FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

As Others See Us

In watching the massive media coverage and the reaction to the brutal bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the wise poem “To A Louse…” composed in 1785 by the Scottish poet Robert Burns came to me:

“O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!”

English translation:

“And would some Power the small gift give us

To see ourselves as others see us!”

What must the “ithers” in the Middle East theatre of the American Empire think of a great city in total lockdown from an attack by primitive explosives when Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis and Yemenis experience far greater casualties and terror attacks several times a week? Including what they believe are terror attacks by U.S. drones, soldiers, aircraft and artillery that have directly killed many thousands of innocent children, women and men in their homes, during funeral processions and wedding parties, or while they’re working in their fields.

Here’s what they are thinking: that America is very vulnerable and ready to shake itself upside down to rid itself and protect itself from any terror attacks. The Bush regime, after 9/11, sacrificed U.S. soldiers and millions of innocents in the broader Middle East, drained our economy, so as to ignore the necessities of saving lives and health here at home, and metastasized al-Qaeda into numerous countries, spilling havoc into Iraq and now Syria. We have paid a tremendous price in blowback, because of Mr. Bush’s rush to war.

Why is the reaction to the events in Boston viewed by some as bizarre? Our president said “We will finish the race.” Do we really think that the attackers are doing this to disrupt our pleasure in foot racing?

The attackers, be they suicide bombers over there or domestic bombers here, are motivated by their hatred of our invasions, our daily bombings, our occupations, our immersion in tribal preferences leading to divide-and-rule sectarian wars. Studies, such as those by the University of Chicago Professor Robert Pape, and former adviser to Barack Obama and Ron Paul during the 2008 presidential campaign, conclude that entry into paradise is not the motivation for these suicide bombers. What drives them is their despair and their desire to expel the foreign invaders from their homeland.

Another “ithers’ – admittedly a smaller number – must see a giant country going berserk with media, speculation, rumors, accusations, and random mobilizations of military equipment. There are enough of these younger people who must say to themselves, maybe it is worth giving up their lives for a place in history – to make a nation be fearful because of their rulers’ staggering overreaction.

Why give these contorted young minds, frustrated by what they perceive as U.S. attacks on their religion or their ethnic group in their home countries, such incentives?

Massive overreactions by the mass media (have you seen CNN’s frenzied, nonstop quest for every bit of trivia and speculation hour after hour?) crowds out coverage of far greater preventable loss of life and safety in our country. Other commentators have covered the lesser-known yet huge explosion at the West, Texas fertilizer factory that destroyed far more property and took more human lives than the Boston Marathon assault. But, the dangerous fertilizer plant was corporate criminal negligence, or worse.

Every day in the U.S. there are preventable tragedies that receive no media coverage because they aren’t part of the “war on terror”, which has been crowding out stories that would have led to corrective actions to leave this country safer from the corporate predators within its borders.

Individually, many Americans intuitively understand the consequences of neglecting problems in our own country to engage in lawless wars and military adventures. Unfortunately, Americans collectively sing the song “que será, será” or “whatever will be, will be” because the big boys in Washington and Wall Street will always make the decisions. Be assured that they will often be stupidly harmful in the long-run to our country, and not just to millions of defenseless people abroad who have become victims of the collective punishment or random ravages of our massive push-buttonweapon systems.

In an impressive collection of excerpts titled Against the Beast, a Documentary History of American Opposition to Empire edited by John Nichols; the eminent historian Chalmers Johnson had this to say:

“. . .where U.S.-supported repression has created hopeless conditions, to U.S.-supported economic policies that have led to unimaginable misery, blowback reintroduces us to a world of cause and effect.”

At a first-ever Senate hearing earlier this week on the use of armed drones away from battlefields, initiated by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and arrogantly boycotted by the imperial Obama Administration, Farea al-Muslimi, a young Yemeni from a village just attacked by a U.S. drone strike, gave witness.

Al-Muslimi said, “When they think of America, they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads, ready to fire missiles at any time. What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village, one drone strike accomplished in an instant: there is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America.”

As President Obama told the Israelis about the Palestinians, “Put yourselves in their shoes.”

In country after country, the terrifying whine of 24/7 hovering drones and the knowledge that special U.S. killing teams can drop from the skies at any time, creates a state of terror.

A brute-force foreign policy waging war can never effectively wage peace or sensibly engage in early conflict prevention or resolution. An illegal brute-force policy aligns itself with repressive regimes that crush their own people with American weapons and American political/diplomatic cover.

Jeremy Scahill, author of the new book Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, who has been in these countries and spoken with these villagers, says that our government has created unnecessary enemies and banked lots of revenge among these people over the past ten years. “This is going to boomerang back around to us,” he fears, adding that we’re creating “a whole new generation of enemies that have an actual grievance against us…have an actual score to settle.” Killing innocent men, women and children creates blowback that lasts for generations.

From these overseas regions, the message from the bombing at the Boston Marathon is that, until now, the high-tech buttons were only being pushed by the drone operators against them. After Boston they can see that other low-tech buttons can now be pushed inside the U.S. against defenseless gatherings of innocent people.

For our national security, the American people must recover control of our runaway, unilateral presidency that has torn itself away from constitutional accountabilities and continues to be hijacked by ideologues who ignore our Founding Fathers’ wisdom regarding the separation of powers and avoiding foreign entanglements that become costly, deadly and endless quagmires.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

 

 

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
Louisa Willcox
Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery
Stephen Cooper
“Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)
Daniel Warner
Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle
Brian Cloughley
Trump Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail