Religion as a Tool of Repression

Freedom of speech and dissent are always curtailed in times of war. Whenever soldiers occupy foreign nations, rational thinking is proscribed in favor of nationalistic hubris. Minority opinions, although grounded in ethics and reason, are repressed, often brutally. The majority becomes intolerant of dissenting views. Thoughtful dialog is suspended and irrational ideology gains ascendancy. Civil discourse breaks down, and the social order disintegrates into anti-intellectual emotionalism and chaos.

During World War I and World War II, it was dangerous for anyone to oppose war or to speak truth to power. When Eugene Victor Debs delivered his Canton anti-war speech in 1918, he went to prison. In An Enemy of the People, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen demonstrated that the majority of the people are easily deceived, their emotions manipulated by profiteers and special interests. It requires serious conviction to take a principled stand in the midst of nationalistic fervor in which men and women so easily turn upon one another. During war, nationalism and repression are conducted with the fervor of a religious crusade.

In this era of permanent war we see bumper stickers that attempt to meld religion with nationalism. They carry jingoistic slogans like “God bless America” or “God bless our troops.” Significantly, God even appears on our currency. But why would a just God, if God exists at all, bless a nation that kills with impunity? Why would God bless a nation with a history of repression and genocide?  Why would God bless a nation that institutionalized chattel slavery and the repression of its working class?

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Study: Occupied Baghdad is least livable city on planet

The Iraq war is still being touted by Washington and the Pentagon as a war for progress and stability in the region. A study released May 26, however, reveals a radically different reality.

The Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Baghdad last in a list of “most livable cities.” The study took into account political, economic, ecological, social and cultural factors.

The result is not surprising considering the devastation brought on by the U.S.-led invasion. Sewage treatment plants, factories, schools, hospitals, and museums have been destroyed. As a result, Iraqi citizens now have scarce access to water and electricity.

The demolition of infrastructure is an important tactic in imperialist war and helps explain why the study found that, “A lack of security and stability continue to have a negative impact on Baghdad’s quality of living.”

The only benefactors from the occupation have been big corporations like BP, who got access to the giant Rumaila oil field. The citizens of Iraq continue to pay with their lives.

Marine Corps Major accused of taking reconstruction funds

OCEANSIDE, Calif. – A Marine Corps fighter pilot accused of stealing $440,000 in Iraq reconstruction funds turned himself in on Monday, federal officials said.

Maj. Mark R. Fuller, 42, of Yuma, Ariz., is facing 22 counts under an indictment issued by a federal grand jury, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix. An arrest warrant was issued for Fuller, who appeared before a federal judge Monday and “was released on his own recognizance,” said Special Agent James McCormick, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Federal prosecutors charge that Fuller took cash earmarked for the Commander’s Emergency Response Program, or CERP, and made 91 cash deposits totaling more than $440,000 into bank accounts with Navy Federal Credit Union, Bank of America and Chase Bank from October 2005 to April 2006. Each deposit was less than $10,000, the threshold at which federal law requires banks to report cash deposits.

While he was in Iraq in 2005, Fuller was assigned as a project purchasing officer with 5th Civil Affairs Group, officials said.

Fuller is an F-5 pilot assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 401, the Corps’ aggressor squadron based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, said Gunnery Sgt. Bill Lisbon, an air station spokesman.

The case stems from an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction, officials said.

Fallujah birth defects investigated

An investigation of a rise in birth defects in Fallujah is underway, which is being attributed to the use of chemical weapons by British and American soldiers.

Public Interest Lawyers, representing Iraqi families, has requested that the Ministry of Defence release information regarding whether any British soldiers were involved in the fighting or helped to supply the use of prohibited weapons during the seize on Fullujah in 2004, and any legal advice given to Tony Blair at the time. During the attack, coalition forces are alleged to have used white phosphorus, a modern form of napalm, and depleted uranium against the population. Iraqi families accuse the UK government to breaching international law, war crimes and failing to intervene to prevent a war crime.
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US army captain convicted of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars allocated to humanitarian work

Michael Dung Nguyen, 28, was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Monday after pleading guilty to theft and money laundering charges in December.

The Oregon man, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, admitted to stealing more than $690,000 from Commander’s Emergency Response Program funds entrusted to him. The currency was intended as payment for security contracts as well as humanitarian relief and reconstruction programs.

US District Judge Ancer Lee Haggerty also ordered Nguyen to undergo mental health treatment and serve three years of supervised release after his term in jail.

The convict is also required to pay back $200,000 he spent on luxurious cars and other items in an attempt to hide the embezzled money.
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Washington Finally Feeling Drone War Backlash

Back in early 2009, when guys like David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum warned that the American drone war in Pakistan could create more terrorists than they kill, they were pilloried by the national security establishment for their views. Since the failed Times Square bombing — a terror attack allegedly in response to the drone strikes — Kilcullen and Exum’s take is quickly becoming conventional wisdom in Washington.

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US confronts its reputation abroad

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