Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Required Reading

More people, still not enough, are finally catching on that the past decade of American culture and politics has been utterly delusional. I could be referring to a few different delusions but today let's talk about "terrorism," as John Mueller and Mark D. Stewart invite us to do in the journal International Security.

Remember John McCain talking about the "existential threat" of terrorism in 2008? George W. Bush cruising to re-election on the premise that only he could keep us safe, while John Kerry was practically mocked out of the country for saying that terrorism was basically a law enforcement problem and that we should think of it as we do organized crime? As Mueller and Stewart recite, "trillions of dollars have been expended and tens of thousands of lives [actually more like a million -- C] have been snuffed out in distant wars in a frantic, ill-conceived effort to react to an event that, however tragic and dramatic in the first instance,should have been seen, at least after a few years had passed, to be of limited significance."

Particularly amusing is their inventory of supposed terrorist plots the feds have boasted about busting over the years.

[T]he authors of the case studies, with remarkably few exceptions, describe their subjects with such words as incompetent, ineffective, unintelligent, idiotic, ignorant, inadequate, unorganized, misguided, muddled, amateurish, dopey, unrealistic, moronic, irrational, and foolish. And in nearly all of the cases where an operative from the police or from the Federal Bureau of Investigation was at work (almost half of the total), the most appropriate descriptor would be “gullible.”

Basically, most of these plots were ginned up by agents provocateurs conning low IQ nutcases into concocting preposterous plots.

What's really sad is that we have seen basically no recognition from the Obama administration of how badly we have gone astray. In fact he has doubled down on the surveillance state and the destruction of our privacy and liberties that goes with it - all for a "threat" that is far less than the threat of drowning in your own bathtub.

Al Qaeda got lucky on Sept. 11, 2001. That's all. And with that fantastically lucky and implausible success, they had shot their wad. They were, after all, just a few deluded fanatics, who were a trivial threat to Americans and the United States.

Read the whole thing. I command you. 


Anonymous said...

Okay, Cervantes . . . we have no proof that "Al Qaeda" was responsible for 9/11. Logic dictates, however, that Dick Cheney had a hell of a lot to do with it.

That said . . . coming back to the USA from Canada has become a pain-in-the-ass since 9/11; paranoia has run amok among young, thuggish customs agents who ask rude, invasive questions ("How long have you known your girlfriend?" "How much money do you have in your wallet?" etc.). It is pathetic to see how together Canada has its act . . . their customs agents are polite, attentive, efficient; ours are paranoid, fascistic, ignorant, and clueless. Working for their pathetic, manipulative higher-ups!

I also find the use of the term "Islamist"--to refer to organizations, governments, politicians, etc.--to be highly depressing. (Even more depressing is BBC's use of it with the accent on the first syllable. How pretentious.) I mean . . . we had a "Christianist" government with the cocaine/sex/drug addict, G.W. Bush . . . and with many Republican members of Congress today. Oy vey.

Cervantes said...

Hoo boy. I agree with your second and third paragraph. Mueller and Stewart actually make the point that people find it hard to believe that such a historically significant event as the assassination of JFK was carried out by a no-account deluded loner; or that the Sept. 11 attack was carried out by a ragged band of semi-competent wack jobs who actually weren't much of an ongoing threat. It challenges our sense of proportion.

As for Cheney, I go along with a weak version of LIHOP (Let It Happen On Purpose), i.e. the Cheney administration was sorta kinda hoping for such an event. (Read Project for a New American Century, openly wishing for a new Pearl Harbor) and that they exploited it precisely as they had planned to should it happen. That may seem like circumstantial evidence for somehow helping it happen, but it's pretty weak. They already had been told that Bin Laden was determined to strike the United States, so all they had to do was wait and not try to stop it.