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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?

the world at war?

in my semi-smug but genuinely curious way, i posted a question on my facebook page earlier: how much of the world has to be at war before it counts as world war iii?



the first response i got raised the very legitimate point that this is the sort of question that gets answered by historians, once the haze of the present has faded. the other important factor is that people don't just declare war on each other the way that they used to. major powers entered both the of the world wars with the blessings of their own parliaments, whereas conflicts since world war ii have happened in coded language, sometimes circumventing the political process in the interests of expediency. president reagan never declared war on the nicaraguan government in the eighties, for example, but the united states was clearly in a state of armed conflict, even if most of the arms were being carried by their proxies, the contras.

whether or not we are living in a world at war is a tricky question. despite what…

jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

diet diary, part 2

so the battle with the bulge continues. i'm actually becoming used to the pace, although for some reason my stomach still seems to think it needs far more food than it actually does.

week days, when eating is more of a functional than a festive activity, are fairly easy to cope with. weekends are a challenge, especially living in a city that has as many good restaurants as toronto. i'm not restricting myself to the home, but i am finding that i have to pay careul attention when i go out. last night, i overindulged on injera atthe ethiopian house. injera (the soft, moist, spongy bread that serves as food and cutlery in ethiopian cuisine) makes food fun by forcing you to eat with your fingers. it's hard to exercise restraint in such conditions.

when i first moved to toronto, i was expecting to find it much as i remembered it from years ago- with a dearth of good eating places. apparently, things have changed. there are great places to eat just about every kind of food you&…