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Issue #1556      18 July 2012

Creative extortion

The cash-strapped American empire has become creative at extortion. Applying its customary double-standards and blame game, it has made death singularly profitable by legalising extortion and demanding compensation for its military personnel killed while occupying other countries – and placing the blame on a third party.

The 1983 marine barracks bombing: a total of US$8.8 billion has been issued against Iran for the death of 241 American soldiers in Lebanon – over US$36 million per soldier.

For the umpteenth time, a US court has passed judgement against Iran for the 1983 marine barracks bombing in Lebanon. To date, a total of US$8.8 billion has been issued against Iran for the death of 241 American soldiers in Lebanon – over US$36 million per soldier. These judgements are not without ramifications.

The blame game

According to official accounts, truck bombs blasted the building housing American “peace keepers”. The reality is that there were no American “peace keepers” in Beirut at the time of the blasts. The clearly defined mission of the US marines deployed on August 20 to supervise the evacuation of the PLO guerrillas was accomplished by the end of the first week of September. The troops withdrew to ships in the Mediterranean Sea. No peacekeepers were harmed during this mission.

However, 19 days later, after the Israeli invasion and occupation of West Beirut, and the brutal Sabra–Shatila massacres under the supervision of Ariel Sharon, a larger US force returned to Beirut – this was with a very different mission in mind. Theirs was not only to secure the airport, but to help the new Gemayel regime “consolidate” power.

Ronald Regan had decided to launch a “second Cold War” in the Middle East and in line with this strategy the additional forces were showing a permanent US presence in the region. In Lebanon, some 100 field grade US Army and Special Forces officers were training “the most highly motivated” Lebanese brigades, that is, those with strong Phalangist militia components. According to the Britannica Concise Encyclopaedia, these were the same militias who under Sharon’s supervision massacred 800 – several thousand women, children and elderly at Sabra and Shatila. “Peace-keeping” had taken on a new definition.

By September 1983, as part of this new mission, US warships were shelling Syrian and Druze militia positions outside Beirut, and Marine ground forces were trading artillery and sniper fire with Shi’a and Druze fighters. The October 23, 1983 truck bomb attacks were an inevitable consequence of US actions.

The Untied States courts have implicated and passed judgment against Iran for the bombings although Iran was not involved. However, it is safe to surmise that the resistance looked to Iran for inspiration. Iran had ejected America’s man in Tehran, the Shah, and with it America, with a simple religious ideology – Islam. Regrettably, America is demanding millions of dollars from Iran for inspiring resistance, thus making a mockery of law so as to enable extortion.

Consequences of the blame-game

Distorting the law to extort money sets a dangerous precedent locally and internationally. The Occupy Wall Street which soon became global held a candle light vigil for Martin Luther King. During the Occupy protests injuries occurred, including two police officers in Zucotti Park, New York, and three deaths were reported as a result of the Occupy Movement. It would be preposterous if the United States government passed judgment against the late Martin Luther King’s estate for having been an inspiration to people living under tyranny and inequality.

In line with this thinking, it has even suggested that the “Arab Spring” was inspired by Gandhi. It would be equally preposterous if Gandhi were to be held responsible for the untold number of casualties and extortion demanded of India.

But clearly, when politics is involved, inspiration comes with a heavy price-tag. Self-defeating as these sham judgments may be, they also offer a lesson for those who would heed them.

According to Army Times, victims’ relatives were paid US$2,500 for each death. It is cheap for Americans to kill innocent civilians when occupying a country. Granted, when the killings cause a sensation, as with the solider that went on a killing spree in Afghanistan, the compensation is jacked up. However, rebel fighters who look to the United States and her allies to topple their government would do well to bear in mind that from an American perspective, their life is worthless while that of an American – well, priceless.

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