Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

A Doctors Without Borders hospital is in flames after bombs fell on it in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. (Photo: Doctors Without Borders)

The Source of Terrorism Revealed – Is Anyone in Congress Paying Attention?

Tom Gallagher

If the U.S. body politic were susceptible to teachable moments, this would seem to be a prime one.

Russia starts bombing Syria and the American establishment howls in outrage: Lt. Gen. Robert P. Otto, U.S. Air Force deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, declares, "If at the end of the day you inadvertently kill innocent men, women and children, then there’s a backlash from that. And so we might kill three, and create 10 terrorists." Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, warns Russia that civilian casualties "will only fuel more extremism and radicalization." And the hot air had not even had time to cool from this national display of righteousness about the failings of our old Cold War foe, before the U.S. proceeded to bomb a hospital in Afghanistan. We know that the military is not going to point out the obvious—they follow orders. And we know the Administration is not going to either—they’ve invested seven years in the Afghanistan War. But where is Congress when we need them?

As Otto and Power have so appropriately, if inadvertently, pointed out, current American foreign policy fails the first test of what a defense policy is supposed to do, which is to make the nation safer. At the time that Osama bin-Laden stated his goal of tying the United States down in a war with Islam along “a large scale front which it cannot control,” it seemed like a sick fantasy. Fourteen years after the September 11, 2001 attacks, however, our leaders have taken the terrorist bait with such regularity, to the tune of two full-out invasions, bombing campaigns in five additional Muslim nations, and military operations in a total of 135 countries last year, that they now find themselves in the position of openly considering arming an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria because of the rise of another group, ISIS, that hates us even more. Is anyone in Congress even paying attention? Or are they simply afraid to speak the truth about our own disastrous course?

Certainly the rest of the world isn’t buying it anyhow. Last year’s Pew Research Center’s survey of global attitudes and trends found our drone bombing campaign enjoying majority support in but four out of forty nations—and one of those four was the United States. In thirty-three of those countries, the opposition ran to two-thirds or higher. Scorned around the globe, successful only in ever extending the reach of our conflict, our foreign policy is, in short, delusional.

A telling insight into the depth of that delusion arose around the recent revelation that Mullah Omar, the presumed leader of the Afghanistan Taliban, had actually been dead for two years. At the time of the discovery, "a Western official in Kabul... speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering colleagues" told the New York Times that the illusion of a still-living Mullah Omar had helped keep "hidden a simple truth that we don’t really know what’s going on or who we’re fighting on any given day, and who their backers are."

To find another point at which the U.S. was so adrift in its foreign policy, we’d probably have to go back to the Vietnam War. But at that point, at least we had a Congress playing an immensely important role. When faced with an intransigent and out-of-touch-with-reality White House, it passed the War Powers Act. Henceforth, a president would be required to secure congressional approval for sustained military action. In 2011, however, Barack Obama shredded that act with his Libyan bombing campaign during which his administration claimed the White House had the right to unilaterally bomb another country indefinitely, so long as no American pilots were injured. The reaction of that Congress to the usurpation of its authority? We’re still waiting. The fact is that most Congressional Republicans would actually prefer even more war and most Democrats don’t dislike war, however stupid, nearly so much when it’s a Democrat running it.

At the current moment, we needn’t wait for any official military explanation of the "collateral damage" in that Afghanistan hospital bombing. As General Otto and Ambassador Powers have aptly pointed out, another "Oops, our bad," just won’t cut it. What we do have to wait for, unfortunately, is a Congress willing to point out that the potential blowback from Russia’s bombing of Syria also holds true for our own actions – in spades. So while we enjoy the current rush of enthusiasm in the race to make a new president, we might also want to spend a little time figuring out how we get a Congress willing and able to inject sanity into our foreign policy when the White House won’t.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Tom Gallagher

Tom Gallagher

Tom Gallagher is a former Massachusetts State Representative and the author of 'The Primary Route: How the 99% Take On the Military Industrial Complex.' He lives in San Francisco.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

As Sinema Blocks Corporate Tax Hike, Demand Grows for Wealth Tax on Billionaires

"It seems truly unhinged to look at a country full of working people struggling to get by... and decide that it's more important to preserve low tax rates for billionaires and corporations than it is to make significant investments in our families."

Julia Conley ·


Israel Condemned for Designating Palestinian Human Rights Groups 'Terrorist Organizations'

"Labeling effective NGOs 'terrorists' is a textbook way to evade accountability for human rights violations—and an affront to everyone who cares about peace," said Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Kenny Stancil ·


House Progressives Call On Biden to Declare a Climate Emergency—Now

"Your inaction," Rep. Cori Bush warned the president, "is undermining our efforts to deliver good jobs, environmental justice, and a renewable energy future."

Jessica Corbett ·


Despite Politicians and Pundits' Claims, Twitter Finds Algorithm Favors Right-Wing Voices

"So much for Trump's claim that Twitter has an anti-conservative bias."

Brett Wilkins ·


'And Maybe More': Biden Says He's Open to Reforming Filibuster to Win Voting Rights

"It's a simple choice between a free America or one chained by the past," said one advocate. "Our democracy hangs in the balance."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo