Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Posts Tagged ‘Osama Bin Laden

9/11 … The Maddened Elephant

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Just a few more hours and the tenth anniversary of 9/11 will be history. Of course in a  sense 9/11 will never be over, we have entire institutions and wars devoted to the memory of 9/11, and they aren’t going to slip quietly into the night. In a way, and not a good way, 9/11 is becoming a cult. I’m sick of it. 9/11 was like a rat biting an elephant on the snout. Yeah, it hurt like hell, and yeah it pissed us off. And we should have squashed the rat and carried on. Instead, we have spent ten years trumpeting and snorting wildly, wreaking havoc around us and wearing ourselves into exhaustion in the process. And even though a few months back we finally trampled on the rat that bit us, there’s no sign of an end to the madness.

Sigh. I’ve avoided most of the news today, but I did catch that Obama said that 9/11 “made us stronger.” No surprise there, this is the guy who claimed that Navy Seals gunning down an unarmed old man in his PJs was one of the “greatest military operations in US history.” Obama’s ability to utter the most egregious nonsense while appearing sober and presidential is what got him elected, and he’s clearly not lost his touch.

No, 9/11 did not make us stronger. Or to be more accurate, our response to 9/11 did not make us stronger, it made us weaker. The Bush administration and a compliant media encouraged the USA to hysterically over-react to 9/1, and we paid and are still paying a terrible price for it. A price in both treasure and blood, a price vastly greater than our losses on that day ten years ago. And the horrors we have inflicted on other lands in the name of 9/11, are these the actions of a Christian nation?

Our costs though. In treasure, it’s been enormous. Three trillion dollars at least for the cost of our wars and increased homeland “security.” And even if we ended the War on Terror tomorrow, there would still be trillions more to go in terms of veteran’s care in decades to come. This is money we didn’t have, it was borrowed from our grandchildren, plain and simple. There’s not any question that we got almost no economic benefit from this spending, aside from obscenely enriching the arms and security industry. This added debt is a huge part of why our economy is on the ropes, how the hell does piles of debt make a nation stronger?

Then there’s the cost in blood. Several tens of thousands of Americans have been killed and maimed in our wars, the actual numbers are muddy because the Pentagon works very hard to conceal and obfuscate them. And hundreds of thousands more veterans will have permanent psychological issues and trauma from their service, about one in three combat veterans never really get over it in one sense or another. This is a terrible cost by any measure, and for what? Propping up two of the world’s most corrupt field states? Sending Americans to die on the other side of the planet doesn’t make us stronger, it makes us weaker.

And then there’s the psychological cost. The hysteria mongering after 9/11 was among the most intense in history. The government left no stone unturned telling Americans that terrible monsters lurked everywhere, and that we had to give the government a blank check, including suspending some of our own freedoms, to fight this new menace or surely a falling airliner or a dirty bomb or germ warfare would be coming soon to a neighbourhood near them. And Americans, traumatized by the endlessly repeated sights of 9/11, fell for this twaddle by the tens of millions and gave the Bush administration the green light to seize control of the world’s oil. And it continues to this day, tens of millions of Americans dutifully regurgitate “our troops are fighting for our freedom” while the administration continues to weave tales of terror and death. Letting fear of a trivial enemy guide our national policy does not make us a stronger nation, it makes us a nation of cowards and sheep.

Lastly, I’m saddened and disgusted by what a narcissistic spectacle 9/11 and the “War on Terror” has become. It’s like when Commodus, the Emperor of Rome, took to fighting naked gladiatorial contests in the Colosseum. And charging the city staggering sums of money for the privilege. All right thinking Romans were horrified. The survivors and heroes of 9/11 should be mourning quietly and privately, not being paraded through the streets of Rome for the glory of the Empire.

It’s really that weird.

(The above image is claimed as Public Domain under US copyright law as it was painted in 1526. It’s a Painting titled “The Fall of the Rebel Angels” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. It’s just another way to articulate the situation we find ourselves in: America went mad on 9/11, and its going to get worse before it gets better.)

Written by unitedcats

September 11, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Countdown to 9/11 … Why?

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Now we start coming to the parts of the 9/11 saga that make me mad. Like any feeling person, I was horrified on 9/11. Unlike many people, I was more horrified by what this would unleash than by the actual event. Millions of people have died by government and terrorist violence since World War Two, in any cosmic sense 9/11 is just a drop in the bucket, it was spectacular, but the number of victims as very small in the greater scheme of things. I mourn for them, but I more mourn for what 9/11 has done to the psyche of the nation, encouraged by a political class only too willing to use 9/11 to further their own ideological agenda.

More on that tomorrow though, assuming Al Qaeda doesn’t kill us all in our sleep tonight. No, like some people, one of my thoughts after 9/11 was “Well, if this encourages a debate on the consequences of our waging wars in the Middle East, maybe some good will come of it.” I was sadly mistaken. Within days the administration had wholeheartedly endorsed “They attacked us for our freedoms” and the war of civilizations was on. Sigh.

OK, assuming that OBL and Al Qaeda are real, what are their motivations? I dunno, call me crazy, but maybe we should see what they say? And turns out OBL, murderous scoundrel he may have been, did in fact articulate his reasons for taking up arms against America:

  • 1. Our unequivocal and one sided support for Israel.
  • 2. Our support for despotic undemocratic regimes in the Middle East.
  • 3. Our sending troops into the Middle East to wage war. (Gulf War One.)

I don’t see anything in there about “hating us for our freedoms.” And if they really hate us for our freedoms, wouldn’t restricting American’s freedoms be giving them what they want? Sorry, I digress. In any event, my point here, is that if a nation chooses to wage war around the world, as the USA has constantly chosen to do since 1945, we are going to make enemies. Al Qaeda is one of those enemies.  The USA has killed huge numbers of peoples in foreign lands since World War Two, why should it be a surprise that someone chose to do the same to us?

In any event, and a point I have leading to, the motivations of the attackers don’t matter. The me repeat that, the motivations of the attackers don’t matter. What matters, is how the Bush administration reacted to it. This is what changed the world, not a terrible but actually pretty pedestrian crime in any global sense. 9/11 wasn’t analogous to Pearl Harbor in any global sense, in the first case a tiny extremist group got away with a terrible crime, in the later one of the world’s top ten nation states went to war with us. No comparison really.

This is where I think the 9/11 truthers are so misguided, by focusing on a theory that ultimately doesn’t matter, they are obscuring the true conspiracy. This is why the administration doesn’t case about the truthers. For one thing, they know they aren’t ever going to prove anything since they weren’t insane enough to actually blow up buildings. And secondly and more importantly, they are wasting energy and thus providing cover for the true conspiracy, the one that was hatched within days of 9/11.

And this is the one Americans are blind to. It doesn’t matter what Al Qaeda’s motivations were, it doesn’t matter who orchestrated 9/11, what matters is how we responded to it. And this is where the true horror begins. Within days it was obvious that the Bush Administration was going to gleefully seize on 9/11 and use it as a blank check to do anything they wanted. 9/11 was manna from heaven for an administration beholden to the military, the rich, Israel, and the oil companies. This is why I am insulted when 9/11 truthers accuse me of “believing administration lies.” I think the American government (and corporate fawning media) went into “all lies, all the time” mode within about ten minutes of 9/11.

I just don’t think the administration caused 9/11 or blew up any buildings, they just spat on the victims and their families and all decent Americans by using 9/11 to promote their colonial agenda. That however is tomorrow’s topic.

(The above image is claimed as Public Domain under US copyright law. The original copyright belonged to Germany’s Nazi Regime, and they aren’t around to contest it. It is of the Reichstag fire of 1933. Germany’s parliament building burned, Hitler’s Nazis blamed the communists and got them ousted from the government … and thus obtained a majority control of Germany’s government. Historians to this day don’t know if the fire was set by the Nazis or the communists. And it doesn’t fucking matter.)

Written by unitedcats

September 9, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Osama Bin Laden is Still Dead

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The death of OBL is the most significant historical event I have ever been around to blog about. At least in terms of current American history. For the past decade OBL and 9/11 have been one of the primary themes of the American experience. From almost the hour of 9/11 Osama was made out to be an enemy of almost mythical proportions. Well, the myth is dead. I wonder what else will die with him? This is a very speculative post. I speculate that the USA will take this wonderful opportunity to make the world a better place and totally flub it. In fact the USA will take this opportunity to pursue its own interests in defiance of what would be good for the world and ultimately itself. Still, as with any watershed event, unexpected consequences are to be expected. My ongoing thoughts, in no particular order:

The plethora of conspiracy theories is already a cottage industry. Heck, the fact that his body has already been disposed of is mighty suspicious. In fact, it’s so suspicious … that it’s suspicious. Was the Obama administration deliberately trying to give fodder to conspiracy theorists? Very possibly. This is something that conspiracy  theorists overlook.  The 9/11 truthers and the birthers and such are doing exactly what the government wants … distracting the populace from the real conspiracies. The main one being that since 9/11 the USA has wildly exaggerated the threat of terror in order to justify foreign intervention, military spending, and the consolidation and expansion of federal power in unconstitutional ways.

And speaking of exaggeration, Obama made it clear that the US policy of exaggerating terror is to continue unabated. He made the claim that the death of Osama made the world a safer place. That’s always been Obama’s great strength, he can utter the most transcendentally absurd statements while looking serious and professional and presidential. The world is not safer with Osama dead, because the threat Osama posed was trivial. In comic books and Hollywood movies evil geniuses can destroy the world. In the real world, people like Osama are bit players. His resources were incredibly limited compared to the awesome firepower that say, small governments like Libya can muster. 9/11 was a fluke, as much caused by our own complacency as anything Osama did. If you piss off a midget, and turn your back on him and he sucker punches you, is the midget some sort of evil genius?

Which leads to another point that our government wants us to ignore. Yes, 9/11 was a terrible crime, killing innocents is never justified. However, and it’s a big however, Osama didn’t take up arms against the USA because he was some nutbawho hated us for our freedoms. He was a nutbar who hated us for our support of dictators in the Muslim world, the presence of American troops on Saudi soil, and our unequivocal one sided support for Israel. This doesn’t justify his actions, but it does mean the USA should seriously debate the wisdom and consequences of our foreign policy. “Kill all the bad guys” isn’t a foreign policy, it’s a recipe for endless terrorism.

We’re not safer since 9/11. The opposite in fact. Before 9/11 how any Americans died from terrorist attacks? One a month on average? Now American troops come under attack every day, and just in general the level of carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan is ghastly. Not to mention that we have taken sides in just about every insurgency on the planet. Basically our response to 9/11 was to create failed states and paint a bullseye on the back of every American everywhere. Not to mention stripping Americans of their freedoms. I’ve never understood that one, if they hate us for our freedoms, wouldn’t giving up our freedoms be doing their work for them?

Sigh. And yes, I’ll say it, I am ashamed of Americans who celebrated Osama’s death as if the USA had just won the world cup. There’s just something unseemly about celebrating a death. This wasn’t much of a victory, if any, and it certainly wasn’t justice. Justice would have been Osama getting a fair trial. That’s what once made us the good guys, not killing people in foreign lands. On the plus side at least some are calling for a reassessment of the USA’s foreign policy, especially our involvement in Afghanistan. When Americans start coming home from our foreign wars, that’s when I’ll celebrate.

In any event, this is all I have to say about Osama’s death unless there is some stunning new news. Next, fascism and fundamentalism, will we all be living under sharia law soon?

(The above image dates from World War One and is public domain under US copyright law. Its a dead German soldier mostly buried. I chose it to illustrate that there’s nothing particularly romantic or appealing about killing people, it’s just killing people. World War One didn’t end all wars, pretty much the opposite in fact. I fear Osama’s death will be the same.)

Written by unitedcats

May 4, 2011 at 6:04 am

Osama Bin Laden is Dead

with 8 comments

Well, in some of the biggest American news since 9/11, the TV is reporting that an American ground operation in Pakistan killed Osama Bin Laden. I’m watching Obama as I type, giving the most important speech of his career. I’d say I don’t know what to say, but I’d be lying. The first thing is simple, who the hell knows what this means. And President Obama just ended his speech. We have Osama’s body, a chapter in American history is over, what now? In no particular order, my random observations on this breaking news:

The first one is easy. Take anything from any source with a wheelbarrow of salt. Use the brain to interpret events, remember, leaders are always lying. To be more on point, Obama is the consummate politician, whatever he says is designed to improve his position, period. This is normal for heads of state. Most of what is passing for commentary about Osama’s death is going to be gibberish since it will be based on American propaganda about the “war on terror.” And call me a little skeptical, but the fact that Osama’s body has already been disposed of is sure to raise some conspiracy theories. It will be hard to spot the freezer burn with no body. The timing of this is certainly convenient as well, there’s a lot going on now that American’s need to be distracted from.

Moving right along, assuming Osama is really dead, what does this mean? Well, a lot of happy Americans for one. Osama was the perpetrator of a terrible crime, it’s hard to be anything but happy at his demise. Other than that, well, his death doesn’t mean all that much. Al Qaeda by its very nature is not a centralized organization, this won’t in any way, shape, or form end Al Qaeda. Nor will it end our “war on terror” since said war as never really about fighting terrorism at all but simply a propaganda cover for an interventionist colonial foreign policy.

In fact it’s entirely possible that a new “terrorist mastermind” will emerge from the shadows. It’s also possible that Osama had a videotape prepared to be released upon the event of his death, calling on his followers to carry on without him, yadda yadda yadda. I would hope that maybe America can leave 9/11 behind finally, but sadly the USA just loves to nurse old wounds forever. Very few Americans understand just how many innocent people we killed in the wars we unleashed in the name of 9/11, IE we spent the decade since 9/11 more inspiring and creating terrorists than fighting them, so one less terrorist isn’t really a big deal. And it may even rally some of Osama’s followers somewhere to a new 9/11 style attack. Great.

I guess in summation I’m mostly depressed by this turn of events. Since it’s not really going to make a difference in America’s foreign policy, nor is it going to inspire any meaningful dialog on just what the hell we have been doing overseas the past ten years. The political boost Obama gets from this may prove to be short lived indeed, it may even turn into his “Mission Accomplished” moment. When all is said and done, we bankrupted ourselves and created some terrible festering problems overseas the past ten years, none of that is going to be changed by Osama’s death. In fact most people’s elation will likely last until the next time they fill their gas tank. It will still be $5 a gallon.

A good summary of what has transpired so far can be found here. I did say this was going to be an interesting summer, and it’s sure starting out with a bang. Stay tuned for more exciting developments.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit. Credit and copyright: Photo of Arlington Cemetery from the 2008 DCist Exposed show by cstein96. I wish I could be more upbeat about Osama’s death, but so so many innocent people are dead and are still going to die because of this man, it’s hard for me to be particularly gladdened. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy is the best I can muster.)

Written by unitedcats

May 2, 2011 at 5:44 am