Analyzing the United States’ Addiction to War

Each and every year, the U.S. Congress votes for expanding an already bloated military budget. Analyzing the propaganda behind the once called “War on Terror” opens a sobering perspective on the true nature of political power in this country.

What is being discussed in this post:

Was the military answer to 9/11 the right one?

– The inadequacy of the means to its end
– Pretending to fight foreign terrorism

The “War on Terror” mental traps

– Fear makes right
– “War,” really?
Not fake news. No news.

Defending democracy? [coming up]

The so-called “War on Terror,” even if its branding has somewhat faded away, still remains the primary reason alleged for an ever-increasing military budget. As an illustration, the United States government undertook “counterterrorism” activities in no less than 85 countries between 2018 and 2020.1 Seen from the ground, the cost of its global war on terror is appalling. It stands in 2021 at $8 trillion, 900,000 deaths, and 37 to 59 million people displaced, according to two respective reports from the Costs of War project at Brown University.2 In spite of such numbers, President Biden’s decision to pull out from Afghanistan was a highly contentious one in Washington and in the media sphere, as the vast majority of U.S. lawmakers had long proved by their vote to raise the defense budget year in and year out that they are adamant the U.S was and still is on the right track.

Aren’t they missing something?

Aside from the humanitarian cost that seems irrelevant to these noble souls, the war on terror’s counter-productive results in regard to its proclaimed practical and strategical goals do not make them budge either. Yet, since hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year for defense purposes in general and against terrorism in particular, it would seem that the number of battlefronts should eventually decrease, not increase. Arguing that it is because of the way terrorists operate only implies that they have been calling the shots all along. Simply put, a war that drags on for years and requires ever more resources is not a war that you are winning. In that respect and regarding the financial bottomless pit it fell into since its inception, the so-called “War on Terror” is an absolute record failure in military history. As a long-term strategy, furthermore, it does not fare any better. How to ensure a stable future for the concerned regions, and consequently for us as well, when dozen of millions of people have been displaced after they saw the political and economic infrastructures of their countries being smashed down by our self-righteous war on terror?

These contradictions are too great not to be willfully perpetrated. To make sense of what is at play, three levels of questioning must respectively be dealt with. The first one is the most basic and relates to the choice of the military option to combat terrorism. Against a threat with no definite outlines, this option’s inadequacy and the counterproductive results it would necessarily entail leads to address, then, the propaganda issue. What is the “War on Terror” brand made of and why has it proved to be such a hit among the population for a while? Finally and beyond the actual war on terror era itself, what does this all mean in regard to the prepotency of the military-industrial complex in American politics and, possibly, the novel kind of political regime the United States has fallen into?

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According to the National Institute of Justice—the research, development, and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice—“Terrorists are those who support or commit ideologically motivated violence to further political, social, or religious goals.”3 This, of course, immediately calls into question the predominance of a military approach in fighting terrorism. In the perpetual game of hide-and-seek played by small units of fiercely determined individuals, regular troops’ involvement can only be ill-suited. Fighting terrorism has to be based on intelligence work and, most of the time, be dealt with on an individual basis. By its very nature, terrorism does not intend to defeat armies but provoke mayhem in civil societies.

Terrorists see themselves as the fighting units of an ideological cause. They hope that it will eventually prevail thanks to a growing number of sympathizers, who will also see violence as the most effective way to convey their exclusive view of the world. To people in such a state of mind, violence is a purifying act against what they see as the world’s filth. There is no genuine rationale toward a positive goal on their part, but an absolute stance cutting them off from the rest of humanity in a purely nihilistic attitude. If and when this attitude translates into the seizing of actual territories and the persecution of populations, the case for military intervention can be made with all due care. But in any case, dropping bombs and sending troops will never address the psychological twist through which acts of terrorism appear as a sacred duty to those who commit them.

Aside from the shortsightedness of the military option as an answer to terrorism, another important consideration to keep in mind is that war is not an end in and by itself. From a basic moral standpoint, war can only be a temporary segment of a broader solution toward lasting peace. That terrorists do not want peace is not relevant in the real scheme of things; sick and crazy people will always exist. What is relevant is that we have numerous allies to rely on for peace and security: all the people of goodwill who long for both of these in the countries we so casually bomb and invade. It all comes down to our faith in Humanity—or the lack of thereof. Violence may appear as the ultimate answer to those who do not share this faith; the rest of us understand that war can never be a substitute for building peace and that violence for the sake of violence is counterproductive.

Unfortunately, almost all elected representatives in the U.S. just see in terrorism their opportunity to compete on who will appear the toughest on crime. Instead of a genuine vision constructively framing a way out of the issue, all we get from them is a motto saying “As long as there are terrorists, we will be out there fighting them!” As if by some supreme decree, the “War on Terror” is allowed to break free from any basic requirement of intellectual honesty and moral integrity, equating terrorism to a pest that simply needs to be eliminated. Quite logically, then, questions regarding the deeper and broader genesis of terrorist organizations are brushed away. Yet, holding dear some self-satisfying moral indignation rather than trying to understand why such organizations came into existence is not part of a sound strategy against them.

“Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.” (Noam Chomsky)

Most importantly, this empty-headed stance against terrorism bears two very worrying consequences. Intellectually, the scope of action is implicitly broadened to everything and anything that might suggest even the slightest suspicion of terrorism. It is an all-out war that deserves all possible means to be used in all directions. Morally, war is not only being seen as a solution—how dubious that might be in regard to addressing the real causes of terrorism—but as the absolute and definitive answer against an absolute evil. The “War on Terror” is a crusade as much as it is an effort to defeat an enemy.

As a matter of fact, where conventional conflicts always end up with the realization that building peace is far more effective and far less costly for populations to be secure, the “War on Terror” deliberately takes the reverse course. Breaking free from both reason and rationality, the less it works as a military answer, the more we are supposed to go at it. Said otherwise, the very reason why this strategy should be questioned is masqueraded as proof that we haven’t done enough of the same yet. All with little or no consideration for the human cost. What is the inner logic of such an attitude?

Many wars have depicted the other side as evil; it is the oldest trick in the book of warfare. Killing people is not a natural thing to do; dehumanizing them is for that reason almost unavoidable and is most conveniently done by referring to them as the “enemy.” As a category, the enemy is an indistinct and diffuse mass where no individual can shine as a person with a name, a life, a family, or projects. They all deserve to be eliminated—the sanitized expression for killed—if that’s what it takes to get rid of their threat.

The “War on Terror” adds a twist to this already debilitated take on humanity. In its narrative, we confront individuals whose mindset is to kill us for the sole purpose of doing so, not for any political or territorial gain in particular. Though correct to some extent, this assertion is nevertheless superficial and can only reinforce the mental depiction of an intrinsically evil enemy. By its sole name, as many people have noticed, the “War on Terror” doubles down on this sense of moral outrage and the emotional blindness that goes along with it. In contrast to wars of the past, the “War on Terror” overtly asserts its abstract nature. Our enemy has no specific identity because it is “Terror” itself. The call to human fear and ignorance used in this way has proven to be a masterful feat of propaganda, delivering its poison and allowing business as usual in the alleys of power like no other in modern history.

How stupid are we supposed to be? Evil does not stand on its own, and, as die-hard and crazy as they might be, terrorists do not suddenly appear out of nowhere. All of them belong to a singular context of life that, at one point or another, opened them to be prepared to commit the unthinkable eventually. However, we all perfectly know that we can leave it to human madness as such, not exclusively to so-called terrorists, to commit the unthinkable. Opposing the forces of good against the forces of evil in an abstract and absolute way may be relevant in movies; in the real world, it is an insult to human intelligence. But so goes the contemporary narrative by which the “War on Terror” justifies itself, the implicit message to the public being that the purpose is not to go from war to peace with actual people but to indefinitely fight against the forces of darkness.

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For what results? After having determined that military conflicts are not the proper answer to acts of terrorism and understood the deeply deceptive nature of the “War on Terror,” one could only assume that, at least, some goals have been achieved in the fight against terrorism. It is a matter of perspective. Terrorists have been killed, but primarily chasing an abstraction is something very different than achieving well-defined and legitimate goals.

“War does not decide who is right but who is left.” (George Bernard Shaw)

On the ground, the “War on Terror” battlefields have by and large nothing to do with preventing terrorist attacks. Let’s just take three significant examples. Very few Afghans can make sense of the U.S. military presence on their soil for so many years and the bombing of so many villages. No Yemeni has ever been part of a terrorist plot abroad; nevertheless, they collectively suffer the wrath of the “War on Terror” in unimaginable ways. If most Iraqis do not regret Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime, they certainly do that they once had a country functioning at the highest modern standards in all other respects. The “War on Terror” doesn’t care. For a very long time now, it has proven to be above any strategic accountability and above right and wrong as ordinary people understand it.

Ironically enough, the metaphysical deception of supposedly fighting terrorism as a war against some “Axis of Evil,” as Bush senior and junior would have said, contradicts the very definition of terrorism given by the National Institute of Justice itself. Stating as it does that “Terrorists are those who support or commit ideologically motivated violence to further political, social, or religious goals” leaves explicitly open the terrorists’ ideological background. Practically speaking—since this is exclusively how acts of terrorism should be looked at—what unhinged individuals believe in is not the issue; that they resort to violence to further their cause is.

As opposed to this practical approach, using “Axis of Evil” and other PR concocted abstractions to seek its justification defines the “War on Terror” itself as an ideological endeavor. Going after terrorists as some pest to eradicate is a lousy excuse for bombing entire innocent populations. Since they need an ill-defined enemy, ideological wars cannot have focus; they thrive on the opposition of good against evil, not on being an adequate, self-restrained, and quick answer to an ill. This gives them leeway to proclaiming as they go who to strike next. Anyone, or any country for that matter, may end up on the terrorist list for no other reason than they are a convenient target. Contrary to the defensive goal of preventing the blind violence of terrorist attacks, which counter-terrorism is about, the “War on Terror” ideological banner makes us the lunatics.

The effective answer to terrorism, on the other hand, is necessarily two-fold. One aspect is counter-terrorism itself, led professionally toward precisely and legitimately defined targets. The other relates to the conditions that breed or help terrorism. In its principle, the first aspect is no more subject to questioning than regular policing to keep everyone safe (as long as police officers do not go rogue). Preventing the conditions of breeding terrorism, on the other hand, requires defining a specific strategy. How counter-productive has the “War on Terror” proven to be in this regard?

First, pretending to stop actual terrorists by bombing the whole neighborhood where they are supposed to be hiding may not be the most efficient way to go. It could be said, on the contrary, that in its own twisted way the “War on Terror” wins by making sure that enough people will be tempted to retaliate because of their accumulated resentment and desperation. And where to turn, other than toward those who are already organized and have a doctrine giving credence to the idea that we are the evil ones? The “War on Terror” victory is not one for peace but it is a victory indeed—one for the fake legitimization of the trillion of dollars spent in its name.

The intelligence work has to go all the way in individually determining who, where, how, and when. Yet, when considering the dozens of people killed and maimed almost daily4, it seems that the “War on Terror” decision process in choosing a target lies more often than not on a “just in case” or “you never know” basis. The indiscriminate spying of American citizens by their own government proceeds from that same logic of casting a broad net of suspicion instead of following leads.

Second, why not drying up terrorists’ finances as much as possible? It has long been established that 9/11 had entirely been paid for by officials and members of the royal family in Saudi Arabia5. As a matter of fact, their strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam has led these affluent individuals to support terrorist groups for decades, all over Africa and the Middle East as well as in other parts of the world. Still, for some reason that makes sense only to people in power, Saudi Arabia is held as our main ally in the region against terrorism. That not only adds insult to injury for the families who directly suffered 9/11; it also keeps money flowing in for various terrorist groups. By this measure alone, the “War on Terror” is a sad joke.6

Third, local populations plagued by extremist groups’ presence in their midst would be significantly helped by encouraging the democratic evolution of public life in their country. Rather than bombing them or toppling down their government, diplomatic action could work wonders by favoring international connections with actors of good faith. If they saw us as allies against a common threat—which, by the way, takes a much higher toll in these populations than it does in western countries—such collaboration would certainly deprive would-be terrorists of the passive resignation they locally benefit from. This would require, of course, that we believe ourselves in the universality of democratic values.

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” (Malala Yousafzai)

Finally—though this is far from a complete list—why not tackling terrorism at its root? For the trillions of dollars that the “War on Terror” has cost by now, how many schools have been built? If we truly thought that terrorism could and must be defeated, why do we not start where everything begins: Education? Sending girls to school is surprisingly inexpensive in all countries where we are waging the “War on Terror” in such a formidable way. If we had started to help to do so a generation ago, there is no question that the conversation about the threat of terrorism could be very different today. But as it might have become clear by now, this not what the “War on Terror” is about.

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From a strategic standpoint, the “War on Terror” sold to the public is nothing but a sham. Invading and bombing countries can hardly prevent the planning of terrorist attacks by a loose web of highly motivated individuals, let alone address the psychological, historical, and ideological roots of their motivation. Moreover, the official justification of chasing evil can only allow for all and any war crime on the pretense that our cause is right. Finally, and in total contradiction with its alleged end, this fantasized crusade forbids working on effective solutions to uproot terrorism. By ignoring the real context of things, the “War on Terror” shows that terrorism is just its pretext.

But if the concept of a “War on Terror” is so blatantly skewed, why is it that so many people believed in it? Several mental traps seem to be at play: emotional, verbal, and factual. The first one is clearly as old as humanity itself, the second relates to how slogans work, and the third has to do with the lack of investigative journalism in the media. In hindsight, one can measure her own beliefs to each of these mental traps, respectively.

In 2006, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young set off on their Freedom of Speech Tour in support of Living with War, a Young solo album written in response to the Iraq War. That they got a mixed reaction from some of their audiences is an understatement. When exiting concert halls, many people were seen yelling their disgust and contempt at what these talented and otherwise beloved musicians had dared to do against the sacred cause of the “War on Terror.” “Our country is in grave danger!” was the common rallying cry of that anger, expressed on the background of the 9/11 collective trauma. That Iraq had no connection whatsoever with what had happened on this day was obviously irrelevant to the upset public.

The first mental trap alluded to earlier is that the less an idea is questioned, the more, paradoxically, it can gain emotional strength and appear valid. Certitude is a feeling, which is why the “War on Terror” used to bear its own evidence beyond rationality. Most of those yelling at Neil Young had been accustomed to reacting in fear and anger when it comes to terrorists and terrorism.

“After all, without understanding yourself, what basis have you for right thinking?” (Jiddu Krishnamurti)

A healthy state of mind, by opposition, consists in effectively questioning what we believe, aware that the mental images and their emotional connections our brain provides us with might just be that—images and conditioned feelings. If we do not educate and train ourselves to do better than simply following the easy trend of reactions most familiar to us, all hell can break loose. Fear and anger are powerful emotions. One can ponder here that no crime is ever being committed without its perpetrator thinking he is justified to commit it, and that this delusional state of mind is, unfortunately, the norm rather than the exception for the human psyche.

Moreover, from a logical standpoint, the emotionally charged “War on Terror” mantra has no leg to stand on. Using the word “Terror” as self-evident and in an absolute way is only meant to obscure the effective and complex conditioning of bad and sometimes horrendous actions in real life. Hurting people is morally reprehensible, but making “bad”, “evil”, or “terror” a category of their own that supersedes the understanding of what is actually going on leads nowhere. By legitimizing the simplistic narrative of inherently good people against inherently bad ones, such a statement is not only morally questionable but also plain stupid.

This is quite a big deal. What is at stake is the difference between sanity and insanity. Accepting to demonize others is all we need to eventually feel that it is ok to wipe them out of the face of the earth. Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn wrote to that effect in The Gulag Archipelago “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” Sanity requires making ourselves available to our own humanity, which sometimes amounts to a feat of genuine heroism. Insanity, on the other hand, is easy. You only have to convince yourself that you are on the right side, which usually amounts to not thinking about it at all.

Solzhenitsyn’s direct rebuke of the logic at play with the “War on Terror” comes from a man who suffered long years of imprisonment in Siberia and witnessed the mass deportations and absurd deprivation of freedom imposed by the communist regime on the Russian people. When he secretly wrote these lines, he was physically and morally enduring what the Soviet apparatus was designed for, from Stalin’s callousness to the daily brutality of the guards in the detention camp. He saw this madness for what it is: a call to deepen our understanding of its roots in all human hearts. By giving space to humanity, his own as well as that of all actors in the command chain of the Soviet dictatorship, he set himself free from the suffering caused by the sterile contemplation of his own predicament. Nelson Mandela also took this deep and vital spiritual path. This was happening at a time when, ironically, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were considering him to be a terrorist.7

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But such mental clarity is not just a matter of moral courage. How we label things, and people makes them become in our mind what we say they are. Words matter; their choice is never neutral or innocent, and when they are delivered publicly, they may acquire as much power. Being a perfect example of how a slogan can weaponize ignorance, the “War on Terror” motto was meant to become a popular success.

“Education can, and should be, dangerous.” (Howard Zinn)

When a “War” is declared on human scourges (war on drugs, war on poverty, etc.), the primary intent is to have a self-satisfactory and broad catchphrase under which everybody can rally. Yet, the reference to war does not hold anything aside from a martial stance. It carries the image of a wiped-out field but says nothing about what should come next, why, and how. Using this image in a slogan is, thus, deliberately distracting from the real nature and context of the issue to be dealt with as well as from its effective means of remediation.

Most of the time, slogans’ purpose is simply to mobilize people’s attention, and they might prove useful or even necessary in that regard. But when falling for the “war” seductiveness, they subvert their own cause. There is a difference, in that sense, between a slogan that invites to consider a specific issue in a specific way—such as, for instance, “Divest from fossil fuels” about climate change—and a “war” slogan. The former leaves open the question of the relevant actions to be taken to achieve its declared aim; the latter buries the specifics under the empty notion of “war” as being itself the solution.

Unfortunately, a “war” slogan is not just ineffective; it also has dire consequences when it comes to actual weaponized endeavors. Operating in denial of the specific causes and conditions that created the issue in the first place, the reference to “war” used so lightly can only serve one purpose: giving comfort in the idea that it is ok to wipe out the field where the problem stands. If that includes wiping out actual people who happen to be on that field, well, they had it coming. Three characteristics make “war” slogans more particularly effective at enticing this type of moral and intellectual abdication.

First, what is at stake is to allow emotions to auto-justify themselves and run wild. The reference to war suggests the total rejection of something unacceptable and virtually dangerous. After all, why would you ever try to give the issue of drugs or terrorism a context and understand how they came to be? Isn’t it good enough to know that they cannot be tolerated?… Obviously, with such mindless logic, the more you denounce the “bad guys” without knowing what you are talking about, the more you feel entitled to join the crusade against them.

Second, even though running high on emotions, a “war” slogan has no real target. What is “terrorism”? If it is about terror and blind violence for political purposes, the U.S and its allies are the terrorists in chief. That millions (!!!) of people have been facing starvation for years in Yemen remind us of this fact every day,8 or so they should. The word “terrorism” is so vastly expansive that the Nazis were not shy of using it as one of their main propaganda tools. Thrown in the air independently of any valid context, it is meaningless. The same deception is at play with the “War on Drugs.” Pharmaceutical companies have knowingly caused a heroin usage epidemic in the U.S, subsequently to the forceful lobbying for pain killers.9 At the other end of the social spectrum, pot dealers receive harsh jail sentences for selling a product that is already legalized in many states. Apparently, it pays off in more ways than one to be a pharmaceutical executive responsible for the death of dozens of thousands of people. Where is the so-called “War on Drugs” in that instance?

Third, and as a consequence, a “war” slogan necessarily turns into an excuse to discriminate entire categories of populations, who become the necessary targets of its righteousness. Without any other specifics than “terror” or “drugs,” the enemy is flagged based on highly visible but loosely relevant criteria. This is how all Muslims end up being potential terrorists in the public’s mind, or black and brown people drug dealers.

Therefore, the lesson behind such declared “wars” is that they are necessarily counterproductive. Whether through bigotry and ignorance or for more practical benefits, their purpose is to perpetuate a deeply flawed perception of the issue at stake among the public. Not only does this comfort the established order of things, but this allows those in charge to do the very thing they officially fight against—be it inflicting terror on people or letting them turn into drug addicts.

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There are two types of ignorance. One that knows itself and is the very principle of knowledge building, and another which substitutes emotions and mental images to any possible attempt of making sense of the words we use. The latter feeds itself off of two things in our contemporary public space: slogans and mainstream media.

In 2006, at the time when Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young went on their Freedom of Speech Tour, 43% of Americans still believed that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.10 This speaks volumes about the utter disregard for professional journalistic standards in “news” corporations. That so many people would still believe, years later, a blatant lie that had been immediately contradicted by each and every armament expert outside the Bush administration amounts to a genuine feat of propaganda, even if only by default. This is the third mental trap to be examined about the “War on Terror”.

Far from pointing at news outlets as “Fake News” to delegitimize journalism as such, the point is to assert the absolute necessity of investigative work on their part and their duty to speak truth to power. Either journalism works this way or becomes an objective ally of the powers in place, making sure that the narrative delivered to the public remains in line with political or economic interests. If so, an echo chamber is being created through which facts and data are distorted, ignored, or downright invented to make room for talking points repeated ad nauseam.

“The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world.” (Gore Vidal)

We need facts, nor conspiracy theories, neither convenient narratives for the rich and powerful. By and large, the “War on Terror” has fallen in the second category by serving the interests of the military-industrial complex. If you regularly watch what is supposed to be the news on TV, brace yourself, then, for some actual facts about terrorism and get ready to understand the true nature of propaganda.

The majority of victims of terrorist attacks worldwide are Muslim.11 And although most of these attacks occur in Muslim-majority countries, there has also been in recent years an increase in attacks targeting Muslims in Europe, in the United States, and other countries. Aside from terrorist attacks, Muslims endure a steady onslaught of hate crimes in many parts of the world. The fate of Rohingyas in Myanmar made headlines in 2017 because it amounted to a genocide attempt. But who knows that in Germany more than 3,500 (!) aggressions on refugees, largely Syrians, and refugee hostels were perpetrated in 2016 alone?12

Regarding specifically terrorist attacks, journalists are much less likely to cover those not perpetrated by Muslims. In a study published online in January 2019, researchers at Georgia State University and the University of Alabama found that attacks committed by Muslims get 357 percent more media coverage than attacks committed by other groups.13

And still… The Jewish organization ADL, among others, reminds us that “over the last decade, a total of 73.3 percent of all extremist-related fatalities can be linked to domestic right-wing extremists, while 23.4 percent can be attributed to Islamic extremists [in the U.S]. The remaining 3.2 percent were carried out by extremists who did not fall into either category.” In 2018, “right-wing extremists have been linked to at least 50 extremist-related murders in the United States”.14 For their part, Islamic extremists scored 0 fatalities in the U.S. that same year, fortunately. The Hate Map put together by the Southern Poverty and Law Center organization illustrates these numbers plainly and simply.

These facts should not in any way exempt authorities from closely monitoring organizations such as ISIS or their remnants. Still, they clearly offer another perspective on the fight against terrorism than the one commonly given by mainstream media. So, don’t blame yourself if you are somewhat surprised by these ratios; you are probably not someone in charge of broadcasting the news. At a deeper level, and like all other military aggressions in history, the “War on Terror” needs to justify itself to posterity. It is then no wonder that more or less subtle arrangements with the truth about terrorism will occur. No propaganda, no war. This has been particularly well understood since WWI.

The unmissable irony of all this “War on Terror” talk in the US is, of course, that domestic terrorism, which has been wilfully ignored for decades, is now more or less openly backed by members of Congress and the President himself (the one who claimed he won the 2020 “fraudulent” election by a landslide). For lack of political will, it might just be a matter of time before these people force their way to topple down the country’s democratic institutions, as Oussama ben Laden dreamt of.

But neofascists crackpots only fill the void left by more reasonable people. While the formers vociferously oppose what does not look like them, the well-mannered ones vote year after year and without blinking an oversized military budget, condoning a policy that creates untold and gratuitous suffering in many parts of the world. Given the dire consequences of the “War on Terror”, pushing its narrative to meet the military-industrial complex’s exorbitant demands requires on the part of law-makers, journalists, and armament industrialists who do so a high level of cynicism as well as a genuine indifference to human suffering.

True cynics are rare, though. This is why they do us a great favor by provoking the rest of us—and especially those in charge of being a public voice—to face the moral filth of our own lies when looking for an excuse to resort to violence. Great criminals in history like to consider themselves a special kind of heroes: those who dare to tell the truth that nobody else has the courage to accept. Not only do they confront the natural moral leaning most of us refer to, however hypocritical it might be, but when they act criminally, they do not shy from their deliberate responsibility in the demise of others.

To illustrate the point, let’s ask a cynic who was not afraid of his cynicism. This is the confession that Gustave Gilbert, the prison psychologist during the Nuremberg trials15 received from Goering, Hitler’s Reich Marshall:

– “Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

– “There is one difference,” I pointed out. “In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”

– “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

Got it?

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[To be continued]

You are invited to share your thoughts and build on what others say in the comment section (below the footnotes).

Footnotes

  1. United States Counterterrorism Operations, 2018-2020, Watson Institute, Brown University.
  2. Costs of the 20-year war on terror: $8 trillion and 900,000 deaths, 1 September 21. Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States’ Post-9/11 Wars, 1 September 20.
  3. Link: https://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/terrorism/pages/welcome.aspx
  4. Excellent overall information source on the human cost of the war on terror: https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/
  5. See Intelligence Matters – The CIA, The FBI, Saudi Arabia, And The Failure Of America’s War On Terror, by Bob Graham and Jeff Nussbaum. See also: 9/11 report’s classified ’28 pages’ about potential Saudi Arabia ties released
  6. See as well The One Thing NEVER Mentioned When Talking About Islamist Terrorism, by the Double Down Network, about the objective collusion with Islamists on the part of the British and U.S. governments since the mid-twentieth century.
  7. Why Nelson Mandela Was Viewed as a ‘Terrorist’ by the U.S. Until 2008. https://www.biography.com/news/nelson-mandela-terrorist-reagan-thatcher
  8. More than 80,000 Yemeni children may have died from hunger, aid group says, Reuters, November 21, 2018.
  9. See, for instance, The Crime of the Century by Emmy and Academy Award winner Alex Gibney: https://www.hbo.com/documentaries/the-crime-of-the-century
  10. Poll: Iraq war could wound GOP at polls: http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/09/06/iraq.poll/index.html For a more recent view about the media utter lack of professional journalistic standards, see for instance This Russia-Afghanistan Story Is Western Propaganda At Its Most Vile, by Caitlin Johnstone. About the inner mechanics of auto-censorship, watch Why The Media Can’t Tell The Truth On Israel & Palestine, by Novara Media.
  11. Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/236983/terrorist-attacks-by-country/
  12. More than 3,500 attacks on refugees in Germany in 2016: report.
  13. Erin M. Kearns, Allison E. Betus, Anthony F. Lemieux: Why Do Some Terrorist Attacks Receive More Media Attention Than Others?
  14. Right-Wing Extremism Linked to Every 2018 Extremist Murder in the U.S., ADL Finds.
  15. See Nuremberg Diary, by Gustave Gilbert.
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