Even in Death There is No Flag Large Enough to Cover the Shame of Killing Innocent People

Colin Powell just died from Covid-19. So we should expect a tsunami of eulogies from politicians, the mainstream media and even a few liberals who seem to enjoy sanitizing the murderous lives of the ruling class. Those of us on the left who refuse to play the games of polite society when it comes to war crimes will likely be chastised. And he will take his place among the “great generals” of the American Empire. All warmongering societies do this, so it should come as no surprise. But no amount of gushing tributes can erase the truth.

The man who helped whitewash the massacre of civilians at My Lai during the war against Vietnam, pushed hard for the Gulf War in the 1990s, and gave the green light to Ariel Sharon in his murderous assault on civilians in Jenin and land grabs in the occupied West Bank, also sold the war against Iraq at the beginning of this century with a fistful of lies. Iraq never attacked the US. It did not have “weapons of mass destruction.” But the Bush administration was salivating for blood and oil after the attacks on the US on the 11th of September, 2001. And any morsel of fiction that would justify their lust for violence was welcomed.

Powell would later blame his role in peddling these lies on an “intelligence failure.” This is the go to excuse for the American military establishment, as we see with the latest atrocity they committed in Afghanistan, the recent drone bomb incineration of a family in Kabul after the disastrous pull out of American troops. Now that he is dead, he will not face justice at the Hague for these crimes. But really, no member of the American ruling class ever does.

Just last week we lost Sister Megan Rice who was 91 years old. Rice was imprisoned for two years in federal prison when she was in her 80s after she broke into a government complex to protest nuclear weapons. Her activism was influenced by her parents who worked with Dorothy Day for economic justice during the Great Depression and by her uncle who had spent four months in Nagasaki, Japan, following the criminal nuclear bombing of civilians by US forces. After living and working in West Africa for 23 years as a teacher and pastoral guide she returned to the US and became a major activist in the peace movement. Sister Rice will not get the attention of a dead general in the mainstream press or by politicians of the ruling parties. Those who expose war crimes or who advocate peace are generally marginalized, imprisoned or silenced in militaristic societies.

Americans have a remarkable ability of sanitizing the crimes of their ruling class. Their lives often seem to eclipse the mountains of corpses on which they stand atop. The regions left in disarray and ruin. The lives and families and hopes that were forever disfigured or shattered. All of that disappears, is explained away, or is designated as a mere footnote when one of the elite dies. The nationalistic panegyrics that are employed are designed to do just that. A kind of novocaine that glazes over eyes and numbs collective memory. But as the late Howard Zinn said: “‘There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” And, despite the enormous effort made, that shame cannot be sponged away in death.

Kenn Orphan October 2021

*Title image of is Colin Powell testifies before the UN in 2003, holding what is supposed to be a vile of anthrax, as a demonstration of supposed “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq. A lie that would only be debunked after the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Source US government archives.

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6 thoughts on “Even in Death There is No Flag Large Enough to Cover the Shame of Killing Innocent People

  1. Glenn Alcalay

    Colin Powell allowed himself to be part of the atrocious My Lei coverup in Vietnam, which led to his rapid ascent.
    When Clinton announced the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for the military, Powell resigned in protest from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
    According to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson – Powell’s top assistant as Secretary of State in 2003 – Powell knew he lied about Iraq’s so-called WMDs. Wilkerson recounted a meeting the night before Powell’s infamous U.N. presentation at the Waldorf-Astoria, wherein Powell allegedly said about the so-called WMD evidence from the CIA, “This is bullshit.” Even liberal columnist Meg Greenfield of the Washington Post – an outspoken opponent of an Iraq invasion – said she was now onboard following Powell’s U.N.speech.
    Vietnam and Iraq are considered two of the very worst foreign policy screw-ups in modern U.S. history, and Powell allowed himself to be used in both cases.
    Other than that, he was apparently a swell guy . . .


    1. hackatomjones

      Kenn: While your characterization of CP and My Lai is correct, I did not know of it. Consequently, I had to search for corroboration. It might be a good idea to put a link in your article for corroboration because people, especially those who are not familiar with you like myself, might not trust what you are saying otherwise.


    2. Carlton Meyer

      My understanding is that Major Powell was the first assigned to investigate My Lai, and covered it up as he was expected. American soldiers committed war crimes daily in Vietnam.


  2. Pingback: Even in Death There is No Flag Large Enough to Cover the Shame of Killing Innocent People, by Kenn Orphan – Dandelion Salad

  3. Bradley Grower

    Nuremberg 2.0

    Established legal precedent is used as a means to define the acceptable limits of human behavior. Civilized societies tend to rely upon the rule of law to provide a basis for the establishment of order. In the past, such deference to precedent was aptly described in American patriotic parlance as being self-evident.

    There simply is no psychological abstraction or populist slogan that would permit unilateral violations of ratified international agreements to which the United States of America is a signatory, regardless of any public statement by our government. There is no such thing as a defensive strike against civilians.

    Though most conscientious minds agree with this perspective, there remains a deafening silence in the mainstream regarding justice for the seven Afghani children massacred August 29, 2021 by remote control drone. Even more disturbing, the U.S. Congress has failed to pass legislation to limit the ongoing and exponentially growing number of push-button atrocities now committed in our names. Currently, standard U.S. Government actuarial opinion places a value of $17,500 in total reparations on the lives of these latest young victims.

    As verified in recent testimony before the U.S. Congress, federal authorities failed to investigate and prosecute their own medical doctor, for his sexual molestation of hundreds of girls in training for Olympic competition. This was apparently accomplished with the same vigor exhibited by a majority of the Supreme Court of the United States, who refused to defend legal precedent established by Roe v. Wade from legislative overreach originating in Texas.
    Apparently, the duty to serve as a check and balance against abuse by other branches of government is no longer a high priority for the U.S. Congress. The burdens of fundraising seem to far outweigh the need to properly investigate and legislate solutions to corruption within the FBI, CIA, USPS, EPA, etc.

    After documents revealed that up to 90% of all drone strike casualties are non-combatants, the U.S. Congress has still taken no action to curb the Executive Branch’s remote assassination program, which appears to be increasingly influenced by political considerations. One teenage victim of a fruitless strike in 2011, was actually a U.S. citizen from Colorado under no suspicion or investigation at the time. He was ultimately executed for visiting a relative.

    The abdication of Congressional responsibility to act in accordance with its duties, compounded by an obviously donor-fueled lethargy, has resulted in a growing attitude of disrespect for the rule of law. Term limits will not fix this.

    When a guarantee of respect for prior jurisprudence is offered under oath, yet ultimately manifests itself as disingenuous testimony intended to ensure confirmation to the Supreme Court, it merely hastens our descent to those levels of social dysfunction, wherein the term “precedent” holds little meaning… other than, as a common misspelling to describe our head of state.

    Laughable as this may be, the concept of representative democracy is not some disposable punchline thoughtlessly discarded like a plastic water bottle. We now face an existential threat of annihilation courtesy of nature, disease, debt, sociopathy, and that most curious quirk of human consciousness… self-interest.

    Throughout the past, authoritarian sheepherders have exploited, and continue to exploit the human aversion to foreign concepts, by resorting to all manner of contrived boogeymen. In time, perhaps even unarmed American children riding with their Uncle in their own driveway may find themselves included.

    Nothing is a greater threat to any nation, than a leader who believes himself to be in possession of unlimited political power. When such a person no longer respects the limits imposed upon them by the very Constitution of the United States to which they have sworn an oath of absolute loyalty, this type of radical development essentially presents a threat to the security of the country itself.

    Outright refusal to acknowledge that one is but a minor and replaceable part within a larger and resilient (if flawed) political system, inevitably leads to confrontation, intentional duplicity, and often the promotion of actual violence.

    As a nation we refuse to recognize the imminent threat we pose to ourselves when we escalate international conflicts in the name of American interests. In doing so, we place the remainder of life on the planet at risk through our reckless military actions, and through unprecedented ecological destruction.

    Perhaps it is easier to shift the blame elsewhere, rather than to admit we are but a small and replaceable part within a larger and resilient (if flawed) living system, which really doesn’t make us any better than the corrupt politician.

    So, if the collapse of our environmental safety net doesn’t shred national security, as has been predicted by The Pentagon, then perhaps some other global calamity on an order of magnitude causing us to place our differences aside, and aspire to the highest principles of fellowship, might arise in some unknown future. Most of us remain aware of our dormant human potential.
    But what will such a “threat” turn out be? Aliens? Artificial Intelligence? Pandemic, maybe? Oh wait… we’ve already messed that one up, too.

    Frankly, there’s no limit to the populist analgesic that can be created to soothe the current insecurities of fearful Americans. We now huddle in isolation from each other, science, books, history, exercise of critical thought, and expressions communicating respect for the fundamental rights and liberties of others. And inside such an emotionally barren vacuum, there simply is no longer enough intellectual oxygen for those who yearn to breathe free… regardless of Covid-19.

    Insipid paranoia has simmered in the minds of many for two decades, yet we live in a nation that has not been invaded by a foreign power since 1814, has the largest military budget in the world, aspires to the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons on the planet, and maintains almost 1,000 foreign military bases, black sites, and secret torture facilities. Perhaps this might explain the reason our nation continues to sink into deeper levels of debt with each passing year.
    The United States of America is the only nation to ever use nuclear weapons against civilians (or anybody else). Not just once, but twice… because two different atomic bomb designs needed to be tested under combat conditions.

    Sure, our “military” did it. And our “military” bombed a car full of innocent civilians in Kabul. And our “military” has been responsible for the overthrow of more than a dozen nations in the past 100 years, many of them democratically-elected constitutional republics. Blah… blah… blah…
    The biggest problem with “my fellow American,” is that almost none would ever dare to consider holding the powerful parties responsible for such atrocities to full account. Our own government still has not issued a single indictment for the horrendous crimes of 9/11, and it’s been more than twenty years already!

    The failure of the people of the United States of America to hold those in power accountable, is completely consistent with our inability to address and modify our own adverse impacts upon the planet. This unofficial and offensive message is communicated to those who live in constant fear, under invisible armed drones patrolling silently overhead, operated remotely by members of our “military.” We do not care enough to take action until it affects our own lives.

    When justice is finally served upon those responsible for the crimes against humanity perpetrated against millions of innocent victims in the name of the United States of America over the past 80 years, how many will be able to state they did not participate in, nor support in any way, such acts of state violence?

    Sadly, this is the same dishonorable road that always leads us to Nuremberg

    Liked by 1 person


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