...says "We do not want to live like this"...not anymore, not any longer.
I am happy to post, with permission, an essay by David McReynolds, the first openly gay candidate to run for President of the United States (POTUS). He ran twice as a member of the Socialist Party (SP) and was a staff member of the War Resisters League (WRL). He self identifies as a Democratic Socialist with affinities to the Green Party.
He uses last year's film "Zero Dark Thirty" as the focus for his thoughts. Please follow us beyond the infinity squiggle to the future...
From Edgeleft, by David McReynolds:
---ZERO DARK THIRTY---Not anymore. Not any longer. Let it be up to us.
Yes, I know this film came out a year ago (2012), the story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. It had gotten so much attention when it came out that when Netflix listed it, I rented it. And watched it last night, in the wee hours of the morning.
You've either seen the film, or have taken a pass - so this isn't so much a review of the film, as a reflection on it. Made oddly relevant by the news this morning of the raid on Libya where a Libyan citizen was arrested by US forces, and the failed raid by US forces in Somalia, where it seems they first attacked the wrong house, and then were forced back by heavy gunfire.
Zero Dark Thirty opens with scenes of torture by US forces of a captive - everything including water boarding. And it ends, of course, with the raid in Pakistan which killed Osama Bin Laden. (A note on the raiding party - they wore weird goggles for night vision - consisting of four separate things which make the men look more like aliens with antenna than a raiding party - but perhaps this is what we are coming to, no longer quite human, turning ourselves into lethal insects).
A huge amount of money was poured into the film, which was - I felt - essentially a propaganda effort, rather than the gripping film (Hurt Locker) in 2009 by the same team. The film moves, over several years, from one country to another as men are tortured, as bombs explode (killing one of the main characters), and finally ends with the raid in Pakistan.
I had the terrible feeling, as I was watching this, that I found myself rooting for the wrong side. (A feeling brought on by the opening scenes of torture). Let me say, parenthetically, that I am bitterly and absolutely opposed to the strain of Islam which has developed in the past twenty years, a form of Islam which is fanatic, oppressive to women, and murderous in its treatment of more moderate Muslims.
The problem is that this seems to be a war we are losing. In the process we are gradually imprisoning ourselves. Only the elderly among us can remember when we could simply walk onto an airplane without a body check, or walk into a federal building without going through a metal detector. Our streets are now lumbered with large concrete or metal blocks - if you visit Wall Street in Manhattan you can see that if a banker has a heart attack no ambulance can reach his building in time to be of any use. When I go to my monthly Bromeliad Society meeting (tropical plants - a hobby) I must show photo ID to enter what is an ordinary commercial building.
And, of course, we all know that every word we type on Facebook, or, in this case, an email, can be monitored by NSA, that our Fourth Amendment rights are massively violated on a moment by moment basis by a huge federal agency - which, even so, could not prevent the Boston Marathon Bombing.
Is this how we want to live? And do we think we can, in the long run, win? I wonder if some of those in the CIA, who can often be courageous in carrying out their duties, do not feel, like the Israeli secret police in The Gatekeepers, that some alternative must be found.
I find it odd that American attention has been focused on Afghanistan or Iraq when our close ally, Saudi Arabia, is the financial source for much of terrorist activity. Have we not paused to consider that, the net result of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the world-wide effort to contain the forces of Islamic extremism, failed utterly to protect the shopping mall in Kenya?
Or - and this seems to "drop out of the news" - the net result of our intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan has been a series of daily and profoundly bloody attacks by Muslim extremists on other Muslims (and sometimes on Christians).
Everywhere in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia our Embassies and Consulates are built as if to withstand a nuclear attack. And when attacks do come - as in the case of the lethal attack in Benghazi, the political right wing in the US will assume it is the result of some failure on our part, rather than a direct result of the folly of NATO's intervention to achieve "regime change".
Is this how we want to live? Our budget for security increases but not our security. (Let us face the reality that our "real security" of caring for the poor, educating the youth, housing the working class, rebuilding our infrastructure - all of this is given short shrift as we focus on the illusion we can actually wage war abroad and still find security at home).
Time for an end of imperial interventions in the Islamic world. Not because we are cowards but because we are realists. We cannot solve the problems of Africa or the Middle East. Our greatest contribution would be to end our military interventions to work through the UN - not unilaterally - on humanitarian aid, and to close down every military base we have outside our borders. This is not a policy of isolation from the
world - by all means let us engage in the world - but in civil ways. Let us ask ourselves what our reaction would be if China or Russia or Japan were sending hit squads into parts of the world far from their borders. That is what we have been doing for decades - the result is less security, not more.
Time to decide we do not want to live like this.