The Boston Marathon Bombers and American Culture

This Note and Blog Post is going to be a sort of recycling, patchwork and rehashing of quite a few ideas and even passages that I have gone over in recent months. However, this will be done in the very definite lights, contexts and insights afforded by the recent events in Boston. Let us examine the very real way in which these events will determine the way long term trends and questions are addressed. America is in the Presidency of Barack Hussein Obama, he has campaigned on the issue of more immigration and more diversity and the celebration of diversity. He has presided over what I call lies and misrepresentations about the acts of extreme violence in his term of office ever since the Fort Hood shootings. However, it may be that in this case he has handled the events after the attack in a better than average way. I will not go into detail here about the fault I do find in the procedures and words he chose. There are too many other aspects of this case to consider. This event may begin to make some Americans realize that we are in a crisis state.

While it may be very unlikely that we should address any of these issues effectively it is still worth discussing them. America must contend in any way around the world every day. It will never be easy. Some have been eager to forget the world we actually live in every single day of any administration. We have to address globalization, terrorism, environmental issues, possible pandemics, war and smoldering conflicts. We cannot opt out of any of these issues. The United Nations and other bodies such as the WTO have sought to set out a series of new regimens and protocols for international affairs. This has been done ambitiously despite staggering problems with previous reforms. An incident like this one at and around the Boston Marathon reminds us that things are not going smoothly. Reforms can be and are proposed but are the likely to succeed?

However, the same powers that have sought these reforms sense that they are not succeeding as well as could be hoped. Britain’s Conservative political leaders and Prime Minister can smell and taste the geopolitical winds enough to feel the need for security and will consider spending considerable monies made available by this move for a stabilizing internationalism and an expansion of the UK’s aid budget to be used on more old fashioned kinds of military peacekeeping and even more purely conventional defense-related projects.

The UK which has quite a bit of experience building Empires is both really interested in a better world and really aware it must remain engaged in a world where China, Russia, new organizations and international Islamism or very much engaged. For each of these powers armed humanitarianism is part of the total world strategy Britain will not be left out and is allocating 30% of the UK aid budget to fragile and conflict-affected states. This development will involve some defense profile as well. The Brits have declared that their world strategies and interest are enhanced and their engagement effectiveness is improved when the Ministry of Defense, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development work together, “sharing expertise while co-ordinating policy and strategy.”
We have not chosen Mitt Romney and I am not sure we should have chosen him. However, he was a man who understood soft international power such as sport and missionary work can bring to bear from personal experience such as I have had although quite different from mine. Obama has seen our first Ambassador killed in active duty in decades and has helped to foment varied revolutions without responsible planning on his side. He has denied links between American events and international enemies in the past. In these ways he is simply worse than average in following through on American presidential customs. But still, this is no 9-11 event. It is simply a wake-up call that our policy is not going along swimmingly. We must face the complexities of our world…

In this complex world America has a government that does not draw up budgets, does not understand how to compare debt. Our public indebtedness is about one hundred trillion and not sixteen trillion dollars. It does not understand the international networks that can fuse and separate and has not really allocated sufficient resources to countering the kind of weapons postulated in the film Red Dawn which would take the whole internet off line, fry CPUs and jam communications simultaneously. We see the world adjusting to new patterns of reliance, we know carrier killer missiles with small warheads on mobile launchers can be rained down from space with amazing speed and we see that a new generation of projectiles hunt conventional rocketry more effectively than ever before but largely we do not adjust to these challenges but instead focus only on the lessons of recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We see that our own social cohesion is under strain but really keep increasing the strain and not really securing the future and not thinking of what an American solution ought to be in deep terms.

I do feel that much of our traditional capacity is slipping away but we are adding some new capacity and that also has a cost. A friend of mine posted the following post on Facebook after the bombing and before the end of the original manhunt.

Listening to FBI Press Conference on Boston Bombing: What disturbs me the most is the FBI can scoop up all texts, facebook, any social media, and phone calls in a mile radius of the bombing, and sift them for information. Wow, with drones, computers, and satellites, there is no where a righteous person could hide from a tyrannical government. I am glad that the bombers will be found, but our government has incredible power and we better hope there are some checks and balances that protect us from this power.

I replied in a comment, “There is review of police action by legitimate authorities and federalism still clings to life so no single power has all the rights. There are legitimate skills to use in hiding oneself, hacker groups to fight for free uses and exchanges, burner phones and more ways to travel and connect with others who might help you. But if you mean can an honest person living and working near home expect the level of privacy some Americans enjoyed in the fifties to live in a zone truly untouched if they stayed out of trouble and still enjoy civilization — that is gone, really gone, very gone — in my opinion…”

I applaud President Obama and his administration for marshalling the resources to address this problem. It is quite an achievement for him to have found the enthusiasm which has often seemed lacking. These unusual Caucasian (from the Caucasus ethnicities) terrorists striking where they did received a response more aggressive and prompt than all but a few and this was a much harder case because they did not stay in place but slipped away unlike many who kill themselves or dig in for a siege. I also salute the use of the many cameras in the Boston Marathon. I know the police probably are hiding rather than hyping the capacity of indexing software, facial recognition software, time synchronizing software and surveillance engineering to allow them to quickly produce valid suspects. It seems to have been an effective thing to do. The truth is that all of these technologies do impact our freedom and our privacy even as they help to preserve life and property from attack. I do believe these are complicated matters and it will not be easy to determine what the right balance is and also not easy to apply these technologies correctly in warfare and international relations. Other countries have spent decades finding ways to circumvent these technologies which are low-tech and effective and cannot be easily defeated. We should rejoice in what law enforcement accomplished in Boston. We can hope it bodes well for us in military security as well but we must know it is not a simple matter.
I believe our models for economics and military projections are flawed badly. If we do not do a lot better soon there will be consequences. The solution does involve being alarmed but does not involve seeing the whole world as made up of full-fledged enemies. That approach would be one of many that would produce the same bad result. The result would be what?

The United States of America is moving towards a series of catastrophic military disasters. The country will awaken sooner or later to a future of having been entirely overrun by its enemies. The time for reform and appropriate action is quickly coming to an end.

Things are going to get a lot rougher than most people are prepared to deal with I fear. There is little else to say about the situation’s overall status and stature. There is a lot to say about what exactly I mean by that. However, for this note the short paragraphs above will have to do…

So we should be able to see that our society is largely dysfunctional by many events of recent times. Yet it is more largely functional. The kind of change I suggest in my model constitution for example is unlikely. I do want to see what these events may tell us about our future as a society and about the present we may not understand well in some aspects. I think that in this Boston Bombing we see the many aspects of our security situation highlighted. That includes our constitutional and immigration questions and issues.

Let us start with what we know about the bombers. Neither were born United States Citizens and both were citizens at the time of the attacks, This single reality would seem to be quite an indictment of our immigration system. They are certainly not the ideal. Clearly they are either guilty of a heinous set of crimes against life, public safety and the community or else they are framed by a vast conspiracy of law enforcement. There really are very few other possibilities. Neither result would be a good outcome for our immigrants who become citizen. I presume they did the deed of which Dzokhar is accused. Legal guilt is another matter and must be established at trial but I presume they were not framed. Their family says they were framed. There are no pictures in circulation of them doing violent crimes. There are picture os them with back packs, at a Seven-Eleven and hiding in a boat. The police shot out the younger brother’s capacity for speech. Given all this they are entitled to be represented by lawyers who may claim they were framed. That defense almost never succeeds even if someone is framed. For the rest of this note let us examine their lives as though they did the crimes in the very brief way this short note will allow.

The older brother had no doubt been seeing the world in terms of conflict for some time. The younger Dzokhar was an accomplished wrestler but his older brother was a much more serious boxer. Let us speculate about some of the weaknesses in our society which helped produce this event. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died at a mere 26 years old, was only 15 when his family came to the U.S. He went on to become a skilled boxer, representing New England in the Golden Gloves competition in 2009 and 2010. There are many challenges to fitting in and building connections between cultures. Perhaps if, as is conjectured, he was the instigator of the bombing attack and drew his younger brother into the plan they are accused of carrying out his sense of isolation increased every time this fighting man’s name was not recognized and understood as a reference. I do not know he knew this but I presume he knew he was named after Tamerlaine . Tamerlaine is is the equivalent name to Tamerlan in our histories but probably did not appear in the history classes he took and is an Anglicization of what some have rendered Timur i-lenk, or Timur the Lame. Chechen’s would probably be reminded that while I grieve over how little of our own history student’s know they know far less of central Asia’s history.

Tamerlan’s namesake was a Tatar tribesman who entered history when he successfully rebelled against the dynasties and cultures of Mongol overlords in the 14th-century social order created by the almost unimaginable violence and military skill the great Mongol warlord Genghiz Khan who had conquered much of the known world. Tamerlaine established his seat of government in they exotic inland city of Samarkand, There he both took advantage of controlling existing dominating significant trade routes and he helped to forge other routes which knitted together a vast part of the world. While we study little of these people and their heritage the cultures around Tamerlaine suffered a similar cultural narrowness of their own. Vikings, Europeans Aztecs, Tongans and other groups had leaders who ruled large regions, traveled far and commanded armies but Tameralaine’s people and neighbors probably regarded only seven rulers or small groups of rulers in the world as significant. These significant powers were the Mongol overlords Tamerlaine conquered in his first rebellion, the Lord of Tatars which may have been his own chief title, the Caliph in Baghdad, and rulers in Turkey, Egypt, India, and China. Tamerlaine conquered all the others except China. Here he fell short of the greatness of Ghengis Khan. While he had little more than tribute from Egypt and only an occupation of Turkey he was still a ruler of enormous influence in world history. His lasting legacies were the Mogul dynasty in India, and some cultural influence over a wide area from India into Russia. What did it mean to the older Tsarnaev to meet so many to whom his name meant nothing at all? A country must have a cultural coherence and not merely laws.

We are struggling with many cultural questions right now and these events have thrown them into stark relief. It was with some of these cultural issues that I began my first note about this bombing. Passages from that note are reproduced here below.

“This is a time of crisis which cannot be reasonably compared to the events of September 11, 2001 in very many ways and yet inevitably it will be. In addition, the limited reportage of possible attributions for the attack has been led by those seeking to pin the responsibility on America’s far right. I do not know who is responsible and it could turn out to be anyone. There is a tendency to follow the patterns in which any given society reacts to crises when any new crisis occurs. Liberal ABC News has focused on the far right and possible connections to April and then has somehow jumbled that in with Virginia Tech’s huge killings in April. There is no connection to the American right in that killing. Lies and propaganda continue full force.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that the FBI has a Saudi Arabian national in custody that they are looking at “as a possible suspect.”
Ruppersberger said he wants the FBI “to focus on what they do best and that’s getting the information and finding out who did this and what type of bomb it was.” Nobody sane could accuse me of being soft on Islamists, nor do they lack for Islamists in Saudi Arabia. In fact I distrust Islam as a whole and often write such things. Bad blood between my ancestors and Muslims goes back to the start of the religion and is enormous. Yet there is so little reason to go first to the Muslims for this attack.”

It is apparent that the brothers were Muslims. We do not know how much there motivation was Muslim or Islamist. We do hear that Russia had been investigating Tamerlan and also that he had links to Islamist groups on his own web presence. In my first note I tried to get people to consider that it might not be Al Quaeda related and to consider North Korea. Boston’s homeboy Secretary of State John Kerry had just led a campaign against North Korea and this attack could have been and really still could be a reprisal against Massachusetts by the DPRK.I wrote in that first note that ” It could be anything or anyone but North Korea leads a sane list of suspects”. That was perhaps hyperbole and a bit too much for the emerging facts but it is still possible they were involved and there were strong reasons to be on guard from the start. The Marathon attacks occurred on the 100th birthday of Kim Il-Sung. In my first note I went into detail about what that meant. I reprint a bit of that argument here below:

    Kim Il-Sung is very significant and his birthday can only be compared to Christmas for its significance in this country. There are over 500 large or life-size and prominent statues of Kim Il-sung in North Korea. The most prominent public places in the nation are marked by truly enormous statues in many cases. Some of these enormous statues are installed at Kim Il-Sung University, Kim Il-Sung Bridge and the Kim Il-Sung Stadium. In addition there is the near religious worship associated with the park surrounding the Immortal Statue of Kim Il-Sung . The Korean situation is characterized by huge amounts of lies on all sides and so it is hard to be sure of what is going on no matter who one is in the game but it seems to be true that some of these statues have been reported to have been destroyed by explosions or damaged with graffiti by North Korean activists. Whatever the opposition may be doing this cult is vital to the society as a whole. It is also traditional that North Korean newlyweds go to a near-by statue of Kim Il-sung to lay flowers at his feet.


I also argued that America may have been hit by such a birthday attack before that day in Boston. I wrote that the Virginia Tech shooting was likely DPRK directed along with so many other acts of anonymous violence:
This Korean shooter before committing suicide left notes which if complete have many resonances to North Korean propaganda and which may be incomplete because of removal by our own falsifiers of real connecting papers. Cho’s massacre is the deadliest shooting incident by a single gunman in U.S. history. While our emphasis on the idea that only crazy people do not love us led the Virginia Tech Review Panel to conclude that because of Cho’s inability to handle stress and the “frightening prospect” of being “turned out into the world of work, finances, responsibilities, and a family,” Cho chose to engage in a fantasy in which “he would be remembered as the savior of the oppressed, the downtrodden, the poor, and the rejected” –a sane person can see that this not far from radical communist anti-Americanism of the type found in the DPRK. But the panel rejected this approach and went further down yellow brick road stating that, “His thought processes were so distorted that he began arguing to himself that his evil plan was actually doing good. His destructive fantasy was now becoming an obsession.” They refused to see the chances that he was buying into an ideology.

There is no reason to produce again all that I wrote about North Korea and the connection to the Virginia Tech shooting. The link here is far less likely and if it could not be established in that case there is no chance of finding the link here if it does exist –or at least very little chance. We need to foster an atmosphere in which all aspects of the security situation are being considered. The world is really that tough of a place. We have a need to bear all these different and complex connections in mind.
It is still possible to believe the family members who see a set up when one looks at Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The young man is only 19 and he was not yet a teenager when he moved to the United States. While the reports of his age when he immigrated range from 7 to 11 he was here for most or all of the years since he arrived. Numerous people have been shocked that he was involved in this kind of activity. He is described as a likable, relaxed young man and an athlete who played soccer up until the incident as did his eight-year-old victim M. Richard. Dzokhar was also the captain of his high school wrestling team. With a small wrestling scholarship and a financial aid package he seemed still to be having some trouble in school and may have been influenced by his brother. On the other hand all the things that will allow some people to believe his parents when they claim he was framed are the same true facts that suggest a party from abroad may have profiled and manipulated the brothers. That may be true even if they did nit share the Islamic values and Islamist motivations to which the bombing will likely be ascribed in the end. I admit I am not ever likely to be sure that the DPRK was not at all involved. But I admit others may have a greater probability of being the manipulators.

This is a case which should haunt us and will. It will be a long time before it fades from memory. Where America will be then depends in large part on the way we address the issues which this tragedy raises.

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