Thursday, February 20, 2014

Broken eggs

Image via Rockying.
Anti–Tom Friedman writes:*
ANTAKYA--Here in the most famous Syrian city not actually in Syria, the coffee house wags are saying what Syria needs is Saddam Hussein. No, not in Syria, in Iraq.
Because while Westerners may like to think that the conflict in Syria is an outgrowth of the so-called Arab Spring and the hunger for democracy, [jump]
knowledgeable Turks see it as an outgrowth of the 2003 U.S. invasion that ousted Saddam from power in Baghdad and turned his country into a chaotic conduit for groups like ISIS, the demented Sunni radicals that are so evil they've been tossed out of the Al Qa'eda organization for unnecessary roughness, and Iran's Republican Guards with their safe-conduct from Iraq's Prime Minister Maliki to take their heavy weapons wherever they like.
Which would never have happened while Saddam was alive. Like many gangsters, Saddam liked to keep a pretty tight monopoly on violence, and he had the means to enforce it. It may have been a problem for the average Iraqi, too, but if you're on the other side of the Syrian border watching where all the violence is coming from (Saudi jihadis too, with all their ultra-deluxe American equipment), you might remember Saddam with a certain amount of nostalgia.
Because you really think it's a coincidence, with the Arab Spring, that the closer it was to Iraq the worse it worked out? The closer you get to Iraq the less people are worrying about democracy and a chance to go to university and a decent job and the more they're worrying about people with guns coming at them from two or more different directions. In Tunisia and Algeria they're getting something like what they wanted, in Libya maybe, in Egypt and Bahrain they're definitely not getting what they wanted but at least most people get to stay alive and out of prison.
But in Syria, 2,244 civilians died in January alone, and in Iraq, for that matter, 1,076: better, of course, but really not that different. There's no Arab spring left there at all, you see. It's just one war, now, and the university students and feminists and liberals of one kind and another have had nothing to do with it for a long time, except for the suffering part. It's just one Mesopotamian war, the one you guys started when you sent two million Iraqi refugees to Syria and all the other things you did alongside. 
It's the permanent zone of instability we were warning you about maybe oh, 11 years ago? How you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs but you can definitely break eggs without producing an omelet or anything, as far as that goes, but a dangerously sticky floor? President Obama is tinkering methodically with the saving of a life here and a life there and preparing the ground for some kind of future where the war will be over, but for now there's really not a thing you neoliberals can do but watch the horror unfold. We must too, but you must watch in the knowledge that it's completely your fault, assholes. Suck, if you will, on that.
Image via elearningindustry.
*The actual Thomas P. Friedman, better known as Thomas L. Friedman, Erzschnurrbart  von Schlaueraffenland, was writing about MOOCs again, this time Israeli Arab MOOCs, which, by persuading Arabs all over the world that Israel was unexpectedly paying for everybody to get a massively online bachelor's degree, would win the hearts and minds of somebody or other, except for the increasingly powerful evidence that MOOCs don't work, except at saving money in the provision of fake education, as anybody who has ever learned anything should have known from the first. Meanwhile I got a little involved in a Twitterflutter over the question of whether the US should intervene in Syria and found myself somehow thinking non-Friedmanian thoughts in a vulgar and unrestrained Friedmanian language, which I hastened to get down because it felt like something really happening. Not sure what it's worth—I don't know that anybody's making that main point that what is happening in Syria is the rest of Bush's war—but here it is.

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