Why do we need a global, decentralized, completely trusted, deflationary monetary system?
This morning NPR is running an article titled “After 8 Years Of Unbroken War, Obama Hands Over Conflicts To Trump.” This article caught my eye because of the seeming implication that the wars have only been running for 8 years and under President Obama.
Of course, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were started in 2001 and 2003 respectively by Obama’s predecessor, George Bush. They were the official start of the ‘War on Terror,’ which, like the ‘War on Drugs’ and the ‘War on Poverty,’ is not a real enemy that can be fought, defeated, brought to a negotiating table, and made to accept terms of peace.
Since the enemy is an amorphous concept that is exacerbated rather than quelled by heavy-handed military tactics, there is no way to define a win and now way to get out of the fight when you get into it.
And all of this was perfectly predictable. I have a clear memory of coming home one night in September 2001 (night because I live in Tokyo), turning on the TV and seeing some bad disaster moving with a smoking high-rise tower. It took me switching channels and seeing the same image to realize that it wasn’t a movie, but rather an attack that couldn’t fail to have historic consequences.
I remember thinking that attack, as savage and unjustifiable as they were, were spurred less by Islamic militarism, and much more than centuries of western imperialism, political and economic. And once oil became the lifeblood of our civilization, the peoples of the Middle East have never ceased being at the mercy of our military and corporation determined to keep the oil and profits flowing (note the overthrow of a democratically elected president of Iran in 1953 in favor of an unpopular monarchy and many other similar examples).
I remember thinking that as terrible as the attacks were, and how necessary it was to hunt down the perpetrators and all who helped them, that the attack represented a golden opportunity for America to show its best self. We are strong enough to take the hit. We are strong enough to ask why the people of the Middle East are so enraged and reflect who we can heal old wounds, build prosperity in the region, and create a more safe and stable world. We failed to do this at the end of WW1 which led to the conditions that created WW2. At the end of WW2, we resisted knee-jerk punitive measures and instead rebuilt our former enemies, in the process turning them into stalwart friends.
And then I remembered the president was George Bush and that he was surrounded by a group of reactionary neo-cons who cared about their own power, money, and prestige to the exclusion of all else.
I supported the invasion of Afghanistan, and hoped that an all-out Marshall plan would soon follow that could win the hearts and minds of the people and turn the mountainous country into a shining beacon of American generosity and high-mindedness. Instead we got half-measures that left resentments burning, bringing more men into the fight against us and prolonging a war that cannot be won.
Then we went into Iraq under false pretenses – the evidence of Saddam’s involvement was trumped up and believed, if it even was believed by the people at the top, because it fit with what their objectives were since before 911. We had no reason to go in. The country was barely holding together anyway under ethnic and religious differences, so we had no way to keep it together once we were in, and now we are stuck.
I remember thinking on the day of the first attack – ‘We break it, we keep it.’
And we have. 8 years under Obama. 5 and 7 respectively under Bush. And there is no way out other than to let those countries descend into chaos after we leave, or to hand over the operations there to the UN or some regional force, neither of which options are ever talked about.
Decentralization is no panacea to the world’s ills or the shortsightedness of men, but it is a start. The freedom of information afforded by the internet, in fits and starts, is allowing for greater souvelliance (observation from below as opposed to surveillance, observation from above) of the government and police and has allowed for things like the Arab Spring. Bitcoin, as decentralized money, will make digital cash the equal to physical cash as being a right, and not a privilege the government or banks can arbitrarily deprive you of with the tap of key. And on top of Bitcoin, once it hits its tipping point, I predict that people will devise new, decentralized systems of government — global, national, and local that will make governments the servants to the people and not the plutocrats.