The Bigger Picture

So far, we’ve been looking at the world through a distorted lens. It’s been distorted for a long time and in many ways. Tribalism, nationalism, racism, and a number of other distortions such as dogmatic religious doctrine, sexism, and other prejudices have created a misshapen lens through which we’ve seen our lives and those of our ancestors as well as people we chose to be our “enemies.” Let’s attempt to look at the world as it was yesterday and as it is today and project that off into the future and make an effort to counteract these biases.

In the less-regulated world of the post-World-War-I era, we had the winners of the free-for-all that this war was, the English and the French, who now had a “right” to the future profits of the erstwhile “bad guy,” Germany who had the temerity to do what the English, French, and Spanish had been doing for centuries – namely creating empires by capturing colonies and stealing their land, their labor, and their natural resources through taxes, conscription, and expropriation. The only mistake they made was not allying with the United States economically and politically, which the French and English had been doing for years.

Let’s look at treaties from an unbiased point of view. NATO was an alliance of colonizers for mutual defense against hostile colonies or hostile colonizers.

Come on! Don’t just react. Analyze the data. Where did we fight? What did we do when we won?

If you go around the Mediterranean Sea, you see British law in Egypt as well as the Suez Canal. You see the Sphynx defaced by one of Napoleon’s band of invaders and ancient monuments to battles with Assyrian armies fought along the Nile. You see ancient and not-so-ancient battle fields where armies from all over the world fought for economic and political dominance up to and including World War II and the Six Day War with Israel!

At different times our allies dominated large parts of the rest of the world and almost always sought more and more and more control. Italy invaded and occupied England for centuries. The French also invaded and vice versa. Sometimes they were assimilated into the population. Sometimes, they were eventually repelled. In each and every case, average people lost fathers, sons, brothers, arms, legs, eyesight, sanity, and homes and workplaces. These invasions were disruptive and traumatic for us average people. But the wealthy on both sides (often related to each other and to the leaders of the Church) got wealthier and galvanized the general populations on both sides to a singularity of purpose and a strong bond of unity and resolve.

Today, the United States spends more than the next seven countries on “defense,” except it isn’t actually defense. It’s aggressive, destructive and destabilizing. We fight in other people’s homelands for pretend goals that can’t possibly be achieved through what amounts to invasion and military occupation. Americans think our troops are “fighting for freedom.” If that is true, what specific freedoms have we gained for ourselves OR them through our aggression and destruction in the Third World?? I can’t think of any. No. We’re now less safe. We search for weapons before boarding an aircraft when we didn’t use to. We now have metal detectors in our schools and our grandchildren are wearing kevlar backpacks. We weren’t gaining any freedom or democracy for the people of Fallujah or Baghdad when we attacked their cities. Nor we winning safety, security, or freedom for ourselves.

U.S. taxpayers pony up 35% of the world’s war budget and this percentage is GROWING!

Every time we “win” a war or fight it to a standstill, we taxpayers incur another almost permanent financial obligation. The following numbers are the latest I could find:

There are almost 40,000 US troops in Japan and this number has even been higher in years since their unconditional surrender to us on July 26, 1945, 74 years ago!

There are almost 35,000 US troops in Germany, manning posts in this prosperous colony of ours since May 7, 1945, a huge financial obligation to our defeated enemy which has also lasted longer than I’ve been alive! I was once on orders to serve there in 1967, but some few of us Nike Hercules maintenance specialists and nuclear warhead custodians were allowed to stay behind and “defend” our own country from high-flying bombers over Ohio and Indiana, another dangerous, expensive, provocative, and totally ineffective use of our taxes.

We have over 12,000 US troops in Italy, a gift of us US taxpayers which doesn’t make me feel any safer or well-protected but are presumed to be doing something essential for the past 75 years.

We have over 23,000 highly-trained, combat-ready troops in South Korea, ready to re-engage the enemy, North Korea, in a civil war waged between proxies of two former allies, the US and the Soviet Union, which, if reignited, is certain to decimate Seoul and Pyongyang in the first 24 hours even if the battle doesn’t go nuclear. We are currently shunning North Korea by trying to enforce an embargo on all trade, creating a hostile environment which keeps the campfires of war burning. We feel that, though we have nuclear weapons on stealth submarines 200 miles off their coast and more in Japan and huge numbers back home to send their way at the judgement of the President of the United States without any more congressional approval, they should not be allowed to present a counter-threat. This fragile state of affairs has been carefully maintained through three generations of North Korean dictators and all my adult life, but, since North Korea is now also a nuclear power, it seems unwise to continue or escalate – at least in my estimation. If we forget the leadership for a minute, we might realize that North Koreans and South Koreans have more in common than you might think. As with Germany, getting back together might just be the best solution to this highly volatile standoff that’s quickly becoming far too dangerous to continue. Who stands down first isn’t so important as the end result—at least as far as I’m concerned. And please remember this other fact: Kim Jung-Un isn’t starving his people! The United States embargo is. In our lopsided thinking, we’re fine having nukes all over the world with Donald Trump’s thumb on the red button, but having a few nukes under Kim Jung-Un’s control is a crime of the gravest proportions. Something is very distorted in our thinking.

And in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, our troops have been first causing civil wars and then supporting locals in bringing them to a volatile and unstable standstill. Like cancer, these “insurgencies” are metastasizing in a number of other parts of the world and, as I keep iterating, are SUPPORTED AND ENCOURAGED by the presence of us, aka foreign invasion forces, in places where they are guaranteed to create terror and destabilize and discourage any efforts at compromise or normalcy. Notice our schizophrenia in funding al Quida when they opposed Russian Communist occupational troops, but condemning and marginalizing them for objecting to our own occupational troops. We seem unable to grasp the simple fact that a foreign military force occupying or invading a country is a provocation which invites anger, resistance and retaliation (see Robert Pape’s Dying to Win).

We use “democracy” as a constant reason for fighting while deposing or destabilizing democracies we disapprove of and installing and protecting similar or worse dictators or warlords but that are amenable to our influence. When we won World War I, we put Hashemite Kings arbitrarily in charge of Islamic countries and immediately started arming them with modern second-tier American weapons, destabilizing their own systems of checks and balances.

There is one place we fought but haven’t been able to station any troops, or worry about any threat since April 30, 1975. As far as I know, the region surrounding Vietnam is far more stable than any region in which we still have troops and our “enemy” is actively resisting Chinese Communist aggression and has done so consistently since we left! Nor did we lose any freedoms by losing the Vietnam War. We trade with Vietnam without the high cost of a standing army or an active military. Gee, what a concept!

It occurs to me, in moments of clarity, that losing wars would be FAR more effective than winning them – at least from my standpoint. Germany, Japan, and South Korea, our colonies in fact if not in name, are prosperous, safe, and secure but all attempts at increasing our colonized territories since Korea have been met with stiff and steady resistance.

We acquired Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898 and have been paying taxes to maintain this colony ever since. Puerto Ricans are dependent on us mainlanders, but, by and large, they don’t like us and voted NOT to become a state when given the chance. Likewise, Guantanamo Bay isn’t a legitimate part of the United States, but we expend lots of otherwise useful or helpful resources to maintain this thorn in the side of a nearby nation. As well as maintaining an embargo which forces us to maintain our antagonisms without any legitimate reason other than their revolution nationalized quite a few foreign economic interests and attempted to fix the economic injustices created by European colonialism 500 years ago.

We’ve got dependent islands in the Pacific Ocean as well that don’t serve the interests of average mainlanders, either. We maintain military outposts in Okinawa, Guam, and the Marshal Islands, among others.

Our businessmen are thrilled, but our taxpayers and servicepeople are carrying the burden and it keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Please read War is a Racket, a small book written between World War I and World War II by a highly decorated Marine Corps Major General.

Make no mistake, NO FREEDOMS are being won or preserved. If you think that we did the people of Iraq a favor by deposing Saddam Hussein, I suggest a thorough read of Baghdad Burning, a perceptive and well-written blog by a middle-class college student carried on during that time in history.

When you look at it closely, the “greatness” that Democrats and Republicans talk about incessantly is bullying weaker countries militarily, making and then breaking alliances with minority factions within them, and protecting our ill-gotten property rights from nationalization, which is why we hate some dictators and support others that are just as repressive. Our own establishment, creation, and expansion mirrors this same paradigm of befriending and then betraying minority factions.

My father had substantial assets in Libya when Muammar Gaddafi seized power from King Idris, another Islamic religious leader installed and supported by Western colonial powers. Dad happened to be in Tripoli at the time Gaddafi took over and was under house arrest for a month but managed to go surfing each day by talking to the guards stationed at every street corner. He got out with his life and his health but not with his financial assets, which Colonel Gaddafi took. It is this seizure of assets, this “nationalization” of foreign “investors” financial holdings that have won the almost permanent enmity of U.S. politicians in both Republican and Democratic Parties. We’ve hated and supported dictators and the REAL difference is how they treated our financial interests in their country. And, make no mistake, we do the same thing. Though we take over ownership differently (levy taxes that can’t be paid and then expropriate), we do the same thing. This is the reason we have this irrational fear of socialism and communism. They take away ownership rights which we, here in America have placed on a pedestal and keep increasing to the point of absurdity.

As I look into the future, I see much more infrastructure, much more automation, and less and less absolutely necessary employment opportunities, especially at minimum wage, minimal skill jobs. This means that corporate capitalism, our current economic system, will become increasingly ineffective in maintaining our economic well-being because profits will pool in the vast pockets of the wealthy and dry up and blow away from our youth and the less-educated.

This is already happening and the statistics don’t show it very much because when someone loses hope and no longer is actively looking for a job, that person is no longer counted as “unemployed” even though they are.

With agents of the wealthy in charge of what we hear, with elections being bought and sold on the internet, with government run by-and-large by the wealthy (as it has been since its founding), we are quickly losing more of the ability to make intelligent, unbiased choices and are being coopted into political causes such as red state/blue state fights or gun rights or abortion rights or foreign conflicts.

Even the wealthy have become powerless to make much of a change in this greedy, unfair, unbalanced system we’re evolving. Roy Disney’s granddaughter owns a significant share of the Disney empire but cannot stop it from mistreating their employees and misleading their customers. If you work for a fast food business or franchise, it’s unlikely that you’ll get more than 30 hours of work a week at minimum wage or slightly better with no benefits unless you’re a store manager. The monopoly is at the stock market now and many corporations own each other’s stock so the collective industry pools their political muscle in PACs such as the National Rifle Association and exert massive influence in our elections, lawmaking, ajudication, and public information.

The middle class is dwindling and will continue to dwindle. We will be left with a situation similar to many former colonies in South and Central America where neither the wealthy nor the poor are happy or living free and creative lives and the middle class works as agents and lackeys of the wealthy with the single directive of “make more money for us.” And it all runs on autopilot and misinformation.

If the Catholic Church can completely dominate Western Civilization for 14 centuries, if property rights can be made to be our most cherished value, if guns and violence can be seen as the sole way to redress grievances, and as war has come to be perceived as pervasive and inevitable; we’re seeing the start of another Dark Age … assuming we don’t go completely crazy and make the world uninhabitable with nuclear weapons, excessive carbon dioxide, or some new retrovirus.

Well, it hasn’t happened yet, so there’s still hope. If “all men [and women] are created equal and endowed by their Creator with the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and since we can now feed, house and clothe everyone without too much sweat, maybe who your parents were shouldn’t be so important. Maybe we could change our ethical compass to include more than just property rights, inheritance rights, the almighty dollar, and dominance and bullying the rest of the world to follow us or fight us.

Maybe human rights should equal or supercede property rights, particularly those resting on recent or ancient wars and mistreatment of others. And maybe we should learn how to respect the rights of people we currently abjure such as felons or people in countries with dictators or people with vastly different views.

As to terrorists, it seems that the United States armed forces have relied on fear for a long time as our way to deal with people with less technology than we have. Occupational troops and terrorism are two sides of the same coin and our “war on terror” does nothing except create more terror AND terrorists.

The world can accommodate Muslims AND Christians AND Communists AND abusive dictators AND billionaires AND combat veterans with PTSD AND chronically poor AND people made homeless by job obsolescence, tsunami, hurricane, bank foreclosure, addiction, or mental illness. We don’t need to fight about our differences if we can negotiate for what we need from each other in a more equitable way. It doesn’t have to be us or them. It can be both. Or it could end up neither. The choice seems to be ours to make – and live with – or not.

We can help the people of North Korea feed themselves – or at least stop starving them without approving of their government which we helped create and have funded for years.

We can help the people of Puerto Rico recover from recent and future ecological disasters AND give them self-rule just as we can befriend the people of the Dominican Republic or Cuba or Costa Rica or Honduras or Venezuela without worrying about how much their government conforms to our arbitrary, capricious, and selfish standards.

And we can worry about bringing the people of our vast and diverse community back together without trying to “save” the rest through smart bombs, “limited” wars, and military investments and arrangements, not to mention nuclear threats.

The days when bullying other countries worked, even marginally, are over. If we tried to do to Hawaii today what we did to Hawaii originally, it wouldn’t work as well. There is too much communication and our bringing of religion and then firearms and then greed into less dogmatic or aggressive societies is no longer met as passively and no longer pacified, no matter how much fear we attempt to create.

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