Saturday, July 08, 2006


Here's part of your answer, Mr. Cannon

Through Avedon's Sideshow, I came across an inspired essay on the story of a group of American servicemen, including Steven Green, who stand accused of rape and cold-blooded murder in al-Mahmoudiya. The basic question the essayist asks is whether the attack on al-Mahmoudiya was part of a terroristic action by the US. I am at liberty to share the following letter, a copy of which I received, sent to the authors of "Tiger Force", a book on a campaign of terror committed by US troops in Vietnam: I very much appreciated this series. In your presentation of 6/1 shown on C-Span today, however, I felt you missed a major point, namely that Tiger Force was almost certainly a deliberate element of American policy. That doesn't mean that the men knew they were being used as terrorists. It would be very surprising if one were to find explicit orders to create a terroristic force. But the pattern, which runs through the unconventional wars the US has been engaged in is unmistakable. We know through Douglas Valentine's work on the Phoenix Program that the intelligence services had a large scale operation in Vietnam designed to kidnap, torture, and murder people. It largely misfired, ending up serving the aims of the Saigon government in suppressing political opponents. The US had similar operations in the Dirty Wars in Mexico (1968-75), Guatemala (1954-date), and El Salvador (ca. 1981-6), with very similar outcomes: traumatized soldiers and civilians, increasingly corrupt central governments, and rising anti-Americanism. The "El Salvador Option" put in place in Iraq by John Negroponte, generally believed to be behind the assassination program in Honduras, follows the same model. Although these operations seem to have used primarily intelligence operatives, Special Forces and regular forces seem to have been involved to a lesser degree. In the El Salvador case, from what I can make of it, the uniformed soldiers were told that they were executing a conventional war, meanwhile calling down massive firepower on groups that included many women and children. The same is happening in Iraq, in towns like Ramadi and Fallujah. Now, granted, most of this may happen because the military is incapable of fighting genuine counterinsurgency. They can't be bothered with learning local culture, language, and customs, and they don't understand tactics more sophisticated than force and bribery, so they end up making a muddle. But there's reason to think it's less random than one might imagine. Robert Fisk encapsulated it in the phrase: "Chaos is the plan." That is, the goal seems to be the destruction of a society, reducing living standards to the point that everyone is consumed with getting by day by day. The fabric of society dissolves and it becomes easier to force assimilation on it. One finds that that is just what the US practiced on the Native American population in this country. Professor Alfred McCoy has drawn a straight line between methods of torture developed in the 1950s and 1960s and Abu Ghraib. I think there is a straight line between the Phoenix Program, Tiger Force, and Fallujah. If there is, you should draw it, and if not, you should explain why not. No answer to this letter has been received.
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