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Greenwald writes: "Whatever else one wants to say, the US is a country that, for more than a decade, has loudly and continuously declared itself to be a 'nation at war'."

South Korean rapper Psy performs Gangnam Style in New York. (photo: Jason Decrow/Invision/AP)
South Korean rapper Psy performs Gangnam Style in New York. (photo: Jason Decrow/Invision/AP)

Singing About Killing People v. Constantly Doing It

By Glenn Greenwald, Guardian UK

10 December 12


Americans would benefit from less outrage at anti-US sentiment and more energy toward understanding why it's so widespread

hich of these two stories is causing more controversy and outrage in the US?

New York Daily News, Friday:

"Fiercely anti-American lyrics from Korean rapper Psy have been unearthed just two weeks before the star is scheduled to perform for President Obama.

"The 'Gangnam Style' singer calls for US soldiers to be killed in one song, prompting a short-lived petition to ax Psy from the bill at the Christmas in Washington celebration.

"In 2004, Psy rapped on a South Korean metal band's song, 'Dear American', at a protest concert, The Washington Post reported. 'Kill those f---ing Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives', he said. 'Kill those f---ing Yankees who ordered them to torture. Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers. Kill them all slowly and painfully.'

"Two years earlier, after a pair of Korean schoolgirls were mowed down by a U.S.-operated armored vehicle, Psy again expressed vitriol toward America. Onstage, he smashed a plastic model of a U.S. tank into pieces as the crowd cheered, The Korea Herald reported.

"Psy apologized in a statement to the Daily News, adding that the song in question is from nearly a decade ago, and was 'part of a deeply emotional reaction to the war in Iraq and the killing of two Korean schoolgirls.'"

The Guardian, Friday:

"The US military is facing fresh questions over its targeting policy in Afghanistan after a senior army officer suggested that troops were on the lookout for 'children with potential hostile intent'".

"In comments which legal experts and campaigners described as 'deeply troubling', army Lt Col Marion Carrington told the Marine Corp Times that children, as well as 'military-age males', had been identified as a potential threat because some were being used by the Taliban to assist in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. . . .

"In the article, headlined 'Some Afghan kids aren't bystanders', Carrington referred to a case this year in which the Afghan national police in Kandahar province said they found children helping insurgents by carrying soda bottles full of potassium chlorate.

"The piece also quoted an unnamed marine corps official who questioned the 'innocence' of Afghan children, particularly three who were killed in a US rocket strike in October. Last month, the New York Times quoted local officials who said Borjan, 12, Sardar Wali, 10, and Khan Bibi, eight, from Helmand's Nawa district had been killed while gathering dung for fuel.

"However, the US official claimed that, before they called for the strike on suspected insurgents planting improvised explosive devices, marines had seen the children digging a hole in a dirt road and that 'the Taliban may have recruited the children to carry out the mission'. . . .

"'When you get to the suggestion that children with potentially hostile intent may be perceived to be legitimate targets is deeply troubling and unlawful,' [said Pardiss Kebriaei, senior attorney of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a specialist in targeted killings]."

Whatever else one wants to say, the US is a country that, for more than a decade, has loudly and continuously declared itself to be a "nation at war". It's not "at war" in any one county, but in many countries around the globe.

In the last four years alone, it has used drones to end people's lives in six predominantly Muslim country (probably more). Under its Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader, it has repeatedly wiped out entire families (including just this week), slaughtered dozens of children at a time, targeted and killed people rescuing and grieving its victims, and either deliberately or recklessly dropped bombs on teenagers (including its own citizens), then justified it with the most foul and morally deranged rationale.

It embraces and props up the world's most repressive tyrants. It isolates itself from the world and embraces blatant double standards in order to enable the worst behavior of its client states. It continues to maintain a global network of prisons where people are kept indefinitely in cages with no charges. It exempts itself and its leaders from the international institutions of justice while demanding that the leaders of other, less powerful states be punished there. And it is currently in the process of suffocating a nation of 75 million people with an increasingly sadistic sanctions regime, while proudly boasting about it and threatening more.

It spent years imprisoning even Muslim journalists with no charges. And then there's that little fact about how, less than a decade ago, it created a worldwide torture regime and then launched an aggressive war that destroyed a nation of 26 million people, one that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings.

Those are all just facts. And while there is no shortage of Americans willing to step up and dutifully justify some or all of those acts, it's so astonishing to watch people express surprise and bewilderment and anger when they discover that this behavior causes people in the world to intensely dislike the United States.

If you want your country to rule the world as an aggressive and militaristic empire, then accept the inevitable consequence of that: that there will be huge numbers of people in the world who resent and even hate your country for that behavior. Don't cheer while your country constantly kills, invades, occupies, and dominates the internal affairs of countless other nations - and then expect to be liked. Immorality aside, producing this reaction is one reason not to do such things. This kind of imperial behavior, inevitably and in every era, generates extreme levels of animosity and, ultimately, returned violence. That's why George Washington, in his 1796 Farewell Address, warned against all of this:

"[N]othing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. . . .

"Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests."

The reaction to this story about PSY's lyrics is quite redolent of the reaction of Americans to the 9/11 attack. Prior to the 9/11 attack, the US had spent decades propping up and arming the most repressive dictators in the Muslim world with the clear intent to suppress the views of the populations and ensure subservience to US interests. It overthrew or blocked their democratically supported leaders. Its decade-long sanctions regime against Iraq killed hundreds of thousands of people while strengthening Saddam, its former ally, and a top US official coldly told the world when asked about dead Iraqi children that it was "worth it". Its steadfast support of Israel shielded the civilian-killing aggression of that nation from all forms of challenge or accountability. It bombed and destroyed a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan that kept large numbers of people alive.

All of these facts are, and long have been, widely discussed in most of the world, where they have generated simmering, intense fury. As one small example: the Sudanese pharmaceutical factor destroyed in the Clinton years is now a shrine, accompanied by what the Christian Science Monitor's Scott Peterson this year described as enduring "bitterness and anger at what is widely seen as an unjustified strike".

But most of these facts are largely suppressed, at the very least steadfastly ignored, in establishment US media discourse. That was why the 9/11 attack produced that truly bizarre though understandable reaction on the part of the US public: why do they hate us? The premise of that question, of course, was that the US is a country that simply minds its own business, doesn't harm or bother anyone, simply wants peace for the world, and it's thus inconceivable that anyone would ever want to harm it.

For someone who believes that, who sees the world that way, that post-9/11 bewilderment was natural: why would anyone possibly have such animosity toward the US, of all countries? When an answer to that question was needed, the US government and its media - rather than tell its population the truth about what the actual, well-known, long-standing grievances were - manufactured the self-flattering "They-Hate-Us-For-Our-Freedom" mythology and fed it to them. And many have been eating it up ever since.

The potency of this propaganda is what causes even federal judges who preside over terrorism cases to express genuine shock and confusion as to how someone could possibly be willing to plot to bomb American cities when they know that the bomb will likely even kill children. These federal judges have to have it slowly explained to them by the defendants that the US has been doing exactly that in their country and many other countries for years, and they resorted to similar violence out of a desperate inability to see any other alternatives for stopping US violence.

Obviously, artistic license or not, what is advocated by the lyrics sung by PSY (attacking and torturing the family members of US soldiers) cannot be justified, just as the targeting of innocent civilians on 9/11 cannot be. Still, singing about killing innocent people is not in the same universe as doing it, yet many Americans infuriated about the former express little if any condemnation of the latter when done by their own government. More to the point, to react to expressions of extreme anti-American sentiments - including the desire to harm US soldiers - as though they're the slightest bit surprising or irrational is itself warped and irrational.

Extreme animosity toward the US continues to be the rule, not the exception, in the Arab and Muslim world, and, especially at the time these lyrics were sung by PSY, was pervasive in South Korea as well. There are actual reasons for this, many of which are quite rational.

We like to tell ourselves that anti-American animosity is produced by propaganda from foreign factions hostile to the US. Actually, that belief is the one that is the by-product of propaganda. The acts of the US government that generate this hostility are rarely discussed in US political discourse, though they are widely discussed in most of the rest of the world. Americans would benefit from spending much less time and energy expressing outrage and offense at anti-American sentiment, and far more time and energy trying to understand why it's so widespread and intense.


From Associated Press today:

"The U.S. military has detained more than 200 Afghan teenagers who were captured in the war for about a year at a time at a military prison next to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, the United States has told the United Nations . . . .

"If the average age is 16, 'This means it is highly likely that some children were as young as 14 or 13 years old when they were detained by U.S. forces,' Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's human rights program, said Friday.

"'I've represented children as young as 11 or 12 who have been at Bagram,' said Tina M. Foster, executive director of the International Justice Network, which represents adult and juvenile Bagram detainees."

Imagine if a foreign army were imprisoning American teenagers on US soil for years without any charges or due process. Would anyone have difficulty understanding why there were extreme levels of hostility and a desire for violence against the country doing that?

Speaking of songs that advocate violence, recall that roughly 46% of Americans voted for this person to be president after he sang this song:

Of course, the 53% who voted for his opponent ended up enabling all sorts of violence against innocent people around the world. Anyway . . . aren't those lyrics sung by PSY so awful and outrageous? Why would anyone harbor such anger toward America? your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+18 # Douglas Jack 2012-12-11 00:12
The cult is colonialism whether by King George or President George W. We are as deeply & more colonial as we've ever been in history. When one follows the roots of colonialism with the advent of 2-dimensional 'agriculture' (Latin 'field') from Babylon spreading west-ward creating physical deserts & enslaving 'indigenous' (L 'self-generatin g') people worldwide. Abused become abusers. When the 3-D abundance of indigenous polyculture orchards were cut down in every nation worldwide, scarcity becomes the order of the day & 'exogenous' (L 'other-generate d') institutional lies indoctrinate people into perpetual subservience to death. The US is only part of a worldwide imperialism still with Canada & NATO countries destroying the biosphere wherever we go to extract resources rather than plant & steward the blossoming of the biosphere.
+4 # bmiluski 2012-12-11 11:26
The cult is typical testosterone-dr iven male behavior. It exists from the time little boys begin to "play". So why are you guys always so surprised?
+38 # barkingcarpet 2012-12-11 00:26
Screw our government. Drones are us, with the blood of the world on our apathetic overly entitled consumer behinds of manifest density.
Homeland insecurity, endless wars, and jabbering lunatics ala corporate Amerika, Monsanto, Haliburton, Legitimat rapist bankers and profiteers on the backs of We, the people.
Our government is a corrupt psychopathic extension of partisanship corporate insanity, and Nature IS gonna kick our butts, regardless of or babbeling righteousness and the "justice" of ownership.
Until laws have anything to do with the rules and flows of living diverse Nature, rather than the reduction of all life and environments to $ values, to be exploited and reduced to lifeless landfills, the insanity will continue.
End the endless wars, start treating Nature with respect, and quit professing to be Christians, Muslims, or whatever, and actually take care of each other, and all life.
Shame on us. We are capable of so much more than allowing thugs to ru(i)n the world.
-7 # brux 2012-12-11 00:37
I am pretty progressive, liberal and even radical on many issues, particularly social and economic justice issues.

The problem I have with my fellow Liberals is the way they view war and violence. I'm not bloodthirsty or anything, but war has plagued the human race and planet Earth ever since there was a human race and they got technological.

We are not going to give up war any time soon, and war has a function. What we need to do is figure out better ways to do what wars do destructively and unfairly.

When you see so many countries with so much injustice and such sick societies that are very stable because of the abuse and oppression of their people, you know that there is no other way to break up some toxic political entities.

I'm afraid that the best we can do and what we should be aiming for is not to end all war, or all violence, but to bring honest to goodness fairness and justice to all the people of he planet. Good wages, human rights, hope, opportunity, etc, and our military fits into that in some way, so what we really need is a way to compromise with the military industrial complex because we are not going to rid of it, and we even need it, but also do we need to have hope and power to help others in the world ... without blowing them, their families and their countries up.
+13 # Glen 2012-12-11 08:12
Nicely said, brux.

It is necessary to voice an opinion on war, however, and the fact that human beings do actually have the capacity to end war. It is not up to the U.S. to rearrange the structure of sovereign nations to force them to "be nice". Many of these nations are "toxic" as you say, but are not attacking other countries. Caring for the citizens of those countries does not require interference or, yes, bombing them back to the stone age to prove a point to their leaders.

Your suggestion of setting an example and assisting others with fairness and justice is excellent, but knowing the policy of the U.S., it will not happen. We do not need a military that endlessly attacks other countries, but one that stands in defense of the U.S. and in the case of an ally being attacked. THAT'S IT.

I am as many many others, ashamed of this government, and would leave if possible.
+20 # Texan 4 Peace 2012-12-11 09:13
War does indeed have a function, and (in the U.S.) that function is most often economic and political domination to ensure the further enrichment of the already super-rich. Your claim that there is "no other way to break up toxic political entities" ignores the accomplishments of peoples who have done just that. As for the U.S., it has more often propped up such entities, until they are no longer sustainable or useful, and then left the local people to their misery when things fall apart. (Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Indonesia, the Philippines... Shall I go on?)
Maybe there was a time when the U.S. military was an instrument of "good wages, human rights, hope, opportunity, etc.", but that certainly doesn't characterize our wars of the last 50 years.
+3 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-12-11 10:58
War has not '...plagued the human race and planet Earth ever since there was a human race and they got technological.' It is an invention of the first urban societies & as such need not endure. The sooner we discard it as useless, & it is, the better.
+1 # David Heizer 2012-12-13 20:15
Um, no. Tribal societies have always gone to war, in every period of time ever studied. (Heck, even our chimpanzee counsins engage in cannibalistic raiding parties.)

The difference, of course, is the enormous increase in lethality of modern war technologies.
+10 # 2012-12-11 01:20
With all the $trillions of machine and bravery awards, how can you expect a mere 10 men to face 3 kids digging in a road, when ALL THAT WE HAVE IS ONLY have are 20 guns and many knives and granades etc.

Its the Brave Jean Dams who "run them in" the "little boys who've done no wrong' but USA Brave Soldiers and elite fighters use Drones First and questions later? Mc Christal Orders.

As General McChrystal said "Patrol only in areas that you are reasonably certain that you will not have to defend yourselves with lethal force,". Another his spokesman said in Afghanistan when they killed some kids digging a hole in a road and perhaps placing IED's. or when they killed 2 Pregnant Ladies in raiding a civillian Bus "Shit Happens"
+14 # Erdajean 2012-12-11 01:36
As we have sown, so also must we reap. While lots of us share the outrage of other countries, we have put up with the murderous "leadership" that has steered this country toward absolute evil -- in our name -- when we SHOULD have been in the streets in numbers too large to mow down. We have tolerated the hi-jacking of the name of "Christianity" to the point that to hold the REAL belief, we have had to go underground -- while a demonic sect bloodies the mantle of faith.
Were we all that deceived -- or just complacent and detestably weak? Does that matter, anymore?
Most of all, have we reached the bottom of depravity? Is the outlook any better?
Not so some of us can see it. The haters, the warmongers, the profiteers of poverty and blood are still going strong. The institutions we despise -- the wars, the prisons, the repression of free speech, the desperation of working people defy the will of our elections.
And still, we won't see ourselves as others see us?
+28 # Billy Bob 2012-12-11 06:13
"When an answer to that question was needed, the US government and its media - rather than tell its population the truth about what the actual, well-known, long-standing grievances were - manufactured the self-flattering "They-Hate-Us-F or-Our-Freedom" mythology and fed it to them"

The irony here is that even our freedoms have been under attack ever since 2001. If they "hated us for our freedoms" they should absolutely love us now. Afterall, we've gotten rid of most them because they were a hinderance to the people who want all of us as subservient as those poor nobodies in the 3rd world.
+7 # Nel 2012-12-11 06:34
Amen brother Glen
-4 # dick 2012-12-11 07:29
Being attacked by a religious fanatic enemy is a new experience for most Americans. We are not prepared by most previous experience for this type of "combat." The Iraq War & enabling Israeli aggression have made things much worse. #1: STOP enabling Israeli aggression. #2. Face up to what then remains of Al Qaeda--Taliban type opposition: they fight TOTAL WAR, & many of them must be identified, located, KILLED. Or we die.
+10 # Glen 2012-12-11 11:23
dick - are you saying we have an Al Qaeda army massed on our border? Or Taliban? No we do not.

Your #1 is an excellent suggestion.
+17 # wrknight 2012-12-11 07:35
There is nothing new here. This has been going on for decades. On this very day in 1958 Vice President Nixon was attacked in Caracas, Venezuela because of U.S. imperialist policies in South America. During the Vietnam War, most Southeast Asians hated the U.S. for propping up a ruthless, oppressive dictator Ngo Dinh Diem simply because he was an anti-communist - and then went on to indiscriminate bombing of North Vietnam and Cambodia. The cost of our involvement in what was really a civil war between a repressive government and the people of South Vietnam was 50,000 U.S. military troops and hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese, North Vietnamese, Cambodians and Thais. (Not to mention the horrific economic cost.)

U.S. gunboat diplomacy has been deployed around the world since early in the 20th century and has been used extensively to support U.S. economic exploitation of under developed countries. And it won't stop until political power is stripped from those who wield financial power.

The U.S. has been in a constant state of war from the beginning of WWII at the least and probably before. The expression "Yankee go home!" has been heard around the world time and time again. If Americans would wake up and seek the truth, anti-American antipathy around the world would come as no surprise.

The famous quote from Walt Kelly's Pogo "We have met the enemy and he is us." rings truer than ever.
+14 # ericlane 2012-12-11 08:54
I can't blame PSY for his singing. The invasion of Iraq was an evil act. There was no rational reason for it other than what was going through the infantile mind of Bush W. As an American, I am still angry at the invasion of Iraq. Our policy has hurt millions of people and will continue to do so. And, in true Amerian fashion, no one is held accountable.
+14 # fredboy 2012-12-11 09:20
Anyone asking "Why do they hate us?" must be an idiot. We have offended, harmed, or brought death in so many nations. I recall a conservative editorial writer storming out of is office when the Iran revolution erupted, yelling "I can't believe these people would rise up against THEIR SHAH!" To which I replied, he wasn't their shah, he was our--the US's--shah. And explained the terror hold his regime had put on the populace and their faith. Duh...
+15 # jjj 2012-12-11 10:41
If we (the US) put as much money, ingenuity, creativity, and passion into creating peace as we did creating war- guess what we would have?
+11 # bmiluski 2012-12-11 11:28
A society governed by women. Because, lets face it, you guys can't do it. You've proven it over and over again.
-8 # herman_the_german 2012-12-11 10:47
I am more outraged at that Gugnam Style song.
+7 # Davethinks 2012-12-11 11:34
Does anyone read The Ugly American these days? It may present a concept simplistically, but it is dead on in describing how poor is our use of diplomacy and how quickly we resort to war. When Bush puffed up his chest and said, "I am a war President," I wanted to puke, preferably directly on him. Psy may seem rude now but he was correct when he first sang his song.
+14 # Old Man 2012-12-11 11:35
I was born the summer of 1945. WWII was coming to an end, but there hasn't been a day in my 67 years that this country hasn't been involved in some kind of War.
We are a War mongering Nation that keep our economy going. I can see why other countries hate us, millions of innocent people dead. We call it collateral damage.
+8 # Robyn 2012-12-11 19:41
The rest of the world now views America with disgust. They have become the imperialist force that many feared that the Soviet Union would become. The only difference is that they are using drones to murder civilians and they are imprisoning and torturing innocent people all the while telling the world what a wonderful nation they are.
It's sick and frightening to listen to their hateful rhetoric and even more sickening that they cannot see that they are the monsters here.
+6 # margpark 2012-12-11 20:07
We should not have a "private Army" We should not be waging war around the world. Military/Indust rial learned a lesson in Viet Nam and put an end to the draft. There are no longer screams coming from the public about the wars. Our sons and daughter are not being wasted in war unless they freely join the military forces. That means the public at large doesn't realy have a voice in the wars.

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