Saturday, November 14, 2015

Trying To Win A Fight By Punching Yourself In The Face

A co-worker ran into me yesterday afternoon in the office kitchen. “Did you hear what happened in Paris?,” he gravely asked. “I can't hear a word you're saying,” I replied, and groped to turn down my headphones. (Headphones are a sanity saver in an open office environment.) Once my co-worker saw that I could hear him, he proceeded to tell me about a supposed terror attack in France that had killed 27 people. That was the only information I received at the time about the attack; yet it got me thinking about a few things. (Today I see that the death toll has gone up.)

One of the first things I thought of was intuition and the role it plays in helping people formulate an accurate mental picture of the world. I will define two types of intuition. Taking things backward, I call the first “Type B intuition”, and the second I call “Type A intuition.” By Type B intuition I mean the very natural ability to make a complete mental picture out of incomplete parts. A simple example of this is answering the question “2 + x = 4. What is x?” Type A intuition is what we arrive at when we ask a person to make a complete mental picture of a situation out of fewer and fewer parts. Those who are able to form accurate mental pictures as the number of parts approaches zero are either prophets or magicians. Prophets are Divinely appointed, and magicians are playing with fire and in danger of getting burned. My interest in this post is with neither, so I will not write further of Type A intuition here.

Type B intuition, on the other hand, arises out of the interplay of left-brained and right-brained thinking. It can be honed and sharpened by experience and practice (although it can be dulled and short-circuited by prejudice). It often plays a key role in the practice of medicine, engineering and the sciences. The reason it can be honed with practice is because a major part of this kind of intuition consists of the art of pattern recognition. A very important application of pattern recognition, and hence of intuition, lies in learning to recognize human predators. Unfortunately, the development of this kind of intuition usually involves repeated exposure to painful experiences.

As I trace the development of this aspect of my own intuition, I think of how I was exposed to an abusive church many years ago when I was young and inexperienced, and how reluctant I was to see the pattern of abuse and hypocrisy in that church. But once my eyes came fully open, it became easy to see the same pattern repeated in other settings, both sacred and secular. One element of the pattern I saw was a leader who was roundly praised by his lieutenants and sycophants as a man of unquestionable virtue who just happened by accident to be the head of an organization that somehow wound up hurting people for reasons that no one in charge seemed to be able to figure out. The shattering of our leader's virtuous picture came when the evidence of the dirty dealings of the leader and his family was unearthed. Then I began to see that church for what it was: a whitewashed tomb full of folks who put on a beautiful public face, yet whose leader and lieutenants had a hidden and hurtful agenda.

That knowledge stayed with me during the middle years of the last decade, and began to have an unsettling effect on some of my political convictions. I had become a Christian many years ago, and while I am still most definitely a Christian, I have to say that my initial faith was tainted by teaching, books and “Christian” media which reflected a white American cultural captivity. So I was groomed to equate patriotism with godliness, and to be a good little Republican. Therefore, I was overjoyed by George W. Bush's capture of the White House. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, I was glad that we had such a strong leader to guide this nation through “dangerous times.”

But then the Iraq war happened, and a funny thing happened along with it, namely, that no evidence of weapons of mass destruction was ever found in Iraq. And the threat of WMD's had been a main reason for Bush's decision to invade Iraq. And after that came the resignation of Colin Powell, the uncovering of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison, and the shooting deaths of unarmed Iraqi civilians by Blackwater. As these things came to light, the nation was treated to a recurring spectacle of a President who seemed to be all heart and all sincerity, yet who just happened by accident to be the head of an administration that somehow wound up hurting people for reasons that no one in charge seemed to be able to figure out. Repeatedly, we all kept hearing that he “just wanted to get to the bottom of things, to just get the facts,” and that he would most certainly fix things so that people didn't keep getting hurt by Americans working to make the world “safe from terrorism.”

And it kept getting better, as 2005 rolled around, and Hurricane Katrina rolled around with it, and the world saw what a train wreck the Bush administration made of the disaster response effort. We also got to see how severely people of color suffered as a direct result of the guidance and direction of National Guard troops and FEMA officials whose guidance and direction seemed deliberately designed to hurt these people. Once again, we all saw Bush's mug on TV screens and newspaper front pages as he praised his FEMA director for doing a “heckuva job” while promising to get to the bottom of some unfortunate lapses in FEMA's performance. But I began to get the uncomfortable feeling that I was seeing a repeat of a whitewashed tomb full of folks who put on a beautiful public face, yet whose leaders had a hidden and hurtful agenda.

So it was that in the fall of 2006, as I was traveling on business, I finally began to question allegiances that had heretofore been unquestioned, and to entertain the voices of critics whom I had heretofore dismissed as being part of “the liberal media.” And so I spent a couple of very late nights in a hotel room reading Wikipedia accounts of the run-up to the Iraq war (including the yellowcake uranium story (see this also) which was debunked by the husband of Valerie Plame, and the Bush administration's retaliation against her), and I read about how Lewis Paul Bremer, appointed by George Bush as the provisional governor of Iraq after the U.S. invasion, helped the United States to steal everything that wasn't nailed down (and a great deal that was nailed down) from the Iraqi people during his “reign.”  (There's this also, but unfortunately, it's behind a paywall.)  The Wikipedia articles I read all contained publicly available knowledge, including documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

That information helped to complete a mental picture for me – a picture of the true motives and the actual agenda of the United States concerning Iraq and the Mideast from the beginning of the Bush presidency onward. For I saw that the rape and plunder of Iraq were the result of deeply laid plans, and not some spur-of-the-moment reaction to external events. I saw how 9/11 had been used as a tool for implementing those plans, and thus 9/11 fell into perspective as well. As a result, I became deeply suspicious of the official narrative concerning the 9/11 attacks – and this happened without any input from the “truthers”.

That same mental picture has guided my view of the destruction of Libya (whose leader was murdered by NATO) and the attempted destruction of Syria. For in the case of Libya and Syria, I saw a repeat of the same pattern that led up to the destruction of Iraq by the U.S. Key elements of that pattern were the branding by the U.S. of the leaders of Libya and Syria as “supporters of terrorism” who “opposed democracy” and thus “had to go”. This branding was used as the justification for U.S. and NATO intervention which destroyed the infrastructure of those countries and made much of their oil available for seizure by the U.S. and Europe. In the case of Syria, incidents were conveniently manufactured by certain “actors” in order to demonize Bashar Assad and to mobilize popular support for U.S. efforts to overthrow him. Those efforts began as long ago as 2006 – four years before the onset of the Syrian civil war, by the way.

So then, with this mental picture in place, how should I interpret this most recent terror attack? What kind of mental picture should my intuition create? I think the answer to that question is that there are now so many verified pieces to this picture that intuition is no longer necessary; instead, we have moved to the realm of analysis which engineers call “trending.” Intuition is as superfluous here as driving in broad daylight with your headlights on. (Consider for instance the evidence that ISIS and the “moderate Syrian opposition” are one and the same entity, funded willingly and knowingly by U.S. dollars.) So I think the picture that is emerging is influenced by certain factors, listed below:

What's at stake now in the Mideast and Europe
The situation: We now have three and a half smashed countries (not to mention the sub-Saharan African countries which have been perennial targets of exploitation), hundreds of thousands of victims now turned into refugees, and a number of vampire nations on a couple of vampire continents which have benefited from the smashing. As the victims of the smashing seek refuge in the countries that did the smashing, many of the vampire citizens of these vampire nations are loudly declaring that they want no part in helping the refugees and victims they have created. But there is one Mideastern country now being rescued by Russia from further smashing and exploitation, and this rescue is a situation which threatens to upset the balance of power in the Mideast and possibly lead to the rescue of other smashed nations from the vampires now feeding on them.

Patterns: Note the similarities with 9/11, the Charlie Hebdo attack, and the Boston bombing. One such similarity is that either the accused are never brought to trial because no bad guys are taken alive, or that if suspects actually are arrested, they are subjected to secret, non-televised trials, the results of which are reported to us by word of mouth from monopolistic mainstream media outlets. There is no publicly available evidence for examination by members of the public who might want to decide on their own the guilt or innocence of accused parties. The mainstream media outlets always cast the supposed perpetrators as a monolithic Hollywood stereotype bad guy entity whose soul and inner workings we never get to see, except that it ontologically “hates our freedoms!!!” and speaks with a foreign accent. Once that Hollywood bad guy has done his work for the day, he is pulled back behind the stage curtain until his next required appearance.

Motive: So whose interests benefit from a supposed Islamist terror attack in Europe now? To answer that question, you have to ask whether the perpetrators of the attack are really as stupid as they're being made out to be. If, as many right-wing racist neo-Nazi types would have us believe, the attacks were perpetrated by Arab Muslim terrorists who sneaked into Europe with the wave of Syrian, North African and Afghan refugees, what would they stand to gain from such an attack? The answer is obviously nothing. Such an attack would only hurt their interests by making it easier for right-wing elements in Europe to justify inhumane treatment and expulsion of refugees, and by making it easier for Western war-hawks to justify the ongoing destruction of the home countries of these refugees. I don't think that the Arab refugees, Muslim or otherwise, are stupid enough to start a fight that they cannot win. On the other hand, consider how much the racist elements in Europe and the warmongers leading the West have to gain from such an attack. Especially given that some of them were predicting that just such an attack would arise from allowing Arab refugees into Europe.  Ever heard of a guy named Nero?

Objective: So what use will be made of this terror attack? Here, I will let informed intuition guide me. I think we will see (and are already beginning to see) loud calls for retaliation against ISIS by the leaders of France, NATO and the United States. Iraq will be identified as the place where the targets of retaliation should be located. This will be for two reasons: first, that expanded Western intervention in Syria cannot be justified due to the denial of Syria as a target by Russian and Syrian forces; and secondly, in order to try to seize enough of the assets of Iraq to prevent Russia, Syria and Iran from removing Western agents from Iraq. I think this attack will also be used by wealthy Westerners such as Rupert Murdoch and his European counterparts to mobilize an intense racist backlash against the refugees now seeking to enter Europe. This makes the deaths of people in yesterday's attack all the more tragic, yet not nearly as tragic as the suffering which the West is about to unleash against people who are not guilty of any crime against the West, yet who have already suffered horribly at the hands of the West.

The picture that emerges, then, is not some sinister attack by a radicalized, non-European savage race of impure souls, but rather, a narcissistic empire so overcome by fear at its impending demise that rather than accepting that demise gracefully, it seeks to rally its citizens to a last unjust fight by creating a last outburst of self-inflicted drama. And that's what that picture looks like.

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