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The Daily Whopper
Preemptive Admission of War Crimes
November 27, 2001
by Jeremiah Bourque

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Saying boldly something that can land you in prison should be the ultimate whopper, but in times like this, even this seems somewhat lacking.

To summarize, and to not bore the reader, Rumsfeld basically said that not only was the US not equipped to accept surrender of any Taliban or Al Qaeda forces, but that it was disinclined to seek or accept surrender, period, and would not approve of the Northern Alliance taking the surrender of any foreign Taliban-allied troops, or of the leader of the Taliban. Also, the US would not accept any surrender except to the Northern Alliance... which in turn has stated its clear intention to murder, in cold blood, every last non-Afghan in the remaining two cities under enemy control. The term "take no quarter" has also been used.

This stated intent to massacre is in direct, open, glaring, and grievous violation of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, which define the rights accrued to combatants which are a) armed civilians, or b) uniformed soldiers of foreign nations. There were no loopholes written into these definitions. By either, the Al Qaeda and 'foreign' Taliban (when almost all Afghans themselves are splinter groups of foreign ethnicities) qualify under protection against the refusal of surrender. The order to take no prisoners may sound good, but it is absolutely illegal and is punishable as a crime of war.

Rumsfeld has preemptively admitted guilt by stating his clear intentions, and by placing the prestige of the United States behind the murderers and butchers of the Northern Alliance. (This claim cannot be fairly disputed given the NA's past record in Afghanistan, let alone by their firm declarations that they mean to cleanse Afghanistan of all foreign Taliban troops. Not that they like foreign American or British forces much either.) By his words, he has put not only himself, but the international sanctity of the principle of surrender, in grievous jeopardy.

Why isn't this a whopper? I'm starting to wonder. Certainly, the media has virtually ignored his statements. I can understand jingoism, but not utter blindness.

When did we start taking pride in reducing ourselves to the level of those whom we consider to be, more or less, barbarians? Well, perhaps I shouldn't delve into that question too much. It might be too disturbing. Then again, why isn't the media touching upon the disturbing?

I suppose the simple reason for that is that the media has had it with being hated. This generation of journalists has simply had enough. They want to be liked. They don't want to be despised anymore. They don't want the ire of the public for telling it things it does not want to know. They prefer the OJ-ization of America, given that they are blamed as outright traitors when they present anything that is not consistent with the truth, which can be defined as whatever Bush tells us, whatever we "know" is true, and whatever we know ought to be true and care not to find out is not.

We're rather deep into our Roman-ization of conflict. I'm watching the Lions-Packers game out of the corner of my eye, with odes to soldiers having appeared once already. "They're the real heroes," we're told, in between our colliseum-like games for the masses. Our task is to be entertained, massaged, and then told to shut up for the glory of the Empire. If you question this, you are a traitor and you will a) not be listened to, b) reviled publicly and privately until you surrender.

As I watch Favre get sacked and fumbling for a TD for the underdogs, I ask, are we really acting like we care? I mean, sure, we SAY that we hold soldiers to be the real heroes, but what do we really know? We know that a football player has a better chance of dying in training camp than a soldier does of dying in war, if you crunch the numbers down far enough and account for that there's a lot more soldiers than football players. Officially we only have two casualties. Our Secretary of Defense told us afterwards that "This is the last time that I am telling the truth to you." (Obviously, he lied. He told us the bold truth about his plan to insure the physical eradication of Al Qaeda's fighters even if they do surrender.) We have not had confirmed casualties of any kind since. In fact, allegations are flying that there were casualties in Kosovo, but that they were never disclosed... and the public, basically, likes it, demands it, and insists upon not being told bad news. So I ask: If a football player has a better chance of dying, officially if perhaps a closer call unofficially, where is the heroism?

My point is not that these soldiers are not prepared to die for their country. They are. However, their military leadership are deathly afraid of them having to die for their country. As long as their casualties are not in combat, such as at the Khobar Towers, and the attack on the USS Cole, the military leadership is secure from criticism. However, if even a single American is confirmed to have died from a sniper, women and children beat down the doors of Congress and ask, "Why!?"

The bigger whopper is what is not being said, not what is.

The bigger whopper is that we've come to accept this state of affairs, and are too stupid and uneducated to understand why it is wrong.

The biggest is that the vast majority of those who understand what the Geneva Conventions are, and what they say, just don't care anymore.

So who are the barbarians now? Are they those who don't know better, or who do, and choose not to care?

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