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Rushing Off to Babylon

mp3: 3.5 MBs, 4:08

[Col. Recorded 11/9/02]

For empire’s wars are easy things. They are convergences of wealth of power. Demonstrations to those who would dare think about striking an imperial symbol or challenging an imperial interest. The bombing of Hiroshima was not so much as to back down the Imperial Japanese military, as to send a message to the hated Soviets. So what if roughly a hundred thousand people died. They were as the saying goes, ‘collateral damage’. Babylon’s contemporary incarnation, the present Iraqi nation state is being foisted on the American public is but the latest American imperial demonstration project. Think of it as Gulf War II, a project to prove to the entire world that the Americans have grown out of that dreaded ‘Vietnam syndrome’. It’s also designed to send a message to two constituencies: the neighboring Arab regimes and the Euro-Japanese powers quote “ This is ours” unquote. Behind all the rap about democracy, human rights and yeah, weapons of mass destruction Is the fierce imperial greed to all the lake of dinosaur’s blood that gurgles under deserts in Iraq. Americans with the possible exception of Blacks and White southerners live in the ever present now, where history is what was on last night’s newscast. Few countries of the modern era are so openly a historical. But a few generations ago, when a war was fought and it dared to be called ‘the war to end all wars’, yep, can you believe it. The beaten humiliated Germans were subjected to harsh terms of their defeat of WWI. Something called the Treaty of Versailles was imposed upon Germany, largely at the behest of the embittered French. At the time, around 1919, Britain’s Prime Minister, Lloyd George, called the terms and reparations so harsh upon Germany that we shall have to fight another war all over again in twenty-five years at three times the cost. The hated conditions of the Versailles Treaty gave a young man named Hitler, all the public anger and energy he could use to launch another nastier, far more brutish world war.
The point is that nations, like individuals, don’t take humiliation very well. And unlike the happy-go-lucky Americans, other countries and other cultures have long memories. Iraq’s dismemberment, invasion and yes, regime change, may have repercussions of which we in the West can barely conceive. The Bin Laden brand of vendetta has its roots in the colonial and indeed the precolonial era, maybe even as far back as the 14th century. The very attack itself is now seen by many as blowback from the U.S.-CIA adventures against the Soviet regime in Kabul back in the 1980s. When empires go to war, it’s a kind of power play with power and wealth ever the objects of play. Remember the old saying ‘War is the sport of kings’? But the unforgiving law of unintended consequences is always lurking, lying in wait in the dark like the snake in the proverbial Garden of Eden. With the banks and military industrial complex fairly drooling for the shoot’em up for oil, the American empire may be in for a really rough ride. No empire has ever yet correctly perceived its own falling. Hitler dreamed of a thousand year Reich, it barely broke ten. The British used to sing that the sun would never set on the empire. It has set now. This new American empire, barely fifty years old, is mighty indeed, but so was Rome, so were the Ottomans, so was the Tang dynasty. They’re all dust. One wonders if they saw the fatal errors that they made when they made them.

From death row, This is Mumia Abu Jamal.


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[recorded 11/09/02]
copyright 2002 Mumia Abu-Jamal