Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Branched ~ On Waco

(The young Miss Shari Doyle is pictured above)

The Rebellion of 1991 ~ Also, this is your formal NSFW warning :*(

In March of 1991, after invading Iraq, the U.S. encouraged Iraqis to rebel against Saddam Hussein. Iraqis may have been stunned, having seen Saddam come to power during decades of western political intervention, including proxy assassinations and open rebellions. To some of them, it may have seemed like finally, they were being encouraged to take control of their own country, where since its creation by British imperials in 1920, various dictators had been appointed by the British and Americans. Drawing support from a wealthier, centralized Sunni minority, these dictators spent most of their time quelling impoverished, un-centralized domestic masses--primarily Shias and Kurds--and attacking other nations when convenient, which earned them goodies. By 1991, Saddam Hussein had most recently spent nearly a decade massacring Iraqis and foreigners in the Iran-Iraq War, during which some conspiracy theorists claim he was sold nerve gas and biological weapons by the Reagan Administration as part of an anti-communist, pro-American campaign.

After the 1991 invasion of Iraq, the west suddenly announced, through American President George W. Bush, that it would stop supporting Hussein, and indeed, that it would welcome Iraqis taking control of their country for the first time. Here's Bush:
"In my own view...the Iraqi people should put [him] aside, and that would facilitate the resolution of all these problems that exist and certainly would facilitate the acceptance of Iraq back into the family of peace-loving nations."

Iraqis responded by rising up. The U.S. military, along with its family of adherents, was still in the region, making a slow withdrawal, when millions of Iraqis began a popular revolt against Hussein. They took control of most of the country, and were on course to overthrow Hussein when Hussein used some of his western toys: he sent heavily armed military helicopters across the country, to massacre revolutionary fighters from the sky, along with anyone else unlucky in the territories which he'd lost control of.

The rebellion couldn't survive the assault of the deadly, relatively modern helicopters. Countless thousands were gunned down, Hussein regained control, and that was that. Amazingly, despite constant overflights of the country in fighter jets, the American air forces did nothing to assist the rebellion, or stop the slaughter. No one even told Hussein "stop flying the helicopters."


Why did the U.S. permit this? There are three explanations.

(1) The war was over. The war was over, and it was time to go. The objective of liberating Kuwait had been achieved, and it was time to go home. This explanation seems utterly worthless--like it is "fit for a child"--but ironically, it's much closer to the truth than more sophisticated versions.

(2) Given a host of extremely complicated geo-political considerations far beyond the understanding of mere commoners, it wouldn't have been prudent at the time to meddle in Iraq to stop the slaughter. This one is the formal explanation, best expressed by Dick Cheney:
I would guess if we had gone in there, we would still have forces in Baghdad today. We'd be running the country...I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the President made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.

That explanation briefly made the rounds again prior to the more openly-acknowledged governing of the province that began in 2003, but remains the official explanation.

(3) Hussein agreed to give up his plans of switching to a non-U.S.-dollar currency for oil trading in exchange for more western assistance keeping the population weak. Much of the weakening of the population goes into the 1990s sanctioning of Iraq, which we'll leave discussion of for another time. Hussein was lying, of course; shortly before 2003, he began revisiting his plan to sell oil for Euros, rather than dollars, with predictable consequences.

What do we learn from this? Well, we understand, obviously, that there are several different ways of looking at "the world." There is a direct "child's way," which is like watching American news with the sound turned off: "Now tanks go here. Then tanks go there. Why tanks go there? Because tanks go there." That one seems bad, and is very unpopular, even in the west, but compared to the take of effective modern governments, it sounds brilliant.

The real problem comes in with (2), or post-modern, neo-conservative/neo-liberal geopolitical explanations. By adopting a complex jargon, we can make "Because tanks go there" sound not only reasonable, but so reasonable that it would be irresponsible to question it. It's logically very easy to break apart the rhetoric and disprove that kind of explanation, but it also takes a level of emotional intelligence necessary to be able to reach conclusions different than formal propagators.

How do we logically disprove explanations like (2)? From a 2013 perspective, we can easily note that the U.S. (and its various coalition members) has no problem governing Iraq. It takes less courage, after the 2003 invasion, to say that about a 1991 conclusion than it did in 1991. The Iran-Iraq War proves that America didn't care about how many Iraqis that Hussein slaughters, so the "we're imperfect humanitarians" portion of the official explanation is not disproven. The "we wouldn't know what to do with Iraq if we had it" explanation is an objective fabrication, though. When Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Dubya's daddy, and almost all the other players were even the exact same people, it becomes less and less plausible, in 2013, that these people "didn't want" to be saddled with the burden of controlling Iraq more directly. We may come to realize the truth: that after the downfall of the U.S.S.R., new patterns of warmaking needed to be developed and justified in order to keep regular, profitable conflicts going around the world. An aging Hussein was too independent and erratic to stay on the job, and he was courting Iran and China, so he needed to be replaced. The stupid, simplistic explanation that you feed people over their breakfast cereal is meant to be complicated and formal enough that it is plausible as long as you are unaware of past or future: it is an explanation that suffices only in a fantastical present; it is American news with the sound turned on.

(The fact that the "we wouldn't know what to do with Iraq if we had it" explanation might need until 2013, or even 2003, to crystallize, is offensive to the notion of human decency, or if you don't believe in that, "history." Even if we disregard entirely the expansive imperial monotheists first cast out of early human civilizations, the crusades, and then the history of colonialism, and begin our observation just in 1920, we see that every single year of Iraq's existence has been defined by its status as a colony of the Anglo-American empire. It has been invaded, advised, occupied, and punished every year since 1920, and in 2020 its centennial year as "Iraq," the constantly-raped province of death, will be marked as just another century of the same.)

So, David Koresh was a child molester, right?

A couple years after the 1991 Iraq invasion, ATF and FBI agents attacked the Branch Davidian housing near Waco, decimating it, and burning to death/shooting/crushing 76 people, including a lot of children. So, yawn, the ATF was trying to search the place, and it had a warrant, because supposedly there were guns there, and people could've gotten hurt.

There are a lot of interesting side facts about the attack on the church and houses, such as who shot first during the small gun battle before the main attack, and why people think "compound" sounds more intimidating than "church" or "location." Koresh was, of course, the devil, and he was running an underage prostitution ring as well as advocating eating babies in sandwiches and all of the stuff that bad people always do. Let's assume that all of that TV stuff was/is true, though: really. Assume that he was marrying underage brides, planning on overthrowing the government with all those weapons found neatly stacked against the walls after the fires were put out, a charismatic maniac holding together cultists in thrall to him--all that stuff. Let's also assume, despite strong evidence to the contrary, that some nut inside the church "shot first." So, basically, Koresh was/is the devil. Assume all of that, and assume that the ATF/FBI guys were just doing their jobs when they went to the Mt. Carmel church to look for those guns. They were shot at, an unfortunate battle occurred, and all those children burned to death.

Even if we assume all of those things, we have one problem with the official story: nine days before the attack, two ATF Agents went into the church, undercover, armed with probable cause for arrest. They told Koresh they wanted to practice shooting, so he brought them some guns and ammo. They spent a substantial amount of time chatting and shooting, toured the "compound" (remember: like bin Laden's "compound," a "compound" is always scarier), and got to be armed and alone with Koresh for a while. Koresh called them "agents," so he wasn't fooled by their undercover act. He let them walk out.

Now, why did they not arrest this notorious child molester, statutory rapist, firearm smuggler, and wacko charismatic linchpin? Our original narrative no longer makes sense. Instead, we arrive at an inconvenient truth (sic): Koresh wasn't arrested because a message was needed. A message about living together, independent communities, and how they must end. Legions of chances existed to grab and black-hood Koresh before the burning of the church and houses, including only days before, with search warrants and probable cause standing by, but instead of taking any of those routes, it was the heavy armor crashing in the front door.

So, even if we accept all of the erratic sensationalism about how wicked Koresh actually was, we know that they wanted the attack. Like that completely unexpected civil war that broke out in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was killed, the things that happen are happening because they are supposed to happen. The only remotely plausible explanation for the massacre at the mosque church was that Koresh was as evil as the wildest unverified media talking heads claimed, and that there was no other way to get him out than by burning dozens of children alive. And even that explanation is so horrible that it shouldn't suffice, but hey, that's the best they have. It worked with removing Saddam, right?

Here's the young Miss Shari Doyle, mid 1993, after her last day at the church:

Both pictures from Mt. Carmel autopsy report.

(Comparisons to Fallujah are, as ever, apt.)

America has long been accustomed to the incredible butchery of Indians, slaves, striking workers, and others who tried to live, in any way, off the grid, and it's been on and off popular to dismiss any given massacre as "inevitable" or "their fault, because they [started it somehow]." As humans in search of goodness, we should remember not only victims from times of old--Thanksgiving, Wounded Knee, or Kent State--but also more recent ones, like Iran, Mt. Carmel, and Fallujah.


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