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OSAMA BIN LADEN: An American Heresy


IN THIS ARTICLE
May Day 2011 saw the ignominious end of Osama bin Laden, American public enemy #1.  The “justice done,” however, was the ancient Semitic kind, “an eye for an eye.” The swift dispatch of Osama to the bottom of the sea without fair trial violated the keystones of the Enlightenment, the very principles upon which the nation was founded, the Rights of Man and justice for all. But these ethical ideals call for an even higher enlightenment, whose prophet Americans idolize every Martin Luther King Day.  The much-vaunted “dream” of Dr King called the nation to the real outcome of enlightened sanctity — compassion and non-violence — whose true meaning, as Dr King clarified, is “to see the enemy’s point of view.” Aside from the spiritual and moral value of this dream, it is pragmatic: “For from this view we may… see the basic weakness of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of…the opposition.” Was America’s finest moment of the decade actually a grievous regression from its true aspiration and opportunity?

 

Osama bin Laden:  An American Heresy

OSAMA_TIME_COVERWe got ‘im!!!

With this shout of victory on May Day 2011, America erupted into a giddy jingoistic orgy.  Flags waved frantically as great tributes were offered in every gathering place.  Heroic American testosterone was on display for all the world to see.  At last, at last, the evil enemy is dead. VICTORY!!!

It was the greatest American day in ten years.

Sadly, the bad guy had not been finished off by the super-cowboy who initiated and failed for seven years at this “dead or alive” drama.   Strange ironies in the American subconscious underlay the fact that the deed was accomplished by a misto, half white and half pure African.  But of course this could be overlooked, especially since the President, master of this coup, was within days of having revealed the birth documents finally proving he is AMERICAN!!!

 

It is worthwhile to see Obama’s coup from a Machiavellian point of view.  The President put an end to all grumblings that he is only a progressive woos with no decisiveness and backbone.  On the contrary, he followed exactly the advice of Machiavelli in The Prince, where that Renaissance master of power insists that a leader, especially one who aspires to govern with goodness and justice, must, early in his tenure, demonstrate by some act of ruthless audacity, his true range and capacity. This act summarily challenges any opposition that may be gathering in rebellious minds.  It is a Renaissance version of “Walk softly, but carry a big stick.” This alone makes it possible to accomplish any subsequent good.   Obama overwhelmed the hawks and freaked out his pacifist constituency early on by dramatically increasing the surge in Afghanistan.  But the Mayday weekend which saw the end of bin Laden was a virtual Machiavellian display.  On Thursday with muted flourish, Obama produced the birth certificate.  On Saturday night, at the traditional White House Correspondents roasting dinner, with rapier wit, the President brought down the noisy pop-buffoon, Donald Trump.  On Sunday he eliminated through high-tech insinuation the emblematic genius of terrorism.  The unsightly corpse of public enemy number one was promptly discharged to the bottom of the sea in one quick irreversible coup de grace.  The world was aghast.   Machiavelli would cheer.

-How do we describe what happened to bin Laden?

What do you call it when you storm the house and bedroom of an apparently unarmed man and shoot him dead?  It begs the question when he is public enemy number one, but I think the word is “murder,” or is it “assassination?  But under the circumstances, these are far too loaded, so perhaps the more neutral “dispatched” is best.

Whatever word is appropriate, character assassination immediately followed.  ‘The coward hid behind his wife.’  ‘The fusty old egomaniac sat around clicking his remote to view footage of himself on television.’  When pornography was found on one of the many computers in the compound, the loud implication was that, when the old man wasn’t watching himself on television, he was probably jacking off to porno.

-Weak objections

The din of American self-congratulation and chest thumping was deafening. Many American voices were silent, bemused.  A few dissenting voices took exception. Michael Moore championed a barely audible suggestion, that by rights Osama should have been captured and brought to trial, this having something to do with the legal base of the rights of man, the declared substratum of the founding of America.

Of course there were outraged voices from the Middle East, such as that of Ismail Haniya, head of the Hamas government dutifully elected by the Palestinian people: “We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior… We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood.”

The heroic dispatch of Osama needed no justification in America. The villain transgressed the sacred American identity, a narrative largely unchallenged by public opinion or press.  Never mind the founding fathers and their universal rights, the real narrative clarified by 911 was that America is sacrosanct and special.  “Special” means America can attack foreign lands and kill innocents as ”collateral damage,” because it offers sincere apologies and democracy.  However, foreigners do not attack America.  America is invincible.  Attacks on American soil are impossible, or at least inconceivable.  Americans are sacrosanct, all of them innocent.  In the face of this narrative, 911 created a cognitive dissonance, a kind of national psychosis, which lasted for ten years until the one responsible could be (not brought to justice) but dispatched.  With the death of bin Laden, this narrative snapped back into place.  This was the real celebration.  Our narrative — the one that makes America safe and Americans righteous and secure –- was restored.  What a relief!

This national narrative is so engraved and inviolate that no Americans can break it.  It is the basis of our national identity.  Obama declared in his late night announcement on May 1 that “Justice has been done.” This is not the justice of our Constitution, nor the justice of the Nazi war trials, nor the justice of the World Court to which everyone but America is subject. The justice he was referring to is ‘eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth,’ the justice of revenge.   It is only the “special” narrative of American invincibility and superiority that supports this use of “justice.”

There is however another point of view – one that must have been felt in the hearts of some Americans, but so counter to the politically correct American narrative, that it could not be uttered.  It is an opportunity missed, arising from a view of an evolved America, one evinced by America’s much-vaunted modern hero, also slain, Martin Luther King.

“Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and non-violence, when
it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to
know of his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed
see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we
may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are
called the opposition.”
                           Martin Luther King  On the Vietnam War  April 1967

Where was this voice in the din of American chest thumping?  Perhaps this “Great American,” to whom our leaders duly pay lip-tribute every March, is too heretical.  Martin Luther King is calling not to the “special” narrative of American patriotism, but to the principles of that patriotism, embodied in our code of justice, but further, to the spiritual aspiration that grows out of those principles, the evolutionary inevitability of following those principles back into the source of the Good.  This was the voice of Martin Luther King.

Could it be that the dispatch of Osama bin Laden was not, as the celebrants supposed, America’s finest hour?

Following Dr King’s lead, let us open to a greater picture.

The fact is that America is not a completed entity: it is a recently conceived experiment, based on the ideas of the Enlightenment as to the universal rights of man and evolving towards the higher Good.  Students of anthropology and world history can discern shifting viewpoints that represent a universal evolution into the Good, this evolution being the ancient promise of Plato and those that have followed him.

There is a pattern to this evolution.  Each stage transcends but incorporates earlier stages.  The pattern starts at the tooth and claw of survival.  It rises up through tribal unities based on the adversity of “them and us.”   This tribalism accretes to larger entities, often united by one religion or belief system, fortified by the conviction that “our religion is the only right one.” The evolution then moves up through the cowboy heroism of good and evil and evolves into civic order based in national identities enforced by monarchy.  This was the system in place in Europe at the time of our founding fathers, where our special patriotic narrative is firmly rooted. The reaction to that Europe produced the Enlightenment values of the universal rights of man, which transcend any national narrative.  This is the progressive basis upon which our founding fathers created America and our code of law and justice.  But from here, our boomer generation, who traveled the world, moved away from good and evil into the capacity to walk in the shoes of the other, a multi-perspective view which advances universal value into sovereign universal individual worth.

The higher stages of evolution have always transcended the lower, but do not necessarily incorporate them.  The dispatch of Osama demonstrates that regression back to earlier stages, in this case the cowboy heroism of ‘good and evil,’ is always possible.  The narcissism of the boomer generation all too often looks like “my way is the right way,” which can regress quickly to tooth and claw.

But Dr King was pointing to an even higher level than the Enlightenment, taking the multi-perspective view to a more advanced stage of evolution. This is the principle arising out of sovereign individual worth — compassion and non-violence.  It is probably too much to say that the founding principles of the US were compassion and non-violence: they were rather the universal values of the rights of man.  However, when every year we commemorate Martin Luther King Day, we celebrate the spiritual aspiration of the nation, grounded in the rights of man of the Enlightenment, but transcending this into compassion and non-violence, benchmarks of a higher, planetary enlightenment. Martin Luther King articulated a dream that has been there hovering above the American constitution, first formulated by the American Transcendentalists in the nineteenth century, and others in the twentieth century inspired by the vision of Gandhi, notably Dr King who clarified this vision as the evolutionary target of civilization, a true transcendental state, and the true dream of America as the outcome of its founding principles.

One benchmark of this new enlightenment is a multi-perspective world view, inconceivable in lower stages of national loyalty, but appreciated in the rise of the boomer generation, and advanced by Martin Luther King’s challenge as the true dream of America — to be able to adopt the point of view of the enemy.

So let us be clear: at the level of tribal/national revenge we triumphed:  at the level of our true national aspiration we failed with resolute blindness.

-What would Dr King’s “mature view of true compassion” look like in this case?

If you could ever reach into the hearts of the dispossessed of the world, what would you find?  What is the perspective of people in the great majority of the world?

Of course the American narrative is that we are the world leader, compassionate, brave, the very best.  As the great cowboy said, those who would destroy us hate our freedom.  By and large, the world demographic of Caucasians believe, indeed live by this narrative, including all of North America and Europe, rebuilt after the Second World War out of American beneficence.  These whites comprise about 13% of the world population.  The rest, the vast majority of the world, are people of color.  Of course those non-whites who enjoy the world of the whites, comprise maybe 10% more.  Another 10% who envy the world of the whites also probably accord with the American narrative.  But what about the others, still the great majority of the world?   Here we enter the realm of heresy as we ask, what about their narrative?

-Hatred of America: “the enemy’s point of view”

Jean Ziegler, a Swiss philosopher/reporter has lived for many years in this other world.  He has written a report, La Heine de l’Occident, “The Hatred of the West.”  The book is replete with incontrovertible evidence, but it is so heretical that it has been translated only into German, that language belonging to a people whose narratives of superiority have been obliterated, not once but twice in the last century.  Having the narratives of the enemy thrust down its throat twice has led to a rich process of self-examination utterly unknown to the English speaking world.

-“the enemy’s… assessment of ourselves”

Are we the world leader or the world bully?
Boomers who have traveled the backpack route of the world will recognize what Ziegler reports.  He writes of resentments that are the givens for most people in the world.  He asks this question, why is the hatred of America breaking out now?

As communication shrinks the world, the imbalances of wealth and the contradiction between demography and power has become painfully clear.   13% of the world population has dominated and exploited the resources of the entire planet for the last 300 years; first through conquest and in many cases, enslavement, then colonization, then in the last century the corporatization of the world. The communications revolution somehow has evoked a spontaneous revival of the wounded memories of these last three centuries. While this progression has accrued great wealth and power for those 13%, it has created untold, unrecorded miseries for the people of color, particularly in the southern hemisphere. This has set up a structure of imbalance and injustice in that world that constitutes what is known as “structural violence,” or suffering due to the ver
y structure of the world economic system.  This violence is not the work of “evil” individuals or even nations, it is in the very structure of things established in three centuries as the ‘world order.’

In that other world the symbol of this was the World Trade Center.

The enormous military of the privileged world holds this structure together with all its might.  Those who struggle against this structural violence are subject to all the fury of the Western arsenal of advanced technology and weaponry.  One thinks of those photographs of our high tech burdened troops next to the Taliban, with their rifles and traditional dress.  Those who suffer and are killed resisting this might are either “insurgents” against the system or, else the innocents who happen to be in the way, neatly catalogued in the American canon as “collateral damage.”

The symbol of this is the Pentagon.

The West created and supports a system of structural violence in which far more than thirteen percent are victims, and which it enforces with overwhelming military power dominating the ex-colonial states, supporting and reinforcing regimes that fortify their exploitation and bring great riches to their leadership.  The result for the great majority is poverty, debasement and untold suffering, which has fueled the recent uprising of the Arab populace.   At the same time, America with great fanfare and self-righteousness preaches human rights.  This is seen in the rest of the world, not as blind naivete, which it arguably is, but as hateful hypocrisy.

The symbol of this is the White House where dwells the leader and figurehead of the “free” corporatocracy world.

Now, in the last five years, this structural imbalance is reflected in a steady but deadly rise in the price of food and sustenance in these countries.  Starvation is advancing, slowly but surely.  The situational violence of food shortage is a direct result of the systemic aggression. Westerners are completely blind to this, making their surface protestations of human rights all the more hateful.

Who can speak up against this?  What does it take to make the West realize what it is doing?  Any thinking person in that other world has to ask these questions.

The compassionate view towards the losers of the modern world evinced by Martin Luther King can clarify many movements of the modern world incomprehensible to the White Man.  The case against colonialism has been made vigorously before, probably most visibly by the Japanese in the mid-twentieth century.  To drive the White Man out of Asia was its ostensible rationale leading to the War of the Pacific.  This noble goal, supported by many thinking people in the colonial world, was however co-opted by the true Great Satan, the power lust that infests the powerful in all instances.  The political and military leaders of Japan went mad, colluded with the power mad European fascists and had to be stopped.  However, the impulse began as a reaction to the invasion and overwhelming of Asia by the greed of the White Man.  Vietnam was a continuation of this, though Americans naively misread it as ‘creeping communism.’  Martin Luther King understood this, which prompted his call to all Americans to examine themselves in compassion for the people of color, the great majority of the world population.

The Arab countries have their own narrative of Islamic specialness.  The Islamic hegemony has long been practiced and challenged, but is now contradicted by the existence of Israel, which is marginal but used as a focal point. The reasons for the existence of Israel are too well known to rehearse here, but just for a moment, let us try an empathy experiment.  Imagine that the ancient scriptures of an Indian nation, pushed westward and eventually practically eliminated through the lebensraum entitlement of Manifest Destiny, claimed the area of Rhode Island as their true home ordained by the gods of their traditions.  How would Americans react if the UN, in compassion, delivered Rhode Island over to these victims of the Holocaust? How long would it take America to “just get over it”?  This is not an argument, but a thought experiment.  Just think of it. Then you may catch a glimpse of the way Arabs have reacted to Israel.   In like manner, Israel is a thorn in the flesh of the Middle East.   It is a wound so infected, that one wonders how it could ever heal.  Probably about as long as it would take to heal if the Indian nation were thrust upon the American continent. Try this thought experiment on the Indians as they reacted to American settlement, or the Aborigines as Australia was settled, or Hindus as Muslims took their lands to establish Pakistan. This is how compassion works.

By 2001, after the fall of communism, America had been bereft of an enemy for ten years.  911 became the occasion for taking on Al Qaeda as a national enemy.  The cowboy nobly stated that Islam was not the enemy, but he also used the history-loaded “crusade” analogy allowing the ‘us versus them’ tendency in American culture reflexively to identify Islam as the enemy.  This national vengeance provided the velocity to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, with the actual policy to stabilize and advance corporate interests in the Middle East, largely the need to control the supply of oil.  Those who differed with this policy in America were marginalized, and patriots in the target countries (who had nothing to do with 911) were labeled “insurgents” and dispatched accordingly.

Who is going to rebuild the cities of Iraq and Afghanistan demolished by our high tech wonder weaponry?  After the Second World War America paid to rebuild the Europe of its former enemies.  We did this partly because we learned that punishing an enemy, as the Allies had done after the First World War with the Treaty of Versailles, crippled Germany and created the resentments that generated the Second World War.  The Marshall Plan was the creation of a generous and wise America, one that still brings tears to the eyes of many Europeans.  Where is this America?

So if we go back to Haniya’s description of America’s policy, this “brother” also has a viewpoint, the stated policy of America may be something like ‘establishing freedom and democracy in the Middle East.’  Does anyone think for a moment that if the population of the area from the Mediterranean to India were to exercise freedom and democracy, there would be support for America’s policies?  Such a vote was given to the Palestinian people, and America was horrified and humiliated when Hamas was democratically elected to power.  America’s stated policy of benevolence and democracy convinces those adhering to the narrative of American superiority, but it reeks of the hated hypocrisy and is effectively a policy of oppressing the area into puppet “democracies” brought about by, “shedding Muslim and Arab blood.”  They killed the warrior who was confronting this policy.  This is Haniya’s point.

-Hubris and Nemesis: “the basic weakness of our own condition…”

Long ago the physics of fate were understood by our cultural ancestors, the Greeks.  What is done in blind disregard (hubris) of the conditions of others and the universal laws, sets up a reaction (nemesis) that tends to undermine and ultimately destroy the perpetrator.  This is the stuff of Greek tragedy, as well as human suffering.

All of this perpetrated by the White Man over the last three centuries adds up to a hubris that is not only the cause of the hatred of the majority of the world, but to the very gods themselves, who do not suffer hubris of this sort without producing its nemesis.  OK, forget the gods.  Nemesis and hubris is a law of spiritual physics.   In the same inevitable way as a physi
cal law, hubris, which violates universal human values, produces the nemesis that is its downfall.

From where could a nemesis come?  It is too much to imagine that he or she would come out of the faceless numberless exploited masses, like the good shepherd David facing off against Goliath.  It is too much to ask in this world run by billionaires.  Nemesis could only be embodied from the ranks of those in the position of hubris.

The hubris created a nemesis vacuum.  Who filled it?

-Osama

Osama was a holy man.  This is described in Time Magazine (May 20, 2011) by Peter Bergen, who once interviewed bin Laden and has reported on him extensively. One of many sons of a Saudi billionaire, bin Laden eschewed his entitlement to become a rich playboy and zealously applied himself to the study of the Koran, while contemplating the imbalances of the world and the assaults of colonial mentality upon Islam.  As a teenager, when his friends were out playing soccer, Osama was praying seven times a day (two times more than mandated by Islamic custom) and fasting twice a week in imitation of the great prophet.  Later, he studied economics at university.

Bin Laden’s zealotry, according to Bergen, was driven not only by a desire to implement what he saw as God’s will in the face of grave assaults on Islamic peoples, but also a fear of divine punishment if he failed to do so.  So not defending Islam and its people from its most important enemy would be disobeying God, something he would never do.

Bergen makes the case that Osama was misdirected as a kind of obsessive zealot.  But his view does not seem to take into account the hatred generated by the hubris of the White Man and the view of the many whose well being has been sacrificed for the modern prosperity of the few.  When Che Guevara was asked what it takes to become a guerrilla, he said “uncompromising love,” that is, blind compassion for those who suffer from the actions and structural violence of others and the situations they impose.

However we may demonize Osama and assassinate his person and his character, however he may have been doing what his religion told him to do, Osama was the manifestation of nemesis. He had to be created out of the intrinsic imbalance of things.

Osama vs Bush

Peter Bergen, as the voice of the West, and many others, like to compare Osama to Hitler.  I like to compare him to George Bush.  As a student of psychology and human expression, I once made a serious study of the messages from bin Laden. It was difficult to find  translations that were not sifted through the American narrative and perspective. When I could actually watch the messages with subtitles or else just read them, unedited by a Western press determined to demonize them, I was astonished at what I discovered. They were the exact opposite of the atavistic ravings of Hitler, which as a long-time student of German literature and history, I also once studied.

At the end of this article I have included the verbatim translation of a talk bin Laden gave in October, 2004, in which he explains the reasons for 911.  It illustrates Osama’s style of address to the American people, calmly presenting the reasons for the 911 assault, mostly articulating point by point the systemic and situational aggression described above.  There is no trace of vituperation or hatred.  The talk was actually an appeal to the intelligence and sense of justice of the American people, delivered with a calm composure and centeredness that shockingly contrasts with the shrill rhetoric of Bush, full of histrionic half-truths (‘they hate our freedom, they are allied with Saddam Hussein, who threatens our very existence with weapons of mass destruction’) and puffed up cowboy bravado (“Mission Accomplished!”)  The comparison was frankly depressing. I felt the deepest chagrin at observations I was reticent to share with anyone in my own country.

Osama was not deemed “legitimate,” because he did not speak for a sovereign nation or aggress on behalf of one. There is no strong nation out there that could challenge the hubris of the systemic and situational aggression of corporatocracy.  There is no voice loud enough to stand up for the silenced majority suffering under the power of this monolith.  Any nation rich enough to have an army and arsenal to challenge this power, could be so only because it benefits from the monolith.  (With the possible exception of oil rich Venezuela) what nation is going to risk the advantages of this participation?   What democratic national majority, prospering from it, would vote to challenge it?

As the “War on Terrorism” was being conceived, Peter Ustinov quipped with quintessential insight;  “War is the terrorism of the rich: terrorism is the war of the poor.”  Rich nations at the end of their diplomatic tether go to war.  Poor majorities at the end of their tether, having no diplomatic voice, no national identity nor organized military, go to terrorism.  There is a balance to it that only the just eye can see.

Osama’s Plan

Osama’s talk reveals not a madman on a rampage, but a sane man at the end of his tether.  Al Qaeda had launched dozens if not hundreds of incidents, including the first attack on the WTC tower – all of which were overlooked or down-played by the US.  These acts of terrorism were not insane attempts to attack innocents out of envy for their freedom.  Nor was it an attempt to destroy the enemy as one great national army seeks to defeat and destroy another. Osama was a flea attacking an elephant.  The attacks of 911 were acts of eloquent political theater designed to destabilize the monolith.

There were three goals, all of which succeeded:

-Rhetorical: 911 was a symbolic attack on symbolic targets: the WTC, symbol of corporatocracy; the Pentagon, symbol of the military might that holds it in place; and the White House, gracious mansion of its world figurehead.  America was appalled at pictures of people in the world celebrating this event.  To these celebrants, it was, like our dispatch of Osama, the justice of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

-Psychological: The attacks were designed to destabilize the US and the West psychologically, which they did.  The invincible was shown vulnerable.  It was a national trauma, indeed a trauma of the Western world.

-Economic: 911 was intended to initiate a process that would ruin the US and bring down its whole system financially. Here too, in the long run, it has proved successful.  America’s macho over-reaction (Iraq had nothing to do with 911) has cost trillions, creating a grave threat to its economy.  With the domino effect of this instability, 911 has significantly contributed to its ultimate aim, to bring down the whole economic system. That aspect of its intent is still in process, and the world is still reeling.

Did Osama “murder 3000 innocent” people?  I do not think that death tolls figured in his intent. They were a mere detail, collateral damage of an act of global theater designed to provoke and destabilize the monolith.

Did America murder hundreds of thousands of innocent Middle Easterners?  I do not think the death toll of our adventures there figured in our intent.

Here is another multi-perspective view.  When I see the endlessly sentimental carryings on around The World Trade Center and its 3000 innocent victims, I wonder what sort of monument exists in Iraq and Afghanistan commemorating the bombing of countless buildings and infrastructure of the cities, which will take decades to rebuild, and the hundreds of thousands of innocents killed as a result of the high tech attacks of the US and the internal violence they unleashed.  Who is going to put up a shiny new Middle East as we are rebuilding an ever-greater WTC?  Really, wei
gh up the destruction of the WTC and the 3000 killed there against the destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, as a consequence of 911, and the “collateral damage” of hundreds of thousands of innocent victims.  Where to place the rage of innocent peoples, who had nothing to do with 911, whose lives and well-being have been utterly destroyed?  How does this stack up to the victims of 911?  The comparison is ludicrous, unless of course the scales are absurdly weighed in favor of the narrative of American superiority and specialness.

What I am doing here is trying to put together the point of view of the “brother we call the enemy”. I don’t remember Martin Luther King advising people to take the side of the enemy, just to put oneself in his shoes and understand where he is coming from.  Likewise, this discussion is not taking sides or defending; it is observing things from the other point of view.  Martin Luther King’s point is that this perspective sees both sides and can thus find a higher, more transcendental viewpoint, which then looks for justice in the higher good.  This is the true American aspiration that Dr King was looking to inspire, the possibility of maturity.

-“If we are mature…”

Osama was apparently unarmed or unable to defend himself when the Navy Seals invaded his bedroom.  The fact is, that crack team could easily have delivered Osama alive if Obama had given that instruction.  Then, like all war criminals, he would have been brought to trial.

As was the case with Saddam, he would have received every overt care and comfort, but been degraded in every covert way (Pictures in handcuffs looking demonically defiant, pathetic and disheveled, etc.)   Unlike Saddam, however, Osama had noble charisma, what many indigenous cultures refer to as “mana;” innate stature.  He was so far from being a bum, it would have been difficult to make him seem like one.  He had too much spiritual charisma.

-What might have happened?

If there had been a trial, before the eyes and ears of the world, then what? They would have had to let him have his say in this world forum.  Would he have ranted and raved as Hitler might have done, or Saddam?  No, he would have taken the same balanced rational tone he took in his address to the American people regarding 911 to be found at the end of this article.  In fact, in the absence of a fair trial, we might regard this as the draft of his testimony addressed not to the court, but to the people of the world.

Here is another thought experiment.  Imagine a world court, with Martin Luther King as the presiding judge.  In this testimony Osama would articulate a view that two thirds of the world takes for granted and one third of the world led by the corporatocracy would never accept, would in fact never even hear.  In effect, he would have, with his mana, put the world and the corporate hegemony on trial.  The underlying structure of hubris and nemesis in the world would have been exposed. And what would Judge King have done?

From this, we come to the overarching point made by Dr King.  We may have had the opportunity to “grow and profit from the opposition.”

BUT To have the case of two thirds of the world articulated by a calm centered voice would have simply been too much.  It would have further destabilized an alarmingly shaky world order before it would have changed it.

Obama

My secret hope is that Obama, who also has “mana,” is a wise man.  Unlike those who are disillusioned with him, I never expected him to be a magician or a charismatic dictator imposing a progressive agenda upon a recalcitrant American majority.  I have watched how, with his deep understanding of the Constitution, he is learning how the power structures actually function and how to bring about change, surely if slowly.  The dispatch of Osama was politically eloquent done with great Machiavellian élan.

However, there is something in the near identity of the names (oBama and oSama).  When I heard the news, my heart stopped because I mis-heard “Obama has been killed. ”  Since then, I notice how very often others as well as myself weirdly use one name when they mean the other.  C G Jung, the great twentieth century psychologist called such an eerie coincidence a “synchronicity.”  The coincidental factors do not cause each other, but they nevertheless require some interpretation.  Just as the psychologically astute should tend their dreams, said Jung, so should they learn how to intuit the particular significance of a synchronicity, its hidden truth.  Only one consonant differentiates Obama from Osama.  All that separates them is BS.  Hmmm.

Both men have a genetic basis in the non-white world, but were brought up in the world of white privilege. They are inherently capable of understanding opposing points of view.  From the highest perspective they are separated only by BS.

In fact, a real unthinkable shortcut to Martin Luther King’s vision would have been a soul dialogue between Osama and Obama, in which Osama set forth what he said to the American people in his talk.  What might the custodian of Western hubris have been able to discern from the custodian of nemesis?  These two guardians of hubris and nemesis in a respectful dialogue: this would transcend individual and national personality into King’s dream of a new world of balance and harmony.  This is also the vision of Gandhi and the Dalai Lama.

Somewhere Obama understands both the hubris and the nemesis, and in his own way, he will, if re-elected, slowly act to influence the world towards balance.   That is my faith.

The American forefathers created the constitution of America on a conviction of self- evident truth.  This refers to values that are universal, not merely cultural or national.  From the perspective of those self-evident truths, bringing down bin Laden brought the great world dialogue, the inevitable outcome of our own professed universal values, down to a level of cultural warfare.  But America is a democracy in which the majority rules, and this is clearly where America wants to be.

But let us now review King’s statement:

“Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and non-violence, when
it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to
know of his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed
see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we
may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are
called the opposition.”

-The decision to dispatch Osama was probably based in the realization that we could not have allowed this “enemy” voice to speak in a planetary forum: it would be too destabilizing.  If allowed to speak in his defense, Osama would likely have had the skill and the poise to place the world on trial.

For this reason, they could not have tried him.  They had to kill him.  Our President, with one rather elegant coup de grace, succeeded in fulfilling the will of his people.  But, as our President so often says, “let us be clear:” we failed in our opportunity for maturity, “to learn and grow and profit.”  We accomplished the death of our enemy, but we missed the opportunity proffered by our iconic hero: the opportunity to take a great step forward to the dream of our founding fathers and the enl
ightened principles they established in our constitution…to advance a world based on universal values.  In this we betrayed not only the principles of the rights of man, we also lost faith with the spiritual aspiration of the nation as a country of “true compassion and non-violence.”

So here is the heresy:  Osama was a warrior who observed the intrinsic imbalance of the world as expressed in the Middle East and dedicated himself to setting it right by whatever means were at his disposal.

We killed the man but not the nemesis. We lost our opportunity to question nemesis in order to rectify the fundamental imbalances that truly destabilize the world.  Osama is gone, but nemesis is not.  It only grows as the forces of hubris once again triumph.

However successful the Administration was at disposing of Osama, we did nothing to neutralize the nemesis by becoming aware of our hubris.  This was an unqualified failure.  In fact, the Middle East is but the scene of a mere fraction of the problem.  As the consuming hubris of the Western hegemony increases, so does its non-sustainable abuse of the earth.  The hubris is planetary and pathogenic. The real nemesis has gone into the earth itself, whose climatic chaos, now increasing with every season, is a form of terrorism in its own right, threatening the very species that has become its pathogen.  What is coming is war with an enraged earth.

BUT
We got ‘im!!!

Transcript of Osama bin Laden’s Speech
Aljazeera.net (online publication), Doha, Qatar, October 30, 2004

Praise be to God who created the creation for his worship and commanded them to be just and permitted the wronged one to retaliate against the oppressor in kind. To proceed:
Peace be upon he who follows the guidance: People of America this talk of mine is for you and concerns the ideal way to prevent another Manhattan, and deals with the war and its causes and results.
Before I begin, I say to you that security is an indispensable pillar of human life and that free men do not forfeit their security, contrary to Bush’s claim that we hate freedom.
If so, then let him explain to us why we don’t strike for example – Sweden? And we know that freedom-haters don’t possess defiant spirits like those of the 19 – may God have mercy on them.
No, we fight because we are free men who don’t sleep under oppression. We want to restore freedom to our nation.  Just as you lay waste to our nation, so shall we lay waste to yours.
No one except a stupid thief endangers the security of others and then makes himself believe he will be secure. Whereas thinking people, when disaster strikes, make it their priority to look for its causes, in order to prevent it from happening again.
But I am amazed at you. Even though we are in the fourth year after the events of September 11th, Bush is still engaged in distortion, deception and hiding from you the real causes. And thus, the reasons are still there for a repeat of what occurred.
So I shall talk to you about the story behind those events and shall tell you truthfully about the moments in which the decision was taken, for you to consider.
I say to you, God knows that it had never occurred to us to strike the towers. But after it became unbearable to witness the oppression and tyranny of the American/Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it came to my mind.
The events that affected my soul in a direct way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon, assisted by the American Sixth Fleet. This bombardment began and many were killed and injured and others were terrorised and displaced.
I couldn’t forget those moving scenes, blood and severed limbs, women and children sprawled everywhere. Houses destroyed along with their occupants and high rises demolished over their residents, rockets raining down on our home without mercy.
The situation was like a crocodile attacking a helpless child, powerless except for his screams. Does the crocodile understand a conversation that doesn’t include a weapon? And the whole world saw and heard, but it didn’t respond.
In those awful moments, many indescribable thoughts and feelings bubbled in my soul, but in the end they produced an intense rejection of tyranny, and gave birth to a strong resolve to punish the oppressors.
And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon, it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressor in kind and that we should destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children.
And that day, it was confirmed to me that oppression and the intentional killing of innocent women and children is a deliberate American policy. Destruction is freedom and democracy, while resistance is terrorism and intolerance.
This means the oppressing and embargoing to death of millions as Bush Sr did in Iraq in the greatest mass slaughter of children mankind has ever known, and it means the throwing of millions of pounds of bombs and explosives at millions of children – also in Iraq – as Bush Jr did, in order to remove an old agent and replace him with a new puppet to assist in the pilfering of Iraq’s oil and other outrages.
So with these images and their like as their background, the events of September 11th came as a response to those great wrongs.  Should a man be blamed for defending his sanctuary?
Is defending oneself and punishing the aggressor in kind, objectionable terrorism? If it is such, then it is unavoidable for us.
This is the message that I sought to communicate to you in word and deed, repeatedly, for years before September 11th.
And you can read this, if you wish, in my interview with Scott in Time Magazine in 1996, or with Peter Arnett on CNN in 1997, or my meeting with John Weiner in 1998.
You can observe it practically, if you wish, in Kenya and Tanzania and in Aden. And you can read it in my interview with Abdul Bari Atwan, as well as my interviews with Robert Fisk.  The latter is one of your compatriots and co-religionists, but I consider him to be neutral.  Are the pretenders of freedom at the White House and the channels controlled by them able to run an interview with him so that he may relay to the American people what he has understood from us to be the reasons for our fight against you?
If you avoid these reasons, you will have taken the correct path that will lead America to the security that it had before September 11th. This was the cause of the attack.
As for it’s results, they have been, by the grace of God, positive and enormous, and have, by all standards, exceeded all expectations. This is due to many factors, chief among them, that we have found it difficult to deal with the Bush administration in light of the resemblance it bears to the regimes in our countries, half of which are ruled by the military and the other half, which are ruled by the sons of kings and presidents.
Our experience with them is lengthy, and both types are characterised by pride, arrogance, greed and misappropriation of wealth. This resemblance began after the visits of Bush Sr. to the region.
At a time when some of our compatriots were dazzled by America and hoping that these visits would have an effect on our countries, all of a sudden Bush was impressed by those monarchies and military regimes, and became envious of their decades in power and ability to embezzle the public wealth of the nation without supervision or accounting.
So he took the ideas of dictatorship and suppression of freedoms to his son and they named it the Patriot Act, under the pretense of fighting terrorism. In addition, Bush sanctioned the installing of sons as state governors, and didn’t forget to import expertise in election fraud to Florida to be made use of in moments of difficulty.
All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration.  All that we have to do is to send
two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without achieving anything of note other than some profits for their private corporations.
This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.
All Praise is due to God.
So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.  God willing, and nothing is too great for God.
That being said, those who say that al-Qaida has won against the administration in the White House or that the administration has lost in this war have not been precise, because when one scrutinises the results, one cannot say that al-Qaida is the sole factor in achieving those spectacular gains.  Rather, the policy of the White House that requires opening war fronts to keep busy their various corporations – whether they be in the business of arms or oil or reconstruction – has helped al-Qaida to achieve these enormous results.
And so it has appeared to some analysts and diplomats that the White House and al-Qaida are playing as one team towards the economic goals of the United States, even if the intentions differ.
And it was to these sorts of notions and their like that the British diplomat and others were referring in their lectures at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, [when they pointed out that] for example, al-Qaida spent $500,000 on the event, while America, in the incident and its aftermath, lost – according to the lowest estimate – more than $500 billion.
Meaning that every dollar of al-Qaida defeated a million dollars by the permission of God, besides the loss of a huge number of jobs.  As for the size of the economic deficit, it has reached record astronomical numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars.
And even more dangerous and bitter for America is that the mujahidin recently forced Bush to resort to emergency funds to continue the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is evidence of the success of the bleed-until-bankruptcy plan – with God’s permission.
It is true that this shows that al-Qaida has gained, but on the other hand, it shows that the Bush administration has also gained, something which will convince anyone who looks at the size of the contracts acquired by the shady Bush administration-linked mega-corporations, like Halliburton and its kind. All of this shows that the real loser is … you.
It is the American people and their economy.
And for the record, we agreed with the Commander-General Muhammad Ataa,  God have mercy on him, that all the operations should be carried out within twenty minutes, before Bush and his administration noticed.  It never occurred to us that the commander-in-chief of the American armed forces would abandon 50,000 of his citizens in the twin towers to face those great horrors alone when they most needed him.  But because it seemed to him that talking to the little girl about the goat and its butting was more important than occupying himself with the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers, we were given three times the period required to execute the operations – all praise is due to God.
It is no secret to you that the thinkers and perceptive ones in America warned Bush before the (Iraq) war and told him: “All that you want for securing America and removing the weapons of mass destruction — assuming they exist — is available to you.  The nations of the world are with you in the inspections, and it is in the interest of America to not be thrust into an unjustified war with an unknown outcome.” But the darkness of the black gold blurred his vision and insight, and he gave priority to private interests over the public interests of America.
So the war went ahead, the death toll rose, the American economy bled, and Bush became embroiled in the swamps of Iraq that threaten his future. He fits the saying “like the demented she-goat who used her hoof to dig up a knife from under the earth”.
So I say to you, over 15,000 of our people have been killed and tens of thousands injured, while more than a thousand of you have been killed and more than 10,000 injured. And Bush’s hands are stained with the blood of all those killed from both sides, all for the sake of oil and keeping the private companies in business.
Be aware that you are the nation who punishes the weak man when he kills  one of its citizens for money, while letting the powerful one get off when he causes the killing of more than 1000 of its sons for money.
And the same goes for your allies in Palestine. They terrorise the women and children, and kill and capture the men as they lie sleeping with their families on their mattresses.  Remember, for every action, there is a reaction.
Finally, it behooves you to reflect on the last wills and testaments of the thousands who left you on the 11th as they gestured frantically in despair. They are important testaments, which should be studied and researched.
Among the most important of what I read their gestures before the collapse: “How mistaken we were to have allowed the White House to implement its aggressive foreign policies against the weak without supervision.”  It is as if they were telling you, the people of America: “Hold to account those who have caused us to be killed, and fortunate is he who learns from others’ mistakes.”
And among that which I read in their gestures is a verse of poetry. “Injustice chases its people,  How unhealthy the bed of tyranny.”
As has been said: “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
And know that: “It is better to return to truth than persist in error.”  The wise man doesn’t squander his security, wealth and children for the sake of the liar in the White House.
In conclusion, I tell you in truth, that your security is not in the hands of Kerry, nor Bush, nor al-Qaida. No.  Your security is in your own hands. And any state that doesn’t fool with our security has automatically guaranteed its own security.
And God is our Guardian and Helper, while you have no Guardian or Helper. All peace be upon he who follows the Guidance.

 

Gay Marriage: Church and State

 The issue of gay marriage is based upon an ambiguity which can be resolved by resorting to the separation of church and state.

Picture_3Clearly, marriage is a hot question which is basically religious.  On one side, there is the desire for equal rights of gay people fueled by rage at centuries of discrimination.  On the other, there is the precedent of Christian tradition that marriage has been celebrated as a union of a man and a woman fuelled by Biblical condemnation of homosexuality and deep homophobia.  As gays hold the “abomination” of gay marriage to the feet of Christians, the inflammation increases. Traditional Christians will not give this up. Some Christian churches however are in favor of sanctioning marriages between two members of the same sex.

This can all be clarified as a separation of church and state.  Marriage belongs to the Church and legal partnership belongs to the State.

The State
Legal partnerships should be legislated as a matter of the state.  They should be legal unions, with all obligations, rights and protections guaranteed under law to any two people who are willing to enter such a contract.  These should not be called marriage, but something like civil unions.  It could be that this would replace civil marriages.

This arrangement was successfully instituted in France and is now
available throughout the European Union, under the name of PACS, (le pacte civile de solidarite).  Many straight couples also choose this option over marriage.  As a consequence, there is no controversy whatsoever around “gay marriage.”   This simple solution suggests that the entire dispute in the US is a colossal waste of time and energy.

The Church
The claims around marriage are a matter of religion. The term “marriage” should be turned over to individual religions and churches.  If your church does not recognize the sanctity of same sex marriage, it need not perform them.  If your church recognizes them, by whatever name they choose, let them perform them.  People should be free to call their union by whatever name they choose.  This is all a matter of religious freedom.

The separation of church and state is one of the greatest clarifications in Western history, initially established by Jesus himself when he said render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto the Father, what is His.

 

Lessons We Learned from W

The disastrous state of the union is the consequence of our country’s choice of the W Man as president.  What has he taught us?


Lessons We Learned from W

The eight years of the W reign were the worst years I have experienced as an American. When Bush was delivered the election, my Christian believer sister, who saw this as an act of God, said to me, “You just wait and see.”

So, I put my intuitive blinders on.  I knew that if I had known W as a fellow undergraduate, I probably would have loved him.  Furthermore, Harvard business school taught people how to solve problems by teamwork — an admirable principle.  For about a year I tried not to look at what I was seeing behind W’s folksy cowboy charm.  It was hard work, because every shred of instinct I had about this man as president was disturbingly unambiguous, alarms clanging in my head every time I heard his stubborn pronunciation of NUCULAR. Starting with the trumped up drumbeats of war against Saddam, the “wait and see” turned to agony, as I grew more and more ashamed of being an American.  After W was re-elected, I stayed abroad for a very long time.  When people asked me where I was from, I said, “California”.

The night before Obama won, I woke up in a tense rage at all this, a sentiment I tried to deal with by acknowledging its awful extent and its psychosomatic effect on my body, and then, in the next twenty four hours, relaxing and giving myself over to hope in the brown man, who, with his big ears, knows how to listen, and, with his silver tongue, knows how to speak the truth.

The country got what it deserved for electing W. because they fell for his line twice.  I was hard pressed to explain this abroad. Nevertheless, there was, throughout, one tiny hope, one possibility – that America had the opportunity to learn a lot of negative lessons from this Administration.  Maybe W was sent by God.  Certainly, he was the most powerful teacher we could have had, exquisitely suited to our national naïveté and arrogance.

Some of the lessons to be learned are summed up by the man from whom the presidency was wrested in 2000.  In his superb book, Assault on Reason, Gore shines a beacon of well-reasoned and informed light on what happened to America in these eight years.  Heartbreaking to think that, save for some electoral equivalent of a card trick, this man of reason could have led our country.

Here are some of the lessons:
-Reason is the cornerstone of American democracy, and, when it is abandoned, democracy fails.
-Fear dislodges reason and easily can be used to manipulate the people.
-Power corrupts. The genius of the American Constitution is its safeguards against the usurpation of power by any one person or branch of government.

The Cheney machine was inspired by the idea of an enhanced Executive branch.  In ways large and small, they preyed on people’s fears in order to roll back the Constitution’s carefully crafted safeguards, which destabilized the entire system.  The administration exploited two kinds of corrosive power – faith-based and financial.  It took a thousand years of religiously based authorities in Europe to show our forefathers the fallacy of theocracy and the necessity for the clear separation of church and state, but faith-based special interests, thinking Bush was their man and fed by fear of increasingly rapid change, sought to impose the values of the few on the whole.  Behind this were financial special interests all too happy to sacrifice the good of the whole to the wealth of the few.

Civil discourse, the calisthenics of reason, has from the beginning been dependent upon the free public marketplace of ideas.  Enabled originally by the printing press, this discourse has been eroded in the last hundred years. The gradual development of the media from printed word, to radio, to television created greater and greater passivity and eliminated the response of the receiver. Since the cost of television broadcasting is so great, it was mostly well-financed special interests that bought up the media and gained increasing control over it, eliminating substantive feedback.  In addition, the growing sophistication of propaganda techniques during the twentieth century, has allowed the media to become insidiously manipulative of a nation of self-indulgent couch potatoes. The Internet is, to a great degree, reversing this trend because it is a mechanism for public feedback, and it has been instrumental in supporting the public discourse that brought Obama into power.

So what was the result? Bear with me while I run through the laundry list. Through the use of fear tactics, power grabs, the one-way media, and propaganda, the W administration, largely led by Cheney, falsified intelligence about the connection of Hussein to Al Qaeda, when they were in fact mortal enemies, and the threat of Hussein’s WMD, when there were none, silenced all dissent, overrode the collective intelligence of the world, and perpetrated an unnecessary war.  This war has exacerbated the worst elements in the Middle East, strengthened the determination of Al Qaeda, and alienated the world.  It has wrecked the infrastructure of Iraq, caused the deaths of countless civilians and thousands of soldiers, and created hell on earth for those who have survived.  The true face of this forceful manipulation unprecedented in American history, finally displayed itself to the world in the spectacles of Guantanamo Bay and the torture orgy set loose at Abu Ghraib.  Under our leaders we became a cynical hi-tech Goliath. To prosecute this war, the W administration has silenced reasoning protest and plunged the country into astronomical debt, all along leading the nation down the rosy delusion of a sound and ever-expanding economy into an economic crisis to rival the Great Depression. Instead of being the inspired leader of the world, we have become the greatest threat to its well-being.  THIS is the sort of thing the Reverend Wright meant when he said, “God damn America.”

So let me indulge in a bit of upside down racism.  Perhaps you have to be a privileged White Man to put forth these observations, even though I know them to be the intuition and understanding common to the non-white world.

The excesses of the W man and his administration may have culminated a lesson in hubris and nemesis played out on a global scale over the last five hundred years. In a way, the fate of the European White Man has been spiritually declining, even as his worldly success has been mounting.  Emerging from the Middle Ages with the certainty that Christianity was the only spiritual truth, we arrogantly justified our seizure and colonization of the world, extended this mandate into our scientific dominion over nature, and, with the resulting technological advances, trashed the planet. The jumbled egoism of our nationalistic indulgences have brought about two world wars, and now it seems, we have generated a world economy that cannot sustain itself or our environment. Ever since my education tuned me into this greater picture of the excesses of the White Man, I have wondered what the karmic bill would finally come to, and when we would have to pay it. The ancient law is that hubris creates nemesis: this radical self-destructive downturn in the fortunes of the White Man is beginning to show itself.

The lesson of the W reign may be that for all his brilliance, bluster and progress the White Man, by virtue of his very superiority, doesn’t really know how to steward the world, to create harmony and peace.  The non-white world has been realizing this for a very long time, all the while knowing that it was globally inapp
ropriate to evince such a view, unless of course, you are the nemesis itself, which incarnates through the likes of Bin Laden and his followers.

Here is a bit of speculation. In our American literary and cinematic history we have often portrayed black characters as having a heartful, earthy wisdom that saved the day when the white folks couldn’t quite cope. Think of Uncle Tom, of Scarlett’s wise Mammy, Uncle Remus, the black boys that helped out Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.  A most recent example is the iconic movie, Sex and the City, in which the neurotic, self-obsessed white girl gets shown the way to existential home by an earthy black girl.  American artists have all along intuited something.  What is it that the black knows that the white may have lost touch with?  Africa hardly seems a model for world harmony and peace, but it is the cradle of humanity, the source, the place from which humankind emerged out of the earth.  Obama is not an African American who carries the contorted shame of a people stolen into slavery: he is in fact an American African bearing the freedom and pride of the good of the earth, of the source, of life, of being.  Listen carefully, and you can hear that he speaks to this good in us all.  His mother was one of us, who nevertheless understood the appeal of Africa. Obama is a synthesis of white reason and black source.

Perhaps this is just what the world needs, but, as my sister said, “Just wait and see.”

The Real Intelligence about Iraq

The Real Intelligence

The following article was written before the Invasion of Iraq in 2003, revised in August 2003 and posted on a number of websites.  Republishing it verbatim five years later makes the point that whatever “Intelligence” the invaders manufactured to justify this war, it was clear to good judgment that this project was a misguided affair.  The article attempts to articulate the real intelligence behind good judgment.
Much credit is being claimed by those who stood up against the war when it was not popular to do so.  This may determine the outcome of the 2008 election.  And it should.  We simply cannot afford any more bad judgment.
There is very little in this article that has not been borne out. In fact despite my stated hopes that I was wrong, the outcome has been considerably worse than I feared.  The country laid waste, the incalculable suffering of the Iraqi people and the staggering suicide rate of returning American soldiers are all eloquent testimony.
If I were to change anything in the essay, I would add a third fable: Pandora’s Box.


August 10, 2003

WHY WE ARE LOSING OUR GREAT WAR
Explained in Two Tales and One Ancient Principle


William Pennell Rock

What author writes with the fervent hope that he is mistaken?  Yet this is the position I find myself in.  These are desperate times.

Who am I to speak out?  An American who is a patriot of the planet. 

Flag waving Americans have been thrilled at the televised advance of our massive armory across the earth, like the glittering hi tech imperial armies of Star Wars, and the toppling of the giant Saddam.  The rest of the world, however, and Americans not hypnotized by the administrative hype, have all along considered it something of a catastrophe.  Although the true onsite horror of this invasion is carefully concealed by the American media, even the flag wavers are beginning to have their doubts: the terrible WMDs, falsely touted as the cause of war, do not turn up.  National and religious resistance daily intensifies deadly anti-American resolve.  Body bags continue to arrive home, and the horrific bill for this folly begins to be tallied.

These developments daily confirm another fact.  Our Superpower has declared a War on Terrorism, and, despite our flashy victories, it is misconceived and we are losing it.  Will Americans wake up in time to the depth of their responsibility for the course of events in the world and for their own fate?  I seriously doubt it.

Our situation is tragic, but because we are also its perpetrators, it is ridiculous and comical.  In describing this tragicomedy through two tales and analyzing it in terms of an ancient principle, I do not wish to seem precious or simplistic, nor do I mean any disrespect for the massive suffering that we have generated.   My purpose is to bring to bear some basic wisdom–easy access to fundamental moral and spiritual intuition–which is being overridden in our blind rush toward preemptive disaster.

Tar Baby

The first tale comes straight out of the American heartland and the wisdom of Uncle Remus.  Brer Rabbit has a mortal enemy, the wily Brer Fox.  To entrap this feisty hero, Brer Fox hatches a plan to fashion a life size doll out of tar, which he fits out real smart with a hat.  He sets Tar Baby out on the road and hides, snickering, in the brush nearby.  Sure enough, Brer Rabbit comes sauntering along, “sassy as a jaybird”.  He shouts a friendly greeting to Tar Baby, but when he finds him unresponsive to his advances, he becomes insistent, growing more annoyed, until he finally wallops him.  When his fist gets caught up in the tar, he gets real angry and hauls off with the other fist, which also sticks into the tar.  As his rage grows he just keeps getting more caught up, to the point where he bops the disintegrating icon with his head, completely entrapping himself in the sticky black mess.   At this point Brer Fox saunters forth out of the brush, looking “just as innocent as a mockingbird.  ‘Howdy, Brer Rabbit’, says he, ‘you look sorta stuck up this mornin’’, and then “he rolls on the ground and laughs and laughs, til he can’t laugh any more”.  Now our hero is completely in his power.

The tales of Uncle Remus were brought to us in glorious Technicolor in the famous Disney classic, Song of the South.  Brer Rabbit embodies the spunk and vigor of the fifties American hero, flush from the idealistic victories of World War II–the kind embodied in the movies of Ronald Reagan.  Cowboy Bush has now adopted this pose, which the majority of Americans, disoriented by alarming new realities, find comforting.  “Tranquilizing” might be more apt.

Consider Brer Rabbit’s basic modus operandi.  If folks don’t do what you want or what you think they should do, just whop ‘em up side the head.  Brer Rabbit believes that force works…war works.  So does Bush and Company, fat cats who sit in big offices and enjoy the visceral high of wielding force, but have never experienced the abject horror of war. They have convinced the majority of Americans to believe, with Brer Rabbit, in this archaic reflex of force. The one restraining exception in this cadre of stupid white men has been Colin Powell, the only real man of war in the group, who sees force strictly as a measure of last resort. One senses the wisdom of Uncle Remus, who gets the whole picture of force and its consequences.  Unfortunately, however, Powell is foremost a
soldier, and a soldier alwa
ys follows orders from the chief.


There are two dimensions of this belief in force.  The first is that it is effective to follow the aggressive impulse to apply physical force. If we are blind to history, we should at least take heed from the daily spectacle of macho Israelis and desperate Palestinian youths who share faith in this primitive impulse.  There certainly is an effect, but only in the short term and at the physical level.  In the realms of the heart and the spirit, ultimately more determinative, it is completely counterproductive. In fact, the fable shows that the use of violence just catches the perpetrator up more and more in a cycle that ultimately returns upon his own head.  Furthermore, ever since we invented weapons of mass destruction, physical force ain’t what it used to be. This broadens the fallacy of the second belief–the effectiveness of war. World leaders did not in any way support the Bush war effort, except for the ones that were bought off, (with the exception of Bush Buddy, callow Blair, who is too young to remember.) What these leaders know is that if you look at the whole picture–the devastation, the hideous suffering and death, the infrastructure reduced to rubble, the political upheaval, and the chaotic but fateful way that violence spirals into more violence–you understand that it is not a viable option.  Up to this point, victims of American force have been only tangentially aligned with al-Qa’eda.  After this “liberation” of Iraq, they are lining up behind bin Laden, “dead or alive”.

For further wisdom from Uncle Remus, let us return to our tale.  Brer Rabbit was always outsmarting the shifty and unscrupulous Brer Fox, a kind of praeter Saddam Hussein.  But the fox had his secret weapon: Tar Baby.  While a happy shift in fortunes in a further episode of this tale may provide a glimmer of hope, the pertinent lesson has to do with how Brer Rabbit got himself trapped in such a tarry mess in the first place. 

It has to do with our addiction to oil.

Bush failed to garner support for his war on Saddam Hussein, because most of the world outside of America was on to the fact that the good guy/bad guy rhetoric has been basically a pretext.  After all, there are enough unscrupulous dictators in the world fiddling with instruments of mass destruction to justify war on every continent. (Persons of discernment should be grateful to the pipsqueak in North Korea for exposing this inconsistency.) No, the substantial advance against Iraq has had to do with this black goo, which is at once vital and deadly.  The objective: control Tar Baby. 

Let us be clear about the larger picture, which our wonderful war has made us forget.  Our addiction to this energy source is destroying the atmosphere of our planetary home.  We are dependent upon it, but we do not need to be. The technology of alternative energy sources is already sufficient to replace this mess.  What is required is bold vision and the enormous expense of retooling the infrastructure to these new energy sources, starting with America.  It would take the kind of energetic visioning we are putting into our warring, plus a substantial chunk of our war budget to pay for such a change.  If we did not have to control the world sources of oil, however, we could probably afford it.  This way we would free ourselves from our dependency upon oil and from our leaders’ smarmy hidden agenda to control the oil producing areas, primary among which is Iraq. This is a bold, but entirely workable strategy that also addresses the more fundamental problem of the planetary toxicity of this energy source. 

In actuality, our leaders are in even greater peril than Brer Rabbit, and the situation is considerably racier. With all of their personal fortunes and political commitments to the oil industry, they are also in bed with Tar baby.  (These are the moral leaders chosen in reaction to Clinton’s Oval Office indiscretions.) Where there is so much addictive passion and greed, a violent lovers’ quarrel is bound to ensue. The government throws our money at military domination as a strategy to control the planetary oil sources. For all the righteous rhetoric, the powers of Europe, Asia, and the United Nations have all along been on to this ludicrous charade.  Because we’re the big boy on the block, some of the leaders go along, but we have no real moral allies among them.
 
The oil rich Middle Eastern countries are deeply unstable.  Most of them were arbitrarily created after the First World War by the British Empire to serve its oil interests.  The people of the consequent nations know that their governments are in bed with our leaders.  The collective resentment of all who do not directly benefit from this infamy enflames all the other, deeper discontents.  With each incursion into the Tar Baby Middle East in the hypocritical name of liberation and democracy, we become more and more entangled in the mess of reinforcing oppressive anti-democratic regimes.  The tide of mendacity and injustice will simply be too great.

Each blow that falls on Tar Baby increases our entanglement in the mess of oil and the mounting archaic rage of the dispossessed sons of Mohammed.  We are ending up like Brer Rabbit, entangled in this gooey mess by our need for control, our addiction to this energy source, our own stupid aggression and the fierce spiraling vengeance of the rest of the world.



David and Goliath

The second tale goes to the Hebraic roots of our Christian culture.  One of the great inspirational stories in the Old Testament is David and Goliath.  Way back in the Bronze Age, the ragtag armies of Israel were under siege by superior forces of the infidel Philistines, whose great weapon was the giant, Goliath. He was nine feet tall, wore “a helmet of bronze, a two hundred pound coat of mail, bronze leggings, and he carried a bronze javelin several inches thick, tipped with a twenty five pound iron spearhead.  His armor bearer walked ahead of him carrying a huge shield.”  Hurling arrogant insults at the paltry soldiers of Israel, the invincible giant challenged any among them to come forward and do battle with him.  The Israelites turned and fled in fright.  A fresh faced shepherd boy from Bethlehem, young David, destined to become the great, if horny King of Israel, stepped forward to take on this challenge.  It seemed inconceivable.  Yet, inspired by the righteousness of God, David, armed only with his sh

epherd’s staff and sling, shouted, “You come to me with a sword and spear, but I come to you in the name of God.  The Lord does not need weapons to fulfill his will.” One well-aimed stone to the forehead of the giant knocked Goliath senseless.  The invincible one fell to the ground, and the red-cheeked boy beheaded him.

To comprehend the relevance of this story, we have to perform a feat perhaps inconceivable to flag waving Americans–to imagine that in the greater picture (that regarded by most of the rest of the world) we ourselves may be the bad guys.  I realize that to suggest such a thing in God’s country is heretical to say the least, but to make any sense at all of the miasma of our unfolding fate, we may find ourselves called upon to rise to this odious, but more objective view.

This possibility having been opened, please indulge one more bit of heresy.  Have you ever taken a good look at bin Laden?  That is, when his photographs have not been retouched to suggest the embodiment of evil.  In his traditional white dress and geffiah framing his noble features and prominent nose, he looks (but for some little rifle held in his fine hands) like central casting for a fifties Jesus.  This bin Laden is no impoverished discontent, smoldering with resentment at our luxuriant freedoms; on the contrary, he is a man of surpassing wealth to whom all the richness of Western life has been offered on a golden platter.  The awful truth is that he is a renunciate of passionate moral and spiritual conviction, who, with one bold stroke, brought down the giant towers of Mammon, throwing the entire world of bottom line profit motive into complete disorientation.

Since 9/11 bin Laden, designated the evil enemy directly responsible for our national catastrophe, is nowhere to be found.  For all of Bush’s twanging rhetoric and the gross superiority of our military prowess, he miraculously eludes the Superpower.  The greatest danger, however, would be that we should find him or kill him.  In fact, what could we possibly do to him that would not elevate his messianic status to the state of divinity, his martyrdom rallying inspiration for the counter force–sympathizers with the battered dispossessed of Palestine, freaked out Iraqis, moral discontents with the plastic American hegemony, impoverished losers in the Globalization system.

In fact, our massive armory, designed for technological and military ascendancy over other sovereign states, is practically irrelevant as far as the real adversary is concerned.  Yes, in a spectacle compared in Parliament by one British Lord to watching the World Heavyweight Champion beating up on a disturbed child, the US did rout the regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan (killing incidentally far more innocents than the 9/11 attacks). A similar spectacle entertained Americans in “Operation Freedom” in Iraq.  The Taliban and Iraqi jihadis, however, like the armies of Israel, just dispersed into the hills.  There they hide under different names, regrouping to continue the next phase of the war on Satan.

Even strategically, the massive armory is irrelevant, because the terrorists will never engage it directly.  On the contrary, the major terrorist attacks will always be directed where that force is not looking, as has been the case in New York, Washington, and Indonesia.

We are a giant flailing about in disorientation–a war here, a war there…
The actual situation is even worse.  The deployment of our massive armory is more than irrelevant; it is vigorously counterproductive.  Wherever it is used preemptively, it breeds more anger and antagonism than it can possibly dispel.  In fact, its deployment only feeds the hatred of the traumatized victims and survivors of our military might.   

This gross irrelevance constitutes what is probably the gravest danger to the American agenda. We should take heed.  Fearless David, infused with a relentless faith in God, brings down the unbeatable giant with one true, well-placed shot.   It is the strength of this phenomenon of integrity versus massive force that created America in the first place: a ragtag bunch of passionate patriots was able to defeat the arrogant military machine of the British Crown.  America has already suffered defeat through this phenomenon in Vietnam.  Our vastly superior armed forces, whose leaders trumped up a geopolitical war to fight the paper tiger of communism, were vanquished by the inexorable passion for national self–determination on the part of the Vietnamese people.  We have been witness to the same vehemence from the Iraqi people, as we demolish their national integrity.  Look at America’s great epic, Star Wars. Every American child knows that it is precisely this kind of integrity on the part of a few righteous warriors on a desert planet that destroys the hi-tech forces of the Universal Empire.

The massive defense masks the greatest weakness: our inordinate and sentimental valuation of life.  The seminal fear of all is the fear of death.  In America it is a cottage industry.  The dedicated terrorist, committed to martyrdom out of his devotion to God, becomes a formidable enemy of a culture preoccupied with its own power and drugged on sex, movie stars and sentimental trivia.  Righteousness of conscience is a greater power than hi-tech might.  Like David’s blow to Goliath, it strikes not to destroy, but to disorient.  The disorientation undermines the very massive complexity of the behemoth and its system, a weakness in its own right.  Eventually it collapses of its own weight and inherent contradictions.

In fact the very massiveness of the giant is a distinct disadvantage.  Disoriented by the true shot, the giant is distracted as he flails about trying to apply his massive force, thereby exposing his weaknesses at every turn.

The greatest weakness is the true tragedy of the present situation.  The absorbing spectacle of our Texan cowboy naming his axis of evil and moving upon it in massive aggression is effectively a distraction from the greatest threat of all: the ecological juggernaut of unconscious technological development fueled by oil, hurtling with ever increasing volition toward rendering the field of battle, the planet itself, uninhabitable.

Weapons of Mass Destruction, indeed.



Hubris and Nemesis

A deeper level of analysis of these tales and of our situation takes us back beyond the relative comfort of Good and Evil to the Greek roots of our culture and their understanding of tragedy. The Greeks understood our human reality, the Kosmos, to be mercilessly self-regulating.  From the highest perspective, it is about balance and equilibrium. Any tendency that leads away from this equilibrium automatically sets up a compensatory force that brings the tendency back upon itself, thus reestablishing the balance. Observing the intransigence of this law convinced the Greeks that reality is divine.

Our Greek ancestors observed the dynamic of this equilibrium in the law of hubris and nemesis.  Hubris is always an excess of self-confidence, small scale, like the feckless arrogance of Brer Rabbit or big scale, like the massive bravado of Goliath. Hubris, seen by the Greeks as arrogance before the gods, defies the divine equilibrium and pushes one tendency to such an extreme that it creates, out of nowhere, nemesis, the inevitable counter tendency in which the violated equilibrium re-establishes itself.  By this law, Brer Rabbit creates Brer Fox, just as Goliath creates David.

There is no hi-tech way of fixing this. Humans are not the authors of this compensatory tendency.  Because it is prior to them, they are entirely subject to it.  Force, the unfortunate, but understandable reflex of excessive self-confidence, just intensifies the excess.  No amount of force can counter nemesis, because it has a power as inexorable as a physical law. Those who use their power to commit and enforce their hubris always fortify nemesis and suffer from it.

Human beings have to learn to live in harmony with this equilibrium; otherwise there is hell to pay.  This is what tragedy is all about.

The hubris of the Bush administration in its arrogant disregard for the wisdom of the world is but the tip of the iceberg.  The White Man has committed hubris on many levels: the first relatively recent, but based on others that are far more fundamental.

The recent hubris is geopolitical economics.  The age of colonialism has intensified and become planetary through American led corporate globalization, or market imperialism, fortified as it is by America’s military might. You will not find this reported by CNN or any other organ of the other American media, as they are the broadcast intelligence and self-congratulation of this imperialism. 

In the last decade things were looking very good for the intoxicated winners on the stock market, so good that no one in this country noticed the general trend, unfettered by yucky Communism, of an ever-widening gap between the winners and the losers in our glorious global game. Recently, however, the appalling spectacle of our own disappearing wealth has given pause to notice that the cadre of winners is becoming smaller and smaller.  It will soon comprise only a few multi-millionaires in Washington and a handful of CEOs reaping vast profits by making their godlike decisions in super skyscrapers. 

The system of globalized economy is in fact market totalitarianism producing an ever-growing infestation of poverty and dispossession around the globe. There are countless examples of this that you will not see reported on any American network.  When the corporate authorities recently stopped importing coffee from El Salvador, there was massive starvation.  (Did you see anything about that on CNN?)  We assume we are the good guys, because up until now we have not been into naked military expansionism like the Romans or the Nazis, but in our intoxicated stupor, we overlooked the rampant victimization of the systemic violence inherent in market totalitarianism.  The system itself is violent.  With awful justification, the losers in this game hate it.

The rule of a handful of fat CEOs is only theoretical.  It will not go that far. We do not have to look back to the Greeks to understand how this works: we can look to Karl Marx, who had his own understanding of hubris and nemesis.  Unfortunately Marx has been discredited.  His proposed solutions to economic imbalance were screwed up in the Twentieth Century by the tempting hubris of totalitarianism: his analyses of the dynamics at play however were right on. He demonstrated the physics of exploiter and exploited, and showed how such economic imbalance inevitably produces violent historical adjustment.  Bottom line: you exploit in the short term, you pay in the long run.  But Marx was looking at the relatively contained Nineteenth Century phenomenon consequent upon the industrialization of Europe.  In the present world this imbalance has reached staggering proportions.  The hubris is massive and planetary, and its inherent instability is manifesting in every way.

The present world crisis is the activation out of the soil of things as it were, out of the core of the dispossessed, the nemesis.  Consider the most significant terrorist targets and contemplate their meaning: the gravity defying assertiveness of the Twin Towers of Mammon, the seat of military might in Washington, and the den of exotic Western pleasure in Bali.  These are the tokens of our hubris.

Bin Laden is the prophet of our nemesis.

In the light of these considerations, the strategy for dealing with the present situation through military force is ludicrous.  In its rigid support of exploitation and ever widening persecution and destruction of the exploited, force is irrelevant and profoundly counterproductive.  To date, terrorist attacks have only been thwarted by a combination of sensitive infiltration and Intelligence work.  But this is just a more subtle use of force.  Ultimately, it too will prove ineffective, unless it is backed up by a concerted international effort led by America to redress the terrible imbalance between exploiter and exploited in corporate globalization, with a concerted eye to forms that serve local communities, the common good, the well being of humanity, and the course of circumstances that threaten our true home.
   
Things always e

nded happily in the Fifties.  In a follow up episode in Uncle Remus’ saga, Brer Rabbit has the last word by tricking Brer Fox into throwing him into the briar patch, which is his true home, his “laughing place”.  Would that we could be thrown back into the nature that is our true home.
   
But this is unlikely to happen.  The present hubris of economic totalitarianism is rooted in another more fundamental, archaic, and systemic one: the arrogance of the White Man over nature. Over the last centuries, with the approbation of humanism, He has dominated the earth and its peoples.  This is the hubris of Christian culture.  In the arrogant conviction that it is the one true religion, and the unfortunate fusion of bottom line profit motive with the name of the Champion of Unconditional Love, our ancestors explored, colonized, dominated, plundered and destroyed the cultures of the earth, whose indigenous wisdom was rooted in delicate participation with nature. 

This rapacious arrogance is in turn rooted in the Christian belief that Man is superior over all of creation, and that because spirit is good and flesh is bad, Man has necessary dominion over gross earth and its progeny.  Instead of inspiring true responsibility, this belief has entitled the White Man to satisfy His greed through the vicious exploitation of its resources and peoples, and to rape the intrinsic balance of the biosphere to satisfy His greedy ends. In His superior hegemony and in the name of progress, the White Man has inspired the deracinated cultures of the world to do the same. Now the cowboy, when he is not preoccupied with making war, is busy satisfying his corporate bedfellows by rolling back our feeble attempts to control the tide of greedy infamy against our planetary home.

All of this constitutes the hubris of the White Man, the most monumental in human history, the nemesis of which is finally revealing itself in the horror of plague, overpopulation, planetary destruction and terrorism so desperate it has no fear of death.
   
This is why we are losing our Great War.  We have only ourselves to blame.