The startling demise of Osama bin Laden (OBL) has really upset me. Despite the fact that nearly every authoritative voice in this country and every single mainstream media pundit telling me that OBL was evil incarnate, I still can’t help but be disturbed by the complete disregard–rejection?– for due process. Our President just sent a military force into a foreign country to carry out a political execution while the world watched. This moment of depravity was heralded as a great triumph, with jubilant crowds of my fellow citizens chanting USA! USA! USA! Friends I hold in high esteem were eager to congratulate Obama for his “triumph”.
I sit here in the belly of a crumbling superpower in decline with it’s crumbling infrastructure, murderous police force, that acts more and more like an occupying army than anything else, and it’s host of internal problems that are largely ignored and I can’t help but wonder if we haven’t gone crazy.
This place–USA! USA! USA! –is falling apart, folks. Bridges, roads, sewage treatment, electrical grids, the very foundation of our modern society is near collapse. We maxed out the credit card a long, long time ago. Under Nixon to be precise. But we managed to scare the shit out of the creditors for the last few decades. But the world is growing weary of only playing the US version of Monopoly where we just happen to own all the properties and run the bank and make people roll fixed dice. The so-called “service sector” which has replaced an army of skilled workers who could actually make incredible things we wanted is simply a euphemism for the slave sector. Instead of being bought and sold we are rented and discarded, living an unstable and precarious existence. The other major sector of the economy apparently has an army of cubicle dwellers who get paid to play on Facebook all day.
Wages have been stagnant or in decline for over the past 30 years despite major advances in productive output by American workers. We just accidentally built an “extra” 20 million houses and yet tent cities continue to pop. Meanwhile we continue to pour trillions of dollars into illegal, unjust, unnecessary wars. Some of us worry about putting a pair of shoes on a credit card. Our ruling class just charged two major wars with more on the way!
In light of of this and so much more that is wrong right here where we live, what’s so wonderful about executing an unarmed man in front of his family on the other side of the world? Does that mean my boss is no longer looking to make me take a 20% cut in pay and drastic changes to work rules? Are we going to get around to rebuilding this place before it’s too late? Are we doing something about these murderous police that are a greater danger to us than any terrorist group.
Great, it took the worlds most powerful military a few trillion dollars and ten years to kill one guy. Wow. No expense Spared there. We even built an exact replica of his $46,000 “mansion” to practice killing him in before game time. There’s no word on whether or not they practiced dumping his body in the sea.
Still, I can’t help but wonder. Can’t we do better? Can’t we be better? Can’t we start doing something that we can all be proud of? The last time we spent a 100 billion dollars in ten years we put a human on the moon. Imagine what we could have done this past ten years with trillions of dollars, millions of intelligent, capable humans and access to the worlds resources. Isn’t time to do more than believe in change? Its time to make a change.
Probably the best article you have written and so much of it could apply to my own country. However that’s the system, appealling to the thugs that run the outfit to change it for OUR benefit is a bit like the chicken asking a greedy fox to help it build a chicken pen. The system is beyond reform, too many vested interests have too much to lose. Too much wealth wrapped up in the hands of those in control, they wont give it all up so that we the ordinary people will have a better life. They are not patriotic, it is the wealth and power that matters, not the state of the country. As far as they are concerned, everything is fine and they are doing very well thank you. They don’t live with your cops, they don’t live in your neighbourhoods and they certainly have no problems finding a decent home in a nice location and no problem putting another pair of shoes on their feet. Their world is just hunky-dorry. So why change?
David spoke volumes in that post, I agree. Check out our Polizeros podcast interview with him that Steve Hynd and I did on Thursday. Lots of good stuff in it.
While I can’t argue with your assessment of the condition of the Empire, I do think this operation was exactly what was called for – finally, an appropriate state response to 4th Generation Warfare. Invading two countries was nonsensical and failed to address the stated objectives. Sanctions? Arrest? Completely impractical under the circumstances. While I generally decry the erosion of civil rights in and by this country, in this instance I think we made the right move for a change.
Bin Laden declared himself at war with the U.S. He initiated an attack against the U.S., which he publicly acknowledged, which is hard to read as anything other than a voluntary confession. He does not fall into the category of an ordinary criminal, any more than did Tojo or Bormann. If he was the leader of a country, we would not hesitate to protect ourselves. But he wasn’t – he was the self-declared head of a 4GW force. Had he been captured, he should have been tried for war crimes. But he wasn’t. To my mind, this was an act of war in the context of war, and fully justified.
I would have preferred a Congressional Declaration of War against Al Queda, but this is really uncharted territory since Al Queda is not a nation. Congress did authorize such a mission, though Bush tragically failed to undertake it. That’s as close to a declaration as we are likely to get.
Did we trample on the rights of Pakistan? Probably. There is legal recourse for that, should the Pakistanis seek it. But we did far less trampling than against millions of civilians in ten years of war in two countries. Make that three, since we’ve done a number of drone attacks in Pakistan also, with their attendant “collateral damage.”
Until now we have showed almost zero ability to respond appropriately to 4GW. Now that has changed, and the debate can begin as to how far a nation can legally go in such circumstances, and what are the rights of a nation hosting a 4GW enemy. Warfare has already begun a new frontier – it’s about time we started to catch up.
Yes, but the wars will still go on. Because it’s not about taking out Osama (who certainly had it coming) but about endless wars for empire and because we have a war economy. None of that will change now that Osama is dead.
The mindless Jingoism, endless MSM coverage about the execution, and Obama and aides watching it real-time make it all seem like it’s a video game, or maybe Shooting the Evildoers rather than Dancing With the Stars.
Meanwhile the real warriors are ignoring all that and instead are scanning the horizon for the next attack, which they know is coming and which Osama’s execution probably made more probable.
They best way to end all this madness is to stop invading countries.
“None of that will change now that Obama is dead.” I think you have them confused…
What you say is true, although there is yet another level: in the case of Osama, and indeed many of our enemies (think Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, etc.), they used to be our friends. We armed them, put them in position, and discarded them when we were finished – never guessing that they would turn their talents against us.
Then there is another category of enemy: the ones we have screwed over royally. In Iran we overthrew a democratically-elected government and gave them instead 25 years of oppression and torture. Gee, why don’t the Iranians like us?
If we really believed in self-determination, we would not have most of the enemies we now face and have faced in the recent past. But then, as you point out, we *need* those enemies. How else can we justify the Military-Industrial Complex?
Still the fact remains that there will be 4GW enemies, though we’d have far fewer if we didn’t create them ourselves. Invading countries makes those enemies stronger, as we saw in Iraq where Al Queda was a non-starter before we sent in the troops. Hitting the leaders (without collateral damage) can end an organization’s effectiveness. Of course that must be combined with a real attempt to bring justice, or sooner or later a new leader will arise.
I can’t tell you how many times I typed Obama when I meant Osama in that post. Sigh. Henceforth I shall refer to him solely as ‘bin Laden.’
We’re addicted to war. And for the US, a long-term view is 6 months…
We are addicted to war, we are addicted to oil, we are addicted to debt, we are addicted to consumption. We’re going to have one heck of a withdrawal some day!
However, the fact seems to be that to sustain our decadent lifestyle, we need more than what we have. That means taking or borrowing resources and wealth from others. If that stops, we’ll have to get off the merry-go-round and live like the rest of the world. Which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but it would be a severe shock.
Imagine being limited to the world mean of about 20% of the energy we now burn. We might have to conserve, and maybe even give up a few things. Imagine our government and our households with spending limited to our income. No more easy credit. Imagine no more Wal-Mart – no more cheap goods made on the backs of the world’s poor, shipped with artificially cheap, subsidized petroleum, to put local businesses out of business and turn their former owners into wage slaves who punch a clock. Imagine that with budget tightening eliminating subsidies to mega-farms and real fossil fuel costs eliminating artificially-cheap fertilizer, we had to pay for food what it is actually worth. Imagine our leaders being subject to international law. Imagine having to find jobs for the millions who work in the military-industrial complex (not to mention fossil fuels).
How horrible to realize that we are *NOT* special.