“You always become the thing you fight the most…”

by | Oct 6, 2012

Two car bombs exploded in Karbala, a centre of Shia worship south of Baghdad, killing 13 people and injuring 50 in a shopping area … A similar double bombing took place in Kirkuk, a city in the north of the country at the centre of several sectarian and ethnic divides, also killing 13 people …

The double car bomb is a standard tactic of al-Qaeda and linked to Sunni militant groups in Iraq, with an initial explosion attracting the attention of police and other emergency services and a second bomb exploding when they arrive.

– From the Daily Telegraph, 20 March 2012

There is now significant evidence that the US has repeatedly engaged in a practice sometimes referred to as “double tap,” in which a targeted strike site is hit multiple times in relatively quick succession. Evidence also indicates that such secondary strikes have killed and maimed first responders coming to the rescue of those injured in the first strike …

Those interviewed for this report were acutely aware of reports of the practice of followup strikes, and explained that the secondary strikes have discouraged average civilians from coming to one another’s rescue, and even inhibited the provision of emergency medical assistance from humanitarian workers.

The lone survivor of the Obama administration’s first strike in North Waziristan, Faheem Qureshi, stated that  “[u]sually, when a drone strikes and people die, nobody comes near the bodies for half an hour because they fear another missile will strike.” …

One interviewee told us that a strike at the home of his in-laws hit first responders: “Other people came to check what had happened; they were looking for the children in the beds and then a second drone strike hit those people.”

– From Living Under Drones, a report from New York University Law School, 2012

“Whoever fights monsters”, warned philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”

Over and over we have failed to recognise this truth. In its resistance to Hitler, the United States became a militarised society. In its opposition to communism, the US was as willing to incinerate the world as its opponents. To keep communism from spreading in Africa, Asia, or Latin America, the US felt it had to move in with its troops, or manipulate elections, or unseat legitimately elected regimes, or assassinate leftist leaders. To fend off revolution in client states, the US beefed up and trained local police and soldiers, only to watch the military itself becomes the gravest threat to democracy in one country after another. To counter Soviet espionage, the US created a spy network; to make sure that no one cooperated with the enemy, it spied on its own citizens.

“You always become the thing you fight the most,” wrote Carl Jung, and the United States has done everything in its power to prove him right.

– From The Powers That Be by Walter Wink (credited by Neal Stephenson with developing an “epidemiology of power disorders”)


  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

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