Explosions in Brussels: What is our Responsibility?

brussels

Explosions in Brussels.

A friend on Facebook asked: “What now constitutes an overreaction or under-reaction?”… I think you’re right, our so to speak Western Civilization is morally bankrupt, unable to act, unable to make up its mind and accept the responsibility of this issue as its own. We pretend with ourselves that we are not responsible. We are responsible… and, its about time we act on this responsibility. Violence or reaction has never been the answer, yet to sit on the fence and do nothing is itself a form of action by inaction: a passivity and moral bankruptcy in the face of atrocity. I think of my own country, the U.S.A., and how ineffective we’ve been on the stage of leadership for decades… posturing’s, wars, atrocities… now it is all coming back to haunt us and N.A.T.O., and yet no one will take responsibility. So instead we’ve allowed this problem that we ourselves created to fester to the point that people are willing to build bombs, suicide themselves, just to wake us out of our stupor, try to punish us out of sheer desperation.

One need only study the history of violent anarchists to know just how effective random violence is against a passive populace. Because there is no solidarity, no leadership on this planet we are all falling apart into inaction, apathy, and stupidity. And, as usual we’ll play the blame game rather than judge ourselves and act. Paul says there is no morally or ethical motivation he can conceive or ought to justify such an abominable act of atrocity. That’s the point: this is outside morality, outside our Western attitudes, our moral handwringing… or passivity… these are people who do not see with our eyes, who see us as their enemy. They don’t see themselves as terrorist (a label we place on them). After all these years we have yet to see or know the world through their eyes, walk in their shoes, live in their world… that would take an act of imagination and moral power that we as Westerners no longer have nor can have… our culture is bankrupt.

I accept the fact that I’m just as much responsible for this bullshit as the next guy, but I’m not going to sit back and play the blame game or wring my hands. We have a problem… now we must do something more than react to it, we must act intelligently, come together and take responsibility for these atrocities, and quit fearing what we do not understand and deal with it rather than deny it. We have to break down the barriers between ourselves and the Islamic world. Until we can deal with these issues head on we’ll continue to face it as terror instead. Terror happens in a vacuum. We have no leadership in the West. Unable to act we do nothing and this lack opens out in violence. Until we can accept that there is a radical element within Islam, not Islam itself, that must be understood and reformed this type of world terror will continue. Communication is two-way, which entails a conversation that accepts we have a problem, that we are partially responsible, and accepting the fact that we need to sit down with those who practice their Islamic faith everywhere about what needs to be done to expunge the militant element within its world that apparently goes against its non-violent beliefs. I’m not a policy maker so want even pretend to know how to go about such a worldwide effort. I’m just one human among a worldwide species who affirms that this is an issue we as a species must both acknowledge and deal with if civilized existence is to continue.

 

6 thoughts on “Explosions in Brussels: What is our Responsibility?

  1. You write: “Because there is no solidarity, no leadership on this planet we are all falling apart into inaction, apathy, and stupidity.”

    I agree that there is no global leadership, but I don’t see how there can be a global leader in the 21st century. The world society consists of many discrete function systems with their own agendas. We are living in a world without a center.

    I would also hesitate to draw a causal connection between lack of leadership (or our passivity) and terrorism. I think what terrorists are responding to is the idea that “the West” is in a leadership role, and they refuse to follow that leader. They refuse to live in a world with Western Europe and the US in the center and the rest of the world on the periphery. But global society isn’t even organized that way. There is no center of power that can be bombed out of existence; power is too dispersed to be that vulnerable.

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    • You’re confining your image to the present, rather than the context of the Middle-East since Yalta when the modern map of the area was first divided up by Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt after WWII. Throughout that time till now the West has been the greatest intervention force in terms of economic, social, and political change of the Middle-East. When I speak of global leadership, I mean all countries involved not just this immediate system of chaos we live in. I’m not pointing to some actual personage rather to the total assemblage of power, which for most would assume the NATO countries of the EU economic bloc as well as the U.S.A.

      Where did I mention “There is no center of power that can be bombed out of existence; power is too dispersed to be that vulnerable” Obviously the world is multilateral with the addition of China, Russia, India and other subsidiary powers in our age. As Yeats might have said “The center does not hold…” because as you suggest there is no center. Power is more in tune with Foucault and Deleuze a combination of discipline and modulated control systems dispersed through a wide variety of networks both visible and invisible. The notion of using bombs by these powers seems a little ridiculous, yet the ones who want to cause havoc on the Western bloc will use such bombs to bring fear and confusion. ISIS is only a manifestation of our intervention into an ongoing situation between Sunni and Shia that stretches through time. Yet, ISIS is happy to use us to gain its own traction …

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      • I agree with you. Our outlook into this whole mess lacks historical and global strategic perspective.

        We’re in a gigantic system of conflicting historical forces that have changed but nonetheless extend their roots way back in time. We should be wary of simplification. Sunni vs. Shiite are but one of these conflcting forces. The atavic tensions between Persians (Iran) and Arabic Bedouins have profound historical roots, stretching centuries.

        Then, let’s consider Erdogan as a wannabe Ottoman Sultan, a descendant of Attila the Hun, who would like to recreate at least part of the former empire in the form of a modern-day fascist state.

        Two centuries ago, the Ottoman empire started on its decline: while the Sultan mandated his Egyptian governor to chase the emerging Saudi out of Mecca for a few decades in the early 19th century, the Greeks, supported by the Englsh and the French, obtained their independance, and the French intervened in Algeria two decades later in the first half of the 19th century. There were wars between the Russian and the Ottoman empires later in the same period. The Ottomans were kicked out of the Balkans, and then the Middle East.

        These terrorists that operate today under an Islamic fundamentalist flag are much like the Christian Crusaders from medieval times, only in reverse.

        I have seen little interest in how the Islamic State army was set up, financed and trained, and by whom – where did they get their arms and equipment, fleets of brand new Toyota pickups with machine gun turrets mounted in the back, anti-tank guns, showing up all of sudden out of nowhere in wide areas over long distances? Who backed them, protected them? Who supports them still today?

        Who did the West, both North American and European, liberate if not these forces? Starting more than three decades ago in Afghanistan, we used these forces to target the Russians (and the Chinese) and ended up creating a monster within our own backyard. So much for the well-meaning intentions and efforts at setting up democracies from Algeria to Pakistan for the benefit of a medieval sect reigning over the Arabian Peninsula.

        We are left to shed tears like wimps in response to tragic events that occur not only in Paris and Brussels and Boston, but also in Moscow, throughout the Middle East and Africa. We do not try to care about these occurences elsewhere, …nor do we strive to understand what is going on.

        We will reap the consequences of this voluntary blindness: the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are on the horizon.

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