Samurai Rx for Libya

After WW2 (1945) the Allies occupied Germany till 1949, when both the Federal Republic (West Germany) and the Democratic Republic (East Germany) were set up as a result of the breakdown of cooperation between the NATO powers and the Soviet Union (Stalin). The Allied occupiers oversaw the running of Germany (in four major sectors: British, French, Russian, US), and the de-nazification programs, and war crimes trials. Allied troops remained in West Germany until 1955, their numbers being reduced over time, and after that mainly US troops remained in US (a.k.a. NATO) bases (till today).

The US (Allied) occupation of Japan after WW2 lasted from 1945 to 1952. The U.S. governance of occupied Japan transformed the entire form of government (to a parliamentary democracy), and in conjunction with other Allies (British, Indian, French, Australian, Nationalist Chinese, Philippine) war crimes tribunals (of Japanese militarists) were held in Manila. The U.S. kept bases in Japan (to this day), and as the Korean War had started in 1950, the U.S. pumped huge amounts of money into Japan as its platform from which to launch attacks on the Korean peninsula, which US spending kick-started the rapid growth of the Japanese economy.

Germany (West, until 1990 when it reunified with East) and Japan were thus tied economically and militarily to the US-led world capitalist system (the “First World”). There was never a post 1945 Nazi insurgency, nor a post 1945 Imperialist Japanese insurgency, nor a spawning of such international “terrorist” groups.

The NATO (“Allied”) occupation of Libya lasted only 11 days, occurring between Gaddafi’s death on 20 October 2011, and 31 October 2011. During the Libyan Civil War, the Gaddafi regime relied mainly on mercenary troops (largely Sahelian Africans, but also Western mercenaries and technicians), and Gaddafi was bent on mass murder of the pro-democracy Arab Spring inspired activists who opposed his regime, which opposition was favored by most of the Libyan population. [This paragraph has been revised, as prompted by Robert Pearsall in a comment, below.]

The new Libyan government had asked the NATO-UN forces to stay till the end of 2011 (two months), to help it stabilize the country. But, the NATO powers did not wish to invest the time, money and troops/people-power (with the possibilities of some casualties) for that purpose. The broken Libya of today, with mass trafficking of African refugees (by today’s “Barbary Pirates”) towards Mediterranean Europe; and Islamist militia-terrorist bases and training camps, is the result.

What the NATO powers did regarding Libya is equivalent to an unwise patient with an infection who stops taking his full course of prescribed antibiotics after three days, when he’s feeling “good,” instead of the full week or two, and the infection is not eradicated but comes back and is worse because it has mutated to become resistant to the original antibiotics it was suppressed with.

The idea of R2P, “responsibility to protect,” is correct; those with the power (military might) to prevent a dictator from enacting a mass atrocity crime should do so as an act of solidarity with all of humanity, otherwise they share in the guilt of the atrocity as a sin of omission. But, in committing to such action one should do it right, completely, not on the cheap. The goal is not simply the downfall of a dictator and mass murderer, but the transformation of and unity with a whole population. Selfishness is not a good long-term defense. As “Kambei Shimada” said in Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai”: “This is the nature of war: by protecting others, you save yourself.”

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Memorial Day 2017, Unfiltered.

John Kennedy’s grave, April 1964

Thank God!, Betsy DeVos (US Secretary of Education, and fanatical crusader for school privatization) realizes that what American parents really want is what the State of Israel has now: the US government-subsidized apartheid of their choice.

The American people do not have the right to healthcare, or job security, or food, or childcare, or a good education, or housing security, or clean water, or truth-in-advertising, or climate security, or internet access, or public transportation, or respect from police, or fiscal equality before the law, or protection from corporate monopolies, or privacy, or equality of treatment based on gender, or the freedom to choose which toilet room to pee and poop in. But, the American people do have the right to their bigotries, and the right – proportional to their wealth – to have them subsidized by the US government. This is what we mean by “freedom” in America: the freedom to exercise the bigotry of your choice without government interference!

Kissinger is still unindicted, Bush is still unindicted, Colin Powell (the officer in charge of keeping the My Lai massacre under wraps) is still unindicted, Elliot Abrams is still unindicted (again), Oliver North is still unindicted, Bush is still unindicted, Cheney is still unindicted, Condoleezza Rice is still unindicted, and many more. America certainly must hold the record for hosting the largest number of unindicted war criminals, in lives of comfort and even luxury.

“War is a racket. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.” (Smedley Butler 1881-1940)

America lost the Vietnam War, but its war criminals got away with it.

An Iraq War veteran, on being thanked for his service: “I didn’t serve, I was used.”

So many graves with American flags flying over them are, sadly, burials of used soldiers, and also of this nation’s morality.

PBS will air a Ken Burns documentary on the Vietnam War this fall. I’m sure it will be infotaining. To what extent it will expand the public mind, and elevate the American public’s moral character, is hard to say. The PBS promo trailer prompted these thoughts:

“Those who have forgotten the past are condemned to repeat it.” As are those who only remember their illusions, preferences and prejudices about past and present reality. There is a great deal the American people (and their “leaders”) could learn about themselves and their (not very equitably shared) country, by absorbing the many painful lessons of the Vietnam War. However, that has not happened, and I doubt it can happen for quite some time (ever?). Having lived through the period, I look at America today and I think: hopeless. If ignorance is bliss then America is paradise.

My own shrine to the victims and the truly noble of that war is here:
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2015/02/22/haunted-by-the-vietnam-war/

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Four Human Pinnacles

I think:
the pinnacle of human wisdom was achieved by Heraclitus,
the pinnacle of human understanding by Buddha,
the pinnacle of human insight by Darwin,
and the pinnacle of human knowledge by Einstein.

Heraclitus:
all is change; character is fate.

Buddha:
liberation to a fulfilling life is gained by moderation in all things.

Darwin:
species of life that evolve in response to changes of environment, survive.

Einstein:
matter-energy and space-time are unified by a mutual relativity.

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Love for a Mother

You know how you fall in love with a woman,
young, or at least never a mother,
still with that leanness hinting of girlhood;
and you have your times and adventures,
and wonderful moments together
enjoying all the sweet pleasures that come from love;
till the day comes when you realize –
you’ve grown familiar,
your routines are habits,
life has reached a crux,
will something be added?,
will something be lost?
And she turns to you one day in all her loveliness,
sitting leaning back, soaking up the sun at the beach,
as beautiful as you’ve ever imagined her,
and she says “I want a baby.”
“Of course,” you say, “I love you,”
and it takes a great deal of that to make a baby.
It is then that you learn why nature made love so engaging;
for love’s purpose is to remove the functioning of mind
from the process of reproduction.
Soon, she is absorbed completely in herself,
with life revolving around her three concerns:
what am I feeling?,
what am I eating?,
what am I wearing?
And you, dear boy,
are now a forgotten accessory of a former life,
a life completely taken over by the alien invader,
the explosion in the belly of your former manhood trophy.
You are no longer the practice child,
your second mother has gone,
your role now is to fetch and carry,
to bring what is needed for the comfort of her egg;
and so are children brought into this life.

Time passes,
it never seems that long in retrospect,
and the whole spectrum of this fresh childhood
flashes through your life, and your children grow,
to lose their fascination with your presence,
fading into a smattering of phone calls and birthday cards.

You glance up,
releasing a breath you may have held for decades,
and you see her again,
how beautiful, this mother you’ve married,
a bathing beauty you can still see so clearly
within that soft layer of maternity,
her mind abuzz with families of distractions,
seeing past you like a breeze she walks through
after decades of silent practice with each other.
Time and intermingled living add such depth
to what endures in our affections.
Ah, the young lovers, lost in each other,
how little they know of this love for a mother.
This trophy has taken you
from merely being a man to truly being a hero.
You see that girl who could dance all night,
you see that woman of love beyond dreaming.
You catch her eye, and ask “now?”
She smiles that smile, and walks your way.

3 April 2002

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What Can I Do About Climate Change?

The Problem:

Global warming is Nature’s response to capitalism. The Earth will easily survive global warming. Will humans? Maybe, maybe not. Mammals have an average species “lifespan” from origination to extinction of about 1 million years, although some species persist for as long as 10 million years. The species Homo is between 2 to 3 million years old. While it is physically-technically possible for humanity to act cooperatively (socialism) to revamp its manner of resource and energy extraction from Nature, and its waste disposal into Nature, in order to satisfy human needs (equitably) in balance with Nature, it seems sociologically, politically and psychologically impossible for that to happen (see the “Prisoners’ Paradox,” a.k.a. the “Prisoners’ Dilemma”). I think that humanity will always be reactive, and reactionary (e.g., Trump, etc.), when it comes to climate change, and so our “solutions” will always be “too late.”

For more about how this problem came about, and how serious it is now and will increasingly become in the future, see the reports linked at this we page:
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2017/04/26/climate-change-life-green-energy/

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How To Respond:

Your best response is to distance yourself as much as possible from capitalism, corruption, bigotry, and wastefulness of natural and energy resources.

Try to have a reasonable degree of solidarity with humans everywhere, to support attitudes and efforts of social and economic justice, and to support socialist projects aimed at improving the public good.

Socially, climate change implies a degradation of living standards and habitability, particularly for the vast majority of Earth’s people in the lower economic classes. By the definitions of money and wealth, the wealthier will always have a relative abundance of financial resources to continue buying their comforts and exclusivity of preferential treatment, however the conditions for economic security and habitability degrade. We are seeing this today with the disparities between rich and poor as regards the availability and cost of healthcare, and with the “gentrification” of increasingly desirable real estate locations, with a resulting displacement of modest-income renters both young and old.

As an individual, your best response is to make the most of your life, to achieve your full human potential, to develop as good a moral character as you can manage, and in these ways to be a positive force in all the lives you touch, as well as gaining for yourself the inestimable treasure of a fulfilling life.

It is awareness and attitude that are key. By understanding the reality of the conditions under which life-on-Earth operates in this current era – the Holocene – and having a socialistic attitude not restricted to the egotistical selfishness of obsessive acquisitiveness and careerism, you will live a life that naturally adds value to the collective life of our species and our planet.

No single individual, however favored by birth and circumstances, can single-handedly make a significant contribution to countering Climate Change and improving social conditions. Obviously, some individuals will have much greater opportunities to do so because they happen to occupy roles with greater temporal power and wealth. But the point here is of relative merit: given the range and limits of your personal situation, you try to do what you can – however simple and modest – along the direction you know is correct and just. “You do what you can with what you’ve got.” Beyond the specific physical results of “what you do,” there is the intangible value of inspiring others to make such efforts of their own, by you being a good example.

So, let them laugh if you plug the drain in your bathtub to save your shower and bath water, and then use pails of it to flush you toilet; or use a hose to siphon the “gray” bath water for the plants outside. Given the right awareness and attitude, you can figure out how to balance your level of comfort, the intervals between your showers, the actual olfactory sensitivity of the social circles you operate in (“smell” versus conservation), and your pacing and limits on water use. Similarly with food consumption and the reduction of food waste (ideally collected for either personal or municipal composting), and with an efficiency of fuel consumption for your automotive travel. It is very satisfying to know that you have been efficient, because you gain a sense of achievement for your skills at life-engineering, and because the awareness for being efficient brings you into a conscious harmony with all of life and Nature.

The best that any of us can do is to manage our lives so as not to be a burden to others, and then to add to the health and well-being of those near and dear to us. This will always be true regardless of climate change. The greater the solidarity within humankind, and the more equitable the social conditions, the greater the likelihood that we as a species will be able to respond to climate change in an intelligent and just manner.

As I concluded in the following article:

To my dear friend who asked me “How do you address this?” I say that my personal mantra for facing my ever-expanding awareness of reality is: Enjoy!, and Be Kind.

For an earlier and soothing presentation of recommended personal responses to climate change, see:
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2015/12/11/living-confidently-in-times-of-climate-change/

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In the end, it doesn’t matter what other people do, and it is not your personal responsibility to “save the world.” Authentic fulfillment is the satisfaction of knowing that you were the humanely best version of yourself that you could manage.

Enjoy!, and Be Kind.

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