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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.

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...?
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.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

don't speak

you might think that it sounds dramatic, but linguistic genocide is something that happens. people in power will go to great lengths to eradicate certain languages, not just for the sheer joy of making the world a lesser place, but as a way of beating down the culture that's associated with it. language has a unique reciprocal bond with culture, and every group that has attempted to break down another has recognised that forbidding a cultural group from communicating in their own language is an extremely effective way to tear apart their culture.

there are lots [and lots and lots and lots] of examples of this sort of thing, some successful, some not, but far too many to cover in one blog post. however, i thought it was worth looking at some languages that have been the subjects of active repression, and what the political consequences of that have been.

devastation :: the native north american languages :: it should come as no surprise that the largest genocide in history [by a ma…

losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …