14 Apr. 2008

Sleepless In A Land Of Sleepwalkers

I am not mentally healthy. My vision of reality is fragmented. I do not understand how others go about their lives as if everything is normal. Fortunately I am not alone:
There has never been a condition of such deep, virtually catatonic civic paralysis in American history -- and few such instances in world history. There will be no good issue from all of this. No saving grace in the last act, no life-enhancing "lessons learned," no character growth in the story arc, no deus ex machina, no redemption. There will only be -- at best, in the very best-case scenario imaginable -- a long, slow agonizing slog through the ruins, a hard, interminable labor of waste disposal and reclamation, in a much-diminished world.

And yet the sleepwalking goes on...
Those who remain silent are not sleepwalking, but only pretending to sleep. Their silence has become complicity: how can they now condemn Bush (or Howard) when they themselves voted for him, and voted for him again? To condemn these War Criminals is to condemn themselves, so they keep their eyes shut and their mouths shut. All we can do is keep shouting in their ears...
On the eve of war, Tony Blair told parliament that, while there would be civilian casualties, Saddam Hussein would be "responsible for many more deaths even in one year than we will be in any conflict". Amnesty International estimated annual deaths linked to political repression in Iraq at that time to be in the low hundreds - many more were dying from the impact of western-sponsored sanctions. In the five years since, civilian deaths are estimated at anywhere between 150,000 (the figure accepted by the Iraqi government) and a million-plus, with the Lancet's estimate of 600,000 violent deaths in the first three years alone having held up as the most rigorous. After five years of occupation, Iraq is ranked as the most violent and dangerous place in the world by an Economist Intelligence Unit index. Two million refugees have fled the country as a result, while a further 2 million have been driven from their homes inside Iraq. This has become the greatest humanitarian crisis on the planet.

In the western world, far from the scene of the unfolding catastrophe, such suffering has been somehow normalised as a kind of background noise...

Given that the invasion of Iraq was regarded as illegal by the majority of the UN security council, its secretary general, and the overwhelming weight of international legal opinion, it must by the same token be seen as a war crime: what the Nuremberg tribunal deemed the "supreme international crime" of aggression. If it weren't for the fact that there is not the remotest prospect of any mechanism to apply international law to powerful states, Bush and Blair would be in the dock at the Hague.