Friday, December 11, 2015


Are you getting tired of people telling you to be scared all the time? Me too. Check this out ...

Recently I responded to a Facebook (FB) post promoting Donald Trump's "let's keep out all the Muslims" idea. The FB poster made the standard, "I'm scared ... but The Super Donald has a plan to make me feel safe" argument. I explained why there is no real threat of you actually being involved in a terrorist attack - let alone a Muslim sponsored attack - and presented the numbers.

The response to my post was pretty much a rambling set of non sequiturs that ended with them effectively saying, "I'm still scared, and I'm really pissed that you're not scared too."

The point of the FB post (I'm guessing) was two-fold. First, it's designed to promote the idea that Donald Trump is a savior (or sorts). Scared people need their Superman. Second, since the meme in the FB post mentions our policy towards the Japanese in WWII it suggests that keeping Muslims out really isn't that bad since, like the Japanese during WWII, they're really scary people too.

While the post alone is somewhat pathetic because of the culture of fear it wants you to buy into, it masks a larger issue that many Americans don't see (or simply want to ignore).

Simply put, stories and posts that promote the "I'm so Scared" story line work to distract Americans from the reality that we were the ones who created the mess in the Middle East.

Specifically, beginning in the 1950s we embarked on a series of political missteps, and not very well thought out policy blunders, that created a domino-like effect in the region. Let's take a look ...

* 1953: The CIA overthrew a democratically elected government in Iran in 1953, and installed the Shah of Iran as our puppet dictator. The domino effect begins here.

The Shah of Iran and President Eisenhower.

* 1979: The dictatorship and abuses carried out by the Shah led frustrated clerics and radicalized students to overthrow the Iranian government in 1979. Because the United States was the Shah's primary supporter radicals also overran the U.S. Embassy and took U.S. citizens as hostages. Radical clerics became the power base in Iran.

* 1980s: To keep the radical mullahs in Iran in check the U.S. threw its support behind the very secular Saddam Hussein. We sold him weapons and provided political cover. Our support helped underwrite the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and, perhaps just as importantly, kept oil flowing from the region.

* 1980s: Through the CIA the U.S. supported the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 1980s against the Soviet Union (because the enemy of our enemy is our friend, right?). The Taliban in Afghanistan became the incubator and training ground for both al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

Osama bin Laden (R) in Afghanistan in 1989.

* 1990: Frustrated by a lack of support or sympathy from the Arab community for the debts he accumulated fighting the radicals in Iran, Saddam Hussein went into Kuwait in 1990. This was the genesis of the first Gulf War. This also led to the stationing of western "infidel" troops in Saudi Arabia, which didn't sit well with many in the Taliban and, especially, the elements that are going to make up al Qaeda.

* 1990s: Former Taliban fighters and others - which included Osama bin Laden - form al Qaeda and find a safe haven in Afghanistan. They begin looking for targets to hit in the West, which includes the Twin Towers in New York. A series of attacks, including the events on September 11, 2001, are the result.

* 2003: George W. Bush decides to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein after 9/11 because of two lies built around: (1) Saddam Hussein having WMDs (which, if he ever had them, he purchased from the U.S. during the 1980s) and (2) Saddam Hussein's supposed ties to both Osama bin Laden and 9/11. The serpents of ISIS are released in the region.

The blowback we're dealing with today - and what your grandchildren will be dealing with tomorrow - is the product of these policy missteps, and the domino-like effect they have had on the region.

The "I'm Scared" lobby would like us to ignore how our gung-ho, shoot up the universe, foreign policy from the past created the mess.

They want to ignore all of this because it makes it much easier to focus on how scary Muslims are today, and to push for even more military responses in the region ... because, you know, military action has worked out so well in the past.

The fact that we've intervened numerous times and dropped thousands of bombs on Iraq and the region - killing hundreds of thousands and displacing millions in the process - never factors into the thinking of the "I'm Scared" lobby in America. They would rather ignore how we've created an environment for radicalized para-military groups in the region, like ISIS, to thrive. It ruins their narrative.

So, yes, by all means, let's be afraid of scary ISIS-Radical Muslims (if you must). But let's not forget how calling for more war and violence will simply continue the domino-like effect of perpetual war that we're dealing with today.

Oh, it also encourages the war mongering and increasingly bigoted, "I'm Scared" lobby.

- Mark 

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