Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Lost Decade

This blog post won't be about MMORPGs. If you've been watching a lot of U.S. media the last 10 years you might also find this text a little .. offensive? I think you could call it a rant, by the way. I won't bother with many references. Go find them yourself.

First, let me congratulate the U.S. government for finally locating Osama bin Laden. Wasn't easy it seems. I think it is good that my chance to die due to a terrorist attack organised by him is now reduced to 0. Even though I don't think it was ever distinguishable from 0. I mean, I don't even live in a big city.

Anyway, 310.955.497 people had their revenge. I wouldn't exactly call it justice, unless you are a supporter of qisas and the sharia instead of the bible where Jesus is reported to have said:
You have heard, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

In my opinion religion is fairy tales, anyway. So it's just ironic. The German judiciary system, at least, is not about revenge. And I think that's a good thing.

When I heard the news of Osama being dead, I didn't really care that much. But then I read about celebrations on the streets and "We are the champions" in front of the White House and I was thinking to myself

"This is exactly what is wrong with the U.S. for 10 years by now. Hopefully it will end now."

The last decade was lost for the American people. Real wages declined and the country suffered immensely in two wars. Just read today's Atlantic. But these wars did not only cost something between 3 and 6 trillion dollars (plus interest).
That is 30-60 international space stations or $10.000-$20.000 in cash for every U.S. citizen, by the way. Many of whom are happy about every single meal nowadays.
These wars also cost thousands of additional American lifes and hundreds of thousands of lifes in total. Do you think this distinction makes sense?

How many wedding parties have been bombarded? How many innocents deported? Have the 183 waterboardings of Chalid Scheich Mohammed satisfied you? How many men were stripped of their clothes and tortured and posed with and killed in Abu Ghraib and Bagram and Guantanamo and all those prisons that the public never has heard of? And never will, because they were in Mubarack's backyard.

How many revolutions have been delayed, how many billions given to dictators? How many people struggled to explain to their friends that freedom and democracy are not inherently bad ideas, just because The West preaches them?

And don't you feel a little bit ashamed for celebrating death? Don't you fear the collateral damage of killing people by government executive order - without any checks and balances at all? Did you really think civil liberties don't a have price in blood?
What do you think China learns from you?

Things are on the move and I'm a bit afraid.


  1. When $680 billion+ is being spent in the annual defense budget, when the country is run by war-hawks who will do everything in their power to *not let* funding be cut from that budget, when those same people are fine with putting that money into wars that don't have a clear purpose and missions that don't have any realistic benefit for the country, then of course we have to cheer for the death of Osama as well as any of the other minor and potentially meaningless victories we get.

  2. Here's some perspective:
    You just explain how everything is terrible. One good thing happened*. Finally, something good happened. When everything looks bad, small victories look really great.

    * How good is debatable, but I think we can at least agree it wasn't bad. These days, that passes for good. Do you remember when Obama was struggling to get credit for, not growing the economy, but getting it to stop crashing quite so fast?

    Here's my perspective, or perhaps story. When I was in middle school the Columbine shooting happened and suddenly everyone was very very afraid of young people. The media didn't help any. I was finishing junior high when I saw a presidential election possibly stolen (later recounts showed that it had been). I start high school and soon after I watch thousands of people die. We go to war, which initially goes well. Until it drags on. Then I see that same president spread lies around (media did help) and next thing we're invading Iraq. It started out well. Then it went downhill and by now we've lost more soldiers in Iraq than in 9/11. Meanwhile the economy has gone way down after the dot com bubble. It recovers slightly, not really thanks to a major tax cut that we used to buy some shirts for my dad, which will then get taxed right back off, and then some. The president was given a second term, since he was doing so well. Close to the end of his second term, the economy implodes thanks to a massive scam for which no one was punished and the causes of which have never been fixed, barely even addressed. We get a new president who sounds pretty good but the second he tries to do anything positive is slandered as a socialist nazi who wants to kill all white people. But he can barely do anything anyway because his own party is awful at politics while the other party is unconstrained by human decency. We're still at war and the economy still sucks.

    There is one nice thing with the revolutions/revolts in the Middle East and North Africa, but let's face it, those aren't going to have any immediate positive effect for us, and maybe even negative, given our oil and dictator addictions.

    My point is that from about the age of 12 I have lived in a carefully crafted world of suck and I'm hardly alone.

    So please forgive us our moment of joy that a symbol of all that is evil got shot in the face. We just don't have all that much to look forward to.

  3. My condolences, Klepsacovic. I have problems understanding the right-wing point of view in your country, as well.

    Sure, Osama's death was a symbol that U.S. could still do what they set out to do - despite all the recent doubt.
    But behaving like a bull in a china shop to assure yourself of your 'power', is not very impressive, in my opinion.

    Maybe U.S. finally understands how they get played by the regimes around the world. Just mentioning Al Qaida used to make your government give money and weapons to Gaddafi & co.

    I could ramble on endlessly .. Look, U.S. have the eternal gratidute of the German people for how they managed the aftermath of the second world war. But since the end of the cold war, it seems they are just staggering around. Like a bull in a china shop.

    Your country is probably the only one in the modern world, where people still argue about "communism" and "socialism". A joke (?!).

  4. I'm not someone who takes a great delight in say this, but I don't see it getting better. In fact, I don't think most Europeans realize exactly how dire things really are.

  5. Our right wing understands power and authority and not much else. They understand telling people what to do and they understand riling people up over 'big government'.

    I don't think they think they were played. They had a single focus: terrorists. In that regard, the dictators worked. Just as they worked when all we cared about was Communism. The problem is that we're really bad at identifying threats, such as how more people die from pollution than terrorism, or the wars we start than terrorism, or how our media culture inspires far more fear than terrorists could ever hope. But those are all socialist thoughts and as well all know, socialism doesn't work, so hands off my Medicare.

  6. What sometimes really makes me wonder is that 90% of all Americans I know agree with me. This can't be right.

  7. That's because only fake Americans would willingly talk to a European. True fact.

  8. As they said, it's because you're talking to "blue staters." We're, for the most part, pretty similar to the kind of people you'd find in Europe. We have our own peculiarities to be sure, but we have a fundamentally similar worldview oriented in western secular modernism.

    But there's an entire other America that has virtually no connection to the rest of the world and views it with fear, suspicion, and derision. You don't talk to these people, but they're very real.

    And no the "socialism" thing isn't a joke. It's become a major charge against the democratic party, even though the people making it don't have the foggiest idea what it means. I half-joke that when American "conservatives" say "socialism" it's what the rest of the world calls "civilization."