As the horrific events unfolded last Friday in Paris before a world stage, we, the audience, sat in stunned silence as waves of helplessness washed over us. If only we could protect those in harms way and end the madness. This sense of helpless resignation caused me to reflect on a line from Peter Gabriel’s song “Games with Frontiers” – ‘In games without frontiers, war without tears.’ Indeed this would seem contradictory, as this was a time for tears; however, for those in control of the game, there are no tears. This ‘war on terror’ is a boundless chess match in which the ‘leaders’ on all sides are utterly lacking in remorse when a few of us pawns get knocked over. They may wear their heart on their sleeve when addressing the masses, but when the cameras are off the mask of empathy is stripped away. Were this not true they would endeavor to engage in peaceful dialogues or simply withdraw rather than doubling down on the violence (which as I write this France has already done). As each side lobs their bombs at each other, we pawns become haplessly caught in the crossfire (the 9/11 attacks, Malaysia Air 17, Pan Am 103, Iran Air 655, Bali bombings, Russian Metrojet 9268, London bombings, countless others, and now, Paris). When will it end? If our ‘leaders’ have their way, never. All leaders have an agenda. Agendas require power to execute. Leaders derive their power from others willingly giving it to them. So like the con artist, they use deception to trick their target into willingly giving them what they want. When we feel unsafe we turn to those who claim they will restore what we desire. Problem is, those who promise that are the ones who precipitated the events that we now fear. But like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football, we fall for it every time.
This pattern of misdirection to reinforce one’s power position is not unique to the West. All conflict involves two parties fighting over some real or imagined initial injury. But human pride is such that neither side will ever back down. You attack me, I attack you, ad infinitum. At some point all conflicts distill down to the point that no one even remembers what started the conflict, only that they must strike back to get back for the prior strike upon them. This is where we are today. Feuds going back dozens, hundreds, or thousands of years drive just about every conflict in the world today. The leaders justify continued attacks by dehumanizing the opponent and his motivations into an absurd caricature that allows us all to feel justified in mass murder. Both sides do it, but the irony is we laugh at the ludicrousness of others being angry at the US because they think we are the “devil” but take with deadly seriousness being told we are attacked because we are free. To see the lie in that statement all we need to do is witness the words and deeds of these so called haters of freedom. Osama bin Laden put that one to rest over 10 years ago when he stated “If Bush says we hate freedom, let him tell us why we didn’t attack Sweden”. Then even more usefully he tells us how we can end their motivation to attack us, “the best way to avoid another Manhattan is to not threaten the security of Muslim nations, such as Palestine and Lebanon”.
If we truly wish to “do something” to prevent future attacks then please channel some of the energy you used in changing your Facebook profile to demonstrate solidarity with France into the more useful endeavor of supporting leaders that promise to withdraw our military and political presence from foreign soils where we have no business. If we withdraw from and ignore those who hate us we defuse the ability of their leaders to demonstrate how “bad” we are to their would be fighters. Few want to fight an enemy that has done nothing to them in ten years. Let’s start that clock now.
Consider how angry and upset we are over these attacks in Paris and then reflect on the fact that similar attacks occur on an almost monthly basis by drone and yet we hear nothing about it. Innocents murdered in cold blood and yet from the media all we hear are crickets. Those affected are just as upset as we are now and such actions only serve to keep the feud alive.
If a drone destroyed your child’s school or a mall where your loved ones were shopping (or even a hospital) would you not feel a sense of overwhelming rage and a desire to “get back” at whoever sent that drone? I am not suggesting such actions motivated by revenge are justified, but rather simply pointing out that this desire for revenge is a natural, primal human response. So given this knowledge, why do we keep throwing rocks at the hornet’s nest if we know the hornets will without fail sting us?