My blog posts are usually in Swedish, because they are aimed at influencing decision making inside the Swedsih Pirate Party. This one is in English, because it is different. The purpose is to shed light on the behaviour of the American government in world events.
It was quite puzzling to me that the US spends so much money on covert operations. Accoprding to leaks from Edward Snowden the “dark budget” is an astounding 52.2 billion dollars per year. This translates to about $150 per American citizen and it is the money spent on surveillance, espionage and counter-espionage operations. We can safely assume that the spy bits are tiny while the surveillance operations are huge, after the lastest rounds of leaks. The dark budget does not include military spending, where the US spends almost as much as the rest of the world combined.
It has puzzled me for a long time that the US wastes so much money on protecting themselves against a band of some hundreds of unwashed arabs, which is really all that Al Quaida amots to. The US reaction since the 11 September attack must have exceeded the planners wildest dreams.
So many resources wasted. So much more hassle and uncomfort associated with travel. So much fear in the minds of the Americans.
How could this happen?
I think there are two different factors that explain much of what is going on.
The first factor is that the US had a strong espionage establishment at the end of the Cold War. The core elements were in the NSA and the CIA. The downfall of the Soviet Union threatened to eliminate lucurative positions and the entire power base that was the US espionage organisation. They needed a new threat. I don’t know if the US spy establishment helped in the attacks on the US embassy in Sudan or the attack on the World Trade Center. I hope they didn’t, but it was extremely convenient for the NSA and the CIA that the attacks happened.
If we apply Occams Razor to the problem, is it more likely that powerful men in the Cloak & Dagger trade engineer a scenario where there is a new enemy, or is it more likely that a group of modestly educated religious nuts spontaneously become a threat to the most powerful nation on earth?
The second factor is about fear, and I don’t think we Europeans can even imagine how Americans live in constant fear. Thir society is permeated with fear. We know some surface manifestations, like the fear of communism and its effects during the McCarthy era and the current fear of terrorists, that makes the government wiretap every internet user on earth. However, fear runs so much deeper in American society, because the American people are not provided with a level of personal safety that allows them to move further up in Maslows hierarchy of needs. Almost all Americans are insecure about their jobs and their health. Your job may be no more in 15 minutes from now. Security comes to your desk. You have 15 minutes to clean up and then you are escorted into the parking lot. Health is worse. If you get a bad illness, like cancer, it will drain all your funds. If you are not well by the time your money is gone, you will most likely die - homeless and in poverty. I have had friends who have gone under this way, so I know for a fact that it isn’t an exaggeration.
However, Americans are fiercly proud of the way their society works and proud of their fear of sickness and unemployment. In the same way, they are proud of their fear of terrorists. They are willingly feeding their fear of a few religious nuts so that they can feel proud of being Americans.
Compare this to the British attitude in the face of the Third Reich. Blood, toil, sweat and tears. Nothing to fear but fear itself.
If the Amricans soically adopted that attitude and focussed on making all that money improve their society instead of being uselessly burned in Cloak & Dagger and more carrier carrier groups than the security of the US territories warrant, the world woyuld be a better place.