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Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Improbable Martyr

Improbable Martyr: Manuel Noriega

Well, Manuel Noriega's sentence has run out before his heart has, so he has been whisked off to pursue this end in another dark place.

Chris Floyd, of Empire Burlesque, comments (excerpts follow, emphasis mine, and of course read the whole thing):
...Noriega, who had been a CIA "asset" since the late 1950s, carried on his yeoman service on behalf of his new bosses for awhile – but the assumption of formal power went to his head. He forgot he was a servant, was surly with his masters, and finally crossed the line: refusing to take part in the secret terrorist war that Reagan and Bush were waging, with Iranian money, against Nicaragua. Suddenly, Noriega's manifold crimes and massive corruption, which Washington had tolerated – indeed rewarded – for decades, suddenly became matters of urgent concern. Noriega went from imperial pet to "new Hitler" in fairly short order...

Noriega's case reminds us of the cynical and brutal nature of the American empire's actual operations. Not the gauzy pictures painted by the increasingly all-pervading "psy-ops" warfare conducted by our militarist honchos to control the "information battlespace" of the American mind (as powerfully detailed in a new piece by Tom Hayden), but the genuine blood-soaked filth and crime which undergirds "the shining city on a hill." This is not old news or ancient history: it is happening today, all over the world, in shadows and corners we will never see – except in stolen glimpses revealed by accident, or by leaks from one pack of courtiers trying to bring down another, or through diligent efforts of a handful of journalists and investigators, and the enormous courage of some survivors and eyewitnesses to the operations of power.

The rise of Barack Obama to temporary management of the imperial enterprise has changed nothing of this...
Noriega was a despicable, opportunistic distortion of a human being - indeed, iconographic of our own "shadow" government, which prized such perturbated hearts in the furtherance of its (our) darker ends. Nothing to look up to here, nothing to admire.

Yet, the treatment of this criminal (of the lowest order) is no different than that given Mandela and other political prisoners.

Aside from the lust for a full-throated outing of our government's (our) misadventures, this human being - yes, human being - deserves the same kind of outcry the better angels among us afforded more saintly dissidents. It matters not that his dissidence involved his parochial and selfish fantasies, it still stands as a political imprisonment.

Odd and improbable, yes. Yet, the truth remains. A thug can be a martyr, too.


  1. Noriega's treatment stands as a warning to all South America don't get into bed with a Bush or the American Right one day you might become a problem.
    America has had a hard time finding allies in South America ever since.
    I agree these charges are crap. I'm surprised France is going along with this.
    Still its stuff like this that makes diplomacy so hard for us.
    Just who wants to be America's puppet these days?
    The Puppet governments in Iraq and Afghanistan will turn on us the second we leave.

  2. "The Puppet governments in Iraq and Afghanistan will turn on us the second we leave."

    No question about it. After all, they've made a career out of turning against us even as we're there!

  3. Your Favorite BartenderMay 3, 2010 at 7:06 AM

    Manuel, for better or for worse, I'd caution against warning South American leaders about getting "into bed with a Bush or the American right." As pointed out at the end of the piece, it's not as if President Obama has been much better.

    The puppet government doesn't work in the internet age. There's way too much information for the illusion to last. More to the point its way too easy for the puppet to find a better deal. Why are those puppet governments in Iraq and Afghanistan failing so miserably? Among other things because its way too easy for the "other side" (quotes inserted because I'm too lazy to come up with a better term).

    This is, of course, the inherant problem with the Bush doctrine of "spreading democracy." Democracy is a fickle bitch, she tends to not really give a rat's ass what the American's "want" and thus we like to "install" democracy, like we're installing a dishwasher...

  4. Your Favorite BartenderMay 3, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    Speaking of lazy, I simply neglected to finish my thought when I said "Among other things because its way too easy for the "other side" (quotes inserted because I'm too lazy to come up with a better term)."

    Among other things because its way too easy for the "other side" (quotes inserted because I'm too lazy to come up with a better term) to offer the new puppet dictator more of whatever it is they want. Control, popular support, power, money, slaves, shiny jewels, whatever, it's just too easy for them to A) find the puppet and B) figure out what will appeal to the puppet, and provide it for them, quickly.

    Whew, that was exhausting, I'm going back to half formed ideas...

  5. "Whew, that was exhausting, I'm going back to half formed ideas..."

    Yes, yes. You look much better in them.


    Good points - although I question whether the puppeteers give a rat's ass about how well they "sell" an installed leader anymore. Lot's of lip service given to "hearts and minds," but those ambassadors of love - unmanned drones - well, they drone on.


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