- By Bill Bonner
Who are the bad guys?
Imagine the poor landser, the German infantryman, in 1943. From a good family in Hamburg, dragooned into Hitler's Wehrmacht, and sent to the Eastern Front. Cold, miserable, hungry much of the time, hunted by the 'terrorists' in the woods...while millions of Soviet soldiers - including the dreaded Siberian troops - were determined to kill him.
He looked so sharp in his new uniform when they sent him off. He was told that he was defending Christendom from godless Bolsheviks. He believed it. He had confidence in the Fuhrer, and Reich, the Volk. Who didn't?
But now...doubts were sneaking into his thoughts.
We'll come back to the Eastern Front in a minute. First, we check in with the financial news.
Stocks sold off a little on Friday.
"Mixed close after rate hike concerns," was the headline. The Friday jobs reports was surprisingly good - if you didn't look too closely. This led to the perverse worry that the Fed may be emboldened to raise rates, bringing the party to a close.
We, and maybe we alone, would welcome the end of this shindig. It needs to end someday. The sooner the better, in our opinion. But how? A long 'Ice Age,' with frozen asset prices and glacial growth? Or a quick meltdown - washing away bad investments, bad debt, and the bad decisions of the last 20 years?
Economists call this meltdown a 'depression.' But a friend helpfully suggested a better way to describe it: a "reboot."
Computers accumulate bad links, excess data, mixed-up commands...
Our email 'inbox' overfloweth with messages that tell us "as seen on Oprah." And now we're getting an email labeled "Sexually Explicit." (How did we get on that list?)
No matter how careful you are, if you use your computer often, trash collects like leaves in a storm drain. And eventually that drain will clog up. Your computer may get blocked completely.
Is that so different from an economy? Over time, it becomes encumbered by debt, regulation, mistakes, mal-investments, zombies and cronies. Sooner or later it needs a reboot!
So does a government.
Let's go back to our imaginary German soldier...on the Eastern Front in 1943. He had seen civilians shot dead by his fellow troops. He had helped to send Russian and Polish prisoners to the camps, where...it was rumored...few survived. Some of his fellow soldiers talked openly of "exterminating" the Slavs and the Jews. They referred to them as "subhuman," as if they had no right to live.
And to make it worse, now, he was in retreat.
Sitting in his foxhole, he may have turned to his friend...
"Ludwig...vat do you think? Are vee ze bad guys?"
And if he didn't ask, he should have.
And, who are the bad guys today?
The Iranians? The Russians? ISIS? The Syrians? The Sunnis, the Kurds, the Baathists?
We read the papers. But we can't keep up any better than the government. Last week, for example, Bherlin Gildon, a Swede who had been charged by the British government with aiding and abetting terrorists, was set free. He was arrested last October, accused of joining a Syrian terrorist group and helping to provide them with weapons. Here was a bad guy, for sure!
Ooops...the case against him was dropped when it was revealed that the rebel group he supported was also backed by the British government.
In minutes, Gildon was transformed from a terrorist to a freedom fighter.
That has been the story in the Mideast for a long time. Good and evil can't seem to make up their minds. A man is a sinner. And then he is a saint. He is redeemed not by faith, but by the curious politics of shifting meddles.
Osama bin Laden was a good guy - backed by the US, when he tried to get the Russians out of Afghanistan. Then, he became the baddest of bad guys when he turned against the US. Saddam Hussein, too, was a CIA man...practically put in charge of Iraq by the US. Later, the US gave him billions to help his fight with Iran. But something must have gone wrong in the relationship; America later took him out.
Of course, CIA fingerprints are all over the Mideast - causing confusion and mayhem almost everywhere. One meddle leads to another. The US supported the rebels against the Syrian government, but these were often the same rebels who were a part of ISIS, who were believed to have horns and tails. What to make of it? Which side are we on? Who are the good guys?
The security professionals - at the FBI, local police, the CIA, NSA...and more than a dozen other zombie agencies - were supposed to be the good guys. They were supposed to be delivering us from evil. But after so many reports of torture, spying, lying, assassination, murder, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, rape, railroading, and drones -- we can't help but wonder.
Is God still on our side?
More to come...as our series, 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,' continues...
Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.