Saturday, February 21, 2015

        How to deal with terrorism.

At the end of his three-day summit on how to deal with terrorism, Pres. Obama recommended that we be tolerant, that we support democracy, and respect human rights.
It is difficult to resist the impulse to say: "Look who's talking." This president has conducted a war in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. The United States was a leader in the bombing of Libya, and is now a leader in the bombing of Syria and parts of Iraq. The United States is not in a position to recommend tolerance. Given the sorts of friends we have such as the president of Egypt or the king of Saudi Arabia or Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel our support for democracy is, to say the least, beset by ambiguities.
In another portion of his message, Pres. Obama recommended that we take seriously the alienation of many young men both in the US and in Europe. Here is a picture of the young men who have trouble finding work, who are not respected, who are oppressed by the local police force, having resort to murder and terrorism. Were President Bush and his cronies alienated and therefore they invaded Iraq and Afghanistan? Are the members of Congress alienated who regularly vote to allow the military adventures of our governments, and to lavishly finance the military?
The president of the United States any day of the week kills more people than all the terrorists together.
The entire presentation is hypocritical. We are the largest purveyor of violence in the world and we point a finger at young Muslim men in Europe or perhaps young black men in the United States? This hypocrisy is not only morally objectionable, but we have no hope of dealing with the enormous amount of violence in this world if we insist on misrepresenting it.
For 2015 our government expects to spend $550 billion on "defense." A country that spends more than half its national budget on military equipment and soldiers should not point fingers at violent young men in the inner cities. It is hypocritical, it is a really bad joke, and it shows a will to be untruthful and a refusal to regard violence in the world realistically.
These misrepresentations completely ignore that America is drunk on violence. A good deal of our entertainment in films and computer games is violent to a bizarre extent. One of the standards of masculine virtue is to be violent on the football field and if possible give the other guy a good concussion. Familiar statistics tell us that one in four women will in her lifetime be sexually harassed or raped. Violence within families has reached epidemic proportions. Most Americans take that in their stride but when two policemen in New York, or a few journalists in Paris are murdered everybody is completely outraged.
Our nation is deeply divided over rights to carry weapons whose only purpose is to make violence more lethal. Every year 30,000 Americans die from gun violence. When toddlers accidentally shoot themselves, or women who wear a gun in their bra commit involuntary suicide, no one questions whether we are not profoundly on the wrong path.
Violence permeates our schools. In spite of a great deal of discussion and different programs, bullying continues and guns find their ways into schools.
But we continue to point the finger of blame at "terrorists."
That just makes no sense at all.
Any reflection about terrorism and how to deal with it, that does not begin by facing our own addiction to violence is bound to fail. As long as we go around and sound off about the violence committed by the Islamic State or Boko Haram and act as if we were peaceful lambs, the downward spiral of violence will continue. We will be attacked more frequently and we will go around bombing more and more civilians.
A great deal of the fault for violence in the world lies with us. Until we admit that and until we raise the question whether we want to continue spending too much money on the military, and continue having bases all over the world, and whether it is acceptable to go around attacking people with airplanes and drones in many countries, nothing will change. Windbags, hypocrites, and people who refuse to think about what is going on in the world will continue to confuse the issue.
Very many very innocent people will continue to die.