Friday, December 4, 2015

San Bernardino Massacre and the Big Picture

Police catch and kill those responsible
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I couldn’t sleep the other night after the massacre in San Bernardino. I texted briefly with a friend that it just won’t go away.  My head was full of all sorts of thoughts swirling around.  There are the victims, the dead and the wounded who were harming no one. They were enjoying some time with their co-workers just as I have done many times. It’s bad enough when a young soldier dies, but to die like this is the saddest thing. I also thought of the mothers and fathers, wives and husbands friends and relatives who have had their lives shattered by yet another mass shooting in the US. Mass violence is almost a daily occurrence now.

I was hardly over the earlier terrorist attack, the murder, of nine black people in their church by a white supremacist terrorist, and after he was comforted and welcomed by them as well. Then the religious fanatic, another terrorist, shot nine people killing three in the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. It looks like this recent massacre in San Bernardino California was committed by Islamic terrorists. White racist terrorists with their confederate flag, Christian fanatical terrorists with their hatred of women's rights, Islamic terrorists with their effort to take revenge for the crimes of the US government and corporations in the Middle East on US working people. Whatever more comes out about the events in San Bernardino the slaughter of the innocent people there has to be unconditionally condemned by all. The dead and wounded are not those responsible for the crisis and suffering in the Middle East. 

Big Picture
But it was not these thoughts alone that plagued me as the news media reports kept coming in. What bothered and bothers me the most, what actually angers me the most, is how the media, what we call the 1%’s or big business media, will completely ignore the big picture. Wednesday’s massacre, just like the Paris attacks, did not occur in a vacuum.  There are connected events. But the big picture will be purposefully obscured by more drivel from the politicians from the president on down. Prayer vigils are offered as a way to deal with the situation but prayer does not work either unless it is prayer that gives one the strength and courage to act. Think about this when you are considering what is being dished up to you by the 1%'s mass media and their politicians.

The Middle East has enormous oil and gas wealth. For over a century now the advanced capitalist countries such as the USA, Britain, France and others have looted those countries. They have recruited local stooges to help them. And every time the workers or middle classes of the region have risen up and tried to elect leaders to take this wealth back, these leaders have been overthrown in coups and their supporters driven in to exile or slaughtered.

The US organized a coup that overthrew Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 in response to his democratically elected government’s attempt to take the Iranian oil industry under Iranian control.  In order to control the natural resources of the region, the strategy Western governments have used is divide and rule as the US is using now, sowing division between the different groups that live in the region; Christians against Muslims, Kurds against Arabs, Shia against Sunni.

The same tactics have been applied in Afghanistan. How many Americans are aware that up until 1999, every Taliban official was on the payroll of the US government, women’s rights be damned? *  The latest destabilization effort from the folks at the Pentagon is Syria.

This is what lies behind the rise of Islamic fanatics. Look at the region now. It is been blown to smithereens, bombed day in day out for years. The carnage in San Bernardino is an everyday occurrence somewhere in the Middle East. And now just in the last few days more and more advanced capitalist countries have committed themselves to launching military attacks on Syria, a small nation about one and a half times the size of Pennsylvania.  Syrians are fleeing Western and US foreign policy and war in the Middle East and are then attacked in the western press as immigrants and likely terrorists for doing so. This will just create more people like those who carried out the Paris attacks and the San Bernardino attacks.

The role of the 1% and their media and propaganda machine is to obscure the big picture, and act surprised that mad frenzied reactionary groups like ISIL arise. It has been the slaughter by the advanced capitalist countries; the invasion of Iraq especially by the US led gangsters that created the conditions for ISIL. Think about it this way. Imagine if a foreign power or powers had been looting the resources of the USA for the past century and more. And to get away with this, divided up the USA into different countries. And put in power in these countries mad reactionary criminals who beheaded people, stoned women to death, refused women the right to vote, refused workers the right to organize. What would happen in the US? It would be inevitable that forces, fanatical and otherwise would arise to fight these invading powers and their more advanced weaponry.

Resistance would not stop at our own borders. We would take the war abroad, to its source. We would find some way to inflict damage on our opponent, to fight back. This is what is happening now worldwide. This is why somebody from Pakistan ends up in California killing people.  The days when the advanced capitalist powers could go to the Middle East, loot the region’s resources and turn the people against one another are over. and invade and slaughter and divide and rule without repercussions are over. (Read Robert Fisk’s excellent article on this)

The wars are coming home in the form of fanatical groups such as ISIL, Al Queda, and individuals enraged by what is going on. This is no excuse for what happened in Paris, or in San Bernardino. These atrocities have to be unconditionally condemned. But it is important  to understand why these atrocities are taking place and becoming more and more frequent if we want to stop them.

So to stop more Paris and San Bernardino atrocities and even much worse atrocities, the advanced capitalist countries have to stop looting the Middle East and have to pull their militaries out of the Middle East. This is what has to be done rather than increasing the bombings and invasions in the region. This will only lead to more attacks on civilians in New York or London, Berlin or anywhere they can cause fear. Four US drone operators have sent an open letter to the Obama Administration admitting this, explaining that US slaughter of civilians and US foreign policy in general is breeding hatred toward us and acts as a recruiting tool for the religious fanatics. This action by these brave military personnel has disappeared from the media. It is not news they want us to hear, it is not good for defense industry profits.

The US mass media will seek to obscure this reality in another way. They will make the issue one of gun control. Obama has already talked of it, of the need to cut down on these massacres, terrorism or not, and gun control will do that. The gun control that is needed to stop these massacres is ignored by Obama; he’s been a very aggressive proponent of weapons of mass destruction. Some have even called for the state to take our guns away. Working people would not be safer if the only people with guns in society are politicians and armed bodies of the state. Such a situation would strengthen the 1% against the working class.

The emphasis on more gun control also diverts the issue of mass killings away from the sickness in capitalist society which is at the root of the problem. In other countries such as Switzerland and Canada just about everybody can have a gun but they do not have the mass killings that take place in the USA.
No one in their right mind objects to sensible gun laws, making sure children or the mentally ill or any potentially violent individual should not have access to weapons, that owning a firearm calls for a serious and responsible attitude.  Hearing politicians that support US foreign policy talking of gun control in times like this is another diversion.

Lastly the media will never mention the elephant in the room, and that is Israel. The Zionist regime is a racist apartheid state.  The uncritical support of this racist regime and its treatment of the indigenous people of the region is another source of anger toward the west and the US in particular. This is another part of the big picture that is blotted out.  Palestinians have been driven from their land, their farms destroyed and their homes razed. Israel has ethnically cleansed whole areas of Palestinian people whose ancestors occupied this land for generations.  The Zionist regime has settled on this Palestinian land right wing neo fascist religious fanatics of varying nationalities, from South Africa, the US, Russia.  US support for the Zionist regime is a major cause of instability in the region and anti-American feeling.

Not all Jews or Israeli’s are Zionists, there are many more Christian Zionists in the US than Jewish ones. But when someone is an uncritical supporter of Israel, they are supporting ethnic cleansing, fascist violence and racism at a state level. It’s inevitable that this would have consequences.

This is the reality. The advanced capitalist countries have no right to be doing what they are doing in the Middle East. They are leaving the region in a state of absolute poverty. They are creating generation after generation of enraged people who see their families slaughtered by sanctions, invasions, occupations and drones. This is the soil in which the fanatical terrorist groups like ISIL grow. This is madness. For those in the advanced capitalist countries for all those worldwide who want to stop these atrocities and slaughters they must devote their efforts in to reversing this disastrous course that our present leaders are committed to and cannot retreat from, it is not their children that will suffer, not their communities that will be harmed.

* War and Globalization, Michel Chossudovsky

Note: Sean O'Torain contributed to this commentary.

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