Friday, June 27, 2014

Violent Force Solves Few Problems, Allegedly Creates Need For More Violent Force

This is 19 month old Bounekahm Phonesavahn -- known to his family as "Bou Bou" -- in a medically induced coma. Bou Bou was badly burned when his family was attacked in the night by sheriffs who kicked down the front door looking for drugs. He's recovering from the burns and a hole in his chest, has had surgery, and is still hospitalized but out of intensive care for now. (You can donate to support him here.)

No, the Habersham County, Georgia sheriffs never found any drugs in the raid.

The baby's mother, Alecia Phonesavahn, published her account of events in "A SWAT team blew a hole in my 2 year old son" in Slate:
After the SWAT team broke down the door, they threw a flashbang grenade inside. It landed in my son’s crib. 
Flashbang grenades were created for soldiers to use during battle. When they explode, the noise is so loud and the flash is so bright that anyone close by is temporarily blinded and deafened. It’s been three weeks since the flashbang exploded next to my sleeping baby, and he’s still covered in burns.
She had this to say about the effects on Bou Bou's sibling:
A few nights ago, my 8-year-old woke up in the middle of the night screaming, “No, don’t kill him! You’re hurting my brother! Don’t kill him.” How can I ever make that go away? I used to tell my kids that if they were ever in trouble, they should go to the police for help. Now my kids don’t want to go to sleep at night because they’re afraid the cops will kill them or their family. It’s time to remind the cops that they should be serving and protecting our neighborhoods, not waging war on the people in them.
This observation by Bou Bou's grieving mom reminded me of several news stories I've seen in the past year about the transfer of military weapons to local law enforcement. For example, reporter Paulina Firozi wrote in USA Today "Police forces pick up surplus military supplies":
A growing number of law enforcement agencies are taking advantage of a program that gives them free surplus military equipment left over from U.S. military campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
It also reminded me of the show of violent force used against the various Occupy encampments around the country, and how those were shown to have been coordinated by federal authorities
Ali Kinani died in Blackwater's Nisoor Square massacre. Source: Common Dreams
It also reminded me of the as-yet unpunished killing of children by tax-supported mercenaries in Iraq operating as the corporation Blackwater (since re-named Xi and then further re-named Academi) during the U.S. occupation of that country. Ali Kinani, a 9 year old who was fatally shot in the head in Baghdad in 2007, was the subject of "Blackwater's Youngest Victim" by investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill writing in The Nation.

It is in this context that I receive news that my tax dollars will again be deployed to supply weapons to some of the most violent men around the planet. From USA Today:

President Obama asked Congress Thursday for $500 million to train and arm members of opposition forces in Syria, part of an effort to stem insurgent violence that has spilled over into neighboring Iraq...
"This funding request would build on the administration's longstanding efforts to empower the moderate Syrian opposition, both civilian and armed, and will enable the Department of Defense to increase our support to vetted elements of the armed opposition," said Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council.
The administration's budget request includes $1.5 billion for a "Regional Stabilization Initiative" that involves the Syrian opposition as well as neighboring countries Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.
The official pronouncements are an effort to obscure the fact that just a few weeks ago Obama was urging aid to ISIS in Syria against Assad, but ISIS has since crossed the border and used military force to take control of large parts of an Iraq. They are one of the more violent and probably the most weaponized of the many groups currently in revolt against Al-Maliki's brutal (U.S. sponsored) regime. 

Democrats will continue to support their warmongering president and point fingers at Republicans. Both corporate parties are responsible for this sorry mess of wasted resources  and violence that begets more violence in a cycle that seems to grow more vicious with each passing day.

Bou Bou and Ali are small victims of our worship of violent force as the solution for every problem. Civil society is the larger victim of this dead end mindset. Where will the madness end?

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