“Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance”
– The 5 Stages of Grief
The problem is that, in America, the denial never stops. Thus the grief never ends. We lie to ourselves outrageously. I watched the tribute to the victims of 9/11/01 and wondered what alternate universe I’d woken up in. I watched a Gold Star Father trying to convince himself that his dead son had been “helping” the people of Fallujah, Iraq when he was killed.
The 2016 Presidential race was “Make America Great Again,” “Build the Wall,” “Defeat the Washington Cartel” and “Lock Her Up.” The belief was that what’s wrong is THEM – whomever THEM may be in the moment. We continue protest our innocence and find others to first blame and then bully.
This mess started millennia ago, but it was reaffirmed by the American people in the presidential election of 1980 when, not surprisingly, Ronald Reagan’s slogan was “Let’s Make America Great Again.” Reagan won in a landslide against the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and incumbent, Jimmy Carter. Had we elected Carter for a second term and continued his peace policies, I assure you that the planes would never have been hijacked on 9/11/01, no US soldiers would have died in Iraq or Afghanistan, and the general population in every country in the world would have been better off.
People, we did this to ourselves. And we did it because of pride, greed, ignorance and fear.
We didn’t need to engage in the “Cold War.” Well-paid agents of the already wealthy did it to sell guns and ammunition and to remove taxes from the middle class and place them in their own and their stockholders’ pockets. The middle classes did it out of fear and to feel “powerful” and “righteous.” And the poor did it because they were used to warfare and it was one of the few ways out of chronic poverty. And, of course, many of us believed the lies we told ourselves such as “better dead than red,” a whopper which a moment of honest thought might have discovered. But we were scared and believed, in our own pro-violence way, that we needed to oppose the bully with our own brand of bullying.
And we were fearful. When Khrushchev pounded his shoe on the table and yelled, “We will bury you,” we believed his lies, too. We rushed to defend democracy and egalitarianism but we didn’t use our most effective weapons! Our leaders used lies and deception to counter their leaders’ lies and deception, brutality to counter their brutality. Contrary to all historical wisdom, we refused to “know thy enemy” as textbooks suggest. We foolishly did bomb drills by hiding under our school desks, the worst place to hide as well as being ineffective against a barrage of nuclear weapons as Nagasaki and Hiroshima had already demonstrated. We remained ignorant and proud of it.
Had we left Vietnam alone, Vietnam would have done what they did right after we left – fight the Communists surrounding them. They were, for the most part, Buddhists and anti-colonialists, not Communists, and have had a raging enmity with China under a variety of religions for several millennia. They had seen what happened to their fellow Buddhists in Tibet. And they had recently had a couple hundred years of being a colony of several abusive invaders, including China.
When Jane Fonda told us this, we shunned her to the point that she later recanted.
This self-righteousness may have been warranted in the World Wars when we stopped German colonialism except for not stopping our own or that of any of our allies. We fought to stop the Kaiser and, later Hitler from taking over, but then we and our allies took over.
This self-righteousness may even have been warranted in the Korean War when we stopped our former ally to a standstill, both sides gaining a colony on the Korean Peninsula. It’s hard to say what would have happened if we hadn’t. But it’s easy to see what happened when we did. The Korean Peninsula has remained a war zone for sixty-five years. For sixty-five years, the American taxpayer has plowed billions of dollars into this civil war, just like Vietnam; just like Iraq; just like Afghanistan. The United States has unilaterally volunteered to be the army, navy, and marine corp of Japan, South Korea, South Vietnam, and factions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other local conflicts. We believe in war. We relish conflict. We rush to join and rejoin the killing and the hatred. And the conflict hasn’t subsided. It has escalated into terrorism and nuclear threats on both sides. It’s only a matter of time before it all blows up in our faces. If not in North Korea, then in Iran or Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.
Had we not engaged in hundreds of small-scale illegal activities in the Middle East, the Arabs and the Jews might have sorted out their differences by now as was started during Carter’s short presidency.
Had we not rejected SALT II and decided to continue the insanity of Mutually Assured Destruction, a lot of conflicts might have been avoided and those that couldn’t be avoided would not have been so perilous. We not only have a massive number of atomic weapons, we are the only country to have used these weapons against civilians! Without the high ground, we’re hardly in an ethical position to threaten smaller nations like North Korea and Iran when they start to develop a similar capacity for widespread destruction. We, the United States, are the rogue nation.
Had we not lied to Saddam Hussein about our neutrality in his dispute with Kuwait over the many oil wells slant-drilled under his country stealing millions of dollars a week, half a million troops would not have been called to arms in Saudi Arabia. By exacerbating rather than defusing this conflict, Bush 41 skyrocketed his popularity while bankrupting our economy.
Then a big payday for the carrion of war, promotions for the brass, and a chance to demonstrate our “greatness” prompted Bush 43 to fire his chief Mideast adviser and follow the advice of Vice President Dick Cheney, who was both decision maker and profiteer. Had we not believed the outrageous lies about WMDs and terrorists in Iraq, we would never have followed the second Bush across the bridge that his father didn’t cross. More false “glory” was won in occupying and destroying this modern Arab country and spreading a million homeless Iraqis and our senseless and dishonest war throughout the Arab world. As a result of our grandiosity, we created more terror, terrorists, and Gold Star Mothers and Fathers.
Today, there are two lies we repeat constantly.
The first lie is that there is a link between radical Islam and terrorism. Donald Trump insisted that Barrack Obama was betraying the United States by not repeating this lie. If anyone is interested in the truth, it was uncovered by a University of Chicago sociologist, Robert Pape, and his cadre of graduate students by doing a thorough and systematic study of suicide terrorism. In almost every case, families, friends and writings all point to the presence of an occupying democratic power being the match that lit the fuse. The men who downed the Twin Towers and targeted the Pentagon were religious moderates. They were intensely opposed to our foreign policies, our military, political, and economic dominance over their countries of origin. In their own minds, they were patriots, not believers.
Imagine a squad of Iraqis speaking Arabic, wearing flak jackets, and carrying machine guns, grenades, and communication devices connected to attack helicopters. They are walking down the street where you live and knocking on doors. What would you feel? What would you do if they knocked on your door and took your son or your father away?
We, the People, are responsible for this insanity! We’re not “innocent.” We’re not nearly so foolish and stupid as we pretend to be. We know about the greed. We know about the lies. We still want to believe because if we don’t keep up the facade, if we give up our anger at THEM, we can’t bargain away our dishonesty and greed in being a part of this murder and thievery that pretends to be the “War on Terror” but is, in fact if not intention, the war to create terror and terrorists.
The second widespread lie is that our troops are “making the world safe for democracy.” They aren’t. The reasons they’re fighting and the results of previous fights make it very clear that our troops haven’t been winning “democracy” anywhere. They aren’t making us safer, either. They’re fighting to make the rich wealthier. For a number of large American companies, war is several times more profitable than peacetime. The wealthy take billions of your tax dollars and spend them on munitions and supplies for our expanded military operations overseas. They use these troops to secure and maintain our “special” sources of oil, such as the colony of Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, both of which were created by us and our allies at the end of World War I. What our troops overseas are doing is killing and destroying. It isn’t really their fault; you and I elected the people who sent them to do this. We wanted to “Make America Great Again!” And killing people in their own homes and homeland who haven’t adequate technology and global resources to equal our firepower seems to be our idea of “greatness.”
Securing peace, negotiating nuclear nonproliferation, being patient until hostages are returned; these things were all seen as weak and non-presidential. Bullying on a personal scale is seen as wrong, but bullying on an international scale is seen as “great.”
Americans are consummate liars … or maybe it’s just denial. The grief never stops. The violence never stops. The greed never stops. I think it’s all connected.
©David N. Dodson, 2014, 2015, Phoenix, AZ