States of Terror
By Chris Hedges / truthdig.com
Nov 23, 2015

It is nearly certain that we will endure, sooner rather than later, another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil. The blundering of our military into the Middle East; the failed states that have risen out of the mismanagement and chaos of Iraq and Afghanistan; the millions of innocents we have driven from their homes, terrorized or slaughtered; the bankrupt puppet regimes we have equipped and trained that will not fight; the massive amounts of munitions and military hardware we have allowed to fall into the hands of jihadis—thousands of them carrying Western passports; and the myopic foreign policy whose single tenet is that more industrial violence will get us out of the morass created by our industrial violence in the first place means that we, like France, are in for it.

All the major candidates for president, including Bernie Sanders, along with a media that is a shameless echo chamber for the elites, embrace endless war. Lost are the art of diplomacy, the ability to read the cultural, political, linguistic and religious landscape of those we dominate by force, the effort to dissect the roots of jihadi rage and violence, and the simple understanding that Muslims do not want to be occupied any more than we would want to be occupied.

Another jihadi terrorist attack in the United States will extinguish what remains of our anemic and largely dysfunctional democracy. Fear will be even more fervently stoked and manipulated by the state. The remnants of our civil liberties will be abolished. Groups that defy the corporate state—Black Lives Matter, climate change activists and anti-capitalists—will be ruthlessly targeted for elimination as the nation is swept into the Manichean world of us-and-them, traitors versus patriots. Culture will be reduced to sentimental doggerel and patriotic kitsch. Violence will be sanctified, in Hollywood and the media, as a purifying agent. Any criticism of the crusade or those leading it will be heresy. The police and the military will be deified. Nationalism, which at its core is about self-exaltation and racism, will distort our perception of reality. We will gather like frightened children around the flag. We will sing the national anthem in unison. We will kneel before the state and the organs of internal security. We will beg our masters to save us. We will be paralyzed by the psychosis of permanent war.

In wartime, public discourse emits the insane sputterings of King Lear: “Then, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!” Demagogues bellow for more bombs and more enemy corpses. The military and the war profiteers provide them. The public cheers on the slaughter. Victory is assured. The nation rejoices when the newest face of evil is eradicated. But when one face of evil—Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or Abdelhamid Abaaoud—is exterminated, another swiftly rises to take his or her place. It is an endless and futile quest.

Violence generates counterviolence. The cycle does not stop until the killing stops. All that makes us human—love, empathy, tenderness and kindness—is dismissed in wartime as useless and weak. We revel in a demented hypermasculinity. We lose the capacity to feel and understand. We pity only our own. We too celebrate our glorified martyrs. We endow our sanctified dead with the lofty virtues and goodness that define our national myth, ignoring our complicity in perpetuating the ceaseless cycle of death. Our drones and airstrikes, after all, have decapitated far more people, including children, than Islamic State.

Jihadis troll websites and the dingy corridors of housing projects outside French cities and in the slums of Iraqi cities looking for young people discarded by war and neoliberalism, just as Army recruiters sniff out our own discarded and dispossessed and send them off to fight. Disenfranchised youths, offered the illusion of heroism, glory and even martyrdom, promised a chance to be armed and powerful, are seduced by these scavengers. Hundreds of millions of people across the globe have been cast aside by globalization as human refuse. They are worth nothing to the corporate state. They are denied jobs, benefits, dignity and self-worth. They are easy prey for the siren calls of those for whom war is a lucrative business. They dress in uniforms. They surrender their individuality. They experience the intoxicating drug of violence. They assume a new identity—that of warrior.

By the time they see through the illusions and lies, by the time they grasp how they have been used and betrayed, they are broken, maimed or dead. No matter. There are legions behind them waiting eagerly for their chance.

We have lost the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq as a unified nation has been splintered into antagonistic and warring enclaves. It will never be reunited. We ensured that Iraq would become a failed state the moment we invaded and disbanded its army, police force and government bureaucracy, the moment we foolishly attempted to dominate the country by force—including our arming and organizing of Shiite death squads that carried out a reign of terror against the Sunnis. The Iraqi insurgents, al-Qaida and, later, Islamic State, easily recruited the masses of enraged dispossessed whose families have been torn apart since the 2003 invasion, whose childhoods have been colored by extreme poverty, fear, a lack of education and basic services and horrific acts of violence, and who correctly see no future under continued U.S. occupation. Islamic State now controls an area the size of Texas, carved out of the remnants of Syria and Iraq. All our air attacks will not drive it out.

The situation is no better in Afghanistan. The Taliban controls more of Afghanistan than it did when we invaded 14 years ago. The puppet regime in Kabul we arm and support is hated, brutal, corrupt, involved in drug trafficking and crippled by cowardice. It is also heavily infiltrated by the Taliban. The Kabul regime will crumble the moment we depart. Trillions and trillions of dollars, along with hundreds of thousands of lives, have been squandered for nothing, even as climate change moves closer and closer to ensuring the extinction of the human species.

We waded into conflicts we did not understand. We were propelled forward by fantasy. The occupation of Iraq was supposed to have seen us greeted as liberators. We planned to implant democracy in Baghdad and have it spread across the Middle East. We were fed the absurd promise that the oil revenues would pay for reconstruction. Instead, our folly spawned political, social and economic collapse, widespread poverty, massive displacement, misery and a rage that gave birth to radical jihadism in Iraq and throughout the region.

The disintegration in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan has forced us to form a de facto alliance with Iran to battle Islamic State and the Taliban. This disintegration has upended our goal of overthrowing the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad. We now function, along with the Russians, as Assad’s surrogate air force. And because Hezbollah fighters, whom the United States and Israel condemn as terrorists and have vowed to destroy, are integrated into Assad’s army, we also serve as Hezbollah’s surrogate air force. The Iraqi regime is dominated by the mullahs in Iran. The objectives used to justify these conflicts—including the promise to root out radical jihadism—have all failed.

In endless war, yesterday’s enemies eventually become today’s allies. This is a theme George Orwell captured in his dystopian novel “1984”:

At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge, which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.

This will not end well. The massive violence we employ throughout the Middle East will never achieve its goals. State terror will not defeat individual acts of terror. More and more innocents will be sacrificed, here and abroad, in a furious and futile campaign. Rage and collective humiliation will mount. As we continue to fail to blunt attacks against us, we will become more aggressive and more lethal. Internal enemies—especially Muslims—will be demonized, endure hate crimes and be hunted down. The most tepid forms of criticism and dissent will be criminalized.

We are hostages, like Israel, to an accelerating death spiral. Only when we are exhausted and depleted, when the numbers of dead and maimed overwhelm us, will this lust for blood end. By then the world around us will be unrecognizable and, I fear, irredeemable.


Image: A memorial in New York City to victims of the Paris attacks. A wave of terrorism of this sort in the United States could well bring about a state of national anxiety that would cripple American democracy. (Kathy Willens / AP)

4.0 ·
1
Trending Today
"The Myth of Time" - Martin Luther King Jr.
3 min · 10,517 views today · Excerpt from MLK Jr.'s last sermon, "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution". Delivered at The National Cathedral on March 31, 1968 (4 days prior to his...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 5,754 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Real Underground Kingdom That Has Existed for Millions of Years Went Unnoticed, Until Recently...
Kid Krunk · 5,419 views today · 28 Stunning Photos Of The World’s Largest Cave
Surviving Capitalist Depression
Michael Emero · 5,299 views today · We live in a toxic society filled with toxic people. Even the ones with the best hearts- including ourselves- have been raised in ignorance, with disinformation. Our examples...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 2,967 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 2,016 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
Hans Rosling Brilliantly Explains Complexity of Population and Resource Issues Using Simple Tools
3 min · 1,938 views today · Let me show you the world, says Swedish academic Han Rosling as he demonstrates the dynamics of population growth, child mortality and carbon dioxide emissions. The challenge...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 1,935 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,704 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
True Justice Should Have Compassion in It
Thich Nhat Hanh · 1,632 views today · I believe that true justice should have compassion in it. When someone does something harmful, destructive, the destruction is done not only to the person who is the victim...
The Price of Certainty
7 min · 925 views today · It’s alarming to see how polarized politics have become in the United States. The wider the gulf grows, the more people seem to be certain that the other side is wrong...
What It Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Heather Plett · 821 views today · How to be there for the people who need you most
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 657 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch
Mark Greene · 514 views today · Homophobic prohibitions against male touch are hurting straight men as well.
Meet the Earthship
7 min · 377 views today · Outside of Taos, New Mexico, you'll find a community of people living in off-grid homes made of garbage. The homes are called Earthships and were invented by Michael Reynolds...
HUMAN (2015)
382 min · 371 views today · What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh? Cry? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery?  Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist...
The Importance of Empathy
3 min · 368 views today · With an increasingly polarized and divided world, we need empathy more than ever before. Too often we are talking at each other, unable to listen and jumping to entirely wrong...
How to Fire Your Boss: A Worker's Guide to Direct action
IWW · 367 views today · The indignity of working-for-a-living is well-known to anyone who ever has. Democracy, the great principle on which our society is supposedly founded, is thrown out the window...
The Demoralized Mind
John Schumaker · 343 views today · Western consumer culture is creating a psycho-spiritual crisis that leaves us disoriented and bereft of purpose. How can we treat our sick culture and make ourselves well? asks...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 337 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
States of Terror