Thursday, June 18, 2015

Right wing terrorist kills nine in South Carolina

Dylan Roof, a right wing extremist, slaughtered nine people in an historic black church in South Carolina. This hateful deed puts an exclamation point on the report from the Department of Homeland Security that right wing extremist terrorism is every bit as much of a threat in America as Islamist extremist terrorists. 

We always seem to want to explain away right wing extremist violence as expressions of mental illness, whereas we want to explain Islamist extremist violence as an expression of a murderous ideology. I think it is time to realize the the right wing terrorists are also acting out murderous ideologies. And, indeed, both right wing and Islamist violent extremists have some pretty serious mental problems. I believe what they have in common is the paranoid fear that they are losing the world they think should be - some sort of Islamist fantasy or some sort of right wing fantasy - and they see themselves as brave soldiers out to right the terrible wrongs of the modern world which they see as plunging into an abyss of darkness. 

And, in a way, they are right. The world is changing, and changing very fast. The extremes of masculine chauvinism, of hyper masculine purity that subjugates all that is feminine, or "impure" from a religious, or racist, or sexist  bigotry are dying. We no longer live in a world where everybody is just like us. We no longer live in a world where tough, ruthless men run everything. 

And that is a good thing. The days of brutal Islamism are fading away, and a reform of Islam is happening, despite the violent reaction against it. And, in the West, the days of hyper-masculine domination are also fading away. Hooray for the rest of us!  

Lost, frightened souls are the ones doing the violence. I believe that their violence trying to stop the world's evolution are actually signposts that the path of the future is moving away from their fantasy worlds and into a world of much more balance and harmony. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Containment - not a new Republican War in the Middle East please

I think that the only wars worth fighting have to pass what I call the Mom and Pop test.  That is, if your son or daughter goes off to fight a war, and is killed in that war, Mom and Pop should be able to look at each other and say that even though the pain of loss of a child is unimaginably horrible, at least they can comfort themselves with the knowledge that their child died for a good cause.

I don't see where the wars in the Middle East pass the Mom and Pop test.  The Republican candidates for president all seem to be very intent on running on the idea that America needs to be actively involved in the wars of the Middle East.  The latest entry, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, is especially hawkish and sees his hawkishness as his primary virtue. He proudly announces 

"I want to be President to defeat the enemies trying to kill us, not just penalize them or criticize them or contain them, but defeat them," he said at his kickoff event.

This seems to be a very clear promise of war in the Middle East to me, a war that does not pass the "Mom and Pop" test.  Who is it we are supposed to fight?  Who are we supposed to support? I think this is a civil and religious war to be fought out by them.  It seems to me that they are deciding that the straight lines of the countries created by the Europeans after WWI will no longer apply.  It looks to me like the Sunnis and Shia are fighting viciously to establish their own countries. Of course, each is fighting to annihilate the other, but it will end up with the establishment of independent countries in some form of uneasy balance - probably a Shia country, a Sunni country, and a Kurdish country.  Iraq and Syria are already gone, and will never return.

Iran is behind the Shia and Saudi Arabia is behind the Sunni, but America has no dog in that fight.  Both sides are hideous and dangerous.  Our only job is to try to keep them from killing us, it seems to me.  That sounds like the old fashioned "containment" policy of the Cold War, where we didn't attack Soviet Communism directly, but did our best to contain their spread.  Eventually, the Soviets imploded, and we had limited our wars mostly to two ill-conceived efforts in Korea and Viet Nam.  I say we have already done our two ill-conceived wars in the Middle East - Iraq 1 and Afghanistan/Iraq 2.

Back to containment, is what I hope for.