Coincidental, no doubt, but one day after Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer’s comment on putting a bullet into the sovereign ruler of Iraq’s head, five US citizens in a suburb of Washington, DC, lost their lives in just that manner while innocently going about their daily routines. Each was brought down by a single shot as if to underscore the sickening logic of Fleischer’s comment that “the cost of one bulletis substantially less than the cost of war”
Yes, indeed, and that’s the same logic used by the DC Metro shooters, Al Qaeda and a host of other terrorist groups and common criminals. The “evil doers” return-on-investment (ROI) makes its way to infinity as US taxpayers, businesses and the US national, state and local governing apparatus affected by these violent acts will never realistically recoup the lost lives and their potential, or the dollars and time spent in the chase for the perpetrators, caught or not. Likewise, the US ROI would be enormous if someone, anyone, would take Fleischer’s advice and “off” a pesky foreign leader who just happens to sit on world class oil reserves. A compelling economic argument indeed.
On its face, Fleischer’s efficacious single bullet doctrine, whether it leads, say, to a friendly US regime in Iraq and cheap oil, or, ultimately, the deaths of American citizens and officials here in the United States, one can’t argue against it as a cost effective solution for change. What makes that statement remarkable is that its gravity, its meaning has no discernable impact on the majority of Americans. It causes a yup and a yawn, and a “so what” rather than a disgust for what has become, unbelievably, a more ludicrous and murderous state of affairs here in the US. As Jimmy Breslin recently pointed out, someone always shoots back in these matters.
More’s the pity and danger, is that the use of language, of articulation with depth, and is dying in the US. There’s a horrible disconnect between American mythic perceptions of themselves and the dirty, caustic reality of their society. More than ever, Americans seem doped up by Condoleezza Rice’s verbal equivalent of a speedball represented in her “US as special case” comment and the constant War propaganda feeds coming over the airwaves. Incoherence reigns in America.
Side Effects Include
Unpalatable to most Americans is the fact that in promoting and marketing the US “way of life” here and abroad, painful side effects include extraordinary violence, mayhem and suffering. That 28,000 Americans die each year at the hands of killers with guns means less than the importance of the earned run average of US major league baseball’s New York Yankees. Americans are so accustomed to violence (they can’t wait for the next collision in the NASCAR race) that there is almost a celebratory nature to its society that says: You die so we can live, mourn and party. That such a country now wants global dominance should awaken many around the globe.
To a degree unprecedented in US history, that daily “street” violence has now become incorporated into the retaliatory violence generated by the attack on New York and the DC Metro area, and the Cold War era plans of militant conservatives. In the worst way, the US is now in retro-Nixon mode and its rabidity takes the form of vigilante doctrines of preemption, public sanctioning of murder of foreign leaders and concomitant replacements by equally nefarious individuals, and under-the-table payments and weapons sales to silence nations opposed to US military intervention. Crime, or at least negligence, does pay. There are minor consequences for the failed efforts of the CIA, FBI and military intelligence–bad publicity and more funding–just as there are few for the destruction of worker pensions, the due process of law, burgeoning trade deficits and insider deals.
In this anarchic, utilitarian environment, the flippancy and callousness of the Bush Regime’s various remarks should come as no surprise. For example, calls for undertaking biblical eye-for-an-eye, preemptive and premeditated murder of foreign officials– shows just how depraved the United States has become. Is it any wonder that in America it’s acceptable for young children to remark, “Let’s kill them all.” Indeed, this President and his apostle’s make the character Hannibal Lector seem downright elegant.
“Dead or Alive,” said Bush of Bin Laden. “I’d love to see his head on a platter,” said Cheney. “The world would be a better place if Bin Laden were killed,” said Rumsfeld. “If you can make something that others value, you should be able to sell it to them. If others make something that you value, you should be able to buy it. This is real freedom” according to George Bush II commenting in his National Security Strategy of the United States. It is?
The great poet and philosopher Frederick Nietzsche talked about these types of statements long ago and recognized through them that those who uttered these disconnects were representative of a society that had lost its ability to coherently blend the better aspects of idealism and realism into an artful reason for existence and a workable national doctrine. The slow death of language was the first indicator of the doomed society’s free fall. Words, metaphors, speeches like those above emanating from both government and business “leaders” do not inspire any emotion from the listener to ask questions or even applaud, or, for that matter, to even notice and care.
This goes far beyond Orwell in that there is no longer any art and/or depth in the language of the US representatives–elected or otherwise–or of the people tasked with electing and monitoring them. In Orwell’s book 1984, the authoritative characters were clever about their use of language. In that vein, so was real-life killer Joseph Goebbel’s in 1943 when he gave the German people 30 points to ponder about WWII. “Nothing is too valuable to be sacrificed for freedom. All we possess we won as a free people. Without our freedom, it would have no purpose, meaning or endurance. It is better for a nation to be impoverished but free rather than to seem prosperous, but end a war as slaves. A free people can rebuild everything it lost in defending its freedom. An enslaved people will lose that which survived the war, and also the ability to gain it back again, ” he said. Hardly as such thought on freedom been brought to bear by the Bush Regime.
Today in the US, language represents the intestinal, the formulaic and mechanical, all numbers and numbness, all “fantasy sports” in which the participants don’t really compete with each other, they get a competitive feeling by manipulating the statistics of the real athletes on the field, court or rink.
Similarly, sadly, this is the same fantasy game played by the US electorate. Votes don’t really matter and one gets the “feel” of participating in the political process by punching a card, sending an email to Congress, or by scoring a representative’s liberal and/or conservative tilt factor. That the US Congress is being contacted by an overwhelming majority of Americans opposed to war with Iraq and that it will still move forward to give Bush the authority to attack Iraq is a good indicator of the powerlessness of the American people and the seriousness of the problems in that land.
And so the band will play on. Within the last year, the “leaders” of the United States have publicly and privately advocated the murder of foreign government officials in Iraq and Iran (an effort to court the Shah’s son is underway). They have militarily backed the violent overthrow of foreign governments such as Venezuela. And, more recently, they have vigorously attempted to manipulate the outcome of Brazil’s presidential election which featured “leftist” Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Da Silva and the Brazilian military recently signaled their intention to withdraw from the once binding nuclear non-proliferation treaty and begin construction of their own arsenal. Just so, one of the first side effects of the new free-for-all US nuclear doctrine.
When the Bullet Hits the Bone What happens when a bullet hits a human head? Who wants to take responsibility for putting that bullet right where the Bush Regime and so many Americans want it to go? Would they pull the trigger if they really knew? According to marksman.com and an autopsy report, the bullet travels at high speed (generally at or above 1,000 feet per second) when it encounters the surface of the head. Instantly it begins to decelerate and deform, flattening on impact–an effect known as mushrooming. A tremendous amount of the energy carried by the bullet is transferred to the head as the bullet decelerates. Hydrostatic shock radiates out from the bullet’s path, causing a much larger temporary wound cavity that accounts for a significant amount of the soft tissue mutilated, while the bullet itself plows inward, potentially breaking apart if it strikes bone. The temporary cavity closes back after the bullet’s passage, but significant damage, notably to major blood vessels, may be inflicted by the sudden stretching and tearing involved in the hydrostatic displacement.
“On the right upper forehead, 1/2 inch to the right of the anterior midline, there is a gunshot entry wound. This wound consists of a 5/16 inch circular hole with circumferential abrasion and slight marginal radial laceration. The bullet has proceeded through the soft tissues of the scalp to cause a 3/8 inch circular entry hole in the frontal bone which expands inwardly in a conical fashion. Several pieces of small curvilinear lead fragments are retrieved from this area. The missile has proceeded through the right frontal pole of brain in a downward and rearward direction to perforate through the cerebral peduncles and pontine area. The missile then impacted with the occipital bone just posterior to the foremen magnum. In this area, a large area, a large caliber, mushroom-shaped, nonjacketed missile is retrieved and forwarded to the ballistics section”
JOHN STANTON is a Virginia-based writer specializing in national security matters. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org