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War porn: The new safe sex

By       Message Pepe Escobar     Permalink
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(This is the much-abridged version of a conference at the XII Seminar of Political Solidarity at the University of Zaragoza, Spain, March 27, 2012.)

The early 21st century is addicted to war porn, a prime spectator sport consumed by global couch and digital potatoes. War porn took the limelight on the evening of September 11, 2001, when the George W Bush administration launched the "war on terror" -- which was interpreted by many of its practitioners as a subtle legitimization of United States state terror against, predominantly, Muslims.

This was also a war OF terror -- as in a manifestation of state terror pitting urban high-tech might against basically rural, low-tech cunning. The US did not exercise this monopoly; Beijing practiced it in Xinjiang, its far west, and Russia practiced it in Chechnya.

Like porn, war porn cannot exist without being based on a lie -- a crude representation. But unlike porn, war porn is the real thing; unlike crude, cheap snuff movies, people in war porn actually die -- in droves.

The lie to finish all lies at the center of this representation was definitely established with the leak of the 2005 Downing Street memo, in which the head of the British MI6 confirmed that the Bush administration wanted to take out Iraq's Saddam Hussein by linking Islamic terrorism with (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction (WMD). So, as the memo put it, "The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

In the end, George "you're either with us or against us" Bush did star in his own, larger-than-life snuff movie -- that happened to double as the invasion and destruction of the eastern flank of the Arab nation.

The new Guernica
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Iraq may indeed be seen as the Star Wars of war porn -- an apotheosis of sequels. Take the (second) Fallujah offensive in late 2004. At the time I described it as the new Guernica. I also took the liberty of paraphrasing Jean-Paul Sartre, writing about the Algerian War; after Fallujah no two Americans shall meet without a corpse lying between them. To quote Coppola's Apocalypse Now, there were bodies, bodies everywhere.

The Francisco Franco in Fallujah was Iyad Allawi, the US-installed interim premier. It was Allawi who "asked" the Pentagon to bomb Fallujah. In Guernica -- as in Fallujah -- there was no distinction between civilians and guerrillas: it was the rule of "Viva la muerte!"

United States Marine Corps commanders said on the record that Fallujah was the house of Satan. Franco denied the massacre in Guernica and blamed the local population -- just as Allawi and the Pentagon denied any civilian deaths and insisted "insurgents" were guilty.

Fallujah was reduced to rubble, at least 200,000 residents became refugees, and thousands of civilians were killed, in order to "save it" (echoes of Vietnam). No one in Western corporate media had the guts to say that in fact Fallujah was the American Halabja.

Fifteen years before Fallujah, in Halabja, Washington was a very enthusiastic supplier of chemical weapons to Saddam, who used them to gas thousands of Kurds. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at the time said it was not Saddam; it was Khomeinist Iran. Yet Saddam did it, and did it deliberately, just like the US in Fallujah.
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Fallujah doctors identified swollen and yellowish corpses without any injuries, as well as "melted bodies" -- victims of napalm, the cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel. Residents who managed to escape told of bombing by "poisonous gases" and "weird bombs that smoke like a mushroom cloud ... and then small pieces fall from the air with long tails of smoke behind them. The pieces of these strange bombs explode into large fires that burn the skin even when you throw water over them."

That's exactly what happens to people bombed with napalm or white phosphorus. The United Nations banned the bombing of civilians with napalm in 1980. The US is the only country in the world still using napalm.

Fallujah also provided a mini-snuff movie hit; the summary execution of a wounded, defenseless Iraqi man inside a mosque by a US Marine. The execution, caught on tape, and watched by millions on YouTube, graphically spelled out the "special" rules of engagement. US Marine commanders at the time were telling their soldiers to "shoot everything that moves and everything that doesn't move"; to fire "two bullets in every body"; in case of seeing any military-aged men in the streets of Fallujah, to "drop 'em"; and to spray every home with machine-gun and tank fire before entering them.

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)
 

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