Friday, May 20, 2016

America’s RAW Deal
5th Post

Under the Psychoscope
Two of History’s Bloodiest War Lords
Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama

Snapshot: What They Have Done

·                 Authorized secret wars in nearly 3/4th of the planet
·                 Destroyed cities and villages
·                 Sent millions to their graves
·                 Bombed weddings and funeral
·                 Replaced popular leaders with dictators as US pawns
·                 Created countless enemies and potential terrorists
·                 Squandered trillions for war instead of building a new America

WHY? WHY? WHY?

People, including presidents, do what they do because of their PMU (psychological makeup), GMU (genetic and gender makeup) and also because of the situations or circumstances they create and/or face. [1]

In this psychoscope the two president’s PMUs and GMUs will be examined for an explanation of their destructive and deadly behavior. In the next post the two presidents' circumstances will be examined.

What the Psychoscope Shows Us

Their DNA

Some research suggests that a particular gene is more likely to be found among leaders than followers. [2] Other research suggests that a person’s genetic makeup may to some extent predispose the person to a life of crime. [3] “Putting two and two together,” is it much of a stretch to wonder if their genes have at least a minor influence on their committing international war crimes?

Their Gender

Do you know of any female U.S. president? Wars throughout history have been started and fought by males with very few exceptions (Cleopatra and Margaret Thatcher, for example). While testosterone may play a tiny role in a male leader’s aggression, we live in a male dominated society, which means among other things that males are expected to dominate and to be aggressive when confronted with conflicts.

Their Background

A person’s background is the person’s history, and you know the old saying, “history is prologue to the future.” There’s a grain or more of truth to it, and more so when some of the person’s behavior is habitual since a habit (e.g., the war and spy habit) is the past repeated, is it not? A person’s background tells us how that person’s characteristics have evolved and what role they played in the person’s lifetime of responses to a lifetime of situations.

Bush was born with a silver spoon in his mouth so to speak and a member of a dynasty with a sense of entitlement that sometimes surfaced on the wrong side of the law and with impunity. [4] His father, George Walker Bush, before becoming the first U.S. president in the Bush family had been a director of the CIA.

Obama’s parents were allegedly on the CIA payroll and that agency reportedly “financed his college education and gave him his first job afterwards.” [5] Is he indebted to the CIA? Is he afraid of the CIA given its history of assassinations? I will return to the matter of the influence the “shadow government” (i.e., CIA and NSA) allegedly has on whoever sits in the Oval Office in the next post.                                                                             

Their Personalities

Let’s turn now to their personalities and raise some questions about whether these socially undesirable personality traits; greed/ambition, morally unprincipled, narcissism and close mindedness are associated with their kind of leadership behavior. 

Greedy/Ambitious? 

We know they are ambitious. Anyone is who climbs up to the Oval Office.

Morally Unprincipled?

Anyone who starts a war against another nation on a pretext or who orders drone strikes is morally unprincipled and will do whatever is necessary to achieve desired ends.  Bush, a born-again Christian would naturally disagree. So would Obama. Let’s hear what the latter himself has said about his own moral character: “---I think I’m pretty good at keeping my moral compass while recognizing that I am a product of original sin.” [6] The subordinating clause of that statement is a perfect example of a moral rationalization as in, “well, we all sin in our own ways.”  And again in his own words:  “One of the things that I’ve learned to appreciate more as President is you are essentially a relay swimmer in a river full of rapids, and that river is history.” [7] In other words, you can blame what he’s doing on history. And he’s partly right.

To the extent that any war/spy commander in chief has any hint of morality it is compartmentalized, a form of moral rationalization and a habit typical of most humans. Certain mental compartments are reserved for scruples and others for behavior ranging from the less scrupulous to evil. I will give you one example from Obama’s repertoire of behavior. A few days after he had eulogized Dr. Martin Luther King, the antiwar activist when alive, the president announced he would be doing some more bombing. [8]

Now, we can interpret that seeming contradiction in two ways. Either his eulogy was nothing other than posturing, which is second nature to politicians, or he was pulling the eulogy out of a moral compartment and deciding from a different compartment to go bombing again. Either way, he was at worst exhibiting unprincipled morality and at best conditional morality.

Narcissistic?

What national leader isn’t narcissistic? An extreme form of narcissism is a sense of grandiosity, as President Obama seems to display in this remark; “Here’s my bottom line, America must always lead on the stage. If we don’t, no one else will.” [9]Another extreme form is a lack of empathy.  Have you ever seen the two of them express empathy or remorse over innocent people killed by their military decisions? Sometime after I wrote that last sentence I spotted an article in the New Yorker quoting Obama in a speech to the National Defense University saying about civilian deaths from drones that such incidents are “heartbreaking tragedies” that would be haunting memories for “as long as we live.” [10] I think his expressed remorse was mostly posturing rather than being deeply felt especially since he went on to defend the use of drones.

Hubris is another element of this personality trait. It was displayed by President Bush standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier and boasting “mission accomplished;” and in this boastful remark; “The interesting thing about being president is that you don’t feel like [you] owe anybody an explanation. [11]

Psychopathic?

It would not be unusual if Bush and Obama were psychopathic. Apparently it is “normal” if we can believe the findings from a study that relied on some 100 historical experts’ analyses of data on all U.S. presidents. The researchers say they found this personality trait in every U.S. president. [12] Noted psychoanalyst Dr. Justin Frank seems to have found it also when analyzing the backgrounds and behavior of Bush and Obama. [13]

Close-minded? 

Ron Suskind was the senior national-affairs reporter for The Wall Street Journal from 1993 to 2000 and the author of a book and articles about Bush. Mr. Suskind writes that when asked by his top deputies to explain his decisions “the president would say that he relied on his ‘gut’ or his ‘instinct’ to guide the ship of state, and then he ‘prayed over it.’” [14] Anyone believing their decisions is guided by the supernatural are not likely to open their mind to alternative decisions.

As for President Obama, he once told a reporter; “And every morning and every night I’m taking measure of my actions against the options and possibilities available to me---.” [15] Now that statement suggests he’s open-minded, but he certainly has been close minded about ending the drone strikes and reaching out to the world with an olive branch.

Close-mindedness is the personality trait that seems to be the most correlated with less intelligence. The more close-minded a person is, the more to suspect that person is not as intelligent as an open-minded person. That may be why the policy decisions and actions of Bush and Obama have seemed so mindless. Habits, after all, don’t require any superior intelligence or critical thinking.

Beliefs?

Firmly held beliefs are like ideologies that have hardened into certainties. Nowhere is that more pronounced than in the case of religious beliefs, where believing becomes seeing, not the other way around. More down to earth, a pronounced belief of every American president is that of manifest destiny, the belief, no, the certainty that America is destined to be the leader of the world. The neoconservatives and neoliberals of today that bend the ears of our presidents are living examples of this ideology in action. The invasion of Iraq, for example, was planned long before 9/11 by influential neoconservatives with connections to the White House. [16]Another pronounced belief, so intuitive and counter intuitive at the same time, is the conviction, or maybe a rationalization if the belief is a pretense, that certain wars, America’s wars most certainly, are always “just and necessary.” Recall my argument in an earlier post blasting that belief to smithereens.

Selfish Purpose?

Absolutely. As with Bush and all previous U.S. presidents, Obama is acting for his own self-interests, not for the interests of the American people, even though he will most certainly disagree and would, I’m sure, argue he is acting in the best interests of America. If that is true, his actions have certainly failed in any case.

Purpose, along with intentions and expectations, are an extremely strong influence on human behavior. They help motivate and guide it.

Ordinary, simple habits don’t need an explicit purpose. Take the case of the cigarette smoker ((but don’t take him/her in the same room). That habit basically drives itself. The need for and sight of a cigarette is all that is needed to keep the habit alive. The warring and spying habits, by virtue of their enormity of scale, need self and publicly proclaimed purposes.     

Why Do Americans Elect Such People?

The answer, I think, is two-fold. First, American voters have little say in the selection and election of their presidents.  The Constitution’s specification of the dysfunctional Electoral College, the government’s controlled Federal Election Commission, and corporate campaign financing guarantee that the “twin” parties’ candidates will dominate the ballots. Second, American education is one of an addicted regime’s most reliable “habit helpers.” It is never in any regime’s advantage to have most if not all citizens educated to think for themselves. If they did there would be an entirely different and better America.  Psychologist David Dunning and sociologist Mato Nagel have theorized and showed through a computer simulated election that incompetent people can’t judge leadership qualities. [17] That finding is not accidental. America’s regimes plan it that way.

EndNotes

1. I first conceived of the idea of the human equation in my book on organizational performance:
Tall Performance from Short Organizations through We/Me Power. 1st Books Library,  2002.
2. Prigg, M. The Secret to being a Great Leader? It's in your Genes, Researchers Say. DailyMallJanuary15,2013.
3. Cohen, P. Genetic Basis for Crime: A New Look. The New York Times, June 19, 2011.4.  4. Parry, R. Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. The Media Consortium, 2004.
5. Ross, S. Obama’s Ties to CIA May Explain His Totalitarian Views. Veterans Today, May 3, 2013.
6. Remnick, D, Going the Distance: On and Off the Road with Barack Obama. The New Yorker, January 27, 2014, 41-61, 61.
7. Ibid., 61.
8. Sirota, D. What Happened to the Anti-War Movement? Nation of Change, September 6, 2013.

9. Blum, W. What Would a Psychiatrist Call This? Delusions of Grandeur? The Anti-Empire Report #130. Dissident Voice, July 12, 2014.

10. Coll, S. The Unblinkable Stare. The New Yorker, November 24, 2014, 98-109.

11. Nader, R. A Letter to George Bush. Dissident Voice, January 1, 2014.
12. Howard, J. Psychopathic Personality Traits Linked With U.S. Presidential Success, Psychologists Suggest. The Huffington Post, September 13, 2012.
13. Frank, J. Bush on the Couch. Harper Perennial, 2005. Obama on the Couch. Free Press, 2012.
14. Suskind, R. Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush. The New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2004; and, Suskind, R. The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill. Simon & Schuster, 2004.
15. Remnick. Op. Cit., 61.
16. There are many accounts of how 9/11 was a golden opportunity for Bush and gang, including his neoconservative tutors to carry out a plan years in the making to invade Iraq. See, e.g., Battle, J. The Iraq War-Part I:  The U.S. Prepares for Conflict, The National Security Archive, 2001; Beversdorf, T. The Most Essential Lesson of History That No One Wants to Admit.  First Rebuttal, December 7, 2014; and Weber, M. Iraq: A War For Israel. Institute for Historical Review, March, 2008.

17. Wolchover, N. People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish, Scientists Say. OpEdNews, February 28, 2012.

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