Wednesday, June 18, 2014

You are not allowed to tell me we're not great

Over at A Tiny Revolution you can catch a little drama on American commentator Christopher Hitchens and his obsession with American benevolence. He compares Hitchens' propaganda to the militant/terrorist group now taking over parts of Iraq.

The quote is as follows:

Someone Please Dig Up Christopher Hitchens and Show Him This Blog Post

Christopher Hitchens on Iraq, 2005:
The welcome that I've seen American and British forces get in parts of Iraq...I want to mention first because there are people who say that that never happened...where were the sweets and where were the flowers? Well I saw it happen with my own eyes and no one's going to tell me that I didn't...it was like this is the nearest I'll get to taking part in the liberation of the country, to ride in with the liberating army...I will not allow it not to be said that that did not happen.
What jumped to my mind was not Iraq however but the war in the Philippines over a hundred years ago (see this blog post of mine for why). Once again the path to war looks eerily similar:
On the surface, most of the changes taking place in the American pacification campaign appeared to increase its severity and to abandon the policy of benevolent pacification, but this was not the case. Provost-Marshal-General Bell's comments to the officers serving under him placed the policy changes in their proper perspective. Bell began by stating that he had "frequently heard the opinion expressed that no good has been accomplished" by the old policy. He continued:

I cannot concur in that opinion, for I feel convinced that this policy has had a good effect. Had we been building for a day only or solely in order to put an end to hostilities, a different policy might have been indicated but ... we have got to continue to live among these people. We have got to govern them

He goes on to say:

"This policy has earned for us the respect and approval of a large majority of the more intelligent and influential portion of the community. We cannot lose their support by now adopting such measures as may be necessary to suppress the irreconcilable and disorderly.

The historian who gathered this testimony goes on to quite dryly mourn this general's soldiers not living up to his professed ideals:

"Unfortunately, some Americans did not have as good an understanding of the new policy as General Bell, and for them it represented the inauguration of a campaign of severity. Consequently, some enlisted men could interpret the new policy as one of "taking no prisoners" with MacArthur "sweeping everything as he goes," and officers could write of substituting "the effective noose for the futile school-book"(28) The cruelties and abuses that appeared in increasing numbers during 1900 continued, and those men who so desired could interpret the new pacification policy as a sanction for such action.
Here's an inscription from the Achaemenid Empire:

[4.11] Says Darius the king: If thou shalt conceal this record (and) not tell (it) to the people, may Auramazda be a smiter unto thee and may there not be unto thee a family.
[4.12] Says Darius the king: This (is) what I did in every way; by the grace of Auramazda I did (it); Auramazda bore me aid and the other gods which are.
[4.13] Says Darius the king: For this reason Auramazda bore me aid and the other gods which are, because I was not an enemy, I was not a deceiver, I was not a wrong-doer, neither I nor my family; according to rectitude [I ruled] nor made I my power(?) an oppression to [those who praise me]; the man (who) helped my house, him who should be well esteemed, I esteemed; (the man) who would destroy it, him who should deserve punishment, I punished.

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