A grab for power

The consequences of no consequences

Tom Ritchford
4 min readOct 29, 2020


Susan Sontag square in Sarajevo

I’m responding to this article on the American political situation by Janine Di Giovanni, a reporter who has spent their professional life covering civil wars including Bosnia-Herzegovina.

It presents a grim picture and I wish I had some argument to contradict it.

Unfortunately, Americans have until very recently had a near-spiritual belief in the greatness of their country and the integrity of their own institutions, magical thinking which has led them to reject the evidence of their own eyes and ears for generations while their leaders have looted their society and wrought death on literally millions of their fellow humans (nearly all dark-skinned or Muslim or both).

The average family has slowly but steadily been robbed of a decent life, of personal security and hope for a better future for their children, and even for a livable world for their great-grandchildren, and yet most Americans still believe that America is “the greatest”, while in reality it sprints toward what are at least frightening disruptions, and at worst, as the article argues, full-out civil war.

The Republicans and the Democrats play completely opposite and yet completely complementary positions in this over the last two generations, one side committing increasingly blatant crimes, and the other, for some unclear reason, letting them get away with it.

Nixon didn’t just cover up the Watergate break-in, he and Kissinger organized the secret and illegal bombings of Laos and Cambodia which killed a hundred thousand people; and, later and completely separately, prolonged the Vietnam War for almost a year to win re-election, killing thousands of GIs for his own benefit and some literally uncounted but certainly larger number of Vietnamese.

Two acts of literal genocide! All of this now documented. Much of this was reported on at the time in the media. This could have been investigated but it was not. Nixon was “rehabilitated” before he died — he didn’t even have to apologize. Kissinger remained and still is a respected elder statesman beloved by R and D alike.

The crimes of the Reagan/Bush and W. Bush administrations have been meticulously proven. They culminated in the Rape of Iraq, a horror whose consequences continues to devastate that county to this day. Cheney personally made a cool billion dollars profiteering on that war while VP, while hundreds of thousands of innocent people died, including more Americans than 9/11.

But no consequences accrued. Under the very international law that the US had helped write after the Second World War, not investigating war crimes is itself a war crime.

And what about the trillions of dollars pissed away? If you don’t care about humans, non-Americans even, what about the two million million dollars burnt in a great pile, to accomplish great destruction?

Saddam offered to leave peacefully for $2 billion dollars, and made increasingly desperate attempts to negotiate, but war was the only possibility ever advanced. The Rape of Iraq cost $2 billion dollars a week when all is accounted for. And while it’s “over”, war rages in Iraq to this day and American soldiers still die there from time to time, 17 years later.

And yet again no consequences. No investigation. “We must look forward, not back,” said everyone’s favorite President.

Given that any level of crime had literally no consequences at all, something like Trump was the logical endgame for the Republicans.

Trump is the criminal gang’s first, best, and, we hope, last chance to jump for the highest brass ring ever — America. Even if there’s only a small chance of winning, it’s mathematically worth it for them, because America is the biggest prize that ever existed, ever in all known history, and there is literally no downside.

Think of yourself as one of this group of aging psychopaths. They have everything that could possibly want of the world’s goods and services, so why not shoot the moon, and maybe die owning America?

Even if they fail, they believe they will face no consequences, and can still tell themselves, “We tried, and we fucked up hundreds of millions of people in the process, and the planet itself! People will know we existed and hate us forever!”, and have another martini or girl or boy in their yacht’s smaller hot tub.

They must be defeated. And this time, there must be consequences.

Sorry for the rather… sombre message. It is important to understand what is possible to as to take correct action to oppose possible wrongness in the immediate future.

See also the sequel here.