You may remember my 95-5 rule: 95% of the problems in the world are caused by 5% of the people. This comes from my experience that the vast majority of people just want to live their little lives and be left alone. So it is a very small number of people who get us into wars and otherwise perpetrate acts of social disease—even though most of them use a pen rather than a rifle.
This afternoon, I haven’t felt much up to working because of some flu I have. So I laid down and finally watched Jeremy Scahill’s documentary for Dirty Wars on Netflix. I’ve read part of the book, so I knew what I was in store for. That’s probably why I’ve put off watching it for so long. I wasn’t much more than a few minutes into the film before I was sad and angry.
The film brings to mind a narrative film based upon actual events, The Battle of Algiers. In that film, the French win the battle but lose the war. They kill the “bad guys” but in so doing create so many more enemies that within five years they had literally lost the war. That is, above all else, what Dirty Wars is all about. You can leave aside all the immorality of what we continue to do. In the end, we will lose this war.
This is how empires fall. I don’t believe our protection has anything to do with why we are killing people all over the world in dozens of countries we aren’t technically at war with. Instead, we are doing it to assert our dominance. If you watch the hawks over on Fox News, you will see that none of their arguments are really about safety. They are about sending out some kind of message to the world that America is a badass country. That seems to be an end in itself.
Of course, I’m well aware that there are all kinds of economic issues too. In one village that we destroyed with a cruise missile, part of the debris is a camera lens that had been on that missile. I can’t imagine that the people working in the factory that made that lens even know that they have been a part in murdering a bunch of innocent civilians. And that means we are all culpable, regardless of how much we might not like to admit it. Most of us aren’t directly involved. And most of us aren’t making a fortune while knowing that the enormous profits support such great harm. But we are all pulled in—all soiled by it.
The innocents we are killing just want to live their lives—they are part of the 95%. But they are caught in the middle of a war that really has nothing directly to do with their lives. Or at least it doesn’t, until an attack by one side or the other makes it part of their lives. And we are pushing ever and ever further with this “war on terror,” making more and more enemies. But in the end, I doubt we will be defeated militarily. I suspect we just won’t have the money to continue. The more a society focuses on the military, the less it has to support the rest of the economy.
A change will come. But as always, it will most harm the innocents here. The people who have profited from more and more of these covert wars will be sitting pretty. The 5% always is.