"Why Americans Get Suckered Every Time"
by Paul Rosenberg
"So, Trump has gone against what he swore he'd do and bombed the hell out of a Syrian air base, to thunderous applause on seemingly every side. His enemies now love him... he's being called Presidential... and once again, millions of Americans have been suckered into a knee-jerk response.
Bear in mind that this statement holds up, even if what Trump claims is 100 percent true. Also bear in mind that I don't dislike Americans; in general, I think highly of them. It's just that they have a particular way of being turned into suckers... a way that works more or less every time.... even when the underlying facts are made up of whole cloth. I think it's important to understand why this is so.
They Couldn't Possibly Know: Three days ago the entire US intelligence complex couldn't be sure whether one of their own bombs destroyed a building in Mosul. (I think they're still claiming uncertainty.) This was more than a week after the event, and they just couldn't tell.
So, how can they be completely certain about someone else's bombs, in a far more complex situation, in three days? The answer to that questions, as any reasonable person would conclude, is that they can't. Even if Assad did exactly what they say, they couldn't really know in that short a space of time. If they couldn't know after ten days in Mosul, they couldn't after three days in Syria. (Not to mention that Assad would have been shooting himself in the leg to use chemical weapons.)
So here's our first clue in how Americans get suckered: The facts don't matter. They didn't matter when Bush said Hussein was building nuclear weapons and they didn't matter when LBJ said our boys were being attacked in international waters at the Gulf of Tonkin. They simply don't play in these exchanges.
Why The Facts Don't Matter: This is the big question, and fortunately the answer to it is simple: Americans like to feel righteous. And that's not actually such a bad thing. At its base, it's is a rather good characteristic. The problem lies in how it's applied. And in the case of modern Americans, it's applied badly, casting the US military as the agent of sanctification.
Americans remain a religious people, whether or not they attend religious ceremonies. In fact, politics has replaced church for most Americans. And so, whether right or left politically, they forge their opinions in a quest for righteousness. That's why the American political divide is so sharp: The other side doesn't just disagree, they are fighting against righteousness itself.
Sealing The Deal: The suckering process we're seeing now, and have seen many times before, is sealed by this: Americans find righteousness in union with the US military. Trump didn't bomb the hell out of some Syrians, you see, he bombed the hell out of some sinners. Believing this in their gut, millions of Americans find righteousness by clinging to the agents of righteousness – the institutions that kill the sinners. (There's a reason thousands of people used to show up for hangings.)
So, Americans didn't just support their President, they performed a sacrament. And they feel righteous as a result. This is every bit as potent to these people, and generally a good deal more so, than performing an actual church sacrament.
Smedley Butler And All That: This is also why these people so seldom ever change their opinions after the fact; even when it becomes clear that the original incident was fabricated... that the people who were bombed weren't really sinners after all. Smedly Butler warned about this, of course, as did Dwight Eisenhower, among many others. But that doesn't matter, you see. How many Americans ever talk about those warnings? And again, the reason is simple: If Butler and Eisenhower were right, then their sacraments were false, and their feelings of righteousness will melt away.
As anyone who reads my columns knows, I'm no enemy of spirituality. But applying it to earthly institutions is a perverted spirituality, and I do oppose that. So, it turns out that a union of church and state really is a bad idea... and all the more so when it's a spiritual union claiming to impart righteousness. This “sucker deal” is usurping the spirituality of basically decent people, and many millions of them. We need to face that.”