"People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage." - John Kenneth Galbraith
The quote above from John Kenneth Galbraith elegantly sums up the driving force behind the recent actions of the American political leadership. I know I’m not the only one to be head-scratching over last year’s delirious call for war in Syria and this year’s escalating economic war with Russia over Ukraine. And now our “leadership” (I put this in quotes because their actions show them to be nothing of the sort) is undergoing a very substantial campaign of bombing and air-strikes in Syria, which may inflict some damage on the Islamic State but is likely to hurt civilians even more:
Substantial civilian casualties and property damage is going to push many Syrians to embrace the Islamic State or other anti-American groups out of the simple desire for vengeance. To put it in perspective, how would you feel if a foreign country bombed your farm and killed your family in a sloppy effort to wipe out some drug gang in your state that is ‘threatening’ said foreign country? Would the excuse “collateral damage” be any consolation, or would you look for any reasonable opportunity to strike back at those foreigners and anyone else you see as sharing responsibility, and raise your children (if any are left, that is) to desire to do the same?
The President and war-hungry politicians and bureaucrats in both parties seem to think that air strikes and bombing campaigns have little downside because there are few, if any, US casualties and they don’t have to stick their necks out in committing ground forces. Sorry to say it isn’t that simple. Air strikes have their uses, but you can’t crush an opponent just with air power, especially one that is relatively mobile and unattached to any particular physical location like the Islamic State. If you want to truly neutralize them, you have to have some forces on the ground. If you’re not willing to go all out in defeating one’s enemy, you shouldn’t be fighting PERIOD. Our government is making the same mistakes they did in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan with their drone campaigns, thinking they could do the job solely from the air. And like we saw in Pakistan, what will happen is they will stoke anti-American sentiment and boost the ranks of anti-American militant groups. In fact the Islamic State would not exist today if it weren’t for the constant US meddling in the region over the past several decades, and in particular the last couple years. Supposedly some of the weapons they have we actually GAVE them not too long ago! And yet we are supposed to believe our government is in a position to fix this? But they do what they do because it is politically expedient, and are blind to (or worse, simply do not care about) the long-term consequences and losses that will result.
What they are doing in Syria is planting the seeds of our childrens’ and grandchildrens’ future suffering. They (and possibly the younger adults now reading this) will bear the brunt of the backlash, as they will be the ones expected to kill, bleed, and die when in future conflicts with the militants forged from the decisions of the current Ass-clown-in-Chief and the numerous war-happy members of his cabinet and Congress. Their actions are a classic example of the ‘stupid bandit’ mentioned in last week’s post… someone who inflicts damage far out of proportion to the gains they receive.
Now I am well aware that their decisions are based around realpolitik and controlling the master resource (oil), and the Machiavellian side of my personality can understand that motive. The sad truth of it though is that our leadership is not only incapable of being wise and responsible leaders, but they suck at being manipulative geopolitical masterminds as well. I have a healthy dislike of Vladimir Putin, but I don’t have to like him to be able to respect his cleverness and his skill in the game of realpolitik. But our guys? They’re apparently still stuck on Chapter 2 of “Gimme That, it’s Mine! A Grade School Primer on Power Politics”. If we’re going to have Machiavellian sociopaths running this country, the least we can ask is that they actually be competent at it. So even if one were to believe there is a potential military solution here, we should still refuse to give consent for military action simply because we cannot trust them to not make a bigger mess of it.
So that being said, what is to be done about the Islamic State? They are a vile bunch and are a threat to the region, but they are just that… a regional threat. As in it’s the responsibility of the nations in that region to handle it. Yeah there are a handful of psychos in the US, Australia, and a few other countries threatening or killing in the name of said organization, but in the larger view of things they are small potatoes. The Mexican drug gangs are far greater threats to the US, yet get only a fraction of the attention. But if the US continues its course in Syria and the Middle East, the Islamic State could easily grow into a significant threat to Americans. By its very interference and military presence in the area, it’s giving the Islamic State a propaganda tool of immense value to be used to recruit and sway more people into its ranks. They WANT us to go there and fight them, and the beheadings are their means to goad us into doing what they want. The only thing that makes them at all noteworthy is their above-average media savvy. So why on earth would you do what your enemy wants and play to their biggest strength? The fact is that sometimes we have to admit there are some things beyond our means to fix, and sometimes doing nothing is actually the best action. Our presence there (and the inept leadership guiding our presence there) introduces risks and negative repercussions that far outweigh the positives. And it only makes it worse when the political leadership continues to micro-manage the military and isn’t willing to give the military commanders the freedom to use the most effective means available to complete the objective. Again, I’m not condoning military action in Syria; I’m only saying that the way they’re carrying it out is compounding an already bad decision.
I know my opinion, even in the minute chance it should reach the eyes of the delusional clowns in charge, means diddly-squat to them. But I will not condone their activities, and I go so far as to say that I refuse to give them my consent to govern. To me they aren't President Barack Obama or House Speaker John Boehner, they're simply Obama and Boehner, and their office means nothing to me. I will acknowledge that they may hold whatever office they’re in, but I will only follow the laws they pass and comply with their dictates to the absolute minimum required to keep me out of jail. In my eyes, our president and the entirety of Congress have less importance than the maintenance guy who unplugged our toilet or the kid who stocks shelves and bags groceries at the local Safeway. Those two actually perform a useful function. And even though one speaks only some English and the other smells a little too much like weed, I’d sooner listen to what they have to say and follow their advice than listen to anything the president or members of Congress have to say. After all, they're not the ones eying my kids as future cannon fodder....