Osama Wins! Americans Lose!

We played by Osama bin Laden’s rules. Even in killing Osama, we lose. Osama knew that, but Americans were stupid enough to play right into Osama’s agenda. We Americans (as a country and as citizens) have lost money, lives and our moral highground. Like Osama planned, we are going the way of the USSR.

The more I think about this, I don’t think it was an accident. I know the average American isn’t as well informed and thoughtful as they should be. But I was wondering how the political elite were also so clueless as to not understand Osama’s agenda when he spelled it out very clearly and in great detail.

I just now realized that the political ruling elite (i.e., corporatists, plutocrats, and the military-industrial complex) share the same basic agenda with Osama bin Laden. They both don’t like nor trust the populist ethos of American democracy. The reason is because only a functioning democracy (that actually represents the public and where the population isn’t disenfranchised) can challenge the authoritarian power structures represented by corporatism and by fundamentalism.

Because of corporate media, most Americans don’t comprehend that the corporatists are at least as dangerous if not more than the terrorists. Now that Osama is gone, will Americans see the enemy in their midst?

Fear Of Terrorists Influences Parents – Study

Here is further evidence of how people become socially conservative when in a social situation that causes fear and stress. I’ve brought this up before because it explains why social conservatives have motivation to fear-monger.

http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture-society/bad-parenting-blame-bin-laden-24985/

As the researchers concede, these experiments aren’t proof that thoughts of terrorism have a uniquely negative effect on parenting. Exposure to images of an attack might simply have increased the parents’ stress level, “which could then translate into harsher and more controlling social interactions with their children.”

But they note previous research has found a link between terror threats and authoritarian political beliefs. The notion that this mindset could slop over into domestic decision-making seems entirely plausible.

Either way, it’s one more example of how fear can inspire behavior one may later regret. So in turbulent times, perhaps it’s wise to avoid reading the newspaper before heading to the nursery. It’s never a beautiful day in Mr. bin Laden’s Neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean you and your children need to live there.

Just Punish; Don’t Try to Help or Understand

Here are two videos that show the problem with extreme rightwing thinking. When the world is seen through absolutist morality, everything becomes black and white and every person becomes either good or evil. Taken to the furthest extreme of fundamentalism, this attitude becomes a Manichaean vision of Cosmic War.

It’s what led someone like Bush to think he was on a mission from God and that fighting the terrorists was a crusade. It’s an attitude that doesn’t allow for compromise and makes bipartisanship impossible. If you think Obama is a Commie, a Nazi and/or the Anti-Christ, you don’t seek agreement with the person who you believe is destroying all that is good in America and in the world. This attitude goes back to the beginning of modern movement conservatism. Barry Goldwater, who believed in an unchanging Law of God, said:

“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”
(source: “Goldwater and Pseudo-Conservative Politics”, Richard Hofstadter)

What is interesting about this kind of statement is that it resonates with what Muslim terrorists preach.

I was impressed that the guy at the 5:00 mark made a very intelligent and insightful point while everyone else was just trying to turn it into yet another partisan story. I’m always shocked when someone who is actually fair and balanced gets on Fox News.

Is O’Reilly clueless? If addicts are successfully treated, drug demand decreases. If drug demand decreases, the drug black market decreases. If the drug black market decreases, drug trafficking across the border decreases. If drug trafficking decreases, violence against Americans decreases. Conservatives need to look at real data. Dealing with drug addicts directly is more successful & cheaper than dealing with the results afterwards. Like abstinence only education, the Drug war is a failure.

Conservatives need to think of this the way they think about guns. Not all countries with high gun ownership rates have high gun violence rates. A large percentage of gun violence is from illegal guns and so illegalizing or more tightly controlling gun ownership doesn’t by itself solve the problem of gun violence. Similarly, in countries where drugs are legal and where there are easily available drug addiction programs, drug use and addiction are lower than in the US.

Joseph Tuman on Terrorism

This video is long, but very much worth watching. The guy speaking offers the best analysis of terrorism that I’ve ever heard. He doesn’t say anything that I haven’t thought myself, but it’s the first time I’ve heard this view voiced in such depth & detail in a mainstream public forum.

Military-Industrial Complex: Cycle of Violence, Manipulated Public

During the Cold War era around the world, the US government committed immoral actions or participated in the immoral actions of others. These included the School of Americas, death squads, assassination attempts, coups, puppet governments, and on and on. The two most relevant incidents was our financial and political support of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. This support, of course, included buying weapons for these people (such as the chemicals Hussein used to kill his own population).

So, why is anyone surprised that this led to negative repercussions? People like Bin Laden and Hussein were tired of being manipulated by the US government and didn’t want to be told what to do. They were evil when we aligned ourselves with them and they continued to be evil when they no longer served our purpose, but the US government is far more evil in that it helped put them in power where they could commit great acts of evil. Do you want to fight the greatest evil in the world? If so, you’d have to start with Washington, DC.

What is the US government’s response to the evil they created? They wage massive wars against Bin Laden and Hussein, and in the process go back to the Cold War era methods of nation-building. Before the US attacked Iraq, the country wasn’t a threat nor were there any international terrorist organizations located there. Now, the country is filled with terrorist organizations plotting against the US. We’ve lost numerous American lives and we’ve lost our moral standing in the world. In seeking revenge for those who died in the 9/11 attack, we killed more innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq than innocent Americans have been killed by terrorists.

We are fighting wars that can’t be won and we’ve polarized a whole generation who will grow up to be a largescale organized force of terrorism that will be a threat to the US for decades. Just like during the Cold War, we’re just creating a new generation of enemies to fight.

Why do we or rather why do politicians do this? There are only two possibilities I can think of. You could just consider politicians to be stupid and ignorant, but that seems naive to me. Or you could take the cynical route and consider that it probably is an intentional plan. Even as American soldiers die, corporations with government contracts are making money hand over fist. Eisenhower warned about the Military-Industrial Complex and he apparently was correct. Corporations who make money off of war don’t want war to end because then their profits end. Military spending is the biggest chunk of the budget. In fact, it’s the biggest chunk of the economy in the entire world as the US spends massively more money on our military than all other governments combined.

Right now, some child in Afghanistan or Iraq is watching his mother or some other loved one die during an attack by US soldiers. That child will grow up with hatred towards the US and will join others whose lives were also destroyed by our military. One day, that child will commit some atrocious act against Americans. Right now, some politician or leader is being supported by our military and yet feels resentful at being manipulated. One day, that person will see an opportunity to use his power to do harm to the US. When that day comes, the American public will respond with its usual ignorant fear and the government will start the whole cycle over again… and the corporations will once again make huge profits.

Iraq War: righteous cause?

I was thinking about righteousness as it relates to righteous causes.  Righteousness often plays out in politics in terms of patriotrism, and patriotistm often plays out in terms of war. 

As an example, the peace protests that were against the invasion of Iraq were the largest and fastest growing of any anti-war movement in American history, and the most widespread and most well organized in world history.  It had become well organized before the war even started which is very unusual.  It took years for the Vietnam war protests to even begin to gather popular support. 

The anti-war movement gained much support even internationally.  Many political and religious leaders (including heads of states and even the Vatican) around the world have officially opposed the war and occupation of Iraq.  Around 90% of non-Americans in the world are against unilateral action by the US without UN sanction.  Around 3 million people were caculated to be in Rome protesting the war which Guinness Book of Records claims is the largest ever anti-war rally.  In a 3 month period in 2003, it was calculated that 36 million people worldwide participated in 3,000 protests.

In America, since 2005, opponents of the war have outnumbered supporters.  But even before the war started the vast majority (around 70%) of Americans opposed going to war without allowing the UN inspections to finish.  Also, at least 64 US city councils have passed anti-war resolutions (which includes major cities of middle America such as Chicago and Detroit) and some major US religious organizations have passed anti-war resolutions (such as the National Council of Churches and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops).

What did the government do in response?  Initially, the government’s righteous rhetoric just became more loud.  The Bush administration ignored the opposition and went to war anyways.  Bush saw that his base supported it, and ignored the fact that for instance most blacks and hispanics didn’t.  Bush also ignored the UN and ignored popular opinion in the world at large.  Bush hoped the dissent would disappear if he just ignored it long enough, but it only kept growing.  And the Democrats in Washington were afraid to represent many of of those in their own base who were in opposition to Bush’s patriotic call to arms.  So, no one in power supported this large and ever growing larger anti-war movement.  Furthermore, many US news sources (Fox News in particular) tried their best to ignore and downplay the anti-war protests (even though they’ve given plenty of attention to much smaller protest movements that support the Republican party).

The Iraq war was justified for two reasons (a claim of connections to 9/11 terrorists and a claim of weapons of mass destruction) both of which turned out to be either lies or unforgivable ignorance.  We’ve torn a country a part out of a sense of vengeance at having a couple of buildings knocked down.  Millions of innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed, injured, and orphaned so as to free them from Saddam who was supposed to be somehow connected the 9/11 attacks that killed less than 3,000.  But it doesn’t matter because Iraqis are elsewhere.  Iraqis hold no great power in the world, and if it weren’t for oil no one would care about them.

Anyways, it was the American government who in the first place helped Saddam and Bin Laden gain power.  Where is America’s righteousness when morality only applies when the situation is convenient?  It’s not just Iraqis who have suffered because of the US invasion and occupation.  From this site, here are the recent statistcs for deaths in Iraq:

Iraqi troops killed [13] 30,000 Iraqi troops seriously injured [14] 90,000 Iraqi civilians killed [15] 697,523 Iraqi civilians seriously injured [16] 1,255,541 U.S. troops killed [17] 4,343 U.S. troops seriously injured [18] 31,156 Other coalition troops killed [19] 318 Other coalition troops seriously injured [20] 10,821 Contractors killed [21] 933 Contractors seriously injured [22] 10,569 Journalists killed [23] 163 Journalists seriously injured [24] unknown Total killed in Iraq: 733,280 Total injured in Iraq: 1,398,087

Although, a Reuters article argues that the contractor deaths are being undercounted and that this is important as the military is increasingly relying on contractors.

In a Wahington Post article, it was pointed out that certain improvements in the military have had unforeseen consequences.  Better armor and better medical care have saved many lives, but this means that there has been a massive increase of soldiers surviving horrific injuries.  This has led to many more veterans coming home with severe physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  A related issue is that 52% of injured soldiers have traumatic brain injuries (TBI).  Beyond the more publicized injuries, there is an even greater subtle menace.  The US troops have used massive amounts of depleted uranium in the Iraq war.  This depleted uranium is in many populated areas which leads to deaths and birth defects for Iraqis, but it also means many US veterans will end up dying from cancer later on.

Furthermore, there are some more results that I find even more depressing.  There are extremely high numbers of soldiers and veterans committing suicide, and many veterans end up unemployed or even homeless.  Among the homeless, one out of every 3 is a veteran even though veterans are only around 10% of the US population.  Most of these veterans are from Vietnam, but homeless younger veterans are increasing in numbers and no one knows how many there are.  All of this relates to high rates of crime (with the highest rates being violence and sexual assault), alcoholism, and drug addiction.  Interestingly, I was reading about how the military has made a practice of giving prescription drugs to soldiers in the field to help them deal with the stress and trauma.  Vietnam veterans used to self-medicate, but now the military keeps our soldiers drugged up so that they’ll be more properly (or at least temporarily) numbed to the horrors of war.

The Iraq war has been a very damaging war.  Despite the majority being critical of the war, it often seems like there is very little outrage (or very little heard in the media) about the tragic results.  It’s largely because the government has been very controlling of the information it releases and very controlling of the media.  The media has allowed itself to be controlled (such as embedded journalists), has allowed itself to be used for purposes of propaganda (partly by self-censoring).  We don’t see the visceral images of death and destruction which were seen during the Vietnam war and which changed public opinion at that time.  Without pictures, it doesn’t entirely feel real.  Abstract data doesn’t incite the moral indignation of the public.

The War on Terror continues, the anti-war movement has lost its momentum, and the American public have become resigned.  The Iraq War is just about to overtake the American Revolutionary War as the third longest war and the War in Afghanistan is getting closer to being the longest war in US history.  Right now Obama is trying to decide what to do next with a war he inherited, a war that is impossible to win.

So, this is where political faux righteousness leads.  My point for bringing all of that up is to show how the anti-war movement is an example of how a genuinely righteous populist movement can be suppressed.  And it’s just one of endless examples.

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