Shop that sold the guns that killed at Ft Hood, Killeen, Texas
In the last months I’ve been replying somewhat regularly to the spaces in the NY Times that allow for a reader response, beyond Letters to the Editors, which I’ve also tried to no avail. Part of this is to wedge a little voice into the cacophony of the news and try to, perhaps, leaven the often shrill and ideologically loaded comment with a little intelligence. This past week I replied to two different things, and found one published, and the other not.
The first was to one item on the Fort Hood, Texas, killings, at the column, Homefires, to which I wrote the following which was published:
In the responses there recur certain themes. One is “prayers for the families,” etc.
Prayer does nothing beyond comfort the person praying with the delusion that they are doing something meaningful for someone or thing outside one’s self. Beyond a self-balm, prayer is meaningless.
Another theme is “the innocent” soldiers who were present. There is no innocence in being a soldier. Soldiers are trained to be killers, and sent out to do this job by their political masters, often for venal or evil reasons. America’s military is usually used to advance US business interests.
Another is the “heroic” soldier as opposed to the “cowardly” killer. Contrary to the politically useful myth that soldiers are a country’s “best” the brutal reality is that in our virtually privatized military, soldiers are a mix of those drawn to the pleasures of violence; those driven there by the cultural envelope in which they live; those driven there by economic necessity – the job of last resort.
It appears Mr Hasan, perceived as an outsider before he entered, did so to certify his being “inside,” an American. Once in the military he found himself again an outsider, subject to the prejudices of a system that among other things is highly “Christianized,” and in a way a caricature of all the prejudices of America in general.
Then there are the various snide comments about “the religion of peace” – Islam. I am sure those using this mode of attack are likely to say they themselves are Christian and hence they are the real religion of peace, albeit one that has left a vast trail of corpses where ever it has gone.
Until America ceases to be a self-deluded bastion of militarism, these things, like 9/11, will continue to occur, and doubtless Americans will continue to be puzzled why their world is so out of whack with the self-perception of themselves as the good guys, the white hats.
America remains politically and culturally infantile.
US troops in Afghanistan
Then, in response to another column on the same topic, Room for Debate, I wrote the following, which was not published:
So long as the United States continues its post-WW2 pursuit of world domination in the interest of corporate wealth, now morphed into a lethal combination of military-corporate-media collusion to this aim, the US will continue to live in constant stress, however much political efforts are made to dampen it. For example, we have virtually privatized the military, eliminating the draft as a matter of social friction; thus the stress of actual military service is shunted onto a very narrow minority of primarily economically deprived persons.
But the cumulative stress of our attempt at maintaining an economic empire enforced with military power seeps into our society every day, whether in the form of ever more invasive governmental control over daily life, or the strident shrieking of fear-mongerers, be they governmental or corporate (Bush>Cheney>Limbaugh>Beck et al) or simply the devastation inflicted on people as they lose their jobs, homes, and sense of life as they are sacrificed by this corporate zombie our society has produced.
Lacking a profound and deep shift in our values, in which we relinquish our imagined right to the world’s wealth and to “guiding” others to our imagined enlightened way of living, there is no reason to think the stress lines of today will not multiply and amplify until we collapse in a fractured catastrophe of our own making.
I find myself wondering what was so threatening in the last one that was so different from the other? Perhaps the shift from particulars to a more general view? I find it puzzling.
And here’s a letter to the editor which, of course, was not printed:
America – the United States of America – long ago ceased knowing how to speak to itself, how to be honest with itself, and the consequence is a poisoned politics reflecting the myriad profound problems which infect us. While I am sympathetic to Obama’s attempts to grapple with this, it seems clear he is, whether consciously or not, a captive of the corporate powers and military-industrial interests which essentially control the economy and political processes in this country. His effects are ameliorative and not real “change,” as reflective in the saving of Wall Street at the cost of Main Street, to speak in the willfully limited and cliched language of politics. DOJ rulings on secrecy, etc. all show clearly the hands which govern the game; it is the corporate military state apparatus which is pulling all the strings. Any attempt to genuinely alter this would doubtless result in some inexplicable one-bullet theory death, or modern buildings collapsing as if by magic (or planned demolition) left unmentioned in official white(wash) papers.
Meanwhile, in Italy, the courts there sentenced a number of American CIA agents to prison (in abstentia) for the kidnapping of a Muslim cleric off the streets of Milan. President Obama regretted this. And those involved, now perhaps confined in their vacations to US places of pleasure, were quoted in the following:
In June, Il Giornale, a newspaper owned by the brother of Mr. Berlusconi, published an interview that it said it had conducted via Skype with Mr. Lady, the former C.I.A. base chief in Milan, whose whereabouts are unknown. In the interview, he said of Abu Omar’s abduction: “Of course it was an illegal operation. But that’s our job. We’re at war against terrorism.”
Milan CIA station chief Robert Seldon Lady, who was given the harshest sentence of eight years in prison, was quoted in the Il Giornale newspaper in June 2009 as saying: ‘I am not guilty. I am only responsible for following an order I received from my superiors. It was not a criminal act. It was a state affair.’”
Diego Garcia, one of America’s numerous black sites for military and intelligence ops
US Military around the world, 700+ known bases
In the same pages the new “conservative” opinionator, Ross Douthat, waxes lyrically about the end of history, how American Market Capitalism has triumphed, and all is hunky-dory except that we like having a looming threat so we’re unhappy about our “victory”:
Twenty years later, we still haven’t come to terms with the scope of our deliverance. Francis Fukuyama famously described the post-Communist era as “the end of history.” By this, he didn’t mean the end of events — wars and famines, financial panics and terrorist bombings. He meant the disappearance of any enduring, existential threat to liberal democracy and free-market capitalism.
This thesis has been much contested, but it holds up remarkably well. Even 9/11 didn’t undo the work of ’89. Osama bin Laden is no Hitler, and Islamism isn’t in the same league as the last century’s totalitarianisms. Marxism and fascism seduced the West’s elite; Islamic radicalism seduces men like the Fort Hood shooter. Our enemies resort to terrorism because they’re weak, and because we’re so astonishingly strong.
I’m not sure which happy planet Ross lives on, perhaps the same one as his stockbroker, but his imagined placid world of consumerism and fluid money, and all the world’s problems solved doesn’t seem to be the same one I live on. As if to underline the schism between those-with-money and those not, today’s Times announced a market leap of some 200+ Dow-Jones points, now levitating a goodly bit above the mystical 10K level. Why? Because the dollar has weakened sharply, scrivened the Times.
“A lot of it is sentiment-driven and there the dollar is getting a vote of no confidence,” Mr. Dolan said. “The massive borrowing by the U.S. government is undermining confidence in the longer-term outlook for the dollar.”
While the faltering dollar will make imports more expensive for American consumers, it will also make American exports more competitive overseas.
The hitch in this line is that America doesn’t make things to export much anymore. Uh, except weapons, and food (also used as a weapon), and entertainments. But then the people in Wall Street, like their money, are transnational and fluid, and if Americans don’t have houses, jobs, or things like that, no skin off their backs. In fact, in some nice tidy theoretical manner, “it’s all good.” Some have theorized that a trembling middle-class on the skids are – as statistics prove – in their desperation willing to work more for less, have no unions, and basically surrender everything to their corporate masters in the interests of attempting to maintain their sliding downward life-styles. Nice submissive worker ants.
Roland Emmerich’s fable for America, only cost half a billion to cheer us up with ….