Skip to main content

On Sovereignty

Here's a thought exercise. Roughly half of our country is displeased with our current leadership in both the executive branch and the vast majority of people are displeased with the legislative branch of our government. It's also worth noting that the other half was equally displeased with the executive branch leadership from 2008-2016. This fact stands no matter the opinion of the other side; in both cases roughly half the nation pined for a wholesale change in leadership, and a resistance movement was launched. Back then they liked tea, right now they wear pink ears on their heads. 

Let's say that right now another powerful country or alliance of nations (Russia, China, the EU, pick one or several) says that it sympathizes with the resistance movement in our country and makes it a part of their international policy to fund and arm militants from Canada to sneak into our country and join/take over the current resistance movement. This sparks a civil war between these now-armed and well-funded resistance fighters and the US Armed forces. As a result of the fighting, Boston, Chicago, parts of New York and LA are reduced to a burning heap of rubble such that they look something like this:

Image result

This process, of course, also results in a massive loss of lives, with hundreds of thousands of US citizens on both sides of the political spectrum dead. 

Would you be cool with this?

No?

Then you shouldn't be cool with, or even ambivalent about what's going on in Syria right now. Because this scenario is what has been happening there for the past five years. Just replace the current executive leadership with President Bashar al-Assad, the "sympathetic" super-power with the US, and the well-funded and armed "rebels" with ISIS. Yes, that last part is factually correct: the US government, under the leadership of Obama and Clinton, provided funding, arms and training to ISIS fighters to join the previously peaceful Assad-resistance movement and subsequently destroy Syrian cities and lives in a violent civil war. These are the so-called "rebels" fighting the Syrian army.

It's important to note that the Obama administration (including Hillary Clinton) was not some sort of innovator when it comes to funding terrorist organizations. For example, the Reagan administration funded the Contras to wage guerrilla warfare against the sovereign government of Nicaragua; the Iraqi army under Sadam Hussein to fight Iran; and the Mujahideen (Taliban) led by bin Laden to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. Indeed, here you can find a depressingly long, well-referenced list of 37 sovereign nation on which the US has waged direct or proxy wars since WWII, resulting in anywhere between 10 and 30 million deaths. Here's another long list containing the assassinations and other acts of "regime change" carried out by the CIA around the world. 

This is America's business, this is what they do. 

This entity claims that we are intervening in Syria---and in so doing initiating another cold war with Russia, who was invited into Syria by the sovereign Syrian government---because we think President Assad is a bad person who does bad things to his people, and as a result we want a regime change. Who knows if this is true. The truth is probably closer to the fact that Syria wanted to collaborate with other sovereign nations in the region to build their own oil pipeline and thus control their own natural resources, which doesn't fit with the plans of major US/European oil companies.

But let's say that Assad really is a bad guy. Our leaders tend to do pretty bad things to people, too. Reagan systematically destroyed the New Deal and in so doing helped build one of the largest wealth gaps in our nation's history while destroying the rights of workers (see his busting of the air controller strike for an example). Bill Clinton presided over the largest increase in the systematic imprisonment of Black people since the time of slavery. And when it comes to our opinion of foreign leaders, we said the same thing about Sadam and Iraq, too. Do you remember how the case for invading Iraq was based on the story that Sadam did terrible things to his people and had ties to terrorism? Do you remember how the mass media, from CNN to Fox News joined hands and sang the same song over and over until the country believed the stories (70% of Americans believe that Sadam had ties to the 9/11 attack)? I certainly remember how that narrative was absolutely, demonstrably false.

Well, there's a eerily similar story that has been fed to us over the past five years regarding Syria, and the same outfit are doing the selling: America's propaganda arm embodied by the mass media. They were 100% wrong back then, and they're wrong now. Indeed, to say that they are simply wrong is giving them a lot of credit. Another way to put it is that they knowingly lied to the public.

Tune them out. Seek other voices. Fortunately it looks like Syria has beaten us and protected its sovereignty, and as a result we may have dodged direct conflict with Russia, the only other nuclear super power (at least for now, but who knows with the Democrats blaming them for everything under the sun). When this happens again---and it will, because apparently North Korea is "begging for war"---don't give them your consent for yet another war on yet another sovereign country, no matter how much you think their leader is bad. That is, unless you think that Americans are inherently superior and exceptional in the world; if you believe in the supremacy of some people compared to others. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:


It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…

Culture: Made Fresh Daily

There are two inspirations for this essay worth noting. The first is an impromptu talk I gave to the board of trustees at Thatcher School while I was visiting in October as an Anacapa Fellow. Spending time on this remarkable campus interacting with the students, faculty and staff helped solidify my notions about how culture can be intentionally created. The second source is Beam Times and Lifetimes by Sharon Tarweek, an in-depth exploration of the culture of particle physics told by an anthropologist embedded at SLAC for two decades. It's a fascinating look at the strange practices and norms that scientists take for granted.
One of the stories that scientists tell themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, is that science exists outside of and independent of society. A corollary of this notion is that if a scientific subfield has a culture, e.g. the culture of astronomy vs. the culture of chemistry, that culture is essential rather than constructed. That is to say, scientific c…

The subtle yet real racism of the Supreme Court

Judge Roberts, a member of the highest court in the land, which is currently hearing the sad story of mediocre college aspirant Abigail Fischer, recently asked, "What unique ­perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class? I’m just wondering what the benefits of diversity are in that situation?" 
Did you catch the white supremacy in this question? If not, don't feel bad because it's subtly hidden beneath the cloaking field of colorblind racism. (As for Scalia's ign'nt-ass statements, I'm not even...)
Try rephrasing the question: "What unique perspective does a white student bring to a physics classroom?" The answer is, of course, absolutely nothing! Why? Because race isn't biological, and is therefore not deterministic of cognitive abilities. Did you perhaps forget that you knew that when considering Roberts' question? If so, again, it's understandable. Our society and culture condition all of us to forget basic facts …