In my clinical work and teaching, I often stress that doing what comes naturally, automatically, thoughtlessly, is often bad practice. We must think a little, guess at the meanings & motivations behind others’ behavior, and plan, even briefly. If we do X, how will the other respond? The important question is not what you want to do or vaguely “should” do. No. The important, crucial question is what will work best, lead to the ideal outcome, based on your understanding of the other and the limits of that understanding.
I’m no foreign policy expert, understood. Of course, so-called “experts” don’t seem necessarily so savvy in retrospect. I’ll stick to what I know, and what I can learn from experience. The usual responses to that awful day on 9/11: never forget, fight the terrorists, etc. all make sense at first glance. Who’s against vigilance or honoring the dead? Who’s for terrorism?
But what’s next? America puts troops to in Saudi Arabia to reassure them of American resolve. Fine, but that act inspires one infamous Saudi to form Al Qaeda and attack America on 9/11. Blame is less useful than causality. Cause and effect matter far more than any argument or ideology. We put troops on Saudi soil to enhance our security: the effect was opposite the goal. One can learn from failure, or refuse to accept it, and lock oneself into future failures. I strive to learn from experience: successes and failures. I’d rather improve myself than defend my ego: I’ve reaped substantial rewards as a result. Does America do the same? Sometimes, although it hardly seems the mainstream response. Mainstream America demands easy living, entertainment, and no hard lessons, ever. Mainstream America, in this fashion, demands American decline. Cause and effect are not forgiving.
Back to foreign policy. Then we invaded Iraq because of a fictional threat there. Result: increased power & influence to Iran, a broken Iraq, ISIS. Now many feel we must – must! – declare total war on ISIS. I ask: what happens next? No one can predict the future, but some outcomes seem clear based on experience. We’ll see a new wave of Islamic warrior recruits, new groups, new leaders. We always have so far. Also, we’ll spend tremendous wealth and quite possibly many human lives. How many trillions did we spend to make things in Iraq more dangerous? How many dead or disabled? How any refugees today? War, at the very least, should improve things enough to balance the costs involved. If we bleed vast wealth and suffering as we certainly have, we give our enemies a serious victory. They know we’re now poorer, thus weaker, less secure, less influential, because they steered us onto such a path. They can recruit more fighters for countless generations. How long can we throw away $ Trillions – that’s thousands of $ Billions for the Dumbasses, Yo-Yos, GOP shills and Yahoos in the audience – again & again not to achieve any lasting victory or security? History is very consistent on certain points. Nations that fail to learn such cost/benefit lessons fail: they become far weaker and far poorer, VERY soon. Ask the British, Russian, Ottoman, and Spanish “Empires.” They were all dominant a heartbeat ago in historical terms. They each threw it all away, as America now throws it all away, to serve the interests of a few local big shots who want a little more wealth and power. Cause and effect are ruthless…
I don’t claim to have answers to this region’s woes. I doubt anyone alive does, based on events to date. But I do know crisis management, based on much experience and success. If you respond automatically, without any sense of context, without learning from experience, without the humility that comes from experience with people’s problems, if you react without thinking, the outcome will not be good. You will F up your life and you will pay dearly for your stupidity. That’s cause and effect, social gravity. One who ignores gravity hits the ground with one’s face, HARD. If only one had shown due diligence, due caution, due consideration, if only one had thought a little more before acting, considered the quality of one’s chosen information sources when they sold one their brainless plans, if one had thought just a bit more about that “What next?” : the enemies’ responses to one’s actions. Deep regrets are the future many would have Americans experience. Con men and Asshats are legion, yes? Especially in politics. Let the voter beware: let the voter pay attention more than occasionally or pay the price for their sloth in future suffering. You can take the lazy path and blame your leaders for your suffering, but you hired them and rehired them, lazy voter. You own it. Democracy requires responsible adults for voters, not pouty kids. Only peasants and slaves can blame their masters.
To ignore cause and effect is to live stupidly: deeply stupidly. It was John Wayne, I’m told, who said something to the effect that “Life is tough. It’s tougher if you’re stupid.” I imagine a writer wrote that line so he could recite it on film and take credit for it. This is America, land of Reagan, after all. Image is king in Americans’ minds, even as substance dominates image in reality. Cause and effect rules all…
Let’s not panic under pressure, Americans, and war on Iran to get nothing done but make some traitorous rich assholes richer, as they clearly expect us to do. Sound fair? Let’s be Americans with spines and minds of our own, not sheep with Fox “News,” AIPAC, and sociopathic billionaires self-serving lies telling us what to think.
Give it a try, to honor all those who have died to make it possible for each of us to live up to our responsibilities and act as adult citizens and voters.
It’s a far better way to honor 9/11 than it is to brainlessly wave flags and spout stupid words others write for you to serve themselves as they throw most Americans under the bus. Including you.
It’s far better to stand as an adult than it is to graze as a sheep.