Monday’s act of cowardice in Boston provided us all a great snapshot of many things wrong with America. Within moments of the second explosion, social media began its inevitable avalanche of remorse, sorrow and generally understandable emotional responses.
But there’s a breakdown in the logic demonstrated by Americans. We have witnessed this multiple times in recent years through one tragedy or another. When Sandy Hook happened, the news coverage was unquestionably sensationalist. They saturated the coverage so effectively, people became convinced AR-15s are used daily in acts of gun violence (they’re not, they’re used in fewer than 1 percent of incidents nationwide).
The nation collectively mourned the innocent lives lost. Yet when the foreign, or alternative, press reports a loss of innocent children caused by an American drone or bomb as, “collateral damage,” we collectively ignore it and move on. How is that considered empathetic?
On the same day Americans were glued to their TVs and computers horrified by the loss of a dozen American lives, the UK’s Guardian reported a NATO airstrike killed 11 people Monday, 10 of whom were children.
These types of stories are related. There’s simply no question the foreign policy acts of the last several administrations have sown the seeds of venom in the Middle East toward Americans, but aside from a few in politics, this analysis isn’t presented to the American public because it means taking accountability for the past acts of government that occurred with consent of the people (though occasionally without their knowledge).
So it becomes an endless cycle of violence in the name of the collective. It’s so muddled at this point, it’s literally impossible to figure out who made the first move. But let’s start with Afghanistan, since it’s convenient.
We engaged in a covert war with the Soviet Union arming and training Islamic Fundamentalist Jihadists in their fight against a tyrannical Red Army which was slaughtering their people, raping their women and destroying their country.
Let me say that again. We trained and armed Islamic Fundamentalist Jihadists in Afghanistan to fight what was likely the most powerful military on Earth at the time, tied for first at worst.
When the Soviets left, so did the US support; leaving two power vacuums in one nation of warrior Jihadists. And apparently no one thought that was going to create a problem – mad props to Charlie Wilson for at least attempting to leave a positive footprint, but he failed and so did the US.
We know now the decision to train Usama Bin Laden then leave him to his laurels was a mistake which cost the lives of 3000 Americans. But do we ever take the next step and ask ourselves what effect our response has had and will have on the Afghani, Pakistani and Iraqi people in the wars which followed?
Not often enough. By undertaking the wars with the methods we used, we unquestionably created more future enemies for ourselves. And I do say we because when the American people allow two presidents in a row to do the things Shrub and Zero have – keep in mind, they legitimately have no concern for the unintended consequences of their actions – we have to assume some of the responsibility.
If we’d spent the same amount of money we did on the aggregate costs of Operation Enduring Freedom and later Operation Iraqi Freedom – estimated by Harvard to be as high as $6 trillion – to pay every Iraqi (33 million) and Afghani (36 million), they would have each received nearly $87,000.00.
You know what you’re not going to be to the people who give you the better part of a hundred large? An enemy. The Bush Administration famously blamed America’s freedom for the attacks 12 years ago, apparently attempting to rectify that issue, the Bush Administration then repealed the 4th Amendment to the Constitution with the Patriot Act. Double irony.
What can we take from this? In my perception, due to the perverted view of patriotism the country believes today, the politicians at the highest levels work with the bureaucrats to never appear weak and that means an aggressive foreign policy.
The unintended consequences of that foreign policy lead to attacks on the American people who are then frightened into paralysis by a sensationalist media taking advantage of a captive audience – by the way, you are allowed to turn off the TV and find something better to do – the audience understandably supports the, “common sense,” measures suggested by the political leaders who indirectly inspired the incident.
The people then willingly watch their rights erode before their eyes, believing they will now be safer from attack. But the attacks keep coming, because the circle hasn’t yet been broken.
If the American people want these attacks on innocent American men, women and children to stop, it’s not going to happen with more guards at the airport, cavity searches, more cops, fewer rights or more tyranny. We have to stop solving our problems overseas with violence against innocent men, women and children.