This is not just what terrorism looks like; it’s what a failed state looks like

Posted on October 03, 2017, 1:18 am
6 mins

PHOTOS: Is Old Glory, as the American flag was once known, now the banner of a failed state? Below: Donald Trump, president of the United States, divider, deceiver and denier in chief, incompetent and seemingly powerless to change anything (Photo: Flickr, Gage Skidmore.)

“AT LEAST 58 DEAD AND 500 HURT IN LAS VEGAS AFTER GUNMAN RAINS BULLETS ON CONCERT,” the main page of the New York Times’s website said yesterday morning. By nightfall, the death toll had risen to 59; the numbered injured to nearly 530.

A smaller headline beneath read: “Trump Calls for Unity After Act of Pure Evil.”

But will U.S. President Donald Trump do anything about the metastasizing gun violence in the United States, where, count on it, some gunned up, NRA-card-holding, paranoid lunatic – almost certainly white, male, and “Christian” – is already plotting to break that record? Unlikely.

Beyond meaningless platitudes about prayer and unity, Mr. Trump is about as likely to do something, or even to say anything helpful, as he is to dispatch aid to hurricane-battered colonial Puerto Rico with alacrity and generosity.

However, as many have observed, it’s likely the Great Divider is beavering away behind the scenes to ensure nine million American children are immediately deprived of health insurance. The Great Deceiver is working on a plan to extend America’s 17-year war in Afghanistan for another decade. The Great Denier will try to ensure that nothing is done about climate change – or said about it, or taught about it, or studied.

These are easy criticisms to make because Mr. Trump makes them easy. He is so clearly not up to the task, so patently incompetent, the truth of the assertions is painfully obvious.

Mr. Trump is not just disinclined to help, however. He is largely powerless to do anything about the domestic firearms terrorism that stalks – and, increasingly, paralyses – the United States.

The serious question we Canadians really need to be pondering, as the United States’ next-door neighbour, is, Can any other American do anything about it either?

It’s not just Mr. Trump, after all. We have recently seen a much better man try, and fail, to deal with America’s unique brand of home-grown terror – the inevitable spawn of the nation’s slave-holding heritage and its subsequent constitutional and jurisprudential history.

Mr. Trump’s own party is certainly not up to the task. After this, they’re more likely to make it easier for lunatics to buy machine guns than harder. Neither is the other party. The U.S. Constitution is broken, unfixable.

So this may not just be what terrorism looks like, in these apocalyptic times. It could very well be what a failed state looks like.

Why is this important for Canadians, other than the obvious facts the failing state in question is a very large one, and right next door?

Well, where did most Ukrainian refugees flee as things in their country started to fall apart? Mostly, the narrative of the mainstream media and the Canadian political classes notwithstanding, to the bosom of Russia. Where do you think Americans are going to go if this keeps up south of the 49th?

In geopolitical commentator Pepe Escobar’s inspired phrase, the neoliberals who wormed their way into control of the U.S. state a generation ago and have not let go despite several attempts by the U.S. electorate to prize their fingers from the levers of power, set out to create a worldwide Empire of Chaos.

Now it would appear instead of assuring the survival and prosperity of the class they represent, Chaos has slipped its leash and invaded the Homeland, George W. Bush’s Orwellian foreshadowing of America’s troubled present.

Yes, we have our own challenges here in Canada, as the events of the past few hours have shown right here in Edmonton. And we have our own dividers, as pathological as any of Mr. Trump’s Congressional allies. But we also have an evolving constitution that, by and large, works as intended, and a historical as well as constitutional predilection toward peace, order and good government.

Alas, we can hardly build a wall along the U.S. border. Even if we could do so, we couldn’t expect to make the Americans pay for it. Not because they are too mighty, but, increasingly, because the opposite.

Things can’t fall apart? The centre’s sure to hold?

Never mind poetry. Think geopolitics. Do you remember how likely the collapse of the Soviet Union seemed to all but a few in 1988 or 1989? I do. Not very likely at all.

12 Comments to: This is not just what terrorism looks like; it’s what a failed state looks like

  1. Ron

    October 3rd, 2017

    The folks in battle garb who terrorized Charlottesville recently were carrying big automatic weapons.
    Without interdiction or sanction from the authorities. Perhaps I’ve missed earlier symptoms but this really got to me.

    The failed state description sadly fits. I think they’ve gone over the edge and seem close to another civil war.

    And the Brexit/Catalan/etc snafu may bring the end to the EURO/EU.

    Reply
  2. jerrymacgp

    October 3rd, 2017

    As Canadian-born Republican commentator David Frum said last night on The National, every time an event like this happens, the gun nuts, their well-financed lobby, and their political fellow travellers come out and call for yet more loosening of restrictions on gun ownership. It’s so absurd, words fail; it’s a bit like suggesting you could combat an outbreak of Plague by releasing more infected rats into our community.

    Let’s be clear: Canada permits “open carry”, in some circumstances. Are you a duck or elk hunter, with a valid hunting license during open season? You can legally carry your deer rifle or double-barrelled 12-gauge openly in the countryside where you might find your quarry. Down Yonge Street, Wellington Street, Robson Street, Spring Garden Road or Jasper Avenue? Not so much.

    The real issue is the Second Amendment. Canada has relatively lax gun laws, in comparison to most other OECD countries, the US notwithstanding. But we do have some, because while the permissiveness or restrictiveness of our gun laws ebb and flow with the political winds, there is no constitutionally guaranteed right to own guns. The first step to any solution south of the “Medicine Line”, as unlikely as it seems to be, would have to be to repeal the Second Amendment.

    Reply
  3. GregH

    October 3rd, 2017

    Living next door to a failed state is no picnic! Plus we have our own National Firearms Association to worry about. They think the US is winning the arms race, and we need to do a lot more to catch up. Canada has the highest per-1000 gun death rate in the developed world, except for the United States (presumably because we live next to the US), but we’re not pulling our weight in the gun department.

    The US is also heading towards being a Third World country economically, if it isn’t already. I guess as long as Albertans have oil to sell we won’t need to worry too much about that.

    Reply
  4. political ranger

    October 3rd, 2017

    Good point David, very good point.
    Lest some weak-minded individuals weepily declare that you are too “negative”, this is called keeping one’s eye on the ball.

    Reply
  5. Keith McClary

    October 3rd, 2017

    “Well, where did most Ukrainian refugees flee as things in their country started to fall apart? Mostly, the narrative of the mainstream media and the Canadian political classes notwithstanding, to the bosom of Russia.”
    I remember a CBC interview with a guy who had moved from Crimea to Kiev. The interviewer (AT?) kept asking leading questions inviting him to say he was fleeing Russian tyrrany. He kept explaining, no, it was because Western sanctions ruined his business.

    Reply
  6. Death and Gravity

    October 3rd, 2017

    It’s hard not to be despondent about the USA. I follow some center-left blogs like LawyersGunsMoney, and writers and commentariat are all very aware of the factors that have allowed the Republicans to gain and hold power at the state and federal levels; they bravely speak of the need for long term efforts to turn things around, while apparently not expecting much electoral change in the 2018 midterms or even the 2020 elections. The problem is, they speak about generation-scale efforts (10-40 years), as if were still 1970, as if the rest of the world—political as well as natural—will stand still while they sort things out. I think this is a major error. Things may very well unravel quite suddenly.

    Reply
  7. Northern Loon

    October 3rd, 2017

    What has developed in the USA is state sanctioned anarchy. One of the prime duties of a country is the protection of its citizens, By allowing virtually unfettered access to guns ( the Las Vegas gunman had over 20 in his hotel room and nearly the same at his home) and the ammunition for these weapons, the state has abdicated its role to keep its citizens safe.

    Many individual States have exacerbated this movement to Anarchy by adopting; Right to Carry laws and even worse; Stand Your Ground laws, both of which directly encourage a shoot first, no real need to ask questions before or after.

    When the state allows for it’s people to measure their relative worth by the size of their armoury the state has abdicated protecting its citizens from each other.

    Then there are the complicating factors of a country that seems to allow and often encourage income, racial and other forms of social inequities that with the presence of almost unlimited access through guns providing the means to either seek redress, or maintain the status quo and you end up with not much of a country.

    Reply
  8. David

    October 3rd, 2017

    The current US president seems to love chaos, confrontation and nastiness. Where is does not exist or is not yet noticeable, he creates or amplifies it. The most successful countries in the world, are generally fairly orderly and peaceful. The least successful are generally chaotic and full of conflict. I don’t know how far down that wrong road the current US president will take his country – probably as far as he can. I think he will likely be a one term (or less) president, but he will leave a lot of damage that may not be easily fixable. It is not a coincidence many are now calling the US the divided states of America.

    After 9-11, we changed many laws and procedures to deal with the threat of terrorism. Some were excessive and even ridiculous – such as forcing little old ladies to take their shoes off at airports, but overall it worked. There has not been another terrorist attack on that scale since then. Sure incidents still happen, but not on the scale or frequency they would have if we did little or nothing.

    In contrast the powers that be in the US rigidly refuse to do much about gun laws. It is ok to inconvenience travelers at airports, but heaven forbid we do anything to inconvenience gun owners. Of course, the mass shooting continue unabated and seem to even be getting worse. On this issue the US seems like the frog in the pot of water getting hotter and hotter, occasionally aroused from its torpor, but not enough to act.

    We hyperventilate about terrorism, but in the latest terrorist incident here, no lives were lost – in the US, over 50 people were killed by one gun man with no discernible reason. The threats we obsess about are seldom as bad as we think – the ones we ignore and don’t deal with are the most tragic.

    I think eventually the Trump era will come to an end and I hope there will be a great pent up change that starts to happen in the US. All the things Trump and his reactionary group have tried to prevent the US from dealing with can not be ignored forever. My hope is he doesn’t leave the US in such a mess that it is unable or unwilling to fix all the problems when that time comes.

    Reply
    • Political Ranger

      October 4th, 2017

      I don’t disagree with what you’ve said David, but I think you are making a common mistake here; namely, that the problem is Trump AND that when he’s gone things will return to ‘normal’.
      As the other David on the page, our host, says, “[this] could very well be … a failed state”. It was broken, or breaking, for some time before Trump and his absence will do nothing to stop the dysfunction. Trump is simply the latest fad in the carnival across the line, like cotton candy or deep-fried butter.
      The problem is money, specifically, corporate money. Corporations have no rights except those specifically granted in exchange for specific obligations. Corporations certainly have no right to speech.
      Get rid of the corporate money in politics and criminals, idiots and buffoons are gone too.

      Reply
  9. Sad but True

    October 3rd, 2017

    Free country alright. Free to maim, murder and slaughter. Free to purchase automatic assault weapons. Free to live in constant fear of the next lunatic. Free to buy more guns to protect yourself, or at least have the illusion of making yourself feel somewhat less fearful. Free to carry on until the next time, hoping things don’t go bad when next you visit a convenience store, school, or entertainment venue. Free to be thankful you are still alive and mourn those that are not. And you wonder why I won’t go there to visit friends or see the bucket list sights. Too much freedom is as bad as none at all. It’s anarchy there, under the guise of freedom.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (not be published)