America

Oh, Yeah… This Thing.

Here’s the deal. Keeping track of current events is a depressing thing to do. Rarely do things seem to be getting much better, and a realist recognizes that “It’s always darkest before the dawn” is the sort of wishful thinking that invites false hope which invites even more despair once expectations inevitably collapse.

Bearing all of that is made harder when personal issues intervene. I’m only just now recovering from a paralyzing emotional shitstorm that began shortly after my last article. And that’s the most you’ll be hearing about that.

(“You” of course being my vast audience of four or five people.)

I’ve long since lost the motivation to complete my last series, or what was intended to be a series, but fuck it, let’s power through.


Step One: Draw Down (Pt 2)

We’re still talking about reorganizing the US military, but I’m going to go down a little side street to talk about gun control. It’s relevant, trust me.

Deaths from gun crime are a major problem in the U.S. Our gun homicide rate hovers around the company of countries generally described as “developing,” or “third world.” Graphs of the US gun homicide rate compared to other Western countries generally look like… well, like this. Gun ownership rates between the US and other developed countries are pretty similar, if less dramatic.

But hang on a second. Look at these two again, side by side.

DeathOwnership

The two western countries closest to the US in terms of gun ownership are Finland and Switzerland, yet despite having around 50% of our gun ownership rate, they have less than 20% of our homicide rate. Why do you think that is?

Finland and Switzerland have something in common which is distinct from the United States: compulsory military service.

You see, all that gun control stuff I said was just a dirty bait-and-switch! I’m actually all for the Second Amendment. I think the intent behind it when the Bill of Rights was established is as relevant today as it was in 1789. Jefferson probably didn’t say

“When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” – Definitely not Thomas Jefferson

However, he most certainly did co-lead a violent resistance movement that used guns to overthrow the enforcement mechanisms of an authoritarian government.

Consider that Americans are being extra-judicially executed by the drones and police which allegedly protect us. Consider that the US government uses torture, pervasive and unqualified spying, and has a history of engaging in other incredibly disturbing practices. We have every reason to be afraid of our government, and every right to defend ourselves from it. Yet, as corporate influence marginalizes the power of popular sovereignty and gun ban laws attempt to rob Americans of the most efficient means of protecting themselves from hostility, there is less and less that the so-called “common” American can do to keep a comfortable buffer between themselves and the possibility of officially-sanctioned abuse.

I’m not arguing that there’s a vast IlluminatiJewishLizard-conspiracy to disarm us so that the New World Order can go into effect. However, if in twenty years US officials are encouraged to persecute pro-eco or anti-corporate activist “terrorists” by monopolistic corporations upon whom they depend financially, and the risk of doing so is completely negated by said activists’ inability to defend themselves physically or monetarily, what exactly is going to deter them from acting on that encouragement?

An armed populace is a pretty good deterrent against those kinds of shenanigans happening willy-nilly.

(Before you call me crazy, keep in mind that in 1995 if you said the US government was going to kill US citizens with hellfire rockets fired by robots while monitoring their communications with a technological capability that puts 1984 to shame, you would have been called crazy, too.)

However, what is definitely crazy is allowing anyone to have a gun with no training or background checks and expecting everything to be hunky-dory. That brings us back to Switzerland and Finland.

I would hypothesize, and would very much like to find a study which disputes or corroborates, that a citizen who is well-trained in the proper use and safety of a firearm is dramatically less likely to abuse that firearm. Overwhelmingly, urban centers are the source of the highest gun crime in the US, where access to guns is easy (due to the high national per capita rate) and exposure to traditional American gun culture (usually recognized more in rural communities) is low. However, we do know suicide with firearms is rising in rural areas now, and decreasing in urban ones. I’ll get back to that later.

Access to guns will never be resolved, especially in the South, which has a notoriously porous border with a country where armed drug gangs have territorial command. We can solve the training problem, though, by mandating compulsory military service for every American citizen (men and women, excepting conscientious objectors and the demonstrably unfit), via the re-institution of local militias, which could be mobilized only by the federal government.

How would we handle that? Well, remember the couple hundred thousand military personnel from my last post forever ago? Think of it now as a 450,000-strong federal militia training corps.

The military would work full time training militias, while also regulating federal standards of fitness, marksmanship, and equipment use and maintenance. Outside of those minimal regulations, militias would regulate themselves according to their financial means and community, strengthening their local identity. This would ensure an impressive statistical level of readiness for national defense, but also an incomparable moral one as well. In the unlikely event that the United States is attacked, the invaders will be facing an army which is not only a huge percentage of the population that has been in reserve for years, but will also be directly defending the territory it has been training in, and likely lived in, for much of its members’ lives. That’s a pretty daunting prospect.

Also, since mandatory military service would funnel most of the population through a process of mental and physical health evaluation, it would provide a broad opportunity for physicians to identify and diagnose key mental health problems that lead to suicide and other kinds of gun death, allowing for early, preventative treatments that might otherwise never be confronted.

Finally, since the federal military would be entirely devoted to training militias, if the government wanted to, say invade Iraq, it would have to conscript the only available forces, which would be the militias. Since militias would be most loyal to their locality, and established and employed at those locations, it’s unlikely they would be very motivated to be uprooted from their lives and deployed elsewhere. Additionally, since only limited numbers would normally be required for deployment, many militias would not be tapped for conscription, putting the government in the unenviable position of deciding which militias to single out. You can imagine the outrage such an incident would cause.

Basically, before the government made any foreign commitments it would have to make a really, really strong case for it, and need to enjoy popular support for a long time.

So in conclusion, re-instituting militias might, as far as I can tell:

  • Reduce gun homicides to rates more comparable to other Western countries with similar gun ownership rates and compulsory military service, which would mean a potential reduction of around 80%.
  • Increase the readiness of the national defense by about fifty-four times (going by current active and reserve personnel numbers).
  • Increase the likelihood of detecting mental and physical health issues among people who might otherwise go undiagnosed
  • Increase the potential morale of defense forces via natural, personal investment in their locality
  • Decrease the likelihood of costly adventures in foreign countries

There are a couple of issues I can foresee. One is funding. However, if Americans are predominantly allowed to use the firearms many of them already have, and perhaps given incentives to donate or share them with other militia members, we will be looking at significantly low costs. Additionally, existing military equipment, outnumbering a reduced military force, could simply be proportionally redistributed to militias which are trained to use it. Local selection processes could funnel members into required roles.

As for identifying mental health problems, that’s a moot point if there is no effective apparatus for treating those problems. That’s my next topic.

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Wut

So in my last post, I began with an extended quotation from Osama Bin Laden, and then neglected to point out why I had chosen to do so, on the 13th anniversary of 9/11. I’m going to address that, first.

That quote was taken from a transcript of a speech given to Al Jazeera in 2004. I would hazard to guess that many have already forgotten this, but there was a time when Osama Bin Laden was considered Pure Evil. Pure Evil to the extent where unironically fantasizing about his death on the presumption of inherent justice was pretty much a means of acceptable, national, self-gratification.

The man Bin Laden reveales himself to be in the statement was far more complex than a Saturday morning cartoon villain. He is cunning, even prescient, and though the strategy of his statement was certainly self-serving, there were also hard, essential truths to be found in his words. But America was not shown that man. We were not encouraged to understand who he was, or how he was made, or why he fought. We were simply told that Osama Bin Laden is evil, so he must be killed.

Aspersion of that caliber ideally necessitates a presentation of compelling proof. The 9/11 attacks were horrific, but even Bin Laden admits that they were. However, Bin Laden portrays the attacks as retaliatory for oppression perpetrated by the United States in the Middle East. Specifically, he accuses the United States of aiding Israel in the 1982 Lebanon war, in which 5,000-8,000 civilian non-Jews were killed both by Israeli forces, and the ensuing unrest unleashed by Israeli intervention.

This of course is at best a misunderstanding of the situation, and at worst a deliberate lie, as the U.S.’s role in the Lebanese war was relatively minor. However, its financial and military assistance to Israel is, of course, well-known. If the implication is that US support for Israel engenders the latter’s bold and reckless behavior in the Middle East, which has unarguably caused the death and displacement of many non-Israeli civilians, that implication is more or less correct.

In other words, Bin Laden’s argument is essentially this: Allied lives are threatened by a foreign power, and in retaliation, we will attack at the source of the nation that threatens us. There will be unavoidable civilian deaths and that is regrettable, but necessary, in order to hasten the results we desire, and when the adversary refuses to commit to any sort of military integrity.

I find that argument abhorrent, and most probably would, knowing its source in this particular instance. However, it is a similar argument echoed by US presidents and Israel itself.

It is also the same argument that underpins the bombings of Germany (300,000-600,000 civilians killed) and Japan (330,000-500,000 civilians killed), as well as much of Vietnam (50,000-180,000 civilians killed), Cambodia, and Laos, not to mention Iraq (100,000 plus civilian deaths, though not all from bombing). There is a fundamental hypocrisy at play here, where provoking attrition warfare against the United States is “evil,” but engaging in a war of attrition in the Middle East and elsewhere can be “noble” and “necessary.”

Of course, Bin Laden himself benefited from the sort of US military aid that Israel has enjoyed for decades, so he is, himself, also a hypocrite. Yet even the narrative of Bin Laden alongside the Mujahideen fighting Soviets in Afghanistan, supported enthusiastically by the Carter and Reagan administrations, is absent from the national narrative on the factors leading to 9/11.

To many now, that lazy explanation of the 9/11 attacks as a mere “act of evil” is as good as historical accuracy. Thirteen years after 9/11, America does not understand who the enemy behind 9/11 was.

Between the government and most media outlets, there has been little to no effort to faithfully characterize and analyze America’s enemies and why they fight. Undoubtedly there is more to their motivations than “being evil,” and to reduce any organization to those two words is a disservice not only to the people being mobilized to fight, but to the victims created by the engines of war once they are running at full steam. “Fundamentalist” and “extremist” are not sober rallying cries for war. Sure, extremism embodies zealousness to the point of what most would call “evil,” yet zealousness itself is not an engine upon which any serious threat can move when modern militaries scour space with satellites while straddling the globe… right?

Looking upon the build up (again) to what increasingly looks like Desert Storm III, I have a hard time dredging up the energy to feel as incensed and angry as seems appropriate. The painful lesson of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is still stained into the national fabric of America, and the degree to which the road to war against ISIS parallels that of previous historical blunders is positively stupefying. How can the entire country not recoil from this immediately? Haven’t we been through this before? Doesn’t anyone remember how we got here? How can so many people accept such insanity with straight faces?

ISIS, like Bin Laden and Al Queda, is not well understood, and certainly no effort has been made to comprehensively explain the group, its roots, or its motivations to the American people.

Let’s take a look at ISIS, again. The strategy of letting ISIS burn itself out and bolstering Iran in order to combat it have been echoed by others since my first post on the matter, but it’s clear the Obama administration has other, more traditional designs. The sorts of designs that have been tried before, with no evidence of success.

I originally intended to describe ISIS’s origins as a rebellion against the oppressive regime in Syria, grown out of Al Queda in Syria like an unwanted, mutant limb and armed by the United States against what was perceived as a common enemy in Bashar al-Assad. Oh yeah, remember Assad? The evil dictator alleged to use chemical weapons on his own people, the one Obama (surprisingly) asked permission from congress to attack last year?

Oh, how the tables have turned.

I don’t know what the point is in even bothering to wrap my head around this anymore. It’s so ridiculous I almost don’t want to make sense of it all, at the risk of becoming crazy through the attempt alone.

Yet, I must. I’m going to try to get this straight.

The United States intervenes in the Middle East, arming militants against a rival regime in Afghanistan. Those militants go on to radicalize as they fragment into an extremist group that would later be known as Al Queda. Al Queda begins trying to attack the US and its allies in retaliation for US intervention in the Middle East. The US eventually responds by intervening in the Middle East, while it simultaneously arms militants fighting a rival regime who would later exploit the conditions of US intervention whilst radicalizing into an extremist group that would later be known as ISIS. ISIS begins trying to attack the US and its allies. And now, the president of the United States is proposing to re-intervene while arming more “friendly” militants in the hopes that this will be the act of intervention that somehow reverses everything that came before it.

Nope. Still seems as insane as before. The only appropriate question that remains in light of the inanity on display is, “Wut?”

In the Throes of Defeat

…it’s no secret to you that the thinkers and perceptive ones from among the Americans warned Bush before the war and told him: ‘All that you want for securing America and removing the weapons of mass destruction – assuming they exist – is available to you, and the nations of the world are with you in the inspections, and it is in the interest of America that it not be thrust into an unjustified war with an unknown outcome.’
But the darkness of the black gold blurred his vision and insight, and he gave priority to private interests over the public interests of America.
So the war went ahead, the death toll rose, the American economy bled, and Bush became embroiled in the swamps of Iraq that threaten his future. He fits the saying “like the naughty she-goat who used her hoof to dig up a knife from under the earth”.
So I say to you, over 15,000 of our people have been killed and tens of thousands injured, while more than a thousand of you have been killed and more than 10,000 injured. And Bush’s hands are stained with the blood of all those killed from both sides, all for the sake of oil and keeping their private companies in business.
Be aware that it is the nation who punishes the weak man when he causes the killing of one of its citizens for money, while letting the powerful one get off, when he causes the killing of more than 1000 of its sons, also for money.
And the same goes for your allies in Palestine. They terrorise[sic] the women and children, and kill and capture the men as they lie sleeping with their families on the mattresses, that you may recall that for every action, there is a reaction.
Finally, it behoves[sic] you to reflect on the last wills and testaments of the thousands who left you on [9/11] as they gestured in despair. They are important testaments, which should be studied and researched.
Among the most important of what I read in them was some prose in their gestures before the collapse, where they say: ‘How mistaken we were to have allowed the White House to implement its aggressive foreign policies against the weak without supervision.’
It is as if they were telling you, the people of America: ‘Hold to account those who have caused us to be killed, and happy is he who learns from others’ mistakes.’
And among that which I read in their gestures is a verse of poetry. ‘Injustice chases its people, and how unhealthy the bed of tyranny.’
As has been said: ‘An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.’
And know that: ‘It is better to return to the truth than persist in error.’ And that the wise man doesn’t squander his security, wealth and children for the sake of the liar in the White House.
In conclusion, I tell you in truth, that your security is not in the hands of Kerry, nor Bush, nor al-Qaida. No.
Your security is in your own hands. And every state that doesn’t play with our security has automatically guaranteed its own security.
Osama bin Laden, in a message directed to the American people (2004)

9/11 was an act of terrorism, and it was a tragedy. It was a tragedy because three thousand innocent people lost their lives in an event that was not only horrific, but preventable. As an act of terror, this devastating event was caused by a desperate group of people in typical guerrilla fashion for political reasons.

One of the greatest crimes US presidents have overseen in the wake of 9/11, aside from Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, the dismantling of Iraqi infrastructure and security, the use of torture, NSA surveillance, and extrajudicial executions of Americans and non-Americans alike, and the thousands of allied soldiers and innocent civilians killed in the pursuit of “freedom” and “democracy,” is the perpetuation of ignorance.

9/11 was a tragedy, but it was also an opportunity to reflect. It raised serious questions, like, “What would so violently motivate a handful of people from halfway across the world to blow themselves up in order to take 3,000 American lives?” “What have we been doing in the Middle East?” “Why have we been doing it?” “Have our actions been justified?” “Are the consequences worth the ire of a whole region of people whose daily lives are already fraught with uncertainty and violence?”

9/11 was the keystone for a transformation of America from a large, blundering young animal of a superpower into a wizened and self-aware global democracy. In seeking out the roots of 9/11, America would find a mirror and see its true face, and confronted with that, might seek to change, to become the force for good that it has for so long purported to be.

On 9/11 America was truly a great nation. It had promise and potential. It established national unity and a sense of moral vigor overnight, of a kind that dwarfs that of any other time in its entire history. America was set ablaze in a sort of heroic beacon of willpower and benevolence characterized by the monumental lamp beside its golden door. America could do anything. It had the motivation to excise its cancerous growths, purge itself of the parasites clinging to the back of democracy, and move forward into the 21st century a truly enlightened nation.

But on yet another anniversary of 9/11, that has not come to pass. America has hastened its own decline by ignoring the implications of its own history and clinging to the same reductionist and reactionary view towards the rest of the world that it held through most of the last century. This is a tragedy of another kind, for it is not an act of terror that has caused the death of thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan, American and Arab alike, but America’s own hubris.

9/11 was a booby trap; it was a cunning trap, and a murderous one, but it was only that. The enemy that administrations have characterized as bloodthirsty and savage, monstrous villains who “hate democracy” and “hate freedom,” were not stupid. 9/11 was not intended to be a crippling blow, but a trip line, a loop of thread upon which an unwise and unaware nation might stumble. And stumble we did.

From the same transcript of Bin Laden’s speech:

All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.
This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.
All Praise is due to Allah.

And so, thirteen years since 9/11, three years since Osama Bin Laden’s assassination, what do we have to show for ourselves?

Is America more prosperous? Is it safer? Have we defeated Al Queda? Have we brought peace to the Middle East?

Is America more democratic, more tolerant, more free?

I believe the answer to each of these questions is “no.”

The inevitable question, then, is, “So who has won the War on Terror?”

Al Queda may be diminished, but it has already spawned a new, worse threat, one that is even more violent, more extreme. The Middle East is as unstable as ever, as is the American economy, and the certainty of our national future.

For all the money spent, the freedoms revoked, the suffering engendered, the lives lost, has it been worth it?

“The reward of suffering is experience.”

Yet, experience means nothing if it is not remembered.

Ok, Fine. America’s Kinda Cool.

For the second week in a row now, what I originally intended to write about was superseded by a new realization, and that realization is this: with all I’ve said about the U.S.A. by this point, it probably sounds like I hate it and everyone who lives in it and everything about it.

That isn’t the case.

I’m an American, I see problems, I try to draw attention to them. Sure, the US does have big problems, and being a big influence on the rest of the world magnifies the scope, scale, and significance of those problems, making them more urgent to address than they might be otherwise. But the US deserves not only to exist and to thrive, but to take pride in its own culture and history, just as any other sovereign nation does.

…Just as long as the pride isn’t overwhelming and unwarranted.

So at the risk of sounding like a flag-waving sap, here’s a bulleted list of my favorite things about the USA.

1. Despite a wealth of negative stereotypes, Americans are diverse, generous, and hard-working.

As a whole country subjected to basic averages against other countries, the US is not the most diverse in the world, but it’s pretty diverse: ethnically, religiously, racially. Statistics vary as populations adjust, but on a global ranking the US is generally placed exactly in the middle on the diversity scale in every axis. Large portions of the country are homogenous, and statistics averaging those with diverse, dense population centers elsewhere in the country leads to a foreseeable standard of mediocrity. I say, in a characteristically Amurican fashion, fuck those statistics. And you know what else? The US doesn’t make a lot of “friendliest country” lists, but if you want numbers, how about this: Americans give more of their time and money than anyone else in the world. Consider also that America remains one of the best countries in the world to immigrate to. That might also have to do with why they work so hard: although a slipping opportunity, the American dream still exists. Look at how things like smartphone apps and youtube have socially mobilized individuals and entire companies to economic success, from relatively humble roots. That’s not something that can happen in just any country, and the spirit of it is quintessentially American.

2. The United States is the most innovative country in the world

Yeah, this stat comes from Bloomberg, but… still. Considering everything going against it right now, the U.S. is impressively still at the head of the technology envelope that it’s been pushing for over fifty years. That’s due in no small part to the U.S.’s open-arms immigration, which has fostered the likes of such obscure expat innovators as Alexander Graham Bell, Albert Einstein, and Nikola Tesla.

3. The United States is home to stunning beauty and geographic marvels.

In natural landmarks alone, America has unquantifiable (sometimes mankind-adjusted) wealth: the Grand Canyon, the Great Lakes, the Giant Forest. America is home to vast open plains, expansive mountain ranges, abuts three coastlines against both oceans, and is home to just about every kind of terrain you can imagine, both familiar and alien. So much focus is on Amercia’s tiniest, densest population centers and small towns that it’s easy to forget just how vast it is. The US comes in at just under the total land area of China, but measures at less than a quarter of China in total population. Much of the US’s open land is actually farmland, which maintains America’s position as the breadbasket of the world. This rich mix of natural features has enriched the United States, since its inception, with an incredible level of resource independence.

4. The United States has an incredibly dynamic, if brief, history

The United States is a microcosm of every significant social, political, and cultural development in the modern era. Putting your finger on the pulse of the United States at any time in its history will tell you tremendously about developments around the world, many of which were set in motion by the US itself. The rise of democracy, threats to democracy, the progression of ethnic, racial, and sexual equality, both World Wars, the Depression, the Cold War, globalization. The United States started out as a loose collection of tiny colonies hugging the massive flank of an enormous, unspoiled country that dwarfed and overwhelmed them. Those colonies rose among brutal and unforgiving conditions. The fledgeling nation had some help, but it struggled, it stumbled, it fell, it got up. At the end of the 19th century the United States trailed behind the rest of the “civilized,” developed world. By the end of the 20th century, it led the Western World, running far ahead of its peers. The history of the United States is the history of a nation-as-underdog, the little country that could, and it’s truly awe-inspiring.

5. The United States has created or fostered some of the greatest heroes of the modern age

A lot of people have called America home, and a lot of those people have been truly great patriots. I would define a patriot here not as someone who glorifies the United States for its own sake, but who glorifies the United States in how they choose to represent it. Some patriots grabbed America’s reigns and drove it forward; some patriots rose on America’s back; still others stripped away the gilding of its vast underbelly. Many have inspired, amazed, stirred change, pushed envelopes, caused controversy, and made us question how we view the world. America has produced revolutionaries, military commanders, politicians, inventors, scientists, writers, artists, poets, actors, journalists, reform leaders, social leaders, labor leaders, whistle-blowers. I couldn’t begin to make an exhaustive list of every American who could be described as heroic. Suffice to say that there are a lot.

I stopped myself at five, but there’s one more thing to add, and although it is last, it is by far the most defining element of American culture: a profound love affair with independence.

“Freedom” is not simply a word. It is a philosophy, a determination that every individual is in fact an individual; no one is just a worker, nor just a citizen or a soldier, or any statistical number in the countless demographic labels one could cast from the population group.

Like no other country, America prides the rebel, the revolutionary, the loner, the savant, the one man or woman who stands up from a sea of convention and expresses themselves in a unique way. An American believes that everyone is a person who can make up their own mind and live their own life; anyone who infringes on that, be they a parent, a teacher, an arm of the law, or a president, is not empowered by any ultimate authority that overrides their essential right to be free. An American recognizes that what authority says is right may still be wrong, and America’s greatest literature, music, architecture, and films have challenged the status quo, eviscerated convention, and stuck a big middle finger up to powerful forces that dictated the way things “had to be.”

I hope you savored that mush, because I can only spare so much at any given time. It’s back to doom and gloom next week.

 

 

 

Wait, you know what? I forgot something.

The food.

Hamburjers

Fatty Dig Dogs

Papple Frie
Finger-Lickin Chickin's Pickin's

 

Since the industrial revolution, Americans have binged on lunch-break-quick, deep-fried, fatty foods. You really did need those calories in order to work fourteen-hour days seven days a week (see #1 and #4). That’s not so much the case anymore (well, not for everyone), but this frankly indulgent food has become a staple of American culture.

Sure, these things may be unhealthy, fattening ‘fast-food,’ nearly the opposite of the ‘gourmet’ dishes so many countries are proud of.

Fuck your gourmet. Shit’s delicious.

Germany: All Grown Up

Being the top dog can be very polarizing. Trust me. I know, ’cause I’m a ‘Murican.

When there is a country that affects the global economy, security, politics, and environment at a rate disproportional to the size of its geography or population, it makes sense that those who benefit from that influence will love the country, and those who suffer from it will hate it. For the time being, the United States is one such country.

Unlike many of the globe-straddling empires that have come before it, however, the United States defines itself by its civil superiority. Sure, it has the largest economy, highest military expenditures, and greatest degree of political influence of any country in the world, but it deserves those things. Y’see, the United States isn’t a simple inheritor of circumstances which have begotten such advantages, it earned them by protecting the free world from the authoritarianism of Nazis and Reds, claiming the role of Guardian of the Free World.

Or so some say.

For a guardian of civil democracy, there are some glaring problems. One of them is the political, financial, and military support the US has given to authoritarian or otherwise not very nice people. It has trained secret police in the use of torture and undermined democratic processes, and often ignored genocides, especially those not involving Europeans.

More recently, one problem is that the United States has not only participated in, but advances the field of government surveillance on innocent civilians. The US has done some pretty dark stuff to completely innocent people already, but the NSA’s activities reveal a brazen and flagrant disregard for basic civil rights on a level so huge that it leaks practically every month.

A number of countries have gathered to suckle at the teat of American prosperity, and the whitest ones tend to make out the best. But lately the United States has, like some sociopath adrenaline junkie, dragged its hanger-on friends into all kinds of dangerous and ill-advised hijinks and then generously shared the consequences. Then, like a creeper, it digs into their handbags and looks through their phones.

It’s beginning to look less and less like a win/win for the symbiotes attaching themselves to the deep-fried aura of American influence, and more like a win/not-exactly-lose. Sure, those countries have expressed their distaste with passive aggression, but for the most part, no one has dared stand up to say, “You know what? You’re really being an asshole. Stop. Seriously.”

That has changed.

Germany, the country that the United States had to “rescue” everyone else from (“twice“). Germany, blamed for two World Wars and regarded as the cornerstone of the Cold War. Germany, who of all the U.S.’s western allies has been demonized, caricatured, and outright treated like shit the most, Germany is the first to really have the guts to stand up and say, “Enough.”

Of course, the Germany of today is not the Germany of 1939, let alone 1914. In a broad sense, the modern Germany is a child of the United States, born from the ashes of World War II, forged from the Cold War’s fires, and now emerging fully-formed as a nation that even leads its immediate region.

Germany has grown out of a dysfunctional home with a morbidly obese father and a drunk mother, gone to work in a troubled office, and has somehow, miraculously, turned out alright. In fact it’s better than alright; if the US isn’t careful, Germany could be the new United States of the western world.

The US really doesn’t have a right to the mantle of Guardian of the Free World. Perhaps it’s a mantle that no one should bear. This is a wake up call.

Well, really, there’s been many of those. The US keeps hanging up.

Obama and the US’s labyrinthine intelligence agencies haven’t responded to Germany yet. Here’s hoping they don’t simply yawn and roll back in bed.