May 2, 2011

Will Americans care if Pakistan betrayed us about Bin Laden?

Steve Sailer has several interesting posts, such as this one with a map, pointing out that Osama Bin Laden's conspicuous residence was not even a mile away from the Pakistan Military Academy. Hence their military had to have known where he was, and were just pretending to try to find him while we sent them billions of dollars for their help.

Let's say we even come across a smoking gun, some internal communication from the Pakistan Military Academy itself. Still, will Americans care, let alone do anything about such a betrayal? Doubtful. After all, how vengeful have Americans been in either thought or deed about whoever caused the current recession?

There are two types of betrayal -- against an individual / tiny group, and against a broader group. Solidarity, patriotism, cohesiveness, "social capital," whatever you want to call it, in America has been plummeting for about 20 years now, thanks to falling violence rates that make us feel less of a need to band together for common defense and mutual aid. Lacking a strong group-feeling, it is impossible for us to feel betrayed as a group. Only when group-feeling was strong did we respond to that kind of betrayal -- identifying with the crew in Alien when Ash betrayed them, or with the group in Aliens who Burke betrayed, the platoon in Predator who Dillon betrayed, the POWs still languishing in Vietnam because Murdoch betrayed them in Rambo II, and so on. The reaction is "They sold us out!"

During the first half of falling-crime times, there is a residual worry about betrayal and rotten apples in high-ranking places, but now that group-feeling is dropping, the focus shifts to how the traitor will harm an individual, or at most a few people right around him in his social circle. Just about all of the blockbuster movies of the 1990s that featured rotten apples were like that -- A Few Good Men, The Fugitive, The Firm, and so on. That was also the heyday of X-Files and the militia movements -- it was only small isolated groups, often lone individuals, who saw themselves as the targets of conspiracies or cover-ups, not Americans broadly or blue-collar people broadly or any group broadly. The reaction is "They're out to get me!"

Somewhere in the early-mid-2000s, even the betrayal of isolated individuals vanished as a concern. People restored their faith in the establishment, having felt successful enough in their '90s-era evasion of its attempts to lie to and manipulate them. Whenever the violence rate starts to soar again, even then we won't care about betrayal. While group-feeling will start to rise as we band together, we will still have faith in the establishment -- whatever's going wrong and causing soaring crime could not possibly be the result of rotten apples higher up or of a broken or corrupted role structure. Recall that during the Vietnam War era, the idea that the government was covering anything up or lying or whatever was a fringe view, belonging only to those in The Movement.

It's not until halfway through a period of rising crime that people withdraw their faith in the establishment -- long enough for them to have given the establishment the benefit of the doubt to fix things, but then seeing with their own eyes that it is too stupid, crazy, or impotent to do so. During the last crime wave this happened around the mid-1970s. Only then did the average American believe that lies, corruption, and betrayal endangering entire groups of citizens were possible or even likely. We're still waiting for the crime rate to go up again, so the tipping point about halfway through that rising-crime period is even farther off.

In short, there is no way that Americans would care if it turns out that the military in Pakistan took billions of our dollars and only pretended to hunt for Bin Laden, who was in reality living just down the road from them. Hell, even if Americans from both civilian and military backgrounds played a role, no one would care. Again look at how pitiful the popular reaction has been to the series of betrayals both from politicians and financiers on Wall Street that underlie the recession, and that's much closer to home than the pretend hunt for Bin Laden.

1 comment:

  1. I've heard quite a bit of this "the Pakistan miltary had to have known" line today, but I am not so sure. I have never lived in Pakistan, or a truly third world country before, but have lived in a few post-communist countries in Europe and my feeling is that the explanation is more mundane. They simply weren't trying very hard, lacked imagination and were incompetent.
    Sure there were some bribes at low levels, but I think it will turn out to have been a sin of omission rather than of commission.

    I'm waiting for it to occur to some journalist to find out if there are any really shady people within a mile of West point, Sandhurst or other miltary academies. I wouldn't wonder...


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