"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." ~ Richard Feynman
Some Thoughts About the War
- - Not since 9/11 have I seen such uncritical, unquestioning, mindless thinking. I hesitate to use the word 'think' since that implies a cognitive process performed by an individual. 'Groupthink' would be a more accurate term. No need to have any thoughts of your own, just mimic the group. If waging war is like pouring Miracle Grow on the State, it is also like pouring another kind of fertilizer into the cranial cavities of Americans. War causes the critical reasoning part of the brain to simply shut down in most people. This phenomenon is exacerbated by the fact that few Americans know enough about current events and history to have an informed opinion. Hell, most of them couldn't find Iraq on a map, much less tell you anything about its people, history or culture.
- - Several weeks before the war began, I said that we would be hearing the words 'we,' 'us' and 'our' a lot more during the coming weeks. Each of us is now part of the herd, the hive, the collective, whether we want to be or not. War crimes are committed in my name, using my money, and I will be targeted by terrorists as a result. Every entity from the federal government to my homeowners association tells me that 'we' support 'our' troops. War is a catalyst for collectivism and ushers in the total State.
- - I feel like I'm living some bad dream, where I'm surrounded by people who are like a combination of brainwashed subjects, willfully ignorant proles, a lynch mob, the boys in Lord of the Flies, religious fundamentalists, and Florida Gator football fans. The flickering light from their torches allows me to see the crazed look in their eyes as they roar their approval of whatever their emperor does and lustily chant, 'Kill! Kill!'
- - I've heard many people say that U.S. troops are 'fighting for our freedom.' Say what? The only way I can think of that Saddam Hussein ever threatened my freedom is when he accepted billions of dollars worth of loan guarantees, biological weapons, equipment needed to make chemical weapons, military hardware and intelligence that was provided to him by the Reagan and Bush (41) administrations and paid for with money that had been taken from me or my parents by force. There is only one entity that requires me to send them a large check every quarter under penalty of imprisonment or death, that taxes my property and virtually every purchase I make, and that regulates my life in thousands of ways (including the size of the tank I'm allowed to have on my toilet), and it is not Saddam Hussein's regime.
- - The media and those who support the war have made much ado about the 'liberation' of Iraq. But the Bush administration's own term for this'regime change'indicates that Iraq is not being liberated, it is simply getting a different regime. First a military government appointed by Paul Wolfowitz will rule Iraq indefinitely, and Iraq's oil will be used to pay for the occupation and probably some of the cost of the war. The police force will probably be provided by Dyncorp, employees of which kept teenage girls as sex slaves in Bosnia. Iraq currently does not have an income tax, but the Bush administration is planning to impose a progressive income tax. It is also planning to disarm the Iraqi people; that process has already begun. When the U.S. can no longer justify the military government, it will devise some scheme (such as the loya girja it used in Afghanistan) to install Ahmed Chalabi as the head of the new regime under the guise of 'democracy.' In 1992, Chalabi was convicted in abstentia of embezzlement and fraud and sentenced to 22 years of hard labor following the collapse of Jordan's second largest bank, which the Jordanian government says cost it $300 million. The U.S. government has bankrolled Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress for years, despite the fact that the CIA and State Department consider him to be a con artist, and the vast majority of Iraqis consider him to be a carpetbagger (he hasn't lived in Iraq since 1956) and a puppet of Washington. The U.S. has promised to turn over weapons captured from the Iraqi army to him, and has been flying him and his ragtag 'battalion' of 700 men around Iraq in recent days. There is no way in hell that the U.S. is going to jeopardize Iraq's oil, Israel's security or America's empire by allowing the Iraqi people to choose their own regime.
- - Those who support the war constantly remind us that U.S. servicemen fight to defend our right to free speech, but then imply that if we exercise that right, we are ungrateful for their defense of free speech and are abusing our right. They argue that the best way to honor those who are supposedly defending our right to free speech is to not exercise it when those troops are ordered into combat, because anytime that happens, they are automatically fighting to defend our right to free speech, regardless of what it is that they are actually ordered to do. Their claim that the military defends free speech is ironic since nothing promotes censorship and the stifling of dissent like war. Just look what happened during the Civil War, when The Great Emancipator shut down scores of newspapers and imprisoned many thousands of northerners for opposing the war.
- - The invasion of Iraq is supposed to be part of the War on Terrorism, even though Iraq has never been linked to the attacks on 9/11. After this latest victory in the War on Terrorism, you would think that the threat of terrorist attacks had been reduced, yet the exact opposite has happened. Never has America been so disliked or despised around the world, and never have we been more at risk of terrorist attacks. While Americans were watching David Bloom report from within the 3rd Infantry Division, or interviews with fine young servicemen, or retired military officers on Fox News, millions of Arabs and Muslims around the world were seeing horrific images of shattered bodies (including plenty of women and children) and homes on al-Jazeera, the Arab world's CNN. Americans, who have been spared these images by an embedded media, are simply unaware of the breadth and intensity of this rage, and probably wouldn't care if they were. When the next terrorist attack occurs, they will still not understand 'why they hate us.' This war has been like one big infomercial for al-Qaeda (paid for with your tax dollars), and will spawn a dozen new bin Ladens. (But that's what the State needs to wage perpetual war for perpetual peace.) Osama bin Laden allegedly released a new audiotape recently, calling on Muslims to come to Iraq to defend it from the American crusaders. Even before Baghdad fell, Marines were engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Arabs from outside Iraq. Since 1979, thousands of Muslims have been coming from dozens of countries to places such as Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya to fight what they consider to be a common enemy. They drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan (and are now trying to do the same to the U.S.) and bloodied Russia's nose in Chechnya, and now the U.S. is their #1 enemy. Remember, 9/11 occurred because the U.S. had troops in Saudi Arabia, imposed sanctions on Iraq, and supported corrupt, repressive regimes across the Middle East. After the invasion of Iraq, the seizure of its oil fields, the destruction of religious sites and the installation of a military government, to be followed by another corrupt regime, those actions pale in comparison. Let us hope that the severity of the next terrorist attack does not take a similar quantum leap forward.
- - The American flag (or the pin version that is worn on one's lapel) and a yellow ribbon are the AIDS ribbon of this decade. They are obligatory and ubiquitous, and if you're not displaying them, you must be an uncaring soul who wants people to die. The bigger your pickup truck or SUV and the American flag that's on the back of it, the bigger the patriot you are. The biggest patriots mount a small flag above their car windows, like they're on their way to a college football game. For these people, war requires the same amount of thought as a football game. They show up in their team's colors (red, white and blue), root for the home team for a couple of hours, wave their team's pennant (an American flag), and then go home either celebrating victory or ruing defeat. Indeed, football and war are completely interchangeable. After 9/11, a former neighbor of mine flew an American flag every day of the week except for Sunday, when the Stars and Stripes was replaced by a Green Bay Packers flag. Go, team.
- - What does 'support the troops' mean? Few Americans say they support the war, but the vast majority of them say they support the troops. Does it mean that they support what the troops are doing? It must, because if the troops were doing things such as raping women and torturing children, presumably fewer Americans would support them, although I suppose we can't be too sure of that. Many Americans are still hesitant to say that they support war, but it's much easier and PC to say that you support the troops, because then you absolve yourself of responsibility for the consequences of war. Note that if you want the troops to come home immediately so no more will be killed, captured or wounded, you do not 'support the troops.' Rather, you are ungrateful for their sacrifice, don't recognize their bravery and would probably like to spit on them when they come home.
- - When one group of people tries to achieve its goals politically through the State instead of privately through persuasion, voluntarism and cooperation, it always creates tremendous antagonism between people, especially when the minority believes that the actions of the majority are immoral. Politics prevents man from taking advantage of one of the greatest opportunities available to us as humans: the ability to create value and advance our lot in life by trading peacefully and collaborating and cooperating with each other when we share similar objectives. So much of our time and energy are wasted bickering with each other about who should control the reins of power. If you want to know what politics does to people, just tune in 'Hannity and Colmes' or some similar show. I would not have to spend so much time protesting this war if it was not being waged in my name using my money, and those who support the war would not have to spend so much time chastising 'all of you anti-war people' (as I've heard several talk radio hosts say) and bashing France. In a voluntaryist society, those who support the war could spend their time fighting the war themselves, raising money through voluntary contributions to support the war, or trying to persuade others to support the war. This would also have a beneficial side effect by making war less likely and destructive and by narrowing the scope of violence, since few of those who support war are willing to put their money (or their body) where their mouth is. Even though virtually none of the leading neocons who support this war ever served in the military, it is never too late. They could raise and fund their own private army, and Perle, Wolfowitz, Goldberg, Frum, Kristol, Feith, Abrams, Libby and Wurmser could each get their own battalion. War is a glorious thing, and I think these people should get the opportunity to experience it firsthand.
- - Sometimes I'll hear someone who's pro-war refer to anti-war folks as 'socialists' or 'commies' (or 'commys,' as they say on FreeRepublic), which I find amusing. I'm sure many socialists and communists oppose the war, but if you oppose the war, that doesn't mean you're a socialist. Nothing moves society towards socialism like war, so I find it curious that those who oppose war are socialists, but those who want higher taxes, a bigger military and more collectivism are not. I have also heard some of those who are pro-war refer to anti-war folks as 'un-American,' which today means not automatically supporting whatever the current regime wants. But which group is closer to the original American ideals of small government, low taxes, no standing army, no foreign wars and no entangling alliances? What would the Founders say if they were alive today? Would they be discussing which country to invade next, Syria or Iran?
- - One of the surprises of this war (wars are like that'full of surprises) has been the widespread looting that has taken place in Iraq. But should it have been a surprise? American taxpayers were looted to pay for this military, and Iraq's oil will be looted to pay for the invasion and occupation. Government is in the business of plunder, and war sets a moral tone that makes looting seem more acceptable. If it's OK to kill innocent people, what's so bad about stealing their property?
- - Although the U.S. went to war with Iraq, one might have concluded from the rhetoric that we were about to go to war with France. The State loves to get the herd thinking collectively; it's us vs. them, you're either with us or against us. The Internet is awash with simplistic, infantile images and cartoons about France that cater to the lowest common denominator and reflect the 8th grade-level critical reasoning skills that most Americans have. France's crime is that 'they' didn't support 'us.' See, the U.S. helped liberate France twice (the last time 58 years ago), so France is forever obligated to support every foreign military adventure the U.S. decides to pursue, regardless of its merits or methods. The French bashers would have a stronger case if America had been invaded and needed France to help liberate it.
- - For someone who claims to be a devout Christian, Bush sure does have an odd way of serving as a witness to the Lord. Whatever happened to 'love your enemy' and 'turn the other cheek'? What would Jesus have done? Can't you see him planning the 'Shock and Awe' campaign, or complaining about how he couldn't use 'calmatives' such as tear gas, or briefing reporters about the new Mother of All Bombs? Is this how Christ wanted us to treat his children? I think Bush's religious beliefs reinforce his megalomania, and I think he'd like to bring about Armageddon, but I don't think he has much interest in Christ's teachings (and the pro-war leaders in his regime are not Christians). Jimi Hendrix said, 'When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.' Christ stood for love, Bush stands for power.
- - When I look at the faces of the men who were killed in this war, I don't see people who 'had other priorities' when it came time to serve their country (like Dick Cheney) or who deserted their unit (like George W. Bush). I don't see men with cute little names such as I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby. (I can see it now: 'Drill Sergeant, my name is Scooter.') I don't see politicians or policy wonks. I don't see members of such groups as The Project for a New American Century, or people who read Commentary magazine. I don't see people who have an office in the American Enterprise Institute building, or people who are on TV shows such as 'The Beltway Boys.' I don't see people who have advised or spied for the Israeli government, or who secretly lobby for defense contractors while holding one of the top jobs at the Pentagon. I don't see people who are obsessed with the U.S. conquering and controlling the Middle East . I see young men who thought they were serving their country and doing the right thing, men who got used by an elite cabal and chewed up and spit out by the State, just the latest cannon fodder left in Leviathan's long wake of death and destruction in this sorry, fallen world.