal threats after leaving Blackwater.

    Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe.” He “intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis.”

    Blackwater “employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms of Iraqis and other Arabs, such as ‘ragheads’ or ‘hajis.’”

    Blackwater deployed to Iraq individuals who (a) made “statements about wanting to… ‘kill ragheads’ or achieve ‘kills’ or ‘body counts,’” (b) drank excessively, (c) used steroids, and (d) failed to follow safety and other instructions governing the use of lethal weapons. Mental-health professionals who raised concerns about deployment of such individuals were fired.

    Prince obtained “illegal ammunition… designed to explode after penetrating within the human body” and smuggled it into Iraq for use.

    Prince distributed other illegal weapons for use in Iraq.

    Prince was aware of the use of prostitutes, “including child prostitutes,” at Blackwater’s “Man Camp” in Iraq, which he visited.

I wonder how much more we will find out about Iraq in the years to come. ++

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder
Sworn statements filed in Federal Court allege that Blackwater founder Erik Prince launched a “crusade” to eliminate Muslims and Islam.
Jeremy Scahill, the Nation
August 4, 2009

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting “illegal” or “unlawful” weapons into the country on Prince’s private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.

These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC, area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the August 3 motion in response to Blackwater’s motion to dismiss the case. Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on behalf of their employer, the US State Department.

The former employee, identified in the court documents as “John Doe #2,” is a former member of Blackwater’s management team, according to a source close to the case. Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that, based on information provided to him by former colleagues, “it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct.” John Doe #2 says he worked at Blackwater for four years; his identity is concealed in the sworn declaration because he “fear[s] violence against me in retaliation for submitting this Declaration.” He also alleges, “On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince’s employ, Mr. Prince’s management has personally threatened me with death and violence.”

In a separate sworn statement, the former US marine who worked for Blackwater in Iraq alleges that he has “learned from my Blackwater colleagues and former colleagues that one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information about Erik Prince and Blackwater have been killed in suspicious circumstances.” Identified as “John Doe #1,” he says he “joined Blackwater and deployed to Iraq to guard State Department and other American government personnel.” It is not clear if Doe #1 is still working with the company as he states he is “scheduled to deploy in the immediate future to Iraq.” Like Doe #2, he states that he fears “violence” against him for “submitting this Declaration.” No further details on the alleged murder(s) are provided.

“Mr. Prince feared, and continues to fear, that the federal authorities will detect and prosecute his various criminal deeds,” states Doe #2. “On more than one occasion, Mr. Prince and his top managers gave orders to destroy emails and other documents. Many incriminating videotapes, documents and emails have been shredded and destroyed.”

The Nation cannot independently verify the identities of the two individuals, their roles at Blackwater or what motivated them to provide sworn testimony in these civil cases. Both individuals state that they have previously cooperated with federal prosecutors conducting a criminal inquiry into Blackwater.

“It’s a pending investigation, so we cannot comment on any matters in front of a Grand Jury or if a Grand Jury even exists on these matters,” John Roth, the spokesperson for the US Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia, told The Nation. “It would be a crime if we did that.” Asked specifically about whether there is a criminal investigation into Prince regarding the murder allegations and other charges, Roth said: “We would not be able to comment on what we are or are not doing in regards to any possible investigation involving an uncharged individual.”

The Nation repeatedly attempted to contact spokespeople for Prince or his companies at numerous email addresses and telephone numbers. When a company representative was reached by phone and asked to comment, she said, “Unfortunately no one can help you in that area.” The representative then said that she would pass along The Nation’s request. As this article goes to press, no company representative has responded further to The Nation.

Doe #2 states in the declaration that he has also provided the information contained in his statement “in grand jury proceedings convened by the United States Department of Justice.” Federal prosecutors convened a grand jury in the aftermath of the September 16, 2007, Nisour Square shootings in Baghdad, which left seventeen Iraqis dead. Five Blackwater employees are awaiting trial on several manslaughter charges and a sixth, Jeremy Ridgeway, has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempting to commit manslaughter and is cooperating with prosecutors. It is not clear whether Doe #2 testified in front of the Nisour Square grand jury or in front of a separate grand jury.

The two declarations are each five pages long and contain a series of devastating allegations concerning Erik Prince and his network of companies, which now operate under the banner of Xe Services LLC. Among those leveled by Doe #2 is that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe”:

    To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

    Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”

Among the additional allegations made by Doe #1 is that “Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq.” He states that he personally witnessed weapons being “pulled out” from dog food bags. Doe #2 alleges that “Prince and his employees arranged for the weapons to be polywrapped and smuggled into Iraq on Mr. Prince’s private planes, which operated under the name Presidential Airlines,” adding that Prince “generated substantial revenues from participating in the illegal arms trade.”

Doe #2 states: “Using his various companies, [Prince] procured and distributed various weapons, including unlawful weapons such as sawed off semi-automatic machine guns with silencers, through unlawful channels of distribution.” Blackwater “was not abiding by the terms of the contract with the State Department and was deceiving the State Department,” according to Doe #1.

This is not the first time an allegation has surfaced that Blackwater used dog food bags to smuggle weapons into Iraq. ABC News’s Brian Ross reported in November 2008 that a “federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food.” Another former Blackwater employee has also confirmed this information to The Nation. ..

Both individuals allege that Prince and Blackwater deployed individuals to Iraq who, in the words of Doe #1, “were not properly vetted and cleared by the State Department.” Doe #2 adds that “Prince ignored the advice and pleas from certain employees, who sought to stop the unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis.” Doe #2 further states that some Blackwater officials overseas refused to deploy “unfit men” and sent them back to the US. Among the reasons cited by Doe #2 were “the men making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to ‘kill ragheads’ or achieve ‘kills’ or ‘body counts,’” as well as “excessive drinking” and “steroid use.” However, when the men returned to the US, according to Doe #2, “Prince and his executives would send them back to be deployed in Iraq with an express instruction to the concerned employees located overseas that they needed to ‘stop costing the company money.’”

Doe #2 also says Prince “repeatedly ignored the assessments done by mental health professionals, and instead terminated those mental health professionals who were not willing to endorse deployments of unfit men.” He says Prince and then-company president Gary Jackson “hid from Department of State the fact that they were deploying men to Iraq over the objections of mental health professionals and security professionals in the field,” saying they “knew the men being deployed were not suitable candidates for carrying lethal weaponry, but did not care because deployments meant more money.”

Doe #1 states that “Blackwater knew that certain of its personnel intentionally used excessive and unjustified deadly force, and in some instances used unauthorized weapons, to kill or seriously injure innocent Iraqi civilians.” He concludes, “Blackwater did nothing to stop this misconduct.” Doe #1 states that he “personally observed multiple incidents of Blackwater personnel intentionally using unnecessary, excessive and unjustified deadly force.” He then cites several specific examples of Blackwater personnel firing at civilians, killing or “seriously” wounding them, and then failing to report the incidents to the State Department.

Doe #1 also alleges that “all of these incidents of excessive force were initially videotaped and voice recorded,” but that “Immediately after the day concluded, we would watch the video in a session called a ‘hot wash.’ Immediately after the hotwashing, the video was erased to prevent anyone other than Blackwater personnel seeing what had actually occurred.” Blackwater, he says, “did not provide the video to the State Department.”

Doe #2 expands on the issue of unconventional weapons, alleging Prince “made available to his employees in Iraq various weapons not authorized by the United States contracting authorities, such as hand grenades and hand grenade launchers. Mr. Prince’s employees repeatedly used this illegal weaponry in Iraq, unnecessarily killing scores of innocent Iraqis.”

Specifically, he alleges that Prince “obtained illegal ammunition from an American company called LeMas. This company sold ammunition designed to explode after penetrating within the human body. Mr. Prince’s employees repeatedly used this illegal ammunition in Iraq to inflict maximum damage on Iraqis.”

Blackwater has gone through an intricate rebranding process in the twelve years it has been in business, changing its name and logo several times. Prince also has created more than a dozen affiliate companies, some of which are registered offshore and whose operations are shrouded in secrecy. According to Doe #2, “Prince created and operated this web of companies in order to obscure wrongdoing, fraud and other crimes.”

“For example, Mr. Prince transferred funds from one company (Blackwater) to another (Greystone) whenever necessary to avoid detection of his money laundering and tax evasion schemes.” He added: “Mr. Prince contributed his personal wealth to fund the operations of the Prince companies whenever he deemed such funding necessary. Likewise, Mr. Prince took funds out of the Prince companies and placed the funds in his personal accounts at will.”

Briefed on the substance of these allegations by The Nation, Congressman Dennis Kucinich replied, “If these allegations are true, Blackwater has been a criminal enterprise defrauding taxpayers and murdering innocent civilians.” Kucinich is on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and has been investigating Prince and Blackwater since 2004.

“Blackwater is a law unto itself, both internationally and domestically. The question is why they operated with impunity. In addition to Blackwater, we should be questioning their patrons in the previous administration who funded and employed this organization. Blackwater wouldn’t exist without federal patronage; these allegations should be thoroughly investigated,” Kucinich said.

A hearing before Judge Ellis in the civil cases against Blackwater is scheduled for August 7. ++

~ from the archives:

Blackwater Down
September 21, 2005
With military and law enforcement forces combing New Orleans in the wake of the storm, why did the federal government feel compelled to hire private security firms Blackwater USA and BATS to keep the peace?

Blackwater Shot Down in Federal Court
August 24, 2006
A federal appeals court has ruled a wrongful death lawsuit can proceed against Blackwater USA: Families claim the firm cut corners in pursuit of profit in Iraq, leading to the brutal deaths of four employees in Fallujah in 2004.

Bush’s Shadow Army
March 15, 2007
An investigation into Blackwater USA reveals a frightening picture of a politically connected private army that serves as the administration’s Praetorian guard.

Blackwatergate
October 4, 2007
Blackwater USA’s Erik Prince and his State Department enablers have a lot of explaining to do.

Calling Blackwater to Account
October 11, 2007
Susan Burke of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Nation correspondent Jeremy Scahill explain details of a lawsuit against Blackwater USA filed in connection with a Baghdad shooting. Video courtesy of Democracy Now.

KBR Got Bonuses for Work that Killed Soldiers
May 20, 2009
Former Halliburton subsidy KBR was paid $83 million in bonuses for work that electrocuted US soldiers, former employees testified today.

Blackwater Seeks Gag Order
July 22, 2009
The private security company, facing charges in a US court for killing and injuring Iraqis, is attempting to silence its victims and their lawyers.

    bonus

For 64th Anniversary: The Great Hiroshima Cover-Up — And the Nuclear Fallout for All of Us Today
Greg Mitchell, HuffPo
August 6, 2009

Hiroshima Day: America Has Been Asleep at the Wheel for 64 Years
Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, Truthdig
“official secrecy and deceptions about our nuclear weapons posture and policies and their possible consequences have threatened the survival of the human species.”

Hiroshima and Me
Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch via Common Dreams
August 6, 2009

The Terror America Wrought
This week marks the anniversary of a U.S. attack that deliberately took the lives of thousands of children on their way to school.
Robert Scheer, Truthdig classic from 2007
Aug 5, 2009

During a week of mayhem in Iraq, in which terrorists have rightly been condemned for targeting schoolchildren, it is sobering to recall that this week is also the 62nd anniversary of a U.S. attack that deliberately took the lives of thousands of children on their way to school in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As noted in the Strategic Bombing Survey conducted at President Harry Truman’s request, when the bomb hit Hiroshima on April 6, 1945, “nearly all the school children … were at work in the open,” to be exploded, irradiated or incinerated in the perfect firestorm that the planners back at the University of California-run Los Alamos lab had envisioned for the bomb’s maximum psychological impact.

The terror plot worked all too well, as Hiroshima’s Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba recalled this week: “That fateful summer, 8:15 a.m. The roar of a B-29 breaks the morning calm. A parachute opens in the blue sky. Then suddenly, a flash, an enormous blast—silence—hell on Earth. The eyes of young girls watching the parachute were melted. Their faces became giant charred blisters. The skin of people seeking help dangled from their fingernails. … Others died when their eyeballs and internal organs burst from their bodies—Hiroshima was a hell where those who somehow survived envied the dead.”

Like most of the others killed by the two American bombs, neither the children nor the adults had any role in Japan’s decision to go to war, but they were picked as the target instead of an isolated but fortified military base whose antiaircraft fire posed a higher risk. The target preferred by U.S. atomic scientists—a patch in the ocean or unpopulated terrain—was rejected, because the effect of hundreds of thousands of civilians dying would be all the more dramatic.

The victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were available soft targets, much like the children playing in Iraq, suddenly caught in the crossfire of battles waged beyond their control. In “White Light/Black Rain,” a devastating HBO documentary released this week, there is an interview with the sole survivor of a Japanese elementary school of 620 students. The murder of the other 619, and the 370,000 overall deaths attributed to the bombings, 85 percent of which were civilian deaths, has never compelled a widespread examination of the “end justifies the means” morality of our own state-sanctioned acts of terror. Indeed, the horrifying footage taken by Japanese and American cameramen soon after the devastation, and shown in the HBO film, was long kept secret by the U.S. government for fear that an informed American public might question this nation’s incipient nuclear arms race.

Just exactly what distinguishes the United States’ use of the ever-so-cutely-named “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” atomic bombs on cities in Japan from the car bombs of Baghdad or the planes that smashed into the World Trade Center? To even raise the question, as was found in one recent university case, can be a career-ending move.

Of course, we had our justifications, as terrorists always do. Truman defended his decision to drop the atomic bombs on civilians over the objection of leading atomic scientists on the grounds that it was a necessary military action to save lives by forcing a quick Japanese surrender. He insisted on that imperative despite the objections of top military figures, including Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who contended that the war would end quickly without dropping the bomb.

The subsequent release of formerly secret documents makes a hash of Truman’s rationalization. His White House was fully informed that the Japanese were on the verge of collapse, and their surrender was made all the more likely by the Soviets’ imminent entry into the fight.

At most, the Japanese were asking for the face-saving gesture of retaining their emperor, and even that modest demand would likely have been abandoned with the shift of massive numbers of Allied troops and firepower from the battlefront of a defeated Germany to a confrontation with its deeply wounded Asian ally. Instead, the U.S. played midwife to the birth of the nuclear monster, the ultimate terrorist weapon that presents a continuing and growing threat to the survival of human life on Earth.

This is a lesson to be pondered at a time when President Bush plays power games with a nuclear-equipped Russia while coddling Pakistan, the main proliferator of nuclear weapons to rogue regimes, and Congress authorizes an expansion of the U.S. nuclear program to better fight the war on terror by “improving” the ultimate weapon of terror, which the U.S. alone stands guilty of using. ++

The Nagasaki Principle
James Carroll, Boston Globe via Common Dreams
Published on Monday, August 7, 2007

Today is the anniversary of what did not happen. Sixty-one years ago yesterday, the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The scale of nuclear devastation was apparent at once. The next day, no decision was made to call off the bombing of Nagasaki. Why? Historians debate the justification of the Hiroshima attack, but there is consensus that Nagasaki, coming less than three days later, was tragically unnecessary. President Harry Truman’s one order to use the atomic bomb, given on July 25, established a momentum that was not stopped.

“The 509 Composite Group, 20th Air Force, will deliver its first special bomb,” the order read, “as soon as weather will permit visual bombing after about 3 August 1945 on one of the targets: Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata, and Nagasaki.” The order instructed the Air Force to deliver “additional bombs . . . as soon as made ready by the project staff.” The second bomb was the only other one ready, and because it was ready, it was used. If others had been ready, pity Kokura and Niigata. Truman’s order was written by the project director, General Leslie Groves, who compared the new president here to a man jumping on a toboggan that was already speeding downhill. Watch out!

It is commonly said that war operates by the law of unintended consequences, but another, less-noted law operates as well. War creates momentum that barrels through normally restraining barriers of moral and practical choice. Decision makers begin wars, whether aggressively or defensively, in contexts that are well understood, and with purposes that seem proportionate and able to be accomplished. When destruction and hurt follow the outbreak of violence, however, and then when that destruction and hurt become extreme, the context within which war is begun changes radically. First assumptions no longer apply, and original purposes can become impossible. When that happens, what began as destruction for a goal becomes destruction for its own sake. War generates its own force in which everyone loses. This might be called the Nagasaki principle.

The Nagasaki principle comes in two parts. It can operate at the level of close combat, driving fighters to commit atrocities that, in normal conditions, they would abhor. It operates equally at the level of the commanders, leading them to order strikes out of desperation, frustration, or merely for the sake of “doing something.” Such strikes draw equivalent responses from the other side until the destruction is complete. After the fact, massive carnage can seem to have been an act for which no one is responsible, like the result of a natural disaster.

That’s when a second aspect of the Nagasaki principle comes into play — the refusal to undertake a moral reckoning with what has been done.

Across the decades, the United States has had a case of what the historian Marc Trachtenberg calls “nuclear amnesia,” a profound forgetfulness about the context and consequences of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The context included the prior destruction of dozens of Japanese cities, most notably Tokyo, that relativized the damage done at the two atomic sites. The consequences included the mutation in human consciousness that now foresaw the end not merely of individual life, but of civilization itself. Shame and dread defined the deepest part of the American psyche, even if no explicit confrontation with these feelings was ever undertaken.

Thus, what I am calling the Nagasaki principle consists in momentum, which obfuscates responsibility before the fact, and denial, which prevents a necessary moral reckoning afterward.

This may seem like airy theorizing, but the psychologically unfinished business of the Nuclear Age, dating to the day after Hiroshima, defined the American response to the trauma of Sept. 11, 2001. The nation had lived for two generations with the subliminal but powerfully felt dread of a coming nuclear war.

Unconsciously ashamed of our own action in using the bomb, we were waiting for pay-back, and on that beautiful morning it seemed to come. The smoke rising up from the twin towers hit us like a mushroom cloud, and we instantly dubbed the ruined site as Ground Zero, when, as historian John Dower observes, the only true Ground Zeros are the two in Japan.

Our unconscious shame was superseded by an overt sense of victimhood. We launched a war whose momentum has carried the world into the unwilled and unforeseen catastrophe that unfolds today. Our denial of nuclear responsibility, meanwhile, embodied in our permanent nuclear arsenal, licenses other nations that aim to match us — notably Iran. Momentum and denial combined to destroy Nagasaki, which was, alas, not the end, but the beginning. ++

“I’m asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington … I’m asking you to believe in yours.”
~ Barack Obama

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

This entry was posted in Political Waves. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply