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Commentary :: Peace & War

Of Bugs and Terrorists

A friend of mine who works for Dow Chemical said the other day "You wouldn't believe how much stronger our new generation of pesticides is than what is on the market right now -- the bugs have just become stronger."

With a goal of decreasing numbers of bugs, we end up killing ourselves, because humans have not become stronger. Already our cancer rates are pretty close to 50%. Similarly, in the war on terrorism, we end up needing to increase our levels of violence just to keep up.

Not only are these policies killing people, there are also many damages which are never even considered part of the equation -- the soil can become un-useable, the depleted uranium radioactive areas of Iraq may be uninhabitable. When a corporation decides to sell a pesticide, or when a politician decides to start using a militaristic policy, they are unable to know all future effects, much less tell us. But, with each escalation comes the propaganda: "we will feed more people," or "we will democratize the region."

In comparison to today's options and possible outcomes, we were doing pretty well with Iran in the early 1950's. But, when Mossadeq's parliament nationalized oil, we embarked on a program of hostile policies. Each time we were confronted with a problem, our militaristic solutions created new problems, and we were left with increasingly horrible options. Despite the history of suffering we have caused in Iran and Iraq -- with the Shah, Saddam, our part in their war and the weapons we gave them, the first Gulf war, the sanctions, and the depleted uranium -- we continue to escalate.

Our politicians are now pretending that Iran is violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Anyone who reads the document, would immediately see that the US is in clear violation of the second pillar "to reduce and liquidate [our] stockpiles…" But "reducing" violates our deeper unarticulated doctrine of confronting problems with escalation.

We show the same thinking today with Venezuela as we did in Iran in 1953. The idea that getting rid of Chavez would somehow make things better is similar to our thinking about Mossadeq. Does the United States now have to worry about Venezuelan terrorists or nukes? No. Could we bring things to that point? Of course we could, just keep following the Iran playbook.

I categorize these cycles as pathologies, because they create problems and we have to increase levels just to maintain equilibrium. This same pathology is found in many places: In order to maintain our national economy from crashing we end up borrowing increasing amounts against our own projected future profits just to keep up the payments. In order to keep up with the narco-traffickers in the war on drugs, we need to increase our counter-drug measures. In order for individuals to keep themselves living above their means, they increase credit-card debt.

To confront the pathology, to de-escalate, to find sustainable solutions, these are not easy things. It is easier to pretend our politicians can and do have solutions, and to ignore our problems ourselves. Even when we know the propaganda is nonsense, we still accept the general framework of escalation, or at least prefer it to anything too unfamiliar.

At the end of an article like this, usually comes the part where the author lets you off the hook, by telling you it's not too late, that it is still possible to turn this situation around. But, how am I supposed to know if it's too late? Stay on the hook.

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words and art copyleft Nick Cooper,

nickcooper@indymedia.org

 
 


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