“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

the csa and terror

The rituals begin. The comments sections are flooded with “our prayers and thoughts are with you.” The leaders condemn the attack. They are against terrorist attacks. The Pope, too, is against terrorist attacks. Not a single leader thinks that London commuters should be blown to bits by a network winding back to a very alive and not very dead and certain not captured Osama Bin Laden.

These are the grooves we are stuck in. LI has an idea that the model for the half-security state – the state that leaves obvious gaps in its defenses while it goes about putting people’s library book checkout records under the magnifying glass – is Russia. Yeltsin, with Western encouragement, made himself briefly popular by playing the terrorist card and invading Chechnya. Putin has infinitely refined on the Yeltsin prototype. That the Bush culture is at once as tough as testosterone and as supine as a newly born lamb when it comes to demanding the taking down of the paramilitary networks from their supposedly tough leaders is a peculiar psychological complex that often accompanies junta politics. I especially love the rightwing meme that you can’t use “police” methods against terrorists. In point of fact, that is all you can use – the method of hunting down and destroying dispersed cellular groups that are armed and exist on a black money dole is the only method for destroying them. Because the perpetual war economy is about an elaborate welfare system for defense department engineers, it is understandable that this element thinks that terrorism is an excuse to get more of the gravy. If Boeing and Halliburtan don't make a profit on it, it can't be security. Cold war days are happy days. In the meantime, of course, there is also the solution of throwing bureaucracies and money at the security problem and making immigrants go through purposeless knots as though this was really sorting out the good, the bad and the ugly, instead of bottlenecking the good. However, one has to admire the emergence of a rich Homeland security welfare system that puts money into bungholes in Wyoming and Mississippi and takes money out of NYC, in the time honored, free riding fashion of Red State politics. Sweet.

In the week after Bush was re-elected, LI rethought a lot of what we used to assume about politics. The ascendancy of the Confederacy means, we think, that progressives must create enclaves and networks outside of D.C. – hence, they must invert their reflex support of centralizing power in the national government and work for the serious devolution of that power. But there is a fly even in this ointment: there is no alternative to endowing the central government with military power. This is a real problem: the D.C. Pentagon crowd, and their international clientele, are simply clueless. The evolution has been to the dumbest, which is why this is the Rumsfeld era in the ministries of war, technosmart and logistics dumb, full of strategic visions and tactical collapse. They cannot protect us, but they can certainly lie to us -- as the Bush and Blair governments did systematically in the run up to the war. They were the Code Orange Bobsey twins of misleading statements.

Meanwhile, the basic, security-making feature of government, which is equivalent to a membrane for a cell, is in hands that have proven themselves utterly unable to cope from day one.

It is childish to think men with bombs can be absolutely stopped. In fact, the benefit of an open society overwhelms the risk of terror. But a international order led by men who unwittingly open up new venues for terror, who brag about fighting wars that train terrorists, who intentionally create situations in which constituencies for terrorism are born, is rather like a hospital managed by doctors and nurses who refuse to obey the simple rules of hygiene. They become deadly to the rest of us. Our leaders have become very good at condemning the barbarity of killing commuters, which is a good thing. Because every policy they have pursued and every opportunity they have punted increases the possibility that we will see much more of it.

7 comments:

Deleted said...

A bit less than half the country still thinks it's plausible that Saddam Hussein had a role in the 9/11 attacks. That's not entirely because they have their faces glued to the antics of television meed-jee-yah personalities. Some of the people who think that are quite intelligent. They wouldn't dream of watching prancing cretins with hard hair butcher facts and pander to whoever had kicked them last.

Suppose, for a minute, Hussein had organized the 9/11 attacks personally. Most of the remaining people -- the bit less than half that knows he played no role at all -- would have no qualms about supporting what we've done to Iraq.

We're very accepting of the concept of collective punishment here, Roger. Some of the wiser souls will sigh, shake their heads, acknowledge that it's dreadful and then ask, but what else can we do? A sense of urgency in reaction drives both groups. It would irresponsible to carefully examine what has happened. Sharks might eat children while we're dithering! It's inconceivable that the same talents that make people electable to office almost always make them wholly unfit to hold it.

kmort said...

You relish it, yes, admit it Mein Herr. Body count. Piccadilly spattered with angloburger. Buckingham blasted into a gravel pit; Janey Austen vagina mansions swirling with crips. The mo' the merrier. We can't help it--like the debauched freaks of Ballard's Crash, staring at Janey Mansfield decapitated, James Dean spun off some Cali twilight into void, turbaned hassan i sabbahs are our secret icons. Bring it on niggahs!

roger said...

Harry, I have the instincts of the latter half you are talking about. Hey, if there had been an Iraqi seal team plowing the planes into 9/11, yeah, I'd be for the war against Iraq. However, I would not have been for the way the war has been handled in Iraq even given support for a war in Iraq, since the one is a question of justification, the other a question of the act itself, which has been a comedy of greed, bungles, arrogance, and ignorance. Oh, and not to mention crimes against humanity. I'm not sure where you put bombing a city you already occupy -- in the crime against humanities column, or the comedy column. I know where to put the razing of Fallujah.

I always thought Nicaragua had a perfect right, in the 80s, to mine the Miami harbor. It is a cruel right, of course, because they didn't have the power to do that with impunity. I think it would be great if the U.S. didn't have the foreign policy history that it has, but it does. The not so latent colonial system allows the great powers to operate with a scope that is disallowed poor, peripheral nations, and the U.S. has taken rotten advantage of that. My opinion is, that stinks. But my further opinion is that a macro injustice shouldn't sideline me to the observation that that is unjust, as though that takes care of it and gives me a foundation for action. It doesn't. I'm no believer in absolute justice -- I think that there are infinite degrees of injustice, and one dickers about them. Some situations are set up so that if you accept one degree of injustice, you soon are forced to accept every degree. Some situations are not. Hey, I've watched enough film noirs to have gained that much wisdom. In Afghanistan, it is obvious that we didn't achieve the one goal we should have - the destruction of Al Qaeda insofar as it was concentrated in Afghanistan -- and we have continued with the bad and sneaky habit of never leaving. We should have had a time table for leaving there, too. In fact, just today, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhistan and some other central asian republics called for a time table on a pull out. Which sounds wise to me.


However -- the case of Al Qaeda is, to my mind, very similar to the situation with the Mafia in Sicily in the eighties.

roger said...

Oops -- ignore the graf at the end. I meant to erase that.

Deleted said...

The last graf is the most apposite. Organized crime with paramilitary capabilities flourishes where the ruling class is incapable of acting in even machiavellian self-interest. They're symbiotic, once the uses each has for the other against the many become apparent. Realpolitick American-style has always created more problems than it's solved. The ability to look at discrete chunks of practice and policy is a narrow, management strength. It's useless in politics or guiding large organizations. Until we get our act together enough to put a brake on that, we're a panicked crowd.

kmort said...

Organized crime with paramilitary capabilities flourishes where the ruling class is incapable of acting in even machiavellian self-interest.

This view seems fairly accurate but I would tentatively claim that countries and ethnicities are factions and "mafias" rather than states; that say the US or even France is as much a linguistically-and ethnically-oriented gang as Iran. One would like to hold to notions of color-blind justice and meritocracy but I suspect in the hearts of the US military leaders--especially the white ones--exists the old teutonic fear and detestation of the Turk (and Tartar, Nubian, etc.). But the muslims surely have the same types of motivations--(various shiite fatwas do call for the end of the infidels and western secularists or Xtian). If no faction agrees to some objective standards of justice--rather than holding to ancient code of revenge ( sort of a worldwide omerta?)--then it seems this war is about territoriality more than anything.

Anonymous said...

>>is rather like a hospital managed by doctors and nurses who refuse to obey the simple rules of hygiene.

Indeed. Or, perhaps even more accurately, imagine George W. Bush as the president of a large hospital in which some influenza epidemic is killing hundreds if not thousands.

"We will not rest until influenza is wiped from the face of the earth."
"You're either with us or with the influenza virus."

The "liberal press" cheers, saying we're all united.

When the virus does not succumb to this bluster he blows up the hospital. "There's no other way to protect the people."

Karl Rove sneers, "the liberals want to use MEDICAL methods." Rolls his eyes.

The National Security Democrats howl that the party must have a serious position on influenza. A "merely medical" policy won't do.