The War in Afghanistan as a Placebo for trying to cure terrorism

December 10, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More

What is a “placebo”? According to Wikipedia, it is “a sham or simulated medical intervention that can produce a perceived or actual improvement, called a placebo effect.”

What is a “sham”? According to Wiktionary, it is “an imitation that purports to be genuine. The time-share deal was a sham.”

What is “terrorism”? It is a nightmare inflicted on skittish citizens by politicians seeking to maintain power and money.  and see here.   In nightmares, the anxiety and heart palpitations are real, and thus the citizens seek a cure.

What is the “war” in Afghanistan? It is a placebo. It is a sham or simulated cure for a disease caused by politicians. Why would I make this conclusion?

1. In the case of placebos, patients show an extraordinary lack of curiosity regarding the mechanism by which the cure supposedly works. In the case of homeopathic drugs, there is no mechanism.  For true believers, this lack of a causal mechanism is not a problem. In the case of Afghanistan, there is no connection between the bombing and shooting of poor people and any national interest other than supporting the military-industrial complex.  It’s a make-work program for people who like to express power in the form of violence. Believers claim that we are there for “freedom” or to “protect our interests,” yet these are meaningless terms that cover up our lack of real concern. Even if we are spending two billion dollars per month to bomb and shoot poor people and even if the military itself estimates that there are only 100 members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.  Here’s a warning: Don’t even try to find a worthy causal chain in Afghanistan because it would break the spell. Don’t try to tell patients that they are only taking placebos. That would ruin the cure and the nightmare would still be there.  “Once the trial was over and the patients who had been given placebos were told as much, they quickly deteriorated.” In fact, they will hate you if you try to make them open their eyes.

2. Patients don’t show any interest in trying to discern whether the cure is really working. There is no meaningful stated objective for homeopathic drugs. We only hear about the nebulous goal of achieving “health.” Advocates for homeopathic “medicine” have no interest in double-blind studies. They would rather simply believe that the “drugs” work. They get angry when skeptics ask hard questions. In the case of Afghanistan, there is no interest in quantifying what we are doing. There’s

Image by isafmedia's photostream at Flickr (creative commons)

almost no interest in inquiring whether bombing poor people really protects the United States.  There’s almost no media coverage in the United States. Citizens don’t care about the result of our bombing and shooting of poor people, as long as we are bombing and shooting. And damn Wikileaks for exposing that we are actually killing many more civilians than we would like to believe.  And damn them for showing, more clearly than ever, that we aren’t making any progress toward any meaningful objectives and that we are propping up utterly corrupt leaders. War always works for true believers.  Placebos do whatever the Patient is told they will do “A placebo described as a muscle relaxant will cause muscle relaxation and if described as the opposite, muscle tension.”

Q: How’s that war in Afghanistan going?

A: It’s going great! Couldn’t be better, because we are bombing and shooting a lot of terrorists over there. . . and we need to kill anyone who would dare suggest otherwise.  And see here and here.

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Category: Health, Military

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. grumpypilgrim says:

    This post reminds me of one I wrote a while back about how the so-called "war on terror" was a convenient alternative to much more real and much more difficult wars:
    http://dangerousintersection.org/2006/08/21/war-o…. And, indeed, as Erich points out, the war in Afganistan gives a real face to an otherwise largely rhetorical "war." I've yet to see any assessment that estimates Al Qaida's population above about 1200 people (100 is probably more accurate), yet the U.S. is nine years into a "war" to which it has committed trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of troops. To what real result?

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