Tag Archives: america

Will America Survive Without Imperialism?

I rode the D.C. Metro last week and absorbed all the lovely lines that flow along the bridge over the Potomac and under the Pentagon. There’s something decidedly Roman about Washington D.C. If it’s not all the columns or facades of Minerva then it’s idea of immortality in all of it. There have been Romes before, but we always think this time will be different.

It’s no longer a question of “Can” but “Will”. Somewhere between the Chinese false devaluation of the yuan and our   overstretched military industrial complex, things will stop churning so violently eventually. America is faced with the most sophisticated resistance of our age, something so consuming that there is little to do but give in. Those beautiful lines over the Potomac were bought and built with slave sweat and slave blood. Our food is grown with GMO seeds and then freeze-packed for our microwaves. Our cellphones contain little nuggets of pain and suffering from the Congo. Our magazine pages rip up our sexual instincts. Our children parrot the television and tug on our sleeves for more. One thing is for certain: whatever cold fire we had a hundred years ago to force our way across the globe has sputtered out.

Teddy Roosevelt claimed a White Teutonic racial superiority as what set Americans apart from the rest. My grandparents tell me it’s hard work, saving, and going without excess. We need these rationalizations to fortify our moral grounding in the world. Yet what really gave us the edge was a vast land filled with wealth and fertile soil, wrenched from its original inhabitants and cultivated by 50 million slaves. Building America took great commitment and required vast power. We built up great war machines and set them sailing in the ocean, looking to spread our cold fire elsewhere.

Now Americans don’t even have that cold fire, the ruthlessness in them to fight and take. The entitlement has filtered into every part of society, and now our hard working Teutonic compatriots are too tired from a long day of staring at screens and advertisements that it’s hard to remember what it is we’re supposed to do to keep moving forward.

The Romans had lead in the water and Dionysian orgies, but what do we have? A whole litany of vices poured down our throats the Romans couldn’t have dreamed of. It’s too late for us. The USSR’s population was ready for the crash. Decades of hard living had prepared them to survive a hostile world. Looking at the state of Russia nowadays, it’s done them little good. The life expectancy has dropped and their industry has been shattered. And America, at the pinnacle of the world, faces an obesity epidemic and has no industry left to speak of unless you work at the Pentagon.

So when you look on the grandeur of the Washington monuments and museums, do you wonder what they will look like at the end of your life? When you are old and gray, how will you explain things to your grandchildren? Apocalyptic notions have been picking up steam. Books and movies hail the end times. The case can be made that it’s always been like this, that the end times have always been near. Yet aged intellectuals openly espouse grief and concern over our future. Our money has evaporated. We’re losing the wars abroad and at home as America runs back into the comforting arms of imperial nationalism. Thinking we can punch the slot machine a few more times and be ok, our involvement in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America foretells our demise. Our decaying neighborhoods in New Orleans and Detroit indicate a disastrous trajectory. When we are unable to invest domestically while at the same time unable to divest internationally… this is when we wake up and find ourselves and our national monuments too close to Rome for comfort.

Facing the idea that we may not always have an easy supply of microwaved meals and entertaining television, will we be able to learn to cook and reacquaint each other? Will America survive without imperialism? Perhaps more importantly is how hard we will fight at the end to keep ourselves from facing reality.

Links:

India, Brazil Back U.S. Position on Yuan Before G-20

Closing the ‘Collapse Gap’: the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US

Last call: Old age and the end of nature

Pills pills pills!

For all the movies I can list that feature stoner culture, the dangers of heroin/crack/meth, disgusting drunks, and even how bad huffing is, the drug movie genre has been sadly deprived of one important family member. What about the pills?

Imagine if every day, 10 people were violently murdered by a serial killer in the state of Florida. The same guy was running around and killing 10 people every day. I can tell you exactly what would happen. There would be a run on the gun stores and someone would be quickly voted out of office. We might even risk voting another monster like Reagan into office. Anyway, the point of this hypothetical exercise is that 10 people are being killed every day by the same psychopath: prescription drug overdose. Now, you know this isn’t antibiotics or heart disease medicine people are overdosing on. The killers are oxycontin, fentanyl, alprazolam, whatever. No matter how many people die from these drugs, nobody in charge seems to be paying attention or at least challenging their denial.

This “Man Who is Supposed to Know” can’t even get his stereotype straight. Every time I walk into a doctor’s office I’m immediately treated with suspicion if I complain of pain. All I have to do is mention the word pain and a doctor immediately treats me like a frothing drug addict. I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I’m a clean, conservatively dressed, well-spoken person. I don’t have tattoos or piercings. I’m polite. The doctor, however, sees red flags all around me. I’m hustled out of the office with a direction to “take some Advil”. Like I didn’t already know that. I don’t wander into doctor’s offices with mysterious back or joint pain, I walk in because I got in a motorcycle accident last night or need a refill for my dry socket. When actually prescribed these medications, the quantity is so low you can barely buy 10 hours without pain. Chances are: by the time I’ve come to see you, I’ve already been chugging Advil for a few days.

What victims of prescription drug addiction look like

Anyway, if someone my age wants to get high on opiates, we do it the smarter, cheaper way. We order poppy pods online or we steal from our parents. After all, I only know a handful of Americans over the age of 40 without a prescription for scheduled medication. Not only that, but they are allowed tons of refills. After a while you notice that Mom or Dad’s probably healed up from that skiing last year, so why are they still taking regular pain medication?

With the lack of discussion about this in the media, we can assume the addicts who glean their supply from doctors are at the age where they make policy decisions. That is to say, 40 and up. So a large enough percentage of our adult population is addicted to pain medication now! Why do I say that? Well, ten of them are dying every day in Florida from it! If little Jimmy doesn’t sneak in there with his pals and gobble them all down himself, it’s your run of the mill “took too many pills, drank too much booze” case.

Yet, even with these staggering numbers, we allow places like pill mills and pain clinics to do business. Why? Because we’re addicted. This makes a bad case for across-the-board drug legislation. Even when it’s regulated and prescribed by doctors, it’s still being abused to the tune of thousands of deaths a year. Perhaps a more important step could be to study the American mentality a little closer and ask ourselves why we allow things like this to happen in the first place, why everyone over 40 seems to need something for a panic attack or neck cramp. Maybe it’s living a hollow existence 16 hours a day in the office, or pushing the mop all night at Walmart. Maybe it’s the glare from your TV, cell phone, or computer screen. Perhaps there is something wrong with the American soul. Either way, we need to seriously ask ourselves why this is happening. Is it too late for someone to drag us to NA? Let’s hope not.

Links:

S. Florida and Oxycodone: Invasion of the Pill Mills.

Narcotics Anonymous

Safe & Legal

As we approach the first anniversary of the brutal and tragic assassination of Dr. George Tiller (May 2009), we are constantly reminded that a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion in this country is in perpetual danger. With only a handful of doctors left in the country who are able to perform the kinds of procedures Dr. Tiller gave his life for, we need a new generation of doctors who are willing to protect women like these good doctors have. Despite death threats, terrorism, physical assaults, and even death, these brave souls have fought back simply by going to work and doing what they do best.

How American conservatives view women & their personal agency

Regardless of your personal feelings about abortion, you should support women being able to seek safe medical care. Abortions happen no matter their legality. The only difference is that women become injured and even die when not given access to safe medical care and proper facilities.

It’s yet another shame on America that our women must seek medical care behind layers of bullet-proof glass and through a crowd of vicious protesters who have no empathy for their personal situation, nor any right to judge. Sometimes these protesters become patients at the very clinics they protest against!

Only 14, she came with her mother. “What brings you here?” Dr Hern asked. “I have to have an abortion.” “Why?” “I’m not old enough to have a baby.” “But you told the counsellor we should all be killed?” “Yes, you should all be killed.” “Why?” “Because you do abortions.” “Me too?” “Yes, you should be killed, too.” “Do you want me killed before or after I do your abortion?” “Before.”

Now that Dr. Tiller has been murdered, there is only one doctor in the United States that performs the same procedures in a professional, reliable manner.

“It is my view that we are dealing with a fascist movement. It’s a terrorist, violent terrorist movement, and they have a fascist ideology…” Dr Hern goes on like that for some time. Long before the first doctor got shot back in 1993, he was warning that it would happen. He was getting hate mail and death threats way back in 1970, just for working in family planning. They started up again in 1973, two weeks after he helped start the first non-profit abortion clinic in Boulder. “I started sleeping with a rifle by my bed. I expected to get shot.” In 1985, someone threw a brick through his window during a protest by the quote unquote Pro-Life Action League. He put up a sign that said THIS WINDOW WAS BROKEN BY THOSE WHO HATE FREEDOM. In 1988, somebody fired five bullets through his window. In 1995, the American Coalition of quote unquote Life Activists put out a hit list with his (and Tiller’s) name on it. The feds gave them protection for about six months, then left them on their own.

“People don’t get it,” he says. “After eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 406 death threats, 179 assaults, and four kidnappings, people are still in denial. They say, ‘Well, this was just some wingnut guy who just decided to go blow up somebody.’ Wrong. This was a cold-blooded, brutal, political assassination that is the logical consequence of 35 years of hate speech and incitement to violence by people from the highest levels of American society, including but in no way limited to George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jesse Helms, Bill O’Reilly, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Reagan may not have been a fascist, but he was a tool of the fascists. Bush was most certainly a tool of the fascists. They use this issue to get power. They seem civilised, but underneath you have this seething mass of rabid anger and hatred of freedom that is really frightening, and they support people like the guy who shot George – they’re all pretending to be upset, issuing statements about how much they deplore violence, but it’s just bullshit. This is exactly what they wanted to happen.”

As if on cue for this tragic anniversary, Nebraska has passed a recent set of draconian laws restricting their state’s residents from obtaining abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, arguing that the fetus responds to pain at this point. However, this is a hypocritical stance because America is a country where we routinely slaughter animals who feel a great deal more pain and possess higher cognitive functions than fetuses under abortion. The woman is merely an afterthought of this legislation, and lawmakers callously push aside her pain and suffering in deference to the cluster of cells in her abdomen. A woman taxpayer is again reduced to the role of “baby-machine” in this society. No matter her own opinion, when viewed as a “baby-machine”, all other personal agency is ripped away despite America being “the freest place on earth”.

Links:

Tariq Ramadan

In 2004, Tariq Ramadan was denied a US visa because he was accused of funneling money to Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist organization.

Of course, what actually happened was that Mr. Ramadan gave money to an organization that may have dispersed money to Hamas before Hamas was considered a terrorist organization in 2003. Likewise, Mr. Ramadan was not visiting America to raise money and sneak it to terrorists. He was offered a professorship at the University of Notre Dame (he now teaches at Oxford).

As one of the leading scholars on Islam and its relationship in the West, Mr. Ramadan is not welcome in a whole host of countries, including Saudi Arabia and his ancestral Egypt. His family has a history of rabble-rousing; Hassan al-Banna is his grandfather. Yet Mr. Ramadan was not born into a Muslim Brotherhood sleeper cell, he was raised and educated in Switzerland. Despite his academic and cultural achievements, he was still considered unfit for American consumption until this past week, when he was finally allowed entry.

We can assume that an esteemed Muslim scholar who argues for non-violence and integration with the West would be a valuable asset to our global academic community. So why was he blacklisted?

So if, for example, me, I’m banned from this country, I’ve been banned from this country because I speak my mind, I get the message: in fact, I’m not one of you. You are putting me outside, saying, “No, you’re banned from us.” So this is exactly what is happening with people like this. We push, we push, we push. We kill in Iraq. We kill in Afghanistan. And when we need a critical discussion here, by saying, “No, we don’t agree,” it should be open, and we should not be suspected. It’s not working. So you get everything except this sense of belonging.

And if you don’t get this sense of belonging, which is the psychological integration to your society, meaning if I want to change the policies in Iraq, I should be a citizen in this country to vote and to be critical and to reach out—this is where I belong, this is my country—if I don’t get this sense, I’m going to end up like this, exactly like, in the same way, Mohammad Sidique Khan. After—just before the bombing in London, he was saying, “You are killing our brothers there. We are going to kill you.” You and us, our brother and you. But he was born and raised in Britain. Exactly like him, he was here.

So it’s very—it’s a deep question here. It’s a deep dimension, that we have to understand that critical discussion is important. To feel at home here is important. And then, with this kind of understanding, I will challenge this understanding of Islam, of course, by saying, you know, we cannot be loyal to the United States of America and this very black-and-white attitude, dogmatic mind. I can understand that it is coming out of frustrations, but I disagree.

But I would like the politicians in the States and in the West to understand, if you carry on this atmosphere, this nurturing this perception that Islam is a threat, that the Muslims are a problem, not a potential contribution, you will end up having this kind of, you know, gap between us and them. And you ask yourself sometime, is it not what some populists want?

Links:

Tariq Ramadan Comes to America!

Who’s Afraid of Tariq Ramadan?

Tariq Ramadan on Democracy Now!

Why America Will Stop Winning, part 1: Weapons

During the World Wars, all major players shared the same kinds of basic weaponry. It wasn’t until the creation of the atomic bomb that the scales tipped greatly in favor of one power over another with regards to military technology. As a result, the world’s great powers have been at a quiet military standstill since 1945. Any aggression from a great power against another great power could result in nuclear war. This has kept any major conflict from occurring since.

However, the great powers still fight in smaller deadly wars against non-nuclear powers. I say smaller because their geographical area is lessened. However, the amount of ordinance used in these conflicts greatly outnumbers the amounts of ordinance used during these great World Wars. Despite the fact that the victims of this overwhelming aggression are in no way equal in strength to the great powers, nor do they have access to weapons beyond rifles and RPGs, the great powers have never won a war in this way. Disproportionate distance warfare in this modern age results more often in a crippling and embarrassing loss for the great power than it does for the weaker, less equipped nation. It’s less effective at eradicating targets and threats and far more costly in the long run.

A video has been released recently that shows US forces in Iraq killing 15 innocent people. They joke over the radio with each other as they shoot at the people on the ground from over a mile away in their helicopters. This video was released through a site called “Wikileaks”, and it wasn’t until outrage grew online that major news networks decided to pick up the story. Even then, the video was censored “out of respect” for the families of those killed. What a joke! The video would have remained censored if the Army had its way, just like the photos of Abu Ghraib would have remained censored. Even caskets of dead soldiers are censored in the media, why would snuff videos be allowed? Released in this way, this long after the incident took place and was “cleared” by the Army, will fuel anger in Iraq and all over the world, not only because of the content, but because of the continued denial of the US government and population that their occupation creates such crimes against humanity.

The world powers learned a lesson after Vietnam. Instead of being able to practice their trade legitimately, journalists are now embedded with US soldiers. During the aftermath of the massacre in Baghdad, a Washington Post journalist was on the scene. The first time the paper mentions the possible misconduct by US soldiers, however, was after the Wikileaks release of the video, whereby they mentioned it in passing to promote the journalist’s book about Iraq.

This incident and its response indicates to me that the United States has become too far removed from its own warfare. Pilots in Nevada finish flying drones in Iraq and then drive home to kiss their wives and children. Helicopter gunmen fire thousands of rounds on unarmed civilians from over a mile away. Ask any man on the street in the US and chances are good that he will have forgotten that hundreds of thousands of US soldiers are occupying Iraq. However, ask any man in Iraq and he will remember this fact very clearly unless he is severely mentally ill or incapacitated. It is a reality he lives with every day. An American will see this footage, and they will begin to make excuses for the soldiers firing rounds from over a mile away, themselves as far removed from the violence as the soldier has become through his distance weapons. Most of the rest of the world’s population will see this video and, due to their daily proximity to violence and poverty, will become incensed. Both sides are fighting each other, but only one side lives with reality.

Perhaps the powers that be found it easier to make their populations ignore the war than convince the populations to support it. Since the Iraq war began in 2003, US citizens have responded tepidly at best both in support or in opposition to the war. There are few American citizens  who would be willing to make great sacrifices for their cause. Removed from the violence, miles away in our helicopters, Americans have lost the capacity to understand their bloody actions against the rest of the world. Al-Jazeera runs photos of the bodies and shows uncensored video footage. Wolf Blitzer simply tells you about it before breaking news about Tiger Woods.

Like Willard complaining in “Apocolypse Now”, we are becoming soft in our hotel rooms while “Charlie” crouches in the jungle and gets harder. Our technology has evolved, but our resolve has become weaker. When soldiers become so far removed from the conflict that they lose the humanity of themselves in regard to their targets, they lose the war. It happened in Vietnam, and it will happen in Iraq and Afghanistan. By putting distance between us and our targets, we also lose the moral high ground. In an effort to “save American lives” – while lining the pockets of military contractors who create such technologies – we have made the Other more expendable. After all, our technology has grown to make some soldiers safer, but it has become more deadly and careless towards the target. Like the adoption of carpet bombing Europe in World War 2, the result is mass, needless civilian causalities. The only difference was that the various European countries had the means to adequately defend themselves. The Global South has resorted to suicide bombing.

While US soldiers grow fat on video games and Halliburton all-you-can-eat buffets, “Haji” crouches in the desert and gets harder. Only this is no longer a tactical issue, as it is to some old-guard grunts and generals. This has become a moral issue because our continued callousness results in the death and suffering of millions worldwide without a single pinch of moral consequence, which creates the cyclical environment wherein more lives will be ruined by our ignorance. However, instead of erradicating threats, distance warfare will multiply them, as more hearts and minds are repelled internationally by our standards.