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Keyword: ‘blowback’

BLOWBACK in Benghazi and Cairo – it’s not a BUG, it’s a FEATURE

September 13th, 2012 No comments

For those befuddled about the “Global War on Terror” and the attacks on US embassies/consulates in Libya and Egypt, perhaps this bit of fun from The Onion in 1998 might help:

State Department To Hold Enemy Tryouts Next Week (excerpts below; go to link for full piece)

Taking steps to fill the void that has plagued the American military-industrial complex since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced Tuesday that the U.S. will hold enemy tryouts next week. …

The decision to hold enemy auditions was made during an Oct. 16 meeting at the Pentagon attended by a number of top military-industrial-complex officials, including Albright, Defense Secretary William Cohen, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Strom Thurmond (R-SC) and Lockheed Martin CEO Thomas Reuthven.

“Everyone was of the opinion that an enemy was needed–and fast,” said Reuthven, whose company has laid off 14,000 employees since the end of the Cold War. “Nobody wins when there’s peace.”

General Electric CEO Jack Welch, who was also at the meeting, agreed. “Our profits are down 43 percent from 10 years ago. We sold more tritium hydrogen-bomb ICBM/MIRV triggers in 1988 than in the last six years combined,” he said. “Something had to be done.” …

Speaking to reporters, McDonnell Douglas CEO Richard Klingbell said the State Department should have foreseen the possibility of peace and taken steps to avoid it years ago.

“For decades, we took Soviet aggression and the arms race for granted,” Klingbell said. “We failed to realize that one day it might all come to an end. We failed to sow the seeds of future foreign discord, for our children’s sake. Thankfully, though, we’re finally setting things straight. We’re finally remembering that to make it in this world, you’ve got to have enemies.”

[Earlier posts by me on “defense” issues here: and here:]

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Bootleggers and Baptists: some unconsidered dynamics underlying the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, OR what is systemic unaccountability?

July 23rd, 2014 1 comment

[Tweaked from a Facebook post]

Below are several underlying dynamics of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; when viewed from the perspective of US involvement, this looks like an amazing “Bootleggers and Baptists” coalition to use, abuse, distract and pander to taxpayers, while in fact serving a few special interests:

1 – elites in both US and Israel are closely tied to crony defense/military-industrial complex firms: war is their bread and butter. The more “peace” fails and “wars on terror” perversely bring about more terror (surprise! sowing dragons’ teeth fosters blowback! who knew???), the longer these elites stay in power and the longer they can grift off, distract and impoverish the rest of us. As a business model, blowback is a smashing success!

2 – the US provides massive subsidies to Israel (to the tune of $3 billion annually) and — by providing significant direct support to the Palestinian Authority and indirect support to Gazans via the UN (together, over $1 billion annually) — both sweeps up after Israel’s biennial turkeyshoots in Gaza (providing a quantum of solace to trampled West Bank Palestinians) AND keeps Palestinians relatively passive and dependent (and thus less active managers of their own futures and less able to either cooperative via business with Israel, or to stand up to Hamas OR Israel). Support to Palestinians also helps US lawmakers pretend they are even-handed and have no responsibility for what Israel becomes or what Israel does.

3 – US subsidies to Israel enable Israel’s own crony elites to cultivate and cater to (rather than rein in) Jewish Zionist fundamentalists — who resolutely desire no peace with Palestinians whatsoever.

4 – Israel’s status as the possessor of the “Holy Land” provides a deep, emotional excuse for thoroughly corrupt and cynical US leaders to game/distract “conservative” “Christian” Americans and much of rest of the West (who all have some degree of Judeo-Christian-derived culture) into vocal support and approving massive tax subsidies/military support to Israel and to our own Military-Industrial Complex, for the purpose of helping Israel “safeguard Jerusalem” from dirty infidels (on top of the significant amounts that American Jews are able to fund themselves to “save Israel!” from non-existential threats that Israel keeps alive via systematically frustrating peace efforts and periodically touching off blowback).

Thus, by our participation US elites fuel fundamentalism in Israel, among Muslims and among Christians at home. We also generate increasing antagonism to the United States in general, by peoples who tire of both US domineering and of the US role in fostering extremism and in supporting despots.

What do we know about systems that absolve those who act within them from personal responsibility for negative consequences to others?

P.S.: This interesting interview with Jewish writer Yossi Gurvitz provides some insights into Talmudic Judaism and the Jewish fundamentalists who, coddled by a US-subsidized Israel, diligently sabotage peace:

Further interview here:

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“Dysfunction,” “greed” and “mistakes” are predictable results when people act in systems that absolve them of accountability for harms to others

June 17th, 2014 1 comment

Left and Right keep looking for dichotomies of good/bad, where I see two sides of the same coin - the phenomena of predictably unaccountable, irresponsible, greedy, self-serving, stupid risk-shifting behavior by individuals within organizations where they are shielded by law/lack of transparency/custom/raw power/physical or social remoteness from other people who bear the bulk of the costs of actions that seem advantageous to those who act.

I also observe the ‘dysfunction’ in/of organizations that themselves are protected from the choices of citizens/customers, by virtue of law, monopoly or other coercion, and that such “BLOWBACK” often pays in spades for the group that makes or drives the bad decisions.

This is essentially a scientific undertaking in which many like #Ostrom was and others under the rubric of #NewInstitutionalEconomics are involved in researching and explicating.

Those who reflexively are incapable of looking at the fruit of massive state interventions in the economy (including the corporations that the state makes), who demand MORE and BETTER of what hasn’t been working, are displaying essentially religious and tribal mentalities. We have Sunni and Shia tribes in our #AmericanTaliban!

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The enduring successes of government policies that are spectacular failures

December 2nd, 2013 No comments

What many people, including libertarians, miss about the alcohol Prohibition and other government policies that are can be seen to be spectacular failures that generate profound disruption and criminality is that such policies are, in fact, very SUCCESSFUL — in aiding the growth of government and in serving a legion of #CronyCapitalists.

These important but understandably unheralded “successes” are why policies like the #DrugWar and “War on Terror” continue; the Drug War has a profoundly racist and socially disruptive impact and is a tool for both looting the middle class and social control, while the GWOT has paid dividends in spades to Govt, to the 1% and the Military-Industrial Complex of crony-capital firms, who are raking in trillions, disheartening young soldiers, sowing Dragon’s Teeth of hatred against the US that will bear fruition in decades to come, and justifying extensive locking down of and spying on America:

Think, too, of the enduring dividends to Government and the 0.0001% that flow from the creation and regulation of #LimitedLiability corporations. Corporations, truly, are the Health of the State.

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Stop those pirates/terrorists! (But ignore those “great bands of brigands” whose navies and prosecutors are needed.)

December 8th, 2008 No comments

Jonathan Adler at The Volokh Conspiracy refers us to yet another editorialist (this time not Bret Stephens of the WSJ but Douglas Burgess Jr. at the Washington Post) saying that the Somali “pirates are terrorists” and calling for changes in US to treat pirates as “enemies of mankind”, greater use of the US navy, and for an expansion of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (which the US has rejected as a threat to the freedom of the US and its officials to torture people).

But the shippers, the cargo owners and insurers seem to be doing little to protect their assets, so why should we do it for them?  How much easier it is to find threats that supposedly warrant government action than to analyze the justice, efficiency or possible blowback in having the government act in place of the private interests whose assets are at risk.

Here are my comments to Jon:

Jon, can you see how the “war on terror” continues to morph into a long-term war on common sense and taxpayers’ pocketbooks? Not every problem requires a hue and cry about “terrorists!”, much less a government “solution” that further socializes risks and begs any analysis of the problem and of the role of government in it. Let the shippers defend their own cargoes.

We saw a similarly unperceptive and even more breathless op-ed by WSJ’s neocon Bret Stephens two weeks ago.

In the context of the US’s counterproductive engagement with nascent Somali regimes, and calls by shippers (and other lovers of the state) for governments to provide protection, let us not forget the ironies that St. Augustine pointed to centuries ago, about states (the biggest pirates) hypocritically talking up the outrages of much smaller brigands:

Set aside justice, then, and what are kingdoms but great bands of brigands? For what are brigands’ bands but little kingdoms? For in brigandage the hands of the underlings are directed by the commander, the confederacy of them is sworn together, and the pillage is shared by law among them. And if those ragamuffins grow up to be able enough to keep forts, build habitations, possess cities, and conquer adjoining nations, then their government is no longer called brigandage, but graced with the eminent name of a kingdom, given and gotten not because they have left their practices but because they use them without danger of law. Elegant and excellent was that pirate’s answer to the great Macedonian Alexander, who had taken him; the king asking him how he durst molest the seas so, he replied with a free spirit: “How darest thou molest the whole earth? But because I do it only with a little ship, I am called brigand: thou doing it with a great navy art called emperor.”

St. Augustine, City of God, Book IV (410 A.D.)