12 September 2007

afraid of what?

solid article on the rise of a new form of capitalist in the wake of the terrorist attacks on american soil in 2001.

probably the key point for me is the distinction to be drawn between the stated goals in the "war on terror" and the actual goals of those contracted to keep americans (and their allies) safe. these contractors and their government champions can talk all they want about increasing security, but the economics of the situation speaks for itself: those companies are in business for one reason, which is to make money. anything that increases their profits and the return to stockholders (for those that are publicly held) is, by definition, good.

but good economics does not necessarily make for good defence. leaving aside, for a moment, the question of whether or not the american state's foreign policy has increased or decreased the threat of a terrorist attack, look for a moment at the programs they have pursued at home. or, more specifically, the programs they haven't.

for instance, the current administration has cut funding to programs designed to improve security on the country's railways and public transit (what could possibly go wrong?). as well, the government has never moved forward on any legislation that would regulate the inspection of chemical facilities (i wish i were making this up). so while we all get to take our shoes off going through airport security and have our facial cleanser confiscated if it's in a container that holds more than 100ml, so that we have a visual reference to tell us that we are more secure, the truth is rather sadly removed.

4 comments:

Richo said...

I always thought wars were generally about money, but the issues surrounding the "war on terror" strike some particularly hard, and disturbing, blows. Who needs soma when fear creates an even greater opiate for the masses...?

Maximum Overlord said...

Its funny because I always thought that the whole idea, nearly expressed publicly by the Bush Administration was to kick-off the economy: in every war before, the war effort has led to an economic boom. Besides the surveillance and security sectors, every other sector of the economy is falling rapidly. Its also showing how hollow the US economy is, as so much of it is based on lies and accounting manipulations that cannot be sustained forever. The recent crapping out of the housing sector, followed by the loans, will most likely be followed by the banks. Enron was just the tip of the iceberg. The Titanic administration is drunk with power and cannot see that they are steering the ship straight into the icefields; after all, what do they care, all of their buddies are off in the lifeboats already...

Michael Begg said...

I had a curiously depressing moment a week or so ago whilst watching a TV re-run of Fahrenheit 9/11.

Remember when the film first came out? Remember thinking that it might - just might - provoke something beyond formless outrage and lead to some kind of accountability? Revenge? After all, how could any individual, any administration, recover from such a round house kicking?

Well, of course, they did. The film is now a historical document, of its time, meaningless in the moment at hand.

The trick for all governments, it seems, is to keep still and let the uppity concerns of the "people" drift by in a cloud of squabble and temper. Then back to business.

flora_mundi said...

yes, michael, i certainly remember the (in retrospect) jejune sense of optimism that accompanied the release of that film.

the thing to keep in mind, though, is that the actions of the u.s. government are almost diametrically opposed to the wishes of the large majority of the population. policy is dictated from the top down- in spite of, not in line with, the wishes of the people.

if the current administration- or any administration for that matter- wants to credibly claim to be promoting democracy, they should start by doing so at home.

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