La Petite Mort: Blowback

La Petite Mort: Blowback


by Jonathan Bailey

The following article originally appeared, redacted, in Sub Rosa’s biannual print publication La Petite Mort: Winter Solstice 2016 issue. To receive your copy, please contact

Blowback: The Arch from Retaliation to Aggression

On 9/11/2001 the world watched in horror as a group of murderous thugs used planes as weapons and altered the course of history in a matter just a few hours. The death toll for that day was in the thousands. The related wars and collateral damage that would follow have left millions of people dead, injured or displaced. A crisis of this magnitude has not been seen since World War II. The consequences are being felt all over the world, but the first domino was set into motion decades ago. This is a classic case of what is known as blowback. In 1954 the CIA coined blowback as the unintended consequences of a covert operation that are suffered by the aggressor. A people paying dearly for the secret ills of their government, and its agencies, is karma playing its game of fate on a national scale.

Far away from the places of attack, I was one of billions of invisible flies on the wall, watching in horror, through the window of an old tube TV. A knot formed in the pit of my stomach. I was worried about those people immediately affected. Worried about the days to come. Worried about the confusion surrounding us all. Worried that the growing clamor for vengeance may materialize into something even more devastating. As a nation, we were sucker punched, got up and swung back. We landed our punch and caused considerable destruction. The ripple effect was larger than expected and those ripples will come back to center. We will have to live with this for a long time to come.

The horror of that beautiful September morning may have been officially planned from a remote area of Afghanistan in the months prior, but the catalyst was more complex and elements of our government had a hand in these events in a distant and indirect way. The CIA’s hands have never been fully cleaned of the blood spilt from Operation Cyclone. This clandestine operation was setup to arm and finance the Mujahideen in their fight against the USSR in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. We trained and armed the very people that would go on to become Al Qaeda, the very perpetrators of the 9/11 attack. Before the dust had settled we mobilized our military in a patriotic fury not seen since Pearl Harbor. With widespread approval, we struck Afghanistan when the Taliban refused to deport Al Qaeda leadership. We sought out vengeance on Al Qaeda, hunted its leader Osama Bin Laden and removed from power the authoritarian ruling government of the Taliban. That war is still being waged today some 16 years after it began. This is the longest war the United States of America has ever been engaged in to date. In less than a year, the Bush administration changed its sights set for Iraq. Instead of focusing on the job to be done of using our military in its full force in Afghanistan we distracted our resources and efforts towards Saddam Hussein and the country of Iraq. A puzzling move to most of the public as we were already involved in a retracted war. The balance began to wobble.

Iraq and its leadership did not harbor Al Qaeda, the Taliban had no presence there, and there was no actual connection with the Iraqi government and the 9/11 attacks. The public was knowingly fed false information to gin up approval during the lead up to the war and our press didn’t fully scrutinize that information. They didn’t do their jobs and went along for the ride. They were duped and took the bait; hook line and sinker. So were we. There was vocal opposition, but it wasn’t enough to hold back a new war fever. We have paid bitter price in blood and treasure because of these mistakes. Our leader’s mismanagement of the war, support to stabilize the country, rebuild governmental institutions and properly reconstruct infrastructure was a net negative. The effect of these blunders have left a power vacuum that has been filled by a vicious death cult called ISIL or Daesh. Daesh is no more religious than a Charles Manson family cult, no matter their tag line. They have a powerful recruiting tool when they claim that Western hardliners threaten to eradicate Islam from the face of the Earth. This is a lie, but the bombastic rhetoric of figures like Donald Drumpf gives Daesh fuel to their propagandistic fire. Fools like him are recruiting gold. Daesh has profited on this power vacuum and has used their successes to recruit their next group of naive fighters who could threaten our soil with surprise attacks. We may pay a heavy price by fighting fire with fire in all instances. We may reap what we have sewn. Lone wolf attacks are happening with more frequency under the banner of Daesh. We won’t stop them by trying to bomb them ourselves, but with coalitions of nations in their region. Supporting them to take the fight to Daesh on their own. For those that might join the fight we need to open the dialogue and educate them to the falsehoods of their religious claim. They want to draw us in the fight on their terms and on their soil. They believe they are in the end times by spilling Roman (Westerner) blood in city of Dabiq, they will have set into motion their apocalypse. This is what they want, but we can’t let them have it. Armies from local Muslim countries need to take the fight to these murders. The physical victories against this cult will not only break their prophecy, but demoralize any potential recruits. Recent events in Mosul are a sign of progress. Time will tell if this strategy is a success or not.

I found myself sitting on my couch at home with knot in my stomach again. This time it was not the witnessing crashing buildings or blood in the streets, terrorists or explosions, fires or tsunamis, but in that early morning of 11/9/2016 a bully, a bombastic ass, an openly racist was successful in what so many feared and was elected the next President of the United States. Like half of this country, I had an overwhelming feeling of insecurity and helplessness, worried about all the people that have been condemned and demeaned along the way to his victory. To those chastised for being gay, for being women, for being a minority, for being a Muslim, for being a Mexican, for being disabled, for being the press, for being someone who understands the danger of climate change, or for believing in all our precious rights afforded to us by the Constitution, know that you are not alone and millions of people will stand behind you and demand you are not subjugated. I am worried about those immediately affected by the vote, the ones that may need to hide, the ones that may need to flee and the ones that may be afraid to stand up. Their fate is unclear and so is their safety. Donald Drumpf’s rhetoric has been divisive for the onset. He is a braggart and a consistent liar. He played the media for fools and we are the ones with egg on our face. His ideas, if put forth, could take us back to a time where women and minorities weren’t treated with equality, where homosexuals can be converted, where people can be banned, our immigrant traditions disavowed and religious rights could be trampled. The feeling that he may have been the best thing for Daesh, and those of the same stripes, is not only a scary thought for the United States of America but also for the entire world. This man has a minimum understanding of the Constitution and doesn’t seem to want to take the time to learn its intricacies. A man that sees himself as a singular authority in the rule of law and has no basic regard for decency. The results of his policies, if implemented, will bring forth a level of blowback in which we have not seen before.

It has been 15 years after 9/11 and the results tabulated on 11/9 have reverberated across the United States of America. We need to strive higher than the surface of which the results have floated. With history as a guiding voice to warn us of past injustices and with the potential potency of an executive, legislative, and judicial branch in control by a singular party, we have not become an authoritarian country yet. We may poke and prod the outside world, we may get another lone wolf terrorist attack, but nothing would be more devastating than over reacting and starting another war or potential letting an authoritarian constrict our rights as he has suggested wouldn’t be so bad. Vigilance may have never been so important. We must keep level heads, keep our ears attuned and keep our eyes open. We must never let an authoritarian figure limit our freedoms and bring us into the cess pool. We are bigger than that. We shan’t go down that road. The potential for catastrophe is too great, no matter how it’s weighed, would pale in comparison to the price that we will pay if we change the core fundamentals of our way of life. If karma is a truism and we reap what we sow then we need an equal and opposite reaction to balance injustice before it can blossom. Ben Franklin wrote that “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Heed Ben Franklin’s advice. Karma will repay us in full on how we decide to move forward from this moment in time. Begin to relieve the pressure now before the blowback explodes in our face.