They’re Selling us Sheer Lies, and we’re Expected to Swallow Them

April 25, 2012

I was listening to the news about Syria and they said that: “Syrian informants pack the streets of the country.” And that, according to them, was a sign of oppression…But wait, I thought they had said that Assad have no more military and no more supporters? If the military have defected, how do his informants pack the country? They expose their own lies, you see. They blow us up with suicide bombers and then, Assad is condemned for terrorism…Who’s the terrorist, is it those who blow themselves up to kill as many civilians as possible, or is it the military that attempts to protect these civilians? Who is the terrorist, is it the nation that does any and everything that is possible to restore full peace, or nations that keep imposing more and more sanctions against Syrians, even when UN unarmed monitors are being deployed to the country? Don’t these sanctions seem to be targetting any and all peace initiatives in Syria?
If you want us to believe you, people, you may want to begin by condemning the Saudi-American occupation of Bahrain and the repression of its civilians. You may want to begin by ending any and all drone-attacks against Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and the Philippines. You may want to restore peace in India’s Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Palestine, Haitty, Colombia, Panama, Mexico etc. More than 15,000 people were killed in Mexico in 2011 alone, why doesn’t the world care?
Even if I were to disregard all evidence that prove that all that is going on in Syria is partly false and the rest is a plot by “Israel” and those who abide by its orders, when you give equal attention to the rest of the world, I may view you as credible, as anything but blood-thirsty lobbies.

My comments and other Points

April 13, 2009

My comments are:

Fight or Flight by Drew

We are not American citizens…We are WORLD citizens… by Kristin
Army Strong by Jesse

135,000 Dead in Dresden* by Drew

not your regular old summer camp

Military Suicides by Jesse”>

Make it real again…make it face to face by Aaron

Coming to Terms by Drew

(and to Eric);
After 18 Years, We Can Finally See the Dead-by Eric

In addition to a response to Meghan that was, for some reason, never moderated and it is below:

Interesting post, Meghan. I believe it necessary to focus on the emotional state of those who lose their beloved in the war. I guess what makes this a curious thing is the way these people would handle their loss to go on in life. Obviously, in Dena’s case, Dena relied on the belief that Rob (her husband) died doing what “he loved,” which is interesting, because I view this as an admiration of his determination in doing what he has a passion for, which, in its tern, can mean that he had at least achieved what he wanted before dying (served his country in this case)? Of course, the poem argues the point of heroism, regarding (those who die for their countries) as heroes. I, nonetheless, still struggling to understand what makes the death of ‘heroes’ different from the death of others? Death is death (a loss of a beloved, that is). In other words, is it the death for one’s country (for others ‘sacrifice’) that makes him or her a hero, and thus, makes his or her loss easier to endure, or is it because those who are in the military run the possibility of dying, and thus, their friends and families are emotionally prepared for their death if it happened? I guess I am now speaking more philosophy than literature, so I will stop at this point, with my main point which is: is it the sacrifice for others (for the country) that makes one a hero, and thus, his or her loss easier to accept, or is it because the families of those who get killed in the war are emotionally prepared for their death, and thus, are better at coping with their loss if it happens?
-Moe Fawaz

And a post for “Say you Want a Revolution that was, also, never moderated for some reason and it is pasted below:

” That is a valid comparison, which I found so interesting. It is strange how we can condemn the atrocities of the Nazis while allowing other similar crimes to be committed at this time (and commit them too). We must not, after all, forget the torture the US military is doing (and especially in Gittmo and in the Secret prisons around the world). While denouncing the crimes in Sudan, therefore, we must condemn ourselves for all we are and have been doing against humanity. Sadly, too, there are many other crimes that are being committed today, in Gaza (that has no water, food or medicine), in many parts of Africa—just heard about the US suspending Aid to Madagascar because the opposition took over control of the country. Similarly, Sudan acted upon the arrest warrant against their president, by barring the UN aid from reaching people in Darfur, claiming they will do the job. I, therefore, see no difference between the crimes being committed in Sudan and those that we are committing due to political reasons. Very sad situation indeed that we condemn that past and yet repeat it. While we now study about the concentration camps, there are many concentration camps today, and most of them are there because we made them (or supported them) due to political interests and so on. What does it, for example, do to suspend aid to a country because the opposition took control? Such proves that aid was being provided to the president who was loyal to the US, and when a new president comes, there is no need to support him. I, therefore, doubt that such aid was reaching people anyway, it was evidently reaching the president and his supporters to sustain them against the opposition. It’s sad, but I believe that this, too, is like a concentration camp that we just created.”

This class was super interesting, I must say, as it enabled me to see how students in GVSU view war in general. As Lebanese, I have always wanted to see the response of real (real Americans)—people whom I can interact with and verify that I am not just viewing the wrong sources. Every time I read a class mate’s blog, I found myself better understanding what is exactly going on. I can declare that I now realize that media is much more powerful that I ever thought it was. I mean, I always realized the power of media, but after taking this class, I am realizing it is much more powerful and influential. I am saying this because throughout this class, I did not notice too many posts about Gaza, but read many about Sudan. Why was this the case? Simply because media wants the world (the west) never to look to Gaza—to the crimes that are being committed by the powerful. Therefore, they (media) only talks about Sudan, and presents the situation as super simple. They only blame the Sudanese president for the massacres that are being committed in Darfur, but never explain who is motivating, financing and arming the separatists in Darfur that is rich of natural resources. They keep telling us how Iran supports Hamas (‘and that is a crime’), Why then do they not declare the powers who arm militias in Sudan?
If these powers cared this much for these victims in Sudan (they are victims and massacres in there outrage me), why then, do they not care for the people in Gaza who are being killed and starved on daily bases? (See):

UN to Israel: Ease ‘devastating’ Gaza blockade – Haaretz – Israel News

Who, for example, have heard of what the ‘powerful’ is doing in Somalia? I was yesterday reading
You are being Lied to About Pirates

“… mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into
the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds
of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the
UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: “Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name
it.” Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to “dispose” of cheaply. When
I asked Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: “Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no
prevention.”

I believe this because I know in Lebanon–late 90s early 200s, similar scandal was revealed, but was instantly fought and stopped.
Believe me, it’s all about media, and such articles would never make it to mainstream media such as AP, CNN, Fox or ABC.

Blogging for this class, therefore, enabled me to both better understand how Americans view war and realize the true power of media.
Throughout this semester, my comments aimed to shed the light on several points regarding war, and particularly the media biases. I always tried to point out hypocrisy in this world, and how certain crimes are condemned while others are either forgotten (or supported); I tried to focus on the emotional effect of war; they way it affects its victims, children, women and men.

About Peace this Time: War Free World?

April 6, 2009

Since this class is not only about war, but also about peace, I decided to make this post more about peace than war. Indeed, the majority (probably all) class blog posts that I have read seem to condemn war and support peace. Indeed, some of the texts that we have read for class tell stories that are horrifying to hear—living them is a different story, but they also speak about dreams (hopes) of peace and love. Ishmael Beah’s Long Way Gone presents quite a touching story—quote by this kid:

”I talked briefly about my experience and my hope that the war would end—it was the only way that adults would stop recruiting chil¬dren. I began by saying, “I am from Sierra Leone, and the problem that is affecting us children is the war that forces us to run away from our homes, lose our families, and aimlessly roam the forests. As a re¬sult, we get involved in the conflict as soldiers, carriers of loads, and in many other difficult tasks. All this is because of starvation, the loss of our families, and the need to feel safe and be part of something when all else has broken down. I joined the army really because of the loss of my family and starvation. I wanted to avenge the deaths of my family. I also had to get some food to survive, and the only way to do that was to be part of the army. It was not easy being a soldier, but we just had to do it. I have been rehabilitated now, so don’t be afraid of me. I am not a soldier anymore; I am a child. We are all brothers and sisters. What I have learned from my experiences is that revenge is not good. I joined the army to avenge the deaths of my family and to survive, but I’ve come to learn that if I am going to take revenge, in that process I will kill another person whose family will want revenge; then revenge and revenge and revenge will never come to an end . . .” (Beah, 199).

True, this story is touching because it comes from a child, and we, humans, tend to sympathize with children ore so than men and women; however, men and women are too humans, and these are, after all, the parents of these children whom we sympathize with, and many of them are civilians (or were forced into the war). The bottom line remains that the majority of these people wish, dream of and seek peace. It might be thought that war today is not as lethal as it was back in WWII and we tend to hear about lesser numbers of people getting killed; however, its (the war) emotional effect is still the same:

”… on the first day of school in Freetown, all the students sat apart from us, as if Mohamed and I were going to snap any minute and kill someone. Somehow they had learned that we had been child soldiers. We had not only lost our childhood in the war but our lives had been tainted by the same experiences that still caused us great pain and sadness.” (Beah, 202).

These passages make me wonder if peace is ever possible in this world.

Obama promotes nuclear-free world

”Today the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not.” He pledged to reduce the US nuclear stockpile, and urged others to do the same.
But as long as a nuclear threat existed, the US would retain its nuclear capability, although it would work to reduce its arsenal.”
“… He said his administration would work to bring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force in order to achieve a global ban on nuclear testing.
The agreement would ban all nuclear explosions for any purpose, but cannot currently come into effect as nuclear powers such as the US and China have not
ratified it, and India and Pakistan have not signed it.”

President Obama’s statement is promising and it (hopefully) indicates a new mentality that seeks peace instead of more war. Nonetheless, it is not good that until today, only selective countries are criticized for their nuclear programs (peaceful or none-peaceful), while other nations possess such weapons without being criticized by anybody. I am hoping that this is only the beginning, and soon later positions will change and all nations will be treated equally without condemning Russia’s allies and supporting the allies of the United States. Regardless anything, it seems like there is hope, as long as the US is finally considering (or at least discussing) making this world nuclear free. This also revives hope of war-free world and although the dream is quite difficult to achieve, it is possible as long as some leaders (and people) realize the necessity to avoid children (and men and women) the horror and tragedies of war.

Sources:
Ishmael Beah’s Long Way Gone

War Method of Starvation-How Effective?

April 5, 2009

UN to Israel: Ease ‘devastating’ Gaza blockade – Haaretz – Israel News

“It’s wholly and totally inadequate,” John Ging, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, said about the amount of goods Israel permits into the
territory, where some 1.5 million Palestinians live.

“It’s having a very devastating impact on the physical circumstances and also the mindset of people on the ground,”
“… Ging said access to goods was still a severe problem. “We need access,” he said. “It’s the number one issue. It’s the number two issue. It’s the number three issue, and so on. Until we get it, there’s nothing.”

Interestingly, the Israeli newspaper write the word devastating between apostrophes, which can generally implies disagreeing with the term.

One of the main consequences (parts) of war that we often fail to see is starvation of victims; starving those who live in war-zones. When we see populations that are starving, we usually tend to blame it on poverty and lack of education, and say that we can not help-it is poverty. Nonetheless, what about starvation that we cause and create under pretext that we need to punish certain groups? This is one of the main war methods that are being used by the powerful nowadays. This was the subject of former US president Jimmy Carter in the article:
Carter calls Gaza blockade a crime and atrocity | World | Reuters

“Speaking at the American University in Cairo after talks with Hamas leaders from Gaza, Carter said Palestinians in Gaza were being “starved to death”, receiving
fewer calories a day than people in the poorest parts of Africa.”

Indeed, we are so good at condemning poverty and starvation in Africa–(because we ‘could not help it’) but are also good at starving entire populations for the sake of punishing one faction.

” Israel has been blockading Gaza most of the time since Hamas took control of the impoverished coastal strip in June last year, allowing only basic supplies to enter. Israel has not accepted Hamas proposals for a truce including an end to Hamas rocket attacks on Israel and to Israeli attacks on Hamas personnel in Gaza and the West Bank. Israeli officials say a truce would enable Hamas to rearm.

In other words, ‘starving entire populations is acceptable.’ Nonetheless, the main question remains, does this help? The answer is obvious, considering the blockade has so far failed to weaken Hamas, on the contrary, where the same article states:

“Carter said Israel and its ally the United States were trying to make the quality of life in Gaza markedly worse than in the West Bank, where the rival Fatah group is in control.
“I think politically speaking this has worked even to strengthen the popularity of Hamas and to the detriment of the popularity of Fatah,” he added. The United States has been trying to achieve the opposite outcome.”

Indeed, starving people can often alter their behaviors and enable them to do what they would never be able to do during normal circumstances, and thus, can often lead to opposite and unexpected effects. Ishmael Beah’s Long Way Gone presents quite an interesting example to what people can do when they are hungry:

” So hunger drove us back to Mattru Jong again. It was danger¬ous, but hunger made us not care that much.” (Beah, 31). …
“… one day when I was very hungry and thirsty. I arrived at a village where there was nothing to eat except for the coconuts that sloppily hung from the trees, as if teasing me, daring me to pluck them. It is difficult to ex¬plain how it happened, but I mounted the coconut tree quite fast and unexpectedly. By the time I realized what I was doing and thought about my inexperience in this particular art, I was already at the top of the branches and plucking coconuts. I climbed down just as quickly and looked around for something to crack them with. Luckily, I found an old machete and got to work on the coconut shells. After I was done snacking, I found myself a hammock and rested for a while.
I got up well rested and thought, I think I have enough energy now to climb and pick more coconuts for the road. But it was impossible. I couldn’t even climb past the middle of the trunk. I tried again and again, but each attempt was more pitiful than the last.” (Beah, 47).
“… One evening we actually chased a little boy who was eating two boiled ears of corn by himself. He was about five years old and was en¬joying the corn that he held in both hands, taking turns biting each ear. We didn’t say a word or even look at each other. Rather, we rushed on the boy at the same time, and before he knew what was happening, we had taken the corn from him. We shared it among the six of us and ate our little portion while the boy cried and ran to his parents. The boy’s parents didn’t confront us about the incident. I guess they knew that six boys would jump on their son for two ears of corn only if they were desperately hungry.” (Beah, 29).

If hunger can do this much to this 12-year-old kid, it can surely does just as much to an entire population that is being starved in Gaza, and thus, starving these people will end up fueling up the war and encouraging these people to rebel, making the situation even worse than it presently is. Indeed, such would bring up the question about how many people (who would generally not even consider joining Hamas) are joining Hamas due to the barbaric siege that is being imposed upon them. Such is clearly implied in Carter’s quote above when indicating that the siege has strengthened Hamas’ popularity instead of weakening it, and thus, it is obvious that war starvation method is ineffective and can often fuel war instead of stopping it.

Carter calls Gaza blockade a crime and atrocity | World | Reuters

UN to Israel: Ease ‘devastating’ Gaza blockade – Haaretz – Israel News

Ishmael Beah’s Long Way Gone

War, Fear and Insecurity

April 5, 2009

As I read the news every morning, I keep reading the term “NATO.” To say the truth, I always viewed NATO as it is (war), which describes (shows) the mentality of the powerful against the weak. I was, therefore, impressed when I read The Nation’s
No to War, No to NATO
By its editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel.

” Activists see a NATO with bases on every continent; a military force that organizers say accounts for more than 75 percent of global military expenditures and drains resources that might otherwise address needs like education, job creation, and poverty; “out of area” operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan, the Mediterranean Sea, and a training mission in Iraq; a destabilizing presence pushing a “missile defense” system, ignoring international law, expanding to Russia’s doorstep, and maintaining a first-strike option — all fueling a renewed arms race. (Recently, popular opposition to the proposed Czech-based radar system for US missile defense was a key factor in bringing down the ruling government there.”

Such statement is amazing, because it sheds the light on the wide spread of the NATO forces around the world, which encourages other countries to arm themselves to remain strong against any possible ‘NATO threat.’ Indeed, war brings nothing but war, and killing only makes both the attacked and the attacker remain on their guards (on the alert) in case of any retaliatory responses or ‘preemptive strikes.’
In the The Things they CarriedWhen Dave Jensen broke Lee Strunk’s nose while fighting, Jensen had to remain on the alert for a while:

” In any other circumstance it might’ve ended there. But this was Vietnam, where guys carried guns, and Dave Jensen started to worry. It was mostly in his head. There were no threats, no vows of revenge, just a silent tension between them that made Jensen take special precautions. On patrol he was careful to keep track of Strunk’s where¬abouts. He dug his foxholes on the far side of the perime¬ter; he kept his back covered; he avoided situations that might put the two of them alone together. Eventually, af¬ter a week of this, the strain began to create problems. Jensen couldn’t relax. Like fighting two different wars, he said. No safe ground: enemies everywhere. No front or rear. At night he had trouble sleeping—a skittish feeling— always on guard, hearing strange noises in the dark, imagin¬ing a grenade rolling into his foxhole or the tickle of a knife against his ear. The distinction between good guys and bad guys disappeared for him. Even in times of relative safety, while the rest of us took it easy, Jensen would be sitting with his back against a stone wall, weapon across his knees, watching Lee Strunk with quick, nervous eyes. It got to the point finally where he lost control. Something must’ve snapped. One afternoon he began firing his weapon into the air, yelling Strunk’s name, just firing and yelling, and it didn’t stop until he’d rattled off an entire magazine of ammunition. We were all flat on the ground. Nobody had the nerve to go near him. Jensen started to reload, but then suddenly he sat down and held his head in his arms and wouldn’t move. For two or three hours he simply sat there.
But that wasn’t the bizarre part.
Because late that same night he borrowed a pistol, gripped it by the barrel, and used it like a hammer to break his own nose.” (O’Brien, 162, 163).

Fighting between Jensen and Strunk, obviously had consequences; it was not just Dave Jensen defeated Lee Strunk, the end, but it forced (or made) Jensen always worried, fearful of Strunk’s revenge, even though Strunk had not vowed to do so. Jensen’s life was transformed into a living hell, always on the alert, expecting Lee Strunk’s strike (revenge) in every sound or movement around him. Even the little quiet times for his companions were not of any comfort for him, as he remained in fear. In other words, fighting (defeating) Strunk did not provide Dave with anything but less safety and constant fear and feeling of insecurity.

This is war—this is NATO—it does not provide its member states with security, but it forces external countries (none-NATO members) to arm themselves, triggering arms race between nations, and consequently, making them all feel insecure, fearful of each other, and constantly expecting the enemies whom they strike to retaliate.
War, therefore, does not bring security or stability to the world; it makes both soldiers and nations feel insecure, and thus, war brings fear, not safety or security.

The only promising thing, however, is that people (the public) are starting to realize this, and this is indicated in the Nation’s article quoted above, about the resignation of the Check Republic’s government due to public pressure after they accepted the US proposed Missile system in their country. In addition, protesting against the NATO shows that people are getting sick of war, and are realizing that war is not the solution.

” Participants will include national and international groups representing the peace, human rights and anti-globalization movements, as well as students and youth groups. Also represented are trade unions, parliamentary Left and Green parties, and Attac. In all, 600 organizations from 33 countries — including Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan, Georgia, Brazil, Guinea, the Philippines and Turkey — have endorsed the campaign’s “No to War, No to NATO” appeal.”

No to War, No to NATO

Tim O’Brien’s The Things they Carried

What About those who lose their Homes in the War?

March 24, 2009

”At that time, it was still possible to obtain emigration permits for Palestine. I had asked my father to sell out, liquidate his business, and leave.
“I’m too old, my son,” he replied. “I’m too old to start a new life. I’m too old to start from scratch again in a country so far away. …” (Wiesel, 6).

Reading this passage made me think of homelessness—yes, homelessness, but not in the way one might think—just losing all belongings including the house—the shelter where one feels Most comfortable. What do victims of the war do (if they survive the war) when they return and find their home rubble—losing with it all their memories—things they value (including little emotionally valuable stuff)? Surely, they would have to start from scratch—the very thing that the father in Night said he could not do when his son told him to do. As a survivor of the war, I once lost my home in the war (in the war between Israel and Lebanon) and I still remember that house—entirely burned after it was shelled with several missiles and a phosphoric bomb that melts everything down as if it was paper. I am imagining that while struggling with the torture (monstrous) torture of the Nazis, victims were also struggling with homelessness ,as they, too, can never be comfortable outside of their home. That makes several dilemmas: fear of death—torture and homelessness.
Many today still find themselves facing such situation. People in Gaza, a couple of months ago, for example, returned to their homes—that were not their any more—they had become rubble, and I wondered if such horrifying destruction of homes, killing of people and so on by the Israeli soldiers was legal under international laws or not.
The answer came to me faster than I expected when I was reading the very Israeli newspaper (Haaretz) that quoted some international (human rights) report accusing Israel of war crimes.
UN envoy: Gaza op seems to be war crime of greatest magnitude

Unfortunately, Haaretz did not publish the entire article/rport as is, and thus, I had to read it on the Nation
Israel’s War Crimes

” Israel’s assault on Gaza is a massive violation of international law. Nations that have supplied weapons and supported the siege are complicit in the crimes … Earlier Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and
fuel (as well as food), resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or
necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza’s besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims.
.”

The war, then, was definitely monstrous and should have been internationally condemned, as Gaza, with no medicine, food or fuel, along with the bombing and its destruction was literally transformed into a concentration camp. Interestingly, too, the siege had started long before the assault. Nonetheless, this is not what scares me most—I am most y afraid that Gaza’s suffering has just begun—or at least—they now have to live a different type of suffering—homelessness—.

Yet, only human rights organizations complain—governments never do care—in fact, governments never listen to the weak—just like they did not listen to the holocaust victims in WWII, they do not listen to the Gazens today. I was, in fact, struck by Canada’s action, who declined entry to a UK law maker to its soil, due to his support to Gaza.

Canada bars British MP over Hamas support – Israel News, Ynetnews
(Other papers reported it as Gaza support by the way, but this is an Israeli newspaper
Interestingly, If we were to closely look today, there are many presidents who are war criminals and yet, whenever they visit other countries, red carpet would be rolled for them
In other words, oppression is still allowed in all of its forms, even though (on paper) it is internationally prohibited. Still however, nobody seems to look to the after math of the war in terms of homelessness. Many look into the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, resulted by witnessing death and other crimes—traumas, but very few look into the effect of wr-resulted homelessness. Obviously, in Night, the father heard of the danger—the sever danger, and yet, refused to leave his home—because it is so difficult to start from zero (and we know what was done to him later), and these people in Gaza (and other regions) suffer homelessness, while the world watches without even condemning these rimes against humanity; surely, if they do not condemn crimes against humans, how would they condemn indirect crimes against humans through destroying their homes?

Objectification of Human Beings

March 23, 2009

When I first read and heard about dehumanization of people a few years ago, I thought I knew what that meant, but as time advances, and as I read Night, Slaughter House and the other books for class, my view began to change. I realized that almost every time I read the news on Google, Aljazeera, New York Times, Washington Post etc. I read about a certain number of people who were killed in Iraq, Gaza, Pakistan, Afghanistan. I seriously arrived to the point where I no longer click on these articles and dare not think about them. Today, as I was reading Drew’s post, I realized that hearing about killed people became something normal–that we do not give much (or almost any) attention to. the word killed has lost its horror from our hearts, and we do not even shake our heads with discontentment every time we hear about the atrocities of war. I wondered why such have become the case and I found the answer so simple. With these wars going on, killing is done on daily bases and in order for these countries to justify killing these people; they label them as “militants, militiamen, terrorists…” Labeling people with such terms seems to take away their humanity–as if they were animals (animal organizations would have gone mad and blocked the roads with protests had they been animals). This is what the Nazis had done to the Jews in WWII-and at the time, calling someone a Jew was like labeling someone a ‘militant’ today. In fact, even when civilians (and children) are the victims, the word is not (or quickly) mentioned as if it was okay to commit such ‘mistakes’ (as long as the child is not our own son or daughter).

Suspected U.S. Missile Strike Kills 7 in Pakistan

“The United States has launched more than 30 missile strikes on Al Qaeda and Taliban targets close to the Afghan border since last year, killing many militants,
including some senior ones, but also civilians.”

NATO Kills Senior Afghan Taliban Militant – CBS News

US forces in Iraq kill 12-year-old girl

First, the term ‘militent’ does not, in any way make these people nonhumans, especially that nobody knows their real stories–many of these ‘militants’ consider themselves ‘resistance’ resisting the occupiers of their country–in that case, an entirely new vision must come to view, especially that resisting the occupiers is legal under the Geneva Conventions. (that would be a difficult subject to get into), but the main point remains that ‘militisation’ of people have become a weapon itself–a way to justify the killing of people. Yet, when we say this, the public does not believe that the situation is that bad, believing that only a few ‘terrorists’ are being exterminated. Along these lines, I found this interesting passage in “Night”

“… Without passion, without haste, they slaughtered their prisoners. Each one had to go up to the hole and present his neck. Babies were thrown into the air and the machine gunners used them as targets…. People refused not only to believe his stories, but even to listen to them. “He’s just trying to make us pity him. ( Wiesel, 4).

Interestingly, (horrifyingly), children were being used as objects—as shooting targets, and if such a story is related today (I am sure it happens), nobody would believe it—
This seems to be the case today, people refuse to believe what is going on in these war-zones, believing that time has changed and humanity would not allow anybody to commit such crimes, which reminds me of another passage from Night:

“I told him that I did not believe that they could burn people in our age, that humanity would never tolerate it. … “Humanity? Humanity is not concerned with us. Today anything is allowed. ( Wiesel, 30).

Evidently, humanity is not concerned with the victims of today either. Everything seems to be allowed, torture, and the killing of children as “accidents” and the killing of humans as ‘terrorists or militants.’
Just like in Night, such horrifying crimes have happened during Saddam’s era and they still find collective graves until today, and today, these massacres are happening and we all know about them, but we either excuse these crimes, denouncing the dead as “terrorists, or militants,” or we just never believe them, claiming that inhumane treatments would and could not happen in the 21st century.
Both the articles and Night make me wonder, is it people do not believe such stories because they do not witness them (they happen far away) or is it human nature not to believe such frightening crimes?

”Or even: “Poor fellow. He’s
gone mad. .. . I did not believe him myself. I would often sit with him in the evening after the service, listening to his stories and trying my hardest to understand his ” (Wiesel 5).

Sources:

Suspected U.S. Missile Strike Kills 7 in Pakistan

NATO Kills Senior Afghan Taliban Militant – CBS News

US forces in Iraq kill 12-year-old girlElie Wiesel’s Night

Torture today and torture in the past

March 23, 2009

When I was reading the news the other day, I ran across an article published by the Washington Post about the CIA secret Prisons around the world. The article
Red Cross Described ‘Torture’ at CIA Jails
Describes the treatment these victims (‘terrorist suspects’) were being subjected to:

“… During interrogations, the captives were routinely beaten, doused with cold water and slammed head-first into walls. Between sessions, they were stripped of clothing, bombarded with loud music, exposed to cold temperatures, and deprived
of sleep and solid food for days on end. Some detainees described being forced to stand for days, with their arms shackled above them, wearing only diapers.”

When I read about such harsh, evil, monsters treatment of victims during the war, I wonder how we can still do so today while saying that time has changed and that the Powerful nations would not allow for such evil acts to take place. Interestingly, the big nations that claim to be the police of the world seem to be leaders at such monsters acts against humanity and against human beings. It strikes me so much that when I read Night I realize that such behaviors have left a deep wound in the hearts of the victims–a deep scar that still has its noticeable mark until today.

“We had to throw our clothes at one end of the barracks. There was already a great heap there. New suits and old, torn coats, rags. For us, this was the trae equality: nakedness. Shivering with the cold” (Wiesel 33).

The Red Cross report, according to the article describes the treatment:

” some U.S. practices amounted to “cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment.” Such maltreatment of detainees is expressly prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.”

Another article that I read discusses the release of a video about five British Detainees that were detained by some faction in Iraq in 2007:
New video shows Briton kidnapped in Iraq in 2007
The article talks about some five British men who were detained by some faction in Iraq in 2007, and they are still in detainment. One of the detainees, Peter Moore, is quoted in the video asking the British government to accept the prisoner swap saying:

“It’s as simple as that, … It’s a simple exchange of people.”

The faction is holding the British men demanding the release of nine of their members—including a leader of theirs in exchange for the British detainees. You would think me feeling sorry for the five men only. No, I am feeling sorry for the five men just as I am feeling sorry for every detainee who is detained including the nine people who are being demanded in exchange. Why, after all, would we allow people to suffer detainment when we can simply rescue them through a prisoner exchange? Regardless what they are, they remain humans, and the charge of terrorism against them remains subjective—controversial as they view themselves as resistance against the ‘occupiers’ of their country.
Labeling people as “terrorists” to torture them reminds me of what Germany (the Nazis) did to the Jews in world war II when they, too, accused the Jews of various crimes that had nothing to do with the truth. Evidently, the same method that was utilized during World War II is still being used today, as if one label “terrorists” can give us an excuse to torture people as if they were feelingless creatures. It may sound strange to compare the past during WWII to the present with the secret CIA prisons and declared prisons like Gittmo (thank God President Obama is closing it). It is difficult to believe that we have not learned yet, and while criticizing Nazis for their monstrous behaviors during WWII, torture is still being done, and many of the torture methods are still the same.
We do not seem to learn and here we are victimizing (and allowing the victimization) of more human beings to go through the same struggles, which shall leave its scars in these victims’ hearts for some long time to come. I am frightfully imagining the world some thirty years from today, and I can see the future generations reading books about Gittmo and the CIA secret prisons and about the torture methods that they used against “terrorist suspects.” It is horrifying to think that the future generations would be saying about these prisons the same things (or similar things) as we do today about the Nazis. It seems to me that as time advances, people stay the same, and all that was done in the past (torture and massive killing) can happen again, while condemning the Nazis and the terrorists of the past, as if we are acting better than they did.

Sources:

Red Cross Described ‘Torture’ at CIA Jails

New video shows Briton kidnapped in Iraq in 2007

Elie Wiesel’s “Night”

Distrust and Hope

February 10, 2009

Testament of Youth
Learning Versus Life
Villanelle, 135
“Think what they have meant to me— Life and Hope and Love and You”
“Where his mangled body lay,”
“Hiding horror from the day; “
Okay, so these are some lines from Ttestament of Youth-Chapter four. The lines above, obviously, refer and talk about hope, and yet, they also talk about horror. It is the story of this woman who had lost her love in the war. He left, promising her to return,
“we said good-bye. ” But I am coming back, dear. Let it always be ‘ when ‘ and not ‘ if.’” (136).
Nonetheless, as war always is, he did not return:
“a large amethyst set as a brooch, and sent with a tiny card inscribed : ” In Memoriam. March 18th, i915.” I held it

13” (135).
This poem interested me so much, for one specific reason. It combines ‘hope’ and reflects ‘distrust’ in its finelines. It talks about hope—hope to see him (Roland) again, but, she doesn’t; he ‘breaks’ his promise and ‘gets killed.’
Such hope—to see Roland again—and betrayal—if we may call it so—betrayal by life—by war—she could no longer trust life or (and) trust promises as she did before. As a matter of fact, at one line, she says:
“ROLAND went to the front on March 3Ist, 1915” (135). I always read that recollecting the exact dates must imply something important, and in this case, mentioning the date, implies—or, at least, I think it implies the importance of this date, and the deep wound it left in her heart.
At another point, the poet talks about her fears and dreams in Roland’s absence, saying:
when you arc fighting the fear of it—bravely, as I know you will—I too shall be facing that fear, and can at least be with you in spirit then. . . . Sometime after you had gone, I began again to dream of all that may still be after the War —
when you return, and to plan out work to make me worthier… (136).

guess, I could imagine, what would it mean to be betrayed—if we may call it so—by your love, is it? War, is it? Or is it perhaps life?
The poem really caught my attention as a few days ago, I was reading an article in the Jerusalem Post—an Israeli mainstream Newspaper, and titled:
Trust Obama on Israel

The article, like many of its kind express the fear that Obama would not treat Israel the way it wants—or maybe the way it should—and I immediately wondered if the holocaust has anything to do with such anxiety on the Israeli part every time the United States elections begin. I mean, the Jews, were technically betrayed by the world, so I imagine, they would fear betrayal by the United States today—and it just made me wonder, especially that the article comes from one of their newspapers. Anyway, moving on, another statement about trust within the article that caught my attention is:
“I’m confident,” Obama said, “that Israel is ready and willing to make some of these concessions if they have the confidence that the Palestinians can enforce
an agreement.”

Obviously, here, too, the article is referring to confidence—trust again in the other party, and it made me wonder; how much does war—and losses of the war effect persons’ ability to trust others, and even themselves? In the article, for example, Israelis, are obviously worried that Obama will not meet their expectations—they fear he will not do what they want. On another point, it talks about Israel’s ability to trust Palestinians and their ability to enforce an agreement. Could this mean that trust, always, can become an issue for those who live war?
The article claims that Israel felt that Bill Clinton betrayed Israel, by (as they say) taking concessions from Israel, but got (again, according to the article) nothing from the Palestinians. Well, I can see the connection here as—Israelis felt betrayed by Clinton, who did not get them what they want, and now they were (are) worried that President Obama will do the same to them, as, he too, is Democrat (like President Clinton was).
The poem expresses this horror and hope and loss—as the woman lost her love in the war, and here, Israelis are worried that Obama will do to them like Clinton did (according to the article).
too,
To sum things up, I view the poem and the article as signs that war and losses of the war, strike people’s (victims’) ability to trust the others, which end up creating more problems.

Peretz, Martin, Feb 3, 2009, “Trust Obama on Israel” Jerusalem Post

Villanelle, 135-136. “Learning Versus Life.” Ttestament of Youth.

WWI British Poets and the War Today

January 27, 2009

First, excuse some of the spelling errors in the text—My book was scanned and scanned text is never perfect.

Walter de la Mare

THE FOOL RINGS HIS BELLS
Come, Death, I’d have a word with thee; And thou, poor Innocency; And Love – a lad with broken wing; And Pity, too: The Fool shall sing to you, As Fools will sing.
Ay, music hath small sense, And a tune’s soon told, And Earth is old, And my poor wits are dense; Yet have I secrets, – dark, my dear, To breathe you all: Come near. And lest some hideous listener tells, I’ll ring my bells.
They’re all at war! Yes, yes, their bodies go ‘Neath burning sun and icy star To chaunted songs of woe, Dragging cold cannon through a mud Of rain and blood;
66
The Fool Rings His Bells 67
The new moon glinting hard on eyes Wide with insanities!
Hush! … I use words I hardly know the meaning of; And the mute birds Are glancing at Love! From out their shade of leaf and flower, Trembling at treacheries Which even in noonday cower. Heed, heed not what I said Of frenzied hosts of men, More fools than 1, On envy, hatred fed, Who kill, and die Spake I not plainly, then? Yet Pity whispered, ‘Why?’
Thou silly thing, off to thy daisies go. Mine was not news for child to know, And Death – no ears hath. He hath supped where creep Eyeless worms in hush of sleep; Yet, when he smiles, the hand he draws Athwart his grinning jaws Faintly their thin bones rattle, and…. There, there; Hearken how my bells in the air Drive away care! …
Nay, but a dream I had Of a world all mad. Not a simple happy mad like me, Who am mad like an empty scene Of water and willow tree, Where the wind hath been; But that foul Satan-mad, Who rots in his own head, And counts the dead, Not honest one – and two But for the ghosts they were, Brave, faithful, true,

68 Walter de la Mare
When, head in air, In Earth’s clear green and blue Heaven they did share With Beauty who bade them there….
There, now! he goes Old Bones; I’ve wearied him. Ay, and the light doth dim, And asleep’s the rose, And tired Innocence In dreams i’s hence…. Come, Love, my ]ad, Nodding that drowsy head, ‘Tis time thy prayers were said!
‘HOW SLEEP THE BRAVE’
Nay, nay, sweet England, do not grieve!
Not one of these poor men who died But did within his soul believe
That death for thee was glorified.
Ever they watched It hovering near
That mystery ‘yond thought to plumb, Perchance sometimes in loath and fear
They heard cold Danger whisper, Come!
Heard and obeyed. 0, if thou weep
Such courage and honor, beauty, care, Be it for joy that those who sleep
Only thy joy could share.

***

These poems by Walter de la Mare, do, indeed have much with what is exactly going on in this world today.
Starting with

“Come, Death, I’d have a word with thee; And thou, poor Innocency; And Love – a lad with broken wing; And Pity, too: The Fool shall sing to you, As Fools will sing.”

This line, I believe explains that the poet was very dissatisfied about what the entire war was all about. “Fools,” evidently, refers to those who do things (fight, or give orders to fight) without knowing what they are doing thus. This can be proven by one of his final lines when he says:
“Nay, nay, sweet England, do not grieve!
Not one of these poor men who died But did within his soul believe”

Very powerful line–yes? He is saying that these men died for an unnecessary war (at least, so I understand), because these men did not believe of what they were doing (‘not what their soul believe’).

The poet goes later to say:
“Hush! … I use words I hardly know the meaning of; And the mute birds Are glancing at Love!”

Indeed, it seems like Walter de la Mare is criticizing this war (and those who did it), because they did not know what they were doing and why. How else, would anybody use words that he/she does not understand?
All of these words (poems) make me think of the world today. The same problem is recurring; it seems like people are fighting and none of them knows why.

I was just reading an article on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which, I had also read on yahoo news a couple of days ago. The article
Israeli soldiers allegedly told to avoid capture at all costs
Is so horrifying as it quotes an Israeli lieutenant-colonel of the elite Golani unit telling his brigade:
“You must avoid at all cost that one of you be captured alive by Hamas, even if that means blowing
yourself up with your grenades” (ABC).
Although the article resumes to say that this is more to improve the spirit of the troops, its wording reminds me of the terrorists who care less for their lives or the lives of others. In other words, to the best of my knowledge, armies were made to defend the citizens (and they are, after all, citizens); yet, they are instructed to risk their lives when there is no point of their death. True, with war comes death; however, when death is somewhat purposeful, the situation becomes entirely different, and we can then question: what is exactly going on?
Fox News, on the other hand, reported a different article that is equally interesting
Netanyahu Says He’d Expand Existing West Bank Settlements If Elected

Netanyahu, who is predicted to win the upcoming Israeli elections was quoted as saying:

“I have no intention of building new settlements in the West Bank,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying:

“… I will have to meet the needs of natural growth in the population. I will not be able to choke the settlements.”

This is, in fact, interesting, because it is and has been a war-declaration, as when you expel people (Palestinians in this case) from their homes, the normal reaction would be: war.
To point the connection a bit better, the poem says that those who died in the war don’t know what and why they really died for, and don’t know what they are doing; the article above shows that the same is going on. In other words, the typical reaction to war is war. Therefore, when an army destroys the homes of certain people to build or expand his settlements, he can only expect the party that loses its homes to fight back, and thus, people will die. I still can not understand how one party can claim to want peace while destroying the homes of others to build his settlements on them. Therefore, I see that many of those who are fighting there don’t know the real dilemma, or at least, seeing only one side, and thus, don’t know what they are doing; why they are dying, or what they are really dying for.
-Moe
Walter de la Mare have successfully described his feelings toward the war, which, evidently, he felt was absolutely unnecessary, and believed that most of those who died in it did not believe in what they were doing, which seems to be the case today in most of the wars—Iraq, Israel…

Works Cited

de la Mare, Walter. “The Fool Rings his Bells.” WWI British Poets. PG 66.

“Israeli soldiers allegedly told to avoid capture at all costs” Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 26 Jan, 2009.

“Netanyahu Says He’d Expand Existing West Bank Settlements If Elected.” Fox News. 26 Jan, 2009.

-Moe Fawaz