Dramatis Personae: Obama, Tyranosopher, and assorted characters meet in hell to discuss Obama’s “Signature Strikes”, the bombing by killer robots, of crowds of unknown people, on the chance an enemy would die.
Obama, face contorted by contradictory emotions, affects not to understand the strikes in Boston: “Why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence?… We will determine what happened. We will investigate any associations that these terrorists may have had.”
Tyranosopher: The deepest association is with the breakdown of the spirit of the State of Law. In the West, now, as it happened 2,000 years ago, the spirit of republican law, equality, has broken down. Galla Placidia, made the “association” that counts.
Galla reigned as a Roman empress, for more than three times as long as you will be president, and in much more trying times. She was acutely aware that the notion of State of Law was the fundamental bedrock of the State, and wrote eloquently about it.
She explained that it is the Law, not individuals, who should reign. Equal law. Thus the law should apply absolutely, even to the absolute sovereign. The embodiment of the enforcement of this is the International Criminal Court.
Treat people unequal, they will treat you unequal.
Brainy Salafist: Obama, you have shown us the way. Killing civilians, you know nothing about, calling assassination of the innocent fighting terrorism. Hiding perfidiously, but ineffectually, behind the CIA to commit acts of wars against Pakistan, as the sedate New York Times’ editorial board pointed out in April 2013.
While you, in your unfathomable stupidly, advertized worldwide that you approved every single strike, as if you were anxious to be the first ever Nobel Peace laureate prosecuted for war crimes.
Obama: I am the leader of the Greatest Nation on Earth, under God. That makes me infallible. Plus we the leaders of the USA have been careful to refuse to recognize the International Criminal Court.
Brainy Salafist: Thus you, Obama, are just a mafioso leveraging “A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood“ (New York Times, April 2013 again). These “Signature Strikes” and “Crowd Killing” your National Security adviser and now CIA head, Brennan, obliquely confirmed their existence in front of the Senate. Many of your associates, Obama’s associates, have confirmed the existence of an association, the Assassination Panel at the White House. So we, the Salafists, imitate you, and kill people we know nothing about. Thanks for teaching us. We call it fighting terrorism too.
Tyranosopher: Yes, an official assassination panel is something unparalleled in the history of all and any known states. Yet, after the Boston bombing you, Obama, declared that any bombing of civilians was an act of terror. But that’s what your “Signature Strikes” and “Crowd Killing” are all about.
Obama: I was shocked when I became president, and I found out about “Signature Strikes” and “Crowd Killing”. But that’s the only game in town, and I am a team player. It works. We killed thousands of terrorists, using them.
Tyranosopher: Try to pay attention to your own sick sport semantics. It’s not a game. Killing people does not make you player in a team. You were right to be shocked. Now you are shocking.
Napoleon, Corsican dictator: “Even in war, moral power is to physical as three parts in one.” “Signature Strikes” bomb the USA’s moral power. The more you use them, the weaker you get. Your “Signature Strikes” are an anti-American strategy.
Brainy Salafist: Obama you told us terror is the way. We want to be like you when we grow up. We want to do hundreds of “Signature Strikes“, on your territory, as you did, on ours, the House of Peace.
Tyranosopher: Mr. President, I am afraid Salafists have been associating with the own past behavior of the USA, “Signature Strikes” its latest symbol. This is what a full enquiry would reveal.
The notion of military-industrial complex was introduced by Eisenhower, as the greatest danger for the USA. At the height of the Cold War! Now we have something worse, the notion of enemy-industrial complex. It looks as if some in the government of the USA consider that to make sure of having enemies is the best way to have an industry.
Obama: I did not start the violence in the Middle East.
Tyranosopher: You sure did not. Arguably, from his own declarations, Muhammad started it, for the present period, in the sense that he revealed to his followers that the Persian-Babylonian-Zoroasthrian and Greco-Roman empires were exhausted, and could collapse if struck vigorously, hence allowing the Arabs to re-instigate the raiding they had been deprived of for more than a millennium.
Young Salafist: Watch it, Tyranosopher, don’t you insult the Prophet! The Prophet is all I dream about, all the time, wet or not.
Tyranosopher: You know very well, Young Salafist brimming with uncontrolled hormones, that this is what the fundamental Muslim texts say. Muhammad’s analysis was astute. The Greco-Roman and Persian empires were culprit each in their own way, of the tremendous war they made to each other, and they were on their knees. Muhammad’s hatred of the Jews grew from the Christians’ hatred of the Jews.
By the way, if I want to insult long dead characters, I have the right to do so, according to my own religion.
Young Salafist: You don’t have a religion, you believe in nothing, you insult everybody, even your friend Obama.
Tyranosopher: Quite the opposite, I am helping everybody, by telling the truth. I believe in truth, and I believe in desperately searching for truth. That makes me a follower of the second most fundamental religion of man. And I subscribe to the first one, too, love.
The truth is that Muhammad came from a prominent family in Mecca, but differently from the rest of them, was an analphabet. Somebody less charitable than me may think that had to do with his tough youth, and attending neurological problems he may have suffered from, PBUH!
Young Salafist: Spare me the sarcasm. Peace Be Upon Him, that man I dream about all the time.
Tyranosopher: Are you gay? I find you rather sad. In any case, Muhammad gave too much of a military mien to Islam. But then, he had to, or Islam would not be on the map. After all, it’s the Roman military dictatorship, that decided to put Christianity, or, more exactly “Orthodox Catholicism”, on the map, and in command. They did so in a disastrous way. Later, the Franks found the right way: use the Church, to impose… progressive secularism.
Obama: Can you guys come back to the subject at hand? Why such violence? Why couldn’t they all just play basket ball? That’s what I did, look where I am!
Tyranosopher: Don’t worry the reservoir of potential Salafists inside the USA is a small fraction of that it is in a country such as France. One will hold them back with the idea of the republic, not by taking their rights away, even before judging them.
You, Obama, could afford to not take your studies seriously. You were the missing link. Your life experience was, from the start, out of the ordinary. You lived in a mansion in Indonesia, with servants’ quarters. You went to the top private school in Hawai’i, Punahou. You also went to Harvard, same as your father, and, because your father had been there (“legacy admission“). Harvard is where the leaders are selected, and the spider web of worldwide leaders is set-up. Most recent USA presidents came from the Ivy League. Aka the Evil League.
Even the guy who organized Pearl Harbor, the head of the imperial navy, admiral Yamamoto, went to Harvard. Speak of a guy who “studied here”! And let me exceptionally not mention the Nazis.
It’s not about smarts, but about connections with wealth, as an owner, look at the Bushes, Kennedys, or… as a servant. For compliance, look at Bill Clinton, who did exactly what Goldman-Sachs told him to do, in a Faustian contract. Clinton went to Yale, still Ivy League.
The contract made him swear. But he did what he was told to do, namely to deregulate finance in a way never seen before in the history of civilization. The total devolution of the public to the private. OK, something like that happened to the republic in Florence, when it turned into “The Prince”, plutocracy, basically a few private banks. (But then notice that Italy fell off civilization for several centuries.) So now here we are, neo-feudalism coalescing.
Harvard plays into a form of violence. Its connection with various bloody dictators were left unpunished, even unpublished. In economics, many of its professors have published academic papers claiming that transferring more assets to rich people was what the Harvard doctors recommended (allusion to austerity propaganda from famous Harvard professors: Reinhart. Rogoff, Alesina, Ardagna).
Under the guise of fair, balanced, learned, equal opportunity, extremely stealthy methods of vicious exploitation have been invented. They are different from those denounced in the past, in the period from 1648 (year of parliamentary revolutions in England and Paris, La Fondre) until Proudhon, Marx, etc.
Obama: Once again Tyranosopher you are drifting through an immense historical landscape that seems to have nothing to do with the Jihadists in our midst.
Tyranosopher: The most important connections are the ones that have not been made explicit yet, because they are deeper.
As I was saying, the USA outsmarted the Western European powers, partly deliberately, partly by serendipity, in a sort of selection of the most effective behaviors, however devious. Devious support, by the USA, for the worst of Islam was crucial, in the rise of the present day Jihadism.
Young Jihadist: See, Obama, you are devious, even though you don’t know about it.
Tyranosopher: A preferred devious method, has been the traditional one of dividing to conquer. To enact these divisions, support was given to extremely violent enemies of “American” values. Including various fascists, in particular the Soviets, the Nazis, and violently regressive Islamists. Those enemies of the USA turned out to be its best tools.
Such fascist embodiments are unsustainable, making them valuable. The mess they create leads to divisions, hence easy pickings. Since 1945, contrarily to the cautious policies of Britain and France, Roosevelt’s USA threw its mighty support to Salafists, starting with the Saudis. (For comparison, the Brits annihilated the fiercest Wahhabist army, not even two decades prior; most of the 9/11 highjackers were Saudis.)
CIA support was given to Khomeini’s followers, in 1953, and still later to Pakistani Fundamentalists, then to bin Laden (and the SIA), etc.. Thus we see it was more than a plot. It was a plotted strategy, that unfolded over 60 years (the support of Bush II for various Muslim extremists in Iraq was a continuation of that strategy: let the museums and archeological sites be looted, help the fanatics, bury the secularists).
This strategy is coming to an end for diverse reasons. Terror by drones the way practiced presently by the Obama administration tries to extend it, but it is not sustainable. However, it’s causing, long term, tremendous civilizational damage. The West is losing credibility.
Obama: “Civilizational damage”? What kind of weird notion is this?
Tyranosopher: Civilizational standards are not just what make a civilization worth defending. They constitute a fundamental military asset, as Nap said. Civilizational standards are how the Athenians won at Marathon, or Salamis against the immense might of the giant Persian empire. On the verso, uncowed Sparta vanished from history, because its civilization was racist and plutocratic, something that leads to unrecoverable stupidity, among other problems.
The drone program may have killed only a few thousand people, but the bombing of civilization itself it wrought is unequalled. (Although it may still be reverted at this point, should one be contrite enough about it.)
Faisal Shahzad, USA citizen of Pakistani origin: “I entered a 2010 guilty plea, to try to set off a car bomb in Times Square, and I justify targeting civilians by telling the judge, ‘When the drones hit, they don’t see children’.
Obama: I am the leader of the Greatest Nation on Earth, under God. I say this all the time. Pay attention. I am not your average terrorist.
Tyranosopher: You call the ones you killed, terrorists. Just like in Vietnam. However, the law says that people are innocent, until proven to be terrorists. So you do not respect the most fundamental pre-condition to law, namely that punishment never precedes conviction.
We know for example that a 16 year old USA born citizen was killed on a beach in a USA drone attack (apparently with a number of other teens), in one of the “Signature Strikes”. Such an assassination, in the name of civilization, is the signature of a failed civilization. For such a crime, in old republican Rome, you would have been executed the “old fashion way“. (The one Roman president Nero was condemned to by the Senate.)
Where are the excuses for that, killing boys having fun on a beach? Where is the enquiry? Or do you, Obama, president of the USA, consider, justify and order, killing teens on beaches on the other side of the planet? Explain to me why this is not much worse than the worse pedophilia?
Obama: As I always say, I am the leader of the Greatest Nation on Earth, under God. I am not a terrorist, by definition, but the very definition of respectability. Fear me.
Young Salafist: If we killed you, Obama, you, and your followers would not be as respected. However we will not kill you, because you are our best agent. We kill for the Greatest Religion on Earth, in the name of the one and only God. We are not stuck in one nation, our house is the House of the rising Sun, the House Of Peace, the Ummah. My universal God is better than your national god. Watch me and other martyrs die for it.
Obama: You can’t kill me, I am invincible. Wherever I go, there is an army protecting me. Same for my family. Taxpayers will support me and my family forever, making me forever invincible. As they did with other great USA leaders.
Tyranosopher: Our Salafist friend here is correct, Greatest Religion beats “Greatest Nation”. Mr. President, you are too fond of calling the USA “the greatest notion of Earth”. This does not serve the country well. Not at all.
Obama, laughing: Nation, not notion. Keep your words cogent.
Tyranosopher: Calling the USA “the greatest nation on Earth” is not just a ridiculous notion. It is also extremely dangerous. There is a plethora of examples in history about the extreme lethality of nationalistic hubris. Athens went down that road to hell.
Obama: I will remember you for the next drone kill list. See who is lethal.
Tyranosopher: You feel lethal, as a child, but supreme thoughts kill better. All you are doing, is messing up civilization. Killing crowds, just because some enemies may be there, is the end of any pretense to civilized behavior. Flaunting it, is an attitude that aggravates the practice.
The USA is not the first democracy proclaiming, urbi et orbi, that it had a right to kill innocent civilians. It never ended well. it’s a philosophical red line. When a civilization crosses it, it dies. Such a murderous hubris was the proximal cause of Athens’ downfall.
“Signature strikes” the killing of civilians associated by mere physical proximity, is as low a notion as humanity ever got. You do not even pretend to hate them, or that you want to eat them.
In the hierarchy of anti-civilizational values, “Signature Strikes” are lower than torture, because torture comes from giving some value to the person one tortures. One values the knowledge that person may have, or one appreciates the pain one inflicts to them, or one values theirmind enough to break it.
Signature strikes are lower than hate crimes. Signature strikes are lower than even cannibalism. Signature strikes are all about smitting people utterly, as if they were insects.
Signature strikes makes the president of the USA in a devil Picasso, signing horror with pride of office. It’s beyond terrorism. It enrages people worldwide so much, it does not even bring terror. It only brings horror for the absence of values you embody. It deserves a new name, horrorism.
American historian of the racist type: Tyranosopher, I would hate to call you naïve. Yet, face the facts: in WWII, we imprisoned citizens of the USA of second and third generation, if they had some Japanese ancestors. It was brutal. But the reputation of the USA as a brutal power serves the USA well. If, centuries ago, the European colons in North America had not killed nearly all the Natives, the USA would be like Bolivia or Peru. Look even at Mexico: by 1600CE, there were basically only a million natives left. Too many. Now Mexico is like half Indian.
Tyranosopher: I am not naïve, just the opposite, you are. What worked before, to establish an empire, against naïve Neolithic Natives, can have the exact opposite effect, trying to grab resources from the rest of the world. each “Signature Strike” may kill one hater of the West, and create ten thousands. Better get your anti-missiles working well against Pakistani ICBMs…
Herodotus, Greek historian: A more general problem is that, by deciding who, among citizens of the USA, would live or die, at your own whim, Obama, you have made yourself, symbollically and practically, into what the Greeks called a tyrannos, a tyrant. As I said of the Athenians under tyranny: …”they let themselves be beaten, since they worked for a master…” To establish new wisdom as Tyranosopher does, one has to be unique. But when a politician reigns as one, that’s a tyrant.
Obama: Signatures strikes are effective. They show the power of the USA. Not only we can do it physically, but we have the moral strength to do it.
Tyranosopher: Tyrannies are always short term effective. You do not know what “moral” means. It means: “sustainable”. A traditional war, although with supersonic bombers, drones and smart bombs, as the French republic does in Mali, is indefinitively sustainable, fair and square. But the French fight warriors, on the battlefield. They are not killing crowds of unknown people, not fighting anybody. That earns them respect, even from their enemies.
Whereas Carthage, long a top civilization, was undone by its immoral morality, killing innocent children. You are making the USA into a modern Carthage.
Obama: Carthage was defeated by Roman armies, not morals.
Tyranosopher: Conventional wisdom, the seduction of the superficial, that’s what you want to overcome. Instruct yourself, young man, lest you came to be known as Obabad. The Greeks called barbararians ba-ba, because they thought like children. You add badness to the mix. Obabad.
The planned annihilation of Carthage in a Third Punic war, was hotly debated in the Roman Senate. Many, including the imperator put in command of the destroying army, were fully aware that Rome was crossing a philosophical red line. That transgression could, and even would, bring Rome’s destruction. This was said explicitly at the time (source: Polybius). The tough-as-diamond Roman imperator cried, as he saw the great metropolis burn under the extermination assault of his crack legions. he knew Rome was sealing her fate.
Yet, it was foreordained. The fact that Carthage had sacrificed children to the fire made the difference, in the minds of the Roman senators and the military. It was the excuse that allowed to forget the real reason for wanting the annihilation of Carthage.
You, Obama, sacrifice children to the fire, including the occasional, highly symbolic American child. Killing other people’s children, on the other side of the earth, does not make it any less so.
If you insist to deny that you are flaunting child killing as a new bedrock for civilization, then make full light about who, among your drone people, decided to kill that 16 year old American born boy, and how. And if it was a honest mistake, so to speak, let’s confront it. Only then can you talk to history with an honest face.