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Wikileaks, War Crimes and the Rise of the Fascist State

On March 19, 2003, I was sitting at the bar of Jaks Tap in Chicago’s West Loop with a friend when the large television screen above flickered for a moment. The image of George Bush floated on. The volume went up. The bar fell silent.

“My fellow citizens, at this hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.”

When the president was done with his speech, the bar erupted in applause and cheering. The sound of a lone voice screaming “F**k!” was drowned out by the jubilation.

That image has haunted me as though a harbinger of terrible atrocities to come; a sign that the greater majority had been thoroughly duped by a corrupted press, drunk on imperialism and co-opted supremacy. I wondered in that moment if those who did hear the shouted expletive understood that it might not be a celebratory moment for anyone with a brother, a son, or a daughter certain to be sent off to battle. Could it be that war is not so abstract an endeavour as it appears on television, indistinguishable from Hollywood movies, which, interestingly enough, are often nothing more than multi-million dollar recruitment ads for and crafted by the military. And let us not speak of the countless Iraqis who would surely die in the process. Misery, death and destruction were a small price to pay for democracy, never mind that it was never a free market decision in the first place.

Despite all the warmongering in the lead-up to the invasion, and a concerted effort by the Pentagon to leak fallacious information that was published as fact without further investigation by even the most esteemed newspapers of our time, I was well aware that the intelligence reports being used to make the case for war were adulterated at best. No independent agency had found credible evidence of an active weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program in Iraq. The infamous yellow cake documents, purporting to show evidence of a large Iraqi purchase of low-grade uranium from Niger, had proved to be forgeries. This information was readily available to anyone with an Internet connection. On March 7, 2003 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published a report stating:

“Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents – which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger – are in fact not authentic.”

It was later revealed that a simple Google search was used to prove they were fakes. Apart from CNN, no mainstream news outlet in the U.S. reported this important detail. The march to war had taken on such momentum, there was no longer an option to press pause. True journalism, as it were, was relegated to the “hardly legitimate” blogosphere or the fringe left of the dying republic.

According to a March 2003 Gallup poll, 54% of Americans supported the invasion without a UN Security Council resolution. Two months later, once the war had begun, that number jumped to 79%. Americans, it was clear, were backing the invasion overwhelmingly. The news machine had done its job for the war machine, burying the fourth estate along the way.

In the UK, support for the invasion was slightly lower yet comparable, but public opinion voiced in the streets was substantially more notable for its unprecedented numbers, with a near 2 million taking part in the global day of action on February 15, 2003 in London. The largest anti-war protest in history took place in Rome on that same day, with an estimated turnout of 3 million. To match those numbers per capita, the U.S. would have had to mobilize 16 million, but statistics show there were never more than a few hundred thousand who hit the streets. Arguably, the events of September 11 rendered the traumatized American public more submissive to official foreign policy aims, but it says a lot about the manipulation of popular opinion at a time when the decision to launch a second war was on the table.

There was no evidence, and there never will be, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, or that he had ties to Al Qaeda, or that Iraq had anything whatsoever to do with September 11, and the corporate media, with few exceptions, dutifully chose not to report this. Apologists will say this was an error of judgement at an uncertain moment in history, but watchdog groups and media analysts will tell you it is behaviour that is simply mandated by the rules of engagement for an indoctrinated press, coached to beat the war drum in tandem with its leaders.

It echoes the rise of the Fascist state when the checks and balances of democracy fall like dominoes, and hardly a distinction can be made between the call to duty of a soldier and the obedience of a civilian press. While historically this is nothing new in times of crisis, the trend continues today in the absence of a national tragedy, and there is evidence that the erosion of due process and civil liberties may even be metastasizing.

Come the largest intelligence leak in the history of the world, Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs, and nothing has changed, nor should we expect the corporate media to step out of rhythm with its rank and file brethren anytime soon. As we watch the U.S. bury its collective head further into the sand following the release of nearly 400,000 secret documents, which show glaring evidence of war crimes, I cannot help but wonder what the dozens who cheered the invasion on that fateful day in Chicago, or the millions who shared the sentiment, might be thinking today.

Prior to the leaks, the Pentagon issued a statement urging news outlets to ignore the coming document dump completely. In large part, that is exactly what happened. Mainstream outlets that did address the leak focused on Iran’s support of the insurgency. Or, in a desperate struggle to find even a shred of evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction, others pointed to the handful of antiquated chemical labs discovered by American troops.

Then there were those who fixated on the possibility of prosecuting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for treason, even though he is not a U.S. citizen, or under the Espionage Act, even though he is the publisher and not the leaker. But Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) thinks talk of legal action is largely posturing.

“The U.S. has taken this odd position,” he says, “because [on] one level they say this stuff was all out there…and we all knew this, and yet, to actually prosecute Wikileaks in any way, they have to essentially prove that this really harmed the national security of the United States, and they seem to be in a pickle on that one, for starters…Secondly how can they go after Wikileaks and not go after The New York Times, The Guardian and every other paper, because why is Wikileaks any different than the New York Times that published the papers?”

Others in the mainstream media chose to hone in on Mr. Assange’s personal affairs with two Swedish women that resulted in trumped up sexual misconduct allegations, which to this day are conveniently still pending. American journalists have by and large failed to look into the matter beyond its surface value, for if they did, they would find ample evidence of serious crime by those who conspire to dismantle Wikileaks and discredit its founder.

It’s not the first time someone associated with Wikileaks was targeted on sexual matters. In March 2009, Theodor Reppe’s home in Germany was raided by police on the basis of a suspicion of “distribution of pornographic material.” Mr. Reppe happened to be hosting the German server for Wikileaks’ website, which, in the interest of press freedom, had published a leaked list of websites censored by the governments of Australia, Thailand and other countries. Included on that list were paedophile websites. While police admitted that Mr. Reppe’s function within Wikileaks was the reason for the search, no further information was ever given.

In Sweden it is illegal for authorities to name a suspect in a sexual misconduct investigation who has yet to be charged, yet on-call prosecutor Maria Häljebo Kjellstrand fingered Assange when she confirmed the bold-faced leak to the press. Additionally, reports that the U.S. threatened to withhold intelligence from Sweden if they gave safe haven to Wikileaks have led to suspicions that there may be a deliberate effort to keep the charges pending. As long as the “investigation” remains open, each time Mr. Assange is mentioned in an article, a reference can be made to the embarrassing accusations, thus undermining his credibility globally. It’s the oldest smear trick on the books, and the media has played along like a pack of well-trained lapdogs.

Mr. Assange appropriately decided to walk out on an interview with CNN’s Atika Shubert when she pressed him on the legal issue, accusing her of contaminating Wikileaks’ revelation of “the deaths of a 104,000 people with attacks against [his] person.” Far be it from the American media to turn attention to the legal issues surrounding the very real allegations of war crimes revealed in the documents, a much needed national discussion that has been stifled by discretionary and juridical decisions at the top levels of government.

Obama’s position on investigating war crimes by his predecessors was made abundantly clear when he took office. His “look-forward-not-back” stance led to an interesting exchange in early 2009 between veteran White House Press Corp member Helen Thomas and Obama’s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:

THOMAS: Why does he say don’t look back?

GIBBS: Well because, Helen, there are important things that face this country right now, each and every day.

THOMAS: Does he think that nobody should pay a price for the horror that we have gotten into?

GIBBS: The president, first and foremost and most importantly, has changed the policy of this country by which anybody who works for this government can act. History, I think, will be left to historians…But I think it is important to understand that the most important step that was taken in all of this debate was to end once and for all the use of enhanced interrogation techniques by any member of this government.

Indeed, one of the first things Obama did when he took office was to ban waterboarding, a term, first used by the New York Times in 2004, that sounds more like a sport for lunching ladies than a very dangerous form of torture that carries with it serious health and psychological risks, including death. We now know the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was undeniably aware of the risks after a series of documents were made public amid the “Torture Memos” probe. In fact, they were so well acquainted with the danger of lethal consequences, that they recommended using saline to prevent death from a lack of sodium in the blood (due to large quantities of ingested water), putting the victims on a liquid diet to reduce the risk of them choking on their own vomit, and required having the necessary medical staff and equipment on hand to perform an emergency tracheotomy in the event of acute larynx spasm, which prevents breathing and can quickly lead to death. The memos also asked that waterboarding sessions be documented in intricate detail to “inform future medical judgments and recommendations.” Could this horrifying evidence be what was on those 92 tapes the agency destroyed? It smacks of Mengele’s human experiments, and yet no one is going to be held accountable for this?

In the early days of his presidency, Obama acknowledged waterboarding was torture, but chose his words carefully, referring to the Bush administration’s use of it as a “mistake,” rather than a criminal offence that constitutes a war crime under article 2441 of the U.S. penal code. The practice, incidentally, has been classified as torture in the U.S. since time immemorial, and as Senator Patrick Leahy noted during Attorney General Eric Holder’s confirmation hearings “waterboarding has been recognized to be torture since the time of the Spanish Inquisition. The United States have [sic] prosecuted American soldiers for using this technique earlier in the last century. They prosecuted Japanese soldiers for using it on Americans in WWII.”

Holder concurred, thankfully, but while waterboarding has officially ceased, other serious violations of the Geneva Conventions continue on Obama’s watch, a detail that makes prosecuting members of the previous administration now virtually impossible since the current one would also be subject to the same legal magnifying glass. This might help to explain why the media seems on the whole to be ignoring the Wikileaks documents. It’s a stinging reminder of unfinished business.

Elsewhere, the leak inspired others to call for an investigation, including Deputy Prime Minister of Britain, Nick Clegg, Danish Prime Minister Anders Rasmussen, the UN, Amnesty International, RSF, ACLU and Human Rights Watch, just to name a few. By contrast, President Obama has yet to even address the issue, and his Attorney General Holder seemed more concerned with making sure people in California didn’t acquire the right to get high on cannabis, than addressing allegations of war crimes by his nation’s top brass.

To be fair, and to his great credit, Holder did try in earnest to bring those responsible for the torture memos to justice, but fire breathing emanating from the White House hindered his efforts and the case ended with a mere rebuke of torture memo architects John Yoo and Jay Bybee. The political reasoning behind this was that an indictment could have a “chilling effect,” putting every future administration at risk of prosecution for war crimes – but isn’t that part of the whole checks and balances concept of American democracy?

Nothing could spell hypocrisy more clearly than the show trial of Canadian citizen Omar Khadr at the United States’ most notorious gulag. This child soldier was sentenced to a symbolic 40 years of prison for war crimes in late October by a military tribunal in Guantanamo. The plea bargain previously arranged, that limited time served to 8 years, involved an Iranian-styled forced confession to crimes he has maintained his innocence of ever since they stopped torturing him. He had a choice: either he faced life in prison and maintained his innocence, or he agreed to sign a confession against his will, stating that he killed an American soldier in battle and laid improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along roads in Afghanistan. After already 8 years languishing in Gitmo, he is likely to spend a total of 16 years in prison, despite the fact that the U.S. ratified the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in 2002, which mandates the rehabilitation of child soldiers and prohibits prosecution. The case was widely condemned by nearly every international human rights group from Amnesty International to the UN and beyond.

To measure the mockery of justice, the case of Ilario Pantano illustrates just how askew the judicial process really is. Pantano was acquitted in 2005 of premeditated murder on the grounds there was lack of evidence. Accused of having unloaded some 60 bullets into two unarmed Iraqi civilians and placing a placard on their corpses displaying his Marine Corps Battalion motto, “No better friend, No worse enemy,” Pantano himself never denied the accusations and went on to write a book championing his actions. He was lauded as a war hero, endorsed by Tea Party members, and led a very successful campaign for a congressional seat in North Carolina, coming away with 46% of the vote. Due process died a long time ago in the U.S. and with it reason, apparently.

The Wikileaks documents expose cases of wanton killing at military checkpoints with 80% of the victims being civilians. 15,000 previously unreported non-combatant deaths were also uncovered. It is sadly not surprising to learn this, and it is difficult to imagine bringing all those responsible to justice. But other charges present far clearer avenues for legal recourse.

First, there is the issue of FRAGO 242, a fragmentary governmental order issued on June 26, 2004, two days before the U.S. officially handed power over to the Iraqis, which required American soldiers to report instances of torture by Iraqi forces but to do nothing about it. The secret documents that cover a six-year period show countless reports of horrifying instances of torture by Iraqi forces, such as beatings, electroshocks to the genitals, boring holes into victims with power drills (a trademark of the Shia militias), and murder. The Pentagon responded to the leaks by pointing to the fact that because they had already handed power to the Iraqis, they cannot be held responsible for failing to take action against troops they didn’t have the actual command authority over. “In fact I probably think they did,” says Michael Ratner of the CCR, “but from a general legal point of view they may not have. Is that a crime? I think it’s arguable that it’s a crime under the Geneva Conventions because [they] require you to ferret out and actually…prosecute any violation of [the] Geneva [Conventions] anywhere in the world. So under Geneva I would say it is a crime, but whether it would be a crime under U.S. law I think is a much harder question.”

The Wikileaks documents also reveal that 1 in 50 Iraqi men, approximately 180,000, were detained, and thousands of them were handed over to the Iraqis. On this point, Mr. Ratner is unequivocal. “Knowing that the Iraqis were going to torture, we turned people over to them — you can argue that’s aiding and abetting torture, it’s a conspiracy to commit torture. That’s clearly a violation under U.S. law.”

In the U.S., there are only two ways to bring a criminal prosecution against war criminals, the first being the Department of Defense, which, for obvious reasons, is not a viable avenue. The other option would be for Attorney General Holder to initiate a Grand Jury and get an indictment of Rumsfeld and the rest of his henchmen, but given the historic record of the last two years, that also is very unlikely.

Rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have tried to bring individual cases against complicit parties, such as with the recent Mohamed et. al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan case, where five torture victims sued the subsidiary of Boeing Company for providing planes to the CIA under the extraordinary rendition program. But the president evoked the “state secrets” privilege in September of this year, closing yet another door to justice. “Despite his promise that he would not take a blanket use of state secrets, [Obama] has done so in every case. Instead of taking the state secret on a particular piece of evidence, he goes in and asks that the entire case be dismissed,” says Ratner. Obama seems to be carrying on the Bush legacy on nearly every front, doing everything within his power to impede justice.

To get a sense of how badly things have gone wrong in the United States, attorneys have turned to the European courts for justice. While the U.S. did not ratify the Rome Statute, and Iraq is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the tribunal does have jurisdiction in Afghanistan and any other state party to the treaty where the U.S. may have committed war crimes. But despite numerous complaints filed to the ICC, the court seems decidedly reluctant to take on a superpower such as the U.S.

Of note, is what is happening in the domestic courts where a minor yet significant trend seems to indicate some European countries are at least willing to try a hand at upholding their obligations under the Geneva Conventions.

In October 2007, the CCR and three other rights groups filed charges against Rumsfeld while he was on visit to France. Under the law, France has an absolute obligation to arrest and investigate any war crimes suspect while s/he is on her soil. The prosecutor in France, however, let him escape to Germany – fugitive-style. But two currently pending cases in Spain mean that European-wide arrest warrants have in theory been issued, and it would be rather unadvisable for Rumsfeld and others to travel there at this point in time. This seems to be the only consolation prize on hand for the moment.

The cases in Spain, also backed by the CCR, are long-term open-ended cases, in which Mr. Ratner believes the Wikileaks documents may be introduced as evidence. The first is a case against the Bush Six, the six lawyers who wrote the torture memos. And the second is a broader investigation into the Guantanamo torture and beyond. It will likely be years before any decisive developments come to light, but the mounting evidence resulting from the massive document disclosures that continue to come through Wikileaks will add to international pressure on the U.S. to take action.

So far, however, the response has been silence or disdain. In the wake of the leaks, Bush himself has been seen widely on television these last days, essentially testifying before the whole world that he stands by his decision to use torture, blithely incriminating himself while promoting his memoirs. The following excerpt from his interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer shows the kind of cavalier attitude he maintains:

LAUER: Why is waterboarding legal in your opinion?

BUSH: Because the lawyers said it was legal. [The legal team] said it did not fall within the anti-torture act. I’m not a lawyer….I will tell you this, using those techniques saved lives. My job was to protect America and I did.

LAUER: So if it’s legal, President Bush, then if an American is taken into custody in a foreign country, not necessarily a uniformed…

BUSH: I’m not going to debate the issue man, all I ask is that people read the book.

Part of the reason Bush feels confident in defending his own crimes is that he slipped a provision into the Detainee Treatment Act that effectively grants anyone in the upper reaches of government retroactive immunity from prosecution for torture up to 1997. After the Supreme Court decided in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that the Geneva Conventions did apply to detainees in Guantanamo, members of his administration got very nervous and managed to pass  legislation granting them immunity before the midterm elections of 2006. Testing the constitutionality of that measure would first require a Grand Jury indictment, and at present, there doesn’t seem to be the political will to do so. After the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld ruling, the U.S. began sending detainees to Bagram, or other black sites no one knows about, where prisoners are deprived of habeas corpus, or any of the basic rights built into the U.S. penal code. Obama has refused to reinstate habeas corpus, and the onus is on him now. So much for change we can believe in.

The average American appears largely unconcerned with these issues. It is clearly jobs, not war crimes, which are the primary focus. A recent nationwide CBS poll indicated only 3% listed war as an important issue when they went to the polls. But the 2 to 4 trillion dollars the so-called “war on terror” is costing taxpayers certainly has an impact on the job market. There does seem to be one sector that is always hiring: the military.

Though it may be difficult for some to accept this, I believe Wikileaks intends not to harm the United States, but rather to save it from itself. A culture of secrecy, impunity and imperialism driven by corporate enterprise has brought America to the brink of self-destruction. It is tragic to watch one of the most admired nations lapse slowly into the shadow of the Fascist state. There was once a time when every country looked to the U.S. as a leader in democratic due process and social mobility. Today, that image is in shambles, and the first signs it was fading into oblivion appeared at the dawn of this new century when George W. Bush came to power in what many the world over saw as nothing less than a coup d’état.

The media and the very political system meant to serve the people have slipped into corporate dominion. The garrison state itself now serves as a mere minion to the expansive military industrial complex Eisenhower warned of. “The first stage of Fascism,” Mussolini once said, “should more appropriately be called Corporatism, because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” * His words resonate today with unsettling poignancy, and history has taught us that the tipping point comes when it is already too late.

The United States is a very young country and its population has not journeyed enough to the upper continent of Europe to get the substance of historical reference by which to measure its own political apparatus. Fascism for them is something that only happens in countries full of men with short mustaches. Naively, most Americans believe it could never happen to them, but those of us who grew up listening to our elders talk of WWII, and warn against the pitfalls of nationalism, know better. It would be unfair to say that the masses fail entirely to recognize what is upon them, however, for if you really look closely at the Tea Party movement, the fear of Fascism is at the heart of their body politic. The problem is, they are missing the point. The very people they dread the most are the ones holding the reigns of their so-called grassroots movement.

The U.S. has its feet firmly planted on the path of a police state, and before you know it, Blackwater, oops, I meant Blackshirts will be patrolling the streets. Groups like the Oath Keepers, who believe the constitution has been grossly trampled upon, have long been training to fight back; I’m just not convinced that forming militias to safeguard people power is doing anything other than contributing to the problem.

Some even harbour either paranoid delusions or prophetic visions, depending on who you talk to, that internment camps are ready to start taking in dissidents. Say what you will on the issue, in 2006 the Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $385 million contract to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, to build temporary detention centres in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants, or “to support the rapid development of new programs.” Part of the Homeland Security Department’s program titled ENDGAME, it raised more than just a few eyebrows. Whether or not these or other new detention centres actually exist is a matter of debate, but the fear such programs inspire is palpable and warranted.

The great social movement has arrived; the torch-wielding angry masses are at the threshold of power. What they fail to understand is that their richer-than-rich puppet masters, the Koch Brothers et al, are drowning them in propaganda. The conflation of socialism and communism indicates just how ill-informed they truly are, and the redirection of their very valid discontent towards the mythic Marxist agenda of the left, or the secret terrorist designs behind the “Ground Zero Mosque,” show how much they are being misguided by an invisible hand. The anti-Muslim atmosphere is disturbing, to say the least. Alarm bells are ringing while the masses in their slumber still conjure the American Dream.

It is interesting to note that the wrath of the people emerged not during the Bush presidency, when the groundwork for the appropriation of power was laid out and executed, but rather when the spectre of the left promised to save the day if elected to office, and once again, sold out its own constituents when it took power. Fascism came to prominence in Italy when the reformist Social Democrats betrayed the working class and the factional left refused to unite. In Weimar Germany, the seeds of revolution ceded to Fascism for similar reasons. The political right mastered identity politics and usurped power in the absence of a united left and adequate workers unions. The Fascists harnessed the anger of the masses and surfed their way to the top on a nationalist platform, using the rabid fear of Communism and rampant poverty to unite wide swathes of society.

If this sounds all too familiar, it’s because it is. The working class in the U.S. has not forgotten NAFTA – the so-called North American Free Trade Agreement, and it comes as no surprise that the anger should swell to such proportions when Obama promised change and seems only to betray the proletariat once again. To hammer the disturbing parallels home, Fascism, at its heart, was a revolt against the apostate left. In the words of Mussolini, “the Liberal State is a mask behind which there is no face; it is a scaffolding behind which there is no building.” Chris Hedges calls it the Phantom Left, for he understands all too well the dangers of a one-party corporate nation.

The rise of a Fascist state happens slowly over time, and then suddenly, overnight, comes the point of no return. All the elements are in place in the United States, and apart from the efforts of two mock newscasters to rally the people to reason, there appears to be no unified opposition to the radical right. Watching the Rally to Restore Sanity was one of the more discouraging moments. It looked like a giant block party, an ocean of sacrificial lambs offering their limp necks up to the extreme right. There was no real show of anger, just a fanfare of posters displaying confusion and deflated persuasion, not the kind of fury needed to foment a true movement. You have to give Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart credit for trying, but jocular entertainment predictably failed to swing the pendulum in the midterm elections.

George W. Bush set a dangerous precedent when he decided to disregard domestic and international law and deregulate big business. It set the stage for sweeping impunity and mass corporate take-over. Despite the collective hope that all would change in 2009, Obama seems only to have carried the same torch. The president’s recent decision to allow for the assassination of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, has inflamed the patriots in the streets and added fuel to the fire of right wing militia groups. What many on the left saw as dangerous infringements upon their civil liberties during the Bush years, now has the far right convinced that any citizen could be next on the list. And who could blame them really? The September coordinated FBI raids on anti-war activists, and the recent interrogation of a young supporter of Bradley Manning (the accused leaker in the Wikileaks’ Collateral Murder video) are just a few examples of an active intimidation program.

The only hope for the United States of America is for ordinary citizens to start organizing protests and demand that Obama uphold the Constitution and allow for due process to take its course. He should open an investigation into war crimes, repeal the Patriot Act, remand the Military Commissions Act, restore Habeas Corpus, Posse Comitatus, FISA Courts and the Fairness Doctrine, stop using the Providing Material Support to Terrorists Law to intimidate activists, abolish his assassination program (including the remote-controlled drone attacks on foreign states), stop deregulation and corporate cronyism, end the wars in the Muslim world, and start a real culture of transparency in Washington.

By Anne Holmes

* UPDATE:  Although there are an estimated 20,000 Google references to this quotation by Mussolini, it has come to my attention that some scholars have not been able to trace its origins. Mussolini’s concept of corporatism differed from the meaning it has taken on today, but his well-documented belief in the benefits of merging private enterprise and state power still support the underlying theme of the citation, as is evidenced by the following excerpt from his 1935 publication Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions:

“The corporate State considers that private enterprise in the sphere of production is the most effective and useful instrument in the interest of the nation.”

The economic landscape today, of course, differs greatly from that of post-WWI Europe, and parallels are difficult to substantiate in the absence of a lengthy, sidetracking discussion.

Accompanying image uses a photograph by Elizabeth Cromwell under creative commons license.


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