Thursday, October 9, 2014

Stupid Shit continued

Senwosret III, 12th dynasty, ca. 1878-1840 B.C.E. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Pretty much everything about American politics exhausts me might now, which is why I haven't been writing too much. It's not writer's block exactly. It's just fatigue. What are we doing? How are we going to get out of this jam? Where is all the energy we had back in 2005? Even if I had the energy to try it, I can't organize potted plants.

I guess I am digressing. I am in a mood. There's shit to understand about South Dakota but the public is being custom-fitted for a collective hazmat suit for the brain. Ebola! Benghazi! Hamas! (Booman)
And Kobane! It was more than a little unsettling to see Jon Stewart apparently sucked into the Stupid Shit Caucus war party last night, donating a third of his half-hour to demanding to know why US airstrikes have so far failed to save the Kurdish town of Kobane on the Turkish-Syrian border from the Da'esh advance, and another third to supporting the book tour of chuckleheaded ex-CIA chief Leon Panetta, meaning more Kobane, and more "why didn't we bomb Syria last year?"

Does nobody realize that if the US had managed to unseat the vile Bashar al-Assad last year Da'esh (the "Islamic State") would now be in charge of all of Syria?

I mean, not if the Green Lantern was president, but in the real world.

I think we can safely assume that Stewart had never heard of Kobane a week or so ago, when you and I first heard of the town (the current siege began on September 16). Maybe back before July 2012, when it used to be known as Ayn al-Arab and wasn't a Kurdish town but a mixed one, with substantial Sunni and Christian Arab and Turkmen populations alongside the Kurds (there used to be a lot of Armenians too). I imagine it still is, too, but in the complexities of the Syrian civil war, it's been governed for two years by a Syrian-Kurdish army, the People's Protection Units or YPG, "moderate Syrian rebels" who are actually not so Syrian, being committed to carving a Kurdish state out of bits of Syria and Turkey, and at the same time not exactly rebels, being sort of allied with Assad.

Which is a sort of important part (or two parts) of why the Turkish government is not very anxious to save them, and an illustration of (a) how complex the situation in Syria is and (b) why the US can't simply pick a side and kill the bad guys, defined as the "other" side. You can mock 11-dimensional chess all you want but this world has 11 dimensions.

I am myself very sympathetic to the Kurdish people in general, secular and stateless—I think there ought at least ideally to be a Kurdish state and always welcomed the existence of a Kurdish pseudo-state in Iraq (midwifed by the Clinton administration when they were brewing a somewhat bitter lemonade from the lemons left them by the Old Bush war)—but I don't see how Kobane suddenly got to be so important, like Singapore in World War II, and Must Not Fall.

Judging from the way it erupted on Twitter last week, the crucialness of Kobane was a public relations operation of Kurdish Keyboard Kommandos working in Washington and London and such. It's a terrible thing for the people there, especially if the Turkish government manages to stop refugees from fleeing across the border, but it's not the only one by any means (this has happened in too many towns, and major cities too, and will happen to more) and not the end of the war.

[Update: One reason Kobane is so big was pointed out by McClatchy's Mousab Alhamadee tonight: because the fighting is so near the Turkish border international press can watch it up close. With video, just like the beheadings. We're a postliterate culture now so we don't notice anything unless there's a picture.]

Meanwhile, even as the Daily Show was running last night, the situation in Kobane was changing, and the YPG forces starting to look as if they might be able to hold out for quite a bit longer than predicted. This morning I'm hearing on BBC (nothing to link to yet) that the airstrikes by US and allies are having a decisive effect in holding off the Da'esh assault. So just shut up and wait for a few hours, people.

One other thing, dear emoprogs, condemning the bloodthirsty Obama even as Jon Stewart (!!!) howls that he's not bloodthirsty enough: Obama has understood that the United States military power cannot dictate world developments any more, if it ever could, and that if the country is to wield any influence it must be through less coercive political means.

That's what this is. The airstrikes are not a war effort directed against Da'esh; they are a political effort directed toward Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Baghdad and Tehran, and the deadliest enemy of all, the US Congress. Hopefully they won't kill many civilians, but killing is not in any case what they are about. That is all.


Ex-OMB Head Leon Panetta, hawking his celebrity memoir (Nice Batttles? or something) on Brian Lehrer's show on WNYC radio, questioned about the issue of deficit reduction, clearly has no idea that the deficit has been reduced during the Obama administration, let alone that it has been reduced by nearly two thirds. He's really an idiot.

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