There are immediate lessons to be learned even while the smoke is still clearing and the casualties are still being counted. Overnight a series of terror attacks in the Belgian capitol, Brussels, left scores dead and wounded. Attacks included the Brussels Metro and the airport. The list of suspects is a short one. We all know the names of the group or groups likely to have carried out the attacks. Less apparent are the lessons, particularly in the emotional, and, from a political point of view, the emotionally crippling aftermath of such attacks.
The obvious connection always recalls the September 2001 attacks in the United States. There we watched a sitting US president rally the nation’s collective shock and outrage in a cowboy style, made for Hollywood, “let’s go git em'” national pep rally. As with the current election, the nation’s “everyman” was in actuality a remarketed draft dodging, spoiled rich boy and functionary whose father, famously, had never been to a super market. And yet he was elected, ostensibly, because he’d be fun to drink a beer with. The result was the unremarkable execution of what should have been a short-lived pursue and capture effort in Afghanistan, and a corporate driven money-laundering quagmire in Iraq, costing thousands of young American lives, hundreds of thousands of civilian lives, decades of unrest and instability, and trillions siphoned from the national treasury.
America is now embroiled in a sadly historic presidential election, in which another over-pampered, media constructed candidate pretends himself as speaking for the “everyman” in America. Would love to know when the last time he trolled the local market for a quart of milk and loaf of bread, or even made breakfast for himself or his kids? When was the last time this candidate actually used the words, “we can’t afford that,” for anything smaller than a Caribbean island? And yet, too many struggling working class Americans buy rhetoric crafted by his media handlers and bankers backers(His whole fortune is hinged on finance at the highest levels). The entire campaign is hinged upon emotion and the impotency felt by many Americans about the national and international state of affairs.
The problem is, our politics and our society have taken on a perpetual pep rally. Americans have been marketed and cross marketed, the consumer/entertainment culture massaged into smiting the bad guy after the next commercial break, or by the end of the Die Hard movie. Massaging that culture and presiding over the marketing of pep rally hosting-newscasts are men like this current GOP frontrunner.
The lesson is that we can be all too easily manipulated into wars of profit, in which our children, not theirs, become the cannon fodder. Those stakes are immense for weapons dealers, manufacturers, the banks who fund wars and weapons industries. They have crafted through media consolidation an integrated network, in which the true difference between networks is no different than the flavors in a hand full of jelly beans. In the end, they are all essentially the same. The public pressure, with the illusions of security-we are less secure now after the follies in the Mideast than even before September 2001-and promises of jobs, the pretense of patriotism or the perversion of heroism and sacrifice of young people to the profits of GE, Raytheon or KBR, to name but a few is manifest at the hands of media run and owned by vast interlocking corporate structures.
What is called for especially in dangerous and confusing times are not bumper stickers and flag waving to teary-eyed country songs but rational, clear-headed foresight. Necessary is a leader who doesn’t pretend an illusion that he can treat the rest of the world like an employee, something which only reaps hardship economically, in trade and in solving issues like terrorism and the brutality which befell Brussels and Europe today.