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Idiot Nation

By John S. Hatch 

“We don’t do torture.” –George W. Bush 

“You’re either with us or you’re with the evildoers.” –George W. Bush 

“Hey evildoers, where do I sign up?” –John S. Hatch 

'The Power of Nightmares’ is a compelling BBC documentary written and produced by Adam Curtis. As powerful as it is, it contains some footage that I wish I hadn’t seen, as it was truly nightmarish itself. Nine or ten men are bound with their arms above their heads against a prison wall. Then they are savagely whipped. They scream as bloody wounds are opened on their backs. At the end of it their backs are smeared by their tormentors with animal fat (I naively thought it was water) and then are shoved into cells to which ravenous attack dogs are introduced, presumably to eat them alive. In the film we are spared viewing this spectacle, but we can hear their horrible screams. This was Nasser’s Egypt. There is no reason to believe anything is different under Mubarak. Both good friends of America. When Nasser was asked if torture took place in Egypt under his regime, he very coolly denied that any such thing would be tolerated. He appeared irritated at the question. The nerve to even ask! 

It was the same with the Shah of Iran. ‘Of course we don’t torture people,’ he said, ‘we don’t have to.’ Of course Mr. Pahlavi was lying through his teeth, and his torture methods were taught to the feared and loathsome Savak secret police by America itself. 

The central premise of ‘The Power of Nightmares’ is that fear can be used by unscrupulous leaders as a potent tool to manipulate a gullible population and to concentrate power. Fear can command consent like nothing else. In the end, as we have witnessed, it would seem that nothing is more powerful than peoples’ need for perceived security, even if it is false. Thus non-existent Iraqi WMD’s, Condi’s magic mushroom clouds, some anthrax that came from government labs (and which source has proved as elusive as Osama), World Trade Center buildings that fell as a result of controlled demolitions thus pointing to US Government involvement (didn’t the PNAC people pray for a ‘Pearl Harbor event’?), and the Constitution is in tatters. People are being spied upon. Innocent people are being held  extra-judiciously. People are being tortured. Well, the Constitution is only a goddam piece of paper, isn’t it?. Like the Bible. Toilet paper. 

The fear factor goes back quite a ways. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were onto it as early as 1974. Whatever the foibles and criminal failings and of Tricky Dick Nixon, he did have an eye for the dramatic and grand diplomatic scheme (i.e. his approach to China) and in that year he achieved an unprecedented treaty with the USSR. “With this step,” he said, “we have enhanced the security of both nations. We have begun to reduce the level of fear, by reducing the causes of fear—for our two peoples, and for all peoples in the world."  This did not sit well with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President Ford’s Chief of Staff Dick Cheney, who claimed, against all evidence that the Soviet Union had secret weapons that the president didn’t know about, the CIA didn’t know about –no one knew about these amazing weapons of mass destruction except for Rumsfeld and Cheney. The lack of evidence of their existence was used as proof of their reality. They would later use the same absurd argument regarding Iraq. They insisted that billions of dollars should be diverted from social programs to the military, and that’s exactly what happened after Nixon was forced to resign. The phony cold war continued, and anyone who questioned it was labeled a traitor. Just like now. Support our troops. Shouldn’t the government support the troops with proper equipment and medical care, or by bringing them home since the reasons for the invasion were all lies? 

I’m always amazed at American hostility toward the French which could only be as the result of massive willful ignorance on the part of America (no surprise there—myth has long since supplanted meaning in American polity). ‘Surrender monkeys,’ some of you call them. But I seem to recall a vigorous and brave resistance movement  involving men and women willing to put their lives on the line to counter the brutal Nazis onslaught in any way they could. Many were captured and tortured to death, while America stood idly by, only joining the war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor made it impossible not to.  I notice no counterpart to the Resistance in America in defense of the Constitution, in reaction to stolen elections, the suspension of habeas corpus, the commission of heinous war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan and Iraq, and (it’s hard to even write this) the implementation of ‘extraordinary renditions’ and torture, which virtually all experts agree is useless as a method of extracting useful information., meaning that America indulges in brutish sadism for its own sake. Just like Nasser. Just like the Shah. Torture! For shame!

When the French government proposes some boneheaded measure against the interests of young workers, there they are in the tens or hundreds of thousands in the streets, and they won’t go away until the government relents. And if you’re the government you better not provoke French farmers, or you’ll have a real and sustained fight on your hands. They’re not afraid to get bloody to defend what they believe in. What do Americans do in response to even more egregious insults to their dignity and civil rights? Well, they go and shop at Wal-Mart. Freedom fries, anyone? It’s not only French Cabernet Sauvignon that got poured down the gutters by gutless American politicians. It was also America’s pride.


Or was it? It’s hard to imagine how a proud nation could surrender its soul without so much as a whimper. Does it matter that crimes can be proven against America’s leaders? How is it so easy to devolve from Christianity to snarling dogs and sodomy committed against young  imprisoned boys,  to massacres and murders, the use of white phosphorous and depleted uranium (which by now has poisoned the whole world and which will remain radioactive for over four billion years)? How do you jump from bible thumping Jesus rhetoric to wicked cruelty and carnage in the blink of an eye, unless you never really believed in anything to begin with? Land of the free and home of the brave? Give me a break. Oh yes—over fifty percent of Americans persist in believing that Saddam was behind 9-11, when they should be looking a whole lot closer to home. Another large percentage believe that Israel’s swinish and murderous behavior toward the Palestinians and now the residents of Beirut will somehow speed the second coming of Christ. Who could admire such a cretinous Christ, I wonder, except the neo-cons in his snarling image . 


The world can’t afford for a nation as powerful as America to be so delusional or indifferent to its own fate. ‘Surrender monkeys’? Look in the mirror, s’il vous plait. America has become the world’s most dangerous rogue nation while its citizens mythologize and snooze. The criminals (including those in the White House) need to be brought to justice,  the neo-con nasties need to be deprived of power once and for all, and the religious nuts need to be labeled just what they are. Dangerously, delusionally nuts. America needs to get a life back, or there is no telling where this will end. But it won’t be in heaven, that’s for sure.


John S. Hatch is a Vancouver writer and film-maker.  He can be reached here.


Evil Nation

A woman in a red-patterned dress lay crumpled and lifeless in the broken masonry. A leg poked out from the shattered concrete nearby. A medic carried a dead child in his arms from the rubble. Other children lay dead in the streets.” Reuters; scenes form the Israeli attack at Qana


Nations are like people; ultimately they return to the habits with which they feel most comfortable. In Israel’s case, the infrequent periods of peace typically end with a return to the familiar pattern of war crimes and human rights abuse. Last night was no different.


 MORE KILLING         AFGHANISTAN    IRAQ     LEBANON .... WATCH the lies for Iran and Syria


Two brothers killed by Israeli army in northern Gaza


Palestinian media sources announced Saturday death of two brothers in northern Gaza Strip, after the Israeli army opened fire on them near the Eritz checkpoint (Beit Hanoun crossing).

Dr. Moawiya Abu Hasanain, chief of emergency and ambulance department at the Palestinian health ministry, identified the killed as Ra'fat and Talal Abu Shraina, 40 and 41.

The health official confirmed that several bullets riddled in the victims' bodies, before they were pronounced dead.

Witnesses said that both Ra'fat and Talal, were rushing towards their farm land after they were informed that the Israeli army bulldozers were razing the land.

Witnesses added that the Israeli army opened fire at them, as they were attempting to prevent the bulldozers from razing their farmland.

Israeli army has recently stepped up attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, particularly in northern Gaza, killing dozens of people, including resistance fighters, over the past four months.

In September, Israel declared Gaza a 'hostile entity' and began imposing a series of measures involving cut off fuel supplies, in what Israel says preventing Palestinian resistance fighters from launching homemade shells from northern Gaza onto nearby Israeli towns.


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