HomeArticleThe US Empire Is A Self-Reinforcing Trauma Factory

The US Empire Is A Self-Reinforcing Trauma Factory

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American corporate media are having a field day with a rise in violent crime across the country, seizing on the opportunity to declare that it proves last year’s calls to defund police have been thoroughly invalidated. They’ve been making these claims despite the absence of any evidence that these two things are connected, and despite the fact that no actual police departments have been meaningfully defunded at all.

Defund the police encounters resistance as violent crime spikes” blares a new headline from CNN, which then admits that “One year since a nationwide movement sparked calls for slashing police funding in favor of other nontraditional forms of public safety, it’s not clear whether any city achieved anything resembling what protesters demanded: massively defunded or abolished police departments.”

“There has not been a universal defund movement across major cities,” executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association Laura Cooper says later in the article. “I think there was a little bit of retooling of the department budgets, but I can’t say that defund has actually played out.”

The complete and total absence of any evidentiary basis for the claim that defunding police departments caused a spike in violent crime hasn’t stopped Murdoch outlets Fox News and Sky News from airing segment after segment after segment after segment advancing that exact claim, while The New York Times tells us in an article titled “A Year After George Floyd: Pressure to Add Police Amid Rising Crime” that “The surge is prompting cities whose leaders embraced the values of the movement last year to reassess how far they are willing to go to reimagine public safety and divert money away from the police and toward social services.”

Right guys. Violent crime can only be the result of this imaginary alternate reality in which there are fewer worthless police officers patrolling American streets. Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that this is a nation with the worst income inequality in the developed world, where people are being squeezed harder than ever in a pandemic which the government did virtually nothing to help them through financially.

Violent crime has a direct causal relationship with childhood trauma; not everyone with childhood trauma is a violent criminal, but violent criminals are overwhelmingly victims of childhood trauma. Growing up in crushing poverty is inherently traumatizing; spending your formative years saturating in an environment of lack, stress, desperation and difficulty coping causes deep psychological scarring that takes a lot of inner work to heal, inner work that most people in poverty simply don’t have the luxury of time and energy for.

The US status quo is inherently traumatizing, because a status quo which maintains a permanent underclass working for slave wages 100 percent guarantees generation after generation of highly traumatized people. This in turn guarantees more violent crime, which in turn has led to the largest prison population on the planet. Prison is itself an inherently traumatizing place to be. They traumatize each new generation, guaranteeing more and more cops and more and more prisons year after year.

Hurt people hurt people, and the US status quo is like a factory conveyor belt churning out generation after generation of hurt people. Those who support the status quo politics of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party are choosing to support this abusive dynamic.


And that’s just domestic policy. Every aspect of the US-centralized empire is inherently traumatizing, and it gets a lot worse outside US borders. If growing up poor in America is traumatizing, think how it must be for children who are deliberately starved by US sanctions in Venezuela or US-backed blockades in Yemen. Think how it must be for the children in Gaza as US-sponsored explosives kill their family members. Think how it must be for survivors of America’s “war on terror” in the Middle East and Africa.

The trauma inflicted by the “war on terror” is a self-reinforcing feedback loop which creates more extremism which in turn is used to justify more bombings and more military expansionism in those regions. Suicide bombings have been unequivocally shown to be almost entirely the result of western interventionism; they were simply a non-issue in Iraq and Afghanistan prior to US invasions there for example. The “war on terror” is not only terrorism itself, it is an established fact that it actually creates more of the type of terrorism it purports to eliminate.

And why wouldn’t it? Why wouldn’t destroying and destabilizing entire nations cause people to want to fight back against you? It is self-evident that it would, just using your own empathy and understanding of human nature. As Jonathan Marshall wrote for Consortium News in 2017:

The most authoritative new study of the sources of terrorism and insurgency on the continent, Journey to Extremism in Africa (September 2017), finds that what triggers many individuals to join violent groups are incidents of government-sponsored violence, such as “killing of a family member or friend” or “arrest of a family member or friend.”


“These findings throw into stark relief the question of how counter-terrorism and wider security functions of governments in at-risk environments conduct themselves with regard to human rights and due process,” concludes the report, based on interviews with more than 500 former members of militant organizations.


“State security-actor conduct is revealed as a prominent accelerator of recruitment, rather than the reverse. . . These findings suggest that a dramatic reappraisal of state security-focused interventions is urgently required.”


Numerous other experts have drawn similar conclusions from conflict zones in the Middle East and Asia. In 2008, a RAND Corporation report on Lessons for Countering al-Qa’ida warned the U.S. military to “resist being drawn into combat operations in Muslim societies, since its presence is likely to increase terrorist recruitment. . . . Military force usually has the opposite effect from what is intended: It is often overused, alienates the local population by its heavy-handed nature, and provides a window of opportunity for terrorist-group recruitment.”


Similarly, the Stimson Task Force on U.S. Drone Policy, composed of former senior officials of the CIA, Defense Department and State Department, warned in 2014 that U.S. strikes had strengthened radical Islamic groups in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.

The status quo of the US empire guarantees that there will always be new offenders to imprison, new extremists to bomb, new justifications for blockades, sanctions and apartheid oppression. Every aspect of it creates traumatized people, whose resultant behavior is then cited to justify the existence of the power structure which caused their trauma in the first place.

And then Hollywood goes and makes movies about the heroic cops arresting the violent criminals, about the brave soldiers killing the evil terrorists, while in real life the criminals and terrorists only exist because of the trauma inflicted upon them by the same force that pays the cops and soldiers, and Hollywood is a US propaganda operation.

And those who support all this, those who support Democrats and Republicans and believe what the mainstream news media tell them, are called “moderates”. Supporters of a self-reinforcing trauma generation machine, with all its wars, starvation sanctions, nuclear brinkmanship, economic oppression, corporate exploitation, and ecocide for profit, are “moderates”, looking down their noses at traumatized populations and hoping the armed goon squads arrive in time to put them away or put them down.

The US empire is evil. The status quo is evil. We must end these evil things before they end us.


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Latest comments

  • Obviously, the war machine of the American Empire loses touch with reality and gets lost in its total madness. their criminal plans are slowly but surely falling apart and they cannot manipulate and indoctrinate naive people as they used to for the sake of their corrupt goals in order to force their authoritarian bureaucratic methods to quarrel and rule, but because unfortunately since the time of King George II and his War of Terror and destruction of innocent Iraqi souls as well as the continuation of tyrannical destruction of Mother Nature and media brainwashing by feeding irrational hatred and killing common sense has given the Establishment an unenviable power to dictate our unhappy lives but their attempts to enslave free-thinking individuals have totally failed, slowly but surely people wake up from hibernation and see the devil’s work and they see all this evil of a statist corporatist complex system that with abnormal militarists, environmental destroyers, warmongers, corrupt tyccons, idiotic diplomats, barons of the Beltway and organized crime bosses trying to subdue our free thought, The poverty of their language and the wealth of their emotion bring them endless delusion and expected frustration.so i think questions that besiege us in life are testament of our helplessness.Our sanity is a full-time job to exposee this lunacy which run our land but again It doesn’t really matter what I’m figuring out I always end up living in this world of doubt

  • Is it an Empire ruled by the control and influence of an inbred genetically modified Russian American Peoples? I know 90 % of the Senior Executives on Wall Street are from this originally Russian Sect/ What about Media and Money Control, does anybody know? Is the true American Leadership, the new Oligarchs all from this same tiny ethnic division. Is America being run by a tiny group of Developing Nation Survivalist Dog Eat Dog very low Empathy type of Brain Function? If this is in fact the case does it not make it more urgent and extreme that this oh so strange and unique fact is never mentioned? Isn’t that historically how you know who the evil controllers are by the fact and reality that they can’t be named!!! Who is this “He Who Shall Not Be Named??? Let me know?

  • A MEGA trauma is about to shake the Earth, the last Empire and every one of very soon.
    Billions of birds and insects, along with countless species of fauna and flora disappearing, we are fast approaching the end of time.
    After all, time is a human construct, so it’s only fitting we fall with it.

  • Why would one expect anything different from an institution that exists on the premise it has sole authority to kill you if you don’t comply? Would one expect such to be a beacon of morality, or the home of psychopaths? All governments exist on this premise. If they aren’t currently excessively violent, they certainly have the psychosis to become so, just as soon as they gain the means.
    The reason the US prison population is the highest might be that the average citizen commits about three felonies per day. Too many laws, which enables selective prosecution, which is fundamentally evil.

  • The inner karmic approach to American Empire is , to allow it to rise to the skies and then to experience the free fall… or to fill balloon to its full capacity , then to pierce it… is it OK ? …

  • Respect through fear. Competition requires it. Competition fosters and engenders vanity, secrecy and then corruption NECESSARILY. Cooperation does not have these artifacts.

  • The US empire is only more violent, greedy, and deceptive than British, Russian or Chinese empires because they have more money and consequent power to do so with little resistance from those they oppress.

  • You are right Caitlin, and as you have said many times before, the people in power are the ones who act criminally, certainly far more than the people who get swept up in police encounters. I have long said that the Democrats and Republicans act much more like organized crime families fighting for turf, than they act like “statesmen overseeing our democracy”. Think of what Biden is doing in Gaza; sell bombs to Israel, let them blow lots of people and infrastructure up in Gaza, then give aid to the Palestinians in Gaza to rebuild, while also selling more bombs to Israel to start the psychopathic capitalist cycle over again.

  • But it is possible that white cops are inflicting collective punishment on all of us, but especially targeting urban areas for exposing their criminal behavior much like the Israelis demolish the homes of family members of Arabs they arrest.
    I will admit that I have not done any research on this. FOX is also promoting how cops are retiring in ‘record numbers’ and giving us numbers on a daily basis on how police forces are imploding. If that was true (a big IF) then my theory is at least as plausible as theirs.

  • awesome! succinct! nothing to add to that diagnosis.
    now what?
    remedy please.
    do we take back our money? free the prisoners? kill the murderers? which ones?
    drop the IRS? end income tax and go to the BMI?
    tax assets…
    one EZ lesson: those who accumulated property should now pay.
    US GDP = 20 trillion at least. so at 5% ROI, that means the total net worth of USA is
    $400 trillion
    we tax that–easy to find, not conducive to deductions, etc.,—only 2% per year.
    …or $8 trillion for FEDERAL GOV’T expenses.
    plus some new ones.

    • ‘do we take back our money’?

      …’we’ NEVER controlled it…it’s always been operated at the whim of ‘the banksters,’ ‘the plutocrats,’ ‘the monied class’, etc. ad nauseam…whatever you call those who get to use/manipulate/etc. money in ‘the first round of spending’, those whose notes have been declared by law as ‘legal tender’, those who acquire US bonds [obligations of ‘taxpayers’] for free, those who counterfeit ‘legally’ through insane, unjust ‘fractional reserve banking’, etceterot……

  • You don’t need to be a genius to determine why things in the US are the way they are. The detailed version:

    The simple version:

  • America does have incredible income inequality but what many fail to point out is that America’s poor are wealthy in a world context. India’s poor earn $2 a day by contrast. The prison system is full of people not because they are poor but because of ridiculous semtences for petty drug crimes targeting a minority population. Prison is designed for violent criminals not common people who take the drug of their choice.

    • Prisons in the USA are increasingly designed by the private sector explicitly for profit.

  • What the US has demonstrated to all the world, by its too numerous examples, is that there is, ‘in deed’ no respect required for the rule of international law, as long as you’re on the right team drawn up by us, as we see fit. The lesser’s of this narrative are dutifully following the lead of the captains example.

    What qualifies a journalist as dissident, is that sh/e reports on subject, that matters to those outside of the preordained parameters, stipulated by the narratives of the structural power within.

    So long as a journalists report does not represent a threat, as determined by the reigning power structure, they are seen as credible mouthpieces – they are of the permissible proper ganders.

    The elites, whether they be of the governing, corporate, or plutocratic class are all of single-minded thinking. It is NOT conspiracy! This is a unified expression of the exceptionals’ ‘educationally’ inculcated attitudes.

    Obeying the law applies only to the downtrodden 99% of us, whereas ‘follow the law’ is merely a suggestion to the controlling minority, for maintaining appearances.

    Question: Why does a BBC reporter bemoan: Why is “China… crushing dissent(ing)” voices in Hong Kong, while not reporting this unreasonable act, as the same action for why Belarus attempts to crush dissent, and as the same way the West always crushes dissent.

    Answer: China is not a member of team Hegemon, while Belarus most definitely is.

    The applied methods may be different, but the objectives are identical – to stifle all threats, whether it be a purported communalist ideology, or an opposing unilateral power structure – purported democratic capitalism. The differences lie solely in the structural foundations of each society’s disparate moral ethic;
    between a more universal idea of humanity – fact, and the fiction that this more civil humanity we have striven for, and will continue to do, ‘en masse’, has come about through alienated robots working individually, and that it will be exponentially enhanced, in the blink between an I or an O.

    In the US, the difference between the federal law (beast) to protect the bald eagle (bird) and the federal law to protect humans (people of all shades) is that only the one species is a direct threat to the systemic structural ruling powers racism; protestations to the contrary.

    Hypocrisy has always been the head of the European Wests form of democracy and humanism

  • Without chid abuse, I’m not sure we would have enough to field a football team, let alone a military. Young men learn early on that there is acceptable violence in which to gain acceptance from not only their peers but also adults that they look up to.

    Because of this, many are saved from a life of crime only to commit even worse atrocities that are “legal” in the eyes of those whose approval they continue to seek.

  • Caitlin you’re always bad mouthing us poor American white men; you think it’s easy carrying out the White man’s burden? Think again lady; sure we have our problems but it’s still the darn best country in the world. It’s not our fault that at these two bit bandanna Republics keep attacking our women and pick picking our citizens who out of the goodness of their heart volunteer to help bring democracy to their impoverished nation. Maybe if they stopped robbing from each other and especially us who do so much for them, they’d be treated better by the rest of the world: they do it to themselves, because of their low morality. Facetious.

    • Speaking as an American, I think your comment is complete bollocks. The United States is the most vicious, murderous and aggressive imperialist country on the planet. You sound like a Trump fantasist, believing that the U.S. is some kind of benevolent force when in fact it is the exact opposite of benevolent. Or, more accurately perhaps, only benevolent to the violent, the greedy and the corrupt.

      • I think ‘Facetious’ at the very end means it’s intended as complete bollocks, though I had much the same reaction as you until I got there.

  • Case in point: It took a 3 week trial to convict Derek Chauvin of a murder recorded on a a video that anyone could see. And the outcome was in doubt, at least to the public.

    • I think he wasn’t even arrested for a few days, which rather amazed me – allowing someone so obviously a probable, if legally unproven, murderer to remain free to kill again.

  • Love your work, and I thank you for it.
    Occasionally I would like to donate.
    But bitcoin is just too expensive.
    I would suggest that you also accept donations using Litecoin. It is a consistently low cost way of moving crypto from person to person.
    Just my 2 cents.

    • I think it has the same energy-intensive proof-of-work basis as Bitcoin, so calling it low cost is highly dubious.

  • You wrote: “Violent crime has a direct causal relationship with childhood trauma; not everyone with childhood trauma is a violent criminal, but violent criminals are overwhelmingly victims of childhood trauma. Growing up in crushing poverty is inherently traumatizing; spending your formative years saturating in an environment of lack, stress, desperation and difficulty coping causes deep psychological scarring that takes a lot of inner work to heal, inner work that most people in poverty simply don’t have the luxury of time and energy for.”

    Further on this, most people in poverty also do not have adequate luxury of time and energy, and opportunity to have been introduced to the vocabulary to know that there are other ways to view the world and that there is inner work that could help them cope. Propaganda for the way things are is all they see in their brief bouts of leisure.

  • ….ime, people are deeply brainwashed to view ‘government’ as ‘the master’ and the people as ”dutiful servants’… this is bassackwards….

    …people laugh, disagree, etc., when i tell them we could improve US society GREATLY by merely assigning government offices through sortition, lottery, etc., rather than allowing ‘the banksters’ to place these odious puppets on $tage…puppets whose puny ideas and outright ignorance are certainly no threat to thi$ mi$erable exi$ting ‘financial’ order….

  • The lashing tail of a dying tyrannosaurus: you describe the death agonies of a republic that has been hijacked very effectively into an empire by a small oligarchical bankster cult that – now being denied true hegemony over the planet – is experiencing severe melt-down symptoms.
    I await the specific targeting of these oligarchies. People need to know who are their real rulers in order to resist effectively. Voltaire is said to have said: To discover who rules over you simply find out whom it is forbidden to criticize.

  • All of Caitlins comments on the Sociological and Psychological aspects of our violent society are true. HOWEVER, we are a violent murderous people and heavily armed. Reality is, we continue to blow each other away at an alarming pace. Many of the societal reforms that Caitlin mentions have to be made right, then we can talk about diverting reources from the police to Social Services. This can be accomplished if the wealthy and corporate are taxed and the military budget is downsized. Good luck with that !

    • The class war demands the overthrow of capitalism and the appropriation of the ill-gotten gains of the corporate oligarchs. There is no possible way to “reform” our way out of the death spiral of capitalism. And I disagree with your use of the word “we” to describe the citizens of the U.S. as violent and murderous. The violent and murderous are not ordinary citizens, but the ruling class and the police and military that exist to protect the corrupt system of social parasitism that is the ruling elites. They must be done away with before the repair of the damage they caused can be fixed.

      • Thats funny I go into Detroit and Flint Michigan frequently and Chicago occasionally, the shooters that I am wary of dont seem to be Capitalist oligarchs. The men who wanted to kidnap and murder my Governor in Michigan dont seem to be Capitalist Oligarchs. The morons who attacked the Capitol and wanted to kidnap Congressional members and hang the vice President dont seem to be Capitalist Oligarchs. Yet another mass shooting today , 8 killed in California. The shooter apprently not a Capitailist Oligarch. Most shooters seem to be lonely white males that are heavily armed and definetly not well off Capitalists. Did I use a generalization when I used the term “we” , yes I did and one always opens themselves up for criticism when they do that. Such as “They have good wine in Italy”. As a generalization,l they do have good wine in Italy. But if someone wants to be pendantic, some where some place there is bad wine in Italy, and they can point that out. As a generalization though, in comparison to the rest of equivalent nations, on a par economically, and in development, yes the United States is a violent and murderous nation.

        • What I continue to enjoy most about the “attack” is seeing photos of the cowards who vote WAR regardless of party, year after year, laying under their desks shit scared or scampering away like the the small rodents they are. Nothing says “Wake Up, America!” better.

      • If whatever you’d like to overthrow capitalism with results in another large, centralized, totalitarian, administrative nightmare that feels free to use limitless force on its citizenry to coerce physical and ideological ‘cooperation’ … you would count yourself as having failed?

  • Important column! How much is the “news” about crime statistics also distorted! In NYC crime is up over last year but down compared to the years under the worst mayor in modern times, Bloomberg, who favored the police and called them his private army. All this was going on as “Mayor Mike” used the Rent Stabilization Board to loot $1-2 billion from tenants. In fact looting by the 1% was at an all time high under the man Keith Olbermann once called a “tinpot dictator.”

  • “And then Hollywood goes and makes movies about the heroic cops arresting the violent criminals.” A complete example: The “Messiah” series writers/producers, etc., precisely managed to make the main focus that of an altruistically dedicated CIA officer, not one of the possible or likely Messiah. How far will some (of them) go to manipulate, manufacture, and control? This far: https://seaclearly.com/2021/04/10/messiah-a-modern-example/

  • All too true. But the propaganda methods are so successful most simply cannot see what surrounds them, and they even ardently support the system which uses them. Obvious examples such as the vets of our wars stranded on the street begging for help, or the harried mass of people doing 2-3 jobs to survive, while… it just goes on and on.

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