Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Edward S. Herman, ""Look forward, not back," and other cliches, idiocies, and abused words," ZMagazine, April 2009.

[It has become increasingly necessary to refresh the language by engaging in the kind of analysis Orwell initiated in his essay "Politics and the English language." Keep an eye out for Michael Ignatieff. Hermann puts him right up there in the big leagues for his public "swallowing of a completely implausible propaganda line." -jlt]

One of my favorite cliches of today is “look forward, not back,” also a favorite of President Obama and Vice President Biden. These leaders are under a certain amount of pressure to prosecute, or at least investigate, the Bush-Cheney gang’s war crimes and violations of U.S. and international law. There is also the matter of principle: That is, whether there can be said to be a “rule of law” when high level but serious violators of law are beyond prosecution. Barry Bonds must be pursued because he allegedly may have lied to a grand jury on his use of steroids, but Bush-Cheney-Rice-Rumsfeld-Powell lied many times on issues involving mass killing and violations of domestic and international law. Of course they haven’t lied before a grand jury, but that is because the establishment won’t let them be put before a grand jury. But what then happens to that famous “deterrent” that is so important when the establishment deals with and punishes lower-class law violators?

This use of the “look forward” cliché today is in the Pelosi “impeachment-off-the-table” mold, which is itself in the Democratic Party tradition of bipartisanship and agreement that international law doesn’t apply to this country and its leaders (or to those of a major client state like Israel). Dean Acheson said it way back in 1963 before the American Society of International Law: No “legal issue” can arise when U.S. “power, position, and prestige” are at stake. In that same tradition Bill Clinton was pleased to bomb the al-Shifra pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan in 1998 and attack Yugoslavia in 1999, in violation of the UN Charter, and Obama himself has quickly joined this great tradition. Veteran analyst of Afghan civilian casualties Marc Herold credits Obama with 72 Afghan civilian killings during January 21-February 23, with no perceptible slowing down of the kill rate from that of the Bush-Cheney era (Herold, "Seventy-Two Afghan Civilians Killed by U.S/NATO since Obama Took the Reins," Diagonal No. 97, marzo 5-19, 2009, Madrid, forthcoming in Spanish).

  Only one side has a right to arms, occupation of somebody else’s land, “self-defense,” and violence—only when “we” do it it cannot be called violence.

Read the rest here =>

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