A lot of these post are a direct result of articles I read colliding with some other thought in my mind and big bang a universe of ideas in my head. Today I was reading an article on combating terrorism in the only way that is truly effective. This coincides with a book I’m reading on the psychology of batman. It’s one of those books like the Tao of pooh, that attempt to make philosophy accessible through pop culture references. There are lost of books like this, and most are surprisingly serious inspections of the stories and characters in philosophical roles. It may sound childish to discuss terrorism in terms of comic books but looking back at this administration can you think of a better word to describe them other than comical? Really? Okay picture Dick Cheney in your mind, did your mind jump to a renowned elder statesmen or did it flow into a caricature of Darth Vader or The penguin? This brings up a point that I wish to expand on the misrepresentation of certain forms of media as juvenile but that is another post for another day. Back to the post what would batman do to combat terrorism?
Well the answer to that question is obvious really; he’d apprehend Osama Bin Laden and deliver him prostrate on the steps of the capital with a note saying something to the effect terror has a new enemy to fear. That makes for a really short post though, so allow me to elaborate and speculate on why batman would do this. One of the reasons I like batman is because of the way he fights, and I’m not talking Kung Fu, I’m talking psychological warfare. Superman for the most part just hits things until they stop getting up. It’s quick and dirty, and for my tastes too simple. Batman from the start wages a battle of the mind. He is working the long con. Superman would work in broad daylight, and march Osama Bin Laden to the steps of the capital. He would persuade Laden to rebuke his crimes. This would fail to work though. No matter how genuine Bin Laden was it would reek of coercion. This confession could be great PR, after the fact, but you need the Dark Knight. You need the demon of demons. The reason why batman drops bin laden off at the capital with only a note is not so law enforcement is baffled, it’s a message to would be wrong doers that an unknown and unknowable power will deliver you to judgment. It is the unknown aspect that is the most important.
This has been the essential problem with the current administrations strategy on the war on terror. We as a nation have been trying to be superman acting like batman. Trying to turn superman into the demon of demons just makes him a demon to everyone.
(Believe me I’m aware how much I’m stretching this metaphor but stay with me.)
This is a first, but I’m going to give Reagan credit for something. Believe me I’m shivering even as I write this, but at least psychologically to a lot of people Reagan helped in turn America into superman. We were the beacon of democracy done right, freedom for all—at least that was the PR. This is great in “ending” a cold war, or fighting a lying conniving Lex Luthor for control of metropolis. The thing is we’re not currently fighting Luthor, at least not yet (Putin I’m looking at you). We’re fighting Al Qaeda, and as near as I can see that is more like fighting the Joker, and his henchman. The Joker commits terror to shock the populous, and to bait it into succumbing to what he believes their true ruthless nature. This is why even though he murders in the most horrific ways imaginable Batman cannot kill The Joker. Every time the Joker commits terror, the real test is not will he be brought to justice, the real test is in the process of bringing him to justice does the batman cross the line and commit evil to capture evil. Do the ends really justify the means? The answer that society routinely gives to this is still no. We have some evidence to support this; while everyone agrees Saddam was a horrible dictator, the US had a terribly difficult time garnering any true support for his removal from power in the way that we did it.
So what does this mean in the global on terror? Do we quit our “superman” like status? Well, it’s not something that we can just up and quit. So how does Superman beat the Joker? He doesn’t, he ignores the Joker most of the time unless he is standing right in front of him. He leaves the Joker to Batman. Alright before this metaphor loses the last nut on the last wheel lets wrap it up. In this analogy our military is superman, and superman cannot be everywhere at once, keep him fighting too long and he will get tired. So who is Batman? The CIA; the CIA is just enough like a *ahem* detective to secretly deliver terrorist to the hands of proper law enforcement, they are nowhere and everywhere all at once, and no one wants to answer to a knock on the door from the CIA.
Okay so we call back Superman and let Batman handle this, what do we do until Batman brings the joker to justice? Nothing; well not nothing, but we do nothing different. Wait you say what about protecting our borders, inspecting everything that comes into and out of the country. Checking everyone making sure there one of “us”. None of that will work. Look at the size of this country, it is impossible to protect everything. I mean it, we could have everyone hold hands physically be covering all of our boarders, and it still wouldn’t be safe. That is what all this stuff is designed to do make us safe. My question; why are we looking for safety when at no point in the history of civilization itself has anyone had total absolute safety. Even in the times of castles, where people made their best stab at making a strategically safe society surrounded by walls, Castles fell to siege and or intrigue While some security makes sense, lets make realistic goals, and instead of trying to build impenetrable walls, lets just make sure that every can continue to have the freedoms and opportunities that keep people wanting to live immigrating to this country in droves. We must combat terrorism, but terrorism has and will always be a mind game, it’s time we start playing the mind game right.