The Worst Thing Ever Invented

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The Worst Thing Ever Invented

By: David Swanson

In this age of supposedly fighting against rulers and on behalf of oppressed peoples, the Vietnam War offers an interesting case in which the U.S. policy was to avoid overthrowing the enemy government but to work hard to kill its people. To overthrow the government in Hanoi, it was feared, would draw China or Russia into the war, something the United States hoped to avoid. But destroying the nation ruled by Hanoi was expected to cause it to submit to U.S. rule.

The Afghanistan War, already the longest war in U.S. history, is another interesting case in that the demonic figure used to justify it, terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, was not the ruler of the country. He was someone who had spent time in the country, and in fact had been supported there by the United States in a war against the Soviet Union. He had allegedly planned the crimes of September 11, 2001, in part in Afghanistan. Other planning, we knew, had gone on in Europe and the United States. But it was Afghanistan that apparently needed to be punished for its role as host to this criminal.

For the previous three years, the United States had been asking the Taliban, the political group in Afghanistan allegedly sheltering bin Laden, to turn him over. The Taliban wanted to see evidence against bin Laden and to be assured that he would receive a fair trial in a third country and not face the death penalty. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the Taliban warned the United States that bin Laden was planning an attack on American soil. Former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik told the BBC that senior U.S. officials had told him at a U.N.-sponsored summit in Berlin in July 2001 that the United States would take military action against the Taliban by mid-October. Naik “said it was doubtful that Washington would drop its plan even if bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately by the Taliban.”

This was all before the crimes of September 11th, for which the war would supposedly be revenge. When the United States attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, the Taliban again offered to negotiate for the handing over of bin Laden. When President Bush again refused, the Taliban dropped its demand for evidence of guilt and offered simply to turn bin Laden over to a third country. President George W. Bush rejected this offer and continued bombing. At a March 13, 2002, press conference, Bush said of bin Laden “I truly am not that concerned about him.” For at least several more years, with bin Laden and his group, al Qaeda, no longer believed to be in Afghanistan, the war of revenge against him continued to afflict the people of that land. In contrast to Iraq, the War in Afghanistan was often referred to between 2003 and 2009 as “the good war.”

The case made for the Iraq War in 2002 and 2003 appeared to be about “weapons of mass destruction,” as well as more revenge against bin Laden, who in reality had no connections to Iraq at all. If Iraq didn’t give the weapons up, there would be war. And since Iraq did not have them, there was war. But this was fundamentally an argument that Iraqis, or at least Saddam Hussein, embodied evil. After all, few nations possessed anywhere near as many nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons as the United States, and we didn’t believe anyone had the right to make war on us. We helped other nations acquire such weapons and did not make war on them. In fact, we’d helped Iraq acquire biological and chemical weapons years before, which had laid the basis for the pretenses that it still had them.

Ordinarily, a nation’s possessing weapons can be immoral, undesirable, or illegal, but it cannot be grounds for a war. Aggressive war is itself the most immoral, undesirable, and illegal act possible. So, why was the debate over whether to attack Iraq a debate over whether Iraq had weapons? Apparently, we had established that Iraqis were so evil that if they had weapons then they would use them, possibly through Saddam Hussein’s fictional ties to al Qaeda. If someone else had weapons, we could talk to them. If Iraqis had weapons we needed to wage war against them. They were part of what President George W. Bush called “an axis of evil.” That Iraq was most blatantly not using its alleged weapons and that the surest way to provoke their use would be to attack Iraq were inconvenient thoughts, and therefore they were set aside and forgotten, because our leaders knew full well that Iraq really had no such capability.


A central problem with the idea that wars are needed to combat evil is that there is nothing more evil than war. War causes more suffering and death than anything war can be used to combat. Wars don’t cure diseases or prevent car accidents or reduce suicides. (In fact, they drive suicides through the roof.) No matter how evil a dictator or a people may be, they cannot be more evil than war. Had he lived to be a thousand, Saddam Hussein could not have done the damage to the people of Iraq or the world that the war to eliminate his fictional weapons has done. War is not a clean and acceptable operation marred here and there by atrocities. War is all atrocity, even when it purely involves soldiers obediently killing soldiers. Rarely, however, is that all it involves. General Zachary Taylor reported on the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) to the U.S. War Department:

“I deeply regret to report that many of the twelve months’ volunteers, in their route hence of the lower Rio Grande, have committed extensive outrages and depredations upon the peaceable inhabitants. THERE IS SCARCELY ANY FORM OF CRIME THAT HAS NOT BEEN REPORTED TO ME AS COMMITTED BY THEM.” [capitalization in original]

If General Taylor did not want to witness outrages, he should have stayed out of war. And if the American people felt the same way, they should not have made him a hero and a president for going to war. Rape and torture are not the worst part of war. The worst part is the acceptable part: the killing. The torture engaged in by the United States during its recent wars on Afghanistan and Iraq is part, and not the worst part, of a larger crime. The Jewish holocaust took nearly 6 million lives in the most horrible way imaginable, but World War II took, in total, about 70 million — of which about 24 million were military. We don’t hear much about the 9 million Soviet soldiers whom the Germans killed. But they died facing people who wanted to kill them, and they themselves were under orders to kill. There are few things worse in the world. Missing from U.S. war mythology is the fact that by the time of the D-Day invasion, 80 percent of the German army was busy fighting the Russians. But that does not make the Russians heroes; it just shifts the focus of a tragic drama of stupidity and pain eastward.

Most supporters of war admit that war is hell. But most human beings like to believe that all is fundamentally right with the world, that everything is for the best, that all actions have a divine purpose. Even those who lack religion tend, when discussing something horribly sad or tragic, not to exclaim “How sad and awful!” but to express — and not just under shock but even years later — their inability to “understand” or “believe” or “comprehend” it, as though pain and suffering were not as clearly comprehensible facts as joy and happiness are. We want to pretend with Dr. Pangloss that all is for the best, and the way we do this with war is to imagine that our side is battling against evil for the sake of good, and that war is the only way such a battle can be waged. If we have the means with which to wage such battles, then as Senator Beveridge once remarked, we must be expected to use them. Senator William Fulbright (D., Ark.) explained this phenomenon: “Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is peculiarly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God’s favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations — to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image.”

Madeline Albright, Secretary of State when Bill Clinton was president, was more concise:

“What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”

The belief in a divine right to wage war seems to only grow stronger when great military power runs up against resistance too strong for military power to overcome. In 2008 a U.S. journalist wrote about General David Petraeus, then commander in Iraq, “God has apparently seen fit to give the U.S. Army a great general in this time of need.”

On August 6, 1945, President Harry S Truman announced: “Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British ‘Grand Slam’ which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.” When Truman lied to America that Hiroshima was a military base rather than a city full of civilians, people no doubt wanted to believe him. Who would want the shame of belonging to the nation that commits a whole new kind of atrocity? (Will naming lower Manhattan “ground zero” erase the guilt?) And when we learned the truth, we wanted and still want desperately to believe that war is peace, that violence is salvation, that our government dropped nuclear bombs in order to save lives, or at least to save American lives.

We tell each other that the bombs shortened the war and saved more lives than the some 200,000 they took away. And yet, weeks before the first bomb was dropped, on July 13, 1945, Japan sent a telegram to the Soviet Union expressing its desire to surrender and end the war. The United States had broken Japan’s codes and read the telegram. Truman referred in his diary to “the telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace.” Truman had been informed through Swiss and Portuguese channels of Japanese peace overtures as early as three months before Hiroshima. Japan objected only to surrendering unconditionally and giving up its emperor, but the United States insisted on those terms until after the bombs fell, at which point it allowed Japan to keep its emperor.

Presidential advisor James Byrnes had told Truman that dropping the bombs would allow the United States to “dictate the terms of ending the war.” Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal wrote in his diary that Byrnes was “most anxious to get the Japanese affair over with before the Russians got in.” Truman wrote in his diary that the Soviets were preparing to march against Japan and “Fini Japs when that comes about.” Truman ordered the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th and another type of bomb, a plutonium bomb, which the military also wanted to test and demonstrate, on Nagasaki on August 9th. Also on August 9th, the Soviets attacked the Japanese. During the next two weeks, the Soviets killed 84,000 Japanese while losing 12,000 of their own soldiers, and the United States continued bombing Japan with non-nuclear weapons. Then the Japanese surrendered. The United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that, “… certainly prior to 31 December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

One dissenter who had expressed this same view to the Secretary of War prior to the bombings was General Dwight Eisenhower. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy agreed:

“The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.”

Whatever dropping the bombs might possibly have contributed to ending the war, it is curious that the approach of threatening to drop them, the approach used during a half-century of Cold War to follow, was never tried. An explanation may perhaps be found in Truman’s comments suggesting the motive of revenge:

“Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, and against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international law of warfare.”

Truman could not, incidentally, have chosen Tokyo as a target — not because it was a city, but because we had already reduced it to rubble. The nuclear catastrophes may have been, not the ending of a World War, but the theatrical opening of the Cold War, aimed at sending a message to the Soviets. Many low and high ranking officials in the U.S. military, including commanders in chief, have been tempted to nuke more cities ever since, beginning with Truman threatening to nuke China in 1950. The myth developed, in fact, that Eisenhower’s enthusiasm for nuking China led to the rapid conclusion of the Korean War. Belief in that myth led President Richard Nixon, decades later, to imagine he could end the Vietnam War by pretending to be crazy enough to use nuclear bombs. Even more disturbingly, he actually was crazy enough. “The nuclear bomb, does that bother you?…I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes,” Nixon said to Henry Kissinger in discussing options for Vietnam.

President George W. Bush oversaw the development of smaller nuclear weapons that might be used more readily, as well as much larger non- nuclear bombs, blurring the line between the two. President Barack Obama established in 2010 that the United States might strike first with nuclear weapons, but only against Iran or North Korea. The United States alleged, without evidence, that Iran was not complying with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), even though the clearest violation of that treaty is the United States’ own failure to work on disarmament and the United States’ Mutual Defense Agreement with the United Kingdom, by which the two countries share nuclear weapons in violation of Article 1 of the NPT, and even though the United States’ first strike nuclear weapons policy violates yet another treaty: the U.N. Charter.


Americans may never admit what was done in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but our country had been in some measure prepared for it. After Germany had invaded Poland, Britain and France had declared war on Germany. Britain in 1940 had broken an agreement with Germany not to bomb civilians, before Germany retaliated in the same manner against England — although Germany had itself bombed Guernica, Spain, in 1937, and Warsaw, Poland, in 1939, and Japan meanwhile was bombing civilians in China. Then, for years, Britain and Germany had bombed each other’s cities before the United States joined in, bombing German and Japanese cities in a spree of destruction unlike anything ever previously witnessed. When we were firebombing Japanese cities, Life magazine printed a photo of a Japanese person burning to death and commented “This is the only way.” By the time of the Vietnam War, such images were highly controversial. By the time of the 2003 War on Iraq, such images were not shown, just as enemy bodies were no longer counted. That development, arguably a form of progress, still leaves us far from the day when atrocities will be displayed with the caption “There has to be another way.”

Combating evil is what peace activists do. It is not what wars do. And it is not, at least not obviously, what motivates the masters of war, those who plan the wars and bring them into being. But it is tempting to think so. It is very noble to make brave sacrifices, even the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life, in order to end evil. It is perhaps even noble to use other people’s children to vicariously put an end to evil, which is all that most war supporters do. It is righteous to become part of something bigger than oneself. It can be thrilling to revel in patriotism. It can be momentarily pleasurable I’m sure, if less righteous and noble, to indulge in hatred, racism, and other group prejudices. It’s nice to imagine that your group is superior to someone else’s. And the patriotism, racism, and other isms that divide you from the enemy can thrillingly unite you, for once, with all of your neighbors and compatriots across the now meaningless boundaries that usually hold sway. If you are frustrated and angry, if you long to feel important, powerful, and dominating, if you crave the license to lash out in revenge either verbally or physically, you may cheer for a government that announces a vacation from morality and open permission to hate and to kill. You’ll notice that the most enthusiastic war supporters sometimes want nonviolent war opponents killed and tortured along with the vicious and dreaded enemy; the hatred is far more important than its object. If your religious beliefs tell you that war is good, then you’ve really gone big time. Now you’re part of God’s plan. You’ll live after death, and perhaps we’ll all be better off if you bring on the death of us all.

But simplistic beliefs in good and evil don’t match up well with the real world, no matter how many people share them unquestioningly. They do not make you a master of the universe. On the contrary, they place control of your fate in the hands of people cynically manipulating you with war lies. And the hatred and bigotry don’t provide lasting satisfaction, but instead breed bitter resentment.

David Swanson is the author of “War Is A Lie” from which this is excerpted:


Rumors of Col. Imam’s Execution Turn Out To Be Wrong?

Ex -ISI official presumed to be dead is alive: report

Islamabad, Feb 15, (PTI):
A former ISI official, who was reported to have been killed by militants who abducted him, is alive and in the custody of Taliban fighters in the Waziristan tribal region, a media report said today.
The media had reported last month that Sultan Amir Tarar alias Colonel Imam was executed by a little-known militant faction called the Asian Tigers in North Waziristan Agency after authorities turned down its demands for his release.

However, the Express Tribune newspaper reported today that Colonel Imam is alive and his family is “negotiating with the captors to secure his release”. A Taliban faction that had close ties with the Colonel during the jihad against Soviet troops in Afghanistan is trying to broker a deal, the sources were quoted as saying.

The abductors have demanded Rs 50 million and the release of some jailed militants for Colonel Imam’s freedom, the report said. The government rejected these demands, forcing the former ISI official’s family to collect the amount on its own.

The family is hoping that the abductors will settle for the ransom alone, the report said. The family has decided to sell its house in Lahore and some friends have agreed to contribute money.

It is believed the abductors are not executing the Colonel because of his close links with Taliban chief Mullah Omar and other senior militant commanders. Col Imam was kidnapped with another former ISI official Khalid Khwaja, and Asad Qureshi, a British journalist of Pakistani origin, in Waziristan in March last year.

Qureshi was released in September after paying a ransom of Rs 20 million while Khwaja was executed by his captors in April.

Two Heads of the Seven-Headed Beast

Award: Former U.S. President George Bush will receive the Medal Of Freedom from Barack Obama today

Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. … I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come. This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. …The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire (Revelation 17:3-16).

Is “Alpha” Special Forces Commander the Kyrgyz “Lt. Calley,” in Bishkek Rioting Executions?

[SEE: The My Lai Massacre]

The commander of the Kyrgyz “Alpha” fired for posting on the deadly mission sniper accused in the massacre

Командир киргизской "Альфы" уволен за отправку на смертельное задание снайпера, обвиняемого в массовом убийстве
В ведомстве сообщили, что "руководством ГКНБ принято решение об отстранении от занимаемой должности командира спецподразделения "Альфа" ГКНБ КР
Командир киргизской "Альфы" уволен за отправку на смертельное задание снайпера, обвиняемого в массовом убийстве

Kyrgyz Prosecutor General’s Office has assigned management of the State Committee on National Security (SCNS), the country’s entire liability for death during the operation to eliminate insurgents security officials accused of mass executions of people during the change of power in Kyrgyzstan. In Office, reported that “the leadership of SCNS decision to dismiss from his post of commander of Special Forces Alpha SCNS Almazbek Dzholdoshalieva”, reports “Interfax” .

According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, during the investigation of a criminal investigation into themass shooting of citizens April 7, 2010 near Government House in Bishkek, seven special forces, “Alfa” National Security Committee of Kyrgyzstan have been accused of committing serious crimes.Among them was also killed on January 5 during a special operation sniper Jenishbek Babaraimov.

To the First District Court had made an application for election to the accused a preventive measure in the form of detention. However, the court rejected them, and the accused has chosen a measure of restraint in the form of house arrest. In this case, noted in the supervisory authority, the accused were prevented from leaving their place of residence, and ordered to be on call of the investigation. Monitoring compliance with the restrictions was the responsibility of the National Security Committee.

At the time of the January 5, 2011 raid in the village of Besh-Kungei Alamudun rayon, Chui oblast, the criminal case on charges Babaraimova and others are in the production of the military court of Bishkek garrison. “In this regard, the responsibility for involving employees accused of committing serious crimes, to conduct special operations to neutralize criminals lies entirely on the direction of National Security Committee of the KR”, – underlined the Prosecutor General’s Office.

“It should be noted that the leadership of National Security Committee decided to remove from his post of commander of Special Forces Alpha SCNS Almazbek Dzholdoshalieva, and in respect of other employees” Alpha “of such a decision had been taken” – leads portal KG-INFO message to the Prosecutor General.

The clashes April 7, 2010 protesters and law enforcement agencies in Bishkek, killing two students of the Police Academy and 77 protesters, 300 injured.Those events led to the overthrow of the regime’s second President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

In that case, the defendants are 22. Among them, the majority of employees USO Alpha National Security Committee and State Guard Service (CDF).Another 9 people are on international wanted list. Among them are ex-President Bakiyev, his brother – Zhanysh sons – Marat and Maxim, the then head of intelligence, Murat Sutalinov and others.

Jan. 5 near Bishkek special operation was carried out to block a group of militants suspected of killing policemen and organization of terrorist acts.During the operation, three militants killed, one – badly wounded. In combat, killed Officer SCNS Babaraimov.

Meanwhile, the well-known human rights defender in Kyrgyzstan Cholpon Djakupova believes that the prosecution of the Kyrgyz special forces troops, “Alpha” should be discontinued “for lack of evidence.” “The death of the employee” Alpha “Jenish Babaraimova, which took place in a criminal case on the events of April 7, the rate of cynicism of the authorities of Kyrgyzstan, – she said. – He was on trial only for the fact that doing your duty.”

Two killed as more Bahrain protests called

Two killed as more Bahrain protests called

Bahraini protesters run for cover after police fired tear gas canisters to disperse them.

Bahraini protesters run for cover after police fired tear gas canisters to disperse them.

MANAMA: Two Shiite protesters have died after clashes with Bahraini police, officials and witnesses said on Tuesday, sparking calls to step up anti-government demonstrations and a mass turnout at their funerals.

“Fadel Salman Matrouk was shot by a hollow-point bullet in front of Suleimaneya hospital where people had gathered for the funeral of the first martyr,” Shiite opposition MP Khalil al-Marzooq told AFP by telephone.

The interior ministry said that “some of the people participating in the the funeral on Tuesday clashed with forces from a security patrol,” leading to Matrouk’s death.

“An investigation is underway to determine the circumstances surrounding the case,” it said.

Msheymah Ali died in the hospital on Monday night after he was wounded as Bahraini police dispersed crowds of anti-government protesters in a village east of Manama, officials said.

The interior ministry announced the death of a protester “due to his wounds” and opened an inquiry into whether police resorted to “unjustified use of arms” in dispersing the protest in Diya village.

Witnesses said Ali was wounded late on Monday during clashes between demonstrators and police.

News of the two deaths prompted activists, who posted pictures of both men on a Facebook page, to call for a huge turnout at their funerals and to step up anti-government protests.

Witnesses told AFP that protests were held Monday in a string of Shiite-majority villages to the west, east and north of the capital as well as in the historic Balad al-Qadim quarter of Manama city centre.

Turnout at the rallies ranged from between a few dozen to hundreds of people, they said.

“There were no arrests during the demonstrations, but the police in some cases clashed with the protesters,” a police official told AFP.

Security forces were deployed in force along the main routes into Manama in a bid to head off rallies called on the Internet, mirroring similar online initiatives around the Arab world.

The Facebook page which called for a February 14 uprising, inspired by the protests which ousted the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, had attracted more than 22,000 “likes” by Tuesday.

A message on the page read: “This is your chance to open the way for political and social reforms in line with changes taking place in the Middle East. On February 14, we will chant together: ‘The people want reform of the regime.'”

As in other Arab countries, tech-savvy Bahrainis are using the Internet to demand that the government create jobs for unemployed young people and increase wages.

Shiite-majority Bahrain is ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa family of King Hamad, which retains a tight grip on the premiership and key ministries.

In the 1990s, the Arab state which faces Iran across the Gulf waterway, was plagued by a wave of Shiite-led unrest that has abated since 2001 reforms restored parliament.

But the Shiite opposition opposes the elected house’s legislative powers being shared with an appointed upper house and accuses authorities of trying to alter the archipelago’s demographic make-up by naturalising Sunni immigrants.

– AFP/ir

Clinton Pulling the Trigger On Iran

[The very audacity of the United States government, to just boldly call for revolution in Iran, after everybody from Obama on down openly meddled in Egyptian affairs, without any other world power objecting in any way, tells us that the “New World Order” is already here and that we have not yet recognized that fact.  It is little wonder that we have failed so miserably in our efforts to stop the NWO, always at least two steps behind the globalist schemers.  They have already entrenched their overseers in other national governments, while they go after the last hold-outs.  On some issues, it seems, American manipulators can dictate their wishes to the world.

If America wins…

As seen in previous American “colored revolutions,” the original submissiveness to American demands fades after time, leading eventually to counter-colored revolutions, like the recent reversals in Ukraine and Krygyzstan.  With the apparently pro-Moscow tilt of the counter-colored revolutions, we see that anti-American interests are served in the end, meaning that the American colored revolutions produce short-term advantages for the US side, at best.  This tells us that Obama can expect to have a 2-4 year window of opportunity to be gained from the wave of smelly revolutions now sweeping N. Africa and the Middle East.  “IF” everything goes according to the Imperial plan….

America’s big problem is that the revolutions are happening in countries where the people already hate us for empowering the bad guy governments that have tortured and murdered them and their families.  For this God-awful plan to succeed, will require deceiving entire populations, for extended periods of time, after the revolutions, but without pre-revolutionary certainty of control.

This is all a H-U-G-E gamble on the Imperialist’s part.  It is a sure sign of the desperation of the hour.  America is playing for keeps, and this is an “ALL OR NOTHING” kind of bet, just like the rising conflict with Pakistan over the “Raymond Davis” issue.  We have all been focusing too much on the idea of America winning all the marbles–we should have been more concerned with what happens

if America loses?]

Mrs Clinton told reporters that the US administration “very clearly and directly” supports the protesters.

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US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton: “We support the universal human rights of the Iranian people.”

“What we see happening in Iran today is a testament to the courage of the Iranian people, and an indictment of the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime – a regime which over the last three weeks has constantly hailed what went on in Egypt,” she said.

Mrs Clinton said the US had the same message for the Iranian authorities as it did for those in Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down after 29 years in power by nationwide mass protests.

“We are against violence and we would call to account the Iranian government that is once again using its security forces and resorting to violence to prevent the free expression of ideas from their own people,” she said.

“We think that there needs to be a commitment to open up the political system in Iran, to hear the voices of the opposition and civil society,” she added.

Earlier on Monday, police placed the opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, under house arrest and blocked access to his home.

His website said they intended to prevent the former prime minister attending the Tehran rally.

Fellow opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi, a former speaker of parliament and a senior cleric, is also reportedly being held under house arrest.

Both men disputed the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009, which triggered protests that drew the largest crowds in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The authorities responded by launching a brutal crackdown.

The opposition says more than 80 of its supporters were killed over the following six months, a figure the government disputes. Several have been sentenced to death, and dozens jailed.

Although Iran’s establishment supported the Egyptian and Tunisian protests, describing them as an “Islamic awakening” inspired by the Islamic Revolution, it said the opposition rallies were a “political move”.

The My Lai Massacre, Orders from Above–Lest we forget

The My Lai Massacre

Marines blow up Viet Cong bunkers and tunnels. On March 16, 1968 the angry and frustrated men of Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, Americal Division entered the Vietnamese village of My Lai. “This is what you’ve been waiting for — search and destroy — and you’ve got it,” said their superior officers. A short time later the killing began. When news of the atrocities surfaced, it sent shockwaves through the U.S. political establishment, the military’s chain of command, and an already divided American public.

Poised for Conflict
My Lai lay in the South Vietnamese district of Son My, a heavily mined area where the Vietcong were deeply entrenched. Numerous members of Charlie Company had been maimed or killed in the area during the preceding weeks. The agitated troops, under the command of Lt. William Calley, entered the village poised for engagement with their elusive enemy.

As the “search and destroy” mission unfolded, it soon degenerated into the massacre of over 300 apparently unarmed civilians including women, children, and the elderly. Calley ordered his men to enter the village firing, though there had been no report of opposing fire. According to eyewitness reports offered after the event, several old men were bayoneted, praying women and children were shot in the back of the head, and at least one girl was raped and then killed. For his part, Calley was said to have rounded up a group of the villagers, ordered them into a ditch, and mowed them down in a fury of machine gun fire.

Call for Investigation
William Calley Word of the atrocities did not reach the American public until November 1969, when journalist Seymour Hersh published a story detailing his conversations with a Vietnam veteran, Ron Ridenhour. Ridenhour learned of the events at My Lai from members of Charlie Company who had been there. Before speaking with Hersh, he had appealed to Congress, the White House, and the Pentagon to investigate the matter. The military investigation resulted in Calley’s being charged with murder in September 1969 — a full two months before the Hersh story hit the streets.

Questions About Soldiers’ Conduct
As the gruesome details of My Lai reached the American public, serious questions arose concerning the conduct of American soldiers in Vietnam. A military commission investigating the massacre found widespread failures of leadership, discipline, and morale among the Army’s fighting units. As the war progressed, many “career” soldiers had either been rotated out or retired. Many more had died. In their place were scores of draftees whose fitness for leadership in the field of battle was questionable at best. Military officials blamed inequities in the draft policy for the often slim talent pool from which they were forced to choose leaders. Many maintained that if the educated middle class (“the Harvards,” as they were called) had joined in the fight, a man of Lt. William Calley’s emotional and intellectual stature would never have been issuing orders.

Orders from Above?
Calley, an unemployed college dropout, had managed to graduate from Officer’s Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1967. At his trial, Calley testified that he was ordered by Captain Ernest Medina to kill everyone in the village of My Lai. Still, there was only enough photographic and recorded evidence to convict Calley, alone, of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison, but was released in 1974, following many appeals. After being issued a dishonorable discharge, Calley entered the insurance business.