Fighting for the truth . . . exposing the corrupt
THE COLOR OF BARBARIANS
By DAN CAMERON-RODILL
The General Barry McCaffrey controversy has not generated a lot of "pigment politics." Seemingly, at least. And it should not. Who in this color-fatigued country wants another round of race-mongering? At the same time, does anyone think the issue is not there, just beneath the surface? None of us say this might be a case of a "white overlord" slaughtering what he may view as "worthless camel jockeys" after the war ended. We don't say the "overlord" out-maneuvered the truce, seizing a chance to use his overwhelming firepower on boy and senior-citizen conscripts, calling his turkey shoot a "battle," not letting them cheat him out of his glory. No, we don't say that. We are too polite, or discreet, too politic, too academic, too lawyerly, or just plain mealy-mouthed. Does our cautious silence, however, make the "white overlord" business go away? We suspect it's still there, simmering, maybe even rankling. We just pretend it is not there. Which is why, during our silence and pretense, it can be useful to scan the genealogy of barbarism.
Even a brief glimpse at the past century shows that blood-letting is an equal-opportunity endeavor. Do you have a favorite ethnic group or race you think more angelic, or at least less homicidal, than others? Beware. The record may disappoint.
We know about the white Germans. Bach, Beethoven, outstanding beer - and then the ovens. White English, French and Dutch knew how to gun their way to empire in Africa and Asia. White Americans, justified or not, are still the only earthlings ever to nuke a civilian population.
And just when you're feeling righteous, ready as a Black
Muslim to denounce the "wicked whites," what happens? Enter an Idi Amin. Ape
unspeakable. Killer beyond belief. A King Kong of monsters. And there are
other African slaughterhouses, so recent, beyond even an Idi Amin: Rwanda,
Sierra Leone, and at this very moment, as reported
by Nat Hentoff, atrocity-ridden human slavery in the Sudan. But you want to be fair. Maybe not "politically correct." But fair. You know the stage was set for much Black Mischief by the White Mischief of Europeans who re-aligned the borders in a way guaranteeing awful tribal tensions, hurling together traditional enemies. White-dictated integration? Nevertheless, you are stunned by the magnitude and swiftness of shots fired, knives plunged, machetes wielded, skulls crushed, babies bludgeoned. What species be this?
And just when you think, well, maybe Asians really are more
civilized, what happens? Old newsreels run again.
The Japanese of Haiku, the exquisite tea ceremony, the samurai warrior code of honor, are seen in the infamous
rape of Nanking, including "sport" like tossing babies up in the air and catching them on tips of bayonets. And the Chinese, who tried to keep out barbarians with that spectacular Wall? A Chinese instructor once told our college history class that the heads of 5000 landlords were chopped off on the mainland (something you wouldn't expect
even from New York City tenants). Indonesia? They killed a half million Chinese, after calling them "Communists." Cambodia? Khmer Rouge, anyone? Killing Fields?
As a war correspondent, I recall crossing into the Fish Hook region on the Cambodian-Vietnamese border with an armoured recon platoon of the 25th Infantry Division. That was the Spring day when Nixon made world headlines by pulling the plug on what had been a relatively stable Cambodia. Shortly after our invasion, there were countless bodies of Vietnamese farm families floating down the Mekong River - and this was done by the Cambodians, not by "our boys."
The "white overlord" business, spoken or unspoken, may be sufficient for the simple-minded, or politicos. It might even seem to excuse the alleged culpability of Lt. Colonel Charles C. Ware, (as indicated in Pulitzer Prize-winning Seymour Hersh's extraordinary reportage in the May 22 New Yorker) whose troops in Bradley fighting vehicles reportedly mowed down Iraqi POWs like sitting ducks. Ware is black. However, it was Gen. McCaffrey who - for some reason - removed the experienced commander of 2-7 Battalion and replaced him with Ware two months before the fighting began. It might be claimed that Ware, not being a premeditated war criminal or otherwise, was simply "in over his helmet," thanks to McCaffrey. Affirmative action, desert style?
THE GENERAL AND THE "DRUG WAR"
The trail leads to McCaffrey's current notoriety in the famous "Drug War." Is there a link? Character as destiny, both in the desert and Washington? Here supporters and critics tend to agree. Home and abroad, it's the same character. They simply disagree on what that character is.
Clinton tossed red meat to his natural enemies, wanting to show how serious a "non-inhaler" can be about the drug agenda. So we get McCaffrey as Clinton's "czar" of choice. They can't knock a "war hero," right? Just look at them. Clinton's friends may see McCaffrey as bold, devious and perhaps dishonest. So what? A draft-dodger understands his enemies have to see McCaffrey as a fine example of the American Anti-Drug Warrior. They are muzzled by their own shibboleths. For the politicians, that's what matters. Critics may see the 30-year drug war as "Son of Prohibition" - a bottomless fraud and monumental failure infinitely surpassing in corruption and evil the original "War on Alcohol" - Prohibition - waged by Puritan America 75 years ago. But for the "non-inhaler,' the important thing is to keep enemies off balance.
Many experts have questioned McCaffrey's "misleading and inaccurate" statements as Clinton's "czar." Doesn't matter. The Dutch, who reject the American "holy war" approach, have taken the distortion McCaffrey propagated about Dutch crime and drugs and thrown them back in his face. Doesn't matter to Washington. Ads accuse McCaffrey's office of subverting the media with misrepresentation. Doesn't matter. Many Europeans are astounded by the power of the huge U.S. Drug Bureaucracy, as typified and now militarized by the general. Doesn't matter. One drug expert has instituted the annual General Barry McCaffrey Scientific Fool award. Doesn't matter to Clinton or his so-called "enemies." Take a good look at them.
THE COURAGE TO SPEAK OUT
Yes, it all went around. And now it comes around. We're back in the desert. Not even a superbly funded drug satrapy in Washington has made those desert scenes vanish. McCaffrey still counter-attacks with vigor. Give him that. But after all the charges and counter-charges, all the politics, all the maneuvers and spin, we still have this fact: a number of American soldiers on the ground believe to this day that they witnessed infamy in the desert. And they spoke. They did not take the easy, silent way out. They spoke then, and they speak now. They have not "recanted." Even generals have questioned McCaffrey's conduct. Call it decency. If you like, call it a certain abiding American decency, and honor - whether or not American military leaders will ever acknowledge it.
Yes, these men spoke out. A credit to their race? We believe
so. We mean of course, the human race, here and now, in the new imperium,
as our Corporate Republic enters an era of hi-tech wonder and prime-time rat-eating.
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