Sexual Violence in Afghanistan

Trigger Warning: Sexual Violence

“American efforts at recruitment have been marked by a 30,000-foot perspective that focuses on numbers, but lacks a sense of the realities for Afghan women on the ground: Many families are wary of allowing their daughters to enlist, acutely aware of cultural notions that women in security forces are “loose” because they work so closely alongside men. A false rumor is all it can take for a male colleague, or neighbor, to undermine a woman’s career — and even cost her her life.”

I can personally confirm nearly everything in this op-ed. Within the Afghan unit I advised for a year I knew male Afghan soldiers who routinely harassed, assaulted, and raped female Afghan soldiers. We, the advisers, could not stop this practice because if we talked about this reality to anyone or even mentioned that we knew it occurred, the women would most likely have been killed in retaliation by the male Afghan soldiers, or out of shame/honor by the families of the female soldiers, who were often unaware their daughters were serving. Having to drink tea and shake hands with active rapists to keep up appearances, not offend their fragile masculinity, and prevent them from killing women you have no power or authority to help is a moral quagmire I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

In this context, I had ISAF/RS advisers focusing on women’s empowerment in Afghanistan visit our camp. Their major focus was making sure all the female soldiers had the proper boot sizes. Unfortunately, the Afghan boot factory had burned down a few years before, so we had to inform them that we were having trouble locating boots for the female soldiers, but had placed an order for the needed boot sizes with an American manufacturer. While this satisfied ISAF/RS temporarily, we had to give weekly updates on the status of the boot order to ensure women were empowered in Afghanistan.

For the record, the violence and trauma inflicted on everyone in Afghanistan is not because of some innate cultural or religious issue present within the many diverse ethnic groups that make up the region. The cause of violence and trauma in Afghanistan is the violence and trauma that has been inflicted on the people of Afghanistan for their entire lives. Their psyches, like all psyches raised with trauma, have developed coping and survival mechanisms, many of them horrific, as a response to the extreme trauma of their environment.

Choosing Peace

“Perhaps a memorable day will come when a nation renowned in wars and victories, distinguished by the highest development of military order and intelligence, and accustomed to make the heaviest sacrifice to these objects, will voluntarily exclaim, “We will break our swords” and will destroy its whole military system, lock, stock, and barrel.  Making ourselves defenseless (after having been the most strongly defended) from a loftiness of sentiment — that is the means towards genuine peace, which must always rest upon a pacific disposition.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, The Means Towards Genuine Peace, The Wanderer and his Shadow, the second supplement to Human, All Too Human, first published in 1880.

Our psyche contains reagents for peace, civilization, and violence. These potentials coexist with individual morality and bring a semblance of order to an otherwise disorderly universe. Organization assists our consciousness with navigating reality as we interact with, learn from, and classify data gathered through sensory experiences. Categorized data serves as the canvass on which we paint our social narratives. When we construct a foundational worldview, the direction we believe our narrative will or should go, what is really taking place is a series of interactions between our chemistry, habitual neural networks, and the arbitrary external stimuli gleaned from our limited senses. We synthesize fantasy into reality by combining disparate points of data and projecting the results.

In reaction to the unclassified universe, the human mind, collectively and over time, has used fantasy to condense its environment into local, cataloged, qualified, quantified, and taken-for-granted constructs. This reductionism provides buoyancy for feelings of efficacy, comprehension, and meaning as humanity floats on a precariously constructed raft in the midst of the vast and infinite ocean of possibilities that exist outside present perception and understanding. While simplifying the universe into narratives derived from our current limitations allows for decisiveness, it places key elements of human empowerment, self-awareness, intentionality, and collective action, beyond our reach.

We are individuals battling for relative prominence and power on a rickety raft; a species whose triumphs are limited by the bounds of its popular constructs. However, as a conscious community, our true fate is inextricably linked to our ability to collectively overcome the limitations of believing we are individual parts in conflict. Humanity must awaken to the knowledge that our raft is an illusion.

Peace through consciousness

Just as our cerebral alchemy blends available chemicals to create consciousness, the multivariate human mind produces external actions we label as peaceful or violent, good or bad. Violence is an action that inflicts trauma whereas peace is the absence of trauma. Civilization is the result of a preponderance of communal choices of peace over violence. Within individual civilizations, good and bad are constructed reactions to arbitrary external stimuli passed through whatever filters the local history instilled into the conscious and unconscious mind of a civilization’s adherents. By contrast, the constructs of peace and violence are universal and static.

Peace, as a foundational worldview, is not arbitrary or malleable. It is not couched in eras, popular constructs, or specific contexts. Peace does not require a codified ruleset that must be interpreted by an individual consciousness when interfacing with and acting within infinitely interpretable realities. Peace, unlike the concept of good, is not a force that creates an equal and opposite reaction; it’s entirely self-contained. To live in peace, one performs peace within and without at every decision-point regardless of the internal or external presence of good, bad, or violence.

Whether we understand the world through western ideas or eastern ideas or anarchy or nihilism or authoritarianism, communism, capitalism, democracy, monarchy, theocracy, consumerism, ignorance, anti-fascism, fascism, anti-life, or pro-death, the individual consciousness remains the primary agent in the fundamental choice between peace and violence. The paradox of concomitant potential peace and violence within each of us is consistent across disparate cultural philosophies, amalgamations of governance, and technological eras.  If we conclude that some version of free will exists as the result of chemical reactions in our habitual neural pathways fueling the production of a unique consciousness capable of decisions with some level of independence from external context, we must conclude we are capable of choosing between acts of peace and acts of violence. These choices, made by individually conscious beings at every moment of their existence, determine the state of human civilization.

On violence

Violence is an act, not a result; a means via trauma. There is no separation between the transformation of energy into a traumatic act and the consciousness that chooses or is directed unconsciously to use its own energy to facilitate that transformation. An act of violence sends an explosion of psychological shrapnel in all directions. The subsequent conscious or unconscious choices made by those who use, experience, witness, or passively accept violence are subject to a basic law of physics, the equal energy of reaction. Trauma is an energy, and as energy is neither created nor destroyed, the traumatized consciousness chooses how trauma will be transformed. The power of human consciousness is its capacity to make choices via broad synthesis rather than binary reactive feedback. We draw upon a lifetime of data to analyze lessons, extract information, and implement remedies. Our choice to transform traumatic energy depends on how we choose to synthesize and interpret the lessons of our collective input.

I learned this through wielding, facilitating, observing, and experiencing violence myself in varying extremes, from childhood traumas to war. Through Jungian analysis, transcendental meditation, sensory deprivation, an amateur study of neurology, and any other method I could imagine that might assist, I deconstructed these personal traumas to better understand myself and humanity’s relationship with violence. My conclusion was that while trauma does contain important data, how we interpret that data determines how we transform traumatic energy and whether that transformation will lead to additional traumas.

When discussing seemingly justified violence for the betterment of a defined portion of humanity, the act of violence itself, and its impact on everything it touches, cannot be ignored. One human must perform violence on another human in order to achieve the projected beneficial results. While the expected outcomes may feel righteous through the user’s filters, violence itself is never righteous. An act of violence is always trauma.

After Frodo Baggins returns from defeating his constructed reality’s definition of evil, a feat he manages (with some last minute assistance) by absorbing evil while attempting to maintain his self, he realizes he will never be the same. “How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back. There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep… that have taken hold.” J.R.R. Tolkien, having experienced some of the most traumatic violence ever created by mankind during what was then called the war to end all wars, adeptly portrays his central figure’s struggle to return to peace after exposure to consolidated violent power. Frodo’s decision, as Tolkien wrote, was to journey into the West to live among the immortal Eldar in hopes of finding an existence removed from the traumas of his past.

In the reality we inhabit, achieving an existence removed from trauma is not a magical journey to a place of tranquility, but rather a quest towards peace and harmony within. Once achieved and maintained, this internal, consciously chosen peace has the power to reshape our external environment, create organic, sustainable civilizations, and empower our species to transcend the traumas of its past.

Civilization is not violence

Violence and civilization are endlessly entangled concepts; two competing strands of DNA jockeying for ephemeral prominence, the growing inertia of one stymied by the reactive swells of the other. Despite intermittent heights of civilization and depths of violence, their respective periodic golden eras have never severed their mutual dependence. Human-crafted ideas that comprise civilization, also known as constructs, are imbued with justifications for violence, meaning civilization relies on violence to maintain order and violence requires consciousness and civilization for validation. Because the nature of this link is dependent upon humans, these concepts have avoided a lasting equilibrium and continue to dominate our political, philosophical, moral, spiritual, and intellectual bandwidth.

Humanity’s flirtation with consciousness and self-awareness has been mixed. Human action is determined by an endless variety of biological mutations, uncountable micro-interactions adding up to what we call socialization, external, historically dependent constructs, and whatever power or influence an individual’s own consciousness claws out for itself within their internal psychological landscape. The ratio of total conscious actions versus total unconscious actions isn’t quantifiable, so the concept of individual fault is convoluted, particularly with the potential for unconscious actions fueled by biology, socialization, and external constructs. When an individual human consciousness transgresses, the blame is spread across every factor that influenced the transgression.

Rather than use moral lenses to observe and judge human actions of unknown origin, it’s easier to discuss and judge the results of those actions. Humanity’s collective outcomes have been inconsistent and often alter the balance of power between violence and civilization. The nature of these actions has changed as humanity’s constructed world has changed, but whether our constructs in the fields of biology, technology, and politics have actually allowed humanity to intentionally evolve in a way that will lead to sustainable equilibriums of violence and civilization remains to be seen. Some level of violence and some level of civilization have always accompanied humanity as it journeyed into the uncharted wilderness of collective-awareness and actualization.

The transition from nomadic hunter-gatherer bands to rooted agrarian societies brought with it the novelty of surplus. Whether surplus individuals or materials, this change aggregated over generations and resulted in a shift in human actions, some enabling greater violence and some enabling greater civilization. Violence-enabling surpluses, particularly in the context of competing civilizations, create military force. The creation of this force results in a security dilemma.

Fortunately for early humans, the limits of their nascent violence-enabling technology, along with restrictive surpluses, prevented violence from achieving dominance over civilization. Unfortunately for modern humans, the advance of these technologies has greatly increased the risk of ascendant violence, which remains proportional to the consolidation of power into accessible and proliferated actions. With global communications, connectivity, and transportation, a single determined individual, whether from a seat of traditional power or from the margins of civilization, can dramatically impact the world.

It is in this context we must consider the existence and meaning of the United States military, rightly labeled but wrongly celebrated as the most powerful fighting force ever created by humanity. This unprecedented power is wielded through a combination of executive decisions originating from a democratically elected commander-in-chief, budgeting and authorization provided by a democratically elected legislative body, authoritarian organizational methods and orders from a militarized chain of command, and the individual decisions of service members. These mechanisms work together to create a force capable of destroying nearly all life on Earth. The problem with creating the most powerful destructive force in history is that it also creates the largest security dilemma in history for every other group of organized people.

The power of any force will always be met by an equal, opposing force. In political terms this means that whatever the relative power of any individual military, it will always find its opposing force. While not exclusively martial in nature, this contra force is the expression of an entire interconnected planet’s worth of individual and collective power. As access to greater power has increased and proliferated through the spread of new technology, the contra force to the most powerful military ever created has forced the United States to devote increasingly large portions of its budget and energy to maintaining its strategy of overmatch, a zero-sum game for other neglected but no less vital civilizational priorities. Unfortunately, investing in a more powerful military means inadvertently but inevitably increasing the power of contra forces; an unsustainable course of action for any individual nation.

Calls for disarmament and re-prioritization inexorably lead back to the security dilemma, the idea that internal actions related to security are viewed as hostile actions by external actors and increase conflict potentials. This idea is deeply rooted in human survival instincts, with relative power viewed in terms of danger and threat. However, human survival instincts are anathema to civilization.

Breaking the Security Dilemma

The only way to destroy a construct as insidious as the security dilemma is to consciously dismantle its mutually reinforcing parts. Zero violence is never the goal, because unconscious violence, violence derived from instinct or overpowering mental illness, will always exist. This form of violence, when it occurs, requires patience and work to uncover how variables within the originating society contributed to the release of trauma. In many cases, those variables can be addressed with equal work and patience. Unfortunately the many variables present within a population of 7.6 billion prevents the cessation of every form of unconscious violence. While it cannot be eliminated, by learning the right lessons from each instance of trauma, the impact will not only be mitigated, it can be used as a learning tool to improve upon a civilization’s weaknesses.

Achieving zero conscious violence is another matter entirely. The creation and maintenance of a military force is an admission by a regional administrative organization that conscious violence is not only tolerable, but necessary within the bounds of their self-defined and enforced social constructs. Whether distance, difference, or ignorance leads a civilization down the road of conscious violence, the results of trauma within and without are the same. This form of violence can and should be eliminated from human civilization, and it must begin with the military of the global hegemon. Only with an end to this existential threat to life can we begin dismantling the security dilemma and work towards sustainable peace. We must minimize conditions for potential trauma and maximize conditions for potential happiness.

Every force is met by an equal and opposite force, even when destroying our own pretenses of safety and security. If we fear the loss of our military, we should question the validity of that fear. We must not let fear continue controlling our lives or the lives of so many who are already impacted by violence rooted in the night terrors of the American people.

A different state of nature

The classic political concepts of the “state of nature” and the “social contract” are based on a misunderstanding of the origins of humanity. Life was not nasty, brutish, and short when humans were hunter-gatherers; it was relaxed, equitable, and short. This fundamental confusion about the origin of our species has contributed to the falsehood that our social contract serves as a monopoly on violence to protect one consciousness from another. It is through the trauma of poor constructs and poor civilizational models that we believe we need protection.

Humans do not wish to kill other humans. This is a central anchor within our psyches which allows us to work together to achieve greater collective outcomes. It is only when unconscious trauma becomes conscious trauma through cycles of violence, poor methods of redress, and applying incorrectly learned lessons that humans develop conscious desires to inflict trauma and commit conscious actions that accomplish that goal.

Is seeing a path to peace naïve? Perhaps it is naïve to believe humans wish to continue building civilization. Presently, it appears many are just as satisfied with being the last generation of their kind as they might be had they considered the alternative, which is to exist as a link in a chain of consciousness the stretches off into an unknown infinity. The creation of children in this environment is a cruel joke on future generations as we grow unsustainably and consume unsustainably and traumatize unsustainably. We are asking our children to grow up and clean up a mess that was too broken and complicated to fix ourselves. We must not leave this to our children, for we have the power to fix the world right now. This power is within each of us and projected with every choice we make.

The civilization we have built is as fragile as the nearest genocide, as frail as the latest threat of nuclear destruction. The constructs that control our civilization, for all their faults, were built over generations of effort and sacrifice and death and learning and can be lost in a moment; our records wiped clean and our knowledge destroyed. Every generation has the choice of whether it will preserve, enhance, or burn its Library of Alexandria. My greatest fear is that this choice will be made for us by our traumatized collective unconscious.

We are links in a chain of conscious life and grains of sand on the scales of universal history. Let us recognize our power and learn how to wield it with the humility of a happy grain, towards peace.

Free Will

Do we have free will? Can we intentionally impact the world around us? Are we incredibly complex biological automatons reacting to our environment through filters placed on us by our natural chemistry, environmentally absorbed chemicals, external stimuli, and social constructs?

Free will and unpredictability are not the same. Lacking the ability to predict the actions of complex systems means our model is currently not accurate enough to factor in every possible variable. If we are automatons, eventually our algorithms and models will catch up with our variables and our future will be clear.

If we aren’t destined to live within the constraints of our variable maze, we can claim free will for ourselves by making deliberate choices and using willpower to enforce those choices. If we know we could do better, treat our brain in healthier ways, expose our neural networks to better chemicals from our food and environment, maintain healthier personal relationships, and use our brains to positively influence and improve the world around us, we can prove to ourselves and the universe that indeed we do have free will.

Humans, like all independent entities, use energy to fuel their existence. To suddenly impose free will on the entirety of a life governed by our monstrously complicated systems would take a massive personal expenditure of limited energy resources. This is why creating a mutually reinforcing and beneficial infrastructure, over time and with much work and progressive effort, for individuals and groups is of vital importance.

Freeing humans to use their personally maintained energy reserves to enhance their own free will, allowing necessary surpluses to enable thoughtful choices, is of vital importance as we move towards the automation of tasks formerly powered by human energy. The energy remainder after that transition is currently unaccounted for. If we remain a violent, traumatized civilization with excess energy and ever increasing access to advanced and untested technology, our external environments will come to reflect our internal environments.

This is the test we face as a species; do we accept the challenge of actualizing our free will to create a sustainable civilization, or do we deny our birthright and let the hand of fate dictate, through our ad hoc system of unplanned growth, consumption, and trauma, the inevitable destruction of all we have built?

Buddy Christ

Interesting subplot in the Roy Moore saga:

Comparisons of Moore to biblical Joseph are spot-on.

If I was transported to the year -1, would I personally support, condone, or allow the marriage of (according to tenants of the Abrahamic faith) the teenage future possible mother of the son of the Abrahamic god to a much older man? It was normal. Joseph’s child marriage is simply one of the uncountable other child marriages that have taken place and still continue to take place all around the world.

Let’s be clear, when I say “child marriage” I doubt the first thought that comes to mind is a little boy exploited by their family and an older man. Babies are born every day into an environment in which men regularly molest, rape, and marry young women and molest and rape young boys. Let’s be perfectly clear now, in most cultures, including the US, young boys are raped and molested by older men at highly under-reported rates. These rates nearly compare to the highly under-reported rates of older men, especially those with any type of power, who are collectively raping, molesting, and marrying women.

Fun fact: I’ve read, observed, and witnessed this because I’ve spent time in societies that were exploited by imperialist nations and found they often have a more widely accepted tradition of raping and molesting young people. It is hidden less well there than it was (until recently) in imperialist nations. However, regardless of how well hidden or shrouded the practice is in any particular culture, its existence is consistent throughout cultures. Men with power exploit others.

We can graph out our idea of a less developed civilization with our idea of a more developed civilization, do a cross cultural comparison of development and concentrations of power, and see evidence that nations with more diffused power were exploited by nations with more consolidated concentrations of power. The fate of the historical notion of nation states rests in the way its power is distributed. Greater distribution leads to easier exploitation by neighbors or foes with greater concentration, because greater concentration allows for energy organization and extraction by a centrally powerful arbiter. This arbiter can then wield an acutely concentrated power to outmatch the individually diffused powers of a divided and conquered foe.

Unfortunately, greater consolidation of power also leads to greater concentration of risk. The internet certainly helps concentrate power for those who know how to wield it, but it also offers us a way to functionally keep power diffused while still remaining highly organized. As a population grows, factions splinter and one individual can come to influence the energy of larger and larger groups of individuals and wield that power as they see fit. We must figure out whether to thank or curse g-d and/or the universe for the diffused and currently fairly egalitarian power of the internet, because this moment of diffused power will help make us or break us as a species.

Men of the world, all of you. Why do you have moments of your life you have to repress?

1.Deal with your collective misdeeds in whatever regenerative, maximally, mutually, and collectively beneficial way is easiest for you to achieve in your particular situation. The internet is such a powerful tool!

2. After this, start living a consistent life without forgetting you and only you have the power to control every single one of your own actions. Increased power and ability to do this comes with time and lots of practice.

3. Finally, be part of building a collectively beneficial environment that enables and sustains a collectively rational lifestyle for everyone using whatever creative tips, techniques, and technology all our minds can muster. Everyone’s your equal, deal with it in a positive way.

A little veteran self-righteousness for your Veteran’s Day (Observed).

Hint: They’re all Traitors!!!

Let’s talk traitors! Label each number BT for “Bloody Traitor” or NT for “Not a Traitor”

1. A person who joins the military, doesn’t like it, and openly criticizes the military.

2. A person who never votes in their regional administrative organization’s elections and applies for welfare from that regional administrative organization.

3. A person who has friends from lots of regions of the world and openly criticizes the administrative organization claiming dominion over where the person was born.

4. A person who votes for an administrative leader who has economic and social ties to other regions of the world.

5. A person who generally wants to get rid of the administrative organization claiming dominion over where the person was born to replace it with something better.

6. A person who is actively thinking of ways to better diffuse concentrations of wealth and power, including dismantling the administrative organization claiming dominion over where the person was born.

7. A person who offers economic, political, moral, or spiritual support to some form of concentrated wealth and power that impacts other human beings without their consent.

8. A person who lies about who they are and what they’ve done in order to manipulate the image they are attempting to intentionally construct in the mind’s of others.

9. A person who sees greater connections between human beings from different regions than between administrative organizations and the human beings who were born in the regions over which those organizations claim dominion.

10. A person who works to create and then use tax collection loopholes in order to minimize their support for their local administrative organization while benefiting from that local administration’s services.

11. A person who works to create a regional administrative organization that will benefit that person and their friends at the expense of people who are not that person or their friends.

12. A person who likes a region they were not born in more than the region where they were born.

13. A person who does not know or denies the full, both good and bad, history of the region where they were born and then advocates or votes for a regional administration that reflects that ignorance.

14. A person who learns the full history of the region where they were born and then advocates or votes to dismantle a regional administration that reflects ignorance of that history.

15. A person who uses violence to accomplish something that, logically, benefits more people than it hurts.

16. A person who refuses to use violence to accomplish anything, even when it would benefit more people than it would hurt.

17. A person who doesn’t care what happens to the administrative organization claiming dominion over where the person is born.

News from Dystopia

The Judgmental Auctioneer
Sotheby’s newest star redefines the value of art

It seems like an evening like any other at Sotheby’s, though the buyers know tonight will be anything but standard operating procedure.  Known as a popular spot for trillionaires to embarrass billionaires, Sotheby’s has begun a bold new experiment in auctioneering. Using the personal judgment of their new auctioneer to decide whether wealthy aspirant owners deserve the prestige that comes from owning a certified classic work of human creativity, Sotheby’s has suddenly transformed the art world into something that transcends cash itself.

The bold move was initially viewed as a desperate attention-grab from the auction house, which has been battling to stay relevant in the age of eBay Platinum. It has, however, sparked renewed interest in the novelty of In Real Life (IRL) shopping. This is, in large part, thanks to the forceful presence of The Auctioneer.

Meeting The Auctioneer is a singular experience. The first thing The Auctioneer will tell you, or anyone who happens to be in the same room, about The Auctioneer is that The Auctioneer is the only proper noun or pronoun with which to address The Auctioneer. The second thing, at least in my experience, is that looking The Auctioneer in the eyes is offensive and reflects lessons the viewer must have learned from the white male patriarchy (WMP).

After the polite formalities are observed, The Auctioneer is ready to explain The Auctioneer’s unique style. “The Auctioneer knows what’s right, that’s all anyone needs to know.” The Auctioneer explains to me over a lunch of cavier and goji berries. “The Auctioneer went to the best schools and received the best education, but that’s not what makes The Auctioneer special. The Auctioneer is special because there is only one The Auctioneer. The Auctioneer’s lifelong struggle to enforce acceptance has informed The Auctioneer’s entirely unique, new, and special viewpoint. No one has ever had The Auctioneer’s viewpoint in the history of humanity.”

This spirit of hearty American individualism is on full display when the lights go up and The Auctioneer confidently strides to The Auctioneer’s specially made podium. The opening item of the evening is a beautiful 17th century European landscape (names of paintings and artists withheld out of respect to the new owners). Rather than set standard opening price, The Auctioneer simply glowers at the audience before asking who thinks they deserve the painting.

A hand shoots up, “I do.”

The speaker is a slender man in a gorgeous gown with red and gold trim. The Auctioneer narrows The Auctioneer’s eyes before spitting out a series of seemingly non-sequitur questions about the man’s food habits, political views, favorite charities, exercise schedule, which private school his children attend, and how many hours of sleep he gets each night. Apparently displeased with the response, The Auctioneer shakes The Auctioneer’s head and moves on.

This process repeats itself three more times before The Auctioneer finally seems satisfied with an individual and pronounces, “You deserve this.” The audience gives The Auctioneer a standing ovation before moving on to the next item.

After four of five lots, the most striking aspect of the scene is the absence of dollar values. Not once is the price of a painting discussed, only the quality of the purchaser. Over and over, The Auctioneer quizzes individuals and finds them unworthy, with The Auctioneer’s judgement as the solitary arbiter of value.

When the night’s proceedings conclude I corner a staff member to inquire further. The staff member, who requested anonymity, informs me every person in the audience has more money than god, so determining auction winners via monetary bids had become passé. Looking around, clearly that night’s winners had achieved something greater than merely purchasing a classic work of art, they had passed through a gauntlet and emerged as a validated human.

The judgmental model may not be for everyone, and certainly not for anyone with fewer than triple digit billions, but other industries are beginning to take notice. Certain top-secret classified stores on the Upper East Side are beginning to implement similar quizzes for prospective clients before allowing them to shop. Whether these tests will have the same force sans The Auctioneer remains to be seen.

BENS domestic intel ideas are bad

BENS report (link at bottom, how do you feel about the roster for their Practioners Panel?) from 2015 advocating consolidating US domestic intelligence…

nope 🐙 nope 🐙 nope 🐙 nope 🐙 nope 🐙 nope 🐙

Key bad idea passage followed by typical bad idea bullet points:

“There is widespread agreement that our domestic security apparatus must be improved. Our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are operating without an enterprise-wide concept at the federal level. This shortcoming impedes the federal government’s ability to optimally conduct domestic intelligence activities in support of counterterrorism and related missions and to provide effective oversight of these activities. It also hinders its ability to fully support and use the 800,000 law enforcement officers at the state and local levels in the national effort.”

In English they are saying that elites in America agree we need to scare people into thinking the government should be allowed wider domestic spying and detainment powers in order to stamp out emerging threats using an “enterprise-wide concept” (lol come on guys). The “shortcomings” they claim need addressing are there because the US gov put specific checks in place to make it illegal to spy on its own citizens, something that becomes more and more grey as domestic terrorism gets hyped as a threat. But are you more likely to die in America from a toddler or terrorist? (Hint: Apparently we need an enterprise-wide concept to root out this toddler menace.

What BENS Recommends:

The ensuing recommendations represent those actions that the Practitioners Panel believed offer the most immediate path for substantive improvement to the United States’ domestic counterterrorism posture, while also enhancing civil liberties protections. They include:

• Establishing integrated fusion centers located in the highest-threat areas by enhancing analytic capability and collocating selected federal intelligence components – such as from the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs), Field Intelligence Groups (FIGs), National Mission Cells, and other relevant federal national security intelligence entities – with state and local law enforcement.🤤 We also need some DATES and OLIVES. Better safe than WATCHING YOUR FAMILY BLOWN TO SMITHEREENS, YOU NAIVE FOOL!

• Increasing the mutual awareness of state and local law enforcement and FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces by creating mechanisms to ensure that information about current counterterrorism investigations is shared with state and local partners in real-time, and that closed case information is likewise provided to state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) assets so that they can determine whether to pursue independent investigations;😹Yes, let’s turn every local police unit into a Joint Operations Center fighting the evils of cats in trees (probably put there by terrorists, can’t be sure, intel is unclear) and opiates. I promise none of these business leaders had anything to do with the opiate epidemic.

• Enhancing intelligence analyst capabilities and interoperability through the development and application of high-quality, standardized training for intelligence personnel at all levels of government and the application of Goldwater-Nichols style joint duty and joint training protocols; 🙈 Agreed, Barry Goldwater and The John Birch Society were spot on about domestic security issues. And Goldwater-Nichols was a brilliant piece of legislation helping us kill non-Americans more better, i mean, Panama!

• Encouraging the service and retention of high-quality analysts through career path enhancement and incentives; 👩‍⚖️Agree. We need to make sure our serious professionals only come from a few schools of thought, or else how would we ever reach consensus and take action? Gotta take dem actions.

• Bringing greater federal focus on domestic intelligence structures and processes by assigning a Deputy-level officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to manage the programmatic aspects of the federal domestic intelligence effort, and enhancing the use of the Domestic DNI Representatives to bring strategic coordination to the myriad federal agencies operating in the field;😵🤮🤢🤡Bureaucracy will save us all! So this person (wouldn’t it be so progressive if they were trans??? #progress#breakingbarriers) would be in charge of managing DNI reps that would liaise with domestic intel operations? Sounds like some Xtreme synergy to me.

• Establishing a domestic threat framework through an annual, interagency process to assess and prioritize domestic threats and intelligence needs;👨‍💼👩‍💼 Gotta have that annual interagency glad-handing. So sorry to the staff-level pukes for the increased workload. But these PowerPoints will keep us safe, so it’s all worth it.

• Enabling better coordination and management of federal intelligence efforts by including within the definition of the Intelligence Community (IC) those federal entities that undertake domestic intelligence activities but are not now included as members of the IC; thereby enhancing strategic planning and budgeting, and affording intelligence based oversight of their activities; 😧😨😩🤯 Uhhh…more consolidated intel. That sounds like a really, really bad idea to me. And not just from a conspiracy, big-brother perspective, but like, from an operational security perspective it makes the US intel community a much easier target. Increased membership always means increased risk.

• Strengthening the intelligence culture at the FBI by (i) creating a reporting relationship, as determined by the FBI Director, for the Executive Assistant Director (EAD) of the Intelligence Branch to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence with respect to intelligence priorities and community management (while preserving its direct reporting relationship to the FBI Director for operational matters); and (ii) enhancing internal recruitment, training and talent management programs for its
intelligence analysts; 😋🤩 I think the intelligence at the FBI could use some strengthening.

• Enhancing the capabilities of DHS’ Office of Intelligence & Analysis by focusing its attention on those missions unique to it, such as critical infrastructure protection; border and transportation security; aggregation of intelligence information from DHS subcomponent agencies (such as Customs and Border Patrol); and providing leadership and assistance to the integrated fusion centers and the remainder of the fusion center network, especially programs for countering violent extremism; and; 🤬🤬🤬 DHS does such a good job with our airports, why not give them purview over all our domestic travel?

• Improving Congress’ ability to provide oversight of domestic intelligence activities by having all domestic intelligence activities authorized and overseen by the Intelligence Committees, and by creating an Intelligence Appropriations Subcommittee in each chamber to appropriate funds to support those activities. 🧟‍♀️🧟‍♂️Thank god at least there will be some oversight from our Congress, which 100% does not take money from any of the people who wrote this.

These recommendations do not represent an endpoint for change nor are they a finite solution to confronting the terrorist threats to the homeland. Change must be a constant effort. As the terrorist threats continue to change and adapt, so too must our domestic counterterrorism structures. Failure to adapt will leave the United States vulnerable to terrorist threats that are increasingly difficult for our current structures and processes to manage. If enacted however, the recommendations will move the needle toward increasing the operational efficiency of our domestic counterterrorism enterprise, with proper attention to constitutional protections, at a time when federal, state, and local public safety officials are increasingly aware of the evolving threat and a new Congress provides an opportunity to legislate accordingly. 🍾🍷🍸🍹🍺🍻🥂🥃 There is no endpoint for American wars. War for everyone and war forever. Oh btw, there are young men in Afghanistan, 16 years old, who have never known a day of their life in which America was not bombing some part of their homeland.


American history in under 1000 words:

We exist as part of an unbroken chain of events leading back to the singularity, or the furthest point in the past we currently understand. We have 13.772 billion years of universal history to celebrate and learn from (with an uncertainty of 59 million years. For personal reference, modern humans emerged around 200,000 years ago, modern civilization around 6,000-12,000 (depending on your definition of modern) and figuring out and deciding to use electricity on a mass scale led to increased possibilities around 150 years ago). Instead of celebrating the full richness of our heritage and spelunking for lessons, we fetishize our 250-year old nation-state (the modern idea for the type of western nation-state, currently the most popular method for organizing and socializing large groups of people within defined geographical limits, is generally agreed to have been created in Europe around 369 years ago).

The history of the land in which I was arbitrarily born witnesses the volatile interaction and power disparities between groups of hyper-religious immigrants, kidnapped people forced into slavery because, coincidentally, they were born into a specifically constructed and defined ethnic group, indentured servants shipped from Europe to serve as cheap, unregulated labor in exchange for a promised chance to improve their personal stability and power, and wealthy business interests taking advantage of the lack of oversight the anarchic continent offered. The colonials rebelled far more successfully than their Hindu, East Asian, African, Muslim, or South American colonial counterparts due to a convenient proxy war between France and England, as well as the mitigating benefits of constructed racial attitudes in Europe. The colonial elites then experimented with and debated various social amalgamations and governmental types until finally deciding on a compromised legal document with parameters that appeased all 13 distinct groups of colonial elites.

The nation gained stability and power, due in large part to its geographical location and the logistical difficulties the historical superpowers faced in funding their interests. In a page right out of their former-sovereign’s playbook, the newly-minted United States of America constructed the concepts of “Manifest Destiny” and the “Monroe Doctrine” in order to collect more land, wealth, power, and influence. Fortunately for the former colonists, the Native American civilizations that inhabited the land they wished to acquire were easy prey after diseases brought by European humans and other animals weakened and reduced their populations by 90%. Continuing in the colonial tradition of using race and class based forced labor to progress, the nation eventually achieved its goals by wiping out or subjugating the remaining native survivors. As it established its western border, the young nation-state also looked outwards to other lands ripe for war, subversion, or sabotage.

Tensions between its founding groups came to a head less than 100 years into its creation and the nation split into slave-holding and non-slave holding states until the non-slave holding faction killed enough soldiers from slave-holding faction to force the rebellious region to capitulate to its demands. Unfortunately for the former slave-holding states, the president of the slave-holding states was then assassinated by a radical pro-slavery terrorist group. In response, the replacement non-slave holding leadership enacted a policy of revenge and exploitation in the guise of reconstruction, which decimated the lives of the people living within the reincorporated territory. As a reaction to these destructive policies, many people constructed ideals they believe represented the best of the elites who lost the American Civil War and decided to enact their own plan of revenge by terrorizing groups of newly freed slaves. Many of these freed slaves, though still officially oppressed, moved north, altering the racial dynamics of fairly homogenous northern communities. Less than 100-years later, through extensive domestic efforts, all former slaves and women (who were unable to vote for 150 years of the nation’s history) achieved de jure, if not de facto, rights within the shifting country.

During its near history, the United States of America regularly used abstract ideals specifically defined to justify its expansive foreign agenda and oppress domestic attempts to balance power between labor and capital. Victory in World War Two (a war primarily caused by Japanese-American trade relations and post-World War One’s excessively harsh punishments of the German people), along with an all-consuming global proxy war with a near-peer ideological enemy, were of vital importance to the socialization regime the United States Government used to instill a strong national identity in its population. The propaganda derived from these events also served a crucial role in evoking and maintaining dominion over the particular ideals the nation claimed as its own.

In the age of the Internet, the nation has seen a resurgence in the domestic unrest temporarily suppressed in the 1960s. During the 1960s, the combination of new psychologically manipulative military training, a proxy war in Southeast Asia, a draft to thin the ranks of subversives, new policing tactics for the War on Drugs justifying pretenses for mass incarceration of oppressed group, and domestic political subversions and assassinations, the United States Government was able to prevent the turmoil from getting out of hand. By moving consumerism to the center of their citizen’s lives, the government stabilized and prospered.

Unfortunately in 1991, the USSR, the other side of the delicate bi-polar global power structure of the cold war, collapsed, leaving the United States as a global hegemon without a raison d’être. Nationalistic and militaristic rhetoric propagated by a government struggling to justify ongoing international involvement exacerbated yet-to-be-healed historical grievances from oppressed domestic groups. In less oppressed groups, these grievances aggravated latent resentments towards the ad hoc, incomplete, or violent official attempts to mend a deeply socialized divide. This, along with official alarmism about the newly created state enemy, the “Muslim Menace”, set tensions high in the nation and contributed to upticks in domestic instability.

There are a lot of lessons to learn from this, but it’s important to remember it’s only 250 years of our 13.772 billion year history (with an uncertainty of 59 million years). There are a lot of lessons to learn elsewhere as well.

Rick and Morty is just fine

Radicalized fanatics of anything are annoying and wrong, particularly when the thing they’re radicalized fans of is fine otherwise. The radicalized fanatics of Rick and Morty are no different. I’m not surprised people looking for a one-stop-shop worldview idolize Rick. Radicalized fanatics of every worldview misinterpret and twist external inputs to fit their unaddressed internal neurosis. The need for control to mitigate the natural human fear of the unknown is a natural evolutionary mechanism, though arguably a fairly destructive one outside the hunter-gather context. Rick offers an easy answer to create a feeling of control by offering the idea that the existence of infinite realities and an infinitely large universe serves as proof that individual consciousness is meaningless, and therefore narcissism and self-interest are not only justified, but rational.

The problem is that while Rick is smarter than everyone about everything, he’s also an old, damaged human stuck in his impressive but still limited constructs when it comes to understanding his own consciousness and how it impacts his life. This simple fact makes his feeling of external control merely an illusion. External control, even on the scale Rick has achieved, is worthless without the accompanying internal control, a fact Rick recognizes about himself and with which he clearly can’t cope (wabalubadubdub). As Susan Sarandon’s awesome cameo character monologues at Pickle Rick, “Rick, the only connection between your unquestionable intelligence and the sickness destroying your family is that everyone in your family, you included, use intelligence to justify sickness. You seem to alternate between viewing your own mind as an unstoppable force, and as an inescapable curse. And I think it’s because the only truly unapproachable concept for you is that it’s your mind within your control. You chose to come here. You chose to talk, to belittle my vocation, just as you chose to become a pickle. You are the master of your own universe. And yet you are dripping with rat blood and feces. Your enormous mind literally vegetating by your own hand. I have no doubt you would be bored senseless by therapy. The same way i’m bored when I brush my teeth and wipe my ass. Because the thing about repairing, maintaining, and cleaning is: it’s not an adventure. There’s no way to do it so wrong you might die. It’s just work. And the bottom line is: some people are okay going to work and some people… well, some people would rather die. Each of us gets to choose.” Rick’s intelligence, and his self-aware knowledge of his own intelligence, facilitates great moments in Science. However, when paired with his unaddressed neurosis, this power also amplifies the destructive force of his inevitable self-destructive behavior.

Rick is a character to learn from, but not emulate. He’s a cautionary tale about a man who believes intelligence is to be singularly valued at the expense of all else. That man is wrong, and Rick and Morty is proving why.

Human creativity can imagine right just as easily as it can imagine wrong. Telling the difference between the two and then implementing your conclusions into your present reality is the great challenge offered to all conscious beings.

North Korea

I keep hearing people and US officials claim that the threat of a North Korean nuclear strike potentially “incinerating” a US city is the reason we must consider a preventive strike. Let’s talk about this using facts.

The North Korean government is led by Kim Jong Un.

The American government is led by Donald Trump.

The North Korean nuclear arsenal is estimated at about 13-30 warheads with a payload of 10-30 kilotons each.

The American nuclear arsenal is more complicated to explain, so here are some quick facts from Brookings to serve as an overview:

– The largest nuclear weapon type currently in the U.S. stockpile, the B83, has a yield of 1.2 megatons (1,200 kilotons)

– America has 7 types of nuclear weapon in its arsenal: W76 and W88 warheads for submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs); W78 and W87 warheads for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs); W80 warheads for the air-launched cruise missile (ALCM); and B61 (multiple variants) and B83 gravity bombs. Under the “3+2” plan, it is proposed over time to reduce the warhead types to three warheads for ballistic missiles, one gravity bomb (B61) and one warhead for ACLMs.

– Known as the “Davy Crockett,” the W54 weapon, a small nuclear warhead with a weight of 51 pounds fired by a recoilless gun mounted on a jeep, has the shortest range, 1.42 miles of any nuclear shell.

– America has officially lost and not recovered 11 nuclear weapons

– Under most scenarios, Donald Trump, the president of America, could have an ICBM carrying a nuclear payload in the air in 12 minutes.

– America has 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. Typically, at any one time two of these submarines are in long-term overhaul, meaning that 12 are normally operationally available. Four other submarines of the Ohio-class have been converted to carry conventionally-armed cruise missiles in place of SLBMs.

– Each Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine has 24 launch tubes. Under the New START Treaty, four tubes on each submarine will be converted so that they are incapable of launching an SLBM and thus will not be counted against the treaty’s limit of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM and SLBM launchers plus deployed and non-deployed nuclear-capable bombers. The U.S. Navy plans that the Ohio-class submarine’s replacement will have 16 launch tubes.

– America conducted 28 “deterrence patrols” with its Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines in 2012, ten by submarines based at King’s Bay, Georgia and 18 by submarines based at Bangor, Washington. The patrols last on average 70 days.

– America maintains 94 nuclear-capable heavy bombers maintained by the United States. This includes B-2 and B-52 bombers.

– America has an estimated 200 B61 nuclear gravity bombs deployed forward at bases in Europe for possible use by U.S. and NATO-allied air forces

– Five states are home to Minuteman III missile launch sites (Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming).

– America currently has 450 deployed Minuteman III ICBMs maintained by the United States. Under the New START Treaty, the U.S. Air Force plans to reduce the number of deployed Minuteman III ICBMs to 400-to-420.7

– The largest ballistic missile warhead currently in the U.S. stockpile, the W88 carried by the Trident II SLBM (submarine launched ballistic missile), is 455 kilotons.

– America has 778 total deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and nuclear-capable bombers as of March 1, 2014 (the New START limit is 700).[9]

– At the peak of the Cold War, America had 950 nuclear weapons deployed in South Korea.

– America conducted 1,030 nuclear tests before they were banned in 1992.

– America has 1,800-1,850 estimated warheads on deployed U.S. ICBMs and SLBMs. This also includes the number of nuclear bombs and air-launched cruise missiles at bases for deployed U.S. nuclear-capable bombers once the United States reaches the New START limit of 1,550 deployed warheads. The difference reflects the fact that, while New START counts all warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, it only attributes each deployed nuclear-capable bomber as one warhead, when the bombers can carry many more.

– America has around 2,700 nuclear weapons that have been retired from the stockpile and are awaiting dismantlement. There is a significant backlog in dismantling weapons.

– America had a total of 3,200 non-strategic nuclear weapons deployed forward in the Pacific region—Okinawa, South Korea, Guam, the Philippines and Taiwan—at their peak in 1967. The number began to decline after 1967, falling to 1,200 by 1977. The last forward-deployed nuclear weapons in the Pacific region were withdrawn in 1991.

– America has an estimated 4.650 total nuclear weapons—strategic and non-strategic, deployed and non-deployed—in the U.S. nuclear stockpile as of January 2014 (does not count an additional 2,700 retired weapons that await dismantlement).

– America had an estimated 7,304 non-strategic nuclear weapons deployed forward in Europe at their peak in 1971.

– America had an estimated 31,255 nuclear weapons in its nuclear stockpile at its peak in 1967.
From other sources:

– America has an extensive missile defense system comprised of (according to open source, unclassified intelligence) ground-based interceptor missiles, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, Airborne systems, and Shorter-range anti-ballistic missiles. These systems have questionable reliability, but have seen successful tests.

If North Korea were to launch an ICBM with multiple targets, we need only look to America’s bombing own of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only nuclear weapons ever used, to understand the impact this might have on our population.

The 12-18 kiloton blast had a radius of about 1 mile, with resulting fires across 4.4 square miles, according to a report from the U.S Nuclear Defense Agency. In 1942, Hiroshima was around 350 square miles and had a population of around 420,000, making the population density roughly 1,200 humans per square mile. The deaths from the blast were somewhere between 70,000 and 130,000 human lives. Similarly, Nagasaki had a population of 240,000, with a density of roughly 154 humans/mi². However, between 40,000-80,000 humans were killed by America by the 18-23 kiloton Nagasaki bomb. This means that when making any calculation we can’t simply take the population density into consideration, but have to also consider the swollen population of a city during business hours. For example Manhattan, where I live, has an area of 22.82 square miles and a population of over 1.6 million, making the population density roughly 71,000 humans/mi². However, during an average workday the population swells to nearly 4 million, increasing the population density to around 175,000 humans/mi². (Note: these are all very rough estimates and I am not an expert in nuclear weaponry. Additional calculations for wind speed, weather, and radiation seepage would be needed to fully realize the number of casualties.)

With this in mind, and acknowledging New York City has the highest population density in the United States, North Korea’s maximum casualty expectation for a single nuclear detonation of 30 kilotons (I’m assuming a radius of 2 miles with 16mi² of fires), if centered in the densest part of our densest city during peak hours would be around 2-3 million, or around .9% of the total U.S population.

It is not merely highly unlikely that North Korea will ever strike the United States, it is highly improbable their capabilities, both in distance and precision, will allow them to reach our most densely populated city, leaving them with sub-optimal options if numbers of casualties is their goal. Their most likely targets, due to the increased limitations the distance to the east coast entails, would be Anchorage, Seattle, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Each of these cities has a significantly reduced population density compared to their east coast counterparts. This is not to say that a North Korean attack wouldn’t be intensely traumatic for the American people, but rather that North Korea in no way poses an existential threat requiring an unprecedented and illegal preventive strike.

The same cannot be said for the level of threat America poses to North Korea, or the entire world for that matter. The American arsenal, controlled by the president of the United States, Donald Trump, is capable of bringing about what is called a “nuclear winter”, a doomsday scenario that would see most life on Earth wiped out. While it is understandable and admirable the United States believes the world is better off if fewer nations have nuclear weapons, it is of little consolation when it retains 4,650 nuclear devices with up to 1.2 megaton payloads, 40 times stronger than North Korea’s strongest weapon.

With these facts in mind, it seems absurd for the president of the United States, Donald Trump, to claim the right and necessity of a preventive strike. A hegemonic militaristic nation with thousands more nuclear weapons many times more powerful than North Korea’s is claiming it feels threatened because theoretically North Korea could use its weapons against one of its cities. This is not reasonable foreign policy for a nation that spends more on its military than its nearest seven competitors combined. Combined.

It becomes even less reasonable when we consider the 150,000 American expats and roughly 28,500 US service members currently stationed in North Korea. If the claim is that the loss of American life is unacceptable (which implies the loss of non-American lives is more acceptable, a morality I personally find reprehensible), having people die “over there”, as Lindsay Graham has stated Donald Trump told him, does not mean American lives will be spared. In fact the loss of so many American lives would most likely lead to further military engagement with North Korea, resulting in an even greater loss of American lives (though admittedly these lives belong to members of the United States military, which I remain unconvinced the American government considers worth preserving).

Having participated in the multiple war games the United States conducts each year in South Korea in which it practices invading North Korea and overthrowing its regime, I can safely say I understand why North Korea might feel threatened and why they are currently attempting to demonstrate to the world that any attack would result in devastating consequences for their neighbors.

My unit when I was stationed at Camp Casey, South Korea for two years (2011-2013) was 210 Fires Brigade. Our stated mission was (and remains) “On order, 210th Field Artillery Brigade provides fires in support of Air Combat Command and Ground Combat Command’s counter fire fight. On order, transitions to offensive operation.” The common joke among my fellow Soldiers of the brigade was that we were simply a speed bump for North Korea’s million man army. However, from this vantage point, I was able to understand the full scope of the artillery batteries we were supposed to counter-fire if combat were to kick off. In fact, a year or so before I arrived in Korea the brigade was very nearly called on to provide this type of retaliatory fire during the yeonpyeong island incident of 2010. Fortunately, the situation did not escalate and the relatively stable peace was maintained. Regardless, the array of artillery batteries lined up in North Korea targeting Seoul are frankly terrifying, as they are well protected and prepared to launch at a moment’s notice, devastating a city of 24 million people.

Though usually not as serious as the yeonpyeongdo or the ROKS Cheonan incidents, tensions between North and South Korea have remained high throughout the decades-long armistice, often exacerbated by the presence of the US military. At any time since first acquiring nuclear weapons (2005-2006ish), North Korea could have used these weapons to attack their southern neighbor, with whom they are still technically at war. They have not done so, even at times of extremely high tension. It’s not in the interest of the North Korean government nor would any resulting scenario end in their favor. Therefore it is my conclusion that these nuclear weapons are simply bargaining chips the hermit kingdom uses to maintain their tenuous place in the global order.

With this established, my question is: why are is the United States rocking the boat?

While the armistice is not ideal and the North Korean government has repeatedly brutalized its own people (though South Korea, the United States, China, Russia, and every other country involved have brutalized their own people as well at various points throughout history, so it’s hard to take any sort of sanctimonious hand wringing about that point seriously), right now we have peace and stability. There is a path out of this scenario that maintains that peace and stability, but in the interest of whatever their goal is the government of the United States is pushing the boundaries of that peace. If something happens, it is not because of the actions of North Korea, or South Korea, or Russia, or China, which are all relatively predictable constants. Rather it would be because of the actions of the United States, which makes up the unpredictable variable in this equation thanks to its tumultuous and money-soaked democracy, which was on full display with the election of Donald Trump.

It is important to note that an individual entity, whether human or government, only has control over its own actions. The actions of others are outside our control, but can be influenced by deliberate behavior meant to assure, induce, coerce, or fool. The question I hope the United States is constantly asking itself is, “Are the actions of our nation contributing to or detracting from global peace and stability.” At the moment I’m afraid the Unites States is in the latter category, which, as Newton informs us, will have consequences proportional to the size of our dominating influence.

(As this is not an official paper I did not do a very good job of citing my sources. If anyone is interested in where I got this information I am extremely happy to take the time to share that with you. If no one cares I appreciate it because I’m lazy and like to get away with the least amount of work necessary to get my point across so I can go back to watching tv, playing video games, talking to friends, listening to music, or whatever else helps distract me from the soul-crushing possibilities this potential conflict might bring about.)

Fear of Muslims

12391411_10106867914950305_434552525704000528_n If you are afraid of Muslims you are not just a coward, you are a stupid coward.

I spent nearly every day during this past year of my life in Afghanistan talking to Muslims about and assisting Muslims with their own fight against terrorist and political organizations senselessly slaughtering their friends, families, and neighbors. The Muslims I spoke with were armed and some had family ties to Daesh or the Taliban or at least a decent reason to want to kill me. There were reasons for increased caution and extra security measures, certainly, but to spend each day, in a war-zone mind you, living in fear of Muslims was absolutely not an option. I wasn’t afraid because I was brave, rather it was simply because I wasn’t stupid. There will always be risks, and you do your best to mitigate those risks, but to accomplish your mission you must identify your goal and take actions that reflect that goal, and not let yourself be driven by your fear of what might happen if X or if Y or if Z. In the same way, the roots of Daesh lie in the disenfranchisement and economic exploitation of a large segment of the Arab population after years of imperialists looting the culture and economies followed by post-imperial dictators leading these hollowed out and crudely cobbled together nations propped up by the west as long as they were economically compliant. And of course, specifically, our invasion of Iraq and policy choices over the last 13 years. Defeating this organization and the slew of like minded groups that will inevitably spawn from their ideas will take many years of repairing relations, cultural integration and compromise from both ends, internal economic development, and political stability and self determination. If we decide some radical clash of civilizations is the only way, rather than committing to the policies previously mentioned, which will, make no mistake, see terrorist acts taking a limited number of innocent lives in the years to follow, we are sentencing ourselves to eternal global war and millions upon millions of future tragedies. Being afraid of Muslims because of some lunatic right-wing fantasy about global Christian holy war and the end of days with an epic clash of civilizations is playing into the hands of the American version of Daesh as well as the Muslim version. They are two sides of the same coin and they want to control you through paranoia and fear. Fear that the “other”, be it Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim, is only waiting for their opportunity to stab you in the back if you open the door to them.

So once again, if you are afraid of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world because of Daesh and their goals, then not only are you a coward, you are a stupid coward. We are at war with radicalization of all stripes and thinking there will not be casualties in the future is naive. However, cowardly appeasement of the enemy’s goals such as abusing Muslims and treating the entire population like members or potential members of Daesh means you are actively working against the interest and security of this nation.