by John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening, 12/14/2015
Give me an adequate army, with power to provide it with more pay and better food than falls to the lot of the average man, and I will undertake, within 30 years, to make the majority of the population believe that two and two are three, that water freezes when it gets hot and boils when it gets cold, or any other nonsense that might seem to serve the interest of the state.
- Bertrand Russell
An epidemic of unhappiness is spreading across the planet, while capital absolutism is asserting its right to unfettered control of our lives.
- Franco “Bifo” Berardi
First there was Paris. Then Colorado Springs. Then San Bernadino. A great discussion was raised in the land over which of the killers were terrorists and which were just lunatics. Police and FBI frantically went through apartments, hard-drives and cellphones to find out who had radicalized whom. Well paid corporate TV anchors salivated as police cordoned off crime scenes and politicos huddled in secret situation rooms to get their stories straight so they could release an official story to an eager and fearful public. They no doubt kept many important details to themselves.
Beyond the radicalizing question, there isn’t much interest why these people — versus other people — did what they did. Motivation comes down to: Who made them do it? The words alienation and despair are rarely seen, except maybe in the marginalized columns of the left. The problems of alienation and despair disappeared from the national discussion about the time Jimmy Carter’s malaise was overwhelmed by Ronald Reagan’s shining city on a hill and the rigors of 21st century “neoliberal” financial capitalism took the driver’s seat in America.
The Right emphatically pointed at ISIS and the Muslim threat. Utilizing sophisticated social media skills, a monstrous, growing caliphate had declared war on America and was seducing people living among us to kill us. America needed to respond with unrestrained lethal force, so America could be great again. In cases like the Planned Parenthood killings and the Charleston killings, the Left pointed at rightwing media bullhorns like Bill O’Reilly for relentlessly demonizing Planned Parenthood and the Black Lives Matters movement. O’Reilly vociferously denied on-air that he had “radicalized” anyone; he was not responsible for armed lunatics. The National Rifle Association stood firm: Any controls on citizen access to military assault rifles was the work of the Devil….
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from New York Times, 12/5/15:
By John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening, 2/20/15
We have to address the political grievances terrorists exploit.
– Barack Obama
All week, the bully-in-chief of cable news, Bill O’Reilly, has been passionately recruiting American clergy of all ethnic and supernatural inclinations to preach from their pulpits this weekend for US troops to lead what he sees as a holy war declared by ISIS. “The problem is Islamic fanatics who want to kill Christians and Jews.” The goat that gives him his vein-popping urgency is President Barack Obama who is determined to never make a reference to religion in his call for international propaganda war against the ISIS phenomenon — to accompany his current bombing campaign and any other military action he may lead.
While Mr. Obama is guilty of a host of national security state sins and is not without blood on his hands, the president’s rhetoric is smart when he emphasizes that ISIS is a “death cult” with incredible influence that should be engaged by the forces of civilization. The problem is the fine rhetoric seldom translates into action. Policy always falls back on our runaway national security state and its deep terror of losing some aspect of its power and self-image of exceptionalism.
Bill O’Reilly takes up holy war with ISIS
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bottom line, near the end: “…you can’t address something like ISIS or its influence in places like Europe without engaging the legacies of colonial and imperial history.”
by Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analyses
Part I – Futility
It has long been known that torture does not work. One can go back to the Enlightenment. In 1764 Cesare Beccaria published his groundbreaking work, On Crimes and Punishments. Beccaria had examined all the evidence available at that time and concluded that individuals under torture will tell their interrogator anything they want to hear, true or not, just to get the pain to stop. Beccaria’s book led to a temporary waning of the state-ordered torture.
Nonetheless, the United States has used torture repeatedly. Indeed, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of its report (five years in the making) on the Bush administration’s use of torture testifies to only the most recent in a long line of such incidents. For instance, torture was used against prisoners during and immediately following the Spanish-American War, particularly in the Philippines. More recently the U.S. (and its adversary) used torture during the Vietnam War. Confirming Beccaria’s judgment, the consensus among U.S. military personnel who examined the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” (the latest euphemism for torture) against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese prisoners was that it did not work. This conclusion has been supported by Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) who was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for over five years. He has repeatedly said that he knows, from personal experience, that “victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it.” Continue reading