(Article changed on August 15, 2013 at 13:58)
Why Al Qaida is Stupid: And What They Can Do About It
By Michelle Sapprielle
Al Qaida, you are behaving stupidly. I believe your goal is to deter the United States from meddling in the affairs of Muslim countries- a reasonable aspiration. I wouldn't like it if another country was "doing unto us" in a similar manner. I should point out, however, that violence only begets violence; it's an imprudent tool. Next, killing noncombatants is strictly forbidden under Islamic law, so your primary tactic is not only abhorrent, but is illegal under the moral system by which you claim to be guided (OOPS! Off to Jahannam- Hell fire- with you.) Also, killing noncombatants makes people hate you and inspires some ugly retaliation, as you (and quite a few innocent bystanders) may have noticed. Finally, and most stupidly, terrorist attacks on civilians do nothing to forward your goal.
You appear not to have noticed, Al Qaida, that the majority of your fellow Muslims are also upset at your stupid behavior, which has smeared Muslims and Islam. Thanks to you, Muslims everywhere are suffering as people confuse your cowardly, illegal and very un-Islamic behavior with the leanings of all Muslims. So mostly what you have achieved, aside from making air travelers stand in annoying lines, is the creation of some stinky enmity and mistrust between a billion Muslims, and everybody else in the world. Congratulations. This is a bit of a public relations snafu, Al Qaida. But I have a plan for how you can redeem yourselves, and achieve your goal. The world will thank you if you can accomplish this one small task. To begin, examine the roots of the U.S. policies that offend you.
Ask yourselves why the United States has 50 million hungry citizens, yet keeps up to 1000 foreign military bases ? Why are the taxpayers buying 12 nuclear armed submarines , each one costing more than the price of feeding 2.33 million hungry Americans three meals a day for a year? Why is the U.S. the biggest debtor nation, (between $14 and $70 trillion ) yet it still spends more on its military ($700 billion/year) than all its potential rivals combined? Some estimate we spend more on our military than all the rest of the world combined! (Over a $trillion/year when you include intelligence, veterans, etc.) Why, you might ask, does the U.S. funnel most of the discretionary budget to the Pentagon, rather than to things that would actually better the lives of the Americans footing that bill? No one, I notice, is threatening Switzerland, which is amply defended while spending less than 1% of GDP on defense. Why do we obscenely overspend on our military, with borrowed money, no less? ($759 billion borrowed this year.) Why do we continue to buy massive weaponry that does not make us safer (box-cutters!), while our politicians reduce funding for quality of life investments that pay us back, with dividends, such as health, education, research, the environment, infrastructure, and other things citizens require to be group funded using the tool of our democratic government? Who in their right mind, you might wonder, would choose this perverse allocation of precious resources, prioritizing crazy overblown military might- a financial black hole- while neglecting children , the elderly , the jobless , the sick , the homeless , crumbling bridges , and deadly pollution ?
The simple answer to these questions is your opportunity Al Qaida! The citizens of the U.S. mostly don't know how their money is being spent. Some have a hunch, but we have been lied to; we have been told that we need all that hardware, and bases around the world to keep us safe. It is a con.
Real safety is the product of other things: healthcare as a right for anyone who gets sick, jobs and income security, a dignified retirement, a system that catches us when disaster strikes, a roof over our heads, freedom from hunger, safe water to drink and clean air to breathe, quality education, equal opportunity and no hopeless underclass- with all the ills that generates, and a smart plan for the end of fossil fuel. Real safety is having leaders beholden to the electorate, all of it, and therefore ethically and responsibly serving the needs and interests of all of us. You want the U.S. to stop meddling in the affairs of other nations? Imagine how I feel; my enormously wealthy country beggars its people so that it can act like a swaggering, self-important, international hall monitor, threatening, bribing or dictating to everyone, everywhere. It's embarrassing!
With very little debate or consultation, my shining democracy shifted from defense to aggression. We don't make the world safe for democracy anymore; we make it safe for corporate exploitation. Our foreign "aid" is 99% military aid- much of it propping up despots who bend over for American corporations to pillage their citizens' resources. Please, help illuminate American taxpayers on the creeping imperialist military bloat that is mortgaging our future. Your help could create a win-win situation! The answer to the craziness of our messed up fiscal priorities is campaign-cash-spawned-corruption, of course.
This corruption is mostly the product of one little mistake; the U.S., unlike other advanced democracies, allows unlimited private and corporate funding of political campaigns. We force our elected officials to sell themselves in order to become "public servants," so corporations now own our government. A House seat costs $1.5 million, Senate seats average $9 million, the White House costs half a billion, and the price goes up every year . Healthy democracies fund political campaigns with public money, offer free TV exposure, and limit campaign length and spending so those in power are beholden to the people, not to rich entities who expect pay-back. The main reason we have a swollen military is that vested interests control the politicians who spend our taxes for us. This absurd, corrupting system is bribery pretending not to be.
Considering the root cause of these deformed priorities, the path to redemption for you, Al Qaida, is to enlighten the American public, and to support the many groups working to reform our broken system. If Americans truly understood what is happening with their money, they would not put up with it!
Even though our corporate-captured Supreme Court insanely ruled that money is speech and corporations are people, some Americans have devised a way to get capable people with integrity, but no rich backers, into elected office. The system is called "Clean" or "Fair" Elections. It offers voluntary public financing of political campaigns. In places where Clean Elections are used (i.e. Arizona), candidates who pledge to take no special interest money collect a set number of small ($5 in Arizona) donations from individuals, then a public fund takes over the rest of their campaign costs, allowing them to compete with corporate backed candidates.
Those who claim clean elections are too expensive for taxpayers haven't looked at the tab for corporate welfare (i.e. tens of billions of taxpayer dollars given to exceedingly profitable oil companies), or all the sweetheart deals (i.e. we fund the clear-cutting of public forests for private profit) , or tax breaks for rich campaign contributors (i.e. hedge fund managers pay lower taxes than teachers .) If you want things to change in the U.S., Al Qaida, get the word out about the corrupting influence of campaign cash, which is at the bottom of most of the negligence and dysfunction in the American system.
Our "public servants" perpetually have their hands out, creating a vicious cycle; the corporations that profit from American military overreach keep those extended palms greased, spending millions of their taxpayer fed profits on lobbying and campaign donations. The military industrial complex uses our money to ensure that, for the politicians nestled in their pockets, our profligate war machine will continue to be a top budget priority. With a giant and expanding military budget, and its unimaginably vast armory of vain, uber macho death-toys, our engorged military will continue to intrude in and manipulate the affairs of others around the globe, because they can.
So what do you
think, Al Qaida? Is it time to change tactics so you can have a constructive
impact? If you redirect your efforts, you can forward your goal, while helping
to save us from our bankrupting imperialist military bloat, and our cruel and reckless
budget. And it's about time somebody did.