USA: Police State

Imperial Gangbangers

by William N. Grigg

Florida Republican congressional candidate Allen West has been accused of consorting with bad company, in the form of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. Whatever else can be said about the Outlaws, they are a far more reputable outfit than the gang Lt. Col. West used to hang with — the armed forces of Washington’s empire.

For the most part, the Outlaws MC consists of hard-living but essentially decent people. Some of the club’s members have used and dealt drugs — which is foolish and self-destructive, but shouldn’t be a crime. Others have been sent to prison for actual crimes of violence; those who have been incarcerated are numbered among the highly esteemed “One Percenters.”

The important fact here is the Outlaws have never invaded and occupied a distant country, terrorizing innocent people and killing upwards of 100,000 of them. Allen West cites his participation in a world-historic crime of violence against Iraq as his chief credential for elected office.

West was reprimanded for an incident in which he terrorized an Iraqi detainee by discharging a firearm next to his head. West insists that his action was justified in order to protect the men of his unit, who faced the kind of dangers that should be expected by any armed gang that storms into a neighborhood where they’re unwelcome. Though that action earned him a rebuke, a fine, and an early forced retirement from the military, it enhanced West’s standing among the military-worshiping statists who compose the Republican Party’s core constituency.

At some public gatherings West has relied on bikers –including Outlaws — for “security.” This led to an incident straight out of Weimar-era Germany in which a group of leather-clad bikers — acting on West’s instructions to “escort” a videographer from a public gathering — surrounded and threatened the young man, forcing him to leave:

In early September, West was a featured speaker at another biker-themed gathering, the “L10 Freedom Ride” rally in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. That event was held to express support for ten members of the U.S. military who have been incarcerated at Ft. Leavenworth prison for individual crimes committed within the context of the immeasurably larger state crime called the Iraq War. (One of them, Evan Vela Carnahan, is the son of a very close friend of mine from High School.)

“We are going to free these men,” West told the assembly. Expecting troops deployed on imperial errands overseas to exercise restraint is “political correctness,” West insisted, since they confront “an enemy that has no respect for human life.”

It’s a continuing source of wonder that the Empire always confronts enemies of that kind. From the Philippines to Vietnam to Iraq to Somalia to Afghanistan to Iraq once again, Washington’s benevolent armed emissaries have always confronted the grim necessity of slaughtering countless thousands of barbarous people who have no respect for human life.

Barbarians! How dare you resist the march of civilization?

Surveying the wreckage of a bombarded town in Iraq, a Marine Lieutenant commented to war correspondent Evan Wright that the carnage was produced by a new breed of nihilistic warriors.

“Did you see what they did to that town?” the officer asked Wright. “They f***ing destroyed it.” Unlike the American fighting men during WWII, the fighters who had laid waste to that Iraqi city “have no problem with killing.”

That is to say that they, unlike their forebears, were not inhibited by respect for human life. It must be remembered that the Lieutenant was describing, with obvious admiration, the Marines under his command, not the Iraqi “terrorists” who were fighting back.

The mindset Wright describes in his book Generation Kill is displayed in much greater detail in Hard Corps: From Gangster to Marine Hero, the battlefield memoir of Iraq veteran Marco Martinez.

A product of a military family from Albuquerque, Martinez enlisted in Latino street gangs as a teenager. He was “rescued” from a life of private-sector gangsterism througha federally funded, police-supervised school program called GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training), which eventually led him to enroll in the ROTC program at his High School. This curriculum prepared Martinez for a career as a state-authorized gang-banger.

“Salvation from a civilian existence is through these doors, boys,” Martinez and several other enlistees were told as they assembled at the local recruiting station. Like most gang-bangers, Martinez was susceptible to an appeal based on tribal and territorial loyalties, so he was an apt pupil at boot camp. Discipline refined his instinct for violence; training enhanced his capacity to inflict it; and the potted platitudes of nationalism sanctified his urge to kill into something he believed was noble.

Reciting the Rifleman’s Creed “got me so fired up that it put me into a blood lust,” Martinez recalls. “I wanted to kill America’s enemies. I could see and taste it.”

That opportunity came in April 2003, one month after the Idiot King ordered the assault on Iraq. Corporal Martinez was part of a 42-man Marine platoon that was dispatched on a “contact patrol” in the town of Al-Tarmiya, a predominantly Sunni town about sixty miles north of Baghdad.

A “contact patrol,” Martinez explains, “is the most coveted of infantry patrols…. Marines on contact patrol become human wrecking balls, leaving maximum carnage in their path, as any person encountered, armed, is to be considered hostile and killed at will.'”

This was not the first time Martinez had carried out a mission of that kind. As a street thug, he and his buddies would often go out on “contact patrol” by rolling into a rival gang’s turf, seeking to provoke a firefight by throwing gang signs and calling out their “sets” at their enemies.

“You are to take out anybody displaying any type of aggression toward U.S. forces,” explained the lieutenant commanding Martinez’s platoon prior to the mission in Al-Tarmiya. How residents of a neighborhood could be guilty of “aggression” by displaying hostility toward armed invaders, the lieutenant didn’t explain. In any case, the rules of engagement were clearly intended to bring about the result Martinez described: The Marines were being send into Al-Tarmiya to provoke a firefight and kill as many people as possible.

Shortly after the platoon was deployed, Martinez’s squad was ambushed by a group of guerrillas. The squad leader was severely wounded. Martinez identified the source of the gunfire, threw a grenade into the nearby building, then stormed in and gunned down four Iraqis.

That this was an act of individual courage is impossible to deny. Martinez’s actions saved the life of his squad leader (who was left crippled by his injury, and actually became a public opponent of the Iraq War after leaving the military). But the word “heroism” isn’t appropriate here — unless we could apply it just as accurately to similar actions taken by a street-level gangster in an inner-city turf war.

“I was glad we were in this firefight because to me, the more enemy you eliminate the easier it gets farther down the road,” Martinez later commented. “I had such deep hatred for the cowards that did what they did [on September 11th] that you could say it was a joyous occasion for me because I was able to do my job and eliminate the enemy.”

Of course, the Iraqis Martinez killed were his “enemy” only because the criminal Regime he served sent him to invade their city. Martinez and his fellow Marines had no legal or moral right to be where they were, and the Iraqis who ambushed them had every moral and legal right to do so.

But for Martinez, and others who celebrate the Regime’s killing apparatus, such acts of gang violence writ large are sanctified by the State’s imprimatur.

“All those times that I’d carried a gun as a teenager had been for sh*t,” writes Martinez in Hard Corps. “My friends at the time and I were prepared to shoot and get shot at over girls, cars, money, or something as stupid as the way somebody looked at us…. But my Marine buddies and I carried weapons to defend our nation against its enemies. We, like millions who came before us, used the awesome might of America’s military power for liberation, not conquest…. Terrorists knowingly and intentionally target civilians, people who never signed up for battle or chose to enter a military conflict. But every Ninja-pajama-wearing motherf***er who ambushed us that day had entered the battlefield with the full and complete knowledge of the consequences.”

Of course, those people didn’t “enter the battlefield”; they were on their home soil when they engaged an enemy who invaded their town.

In his memoir Martinez describes how, after returning to Albuquerque, he was invited to tag along with a Marine recruiter on a visit to his old high school. Spying a young gang-banger who resembled himself a few years earlier, Martinez tried out a sales pitch not all that different from the one used to entice youngsters into less murderous street gangs: Look at my bling, look at my cool ride….

“The Marine Corps has a lot of things to offer,” Martinez told the teenager. “Look, man — I got a Rolex, a nice car…..  You could get out of this place and see the world, bro.”

“I don’t want to go to war,” the young man quite sensibly replied.

Martinez’s profane, abusive reaction was precisely what one would expect from a street thug:

“I thought you were a straight-up gangster, homeboy. You’re just a f*****g p***y.” When the teenager took offense, Martinez decided to stage his own one-man “contact patrol”: “What the f**k you going to do? I’ll f**k you up in a quick second.”

Such was the behavior of what the Navy Times describes as “a gangster turned hero,” an individual who had been a “small-minded, petty and violent criminal” before experiencing “the redemptive power of military service.” Somehow the “before” and “after” portraits of that supposedly dramatic transformation don’t strike me as all that different.

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