The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

The Greatest Crimes Against Humanity Are Perpetrated by People Just Doing Their Jobs | Chris Hedges

The greatest crimes of human history are made possible by the most colorless human beings. They are the careerists. The bureaucrats. The cynics. They do the little chores that make vast, complicated systems of exploitation and death a reality. They collect and read the personal data gathered on tens of millions of us by the security and surveillance state. They keep the accounts of ExxonMobil, BP and Goldman Sachs. They build or pilot aerial drones. They work in corporate advertising and public relations. They issue the forms. They process the papers. They deny food stamps to some and unemployment benefits or medical coverage to others. They enforce the laws and the regulations. And they do not ask questions.

Good. Evil. These words do not mean anything to them. They are beyond morality. They are there to make corporate systems function. If insurance companies abandon tens of millions of sick to suffer and die, so be it. If banks and sheriff departments toss families out of their homes, so be it. If financial firms rob citizens of their savings, so be it. If the government shuts down schools and libraries, so be it. If the military murders children in Pakistan or Afghanistan, so be it. If commodity speculators drive up the cost of rice and corn and wheat so that they are unaffordable for hundreds of millions of poor across the planet, so be it. If Congress and the courts strip citizens of basic civil liberties, so be it. If the fossil fuel industry turns the earth into a broiler of greenhouse gases that doom us, so be it. They serve the system. The god of profit and exploitation. The most dangerous force in the industrialized world does not come from those who wield radical creeds, whether Islamic radicalism or Christian fundamentalism, but from legions of faceless bureaucrats who claw their way up layered corporate and governmental machines. They serve any system that meets their pathetic quota of needs.

These systems managers believe nothing. They have no loyalty. They are rootless. They do not think beyond their tiny, insignificant roles. They are blind and deaf. They are, at least regarding the great ideas and patterns of human civilization and history, utterly illiterate. And we churn them out of universities. Lawyers. Technocrats. Business majors. Financial managers. IT specialists. Consultants. Petroleum engineers. “Positive psychologists.” Communications majors. Cadets. Sales representatives. Computer programmers. Men and women who know no history, know no ideas. They live and think in an intellectual vacuum, a world of stultifying minutia. They are T.S. Eliot’s “the hollow men,” “the stuffed men.” “Shape without form, shade without colour,” the poet wrote. “Paralysed force, gesture without motion.”

It was the careerists who made possible the genocides, from the extermination of Native Americans to the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians to the Nazi Holocaust to Stalin’s liquidations. They were the ones who kept the trains running. They filled out the forms and presided over the property confiscations. They rationed the food while children starved. They manufactured the guns. They ran the prisons. They enforced travel bans, confiscated passports, seized bank accounts and carried out segregation. They enforced the law. They did their jobs. [READ]

Syria: Only diplomacy can stop the war | Phyllis Bennis

Syria is close to full-scale civil war. If the conflict escalates further, as former UN Secretary-General and current envoy of both the UN and the Arab League Kofi Annan noted: “Syria is not Libya, it will not implode, it will explode beyond its borders.”

The human cost of this conflict is incalculably high. It’s not surprising that the normal human reaction is “we’ve got todo something”. But what is needed is serious diplomacy - not an army or air force action. US/NATO military intervention didn’t bring stability, democracy or security to Libya, and it certainly is not going to do so in Syria.

Despite his government’s history of brutal repression, Bashar al-Assad still enjoys support from parts of Syria’s business elites, especially in Damascus and Aleppo, and some in minority communities (Christian, Shia and others) whom the regime had long cultivated. The opposition was divided from the beginning over whether massive reform or the end of the regime was their goal. It divided further when part of the opposition took up arms, and began calling for international military intervention. The non-violent opposition movement for freedom and democracy, which still rejects calls for military intervention, survives, but is under extraordinary threat.

Kofi Annan has proposed new negotiations including the Syrian regime’s supporters, Iran and Russia, as well as those western, Arab and regional governments backing the armed opposition. So far the US has rejected the proposal, at least regarding Iran, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying that Tehran is part of the problem in Syria and thus can’t be part of the solution.

The current UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, who frequently reflects Washington’s interests, further undercut the potential of his own envoy’s proposal, saying that Assad has “lost all legitimacy” - diplomatic code for “we don’t have to talk to him”.

Certainly the regime has committed brutal atrocities against civilians, potentially including war crimes. The armed opposition is also responsible for attacks leading to the deaths of civilians. It is increasingly difficult to confirm who may be responsible for each attack. The UN monitors have been pulled from the field. The regime has allowed a few more foreign journalists to enter Syria, but restrictions remain and the fighting in many areas means they are often unable to get reliable information.

The regime is clearly responsible for more attacks with heavy weapons, including tanks and artillery, but it is also clear that the anti-government forces are being supplied with increasingly heavy weapons - allegedly paid for by Qatar and Saudi Arabia and coordinated by Turkey and the CIA. Indications are growing of well-armed “outside terrorist forces” operating in Syria as well.

Accountability for human rights violations and war crimes on all sides, whether in national or international jurisdictions, is crucial - but stopping the current escalation of violence and avoiding all-out war must come first. [++]