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'Military Humanitarianism' in the Twilight of Empire

by Jacob Freeze Sat Nov 3rd, 2007 at 08:45:03 PM EST

"Military humanitarianism" is a phrase coined by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek in the Guardian to describe the rationale behind the US invasion of Iraq and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

Under this doctrine, military intervention is dressed up as humanitarian salvation, justified according to depoliticised, universal human rights, so that anyone who opposes it is not only taking the enemy's side in an armed conflict but betraying the international community of civilized nations.

The United States is happy to reserve the privilege of "humanitarian war" for itself and Israel, preserving "universal human rights" against the threat of terrorism, but now that Turkey is claiming the same privilege to defend itself against Kurdish terrorists, "the community of civilized nations" has undergone a strange contraction.

For American neo-conservatives, Israel and the United States have always been the only "civilized nations," like a strangely disconnected Dual Empire surrounded by barbarian wilderness, and other nations could only attain a status of semi-civilization by slavishly endorsing every military adventure generated by the exigencies of American and Israeli politics. Tony Blair was the paradigm of a "good barbarian," and Zizek's homeland of Slovenia also enrolled itself under the banner of the "Coalition of the Willing."

Now the "Coalition of the Willing" is just a tattered memory, oil is selling for $96 per barrel, Turkey is about to invade Iraq for a much better reason than the United States ever had, and Russia has aligned itself with Iran against an American attack. The United States has long since run out of money to buy oil from the almost uniformly hostile oil-producing regions of the world, every aspect of the American economy depends on foreign credit, and every trinket in the national treasury has already been pawned to Chinese banks.

Professor Zizek feels the current of history flowing east, and in his role as a good Slovene he is preaching a radical realignment away from the twilight Empire of the United States, Israel, and even the American dependencies in "old Europe."

Only by means of a "sectarian split" from the standard European legacy, by cutting ourselves off the decaying corpse of old Europe, can we keep the renewed European legacy alive.

As the real power of the United States declines, national pride can only be assuaged by inflated rhetoric and exaggerated symbolic displays. In the glory days of American supremacy, General George Marshall wore three rows of decorations, but General David Petraeus is adorned with nine rows of meaningless hash, none of it commemorating anything like valor.  Likewise George W. Bush embellishes his pitiful blunders with grander and grander pretentions, "military humanitarianism" rampant on a field of gold, and the stupefied electorate is only dimly aware of how far its Empire has already fallen.  


Display:
Decorations and badges (incomplete)

U.S. military decorations

    * Defense Distinguished Service Medal
    * Distinguished Service Medal (with Oak Leaf Clusters)
    * Defense Superior Service Medal (with Oak Leaf Clusters)
    * Legion of Merit (with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters)
    * Bronze Star Medal (with "V" Device)
    * Defense Meritorious Service Medal
    * Meritorious Service Medal (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters)
    * Joint Service Commendation Medal
    * Army Commendation Medal (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters)
    * Joint Service Achievement Medal
    * Army Achievement Medal

U.S. unit awards

    * Joint Meritorious Unit Award (with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters)
    * Army Meritorious Unit Commendation
    * Army Superior Unit Award

U.S. non-military decorations

    * State Department Superior Honor Award

U.S. service (campaign) medals and service and training ribbons

    * National Defense Service Medal (with 2 Service Stars)
    * Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
    * Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
    * Iraq Campaign Medal
    * Armed Forces Service Medal
    * Humanitarian Service Medal
    * Army Service Ribbon
    * Army Overseas Service Ribbon (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters)

U.S. badges, patches and tabs

    * Combat Action Badge
    * Expert Infantryman Badge
    * Master Parachutist Badge
    * Air Assault Badge
    * Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
    * Army Staff Identification Badge
    * Ranger Tab
    * Multi-National Force - Iraq Patch
    * 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Patch

Foreign military decorations

    * Gold Award of the Iraqi Order of the Date Palm

Foreign badges, patches and tabs

    * British Parachutist Badge
    * French Parachutist Badge
    * German Parachutist Badge

Non-U.S. service medals and ribbons

    * United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) Medal[91]
    * NATO Meritorious Service Medal

Bibliography


If you read the description and I understand what they are issued for then he's got at least four medals just for going to Iraq! (and there are a couple more that could also be for the same thing!)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Nov 3rd, 2007 at 09:45:59 PM EST
That can't be real!

(I only posted on European Tribune out of admiration for Jerome, and the rest of it is just a sad joke.)
by Jacob Freeze on Sat Nov 3rd, 2007 at 10:01:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
do you really want me to check?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 04:36:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the groupnewsblog did a breakdown of those - don't have time to check right now.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 05:32:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I checked. If it doesn't exist, then the hoax is hosted in very high places.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 09:34:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That one does just sound Third grade banana republic military dictator special issue and I can't find any other references to that medal anywhere.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 07:13:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This thing is apparently real, at least in terms of the reality of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. It's mentioned on the OSD website here.

Also, from US News and World Report:

The Tangled History of the Date Palm
Lt. Gen. David Petraeus spent more than two years in Iraq, first leading the 101st Airborne into battle in the initial invasion, then overseeing Mosul, and finally as the leader of the effort to rebuild the Iraqi Army and police until stepping down last month. For his efforts, Iraq made him the first American general to receive the Golden Award of the Iraqi Order of the Date Palm, one of the nation's highest honors. Here's the rest of the story: The medal was originally presented during the Saddam Hussein era. And it was pinned on by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi, the Pentagon's favorite exile before the war who was later accused of being a spy. It's just the latest example of how confusing the situation in Iraq can be.

So this thing was apparently resuscitated from the Saddam Hussein era especially to be awarded to Petraeus, and it's real, but in Iraq reality isn't all that far from bullshit.

(I only posted on European Tribune out of admiration for Jerome, and the rest of it is just a sad joke.)

by Jacob Freeze on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 10:35:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So it's as if Eisenhower had been awarded the Iron Cross by the new German government after WWII. that is utterly mind boggling.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 10:43:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And I wonder what senior Iraqis who are on the US deck of cards he shares it with.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 10:45:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do we have any Arabic speakers around Eurotrib? If we knew how to google Order of the Date Palm in Arabic, we might have a BIG SCOOP for European Tribune! Imagine the wonderfulness of it if Chemical Ali got the same award!

Seriously, who can we ask? When I lived in Minneapolis, I used to know a dozen Arabic speakers, but I'm stuck in the boonies right now, and I know nobody!

Help!

(I only posted on European Tribune out of admiration for Jerome, and the rest of it is just a sad joke.)

by Jacob Freeze on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 10:51:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that's just what I was thinking

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 10:52:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK according to This discussion (including pictures) it's worn on the breast without a ribbon, Most of the pictures, pre-trial actually cut him off at shoulder level, the only one I've been able to find is on Global securitys website and it's just to blurred to tell what medal is actually on his chest. Unfortunately there's no pics I've managed to find of him in full dress uniform.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 11:12:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A picture would also be good, but if we find somebody from the famous "deck of cards" who got that award, just as you said, it would be just wonderful!

We need an Arabic speaker to run this down. I'm calling around to see who I can find.

Let's nail this!

(I only posted on European Tribune out of admiration for Jerome, and the rest of it is just a sad joke.)

by Jacob Freeze on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 11:15:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in the discussion about medals that I mentioned further up the page, a person who claims to be an Iraqi medal dealer says that the proper name for the medal is
Its called The Order of The Honor of Defence on Land and Homeland Qaddissieyyat Saddam, issued 1983.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 11:22:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And it's specifically the gold one,the plain version is common as muck, theres a rare silver version, so the gold one you would assume would be very rare

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 11:27:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe we should put this up as a query on Daily Kos? I have an account there, but I don't want to put it up unless you think it's okay, since we sort of developed the story together. What do you think?

Something like...

Call For Arabic Speakers to Investigate Petraeus

and then the blurb from US News and World Report, and a call for people to scan the net for references to previous recipients.

But it has to be exactly the "Gold Award of the Order of the Date Palm," or some very minor variation, or else the whole thing gets too ambiguous.

(I only posted on European Tribune out of admiration for Jerome, and the rest of it is just a sad joke.)

by Jacob Freeze on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 11:42:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fine by me, If it is a story it's better that it gets out.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 11:55:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the silver and bronze editions of the medal are far to common,

We're looking for previous recipients of the gold medal

we have the links to the various wikipedia and US sources, they should be included too. lay everything out that we've put together and see what other people can add.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 12:01:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It here.

If you want me to add something specific to the story, let me know. I gave credit to you and European Tribune right at the top.

(I only posted on European Tribune out of admiration for Jerome, and the rest of it is just a sad joke.)

by Jacob Freeze on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 12:18:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Gold Award of the Order of the Date Palm" gets no Google hits. You want "Gold Award of the Iraqi Order of the Date Palm".

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 09:41:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, in the US military one is not required to wear foreign awards/medals anyway, and it looks by the list he would probably not have room or weight lifting capacity for all of them unless he attached them to a cape and flung it over his back.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 12:19:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well he may not be required to wear it, but he has received it, now all we need is a picture or a reference to a notorious Iraqi having it. Chemical Ali has a broad selection of bodyless photos and my written arabic is non existent to do any text searches.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 12:33:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What about Stormypresent in Egypt?

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 07:47:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
apparently not about till tomorrow, and we're far too impatient.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 07:49:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
speaks it, but she's absent until tomorrow (Monday) noon.
This is worth sending her an email.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 04:31:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only by means of a "sectarian split" from the standard European legacy, by cutting ourselves off the decaying corpse of old Europe, can we keep the renewed European legacy alive.

Ah yes, Old Europe.  We all know nothing good ever came out of that place.

We all bleed the same color.

by budr on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 06:34:47 AM EST
yup, that new europe is a real magnet for tourists....

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 01:25:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only by means of a "sectarian split" from the standard European legacy, by cutting ourselves off the decaying corpse of old Europe, can we keep the renewed European legacy alive.
Does Zizek forget that it was "Old Europe" that opposed the Imperial adventure in Iraq, while "New Europe" tagged along happily?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 01:26:10 PM EST
I'm afraid you've made a mistake, Migeru:

Does Zizek forget doublethink that it was "Old Europe" that opposed the Imperial adventure in Iraq, while "New Europe" tagged along happily?

There, corrected it for you

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 08:08:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
another guardian essay on this is here

Torture and "humanitarian war" are similar in many ways. Both involve the inflicting of violence in order to force a change of behaviour. Both are predicated on the assumption of guilt: torture is justified because the victim is said to be a terrorist, or an "illegal combatant" who has committed or is about to commit a terrible crime, while pre-emptive war is justified because a state is said to be "a rogue state" violating international law (Iraq) or committing crimes against humanity (Yugoslavia). It is therefore no coincidence that the US administration that justifies its wars in the name of claims about humanity and its right to liberty also advocates the use of torture to protect these.


keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 6th, 2007 at 11:42:58 AM EST


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