Culture of Death Watch
April is the Cruelest Month
by E. Michael Jones,
"This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation. . . . [This is] good old American pornography." Rush Limbaugh in response to a caller discussing the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal, on May 6, 2004.
"Americans . . . should not flinch from this fact: That pornography is, almost inevitably, part of what empire looks like. . . . Empire is always about domination. Domination for self defense perhaps. Domination for the good of the dominated arguably. But domination." George F. Will, "Who has paid for mistakes?" SBT, 5/12/04
Anyone who has ever written for the Catholic press knows that time lag is one of the most important facts of journalistic life. There are no Catholic dailies. Many dioceses have weekly papers, whose articles are written largely by stringers. They write, by contemporary standards, a long time in advance. This magazine is no exception to that rule. That means that in general what gets written arrives just in time to prove the writer either a prophet or an idiot, who has been hopelessly overtaken by the course of subsequent events.
For the month of April, Culture Wars readers were treated to an article on 1) the Israeli military's use of pornography and 2) a graphic example of how pornography invariably gets out of control. Readers of the nation's diocesan newspapers on the other hand, were treated to neocon papal biographer George Weigel's April 14 column expatiating on how the war in Iraq was still a just war, in spite of the absence of weapons of mass destruction, its main justification. As if that weren't bad enough, Mr. Weigel goes on to argue that the war was a good idea because it is going so well. If Mr. Weigel had it to do all over again, he would have America invade Iraq again, not because of the weapons of mass destruction but because of the beneficial effects the invasion has had on that country. Admitting that "moral arguments from consequences are not without difficulties," Weigel goes on to argue that "the case for the war has been strengthened by several of its results." These include the fact that "Iraq is building an infrastructure of a civil society; no more mass graves are being dug; a free press flourishes" and that "children are learning from reliable textbooks rather than being poisoned by propaganda."
Catholic readers of diocesan newspapers were treated to this upbeat account of the events in Iraq two weeks into April 2004, which is to say, two weeks into the most catastrophic month in the history of George W. Bush's Iraqi war. By the time Weigel's column made it into Catholic diocesan newspapers, the four American "security contractors," i.e., mercenaries, had been slain, mutilated, and dragged through the streets of Falluja. By the time Catholic readers read Weigel's column, American troops had bogged down in the ill-fated siege of Falluja, a siege which may prove to be the high water mark of the American empire and the American equivalent to the high water mark of the Soviet empire in Afghanistan, when the Russians realized they had bitten off more than they could chew. George Weigel's announcement that "no more mass graves are being dug" in Iraq was, like everything else he mentioned, overtaken by the course of events in April. Over a thousand Iraqis were killed in a fruitless siege that only showed how powerless the Americans were to stop the insurgency in a city that had already supposedly been conquered. Does our Catholic neocon Pangloss, George Weigel, consider the funeral arrangements for those people "mass graves"? Does it matter to the Iraqis who lost family members in the ill-fated siege? On the last day of April, Richard Holbrooke, former US ambassador to the UN described the situation in Iraq as "disintegration verging on collapse." As T. S. Eliot had indicated earlier in the previous century, April was turning out to be the cruelest month.
But the cruelest cut of all was yet to come - for both the American empire and for the Panglossian Catholic neocons who were its most avid apologists. As one last proof to back up his contention that "the war was morally justified," the papal biographer who spent last year telling Catholics they didn't have to listen to the pope's views on the war added that "rape is no longer an instrument of state policy." Once again Weigel's timing was exquisite. Within a week of his announcement, pictures of the sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners began circulating on the Internet. Within 10 days, President Bush appeared on Arab television offering what seemed like an apology for the incident. One day latter, he actually and unabashedly apologized to the king of Jordan for the incident, amid cries for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation.
To describe the magnitude of the irony here, we will have to invent a new word. The irony of announcing that "rape is no longer an instrument of state policy" when pictures of American soldiers engaging in sexual abuse were circulating on the Internet and then on the front page of the Washington Post was more than "Orwellian"; it was, shall we say, "Weigelian" not least of all because the abuse was perpetrated in the same prison.
The irony was not lost on Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman (although many other ironies were). "What more symbolic place to show Americans abusing Iraqis," she opined, "than in the notorious prison where Saddam Hussein held, tortured and murdered thousands of his citizens." The irony was not lost on the Arab world either, which was quick to condemn the American occupiers as hypcrites. As Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the newspaper Al Qud Al Arabi said, "the Liberators are worse than the dictators."
London-based columnist Gwynne Dyer described the pictures of Lynndie England, the 21-year old soldierette from a trailer park in West Virginia who was photographed leering at a naked Iraqi fondling himself, as a sign that "the entire US neoconservative adventure in the Middle East . . . is now doomed." He was not alone in expressing his feelings, although he was more frank than his more opportunistic colleagues. George Will, for example, a columnist who had been an avid cheerleader for the Iraqi war, seemed to be having second thoughts in light of the by-him unmentioned sexual abuse in Iraq. Concluding that the war has now become an albatross around the neck of conservatives, Will attempts to "separate . . . conservatives from Neoconservatives." For the uninitiated, Neocon Bill Kristol has already explicated the term "neocon" in an article in the Wall Street Journal. "Con," he tells us, stands for "conservative," and "neo" means "Jew." In a world which routinely seeks to find scapegoats for policies which it hitherto promoted, "neoconservative" has become a universal term of opprobrium and a circumlocution for the world "Jew." Will, who spouted all of the neocon clichés in the wake of 9/11 and the run-up to the Iraqi war is now trying to distance himself from a foreign policy debacle and the people who created it. "Traditional conservatism," he informs us, has "Nothing 'neo' about it. This administration needs a dose of conservatism without the prefix."
One day later, Senator Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina took the level of acceptable discourse a step further - although not as far as Bill Kristol had taken it - by claiming that the war in Iraq had turned into a debacle which could be traced not to preventing terrorism and not to retaliation for the 9/11 attack, but to "President Bush's policy to secure Israel" (Charleston Post and Courier, 5/6/04). The architects of that policy are "[Deputy Defense Secretary Paul] Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Charles Krauthammer, who "for years" have been promoting "a domino school of thought that the way to guarantee Israel's security is to spread democracy in the area." Paul Wolfowitz led President Bush into thinking that "taking Iraq would be easy" and that it would "only take seven days." Bush fell for that disinformation because he had learned a lesson from the 1992 election, when the Jews turned against his father, a move which cost him a second term as president. Bush, according to close advisers like Paul O'Neill, "started laying the groundwork to invade Iraq days after the inauguration," because "spreading democracy in the Mideast to secure Israel would take the Jewish vote from the Democrats." The result is the current quagmire and the fact that people in power are looking for people to blame. The fact that George Will wants to separate the "neo" from "conservative" is some indication of whom even formerly avid warmongers are willing to blame.
Ellen Goodman is every bit as disingenuous in her own way. Like George Will and many other people, she looked into her computer screen and saw in Lynndie England a monster of her own creation. "That," she might have said, "is not what I meant at all." But that, meaning the leering soldierette with the cigarette dangling from her lips, is what she got, and she got it because Lynndie England is nothing more than the logical outcome of 30 years of feminist social engineering, which was nothing more than the moral corruption of the nation's women in order to turn them into Title IX athletes, disposable neutered sex partners, wage slaves, and, the unfortunate combination of all three, female soldiers. The feminist Ellen Goodman looks into the mirror and sees Lynndie England and does not like what she sees. Instead of dealing with the shock of recognition honestly, she tries to obscure it with disingenuous questions, in her attempt to decipher the sexual message the abuse pictures convey. "It's hard enough," she writes,
just to deconstruct the sexual content of many abuses meant to break the prisoners. What do you say of a "torture" that requires men to simulate homosexual acts or wear women's underwear? What do you say about the fact that three of the seven soldiers arrested so far were women? Was the smiling woman giving the thumbs up over the genitals of a masturbating detainee just one of the boys?
No, she was just a good feminist. Which is to say, a woman whose morals have been corrupted by a steady diet of sexual liberation. And what you say about the scenarios involving homosexual acts and women's underwear is that they come from pornography. But let's give Ms. Goodman the benefit of the doubt here. On the off chance that her questions may be sincere, let's help her explicate the sexual content of the abuses, by citing Neocon warmonger Charles Krauthammer, who, after wondering, like Ms. Goodman, "What was this about?" concludes that "This war is also about - deeply about - sex.” (Abu Ghraib as Symbol by Charles Krauthammer, washingtonpost.com 5/7/04).
Has Mr. Krauthammer been reading Culture Wars? Like the folks at Culture Wars, Krauthammer concludes that "One could not have designed a more symbolic representation of the Islamist warning about where Western freedom ultimately leads than yesterday's Washington Post photo of a uniformed American woman holding a naked Arab man on a leash." Like Culture Wars, Krauthammer feels that "The pictures of female US soldiers mocking, humiliating and dominating naked and abused Arab men . . .do not reflect, however, the ethos of the US military," but they do represent "the most deeply psychologically charged - and most deeply buried - aspect of the entire war on terrorism, exactly as Osama bin Laden would have scripted it," namely the belief that America is not synonymous with the moral corruption of women and the dissemination of pornography as a form of control.
Both Rush Limbaugh and George Will were quick to chime in with similar observations. America, according to both, is about pornography. "Americans," he told readers of the Washington Post, " . . . should not flinch from this fact: That pornography is, almost inevitably, part of what empire looks like." Empire, Will continued as if he had just put down a copy of Libido Dominandi, "is always about domination. Domination for self defense perhaps. Domination for the good of the dominated arguably. But domination."
"Having a Good Time"
Rush Limbaugh had much the same thing to say. America means pornography. That means that liberated soldierettes like Lynndie and Sabrina Harman, also facing a court martial, were just "people having a good time." Have you, Limbaugh asked a caller, "ever heard of emotional release? You heard of need to blow some steam off? This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time."
For Rush Limbaugh "the whole purpose here, which has been said, was to humiliate these prisoners. And there's no better way of doing it than what was done. These are Arab males - what better way to humiliate them than to have a woman have authority over them? What's the purpose here? What's the objective of this? The objective is to soften them up for interrogation later, later on. As I said, there was no horror, there was no terror there was no death, there was no injuries, nothing."
Rush Limbaugh's assumption that Lynndie and Sabrina were just having a good time was contradicted by their own account of events. According to their reports, they were just following orders. In an interview with Brian Maass of Denver CBS station KCNC-TV, Lynndie England claimed that her actions were dictated by "persons in my higher chain of command."
"I was instructed by persons in higher rank to stand there and hold this leash and look at the camera," she said.
According to the CBS report, "England said the actions depicted in the photos were intended to put psychological pressure on the Iraqi prisoners." England claimed that the photos were taken "for psy-op reasons. And the reasons worked. I mean, so to us, we were doing our job, which meant we were doing what we were told, and the outcome was what they wanted. They'd come back and they'd look at the pictures, and they'd state, 'Oh, that's a good tactic, keep it up. That's working. This is working. Keep doing it. It's getting what we need.'"
Sabrina Harman was one of two soldiers seen smiling in a widely published photograph, in which she crouched behind a cluster of naked Iraqi detainees stacked in a pyramid. Harman, now known as the army's Queen of S & M, said much the same thing: "They would bring in one to several prisoners at a time, already hooded and cuffed," she told the Washington Post. "The job of the MP was to keep them awake, make it hell so they would talk." Harman said she took direction "from the military intelligence officers in charge of the Abu Ghraib prison and from civilian contractors there who conducted interrogations," but she would not get specific about who ordered the treatment.
Which leads us to the question which got posed to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld when he appeared before Congress to testify on the abuse at Abu Ghraib: "who was in charge?" Evidently it wasn't Brig. General Janice Karpinski.
"These acts of abuse," Sen. Carl Levin said at the same hearings, "were not the spontaneous actions of ranking enlisted personnel who lacked the proper supervision. These attempts to extract information from prisoners by abusive and degrading methods were clearly planned and suggested by others."
One of the names making the rounds was "John Israel," who was identified in General Taguba's report on the abuse at Abu Ghraib as "as being employed by both CACI International [a defense subcontractor out] of Arlington, VA and Titan, Inc. Of San Diego, may not have even been a US citizen. The Taguba report states that Israel did not have a security clearance, a requirement for employment as an interrogator for CACI." According to Wayne Madsen ("The Israeli Torture Template: Rape, Feces and Urine-Dipped Cloth Sacks"):
Mounting evidence that a shadowy group of former Israeli Defense Force and General Security Service (Shin Bet) Arabic-speaking interrogators were hired by the Pentagon under a classified "carve out" subcontract to brutally interrogate Iraqi prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. . . . The interrogators at Abu Ghraib included a number of Arabic-speaking Israelis who also helped US interrogators develop the "R2I" (Resistance to Interrogation) techniques. Many of the torture methods were developed by the Israelis over many years of interrogating Arab prisoners on the occupied West Bank and in Israel itself.
The Israelis, it turns out, have been using pornography as a cultural weapon for some time now; Jews in general for much longer, as I have pointed out in "Rabbi Dresner's Dilemma." In addition to the incident I have already cited (CW, April 2004) when the Israelis broadcast porn over Palestinian TV stations after their invasion of Ramallah, visitors who logged on to the Palestinian Hamas homepage in 2001, according to a story reported on by, among others, the BBC, "were treated to a lot more action than they might have bargained for when they were diverted to a hard-core porn site called Hot Motel Horny Sex Sluts." Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas who was murdered by an Israeli helicopter gunship while leaving his mosque, "pointed the finger at Israeli Intelligence accusing them of 'trying to disfigure the image of Islam and Muslims.'"
One year earlier, the Cairo weekly Al-Arabi accused the Israelis of using Egyptian look-alike body doubles to portray popular Egyptian movie stars in pornographic films. Al-Arabi said that the purpose was to "tarnish the reputation of Egyptian film stars," but the tactic is similar to what the Israeli's did two years later in Ramallah, to demoralize the Egyptians by involving their idols in porn.
What all of these incidents have in common is Israeli involvement in the military application of pornography. The same sort of thing which occurred at Abu Ghraib prison. According to one report, the Iraqi men were "made to live in cramped windowless cells with no clothes, running war or toilet for up to three days." They were treated this way deliberately in order to break them down. At this point we just don't know if what followed transcended the R2I interrogation manuals or was simply R2I pure and simple. All we know is that the intent was to humiliate the prisoners and break them down, which is also the intent of pornography.
Describing the pictures she saw of the abuse at Abu Ghraib, Joanna Burke wrote in The Guardian that
This festival of violence is highly pornographic. The victims have been reduced to exhibitionist objects or anonymous "meat." They either wear hoods or are beheaded by the camera. The people taking the photographs exult in the genitals of their victims. There is no moral confusion here: the photographers don't even seem aware that they are recording a war crime. There is no suggestion that they are documenting anything particularly morally skewed. For the person behind the camera, the aesthetic of pornography protects them from blame.
"The evil of torture," Burke continues,
lies elsewhere: it denies its victim the minimum recognition offered by society and law and in doing so, it destroys the respect people routinely expect from others. More importantly, torture aims to undermine the way the victim relates to his or her own self, and thus threatens to dissolve the mainsprings of an individual's personality. Torture is an embodied violation of another individual. The sexual nature of these acts shows that the torturers realize the centrality of sexuality for their victim's identity. The perpetrators of these photographs aim to destroy their victim's sense of self by inflicting and recording extreme sexual humiliation.
Which is precisely the role that pornography plays in cultural warfare. The two trajectories of pornography-military use and cultural subversion, both of which by nature tend to get out of control-came together in Abu Ghraib.
Just for the record, and as an aid to Ellen Goodman, the intentional abuse of detainees by military police personnel (descriptions are direct quotes taken from the Army's report on the abuse) included the following acts:
Videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees;
Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexual explicitly positions for photographing;
Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time;
Forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped;
Arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them;
Positioning a naked detainee on a MRE Box, with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes and penis to simulate electric torture;
Writing "I am a Rapest" (sic) on the leg of a detainee alleged to have forcibly raped a 15 year-old fellow detainee, and then photographing him naked;
Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee's neck and having a female Soldier pose for a picture;
A Male MP guard having sex with a female detainee;
Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broomstick.
Not documented in the report, but reported on MSNBC was the claim that military police at Abu Ghraib "forced prisoners to watch Americans have sex." One report claimed that the government had pictures of those acts but had refused to release them.
What do those incidents have in common? Pornography. The military police may have begun by following the interrogation techniques of Mossad agents hired as private contractors, or they may have ended up by staging their own pornography. Either way, when the Iraqi men were taken out of their cells, the fantasies of a generation raised on pornography took over, and the generation of women whose morals had been corrupted by Bill Clinton, feminism and Hollywood's $12 billion a year porn industry willingly joined in the torture of the Iraqis and their own sexual degradation. Lynndie England was nine-years old when Bill Clinton became president and all pornography prosecution ceased. What followed, thanks to the Internet, was the most prodigious dissemination of pornographic images in the history of the universe.
No matter who gave the orders, what happened in Abu Ghraib prison was the convergence of two forms of Jewish cultural subversion - the Neoconservative subversion of our foreign policy, which put this country's military in the service of Israel, landing 135,000 outnumbered Americans in a country where they are hated as invaders and the Hollywood subversion of the country's morals which has made pornography a fact of everyday life. Both are instances of the corruption of American morals, both in military and civilian life, even if Mossad agents weren't directing the torture. At a certain point, people are shocked by pornography. After the shock wears off, which is to say, when moral degeneracy sets in, they begin doing the very things that used to shock them. This is true of the women who post pictures of themselves engaging in sexual activity on the Internet, and it is true of soldiers who took the opportunity which the helpless prisoners under their control presented. Doing things that used to shock you is a sign of moral depravity. Having yourself photographed while doing those things is an even surer sign. The incident at Abu Ghaib, where four of the seven perpetrators were women, is a sure sign that feminism is another word for moral corruption. The corrupters of morals are always shocked when their pupils act out their commands. "This is not what I meant at all" is the common refrain.
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt indicated that what happened at Abu Ghraib was an unfortunate aberration. "This is wrong," he claimed when the photos were made public. "This is reprehensible. But this is not representative of the 150,000 soldiers here." Unfortunately, Abu Ghaib was no unfortunate aberration. It was the perfectly logical expression of the moral corruption which the neoconservatives and Hollywood have inflicted on American life, both civilian and military. Should it be surprising that this nation's soldiers have been corrupted too, when one considers the amount of social engineering that has been inflicted on the military? That corruption was the logical outcome of two forms of cultural subversion which have brought the country to the brink of ruin.
The conservative response has been ranting in a way that would have made Joseph Goebbels blush. Writing in the Washington Post on May 12, Cal Thomas, spokesman for the nation's pro-Israel evangelicals, claimed that now "All that matters is victory. Anything less is defeat - for the United States and for those in Iraq and elsewhere who yearn to breathe free." Apologizing for the abuse won't change the minds of the Muslim world, against whom Thomas, following the lead of Krauthammer et al, has declared war, "but total victory might. Let's get on with that and engage in the psychobabble later."
Or as Goebbels was fond of asking, "Wollt ihr den totalen Krieg?"
Let's hope that America doesn't have to learn where "total war" leads in the same way that the Germans did.
This article was published in the June, 2004 issue of Culture Wars.
Abu Ghraib and The American Empire, an e-book by E. Michael Jones. Invited to speak on torture at Valparaiso University, E. Michael Jones found his time cut in half. His original plan (to show Israeli influence at Abu Ghraib) required first showing feminist complicity in the torture at Abu Ghraib. Cut in half, his presentation ended with feminism -- with Barbara Ehrenreich's claim that "a uterus is no substitute for a conscience" -- which enraged the lady professors at Valparaiso. He only told half the story at Valpariso. You can read the full story in this e-book: a compelling analysis of feminist complicity in torture, Israeli influence at Abu Ghraib, and The American Empire championed by neocons. $2.99. Read More/Buy
Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control by E. Michael Jones. Libido Dominandi – the term is from St. Augustine’s City of God – is the definitive history of the sexual revolution, from 1773 to the present. This book examines the development of technologies like psychotherapy, behaviorism, advertising, sensitivity training, pornography, and, when push came to shove, plain old blackmail – that allowed the Enlightenment and its heirs to turn Augustine’s insight on its head and create masters out of men’s vices. Libido Dominandi explains how the rhetoric of sexual freedom was used to engineer a system of covert political and social control. Libido Dominandi is the story of how that happened. Now Available in Paperback, $30.00 + S&H. [When ordering for international shipment, the price will appear higher to offset increased shipping charges.] Read More Read Reviews
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