Politics & Economics

Armageddon: Now And Forever

  • September 5, 2014

DISCOURSES WITH ROBERT ESTRADA

Armageddon Now and Forever – The Forever War Chronicles Chapter Six.

The above cartoon is the graphic inspiration for this discourse with my friend and fellow traveler exploring The Road of Life, Robert Estrada as we share points of view about the latest theater of The Forever War taking place in Syria.

“Of course the cartoon which rests in the minds of those who see militant Islamist beheadings, rapes, abduction into sex slavery, and wholesale slaughter upon religious lines as actually threatening would feature characters not with the crazed eyes of panic but rather the glazed eyes of those who fail to recognize an enemy until it Is too late…ala Neville Chamberlain.” — Robert Estrada

Hmm. Nazis again. Didn’t they call themselves “National Socialists”? They were a very exclusive white club that did a lot of their business with international corporations through old ties based in in Switzerland especially steel and weaponry, currency trades and auctions of confiscated art. The elites always make money whether the threats are manufactured or real. What is “too late” is the climate we walk throughout every day. It is an important reason why there are better than a half dozen jihadi factions fighting proxy wars in Syria, let alone splinter groups in other Middle Eastern countries. Here’s a post by one Asad Abu Khalil, a professor at UC Berkeley on what he calls the Syrian Proxy War
at Al-akhbar.com. — James Babij

 

“I definitely don’t undersell the foolishness and accumulating cost of ignoring climate disruption. We as the “civilised world” have to answer for that. I am often amazed at the purposeful ignorance exhibited by those in power on this subject. What business consideration might possibly trump the very habitability of our world?

“I don’t consider judging the two pending global threats of climate change and Islamofascism as mutually exclusive however. They can both be genuine without the one diluting the importance of the other.

“The Nazis were white, the Hutus were black, the Islamic State fighters are largely brown. What matters is not skin color but the methods. In this regard, the death camps of the holocaust would be the most direct comparison to what lays in store for all who oppose the Islamic State if we shrug off our place in the world and allow it.” — Robert Estrada

 

“I concur that climate change and islamofascism are not mutually exclusive as challenges to civilization. We must also add The Forever War to that growing list – a strategy that has deflected our attention from a planet that is becoming more inhospitable by the year, most recently because of the former two which we have had more that a passing hand in creating, albeit prodded and manipulated by those who profit most by promoting both. One needs only to round up the usual neo-liberal suspects to identify the real global threat.

“I consider the fractious nature of the ongoing schism in Islam to be much as Professor Abu Khalil presents it – an internecine war between factions vying to be the “moral vanguard” of Islam. If it has become a global phenomenon, it is largely because of capitalism (which fundamentalist Islam vigorously opposes), a neo-liberal strategy promoted through mass and social media, controlled by the corporate state and used to promote fear, sow unrest, and to deploy as its ultimate solution to perceived compettion – The Forever War.

“History proves that perpetual war is the only sucessful strategy that capitalism has ever used for self propagation. Witnessed over time, capitalism is an economic system bereft of any social benefit whatsoever, having used memes such as “free market”, “innovation” and “open competition” to mask its true obsession with crushing any opposition at any cost. This strategy is working.  Neoliberal capitalism has won and will continue to thrive as long as we are intimidated into supporting strategies that prolong The Forever War.

“ISIS/ISIL/IS is just a capitalist tool in mufti and I have a suspicion that they are reveling in their 15 minutes of fame on CNN.” — James Babij

 

“A few of my thoughts on the matter-

“It isn’t always easy for me but I tend to self assess as being the most fair minded when I can find examples of a party or position I typically support being in the wrong, or conversely when I can list examples wherein I find agreement with those I most typically criticize. It makes me feel safer in my wariness of becoming too reflexive and even blinded in the way that I believe both Sean Hannity and Noam Chomsky are (to name two examples from opposite political poles).

“For me, this is one of those cases. I have spent so much of my political conversational energy over the years criticizing American foreign policy from Kissinger to Cheney and so much time being in disagreement with both our capitalistic and militaristic impulses as a nation, that to feel genuinely proud of our efforts here, in this one example of America’s strength being wielded overseas, makes me feel confident that I am exercising some degree of open mindedness on the matter. I may be wrong of course, but so too may I be wrong in my dismissal of the great World Trade Center conspiracy theory.

“I feel that we are operating for the good of humanity in this effort, for Americans and others alike. The great current catch phrase of the “forever war” may have a certain degree of substance behind it. I certainly know how effective a common enemy can be in keeping the citizenry on board and in line. I just want to be sure that my recognition of the common ploy of leveraged fear by the powers that be never blinds me to the recognition that genuine dangers do exist and that the same military which enforces hegemony so much of the time is also that which, as the cliche would have it, guards us when we sleep.

“It’s OK for our government to be right once in a while. It’s OK for our military to do right once in a while. It doesn’t dilute genuine criticisms elsewhere and it doesn’t make us patsies or pawns to applaud all of the right things being done for all of the right reasons, even when it involves those whom we will undoubtedly be criticizing again soon enough.” — Robert Estrada

 

“Simplifying the message” has been a methodology deployed by a ruling class for as long as there has been one in order to control mass behavior, no matter the ultimate ideology that informs its originators. The “fight or flight” survivalist instincts of the reptilian brain (we’ve visited this subject before with our discourses on the influences of Edward Bernays on popular culture) are a part of our DNA and it is these instincts that, more often than not, are manipulated by honed and targeted messages from a hierarchy that requires a given response no matter the moral certitude of the causes that provoke the originator. These causes are never simple. They only appear to be.

“I am often in the wrong, plagued with a short-sighted and linear focus bordering on a tunnel vision that tends toward simplifying the causes and the message behind conflicting positions and ideologies. Guilty. Not “buts” about it.

“The key to understanding problems for me has been being at least open enough to criticism and discourse to learn from one’s shortcomings and widen one’s perspectives in the process. This for me is how we learn to inhabit the lessons that life brings to us. We fall off the bicycle and get back up to ride again. The fact that I will experience fresh insights into something every day is an important reason for why I choose to live on the Left Coast and is also the main reason why I look forward to waking each morning – especially now that I no longer have to work for the One Percent. “Application” is also important; applying what we’ve learned to solve problems. For me this is the essence of the learning process.

“I recall an episode from my Second Grade class at a parochial school that locals call “Grotto” (because there was a grotto surrounded by a small cemetery behind it) on Detroit’s East Side that surprisingly as of my last visit was still standing among the detritus of the surrounding neighborhood. My mother was always a stickler for spelling and reading and would drill me every night, hoping I suppose that if she threw enough love of language at me some of it would stick.

“Anyway, the Second Grade classroom at Grotto was in the basement of the school, with the little chairs in neat rows in front of the teacher’s desk, their inhabitants arranged by an hierarchy directly proportional to the degree of a pupil’s relative performance level in the eyes of the nun conducting the class. A key barometer for one’s position in that hierarchy was the demonstrated ability to verbally navigate passages from the texts used in the class, which for the most part were culled from biblically inspired passages attributed to one saint or another. Even at that fertile age, these texts were uninspiring to me largely because of the manner in which we were forced to recite them, en masse, out loud, parroting the Church’s message like so many little indoctrinates. Needless to say, initially I was relegated to the denizens of the back row, akin to being a heathen. A social outcast among the unenlightened. I didn’t get the message.

“It was only through the tireless efforts of my mother and the encouragement of several of my fellow classmates, including a neighbor Tommy Fleming, that I eventually rose in stature to the second row from the front; not one of the chosen, but also not completely an infidel. The point here is that socialization is a shared learning process that can be dictated but is better internalized and applied not only through personal interaction and discourse with cultural peers, forbears, and institutions but also through exposure to ideologies from potentially conflicting cultures.

“My obsession with and opposition to the use of any aspect of war as a tool for socialization is borne from my relatively short but intense experiences with the military. For a brief period from the middle to the end of the Sixties, I was declared an officer and a gentleman by act of Congress. Admittedly, there were some not insubstantial benefits that accrued from such an institutionally bestowed stature, like free healthcare, room and board, travel to exotic places, an annual 30 day vacation, and being paid a living wage. There were trade-offs as one might expect, not the least of which was that you were the property of the military – cannon fodder. We veterans were also subjected to and indoctrinated with the warrior mind-set: to be pointed at a perceived enemy and directed to kill or perish in the attempt.

“Now there is room for an extended and animated discussion of whether the warrior is an heroic defender of liberty and freedom or just a tool for the exploitation and subjugation of competing ideologies or both or even neither. From an informed perspective, the soldiers and sailors I knew believed to a man that they were imbued with the spirit and fervor of the former and considered themselves an individual bastion of good against even an undefined evil – it didn’t matter to them what or even who that perceived evil represented. And I have to say this. I would defend each and every man or woman who has put on a uniform that cloaks them as a warrior, with my life. That does not mean, however that I support a strategy of perpetual forceful subjugation of competing ideologies based on the assumption that we are right and they are wrong, perversely because we have the resources to do so at will.

“This military mind-set is what scares the shit out of me. Not ISIS/ISIL/IS or the latest Wahhabi splinter group or the hordes of brown children streaming over our borders. Well the children are a concern. They are people in need whom we can give comfort to. Look. During my sojourn decades ago in the military, I was not privy to any super secret strategic scenarios for saving the world from annihilation. Well, maybe one or two. That’s not the point. The point is such paranoid strategies do exist even to the extent of self-inflicted mass ecocide. Neoliberal Capitalism is already accomplishing this in slow motion. The military strategies for such a scenario are plentiful and mind-numbingly expansive in their scope for planned mass extermination. Remember Eisenhower’s warnings about the military-industrial complex – that ironically both he and the Dulles Brothers helped create? The End of The World is what he was warning us about. He knew.

“Islam needs to deal with its own schisms and factions in accordance with its traditions. We are not needed or wanted, except by the monarchies whose very existence depends upon tax money from you and I, diverted from badly needed and underfunded social and infrastructural programs here, to help in controlling jihadi extremists. Our tax dollars; their problems.

“Meanwhile The Forever War continues — around the world and here at home.” — James Babij

 

“Jim, that was exceptionally well stated in equal parts eloquence and exposition. It underscores the origins of my deep regard for you. I was drawn by your shared memories of both your mother and your early school career in particular, but not exclusively.

“I can’t say I really disagree with any of your points except by way of slight caveat where you say “Islam needs to deal with its own schisms and factions in accordance with its traditions. We are not needed or wanted…” I would agree entirely except that the worst of their traditions are no longer a virus contained by the boundaries of desert and sea. In the modern world their problems have become our problems repeatedly, dramatically, and ever increasingly. They may indeed not want or need us but as long as we allow members of their culture and faith to enter our lands and our culture, within OUR traditions, the most hideous of THEIR traditions will be always within arm’s reach and often aimed at our heads.

“We have no choice but to engage. The London Underground bombings succeeded in targeting civilians and blowing them to bits on tracks and in stations that my young daughter had previously traversed dozens of times. The captain of my boat was in the world trade center when it was hit. My wife knew Todd Beamer of “Let’s role” fame through work and he was travelling on September 11 to meet with her boss. I no longer take this as someone else’s problem or as a distant issue. It is the pressing question of our day and is at least equal to the threat we face from climate disruption. Neither can be handed off to the succeeding generation with integrity.

“Beyond that, I find nothing but concurrence with what you say here Jim.” — Robert Estrada

 

“Our continued discourse on this subject is in no small measure due to my respect and regard for you and your incisive thoughts on aspects of what I think you will concur with is the the most challenging pan-cultural issue of our time – the threat of fascist ideology invigorated by perpetual violence.

“And because this neo-feudalism is gaining ascendency in the public eye and beginning to articulate responses of equal ferocity seemingly unabated by reason, it is likely to be an issue for generations to come — if there be any – given our penchant for self destruction.

“The finger is hovering just above the button and Armageddon or The Rapture could be the next Sunrise. (Maybe it is already happening. I hear steel drum music coming from the Park).” — James Babij

 

You can read Professor Assad Abu Khalil’s post on the Proxy War In Syria
at Al-akhbar.com.

For an insider’s view on the subject of the new Iraq war you can read this post about Apocalypse Now, Iraq Edition
by Peter Van Buren at Tomdispatch.com.

© Kazkar Babiy ™

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