• Robert Taylor
  • 28
  • Dec
  • 09

While I spent my Christmas weekend surrounded by family, friends, and the warm central California weather, I tried for just a few days to escape the whirlwind circus of American politics.

Sadly, I couldn’t help myself.

While scanning the Internet for news stories (since TV and newspapers are anemic sources of information), I stumble across President Obama quietly signing a Christmas Eve executive order giving another bailout to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, two of Obama’s largest campaign contributors. And I could barely keep from laughing while watching Senator Max Baucus (D-Pharmaceutical Industry) resurrect the ghost of Ted Kennedy while drunkenly stammering and slobbering all over the Senate floor.

But the thing that stood out to me the most was Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Pentagon) calling for preemptive military strikes on Yemen after the failed attack by what is now being called the “underwear bomber.” On a flight bound for Detroit, a Nigerian man put firecrackers in his pants in an apparent attempt at terrorism. He received training and supplies from Yemen, and Al Qaeda, whose presence is growing in the southern tip of the Persian Gulf, is taking credit for the foiled attack.

Immediately, security agencies (there are too many to count) began beefing up security at domestic and international airports, and President Obama assured us today that he is doing everything he can to keep us safe and will soon be launching “accelerated offensives” in Yemen.

There is so much wrong with the responses to this plot it’s hard to know where to begin.

Increasing government “security” only provides the illusion of safety and at great costs to what’s left of our civil liberties.

As Congressman Ron Paul (R-Constitution) pointed out in a great debate on CNN today, the US is spending nearly $75 billion on security measures that are ineffective and easily outmaneuvered. He correctly notes how markets do a far better of job of providing protection, as it is up to individual owners of factories, hotels, banks, etc. to care of their property. If airlines were in charge of their own security instead of the clumsy and pushy TSA, flights would likely be much safer (and no strip searches either!)

Coming back to the suggestion of Lieberman that the US preemptively rain terror on Yemen, I wonder if he is aware that US special forces have been launching raids inside of Yemen for months, that the US-funded Saudi government is continually bombing the Yemeni border, and that President Obama fired a handful of cruise missiles into Yemen a week and a half ago, killing 120?

These minor points aside, the growing calls to blitz Yemen is typical of US policymakers: counterproductive overreaction. It might come as a shock to some, but terrorism comes to the continental US as a direct response to the terror that the US military has been inflicting on the Arab world for decades.

Initiating sanctions that starve half of a million Iraqis; bombing city after city; propping up corrupt governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan that torture, rob, and kill their own citizens; handing out billions of dollars a year for the last five decades to Israel so that they can wage indiscriminate warfare on their neighbors and cage the Palestinians in their own cities.

These are the reasons gullible young Muslim men are willing to blow themselves up. Losing a family member, a home, or a mosque in a US air strike might piss some people off.

Responding to acts or threats of terrorism with overwhelming military force is like chopping a machete to a problem that needs the calculated scalpel of effective intelligence gathering and police work. Using the logic of the Lieberman and Obama, the British had every right to launch air raids on the Irish Mafia in Boston for helping to fund IRA bombings and India should nuke Chicago for the Mumbia attacks.

The attempted attack last weekend fits the cyclical nature of America’s imperial foreign policy perfectly: we intervene militarily around the globe, terrorists strike back, more socialist security; we intervene militarily around the globe, terrorists strike back, more socialist security…

Under this rubble of fear-mongering and the bogeyman of terrorism, Americans become more and more willing to sacrifice freedom for the illusion of security. Eventually, we will run out of liberties to hand over.

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For more of Robert’s work, please visit his Libertarian Examiner blog.

  • Robert Taylor
  • 12
  • Sep
  • 09

Like most of us, I can remember exactly where I was watching those planes strike the Towers on 9/11. And the dozens of questions that immediately ran through my mind, especially who was responsible. A few CIA agents immediately assumed it was the work of Chileans, since  September 11, 1973 was the date that the American-backed Augusto Pinochet overthrew democratically-elected Salvador Allende in a bloody coup.  Realistically, it could have been any number of groups that had good reason to attack us: Greeks, Okinawans, Guatemalans, Cubans, Congolese, Brazilians, Argentines, Cambodians, Filipinos, South Koreans, Taiwanese, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, and Panamanians, just to name a few.

9/11 quickly consumed the nation, and we united behind our Boy Emperor who lectured us on why we were attacked: jealousy, innately evil Muslims, hatred of freedom; distracting us from the real answers was the first goal of damage control. Those fluffy catchphrases had nothing to do with why the US was attacked eight years ago, and any hint that US policies might have contributed to the attacks were quickly silenced.

Since atleast WW2, the US government has been routinely inflicting unspeakable terrorism on starving countries, and was surprised when the dirt was thrown back in its face. Bin Laden specifically said that it was US sanctions on Iraq, blind support for Israel, and American soldiers being stationed in Mecca and Medina that led him to plan and strike. By embracing empire, the US government reaped 3,000 innocent American lives for the imperial crimes it sowed.

Because Americans were never really told why we were actually attacked, the Bush Junta was able to respond counter productively and chaotically. The US should have proceeded against Al Qaeda like it would with organized crime; with the cooperation of our allies, building criminal cases that would easily win, and actually winning the hearts and minds of people Al Qaeda was trying to influence. Instead, we launched our high-tech military machine against some of the most poorest, weakest people on the planet, terror bombed Iraq, and invaded Afghanistan (a country that had, and still has, nothing to do with 9/11). Torture, spying, indefinite imprisonment, and a massive expansion of government awaited a shocked and mourning nation.

And Americans, for the most part, put up with it. Why not exchange some liberty for the promise of security? Cops began to resemble soldiers, SWAT team ninjas paroled any peaceful assembly, and it was common to see armed camouflaged guards at airports, their fingers cuddling the triggers of their AK-47s. None of these measures has made us safer, of course, but it is the illusion of security that the government provides.

Eight years later, the US is still occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, inflicting dozens of 9/11’s daily (not to mention the nearly 6,000 dead American soldiers, and the thousands more maimed and haunted), there is no end to the Mesopotamian mess in sight, and we are far less free. As the great Chomsky has noted, when America stops threatening the world, the world will stop threatening America.

We should never forget 9/11; but there is likely to be more of the same if we don’t learn it’s lessons as well.

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For more of Robert’s work, please visit his Libertarian Examiner blog.

  • Rob Spectre
  • 20
  • Jul
  • 09

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich delivered remarks at a press conference today, no doubt to maintain a steady media presence to leave open a 2012 White House run.  In it, Gingrich pulled from a familiar Republican playbook of fear, uncertainty and doubt.

He came to caution the American people, whom he declares are “living on the edge of catastrophe.”

We are today running very big risks in the name of saving a few billion dollars that may end up killing several million Americans. The time to fix that is before the disaster happens.

The future Gingrich suggested was terrifying.  Cyber attacks choking our communication infrastructure.  Biological weapons infecting our youth.  Electromagnetic pulses fusing our archaic power grid.  And, most frighteningly, our “unprotected assets in outer space.”

Photo: Radiant chains

Photo: Radiant chains

Gingrich would have America constantly in the grip of fear.  Afraid of the terrorists, afraid of the Chinese, afraid of the Russians, afraid of the liberals, afraid of the taxes, afraid of the Internet.  To him and his neo-conservative lot, fear is the fuel that powers their political machine.  The planet-choking coal that powers their base, the high-octane gas imported on our dime.

But what those fearmongers driven mad from political loss fail to recognize in their election-spun psychosis is that America is done being afraid.  We’ve tried it their way; we’ve lived at Threat Level Orange.

We’ve taken off our shoes at the airport and sent our sons and daughters searching for weapons that were never there.  We’ve made the emergency kits and installed the security systems.  We’ve lined up by the metal detectors and practiced the emergency drills.  We’ve pledged our support.  We’ve looked for the nearest exit.  We’ve smiled for the cameras.

And after all the liberties we’ve willfully surrendered and all the money we’ve kissed goodbye, it is clear the temporary emergency they said required our sacrifice was never intended to be. They were never going to win the war on terror.  They were never going to kill Osama bin Laden.  They were never going to let the threat level go green.

Even if they killed every last member of al-Qaida and occupied every Middle Eastern nation critical of the West, they were going to conjure another, greater threat.  They wanted us to live every day like it was September 12th.

Electromagnetic pulses?  Terrorists in space?

Get fucked Gingrich.  We’re done being afraid.

  • Rob Spectre
  • 18
  • Apr
  • 07

The day after the horrible shooting at Virginia Tech, the media is focusing on profiling both the passed and the perpetrator.  Speculation on the response from University security, the gunman’s motivation, and the cost to that unfortunate community are many, which is perhaps the only kind of reaction something like this can illicit.

However, a colleague of mine commented how the word “terrorist” had never been used.  An immigrant studying on a green card guns down 32 people in our capital’s backyard, and never once has the word “terrorist” been uttered.  It is vulgar to make politics out of events such as these, but one wonders how different the headlines would read were the gunman from the Middle East instead of South Korea.

  • Rob Spectre
  • 06
  • Sep
  • 04

An anger so large it could breathe. Is that the flash the blinds the conscience of the suicide bomber walking towards a school bus? Is that the snap that breaks the sanity of the revolutionary with his sights on a soldier? Is that the final brick in this century’s Berlin Wall?

Is the suicide bomber the terrorist or the terminally terrorized? He doesn’t evangelize. She doesn’t reproduce. He doesn’t arm militias. She doesn’t lead them into battle. He or she uses that fundamental understanding of pain learned over years of direct consumption to expel a final breath for a gruesome bone-splintering spit into the eyes of the perceived enemy. A dying gasp held for a moment as a plunger is pushed to put enemy and innocent bystander alike in the post-mortem crap shoot of another life; a final farewell boat ride for twenty bought with the tears and tribulations of one. What shred of hope would have turned him back? What could be said to keep her finger off the fatal button? What eleventh hour message of deliverance could be handed those who have lived their lives in ruinous refugee camps already two generations old?

I’m sorry doesn’t seem quite good enough Sam. Not good enough by half.