RANGER AGAINST WAR: We Are the Sopranos <

Saturday, February 02, 2013

We Are the Sopranos

 I don't trust society to protect us.
I have no intention of placing my fate
in the hands of men whose only qualification
is that they managed to con a block of people
to vote for them 
--The Godfather, Mario Puzo

He died of old age, only somewhat prematurely 
--Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979)

The story of terrorism is written by the state
and it is therefore highly instructive…
compared with terrorism, everything else must be acceptable,
or in any case more rational and democratic
 --The Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord

Yesterday at a bookstore Ranger noted a boxed set of the television series The Sopranos, and also skimmed the book "Hard Measures" by CIA wizard Jose Rodriguez -- a self-serving screed on the New World Order of enhanced interrogation and all the degradation tha implies.

Rodriguez discusses the special relationship of first narco-dictator in Central America with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); we supported him. Which leads to this essay.

We in the United States have become Sopranos, and we revel in this fact.  Our CIA and Special Operations Forces have become thugs and killers -- worse, assassins sans remorse who brag and have become movie and media icons for being heartless killers.  The Department of State, Department of Justice, National Security Council and Joint Chifs of Staff all enable this behavior (are co-dependents?)

Our courts have supported the behavior and to date no one has been convicted of torture or held accountable for extra-judicial murder (=assassination) on the part of the United States.  This is not the way a great liberal nation conducts business.  This does not win hearts and minds.  This does not make people love or trust us.  The Iraqi and Afghan peasants understand the secret prisons, the mindless drone that run these prisons and loose Hellfire missiles on their neighborhoods.How did we go from being the nation that helped defeat Nazism to become a caricature of Tony Soprano?  In World War II, President Roosevelt refused to allow assassination of enemy leaders to be U.S. policy.  The nation that claims to never forget has forgotten his historically moral and ethical position.

This new era was ushered in during the administration of John  F. Kennedy who, while presiding over Camelot, was no Galahad.  Kennedy planning the assassination of Castro and was complicit in the removal of Vietnam's President Diem.  The Vietnam War began with the lie that we were there to support democracy, and the lie was supported by the removal and assassination of a friendly leader of an allied nation.

In the subversion of Roosevelt's democratic no-kill policy into Kennedy's programs of assassination, 58.000 U.S. soldiers died trying to prop up the illusion of the former ideal.  Reality is ugly, and lies only make it more reprehensible.

Now, our citizens cheer as a glorious feat of U.S. arms when Iraq's former leader Saddam Hussein swings from a crude rope, or Usama bin Laden gets whacked in his bedroom, but these are all just iterations of the Sopranos template, and the U.S. public does not get it.  We have become killers in the Nazi mold.

How is busting into a room and killing UBL any more, or less, justifiable than than shooting Representative Giffords or a class of children in Connecticut?  In one, the shooters are portrayed as iconic killers preserving our way of life, while in the other, the killers are little Charlie Mansons.  And in sad a sense, the ST6 shooters ARE both creating and preserving this new American way of life.

Senseless killing can never be justified.  SEALs busting into a bedroom are every bit as merciless as the men sent by UBL that flew planes into the World Trade Center.  If UBL had been killed while in a legitimate operation, that would be another matter.  The U.S. Cannot become Sopranos in our response to mindless symbolic violence and retain a claim to democracy.  When we violate our humanity, we forget what life and reality are about.

Ranger sees us as sinking in the La Brea tar pits on a fast track to extinction.  We abhor indiscriminate killings by spree shooters, but idolize spree killings by SEALs and Predator drones.  The analogy is lost on us while we wallow in a national whining session about gun violence in the U.S.  We are too fat, dumb and happy to see that exporting death from Soprano-type policies is being mirrored here in Super Bowl heaven.

We have embraced death, and there's no returning from that tar pit unsullied.  The only problem with the UBL murder in our paradigm is that it was not done in the trunk of a Cadillac or the back of a M113 (as was done in the Diem murder); at least UBL was thrown overboard with cement boots.

Americans have always loved the trope of the bad/good guy wreaking vengeance for a perceived wrong (Clint Eastwood's Pale Rider or The Unforgiven, Charles Bronson in Death Wish, Michael Douglas in Falling Down, Liam Neeson's Taken, etc.)  This idea of trying to right a wrong via a simple act of vengence is appealing, and these films usually depicted men (desperados) on a solitary mission to right some wrong; invariably, they, too, suffered as a cosmic form of vengeance if only in the form of bad conscience. Today, we accept violence as a way of life.  Popular culture has embraced Tony Soprano and imbued him with a panoply of human emotions.

However, Tony Soprano has more dignity than did Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, George W. Bush, Barack H. Obama and their henchmen because he knows what he is, which is a killer.  Soprano has no pretension to being other than a mafioso, unlike the suits we elect to positions in government.  Ranger has not lost faith in his country, but it seems his country has lost faith itself.  In the nominations of the new Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, there will be no questions about morality or ethics during the theater called advise and consent.

Killing has been institutionalized as policy. Killers are us.

[Note: According to the Pentagon Papers, Diem was transported in the back of an M113 APC to the Vietnam Special Forces Camp Long Thanh (CLT), outside of Saigon, where he was dispatched prematurely into his next life.  Ranger was 17 at the time, but later as a young 1st Lieutenant he served at CLT as a U.S. soldier. The Diem murder was never discussed either in SF training or at CLT.

The camp was filled with political insiders and was a political sinecure for the VNSF even in 1970-71.  I often wonder what became of the camp after April 1975; probably relegated to the ash heap of history.]

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd recommend reading Ali Soufan's the Black Banners that shows how o called enhanced interrogation is not effective. He has also written refutations of Jose Rodriguez.

Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 7:52:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger jo6pac said...

What your saying is so true and here's a little something for SB Sunday.


I'm always amazed by my so called progreesive friends that believe in long distance Murder.

Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 11:58:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous James Rowley said...

Ranger you have got to see Dirty Wars it premiered t Sundance winning Best Cinematography and it is a documentary by Jeremy Scahill the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. The documentary goes to the covert front lines of the war on terror and talks to both those carrying out attacks and victims. It takes place in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Here is Scahill and Director Richard Rowley talking about it.


(Because of the dangerous locations they travel too, they operated as a two man crew with Richard Rowley training local facilitators on the fly to film And still won Best Cinematography. The film is most being released in the summer.

Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 9:20:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Deryle said...

Quoting Guy DeBord from the Society of the Spectacle is pretty far out, placing the whole
deal in perspective.
Just in time for Super Bowl Sunday , at that.
Well done.

On the rest:
"It is good war is so horrid, for we love it so."
--General Robert E. Lee

"We go to war as if anointing ourselves."
--Poet Robert Bly
There it is.


Monday, February 4, 2013 at 11:02:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


we have a book-learned Southrun boy @ RAW who reminded me of Debord ;)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 4:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Deryle said...

Well, he's a smart man.
Probably trouble, too.
We could pro'lly use more like him.


Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 10:51:00 PM GMT-5  

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