The Ant Problem and Zoosemiotics

armyantI’ve got ants in my kitchen.

Now, one cannot allow ants in one’s kitchen. It’s similar to the idea of “national security”: one has to control and keep safe all that is within one’s purview. The kitchen belongs to me; I need it for my “lifestyle”. The ants do too; just like Libyans need Libya, the Tuaregs need the Sahel, the Syrians need Syria; but the US needs their resources. And, just like the US is bigger and more militarily powerful than all those peoples together, I am more powerful than my ants.

So, it is a sort of war. I must take my kitchen from the hordes of ants who come in long lines from some tiny, unfindable gap in my security. “Outside”, the ants are all around my home. They have been here long before my home; but, now this is MINE!

The Mission is complete annihilation of the Ant Nation inside My House.

Now, if these were English-speaking humans, once I got control over their behavior, I could get them to do work for me and I wouldn’t need to kill them. But, alas, they don’t speak English, or even French or Spanish.

These are the little, tiny red ants. In my countryside childhood we called these “Piss Ants”. Someone might say, “There’s a Piss Ant. Step on it!”, and another would reply, “There’s a Step Aunt. Piss on it!”

I simply crush them under my index finger; one at a time or en masse.

When in battle I have observed something very interesting from the viewpoint of zoosemiotics and of the Heisenberg Principle – which I interpolate into ethnography by noting that the people whom I am “observing” are not the same community as when I, with my notebook and camera, am not added to their familiar world:

When I fix my gaze upon an ant working its zigzag way across my white tile countertop, or along one of the edges, even with no physical motion on my part, as soon as I fix my gaze upon him/her, some of them seem to know. Those, maybe half of the individual ants, will go into what appears to be a panic mode, and either freeze completely, or go into a broken field running pattern like OJ Simpson. They sense something large and un-graspable within their scale of life, but clearly they know it is focussed, locked in on them.

Did sixteen year old USan, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, have that feeling deep in the pit of his soul just before that silent drone sent its missile of death? … when he was sitting with some of his Yemeni relatives “a boy among boys eating dinner by an open fire along the side of a road when an American drone came out of the sky and fired the missiles that killed them all.”

And the Afghan women, men, children, at a funeral or a wedding, or simply eating dinner with relatives inside adobe houses, do they get that sense of impending dread and go running for shelter, or freeze in total fear? Do Afghans and Yemenis have the sense that Piss Ants have, the ability to somehow know that something large and threatening is lurking in the atmosphere near them, but too big to be seen, part of something very large, with feet in Virginia of North America and in Harrogate on the island of Britains who once so strongly resisted the Roman Empire.

My mother used to feel things that were about to happen. She would say, “Something good will come of it…”; or “something bad will happen..” and, “…. I feel it in my bones!”

When Dead-Eye Dick, the Special Operations sniper in my Human Terrain System training cycle at Fort Leavenworth was sighting upon the turban-wound skull of the man crossing from Uzbekistan into Afghanistan, did that man sense it and feel dread?

Just before the Cubana Airline Flight 455 blew up in 1986 and crashed into Paradise Beach in Barbados, did the members of the young Cuban Fencing Team have a sense that something large and threatening was fixed upon them? Did Luis Posada Carilles – today a free man and a hero among the Cuban Mafia in Miami –share in that fear with a thrill, as Dead Eye Dick felt when he saw that man’s skull explode?

Two Venezuelan nationals, Hernán Ricardo and Freddy Lugo, had left the bombs on the plane, before disembarking in Barbados. Lugo later told police officials that Ricardo boasted that the 73 people he killed on the plane were “more than the Jackal,” alluding to the famous terrorist Carlos the Jackal. “Now I’m the one who has the record, because I’m the one who blew up that thing,” he told Lugo.

Ricardo confessed to Barbadian and Trinidad officials who were investigating the crime that he and Lugo bombed the plane and that they worked for the CIA and Luis Posada Carriles. He even drew a diagram for them of the detonator he used to ignite the C-4 explosives he placed in the aircraft. He admitted to receiving $25,000 for downing the plane.

Lugo and Ricardo were extradited to Venezuela by Trinidad and Tobago. There they were convicted for their role in downing the plane and sentenced to 20 years. After serving their time, they were released. Lugo still lives in Caracas, driving a taxi to earn his living. The Miami Herald reported that Ricardo is now an undercover operative in Florida for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In 1985 Luis Posada Carriles was indicted and prosecuted as the mastermind of the murder of the 73 persons aboard that plane. But before the Venezuelan court could pronounce a verdict, he escaped from prison. Within a few weeks, he landed a job with the CIA in an operation that later became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. The United States has never bothered to explain how it was possible for an international fugitive charged with 73 counts of first-degree murder to so quickly land a $120,000-a-year job with the CIA, arming Nicaraguan Contras.

You see, from the perspective of Real Politik, of Henry Kissenger and Barack Hussein Obama, Mr. Posada Carriles was simply working to keep our house free of Piss Ants. So, the US owes him a reward of protection and a good life.

The Return of I Dread

And, so, if humans have the sense of Piss Ants, they probably do somehow know deep inside when a drone has fixed upon one as a target. Even if the drone doesn’t fire; there must be a moment of traumatic dread of something just beyond one’s accessible sense world. For example, the operator of a drone station in Virginia who sighted upon someone digging in the dirt in the middle of a road in Afghanistan. He locked in and prepared to fire when a much larger figure came into the frame of focus and the operator realized that he was looking at an adult who had come into the road to get the child who was playing in the dirt.

Did that small Pashtun child, sitting there playing in the dirt, did he get that sense of dread? Did he have an urge to go running and dodging? Did he feel frozen in fear?

The Final Solution to My Ant Problem

It seems that the things I do to Piss Ants, one should not do to any living things. I should find a better way to keep the Piss Ants out of my house.

On the other hand, I should not invade the Piss Ants’ houses, dominating their native landscape and putting them into a wandering state of desperate homelessness.

As is obvious, when one builds an empire in the middle of other creatures’ home landscape, there will be some maintenance problems. If other peoples’ lands and resources become “vital to the USA’s National Security Interests”, then the use of drones in other people’s landscapes to kill any resistance is absolutely necessary to our survival, our “lifestyle”.

The article on Nigeria was a good illustration of this way of thinking:

Writing his MA thesis on this Mission for the US Army Command and General Staff College in 2007, Major Brian Lionberger submitted his Thesis entitled: Emerging Requirements For US COIN: An Examination Of The Insurgency In The Niger River Delta Region.

‘The evolving insurgency in the Niger River Delta region of Nigeria is and will continue to threaten U.S. national security interests in terms of regional political stability and access to strategic resources.”

To be clear: the Major is saying that this war in Nigeria is about the USNATO’s presumed right of access to and exploitation of Nigeria’s own strategic resources.

The Major further informs us:

“Now, along with other regions of Africa, as the Gulf of Guinea’s strategic influence on the U.S. and U.S. allies grows, its security has become a key part of the U.S. National Security Strategy and, like the enduring presence in the Horn of Africa, may see a semi-permanent deployment of U.S. forces in the near future. “ [Yes indeed. Since 2007 we have seen Progress.]

“Nigeria is the fifth largest provider of oil and petroleum products to the United States, currently providing 8.5% of total U.S. oil imports, and the most for any single African producer (U.S. Energy Information Administration 2007). The region, however, is beset with political instability and internal conflict, ranging from banditry and ethnic militarism to active and well organized insurgent movements.”

The Major’s “ethnic militarism and well organized insurgent movements” equates to what Eric Wolf called “local unity” and independent cooperation. One can easily see that the USNATO Mission is to end all such attempts at sovereignty, at local unity, and simply play hard ball – Real Politik – by economic, financial, social blockades and military intervention until there is no resistance to the Agenda, The Mission – which is to induce submission and dependence. This is the “one-way street” that Wolf saw for indigenous peoples if the Juggernaut could not be stopped by the Lilliputians.

In his analysis of his planning of Nigeria’s future, this US Major continues:

“Society and culture in Nigeria is defined in the large part by tribal affiliations. While Nigeria is an emerging democracy, where affiliations to the state and or a political party is becoming a solvent to the bonds of tribe and ethnicity, those original cultural structures are still in place, viable and important to understanding Nigeria as a whole.”

So, you see, in Nigeria, as in the Sahel, in the Maghreb and the Levant, in Uzbekistan and South Asia, in Cuba and in Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua the Piss Ants have invaded our kitchen, and we must annihilate them; or they will take over.

Don’t worry, they’ll never know what hit them; absolutely surgical precision strikes, silent, painless.

The Mission is complete annihilation of the Ant Nation inside My House.

In the case of the USan’s house, which now is dependent upon global resources, the required annihilation is, well, global.  A global effort to remove all resistance.

What’s wrong with that?

6 thoughts on “The Ant Problem and Zoosemiotics

  1. Mark E. Smith (@fubarista)

    Good analogy, John. Now supposing that instead of crushing them with your fingers, the only way you could remove the ants from your kitchen was to obtain an ant poison that only the ants possessed, and which, in addition to killing ants, would erode your kitchen counters, poison your food, and eventually make your entire house uninhabitable. And that the only way to get this poison from the ants was to use huge amounts of poison to subdue them so that you could take more of their poison.

    The US military requires enormous amounts of fossil fuels to fight wars halfway around the globe, those fossil fuels pollute our air, water, and food, and because they are accelerating climate change, they will soon make our entire planet uninhabitable. What’s wrong with that? While those with stock portfolios heavily invested in fossil fuels may see it as worth the price, dousing my home with gasoline and setting fire to it is probably not the best way to solve the ant problem.

  2. Maximilian Forte

    It’s interesting how much of the “failed state” thinking, or the ideas around emerging or strengthening states, seem to rely so heavily on an expectation of replication of familiar Western forms. It sometimes leads Western powers to ignore their own history, which in any event they project more as fantasy, and to thus attack incipient patterns of state-making elsewhere. The proliferation of “piracy” in Somalia–or, as I prefer to call the pirates, independent maritime collection specialists–could well have been the basis for founding a more “stable” and rooted state than one that was built through foreign armed intervention and whatever UN programs. Whatever “emerges” now in Somalia will instead be clouded by the fact that at least part of the situation is one hooked up to a Western life-support machine, which if anything will prolong the violence in the long-term.

  3. rolandrjs

    Peripherally relevant, slight digression: On the Somali “Pirates,” I’ve read that this phenomenon emerged primarily as a survival mechanism in response to Western and other ships using the sea corridor, which terminates along one-thousand-plus miles of Somali coast, as a maritme dumping-ground for radioactive nuclear waste, thus despoiling the single, primary means of survival among those living along the long Somali coast, i.e., fishing. To my knowledge, this has, predictably enough, never been reported in the corporate Western media, let alone the question raised of why this practice (“piracy”) emerged in this population in the first place.

    Even the alternative and Left media has (to my knowledge) not spent much time on this–I’ve seen nothing addressing this issue anywhere over the past three, possibly four years.

    Two questions: 1) Are these reports accurate and verifiable,? and 2) If so, then why has alternative media been so conspicuously silent on the matter?

    1. Maximilian Forte

      I know that I have read similar reports that the Somalis were fighting against illegal dumping and trawling in their territorial waters, but like you have not seen anything at least for the past year, maybe longer. Whether the reports are verifiable may be a tough question, let me keep looking.

      1. rolandrjs

        Thanks Max, much appreciated. If you have the time and the interest to research this further, great–but, it was my question, generated of my interest; I ought to do that research myself, rather than passing it on to you. (Although any suggested sources, tips, etc. you may have would be appreciated.) Please advise, at your liesure and convenience only.

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