The act of terrorism in Paris, France, that killed 132 people and counting is tragic. What's more tragic? The response by the United States' media and the neocon-driven Republican Party.
Adjusted for population size, the death toll on September 11 in the United States was five times worse than the death toll in Paris. That is no consolation for the most recent carnage the world was forced to witness, and it's no consolation for the fear instilled in all of us, along with feelings of insecurity and helplessness. Yet we must not overreact in a manner that will likely make things worse.
The drumbeat to force President Obama into overreaction mode is already at full force. In a recent CNN piece, Christiane Amanpour insinuated that a lot of these acts are blowback for actions in the Middle East that we should not have been a part of in the first place. She then asked French author and commentator Bernard-Henri Levy a leading question about the political game-changer that will cause the West to fight and defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
"Leadership from behind is finished," Bernard-Henri Levy said. "If Mr. Obama wants to have a good legacy, if he wants to leave office with a real moral success, he has to help defeat Daesh." Levy went on to say that Obama must understand that if he does not get more engaged, there will be more blood on the streets. He said air power is not enough.
The irony is that when asked if France would be willing to put boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria, his answer was much less clear (you can watch the video below the fold). The problem is that all the democracies around the world want America to lead wars for them. It is about spending American money and sacrificing American lives. Middle-class and poor Americans have been the pawns of western democracies and the American plutocracy, where everyone with the exception of them benefits economically from these wars.
"Lead from behind" is one of those Frank Luntz phrases created to belittle what the president is currently doing. The reality is that "lead from behind" is a strategy that says everybody had better be a part the game, a part of the solution. No longer will America be the world's warrior and police force. No longer will all other democracies be able to build their social democracies, freeways, airports, and hospitals as America's own infrastructure crumbles because we are spending to "protect" the world and enrich the plutocracy.
But that is not what the the neocons want. The reality is that it has nothing to do with right or wrong: It has everything to do with who commands the resources of war for profit. It is war led by America at all costs, a very efficient way to transfer wealth from the masses to the few owners of the defense industrial complex. In fact, even as we know that the sect that wants war is anti-immigrant and racist, the war cheerleaders use compassion for the other to send our troops to die for profit. This exchange with neocon Evan Kolmann is probative. Chris Mathews asked him, why aren't fleeing Syrians recruited to fight and take back their country? His answer was stunning.
"If those people had faith in us," Kolhmann said, "they wouldn't be running from Syria. And I have to say, I understand their perspective. We once said there was a red line in Syria."
Matthews interrupted him saying that he was not in the "blame America club." Later Matthews pressed Kolhmann on Syrians fighting for their own country. With complete disregard to American soldiers and their families, Kolhman said the Syrians are not fighters and that they had families and kids.
Syrian families are just as important as American families. However, many American soldiers have children they barely know as they have been continuously deployed. Yet this neocon shows a false concern for Syrian families as he disregards the American soldier and the American soldier's family in order to justify a war driven by the military industrial complex.
ISIS is not an existential threat to America, nor to any country in the West. The 132 deaths in Paris are tragic. If these types of attacks are treated as they should be, like organized crime, it would neuter ISIS. After all, ISIS needs to seem more powerful than it is. But the group is no more powerful than a large band of thugs with weapons. America's right-wing mass killers and gang bangers have killed more people in the West than ISIS has.
Our own fears and prejudices distort our sense of security and who we should really fear. I can see another wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in the making. I can see an overreaction. I can see Republicans forcing the hand of President Obama. I can see the military industrial complex salivating.
It is time for Americans to grow up. Leading from behind abroad and taking care of things at home is what will keep Americans safe. We are over there because our greedy plutocracy wants us to defend their "right" to ever-expanding control and profits. "We fight them over there so we do not have to fight them over here" is a childish and rather stupid statement. If we are not over there, then they have no desire to come harm us here. For those who would, our resources will maintain our security on native soil.
ISIS has no Air Force. ISIS has no Navy. ISIS has no standing army. They buy weapons from the West. A war is simply a marketing bonanza for weapons manufacturers, who supply both sides as families on all sides are destroyed. Will we allow ourselves to be played again?