Guest Post: One Experience That Really Shaped My Thinking

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Simon Black of Sovereign Man blog,

Years ago as a young intelligence officer, I served a stint in Saudi Arabia running a team of counter-terrorism analysts and agents.

We used to have regular “threat working groups,” a fancy way of saying we would get together at the US Embassy for meetings with the embassy staff, local NSA operators, and CIA operatives working in the country under official cover.

The tone of the meetings was always the same – looking at various reports and figuring out which intelligence was credible.

It seemed like every week we would hear about some terrorist with a suitcase-sized bomb, and the bureaucrats would dive into a lively debate about whether or not to evacuate the Americans.

One day, I remember, my friend who was the senior ranking non-commissioned officer interrupted and said, “What about the Swedes?”

Silence. You could have heard a pin drop.

An embassy official looked at him, puzzled. “Sergeant?”

“What about the Swedes? Do we evacuate the Swedes too?”

The embassy staff looked at each other, shrugged a bit, “Oh sure, sure, we’ll coordinate with Washington on that.” And the discussion continued.

“What about the Saudis?”

Silence again. And then he really made his point. “It’s not just about Americans, you know. Their blood is worth something too.”

I’ll never forget it. It was formative for me. But for the government bureaucrats, it was as if he were speaking Greek. They just didn’t understand the concept.

It’s so commonplace… and one of the more unfortunate aspects of humanity. We group ourselves, defining each other by irrelevant things like nationality or the color of our passports.

The modern nation state has only served to reinforce this purpose. The flag waving and bombastic patriotism drive a sentiment that other peoples are less important– that their lives are worth less than our lives… as if we’re not all human beings.

To give you a harsh example, former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George was a vocal opponent of Geneva Convention restrictions to prevent British planes from bombing certain civilian targets.

He had a long history of this, having dropped 97 tonnes of bombs and fired 183,861 rounds on Iraqi civilians in a 1920 revolt against British occupation.

According to his wife in later memoirs, George opposed any such restrictions because he wanted to “reserve the right. . . to bomb niggers!”

Though such language is intellectually appalling today, very little has changed in this sentiment: our lives are worth more than other people’s.

President Obama really drove this point home in a speech yesterday which passionately defended US drone strikes– something the White House calls “necessary, legal, and just.”

Now, it’s possible that I’ve seen a more intellectually disingenuous speech in my life. But I really can’t remember when.

As the President stated, the drone strikes are “effective” and have “saved lives.”

So says the Nobel Peace Prize recipient. But I imagine there are a number of dead civilians who would take issue with his assertion if they could.

By “saved lives,” he obviously meant “American lives”. Of course, we’ll never know since they don’t release any information and we’re all just supposed to take the government’s word without question.

I don’t. Having once been inside the machine, I know that there is zero certainty in the intelligence business... which makes the whole calculus morally reprehensible.

My dictionary defines the word sociopath as “a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.”

I think the shoe fits. At a minimum, this policy… this strategy… is sociopathic. It demonstrates a lack of conscience for the value of innocent life overseas and is another massive moral stain on the politicians who lord over the Land of the Free.

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Rattling Bones's picture

This is written as if Obama values American blood over others; he doesn't.


Obama only cares about Obama's blood.


Benghazi proved that.

Dingleberry's picture

if the Swedes (or anyone else) are helping us, then fine. Otherwise, fuck them. They can spend some of their money on their own peeps security instead of importing rioting Muslims and giving them lifelong welfare.  

Nothing sets priorities straight like pain or suffering.

zerozulu's picture

It's the same dilemma every super power faces before collapsing.

Ignatius's picture



Take the day

And walk around

Watch the Nazis

Burn your town

Then go home

And check yourself

You think we're singin' 'bout someone else

-- Frank Zappa and the Mothers

Seeking Aphids's picture

Esp if it is someone else's pain and suffering, right D? Btw, are you sure the 'us' includes you? That could easily change you know........maybe already has.......

max2205's picture

Like jobs saved...what bullshit spin

nantucket's picture

yea, i want the govt i pay taxes for to prioritize the people that it's supposed to represent.  that doesn't mean kill others with no reason or justification, but sometimes tough decisions must be made.  don't kid yourself, other governments aren't operated by angels or people so noble they wouldn't do the same thing.  it is what it is.

blueRidgeBoy's picture

and to advocate otherwise would subject oneself to accusations of neoconservatism.

kchrisc's picture

When the criminals of government come for you, remember that it was a "tough decision."

gorillaonyourback's picture

Thats really the point is when govt goes rogue. So now you wittingly put yourself in a precarious situation and you hope or expect me bail you out. There has and always been fighting for survival so pick your friends very carfully and pick your battles.
Theres a game of russian roulette(life), you're appalled, are you gonna run over and take one for the team(blood).

The so called moral to the story simon gives is a trap. Every situation is different so are people just like sweedes and saudis.

Thia same trap has been used by the religious zealots to control the populations since eve ate the apple. Adam didn't stop her right

TotalCarp's picture

Sorry i dont get it why you are getting down arrowed. This article is self righteous bullshit. I am very much with you on this. You pay taxes to your govt and expect services. Sweedes can be saved by sweedes. If not then the Sweedish govt can pay dues to US to protection its citizens.

US has shouldered an untold burden that Ron Paul has been rightly screaming about for years - US taxpayer extends its protection umbrella to way too many little "friends" that only whinge in UN and are utterly ungrateful. If Sweedish/Thai/Congolese govts want their citizens to be evacuated by US marines from danger zone, they need to pay up.

Its called market economy bitches

TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

I can tell you why i down voted you:


You suggested that US Marines be sold out as mercs.

 -1 for you

Dingleberry's picture

Read Smedley Butler (two-time medal of honor Marine) book "War is a Racket".

We are mercs. And always will be.  All wars are fought for money. Therefore, all participants are mercs.

Bring the Gold's picture

I gave you a thumbs up before realizing that you were totally OK with this. That book wasn't stating an ugly truth we need to live with, it was about reform and ending the spilling of the blood of POOR american boys to further enrich the avaracious old rich men who run the country. You missed the entire point of that book.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


You missed the entire point of that book.

+1 for being right on the money.

Anyone that is OK with the US being an empire of dickheaded assholiness is, clearly, an asshole dickhead.

BTW, you can always fo back and change a thumbs up to a thumbs down, and vice versa.

kchrisc's picture

I agree except, solders are either mercs, paid to willingly steal and kill for the the benefit of the elite, or slaves conscripted to steal and kill or be killed for the benefit of the elite.

dog breath's picture

You are confusing a US soldier's reason to fight a war versus the federal government's reason to fight a war as I believe the commentor above was implying.  History books are filled with the common demoninator that war is used to control business; be it resource or trade.

Abbie Normal's picture

And when the U.S. embassy was overrun in Tehran, there would have been a few more hostages if not for Canadian embassy officials that cared for more than themselves.

Dingleberry's picture

Canada is our ALLY. And a dues paying NATO member. Compare that to Sweden? What the fuck?

Bring the Gold's picture

Living up to your name more with every post.

blueRidgeBoy's picture

don't take it so hard, TotalCarp, ZH readers always want it both ways: they bitch when the US intervenes (Jews!  Neocons! world cops!) and when we don't (famine! drought! foreign national evacuations!).  Here's the key: if the US does it, it's immoral and most likely the result of Zionist conspiracy.

blueRidgeBoy's picture

don't take it so hard, TotalCarp, ZH readers always want it both ways: they bitch when the US intervenes (Jews!  Neocons! world cops!) and when we don't (famine! drought! foreign national evacuations!).  Here's the key: if the US does it, it's immoral and most likely the result of Zionist conspiracy.

DaveyJones's picture

shouldered the "burden" of imperialism? poor babies

and currency control is not a "market economy"

TuPhat's picture

Totalcarp, the Thais kicked the US out of their country back in 1975 because they got tired of our BS.  They have been safer ever since.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

"You pay taxes to your govt and expect services."

I don't want a fucking thing from this government.

kchrisc's picture

You do not "pay" taxes. Taxes are taken from you. Try not "paying" your taxes.

Government is a con, a scam, by a group of parasites living off of other people's labor and product and only "produces" destruction--theft and death.

Catullus's picture

Yeah. It's murder. It is what it is.

Go Tribe's picture

This government must be disarmed.

Jack Burton's picture

Obama is the "Black Bush". How could he be anything else?  Go off script in the White House and you join Jack Kennedy. You can book that!

NotApplicable's picture

"Vetted" = "Firmly under our control"

a growing concern's picture

Vetted = we have blackmail material regarding your NAMBLA ties

shovelhead's picture

My NAMBLA ties have regimental stripes and are 100% silk.

duo's picture

Jack Burton from Mish's old comments session?

I thought I saw James Cole here yesterday.


Jack Burton's picture

I am THE James Cole from Mish's! I started with Mish as Jack Burton then switched to James Cole for a long time. When that board went south, I moved here and took back Jack Burton. The James_Cole here has the little line between names.

Who were you over at Mish's?? Damn that was a good board back in 2008-9 wasn't it. Smoking hot posts.

Jack Burton's picture

Remember I always used the pretty girls or film stars as avatar. Just like here on ZH.

duo's picture

I was Opticsguy back then.  Still am over at TFMR.

oddjob's picture

Do they still get all excited about posting first over there?

e-recep's picture

no, thirdson and blackswan left, too. creditcrumbs should be hanging around here with a different moniker. fedwatcher for some reason never posts here at ZH.

Ignatius's picture

"Go off script in the White House and you join Jack Kennedy."

You mean a 'lone nut' takes a shot at ya? /sarc

Michael Parenti gave a lecture on the JFK conspiracy and pointed out that a 'journalist' writing an editorial  -- following the House Select Comm. finding that the JFK assasination was likely a conspiracy -- actually suggested, paraphrasing "that it's not completely impossible that two lone nuts were attempting to kill JFK at the same time."

Pure Evil's picture

If one lone nut was Oswald, the other lone nut was LBJ.

GAAP is crap's picture

ah, the Cui Bono argument.  works for me.

logicalman's picture

This may have been a factor too.

President Kennedy's Executive Order 11110 gave the Treasury Department the explicit authority: "to issue silver certificates against any silver bullion, silver, or standard silver dollars in the Treasury."

We know how the banksters work, don't we.

Bring the Gold's picture

That this is even up for debate anymore says more about why this country has gone downhill than almost any other data point. If you don't accept that shadowy forces dominate our government and snuff out ANY and all who step outside that or by who's death wealth or power might be gained you just don't get it AT ALL.

Thumbs up bro.

Rustysilver's picture


I don't believe in conspiracies. But, why would JFK "need" to visit Texas a whole year before the election. Voters are not exactly know for their long memories.

Ignatius's picture

"I don't believe in 'conspiracy theories', except the ones that are true."

The history of modern use of the phrase 'conspiracy theory' as a pejorative dates to an April 1, 1967 CIA memo.  The subject of the memo was how to combat the rising public skepticism over the JFK assasination.  The phrase was hardly used before this memo, but after became a common corporate media put-down of alternative explanations for major events.

Look it up.