Breaking Bad

I’m old enough that I now find most entertainment to be fairly derivative and predictable. However the TV series “Breaking Bad” is a welcome exception. If you are not familiar with it but enjoy solidly unpredictable drama you owe it to yourself to look into it. The August 12 episode’s ending left the audience in a state of numbed denial [spoiler alert: stop here if you have not seen the episode yet]. The main characters have just clandestinely robbed a train of a key chemical needed to prepare crystal meth when a young boy on a motorbike happens them upon. Without a word one of them pulls out a gun and simply dispatches the boy as blithely as one would a troublesome fly. Why? Because the boy might say something which could lead to their arrest.

After the shock of witnessing the senseless onscreen (albeit fictional) death of a young innocent wore off I came to realize why this scene was so disturbing: this type of violence occurs routinely. The boy’s death is iconic of the reprehensible loss of civilian life in wars. In “traditional” wars civilians usually know where the front line is and can avoid it. Today that is impossible. The wars on “terror” and drugs occur on a global battlefield from which there is no escape. Innocence is no defense: you are just one street address typo away from no-knock raid carried out by machine gun festooned goons.

Apropos to the “preventive” murder depicted, the US repeatedly goes to war upon the same principal of “potential threat neutralization” (Spain-1898, Korea-1950, Vietnam-1965, Iraq-2003). Unsurprisingly the neocons and chicken hawks are now rattling their swords to do the same to other countries (Iran, Syria). We as a nation are engaging in the same onscreen behavior as the thieves in “Breaking Bad”: shooting first for fear of what might happen. This behavior is reprehensible at the individual level and at the national level. The moral validity of actions does not change based on the numbers that simultaneously engage in those actions.

The moral validity of actions does not change based on the numbers that simultaneously engage in those actions.

For parents there is no greater fear than contemplating the untimely death of your child. So consider what kind of a country would inflict on foreign parents our most horrid nightmare. The US has killed both directly (drone strikes) and indirectly (sanctions) hundreds of thousands of children through the cold indifference of our leaders. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright in a 1996 interview with 60 Minutes stated that “we think the price is worth it” when asked if the confirmed deaths of half a million Iraqi children due to UN sanctions was “worth it” in relation to the goals of those sanctions. The Bush administration fares no better: he (and Congress) restarted the Iraq war (of which even low estimates are 100,000 Iraqi civilian casualties and authorized the use of torture. Likewise Obama has failed to live up to his 2009 Nobel Peace Price. He acts as a remote executioner via the deployment of the “judge, jury, and executioner” drone strikes that have killed countless civilians who are written off as “collateral damage.” Ah, yes, the ends always justify the means. Wake up America. We have “broken bad” and are now the “bad guys.” Would we tolerate Chinese drone strikes of Americans because China deemed them to be a potential “threat” ?

In terms of this country’s meddling, interventionist, blow-back prone foreign policy it doesn’t matter whether Obama or Romney wins; they will both continue our current wars and will have no qualms about starting new ones. If you are tired of the endless wars (drug and terror) and have no more desire for the blood of innocents to be on your hands by way of voting for the “lesser of two evils” (“hmmm… who should I vote for, Hitler or Stalin…”) then consider the alternative that the media is so afraid you might hear about they won’t even include him in national polls: Libertarian Party candidate for president Gary Johnson.