A term every intellectually honest American should understand: BLOWBACK

To understand the concept of blowback, first you have to understand the United States’ military history with the middle east over the past 100 years.(re: US Military intervention in the Middle East in the past 100 years)

Once you understand that we have been blowing up buildings, sanctioning, overthrowing leaders, promoting regime changes, pillaging for minerals, and such – it becomes suddenly easy to understand why a few people hate the U.S. over there. It also becomes clear why religious groups radicalized and see the U.S. as an enemy. We even begin to understand why events as evil as 9/11 happened. As with any story, it’s not as simple as good versus evil, as most media outlets would like it to seem. This is the basic concept of blowback:

“Blowback” is a CIA term first used in March 1954 in a recently declassified report on the 1953 operation to overthrow the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran. It is a metaphor for the unintended consequences of the US government’s international activities that have been kept secret from the American people. The CIA’s fears that there might ultimately be some blowback from its egregious interference in the affairs of Iran were well founded. Installing the Shah in power brought twenty-five years of tyranny and repressionto the Iranian people and elicited the Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution. The staff of the American embassy in Teheran was held hostage for more than a year. This misguided “covert operation” of the US government helped convince many capable people throughout the Islamic world that the United States was an implacable enemy.”

(re: Blowback, see: Ron Paul on Blowback)

I know what you might be thinking. “How dare you suggest the US caused 9/11!” Well, that’s not exactly what I’m saying. What I am saying is that to those people “in the know” those attacks were no surprise and our involvement with the middle east wasn’t suddenly sparked by 9/11. Lets take a look at what was happening before the attacks.

January 2001: Tenth anniversary of the U.S. war on Iraq: sanctions are still in place and the UN estimates that 4,500 children are dying per month from disease and malnutrition as a result. The U.S. planes, which have flown over 280,000 sorties in Iraq over the past decade, continue to attack from the air. In the past two years, over 300 Iraqis have been killed in these bombings.

Yep, we were already in Iraq. For 10 years. So why are we surprised by mid-eastern radicalization? Why are we surprised that these terrorist groups can actually recruit and get young men to agree to suicide bombs? Not because America is “great and free” (are we? re: Erosion of American Civil Liberties), but rather because we have a long and negative history with the very people we demonize in the media.

What should we do?
Admitting that we as a nation are not guilt free is a tough pill to swallow, but once that’s over with we can start developing an honest solution to our situation.

1. Admit we have made mistakes and begin healing the relationship
2. End the never-ending wars in Middle East
3. Promote free trade, diplomacy, and good-will
4. Strong homeland defense

Being intellectually honest also means realizing that we have made real enemies now too. I doubt that most of our enemies will say “ok, you said sorry, we can be bff’s now). This means that the US should

1. Maintain intelligence gathering initiatives to prevent attacks. (without invading American’s civil liberties)
2. Promote strong diplomatic relations with political allies.
3. Befriend political leaders and display acts of goodwill demonstrating our commitment to peace.

What can we do as individuals?

1. Vote for Political leaders who will follow this intellectually honest foreign policy (re: Ron Paul)
2. Stop buying in to the media hype.
3. Do your own research and draw your own conclusions.
4. Spread the word.

12 thoughts on “A term every intellectually honest American should understand: BLOWBACK

  1. jon

    Great post. Watching the Ron Paul video clip where he mentions ‘blowback’ it made me think that most people weren’t ready to hear that at the time. I wonder if we’re more ready to hear it and really understand it now. I’ve got an optimistic streak – and I kind of think that we may be more ready to listen now.

    You know my mother and stepfather (and a retired friend of mine) both have mentioned to me that they grew up believing the U.S. was always on the side of good. And now, it’s very difficult for them to realize that we’re not. But we’ve been doing bad stuff for many years (as you point out). I like to imagine that we may be getting mature enough to look at our country through adult eyes, rather than childs’ eyes.
    Really good and important post.

  2. Atticus Finch Post author

    Thanks Jon.

    I think in general we as people of the United States are generally good. I also think that the United States, like perhaps no other nation, has a great foundation. However, the days of thinking that the United States and the government can do no wrong – is over. We have to grow up, as you said, with “adult’s eyes” and realize that we have made terrible mistakes and do our best to remedy that.

    I think the older generation still remembers the WWII era United States when it was in fact an almost good vs. evil (Hitler) battle. Unfortunately, our wars and actions aren’t as just today no matter how hard we try to demonize the enemy…

  3. Mark

    Well done. I live in NZ but I’m English. As Desert Storm progressed, It started to dawn on the general UK public (and, if you believe the reports, the UK govt) just how unilateral the US was. It seemed to us as though the US considered that everyone else (including the UK military) was somehow less important than any American interests – the rest of the world was viewed by how it impacted US interests and dealt with accordingly. A non-US human’s value was judged by whether that human was of value to US interests. US humans had intrinsic value that placed them above any other human or interest. Other humans had no intrinsic value – their value varied from nil to useful according to what the US wanted from them at any given time, but their value was always less than any US life. I’m not talking about terrorists here, I mean anybody – children, old ladies, British Special Forces. I’m not saying that’s really US policy, I’m saying that’s how it looked to us in the UK and this view was regularly re-inforced by what we saw of Iraq in the media and on the internet. A wave of anti-American sentiment swept through the British population, driven largely by what we perceived as arrogance, bullying and a pervasive American superiority complex. That anti-Americanism has not really abated within general opinion. Personally, the few Americans I have met have been excellent ambassadors for their country but as a nation, US govt activities abroad have made new enemies and lost old friends. Britain was no better in it’s own time of course, and arguably worse.

    You are right to allude that US actions have fuelled anti-US terrorism. Outside the US, this is oh so obvious – it is widely held in the UK that UK actions in Iraq and Afghanistan have fuelled terrorism in the UK. I doubt you wouldn’t find anyone on the British streets who would deny the connection.

    Recent US activities in Pakistan where the US has rode roughshod over the Pakistani govt and public in their own country are particularly worrisome. Pakistan is the only Islamic country with a nuclear arsenal and advanced, nuclear-capable ICBMs. It doesn’t help any of us when the US treats them with contempt. Nobody wants Pakistan to become anti-American.

    I applaud your suggestions for a way forward. Of course, when you say that intelligence gathering should be “without invading American’s civil liberties” you mean that intelligence gathering should be ‘without invading anyone’s civil liberties’ don’t you? 😉

    On the other hand… Islamic extremism is not only rooted in modern anti-Americanism but this comment is too long already….

    1. Atticus Finch

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for the insight. It is really nice to get a different perspective on the subject.

      Here in the US there is a large push in the media and in politics of American “exceptionalism” – a push to make the American public believe they are special. I think this somehow manipulates the people into justifying the treatment of other countries by the US – it is really shameful. Those of us who keep an eye open, even a few politicians, recognize it and speak out against such activities.

      There is a strong sense of good vs. evil and unlike in the UK, as you mentioned, if you ask a common American you will almost get the response that we are at war in the middle east because of 9/11 and other terrorist activities – it is AMAZING the lack of understanding and media propaganda that has sheltered people from the truth. Most people in the US want out of the wars and dislike them, but still feel a sense of “we are the good guys” and fail to see the bigger more unjust picture.

      Also, as for when you said “you mean that intelligence gathering should be ‘without invading anyone’s civil liberties’ don’t you?” You are absolutely right! You caught my “America is on an island” language :). All civil liberties should be protected – for everyone.

      Thanks for the detailed comment – it was very insightful!

  4. Mark

    “Exceptionalism” seems to me to be a more extremist, amoral version of unilateralism. Justifying acting with zero integrity, on the grounds that everyone else has a lesser value than we do. A further slide into the abyss. It’s almost declaring yourself to be your own god.

    Imagine Exceptionalism on a local scale: Bob lives in your street and Bob decides to live according to Bob Exceptionalism. If Bob thinks your tv is disturbing him, he’s going to walk right into your house and turn it down. If you protest, he’s going to quell that anti-Bob insurrection with any and all means at his disposal. If Bob wants to know what that noise is on your property, he’s going to force your back gate and walk right into your yard. While he’s in your yard, if Bob feels threatened by your dog, Bob will just shoot it because Bob is more important than anything else. No matter that your kids are right there and are utterly terrified and traumatised – Bob comes first in Bob Exceptionalism. Eventually, you and your neighbours will unite against Bob and take him on. Bob, of course, believes himself to be the innocent victim but he will kill anyone who he deems a threat because in Bob Exceptionalism, anything is justified in the defence of Bob and Bob’s worldview. Your street is going to look like WW3. And who started it? Bob did!

    Personally, I don’t think it’s going to get that far. The global powerbase is shifting, the East is rising and the West is waning. The US is weakening. Exceptionalism is only possible as long as you are more powerful and influential than anyone else. It’s bullying by another name. Actually, it’s what Britain did a couple of centuries ago when it had an empire. It just ran roughshod over anyone it wanted. The ‘British’ definitely considered themselves superior to anyone else. There are no good guys, we’re all as bad as each other.

  5. Sohail Ishaque

    Well, there are things and events that are kept hidden from the US public by their media.. if only the Media starts to play its role better that what it is doing now, i think a lot of misunderstandings will automatically get discarded.. but yeah the American Media is not doing what it should do for the american people and for the rest of the world..

    1. Lola

      If one objects to the article, don't buy the magazine.I hear and see offensive articles on our taexiypr-paad-for CBC quite regularly. Yet I don't whine and say we should sue the CBC or defund it.Develop a little thicker skin as censorship by withholding subsidies is not legal in Canada.

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