Moral Injury

Paul Street, over on Cpunch the other day, asked this question:

Why shouldn’t other nations try to impact U.S. politics by any means possible? Washington and Wall Street exercise powerful influence on life and politics in other nations whose people never have a say in U.S. policy. The United States’ outsized and deadly Superpower role (responsible for many millions of deaths around the world since 1945) means that other nations (Russia is certainly no exception) have a vested interest in the U.S. political process.

Given that the US has been constantly interfering in the affairs of other countries pretty much since its inception, that sounds like a reasonable question and assumption. But that doesn’t take into consideration Mr Putin’s calm answer to the journalists who constantly ask him about his country’s “alleged, so-called” interference in our most recent election. Distilled from various interviews and videos I’ve seen, he has basically said that Russia has no need to interfere, since Russia pretty much understands that politicians and presidents in the US come and go, but the basic policies, which Russia understands, never really change. Why bother to interfere? Does anyone seriously think that Putin was fooled by any of the campaign rhetoric (lies) of the two least liked (and right up there in the least capable category, as well) presidential candidates in history?

I think what Putin was trying to get across is the idea the he recognizes an oligarchy when he sees one, and one can’t find fault with that, given that that was the state of affairs (not without a fair amount of help – interference – by the US) in his own country when he was elected President. And unspoken as well is what I can imagine to be Russia’s collective eyeball rolling as they watch the US destroy itself through the manic antics of its idiotic governing class. No need to meddle, he can just sit back and watch it all crumble, just as the public infrastructure, as opposed to the private, is crumbling at this very moment.

There was a popular joke told in Russia after Putin returned from a visit with Obama. “Playing chess with Obama is like playing chess with a rooster. He crows a lot, knocks over all the pieces, shits all over the board, and claims victory”. Whether this anecdote is true or not is beside the point. It demonstrates a finesse of observation and humor hardly ever seen in the US political or media classes. Another one relates how Moscow prefers to let the US media broadcast freely in Russia to allow the public to see just how infantile it all is, have a laugh, and go back to rebuilding their society.

On the other hand, gathering information on an adversary (spying), has been around probably as long as there have adversarial relationships which, sad to say, seems to have been around forever.

And then there’s the obvious reaction to the fact of spying: counter-spying, or counter-espionage, or trying to figure out who or what is doing the spying in the first place. And one of classic means of doing that is to produce credible, but slightly false and ultimately useless, information and try to see how it gets to the adversary. Again, this is classic intra-state behavior, understood by both sides.

Compared with a more or less overt violent overthrow of a government by a foreign entity (as American as bank fraud), illegal by international law, spying could be considered downright civilized. Problem is, it’s still adversarial.

Ultimately, Karl Rove’s “reality creation” fantasy could very well come back to haunt him. It may work on a gullible public or the presstitute class, but its effect internationally is in decline. The “American Dream”, whether of NeoCon or Disney manufacture, is being recognized for what it is: a nightmare. Reminds me of another anecdote, this one concerning the reactions of East Germans who, after having a taste of the flash and baubles of the West, remarked, “Is that all there is?” The observation was correct. They recognized the West for what it is: all form and no content.

When you spend your time cobbling together a false reality ( propagandizing ), what you’re essentially doing is circumscribing imginative thought, a kind of mental Enclosure Act, and you have to spend your time and energy running around repairing all those virtual fences. A kind of industrial feedlot of the mind, and I’m sure you’re aware of the conditions in a feedlot. Vegetarians and Vegans have a point.

In a sense, the expansion of American hegemony physically has resulted in the contraction of its intellectual abilities. The US has around a thousand military bases, of whatever size, spread over the face of the planet in order to impose its “values”, but can’t (or most likely, chooses not to) educate its own people. Aside from a few research universities, funded mostly by military interests and attended by elitist wannabes, the principal job of American higher education is to distract, indebt, or serve, as in the case of the Ivy League and a few others, as a clearinghouse for future “little Eichmanns”, so necessary for the continuance of Empire.

For example, Obama did Harvard Law (a kind of oxymoron), and what did this enlightened instution provide us? A self-confessed murderer. “Turns out I’m pretty good at killing people”. La Clinton got a law degree from one of those revered East Coast intellectual hothouses and was giddy with Gadaffi’s murder. Of course she couldn’t pass the New York bar exam, but was elected senator anyway. Very discerning, those New Yorkers.

So we have a murderer President selecting a failed lawyer as Secretary of State who speaks no known foreign languages and who lies about being greeted by a “hail of bullets”, and just about everything else. Great education system. “We’re Number One!” You can chant that all you want, it still doesn’t make it true.

Unless you want to count the status of the US as the number one terrorist/criminal outfit in the world that reserves the right to threaten/incarcerate/kill anyone who in any way obstructs its psychpathic need to pillage the planet for profit or disfigure its gated communities by simply being there. The US is probably number one in producing ignorant politicians, as well. And probably the most ignorant electorate. Included in that category could be the majority of the minority of French voters who recently elected their “Jupiterian” president.

In any case, the American Department of State, supposedly tasked with diplomatic matters, in other words, promoting conversations with other countries, has instead been sending large campaign contributors or “friends of, or sons and daughters of” to the outposts of Empire where they know nothing of the country to which they are sent nor are they likely to have familiarity with the local language, with the mandate to cultivate the local English-speaking elite and instruct them in the best ways to surpress any form of self-government. Were they to somehow develop a sense of empathy, of understanding of the countries assigned to them, in other words, to “go native”, and propose a relationship, shall we say, less dictatorial, they’d probably be replaced asap by someone, again, a little less comprehensive, a little more obedient to the contempt with which “the other” is considered.

This insistence on obedience to predatory behavior will, in spite of a worldwide military presence, begin shrinking Empire’s array of options. Trying to “create reality” with a never-ending supply of stupidity can only end badly for those responsible for it.


Note. In an article I just came across,, Nozomi Hayase has this to say.

Clinical psychiatrist, Jonathan Shay identified this war’s invisible scar manifested in combat veterans’ prolonged suffering. Calling it “moral injury”, he defined it as “betrayal of what is right by someone who holds legitimate authority in a high stake situation”. Shay describes how, when individuals are inflicted with this injury, their character begins to change, such that one’s social and moral horizon shrinks and they lose capacity to care for others.

While the cited article above is a discussion of Peter Van Buren’s recent book, Hooper’s War, the Shay citation describes in clinical terms what I was trying to lay out in layman’s terms. The bit about “… one’s social and moral horizon shrinks …” is exactly what is happening both in the general population and, more tragically, more emphatically (though to those who have a sense of history, this is definitely not news), in our political classes and their capitalist masters.

As to the “legitimate authority” Shay refers to, I would suggest, given the bought-and-paid-for state of affairs in which our so-called democracy finds itself, that we question said legitimacy.

I once referred to the young, rootless ( “European”, as opposed to British, French, Dutch, German, or Swiss, et al ) traders ( a fair portion of whom – possibly a majority – voted “Remain” in the Brexit vote ) migrating to the City of London to catch whatever commission crumbs fell from the tables of the criminal financial CEOs as “keyboard mercenaries”, not much different from the private military services provided by mercenaries like Eric Prince. I’m pretty certain a lot of those folks didn’t especially appreciate my comparison (especially because they consider themselve, somehow, progressive, left-leaning, even as they rip off billions every day in the service of Capital), but I think that Shay’s above-cited assessment of the situation is pretty accurate, and applies to all “little Eichmanns” (h/t Ward Churchill) working, in some form or another, for Empire.

The important thing in all this is the idea that when you give yourself up to power rather than peace, when obedience takes precedence over imagination, your social and moral horizon shrinks, and you become “invisibly wounded”, you become less of yourself. A pretty good description of the people running things in the US, and the West, in general. Morally and spiritually bottomless vessels, human black holes, whose appetite will never be satisfied until it swallows itself.

An image from the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine comes to mind.

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