War on Terror: Cult?

The nation must defend itself from threats foreign and domestic and I’m very glad that my country, not any other one, has the most powerful military forces on the planet. This article carries the hope of our continued prosperity as a great nation.

(The title is inflammatory hyperbole. In writing it, I borrowed the style of Fox News so you will believe me when I say I’m fair and balanced. To keep with proper form, much of this article will be composed of irrelevant and misleading statements. It is my hope that you will be capable of distilling something worthwhile from the morass—good practice for when I’m not around and you have to watch Fox News.)

I am writing because in response to two Rolling Stone articles (The Fear Factory and Truth or Terrorism? The Real Story Behind Five Years of High Alerts) my discontent congealed into a desire for new movement of conscientious objection.

Starting movements is not my thing, so I’ll just scatter some ideas here and leave it to more zealous people to organize and undertake. Indeed, it is too late to found such a revolution in this country. The movement is already under way. Even so, let’s set about dissecting it so as to better understand it.

In order to start a movement, one must first locate a controversy and then inspire others to lend support to the weaker side. It wouldn’t be a movement if its efforts merely reinforced the status quo.

For the sake of academic exploration let us take as a controversy the War on Terror—the term itself should elicit an unpleasant emotional reaction—with the weaker side held by the people who want to stop it. Let’s be very clear and establish that nobody believes the United States should stop defending itself. This is an academic exercise.

There are three parties in this controversy and you should evaluate your own position in one of them. They are the leaders, the followers, and the opponents.

The leaders are few and difficult to pinpoint. They include politicians, financiers, and military advisers and strategists, though some of the people in such positions are opponents.

The followers are the largest of the three parties and only by the power they lend to the leaders does the War on Terror march on. They include all levels of military personnel, government representatives, corporations in the defense and security sectors, mainstream media outlets, right down to the American voters who elect pro-War politicians.

The leaders being so well distributed and the followers being so many are the reasons assassinations don’t happen in this country. You can effect unimaginable change by killing a great mind but when the juggernaut is steered by hands so hidden and pushed by devotees so numerous and the great minds are nowhere to be found…

The opponents are the weakest group not because their premise is weak—they alone base their effort in truth and not lies—but because the majority of Americans do not demonstrate their full intelligence when confronted with pictures of violence.

To argue for continuation of the War on Terror by saying that we must be ever-vigilant, that to disagree is unpatriotic, etc., is to misunderstand the controversy. Those who wish to stop it are not mujahideen trying to subvert our government. They are trying to wrest our government from the control of American politicians who they believe have taken it hostage, to put an end to needless spending and killing and dying, and to restore American civil rights.

The undecided and the inactive always fall in the second camp because inactive parts contribute to the momentum of the whole. If you could ask Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein they would agree with me: an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon.

Opponents gain support by taking followers away from the established leaders, converting the leaders, or removing them from power. In a peaceful movement, this would be done by working within the system according to its own rules. I do not think the situation is bad enough to justify a military coup or a civil war. Let’s hope it never is.

Naturally a movement should spend a portion of its effort on weakening the bastion of the status quo which it opposes. However, whereas it is simple to consider members of the establishment as objects to be destroyed, the opposition would be most wise to see each one as an undernourished opposer and only provide the sustenance needed to effect a recovery.

Each type of follower is best converted in a different way and each tactic could be the subject of many books. The main ones are: swing the undecided by handing them the truth; spur the inactive by showing them the evil their inaction condones; split the followers from their leaders by shedding light on the differences between them.

An effective revolution, even a peaceful one, must: depose the leadership with the democratic support of the newly enlightened majority; deal graciously with the ousted villains; resist corruption just long enough to be remembered as a hero; retire and let the next administration pervert reality to favor their hijacking of the public mind, thus beginning the cycle again.

And now the part you’ll wish you hadn’t read, the scene where the gleaming trestle set to underlie the majestic railroad across the divide to universal liberty explodes into slivers with a blinding flash, the unbelievable news that the captain will not be going down with the ship as planned, final hope succumbing, once again provided by Rolling Stone: Kurt Vonnegut Says This Is The End Of The World.

There, I wrote it. It’s nothing like what I had in mind when I started—originally it involved retraining and mobilizing young Scientology protesters against their local reservists—but hopefully it can help me remember what I was supposed to buy at the hardware store.