Category Archives: New York Times

Violence breeds violence. When will we finally learn that?

“Our thoughts are with the victims and their relatives. Just as they are with the millions of victims that western terrorism is responsible for, by unlawful use of force and wars of aggression.

Since the terrorist deeds hitting us are, beyond reasonable doubt, induced and provoked by our violence, there is a self-evident way to counteract them: stop our own crimes.

We should instead try the Chinese – peaceful – way to conquer the world: by aid, trade and investments.”

I posted those words on the NYTimes Readers Comments to an article about the Manchester attack, with to date not one “Recommend” from readers. On the other end of the list, with almost 700 Recommends, one finds the following sentences:

“When my son heard about this horror, he looked at me and said ‘Why, Mommy? Why would somebody do such a thing?”

“in the end I just said, ‘I don’t actually know. I don’t know why.'”

“we all so desperately want this to stop and we don’t know how to make it end.”

One can’t blame this woman since she is misinformed by our media like most of us. But on the other hand it should’t take much imagination to picture oneself in the same situation as a fellow human being in the Middle East, in countries torn apart by the merciless war machine hitting them from “the free world”. And if thinking alone doesn’t work, the Internet is abundant with testimony from the suffering people.

Take the interview with the Yemeni boy in his lower teens who had lived in the U.S. and moved back to his village, where he managed to convince his countrymen that America was a fair country. Then came a drone-strike killing innocent people, and all his efforts were in vain. They then naturally hated the U.S. and lived in constant fear of the drones, praising cloudy days because drones can’t fly then.

Or take the bombed wedding parties (at least eight such U.S. bombings since 2001, according to The Nation), together killing more people than all terrorist attacks in Europe in the same time-span. The human beings we threaten with immediate death are more eligible to “don’t know how to make it end” than we are. The only response some of them can think of is terrorism (they are in other words just as vindictive as many U.S. citizens after 9/11). These are just minor examples, the number of killed in Iraq alone exceeds one million by now.

It seems impossible that their terrorism will achieve any productive goal whatsoever. It will just induce even more atrocities from “the free world”, provoking further terrorism, in a never-ending loop. Contrary to what the woman above thinks, there is a simple way to break this loop: stop our violence!

Europeans and their offshoots in America have for 500 years dominated the world with military power. We have killed millions and millions of poor, innocent people through the centuries (besides shortening the lives of hundreds of millions through economic suppression.) Violence has worked as far as the western well-being is concerned. For those at the wrong end of the club it has been detrimental in all aspects. The new terrorism by the oppressed is a clear sign that our violence doesn’t work the way it used to.

China has demonstrated a way forward, we just have to achieve the same cultural and rational level as them. It should be easy: see and learn! A new era is dawning, as long as we can prevent the lunatics from incinerating the globe into nuclear ashes, or clean the planet from human beings through a climate catastrophe.

And yes! We can!

Democracy as a Glass Bead Game for “academics”

Today’s New York Times has a piece titled Democracy in America: How Is It Doing?, presenting a study that excels in political scientists’ most dear subjects: formalities and instrumentalities forming a rather shallow analysis, if one by democracy means people’s real power. It’s of course presented with much (insipid) statistics and graphics. The summary of the study is: “Democracy in the United states is strong, but showing some cracks”.

I submitted the following lines to the NYT Readers Comments’ section:

Really prudent and knowledgeable American thinkers, most prominently Noam Chomsky, argues convincingly that today’s USA is a plutocracy, not a democracy at all. He bases his view on the fact that the economic powerful simply are able buy political decisions that are gaining their interests. This power mostly overrides voters’ real influence on politics, something that has been demonstrated in numerous polls (such as on health care).

Citizens United stands for legalized corruption on a limitless scale, not really intelligible for many outside US. That should have been be none of our interests, were it not for US being a role model followed by other states, not least Sweden, with some years’ or decades’ delay. So, let’s unite across oceans and reclaim real democracy.

 

Trump’s gaffe on Sweden, coming true

“More than half a century ago president Eisenhower sat the standard for mocking Sweden, when he publicly stated that suicides were more common there than elsewhere. The reason implied was that Swedes were so deeply bored in there cuddling socialist state that they didn’t want to live at all. The assertion about the suicides was in itself not true, of course (speaking of lying presidents), but it is still glued to the Swedish image in the whole world.

Eisenhower served an entry, and then it has just rolled on. Every small crack in the smooth facade of the idyllic social democratic paradise did create media frenzy (with mostly less correct reporting) and cozy schadenfreude. That provoking Nordic welfare country, number one in most rankings, was an aching thorn in the eyes of conservatives around the globe.

But the reactionaries may relax now. Sweden has been hit by neoliberalism (facilitated by a right-wing government) and is becoming increasingly compatible with rest of the industrial world. Welfare is fading and there is cause for grievances among the less affluent, a development that, not surprisingly, has handed xenophobes and the Alt-right considerable progress in public opinion. At the same time, economic gaps are widening faster than in other EU-countries. – So: SkÃ¥l, reactionaries of the world! Your future seems bright (but to the others: let’s disappoint them thoroughly!)”

This was a comment of mine on an article in New York Times that mentioned Trump’s gaffe about some attack in Sweden. A day later there really was riots and car burning in a Stockholm suburb, as if Trump were clairvoyant. That elicited the following answer to me in the comment section:

“Odd you say that, knowing that riots just broke out in Sweden. Guess which community areas? Isn’t it terrible when facts on the ground don’t cooperate with dogma?”

Well, I never said anything about a riot-free Sweden; I could have commented on the opposite.

Fascism – an ideology a la mode

If there is no indisputable definition of fascism there are anyhow specific characterizations of the phenomenon. The basic one, at the same time the most despicable, is lack of empathy for other human beings (outside a closed circle). Among fascists, the reasons for living are instead Race, Honor, War, Blut und Boden and equivalent concepts. (Empathy is something that a fascist occasionally may feel for animals.)

In line with these characteristics it follows that fascists see as deadly enemies all democratic movements in favor of equality and solidarity, such as labor movements and other associations engaging ordinary human beings. Fascists embrace mainly people and things that are strictly theirs in some sense, such as their ego, their family, their clan, their nation.

Fascism started, and is responsible for, the Second World War. It’s equally true, but nowadays repressed, that the Soviet Union carried by far the heaviest burden to defeat the worst and strongest of the monstrous fascist war machines. Soviet was then considered by many to be a workers’ state, and workers’ unions thus gained a strong position in most of Europe the years after the war.

This period have been called a Golden Age in industrialized countries. Economies flourished with high growth; income distribution was fairly equal (very much so by today’s standards), welfare measures were carried through and ordinary working families could acquire a comfortable life. Fascists were practically non-existent during these optimistic years (we had a few hibernating Nazis in Sweden, but they were commonly regarded as complete dimwits).

The backlash came in the late 1970s, when the capitalist class finally managed to regain political and ideological hegemony by using its economic power. In the name of neoliberalism, they could enable a strong reaction against wage workers’ acquired rights. Pitched as globalism, the new march backwards became international. One instrument of this redistribution of production results to the very rich was deregulation of the financial markets, resulting in repeated financial crashes hitting poor people the hardest.

With this capitalist reaction the groundwork for resurrection of fascism was laid. We had been through it once before in near history and should have learned, but those in real power doesn’t want us to learn. They obviously prefer fascism before progressive development that really deals with people’s grievances. The right wing paves the way for right wing extremism. Their most important objective is to keep progressives away from power.

A more polite term for right-wing extremism is populism, and both have kinship with fascism. The connections are illustrated in a recent article in New York Times dealing with the ideological preferences in the head of Stephen K. Bannon, the chief strategist in the most powerful administration in the world. He is said to be influenced by, or at least open to, the world of Julius Evola, an extreme traditionalist that inspired Mussolini and now is openly hailed by Alt-right leaders.

Evola himself broke with the Italian Fascists “because he considered them overly tame and corrupted by compromise. Instead he preferred the Nazi SS officers, seeing in them something closer to a mythic ideal. They also shared his anti-Semitism.” (Evola is called an influential “thinker” which is an odd epithet for a man who conspicuously prefer feeling ahead of thinking.)

Evola was Anti everything enlightened, rational, modern, liberal, progressive and humanitarian one can think of. An American scholar has described his ideal order to be based on “hierarchy, caste, monarchy, race, myth, religion and ritual”. This points a straight way back to the heart of medieval darkness. A way that Stephen K. Bannon, on the face of it, at least not entirely abstain from recommending.

All while our media are outraged by silly scandals, alleged leaks, fake news (including their own) and above all: The Russians. There is something rotten in the state of affairs, but it’s more dire than the headlines in our newspapers suggest.

Self-perpetuating terrorism – ours and theirs

And now also Nice…

Summer in Sweden will not take off; it’s chilly and the sky is shedding tears. Our weather matches the situation in the world these days. Shootings and bombings everywhere, perpetual wars, millions on the run from one devastated country to another, richer societies creating barriers to stem the flow coming towards them. How crazy have we become as a species?

We hold life as an invaluable gift, and rightly so. We who happen to live should feel extremely lucky since it’s almost improbable that only (and precisely) we are given a life in this endless universe. And we mostly do cherish life intensely; at least we protect our nearest and dearest from dying, with all our might.

But we are certainly not consistent. The lives of people we call enemies or whom we dislike for some reason whatsoever are not at all sacred for us. Against them we might stage what we call a war, and then feel free to kill them indiscriminately.

My US online media outlet illustrated this one-sided moral after the Orlando shootings. For days they expressed their deep grief and their heartfelt compassion with the victim’s families and friends. It was clear that they considered the lives of the killed human beings very dear and that the perpetrator had committed an unforgivable deed. Back to back with such a sacred celebration of life one could then read a call for the US to send more deadly weapons to the rebels in Syria to make them capable of ending more lives.

Our mainstream opinion is not just inconsistent but also shoddy racist. And Swedish media don’t deviate from that main stream. The horrible shootings in Paris and Orlando were covered broadly and in detail, and with warm compassion with the victims. A much worse bombing in Baghdad was just mentioned quite briefly and with demonstrative lack of empathy. Realizing this, one Kareem Rahaman wrote on Twitter: “More deaths in Iraq in the last week than Paris and Orlando combined but nobody is changing their profile pics, building colors, etc.”

If we look for a rational behind this discriminatory thinking we don’t find any. It’s not nearness: Orlando Florida is more than double the distance from Stockholm than Bagdad. Is it religion? Hardly, since a large majority of Swedes don’t care about Gods and prophets and probably would be just as much unsettled by the many fundamentalist Christians in the US as by any Muslim. Is it the color of skin and hair? OK, then it’s racism and that’s not rational. And besides: a number of the Orlando victims were black people.

Basically it’s a matter of politics (usually not rational in a deeper sense either). Initially the West made Muslims their enemies for colonialist reasons. We mostly beat them to a pulp, stole their assets, rearranged their territories, in short subjugated them under our will (Iraq is a textbook case). Eventually, and far from surprisingly, they started fighting back. And that’s where we are today.

US and Britain made the most arrogant and ignorant move when they launched the completely illegal and thoroughly immoral war of aggression against Iraq, whereby setting the entire region on fire. The horrible upturn of Muslim terrorism is a clear-cut product of western terrorism, the latter so far much worse. We may just look at the instructive roots of ISIS.

The leader of ISIS – al Baghdadi – was initially an insignificant young theologian; “contemporaries of al-Baghdadi describe him in his youth as being shy, unimpressive, a religious scholar, and a man who eschewed violence” (Wikipedia). How he developed from this quiet status to the world’s most feared and hated terrorist is illustrative of the methods by which to create enraged enemies. He simply witnessed the grotesque assault by US troops on Fallujah, where patients were thrown out of hospitals and innocent people killed randomly. That experience transformed him completely, just as western violence on the whole creates innumerable other terrorists.

President Holland of France said yesterday that he will go to war against terrorism. If he hasn’t a completely new concept it will continue to be a war to promote terrorism, both theirs and ours.

Americans prefer “Swedish” wealth distribution (would that it were!)

(Back to keyboard after necessary disturbances of different kinds during some months.)

Has the presidential election in the United States anything to do in a postcard from Sweden? Well, we will all be affected by the outcome, one way or the other, and it’s interesting and often telling to follow commentaries in our domestic MSM.

Most astonishing is the fact that income and wealth distribution, as well as justice and fairness, have come into focus, thanks mainly to Bernie Sanders. After decades of him tirelessly agitating from the back benches in the US Senate, to promote the interests of less affluent Americans, he surprisingly enters the center stage. (I happened to find him online some years ago, and have followed him with interest since. But until now I haven’t seen a single word about him in Swedish MSM – very typical).

From Noam Chomsky we’ve learned that a majority of Americans since at least some 30 plus years have preferred a policy similar to Sander’s, but that an effective propaganda apparatus has produced election results often diametrically opposed to people’s real wishes. But it seems as if the inequities finally have become too grotesque to conceal or brain wash away. And suddenly “everybody” talks about wealth distribution and the other progressive issues.

“Yes, the economy is rigged in favor of those at the top” says Hillary Clinton; “The deck is stacked against ordinary people” writes New York Times (N. Kristof) the other day. He goes on to present a study by two scholars (M. Norton and D. Ariely) showing i.a. that 92 percent of Americans prefer a wealth distribution of a “Swedish” type to the really existing one in the US. But this study has a serious flaw.

These are the three choices of wealth distribution laid before a group of nationally representative respondents (the labels “Sweden”, “Equal” and “USA” were not shown to the respondents).

 

wealth distr

The authors reveal in a footnote that the pie chart named “Sweden” depicts the income distribution, which was chosen solely to get some middle alternative between Equal and USA. The Swedish wealth distribution is something completely different, and in fact quite similar to the US one, as seen in this diagram:

The y-axis shows the sum of net wealth in billions SEK (§1 = appr. 9 SEK), debts subtracted, in the percentiles 1 to 10. Adding 9th and 10th percentiles one gets around 85 percent of total wealth, which is almost identical to the US figures. 60 percent of the population has no net assets at all.

Since Sweden endured its neoliberal, right-wing government (2006-14) the economic divide between rich and poor has grown faster than in any other European country. That government was lead by an empathy exempt man who as a young man was living an Ayn Randian wet dream. But that’s a story worth a separate chapter.

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/18/opinion/americas-stacked-deck.html?emc=eta1&_r=0
http://www.people.hbs.edu/mnorton/norton%20ariely%20in%20press.pdf
http://ekonomihandboken.se/rika-och-fattiga-i-sverige/hur-rik-ar-varje-svensk/

Cases of character assassination: Vidal and Strindberg

When establishment intellectuals are disturbed by progressives and have to deal with factual, intelligent and witty individuals to whom they have no substantive rebuttals, they far from seldom react by attacking character. That’s what happens when Jennifer Senior reviews a biography of Gore Vidal (1925-2012), written by Jay Parini. And she starts right on in the opening paragraph:

“By virtually any metric, Gore Vidal was a difficult man. He had a skyscraping ego. On a clear day, you could see his grudges forever. He had an almost fathomless capacity for envy; he could be gratuitously cruel even to friends; a vein of paranoia pulsed through his politics.”

The review is printed in New York Times (Oct. 18, 2015), a paper with which Vidal had an old history. When he published The City and the Pillar in 1948 the entire decent intelligentsia almost got a collective stroke. The reason: he presented a male homosexual relationship in a novel, something no one had dared until then. The New York Times’ literary editor promised not to read any more books by Vidal, let alone review one. This blockade by the Times and others ultimately forced Vidal to put the novels aside and start writing movie scripts for Hollywood, just for a living (this “mishap” not mentioned by Ms. Senior, naturally).

One would think that the Times had something to beg Vidal of forgiveness for, given that the future (as usual) proved the progressive part in the conflict right. But no way! The flagship among newspapers must stand tall! Vidal for his part was pouring fuel on the flames by regularly saying about the Times in interviews: “It’s a very bad paper!”.

The review in NYT reminded me of other character assassinations, that insidious and craven habit among reactionaries. In Sweden we have a monumental example in the treatment of our – without comparison – greatest author, August Strindberg. Though now being dead for a century his plays appear continually on stages all over the world. To the 100y commemoration of his death last year our right-wing government contributed only a pittance to the many arrangements carried out (to compare with the many millions the Norwegian government spent for the celebration of their literary giant Henrik Ibsen).

Strindberg, like Vidal, was a progressive, and his satirical wit left the bourgeoisie fuming. Early in his career he literally had to escape his country with his family to live for a long time on the continent. After years abroad he was charged with blasphemy for joking about the profane origin of the wine and wafer for Communion. The charge was allegedly instigated by the queen and blasphemy considered a pretext for the real crime: the mild (and not chargeable) eroticism in the edition of short stories in which it was to find. Strindberg was forced home to appear in court, but fresh winds had blown in his country and he was greeted as a hero by the young generation, and quickly acquitted by the jury.

About the book on trial Strindberg said that it would be read in elementary schools in the future. In that, and in almost everything bad and atrocious he was accused of in his days, the future has exonerated him. Eventually progressives are mostly proven right because their thinking is directed forwards, into the future. Conservatives, on the other hand, are people who intensively work to preserve the same things that their fellow believers in previous generations just as intensively worked to prevent. Thus in the long run, they are mostly wrong.

My collected reader’s comments to NYT articles

Follows a collection of commentaries I’ve made in the New York Times Reader’s Comments section on different articles (mostly for me keeping track of them myself). They’ll be accessible as long as NYT keeps the links alive, I suppose.

31 January 2015. A comment on the vaccine debate that followed the recent outbreak of measles in U.S.:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/as-measles-spreads-in-us-so-does-anxiety.html?comments#permid=13989276
-.-.-.-

25 March 2015. On signs of increasing poverty albeit growing wealth in the society (Sweden) as a whole:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/25/opinion/how-poor-are-the-poor.html?comments#permid=14521337
-.-.-.-

30 March 2015. On the horrific number of deaths in China during the Mao era, which we constantly are reminded of, compared to the even larger mortality caused by capitalism in India – which we very seldom hear of:

http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/30/cambodian-historians-call-for-china-to-confront-its-own-past/?comments#permid=14562852:14581199
-.-.-.-

3 April 2015. Another complete imbalance in our fields of interest: our laser-like scrutiny of terrorism carried out by others, compared to the forbearance with our own, much graver and deadlier terrorist activities:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/03/world/africa/garissa-university-college-shooting-in-kenya.html?comments#permid=14598017:14604023
-.-.-.-

9 May 2015. This article appeared simultaneously in NYT and Dagens Nyheter (Sweden), not surprisingly. It’s that kind of text our propaganda model loves: a Russian author who more or less regrets that his country defeated Nazi Germany in WWII. He just thinks that one oppression was replaces by another, obviously unaware of the Nazi’s Generalplan Ost which aimed at exterminating most people in Russia and enslaving the rest. This was not some high-flying Nazi plan or empty threat, it was implemented from day one of the German invasion. The existence of the special Sonderkommando with the explicit task to exterminate Jews, Communists and other unwanted humans was the terrible evidence of that reality.

One could have hoped that NYT and DN had been kind enough to save the poor ignorant (or just propagandistic) author from his embarrassment, but the temptation to publish his sentimental excesses was maybe to overwhelming. As some Readers’ Comments point out, the article was also a slap in the face on Putin and Russia, on the very day, sacred for Russians, of commemorating the death of 27 million people which Russia had to sacrifice to defeat the most atrocious and inhuman ideology in all history: Nazism.

An interesting difference: Dagens Nyheter didn’t open its comment section on this article, as opposed to New York Times. This is one reflection on the difference in effective freedom of expression which is taken much more seriously in the U.S. than in Europe. My comment, like some other critical ones, was listed as “NYT Pick” by the editor, another sign of openness for critique. But on the other hand: the propaganda gain was taken home by the printed article. (I suppose that the reader’s comments are mostly read by the commentators themselves.)

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/09/opinion/mikhail-shishkin-how-russians-lost-the-war.html?comments#permid=14915384
-.-.-.-

11 May 2015. A comment on one of Paul Krugman’s many enlightened columns in NYT.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/11/opinion/paul-krugman-wall-street-vampires.html#permid=14932711
-.-.-

17 May 2015. An article on the prospects for western economy after the last collapse, with discussions about singularities, neglecting the overall picture.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/upshot/dont-be-so-sure-the-economy-will-return-to-normal.html?comments#permid=14975427

An American pundit reviewed from Sweden

Writer and columnist David Brooks is an archetypal pundit designed for mainstream media in (what we call) a free society. He masters the English language eloquently, has the right opinions on every issue and embeds the reader into a safe and coherent environment with his well chosen words. Everything with Brooks is what we over here call typically bourgeoisie.

Once I was susceptible for the soft confidence and protection from inconvenient truths that these kinds of texts offered. The few things I read before age 20 was of that sober character. Then came the 1960s and with it a flood of enlightened books and papers which opened my eyes to a world of new information and appalling truths about our own societies and the conditions for mankind. And once you have seen the reality in bright light you cannot make it unseen again.

Last month Brooks wrote a much read and linked column in NYT that raised some eyebrows here and there. It seemed as if he suddenly had experienced some light. Under the rubric The Moral Bucket List he described a number of virtues he obviously hoped to acquire before the end of his days. These virtues included things like humility, mature temperament, do good and be good, pursue empathetic understanding, defeat selfishness, pride and self-deception.

Among exemplary models he named Dorothy Day and Frances Perkins, two individuals that represent something completely contradictory to the republican ideology that Brooks normally is bathing in. Nevertheless his last sentence reads: “Those are the people we want to be.”

The Readers Comments in NYT were more at the point than the column itself. The most recommended comment (>2500) just listed a number of policy issues that the author thought Brooks should confront to reach the higher moral level he obviously craved:

Speak out against the nasty right, the tea party conservatives, the chicken hawks, the anti-regulators, the union busters, the “Don’t Tread on Me” crowd who stomp on the rights of women, the oligarchy, the 1%, the bankers who never went to jail after causing the fiscal disaster of 2008, the Christians who bash gays, the rich who refuse to raise the minimum wage, the overwhelming incarceration of blacks, the NRA thugs who won’t allow us to regulate at all even after children are massacred, Citizens United, the disaster of global warming, the voter suppression of minorities by the right, the lack of equal pay for equal work for women, the disastrous invasion of Iraq.

Start here and maybe this will make you into the person you want to be.

The mystery is how right-wing pundits can be so blind to the immoral consequences of their ideology and policy. Presumably they don’t see themselves as lacking empathy or compassion. Maybe some of the inconsistency comes from the widespread misreading of Adam Smith, saying that everyone serves the common good best by being an egoist. If the baker just bakes and maximizes his profit, and everybody else does their job in the same way, the invisible hand sees to it that the entire community benefits optimally. (But for those who have read the whole book - Wealth of Nations - it’s completely clear that Adam Smith wasn’t that naïve at all.)

It soon turned out that David Brooks wasn’t really converted. In his recent column it sounded like he more or less blamed the young blacks for being killed by police. Freddie Gray lived in a neighborhood where Baltimore authorities had invested huge resources to improve living standards, but Gray “was not on the path to upward mobility” and “his mother was a heroin addict who… couldn’t read”. “He was arrested more than a dozen times.”

So, more money to alleviate poverty is not the solution. Instead Brooks hopes for some diffuse changes in society to do the trick. But the overall feeling one gets from reading the column is that Freddie Gray and young men like him should pull themselves together, as a way to avoid being killed by the police.

Circle of violence – is it eternal?

One week in 1988 I happened to be in New York. This was the year of the 350th anniversary of the first Swedish colonizers landing in Wilmington, Delaware. As part of the celebrations the Swedish Royal Couple held a luncheon in Waldorf Astoria for prominent Americans with some connections to Sweden.

By coincidence I stayed at the same hotel that day, now waiting in the lobby for a friend who had attended the Royal lunch. When the doors opened a stream of celebrities walked by, among them Henry Kissinger with a newspaper stuck under his arm. He walked in a relaxed manner straight on to Park Avenue, catching a regular yellow cab. No lifeguards, no company whatsoever.

My first reflection was how things can change in politics. Kissinger was a key player in Nixon’s administration when the tensions with Sweden were the gravest ever. Olof Palme had expressed intense critique of USA regarding the Vietnam War, and had gained support from people all around the world. Now Kissinger had become a guest of honor to a country once treated almost like an enemy.

My second reflection was naturally how this man could move around without protection; he was after all by many considered one of the most culpable war criminals alive. One could expect there to be millions of people in Indochina with a fair reason to revenge the death of innocent relatives or friends. All it would take had been for a single one of those to be on Park Avenue with a gun at the right time.

Naturally this came to mind again after 9/11. USA had challenged countries and people for decades, relying on its strength for protection. At the same time it had been an open society vulnerable for all kinds of attacks. The question was rather why it had taken so many years for an atrocity like 9/11 to happen, than why it had happened at all.

Since 2001 security has been upgraded considerably in the West, but there is no ultimate protection in societies like ours. We are reminded of this by an article in New York Times yesterday, reporting about an online threat by the Islamic State to kill 100 US service members whose names, photos and purported addresses are posted on its website. Knowing that ISIS is recruiting fighters in countries all around the world, also in the West, threats like these are obviously not to take easily.

If one wants a definition of a vicious circle it must be this: Imperialist violence created violent resistance, generating even more repressive violence, boosting more counter violence etc., on an ever growing scale. When will we ever learn that the only way to break this circle is to cut it off? And that we are the once obliged to initiate the peaceful way? (Provided the masters of mankind really want the violence stopped, which regrettably can be put in question.)