Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Speaking Truth about Violence: The Deeper Reality Behind Terror, Ours and Theirs

By Harry Targ

Progressive America Rising via Diary of a Heartland Radical

Establishing causal connections between “variables” and violence is a form of mystification. The reality of this world is that of grotesque inequalities in wealth, power, respect for humankind and the environment, a world awash in instrumentalities of death, and a global culture that celebrates it. Recent reports from the World Bank and the World Economic Forum (of all places) document the continuing and growing inequalities in wealth and income on a worldwide basis. Could it be a surprise that seemingly indiscriminate acts of violence occur all across the globe? Only a humane global movement for fundamental change can radically transform the world we live in but movements of protest can make constructive changes along the way (Harry Targ, Facebook, April 23, 2013).

Each violent tragedy in the United States brings an outpouring of wrenching and “expert” analyses of what was behind the acts that led to so much pain and suffering. Most of the soul-searching about tragedies from Arizona, to Colorado, to Connecticut, to Boston is about domestic events (the repeated killings of Iraqis, Afghan peoples, Pakistanis, Yemenis and others generate much less empathy). Explanations usually involve deranged “others,” usually poor “others,” “others” of color, and “others with fundamentalist religious beliefs.” Their crimes are described as perpetrated against victims who are the “normal” people. Make no mistake about it, violence against any individuals, communities, and nations must be opposed, even among those, who in the end are the root cause of it. But we need to be clear about the economic, social, political, cultural and military/police context in which violence occurs. And, in no small measure, violence itself is celebrated in the societies where it is most prevalent.

Peace researchers have written about “direct,” “cultural,” and “structural” violence for years. While each of these is seen as having its own characteristics and causes for the most part analysts regard the three as inextricably interconnected. Direct violence refers to physical assault, shooting, bombing, gassing, and torture. It is about killing people. Cultural violence refers to dominant cultures whose apparatuses, such as the media and laws, portray their own institutions and values as superior to others and rituals that seek to honor the violence engaged in by one’s own country or group while demeaning other countries or groups. What is most vicious about cultural violence is its effort to make the victimized groups hate themselves.

Structural violence occurs when economic, political, cultural and military institutions create relationships in which some human beings gain disproportionately from the labor, the talents, and the pain and suffering of others. Structural violence is institutionalized violence most often organized around class exploitation, racism, and patterns of gendered forms of domination and subordination. The key concepts that shape efforts to understand the causes and effects of structural violence are class, race, and gender.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

US Drone War Kills ‘Others,’ Not Just al- Qaida leaders


By Jonathan S. Landay McClatchy Newspapers

April 10, 2013

Contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified “other” militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area, classified U.S. intelligence reports show.

The administration has said that strikes by the CIA’s missile-firing Predator and Reaper drones are authorized only against “specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces” involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks who are plotting “imminent” violent attacks on Americans.

“It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative,” President Barack Obama said in a Sept. 6, 2012, interview with CNN. “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.”

Copies of the top-secret U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy, however, show that drone strikes in Pakistan over a four-year period didn’t adhere to those standards.

The intelligence reports list killings of alleged Afghan insurgents whose organization wasn’t on the U.S. list of terrorist groups at the time of the 9/11 strikes; of suspected members of a Pakistani extremist group that didn’t exist at the time of 9/11; and of unidentified individuals described as “other militants” and “foreign fighters.”

In a response to questions from McClatchy, the White House defended its targeting policies, pointing to previous public statements by senior administration officials that the missile strikes are aimed at al Qaida and associated forces.