An obsession with security begets an anxious need for more security, and the more security is ratcheted up, the more intense this anxiety becomes. This is the feedback loop that keeps our military-security-industrial complex humming. Decades of robust defense spending have made this feedback loop, once the sole possession of the paranoid, a way of life.
DOD file films of Blue Angels executing their intricate dances in the sky and waves breaking over the bows of destroyers and cruisers cutting through stormy seas uplift and give to a nervous public a wisp of security that quickly vanishes, leaving uncertainty in its wake.
We no longer elect presidents; we elect commander-in-chiefs because we are conditioned to see threats where none exist. So ingrained is this doctrine of the ever-present threat that to even suggest that what this country needs is a president who can transcend the parochialism of the “security paradigm” is heresy. An anxious public must have a nuclearized security state if it is to function.
The public eagerly throws dollars at the Pentagon budget as if were a DOD lottery in which the winning ticket will guarantee life-long security. Only our elite know that no such ticket will ever be printed.
The conditioning has been comprehensive. We are now blessed with a public that fears germs, cancer, crazed druggies, drunk drivers, second-hand smoke, unhappiness, depression, unpopularity, failure, carcinogenics, body odor, bad breath and ring around the collar. They are so intent on an odor-free, risk-free society that they are willing to stand by and watch their freedoms being pissed away.
Only a public so conditioned would tolerate gutting food stamps to feed already bloated defense contractors.
Only a public so conditioned would give credence to John “Mad Dog” McCain as he intones dire warnings of the “moral monsters” against which we must protect ourselves with sophisticated weapons systems and a trillion-dollar defense budget.
We are addicted to power because that is the only thing that gives meaning to a meaningless life. This need for meaning arose because we placed the ego on the throne of existence. The ego must invent meaning because, as an ontological fiction, it has none, unlike the soul to which meaning inheres.
God in his heaven will bless you and lift you up for all you have done to keep America anxious and afraid. Fear is the passion that makes possible the stiffened leadership that has, in the eyes of the world, made us a monster to destroy.
 This letter is a riff on “America’s Ghost” by James Carroll which may be found at the above link. Carroll is one of our most gifted and intelligent writers on national defense and other subject. --cw
Monday, March 3, 2008
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Good one! Keep em coming. They keep me thinking
Thanks. Will do.
At the democracy website an article about this subject describes Leaderless Jihad, a new book by a former CIA officer named Marc Sageman.
The heart of Sageman's message is that we have been scaring ourselves into exaggerating the terrorism threat -- and then by our unwise actions in Iraq making the problem worse. He attacks head-on the central thesis of the Bush administration, echoed increasingly by Republican presidential candidate John McCain, that, as McCain's Web site puts it, the United States is facing "a dangerous, relentless enemy in the War against Islamic Extremists" spawned by al-Qaeda.
It's the third wave of terrorism that is growing, but what is it? By Sageman's account, it's a leaderless hodgepodge of thousands of what he calls "terrorist wannabes." Unlike the first two waves, whose members were well educated and intensely religious, the new jihadists are a weird species of the Internet culture. Outraged by video images of Americans killing Muslims in Iraq, they gather in password-protected chat rooms and dare each other to take action. Like young people across time and religious boundaries, they are bored and looking for thrills.
This is the problem. What is the solution? We believe that telling our legislators about the issues that concern us is a way to start. If they don’t do what we ask, then we will elect legislators who do. If we need to, we will implement Fair Elections, public-financed elections, like Maine has, to get the money out of politics. This path to democracy can be done by us, the people. We make it easy to communicate with our legislators at the democracy website, Just click on 2008 Fed Legislators. If these links don’t work, use
Send them a message from the c-span.org website here.
I'll have to read Sageman's book.
I agree that the new wave of terrorists are a sorry lot, such as the Liberty City five who planned to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago as soon as they could figure out where Chicago was.
But no matte how pathetic they are they make good grist for the publicity mill.
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