Saturday 21 June 2014

Drone Man Told The Nation

"Lyndon Johnson told the nation
Have no fear of escalation
I'm trying everyone to please.
Though it isn't really war,
We're sending fifty thousand more
To help save Vietnam from Vietnamese."

- Lyndon Johnson Told The Nation, Tom Paxton, 1965.

When, eleven years ago, the United States invaded Iraq, I went through a bad phase in my life.

I have written elsewhere of how hate-filled I was for a period of about three years, how I really believed that “the only good American is a dead one”, and how I cheered the death or maiming of every single American soldier, Marine or other “war criminal” in Iraq. I have talked about how, over a long period, I finally managed to purge myself of the hate.

But the anger never went away, and never will – the anger I felt against the United States, for wilfully destroying a nation which was ancient when the ancestors of Americans were still massacring Native Americans to steal their lands from them, which was ancient when those ancestors stole black men and women from Africa to bring back to use as self-replicating farm machinery.

I still believe that anger legitimate. The United States can never be forgiven for its destruction of Iraq. However long it exists, it has forever put itself beyond the purview of civilised society by that. Its otherwise impressive list of crimes – from the Mexican War to Nagasaki and from Korea to Vietnam and Kosovo – were none of them quite as cynical, as evil, as the prolonged and still not ended destruction of the ancient land of Mesopotamia.

Still not ended? Why, of course the destruction of Iraq is not ended. As we all know, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) is “sweeping through Iraq" and is “threatening Baghdad”.


So quite a lot.

This ISIS used to be called Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and later Al Qaeda in Iraq. It was an official Al Qaeda franchise, being granted its licence by Osama bin Laden, no less. It first appeared in Iraq circa 2004, at a time when the American occupation was reeling from constant attacks by the resistance (both Sunni and, significantly, Shia). And instead of attacking its alleged enemies, the occupation, it immediately provoked (by means of car bombs and the like) a vicious Shia-Sunni fratricidal war which left the occupation virtually unopposed in comparison with what had gone before.

I may mention that I have called Al Qaeda “Satan’s Little Helpers” for obvious reasons.

Now, as we also know, the current government of Iraq isn’t exactly composed of good people. In fact they are very nasty people, led by a former militia commander, Nuri al-Maliki; but they haven’t exactly been in power since yesterday. In fact they took power long, long ago, during the American occupation, and helped destroy Iraq by cooperating with the Empire against the people of the country.

In other words, they were the Vichy Iraqis.

My friend Ramzy Baroud has written an excellent article in which he emphasises that the United States must not be allowed to meddle in Iraq again, because the current situation is its fault.

He doesn't say what I believe, though, that the "crisis" in Iraq was a deliberate ploy to force Maliki to hand over power to a more compliant regime, which would follow American diktats towards Syria and Iran. 

Candidates are already lining up, and, obviously, they’re vying for the opportunity to be loyal to the US. At least for now.

Now, I’ll say this right out in the open – ISIS is an American tool. It has been trained by the US, funded by Saudi Arabia, and Turkey allows the group to use its territory to treat their wounded fighters and to hold meetings. Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia are BFFs of the American Empire, and that is no secret to anyone.

There is a lot of talk on the net about how ISIS was “expelled from al Qaeda because it was too brutal”, but that is rubbish. ISIS is no more brutal than the official Al Qaeda franchise in Syria, Jabhat al Nusra. In fact, ISIS helped set up Jabhat al Nusra, and, unlike the latter, hasn’t been known to play football with the heads of those people it has decapitated. But Ayman al Zawahiri, current head of Al Qaeda, ordered ISIS to stick to Iraq and let JaN operate in Syria.

ISIS didn’t see why it should give up the income from all those Eastern Syrian oil wells...

That is the essence of the split between al Qaeda and ISIS - money. ISIS, in fact, is quite savvy about money; it's the first terrorist group in history to create a brochure detailing its "accomplishments", intended to attract investors.

Now, a few days ago, ISIS – in alliance with other Sunni militias, including the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein – launched an offensive in Northern Iraq, which swiftly overwhelmed the incompetent, American trained and funded, New Iraqi Army. It was basically a “sucker punch” – a blow struck when your opponent isn’t looking. The sucker punch works wonders – but only if your opponent doesn’t get right back up again. If he does, you’d better hope you’re bigger and stronger.

The ISIS and its allies were neither bigger nor stronger, and they are about to be taught a painful lesson.

But what’s interesting is what happened on the sidelines.

As soon as ISIS hit Iraq with its sucker punch, America demanded Maliki "share power" with the Sunnis, that is, hand over a substantial section of power to those who are his enemies. All at once, the internet filled with tales of how he was responsible for the problem in Iraq due to his sectarian bias against the Sunnis. So where was all this outrage when Maliki was Washington's puppet in Baghdad, when his death squads were ethnically cleansing (to borrow a term) the Sunni from mixed neighbourhoods in Iraq, when he was hanging Saddam Hussein after a farcical show trial, and so on? During all this time, the US was in occupation, and there was not a chirp out of it.

Like many a US puppet in the past, Maliki has passed his sell-by date. He had actually passed it back in 2011 when he refused to extend the American occupation further. He had added insult to that injury when he had refused to join in the American-mandated isolation of Bashar al-Assad of Syria. It was hardly a coincidence that it was only after that that ISIS suddenly began its campaign of car bombs and attacks.
Maliki had committed an act of lese-majeste, and he had to be taught a lesson.

When Maliki refused to hand over power, Killary Klingon (who I am convinced has been preselected to be the next American president) et al demanded his replacement and are still demanding it. Meanwhile, there are two significant events: the Iraqi army has got off the floor, and with the help of Shia militia, is now actually fighting back and has regained ground from ISIS. And, the Baathist militias – secularist and nationalist – are already fighting against their “ally”, ISIS, in Mosul. You won't find mention of that on major news sources unless you look with a microscope, though. The fiction has to be preserved that only Western intervention can save Iraq. Whatever has to be done, Iraqis can’t be left to take care of their own futures. Any claim that this should be done has to be ignored.

Once - and it's inevitable - Iraq beats back ISIS from Mosul, Maliki will come into conflict with the Kurds who have taken advantage of the opportunity to capture Kirkuk. The Kurds have long wanted control of Kirkuk, though with its mixed Arab-Turkmen-Kurdish population it has always resisted incorporation in the de facto Kurdistan. Now that the Kurds have taken it, though, they will never let it go.

Let me say this now: these are the rationales behind this ISIS “offensive” (which I believe is controlled by the United States) in Northern Iraq:

First, to force Maliki to hand over power to a government more amenable to American interests, especially as they pertain to Iran and Syria;

Second, to establish a formal, and enlarged, Kurdistan. This Kurdistan would encompass both Kurdish areas of Iraq and Syria, and – like Kosovo – would be beholden to the Empire. Turkey would in turn be kept in line by the threat of having its own Kurdish areas sliced away. So Kurdistan would be an important American outpost in northern Iraq and Syria, right next to some of the most sensitive areas in the world, and floating on oil besides. Now that the Zionist entity is becoming an increasingly fascist and indefensible "ally", the Empire needs another outpost in West Asia, after all.

Third, to achieve a split of the rest of Iraq into Sunni and Shia areas, something the non-ISIS Sunni militias are already demanding – and something which would have been anathema to the nationalist Saddam Hussein. Obviously, a balkanised Iraq would be more easily controlled by the Empire. Look at the former Yugoslavia for an example.

Fourth, and this is something Obama is already talking about, air strikes in Syria. No sane person will believe that they will be restricted to the ISIS there. The primary target will be the (increasingly victorious) Syrian government and army.

There was just one problem. Al-Maliki didn’t panic as expected, and did not quit.

Assuming Maliki manages to ride out the current storm, he will, as I said, come into conflict with the Kurds when he orders them to vacate Kirkuk. What happens then?

Easy. He will be abruptly turned into the Threat Of The Week by America, and war drums will start beating against him. ISIS will morph into the "good guys" (like Jabhat al Nusra in Syria) and get covert and then overt aid and support. The aim will be to make the Iraq war as permanent as possible. Like Syria.

Meanwhile in India:

I read this hilarious article which claims ISIS is a "threat" to India because it allegedly issued a map showing Modi's home state of Gujarat as part of its designs. Ooh, a map! Should I shake in my shoes now? I wonder if this will be made a reason to introduce (yet another) "harsh anti-terror law" designed of course to be used against minorities only? There have been two former “tough” anti-terror laws, TADA and POTA, which the Hindunazis had used against Muslims when they had been in power. Those laws had lovely provisions, such as confessions under torture being admissible evidence, and the burden of proof of innocence being on the accused. They lapsed under Congress regimes, but is it time to bring a new version in under the guise of protection from ISIS?

I should not be surprised.

It’s not usual that I write a long intro like this for Raghead, but I felt it necessary to explain why this is. I need to explain my anger, my reading of the circumstances, and also – and I feel this is important – to explain the panels.

The first panel is obvious. I have never attempted to hide my contempt for Nobel Peace Prizident and blood-soaked war criminal Barack Obama.

As far as the second goes, I chose three different scenes: from left, Colin Powell, lying his head off in the UN on Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent WMD programme. I don’t know if Powell has a conscience, but I would be happy if it does not let him sleep at night. In the middle, I chose a scene of “shock and awe”: Bush’s bombers exploding their ordnance on the banks of the Tigris. On the right I chose, for contrast, the entirely manufactured “triumph” of American troops pulling down Saddam Hussein’s statue in Firdous square.

In the third panel, I chose the two instruments the Obama criminal regime is going to use in its reoccupation of Iraq; on the one hand, the entirely cooked up ISIS “advance”; and, on the other, its stand-off military forces, which I symbolised by a drone. Of course, many ISIS will die, but they would have been exterminated anyway. Once the jihadists have served their purpose, from Afghanistan to Libya, America has always cheerfully thrown them to the wolves; why should ISIS be any different?

Panel Four may look as though it speaks for itself, but actually I thought about it a long time. I finally chose this image because the anonymous Abu Ghraib detainee's torment so clearly expresses the torture Iraq has been suffering for decades now – cynically imposed suffering which the people have never deserved. 

A final word about the title. I was hesitating between “Nobel Prizident” and “Drone Man”. Both would do, but I could not choose one over the other. I finally decided on Nobel Prizident for the artwork and Drone Man for the title.

So, here’s the cartoon itself, with absolutely no apologies if I hurt anyone; the Iraqis have been hurt worse than you.

No, I have not forgotten, I have not forgiven, and I will neither forget nor forgive.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2014


  1. Such an important post, have patience as I have things I want to say.

  2. It is difficult as an American to read of the hatred you felt and your joy, even in the past, of dead soldiers. But the anger . . .

    The anger is legitimate. This was done in our name, we did not get out into the streets to protest as we did (some of us) in the Vietnam years, in political talks we spoke against the war but always made sure that people knew we "supported the troops", that drumbeat motto as ubiquitous as yellow ribbons on cars.

    This is America's mess. We made it. We killed maybe a half million Iraqis, we maimed and orphaned more. We destroyed a country and watched it on TV eating popcorn.

    It's on the news today, the killing in Iraq, with people commenting how our gas prices might go up. I am ashamed.

    This is our mess, our shame, and thank god that there are people who remind us of that because otherwise we would never know, and those who knew would forget. Or forgive.

  3. Bill, Heaven save us from a Killary presidency. She kills with such enthusiasm and alacrity. Our ruling class has learned that they can get away with whatever criminal act they want as long as it's a Black, woman, gay, etc. who does it. (Wasn't it Madeleine Albright who said that the death of half a million Iraqis due to U.S. sanctions was 'worth the price'?) To us, who come from the 60s generation, it's unbelievable that Americans simply accept the lousy, criminal government they have and, worse yet, go back to vote for it again!

    Something else. We were reminded yesterday that Iraq has never actually passed the de-nationalization of Iraq's oil. The U.S. was demanding it but it has never actually been passed by the Iraqi parliament. And so we're sure one of Obama's priorities is getting all of the current oil extraction permits held by U.S. oil companies finally legalized.

    As to the Kurds, when the Syrian Kurdish PYD was fighting for their lives with al-Nusra in northern Syria and finally expelled them from their region, the KRG did nothing. It will be difficult now to achieve unity.

    Really good post, Bill. I like to call the U.S. program in Iraq "From Cradle to Grave (of Civilization).

  4. You are not alone in your contempt for what is the country of my birth, where I still, in fact, live. I feel much the same and on top of that, I served as a US Marine and went to the imperial war in Vietnam. I have seen what war is, what it does to those caught in it and what it does to those who survive it. Many of the mental/emotional wounds of war are nearly as bad, maybe even worse, as the physical wounds.
    The US of A, or as I have taken to calling it since 2003, 'Merikkka has MUCH to answer for, let alone be ashamed of.
    I feel quite fortunate. None of my ancestors had a hand in killing the native peoples, nor did they have anything to do with slavery. They all came from Germany decades after the US "civil war" (what war was ever 'civil'). And yet, I still will do anything I can to make certain that slavery never makes a come back in this country. I would never do harm to any person except to protect my family or others from great physical harm. In short, I would only ever use physical or deadly force to protect close family or other innocent people from harm by some psycho, be they plain criminal or state thugs(police).
    I have no use for any religion of any sort, but I DO believe that I need to try my best every day to treat ALL people as I want to be treated. That is a human way of being that predates ALL religions.
    In my opinion, war is the most pornographic thing we humans have ever invented. Also, my opinion, religion is the absolute WORST human invention ever. More death, destruction, and suffering has been the result of organized religion in all of human history far beyond any natural disasters.Religion is used and abused to maintain control over ignorant people. The current damn fool, idiotic, useless war of choice currently being run by the US/NATO/EU/zionist entity are ALL down to religion and the use/abuse OF religion in some form or other. The Sunni/Shia "divide" is exploited for the sake of obscene profits for the already very, very rich. The sad thing is, the rubes buy this crap, lock, stock, and both barrels. Wave the cross, call in the name of Allah, shout about the Holocaust and the rubes and religious nutters will fall all over themselves to go off to the slaughter house of war. Kill for their version of an imaginary sky fairy.
    The banksters and the politicians they have bought and paid for know this and use it to exploit the ignorant time after time. At some point though, enough of those ignorant masses may wake up and finally grow a spine and yell out NO! No more!
    Well, I have said ENOUGH for decades now, for all the good it has done. As long as I am alive I will continue to say ENOUGH! Enough of the goddamn useless fucking idiotic wars of choice. War IS a racket.
    Fuck war! And the sheep it rode in on and the next war, let all those who want the goddamn thing, they and they alone MUST go fight it.


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