• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Globalization of Homeland Security

President Obama has announced that he will urge the U.N. security council this Wednesday to pass a sweeping new resolution which would impose global travel bans on fighters intent on enlisting in overseas wars.

According to press reports ( here & here), the resolution will require all countries around the globe to adopt legal, financial and administrative measures to monitor, list, freeze and quarantine “foreign terrorist fighters” as well as to implement programs to “prevent[] the radicalization” of their populations. 

In anticipation of Obombo’s address, former U.K. prime minister, Tony Blurr, raised his shrill voice to call for a propaganda crusade against, what he called, “Islamism.”

Welcome to the Global Security State.


Legal measures, like electronic equipment, are usually tricked out with various bells and whistles that attract the superficially minded consumer.  And so, typically enough, the press has focused on the resolution’s proposed measures — that is, on all the buttons and functions it places at the state’s disposal.

But lost in the legal gadgetry is the law’s animating principle which, in this case, is to take prophylactic measures against intents and attitudes.

An “intent” is a mental formulation directed at attaining a chosen object or objective.  It is the purely conceptual or abstract correlative of a “desire” which is the emotional component of the same objective.  As a rule, nothing is done without it being intended, which is why the law presumes that a person intended to do what he in fact did.

Accordingly, if a person is found fighting alongside swarthy, towel-headed warriors, it is presumed and inferred that intended to do so.  Similarly, if he boards a plane carrying a grenade launcher and wearing a T-shirt emblazoned “Caliphate Jihadist” his intended objective is fairly clear.

But most “foreign terrorist fighters” do not skulk about in uniforms.  The whole point of terrorist and mercenaries and other unofficial, non-state actors is that they are disguised and, as such, are indistinguishable from the general population.  

We have made this observations since Day Two of the current era and most recently again in connection with Obama's September 12th peroration on the terrorist threat.  What remains baffling is why the press is so utterly clueless.

Given that “foreign terrorist fighters” do not usually disclose their intents and given that the proposed laws seek to detect and prevent those intents from being carried out, how is this to be accomplished without monitoring all of us regardless of our intents and desires?

Given that intents relate to some future activity, it stands to evident reason that the proposed measures seek to penalize something which has not yet occurred.  But preventative punishment is the very heart of tyranny. 

Jurist types often speak of prophylactic measures which has a neutral medical ring to it and which conjures up some sanitary, precautionary, health measure like condoms or vaccines.   But law is not medicine.  Law operates — and always operates — by compulsion and pain.  This is the simple truth of the matter.  The words penalty and punishment both derive from the Latin word, poena meaning pain.  The law threatens pain for the doing or not doing of something and inflicts pain for the doing or not doing of something. 

In law, any type of taking or restriction is considered a punishment as much as a physical infliction.  For example, a person on probation is considered to be in legal custody because even if he is not confined to a cell his freedom of movement and choice is still monitored and restricted, even if mildly.

Whether one speaks of pro-phylactic or pre-ventative measures, the problem is is that they inflict a pain for something which has not yet happened. A person who has had his right of travel restricted on the basis of a suspected intent has been punished for something he has not yet actually done.  Similarly, a person who has had his bank account frozen has suffered a confiscatory “taking” without trial and on the basis of something which has not yet occurred.  

This prophylaxis represents the sadistic inversion of all that we consider civil and decent; it is pure taliation.

This arbitrary infliction of disabilities, detentions and punishments is nothing new.  It is the mechanism of all tyrannies and, as we have said before, the very essence of the so-called “war on terrorism”.    One can properly punish a terrorist for having done something and traditional legal tools allow this to be done with due process.

But to prevent an unseen, unknown actor from doing something potential puts the whole of society under suspicion, restriction and ultimately punishment without trial and on mere suspicion ... a suspicion which by the very formlessness of the supposed crime will always exist.   Once that takes place, the presumption of innocence has been replaced with punishment of predicted guilt and (as has often been said about Nazi Germany) the question is not “what is forbidden” but “what is allowed.”

This is what the war on terror is about and what Obama’s proposal proposes to do is simply to globalize the U.S.’s homeland security regime. 

The cute thing here, is that a person is always somebody’s “foreigner” so that once the regime has been globalized there is no distinction between “native” and “foreigner” and it becomes meaningless to say that any aspect of the law does not apply “to Americans” but only to “foreign terrorist fighters.”

Suppose for example that Congrease actually amends the Patriot Act so as to preclude warrantless searches of phone and email records of U.S. citizens and residents.  Big deal. That restriction will not apply in Abu Dabi where Americans are “foreigners.”   Thus Abu Dabi can monitor those chats and cooperatively share the information it has gathered with the country of origin of those foreigners.


As if all this were not bad enough, the inimitable Tony Blurr has managed to clang the other side of the gong. 

Along with the proposed taking of preventative measures against intents, he has made clear that the resolution also requires taking prophylactic measures to induce the correct and approved attitude. 

The conjunction “and” is one of the nastier little words in both law and politics.  It is nasty because it is small, quick and no one ever hears it.  When a politician stands on his hind legs and bellows, “We must take strict and stern measures against rapist, child-molesters and other criminals,”  everyone cheers wildly for revenge on the rapists without hearing or thinking or considering what the term “other criminals” might include.

Over and over again in the so-called war against terrorism we have heard politicians crying for and bragging about measures against “terrorists and criminals.”  Hardly anyone pauses to consider that “criminals” includes a teenager smoking an illegal joint, a drunk driver, a burglar.  The point is not whether dope smoking or burglary are “good” or “bad” but the extent to which we are willing to dispense with  due process in dealing with those behaviors.  An “exception” for “terrorists and criminals” is not an “exception” at all but a new rule of non-due process  — of taliation.

And so in this case, Obama’s proposed resolution does not seek merely to globalize the national security state, it also seeks to globalize the propaganda war against illicit modes of thought. 

Although the text of the resolution was difficult to find (and certainly not published by any mainstream information source), it

Calls upon all Member States, in accordance with their obligations under international law, to cooperate in efforts to address the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, including by preventing the radicalization to terrorism and recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters, preventing foreign terrorist fighters from crossing their borders, disrupting and preventing financial support to foreign terrorist fighters, and developing and implementing prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration strategies for returning foreign terrorist fighters...

Of course, nothing in the actual text, calls for agit-prop against “Islamism” but Tony Blurr’s clarion call illustrates precisely the twist and use “preventing the radicalization” will be given not only by himself but by political wedge organizations like ICSR masquerading as “research institutes” with which Blair collaborates.

Funded by Marks & Spencer heirs, ICSR dedicates itself to “researching” and polemicizing the “Islamo-radical” threat.  But their purview extends as well to Europes’ “New Right.” 

Summarizing ICSR’s agenda, Blair blathered, “The truth is that Islamism, unless fundamentally reformed, is incompatible with modern economies and open-minded, religiously pluralistic societies."

One really must wonder how the synapses in Blurr’s brain work, or not.  Earlier in the same interview he spoke of Salafist Islam.  In the next sentence he made a point of saying that this was not simply a fringe group; and, in the sentence following, he spoke of “Islamism” generally.  Is he so brain dead as not to understand the different implications of the words he bandies about with reckless abandon?

The dismal point is not that Blurr is no smarter than a desk-sergeant but rather that the desk-sergeant who will be monitoring our intents on behalf of the Global Security Apparatus is no smarter than Tony Blair.  {shudder}

Even supposing that Blair meant to confine his warnings to the threat of Salafism, that is little consolation to the rest of us, because the salient feature of Salafism is that it is a fundamentalist ideology which rejects “modern economies” and the neo-liberal modus operandi.  What makes Salafism evil in Blurr's mind is its opposition to the status quo.

Of course Blurr decks this out as a rejection of multi-cultural, pluralism on the assumption that all good and right-thinking people believe in multi-coloured pluralism.   But, assuming that to be the case,  once again, that nasty and.  He also couples the issue to a rejection of “modern economies.”  Would the Bolivarian, sustainability movement qualify as “incompatible”?  What about Popes Benedict and Francis both of whom have spoken out against the "modern economy"?   Do the “New Right” or “Fourth Way” movements, both of which reject the concept of global corporate economies and which endorse “cultural protectionism” also qualify as “incompatible”? 

Of course they do.  Shills like Blurr, blabber about Salafism because by doing so they lull the rest of us into not caring that the State is going after them and those.  But on closer examination, it is clear that the going after is against anyone whose views are deemed incompatible with the existing regime.  

Let's be frank.  Obombo and Blurr's One Percent Regime tosses out the chicken feed of individual freedoms (foetus flushing, gay marriage, electoral farces, and choice of detergent or phone) while promoting the social irresponsibility of plunder, privatization and austerity. 

The "modern economy," which Blair and Obama promote, monopolizes water,  depletes fisheries, uproots forests, fracks aquifers, pollutes the ocean, contaminates the air and impoverishes millions in the first world and billions in the third.  It is an economy which disempowers  workers and denies people their economic rights.

Although it is a truth most "liberals" find too uncomfortable to bear, the same relativism which allows modern society to be  culturally non-judgemental renders it equally non-judgemental economically -- which is to say that the value of exchange ("commerce") supplants all human concerns and values. What rules is simply the fetish of the commodity which allows and even encourages "pluralism" so long as it does not impede commodification and profit.

Neither Obama nor Blair are particularly important as historical forces in the Hegelian sense.  They are stage actors manipulated from behind the curtains -- or, in Obama's case, from the teleprompter in front.   They are only important for the forces they run for and give voice to.  Beneath the glitzy kewlness, of their "modern economy" is a Hobbsian dystopia where the race is to the cunning, callous, cruel and indifferent.  Under Obama's proposed resolution, any movement or any ideology which "rejects" the approved values of neo-liberalism needs to be "de-radicalized" and the masses themselves immunized against conceiving, much less considering, ideological alternatives.  

In the end, Obama’s New Resolution calls not only for global monitoring of everyone for incompatibility but also for global mind-massaging to induce compatibility with the neo-liberal, extractive, consumer security state.

Oh Security!  Oh Joy!

Sauve qui peut!