02 May 2011


I feel it entirely possible that the fact that Osama Bin Laden has been killed, murdered, punished, etc. depending on your view, does more to justify his unjustifiable acts of violence against the US, than anything else. I have read elsewhere that the message is 'justice.' My own feelings on this are likely to be viewed as seditious by many people.

I think the message is something like:

"Don't mess with me, mine or my stuff. If you do I will hunt you down and kill you, regardless of the cost or consequences to mine or anyone I perceive as seeking to slow or obstruct me in this process. I will destroy the homes and lives not only of the people who may harbor you, but of anyone in any way deemed to have obstructed my execution of justice. I will take decades to do this if necessary. I will dedicate most of the resources of my people to this, above the need for health, education, community or environmental integrity. I will value this above life and life systems. I will murder large portions of the population wherever you are found on the planet. I will destroy the means of industry, succor, community, culture and livelihood of anyone remotely associated with your ideology, 'ethnicity,' faith or geographic location. I will destroy the fabric of your families. I will salt the earth of your civilization and burn whatever faith you may hold. I will not pursue an eye for an eye. If you take my eye, I will attempt to crush you and yours entirely. I will seek to remove the possibility of seeing not only from you, but from all of yours, for all time. Anyone of yours that I have not killed outright, I will capture, imprison and torture if I am able. I will arrange it so that I profit from my just punishment of you and yours, even at the expense of my own people, for whom I claim justice. If necessary I will run my own into the ground of sickness, oppression, tyranny and violent death, if it means your death and the death of yours. I will send my own young against you to die in numbers, forever scarred and changed in the process, many beyond any chance of reintegration or recovery. I will do so at the expense of life and any regard for planetary consequences. I will carry all this cost, fear, hatred and consequence into any foreseeable future, be it decades or centuries. I will neglect the suffering of others until I have destroyed you and yours or died in the process. I will not cease in any of this, even after your death."

Heh. I imagine that actually sounds good to some people. Like resolve or something. You know, gets you all riled up. Pitchforks. Torches. These colors never run, etc. Let's you know who you are and who they are. Nice and neat.

The official US death count for institutionalized violence in Iraq is currently 33,023. The estimated count is more like 100,000. The estimated number of Iraqis killed is around 100,000. Another 2,340 for Afghanistan coalition forces. I cannot find any sort of definitive seeming number on Afghani casualties, but it seems about 20,000 with 80,000 or so people displaced from their homes. An estimated 4.7 million people have been displaced in Iraq. This is probably about half the actual number. Displaced means that their homes, communities and means of livelihood have been destroyed... razed... salted. I have no idea how to really even begin to consider the scope of environmental damage and damage to life and planetary systems.

Being a Vet in the US is not a good career choice. There are about 100,000 homeless Vets and another 1.5 million considered at risk. Mental illness, substance abuse, etc. are much more statistically likely than other outcomes of employing our young population in this way. The Vet population is also extremely inequitable in terms of class and ethnic distinction, which is a structurally integrated part of such a system of institutionalized violence and profit. I know none of this is really new information, but it is almost taboo to discuss since doing so is interpreted as some sort of personal attack on the people and families involved. It is not meant as a personal attack. It is meant as a reflection on the consequences of the institutionalization of violence and violently pursued profit.

And the US got a massive governmental reorganization resulting in the Department of Home Security: 200,000 employees; another 110,000 contractors; a cost of about USD$54 billion a year. This was reorganization, so many existing functions such as the Coast Guard, Customs, Immigration and such were rolled into it, but it also created entirely new areas of activity. 180,000 government workers were stripped of employee rights in the process on the premise that 9/11 made the elimination of such employee rights imperative. The DHS has not been successfully audited for about 5 years. KPMG says they can't audit them based on the weakness of the material available.

And we got the Patriot Act...
And Guantanamo...

All that has its embedded costs and consequences. There is also the opportunity cost associated with what the US is not doing while pursuing all this. Those costs will turn out to be much higher.

I am not a journalist or an academic. I am not being payed in any way to write any of this, which, if you are reading it, must not come as a great shock. I have no particular organizational or institutional affiliation or sense of obligation I am trying to honor or promote. I am not trying to persuade some 'you' of something one way or another. I have, more or less, been writing these things for decades now whether anyone was reading them or not. That has not fundamentally changed. I do view something about writing as a kind of service activity. I am not claiming that anyone is actually served by my attempts to write in this way. I cannot even quite imagine that to be the case. I am saying something about an aspect of the intent. I cannot, nor would I wish to stipulate something about some meaning, effect, etc. in some imagined reader.

If you feel that the numbers and such things I am referencing are wrong, please go look into it, if you have not already. It is likely you will find widely varying accounts as well as contextualized justifications and such. Once you have satisfied yourself in this regard, consider returning to the questions of proportion, scale and consequence. I do not think the degree of variance in the numbers you are likely to find will greatly effect that consideration one way or another. Justifying the loss of life, institutionalized pursuit of violence and accrued profit is a different matter altogether.

Before you condemn me as a seditious non-patriot, please consider if US actions and strategy constitute what you would consider a balanced response? Is that in any way important? If so, how so? If not, why not? What is the world view in which this response is balanced and makes sense? Who would you have to believe you (we) are in order to imagine that such a response is balanced or if unbalanced in some way justified? Now you can condemn me as a seditious non-patriot.

Moreover, the 'strategy' does not work. From a very limited point of view the US aggression around the world to protect its presumed 'interests' and pursue 'justice' does move the locus of the 'war' outside the borders of the US. It is also an investment that allows those who are already profiting to continue to do so. It creates further opportunities for profit. I do no just mean the profit from controlling 'natural resources', which is included. I mean the whole 'business' of war is massive, not just as the military-industrial-(financial) complex, but in any particular case as well. After receiving USD$1 billion in grant money Blackwater, one of the 60 or so private security companies on the US payroll, decided that the mercenary business was not a good one since it put the entire company at risk. Go figure. They claim to have withdrawn from such operations and have changed their name to Xe Services, since Blackwater's brand was primarily that of the Iraqi occupation. Xe Services? The official line is that the name has no meaning. Apparently they took a year to come up with this meaningless name. In terms of brand I notice two things. It seems vaguely Asian. It is not a word and not pronounceable without instruction. I think it is an intentional type of brand confusion. Perhaps we cannot investigate what we cannot say? Perhaps it is meant to be a private, you know, 'exclusive' brand... I imagine some scene in an 'old west' bar between Xe and the bartender. At some point Xe exclaims, 'I dunt know any Blackwater.' The bartender polishes a glass and says 'The past is yer own bidness. We learnt not to ask too many questions about all that. Consider it... impolite.' 'Don't matter. Anybody who is anybody knows who Xe is,' replies Xe.

One result of this international 'strategy' is that there are far more 'terror' threats within the US from domestic militia's than from Jihadists. This probably remains true to a limited extent as long as we are actively engaged in a war front abroad. Most of the US assumptions about Jihadists seem a bit off to me in any case. If this were not the case then we would likely realize the the death of Bin Laden is not likely to make any sort of organizational difference to that movement in any way what so ever. Well, that probably is well understood, which just raises so many questions.

Overall this is one of those dynamics where force is used to create a condition that artificially and partially exists only so long as the force is applied. The successful application of force also stimulates the condition that the force is trying to solve. This holds true until the application of force in some way reaches or exceeds the same scale as the system to which the force is being applied. Genocide, ethnic cleansing, and institutionalized apartheid can all be understood as attempts to accomplish such force based 'solutions' that exceed the scale of the system to which the force is being applied. At some point such force must be removed, not because of moral arguments, but simply because it is impossible to continually maintain in perpetuity. Diminishing returns and whatnot as well.

What then? With respect to long term interests such force is the absolute worst way to protect them, even if you imagine being able to accomplish and maintain the overwhelming difference in scale required. This is true even if the primary interests protected are those of tiny portion of the social contract used in this way. The US has thoroughly educated entire populations of the world to hate us, or reinforced and deepened that hate where it was already present. It is a generational education the effects of which will span decades and potentially centuries. The US has educated its own population in that same fear and hatred and the notion that there is no alternative, also generationally. That is the lesson that is taught or reinforced, not one of justice, unless justice be considered a matter of fear, hatred and vengeance. Typically those dynamics are reserved for various forms tyranny and oppression.

I am not laying 'blame' on the US, though I am sure such criticism can feel that way to some people. It is not my intent. I am not anti-American or anything as silly as that. That would require more self-identification as an American than I am capable of feeling. I simply don't feel that the current actions of nation-states, the tribalized violence of nation-states, is in any way an appropriate, meaningful or remotely useful response to our current condition. The same holds true for historical religious expressions as such, and all of the tribalized violence associated with those.

OK. Fine. What would I have done? I don't know. Maybe the Donald and I could have gotten our act together sooner and once we had kicked the obvious pretender out of office and assured the ratings for our reality show we could have gone and "told those fellas the party is over." If they did not like the 'deal' then we could kill them. There is no good answer from within the historical frame. What possibilities exist outside of that artificially constructed and maintained frame are not visible from within it.

It is just not a moment of celebration for me, though I admit to having had a momentary feeling of hope that this particular instance of our collective insanity had passed in some way. Perhaps something about this will loosen the mass hypnosis about all our 'war aims' and our participation together in globalized and institutionalized violence in this way. Perhaps some stray piece of yarn is left, which if plucked allows the entire delusion to come unwound. Perhaps this will create an opening, however small or humble, for a collective voice of compassion and wisdom to emerge and be enacted.

The real lesson for me is in great part about the utterly fictitious and delusional nature of our 'news', 'public discourse,' political process, financial system and rhetoric. It is utterly and completely disconnected from planetary conditions with no intent to create any shared understanding, community or even the possibility of appropriate response to what we are currently enacting on the planet. From within it, self identified as and believing in, the promoted world view it is simply not possible to recognize or even sense the emergence of a global alternative currently present. Oh, wait. I take that back. It can sometimes be sensed as a vague type of threat.

To the extent possible, I think I will allow my attention to be placed on that emergence, without dissociating from the mass delusion also currently present and of which I am a part, when I am able. I tend to fail at these things, as is once again shown by my having written and posted this.


  1. Although I do not read many news papers, I heard about Bin Laden's death from a student who texted me on Sunday night asking to have Monday morning's Midterm delayed because he we out celebrating. I actually did not know what he was celebrating and had to look it up on Yahoo!!! When I saw what it was, I felt almost sick to my stomach. A person had died....my country had hunted him for a decade and was finally celebrating the completion. To think some (probably large) group of people had dedicated the last decade to this activity seems to me a waste of time and effort that could have been spent on saving the planet or loving each other. I might sound idealistic or unpatriotic, but I am just attempting to take a good hard look at my own participation in this system.

    BTW - I did not delay the midterm