Shortly after World War II, the well-known psychologist Carl Jung ascribed a collective guilt to Germans for the crimes of the Nazi Party, Kollektivschuld. Whether Germans realized it or not, the horrors carried out in their borders, by their leaders, and with their tacit blessing would come to bear on their national psyche. To reinforce this feeling of Kollektivschuld, the U.S. and the UK hit Germany with propaganda posters following the war, depicting images of the Holocaust and sternly reminding the German people, “These atrocities: you are to blame!”
A series of photographs reveal torture and humiliation at Abu Ghraib.
So at what point must we, the people of the U.S., acknowledge our own Kollektivschuld for the crimes of our leaders? Few crimes in world history, let alone U.S. history, compare to the Holocaust, but there is still plenty to reckon with that we have yet to maturely confront: the genocide of American Indians, the enslavement of Africans, a system of racism and violence against blacks that continues to the present, the use of napalm in Vietnam, the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan, support of brutal dictators and the overthrow of democratically elected governments, the war and sanctions in Iraq that killed perhaps a million or more people – and that’s just what springs to mind off the cuff. Continue reading
The Middle East has been the focus of great fuss in the century or so since the discovery of its oil. Iraq has been of particular interest to the U.S. since the 1980s, when the Reagan administration supplied Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein with weapons in his war against Iran, where a revolution had recently overthrown U.S.-installed leadership. When Hussein began acting aggressively without U.S. blessing in the early 90s, Washington turned on him. Since then, Iraq has been subjected to sanctions deemed “genocidal” by the UN diplomat responsible for overseeing them and military actions leading to the deaths of over a million Iraqis and the complete devastation of their infrastructure. In addition, there is widespread sectarian violence where previously there had been almost none as Sunnis and Shias turn on one another amid the chaos of war to fill political power vacuums. Continue reading
In terms of policy, the most-remembered legacy of President Obama’s administration will likely be its escalation of the NSA’s warrantless spying on tens of millions of American citizens. It’s a substantial and unprecedented overreach of the corporate-state alliance that’s completely eroded privacy and introduced a whole new level of paranoia to the American consciousness. But maybe that’s the idea – Big Brother wants to scare you. Continue reading