In my recent post on Lindsey Graham, Does U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham Work for Terminix?, I compared the war on terror to a house infested with cockroaches. The cockroaches are the terrorists, the wars in the Middle East are the interiors of homes that would make a hoarder smile with trash piled high in every room, and the pest control folks are the establishment. (Political, military, think tanks, etc.)
The central problem with our pest control folks is that, while they are good at gassing an individual house and getting rid of the cockroaches, they seem incapable of understanding the cycle of the infestation and its persistence. It is this enduring blindness among the pest controllers and those infested that is the central problem. Neither side can perceive the problem despite its rancid odor and visual absurdity. See what is wrong with this conversation imagining both parties are standing in the rooms of the house shown below.
Pest Controller: I can get rid of your cockroaches. It won’t be easy but it can be done. It will take some sacrifice on your part.
Hoarder: You mean, I will have to clean out my home?
Pest Controller: Of course not, you enjoy your home. It is a reflection of who you are. You feel comfortable in your own surroundings. We don’t make judgments on your world, that’s just they way it is. Besides, this is what we do. This is how we feed our families, and we all want the economy to grow, right?
Hoarder: Well that sounds awesome! So there’s no downside?
Pest Controller: Well it will take time, a lot of money, and an ongoing and consistent effort. Some of your freedom of action will be impacted when we fumigate.
Hoarder: Well what is my cost?
Pest Controller: Nothing. This is a program that is provided by the government. So technically it’s not free, someone has to pay, but only through taxes.
Hoarder: Well I don’t pay any taxes, so sign me up for the full service!
Listening to that conversation, it is not difficult to appreciate the disconnect between what obviously needs to be done, clean the house, and what course we often take, fumigate the cockroaches. Our leaders see a problem, the cockroach infestation, and never recognize the context of the infestation. They seem incapable of recognizing the dirty house. The psychology is obvious. The dirty house implies some level of culpability in the process. If we admit we are at least partially responsible for the trash in the house, then the moral clarity of the constant fumigation is undermined.
Maybe you think the dirty house is the fault of other countries, religions, or people. Fair enough. But why are we always in the middle of their house fumigating their pests? Your answer will no doubt be because if we don’t get their roaches over there, then their roaches will come over here. But even if that response has some merit, it still doesn’t speak to the underlying insanity of the process of continuous fumigation. We fumigate because it pays well. We get to sell pest control equipment (weapons). We get access to the house (oil resources). We get a service contract that never ends (our constant protection and control). We are the Terminix Empire.
I do not believe in a Utopian world where we have to accept the presence of the cockroaches and must feel a great deal of moral angst in stepping on the creature. To accept the cockroaches is a form of pacifism, which suggests you can’t or shouldn’t protect yourself. However, the constant fumigation without the cleaning is the other end of the pendulum. It is the insanity of refusing to call into question the constant fumigation, when the cause of the infestation is clear to anyone who decides to perceive the obvious, the house of filth.
The chaos in the Middle East is complicated. But the determination to overthrow Saddam Hussein in 2003 has set forces in play that continue to destabilize the region. Our successful efforts to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and our as yet unsuccessful efforts to overthrow Bashar al-Assad in Syria, have taken the insanity to new levels. Chaos is our calling card. It has created ISIS. It has caused refugees to flee into Europe. It has forced the Russian’s into the region. It is now being blamed for the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Strong societal and political forces will respond in Europe and America. Our CIA director is already trying to justify increased surveillance of Americans for our safety. American Governors are refusing to admit Syrian Refugees. Presidential candidates are talking openly about policy prescriptions that couldn’t be breached before. One local official suggested camps for refugees patterned after the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II.
There is a third way. Start the process of cleaning up the house! We need to get control of our government and prevent it from starting or fanning the flames of war. You may think the government is just inept. I think its actions are purposefully calculated to keep us afraid and compliant. But whatever the truth, the prescription is the same. Take control of our government for the benefit of Americans and stop the warmongers.
Our failure is allowing our political class to constantly frame problems outside the context of the real world. They create these small narratives that never ask why we seem to be fighting the same conflicts over and over. Where did ISIS come from? Did we help create it directly or indirectly? If our actions stem the immediate threat, will they eventually help us to prevent the reoccurrence of the threat?
Those in power would have you believe that the chaos we painfully watch in the Middle East is the result of Fundamentalist Islamists, economic and political oppression, religious intolerance, resource acquisition, and countless other factors. All of these are good candidates and play their role. But the only thing we have control over is what role our government plays in the region. Is our government acting smartly, honorably, and in the interest of peace, or are we just fomenting chaos to create the next enemy, and to justify more erosion of our liberties and an ever-larger military and national security budgets?
The cockroaches are clearly a symptom of a larger problem, the unclean house. Suggesting that the house needs to be cleaned does not suggest you shouldn’t deal with the infestation. Nor does it suggest you might not have a cockroach or two in the future. It merely suggests that we need to get the house cleaned up so we don’t live in the perpetual cycle of stupidity.
If we don’t break this chain, then our illogical and dysfunctional efforts will eventually lead to super cockroaches that are more resistant to our efforts and their constant presence will spawn a plague of diseases that will consume us. Eventually, we all will pay the bill in the form of debt, wars in foreign countries, and increasing chaos at home. But there is an upside, our pest controllers, the political class, will be able to pound their chests telling valiant tales of how they relentlessly fumigated those damn cockroaches, as they proudly and ignorantly stand in the filth of the house that War built.
Big D, Esoteric Bunker