War for 16 Years, Redux


Image result for syria bombing us

I hope it isn’t churlish to point out that these are terrifying weapons of death, and the people who see them screaming across the sky are no different than you or I. 


I know below I reposted something from last year’s bombing. I’m going to do the same thing with another post from last year’s bombing which, again, could have been written today. The media reaction was, in the main, sickeningly the same. We’re so susceptible to war footings and being cheerleaders for violence. The media loves images like above. We’ll probably be at war forever.



This is what I was getting at in today’s first post, when worrying that CBS was trying to reassure its viewers that the only reason Colbert was making fun of the President is that he didn’t know we had struck Syria.

One can see the telltale signs of a media gearing up to make war normal. Flashes of missiles launching through the darkened foreign night, the President huddling with advisors, reading a stern statement with a serious face, maps and graphics across innumerable cable screens, “experts” who just heard of Idlib this week talking about the strategic importance of sending a message.

I ultimately don’t think much will come of this. Trump is too chaotic and unfocused, and too deeply unpopular. I don’t think there will be much flag-wrapping across the country. I don’t think he’s going to grow significantly more popular because of this, except in a very few knee-jerk quarters. In a week, we may forget this even happened (though it did, with real consequences, but I am just talking domestically for this post).

But it is broadly disturbing how quickly the media gets on its own war footing, which not only has the effect of making Trump seem like a normal President, but shows something dark about our character, and about the last 15 years.

We’ve been at war since 2001 in one country or another, and usually several on some level. But most of those go unnoticed. They don’t get the banner treatment or the blaring chyrons. This is different, because it is against a President, which means it is against a real country, which means it is a real war (regardless of how limited). That’s exciting! That’s newsworthy. The rest? Background noise.

It’s really a dual danger. The first danger is that we get so excited to be at a real war, because that is what stirs the American character. It does so in other countries as well, though America seems particularly susceptible, at the same level as, say Russia. The idiot media is a reflection of that. It doesn’t just prime the pump. But the other danger is that war is so entrenched in our story, and so inextricable from the present moment, that it takes something extraordinary to even stir out attention. It’s ingrained now, in ways we haven’t begun to understand. We’ve always been at war, and always will be.


Syria, Redux


When news that the US was bombing a different part of Syria last night, there was talk of this being a dramatic escalation, which made me wonder if I was crazy? Because didn’t we just do this last year? Asad uses chemical weapons, the US sends a few missiles, we make sure the Russians are out of harm’s way, and everyone agrees to pretend something was accomplished.

This is probably even less worthwhile than before (and here I’m stipulating that this isn’t just “a distraction” from the swirling criminality of his administration). That the Pentagon today basically said this was going to be the extent of the operations, save for a vague promise from Nikki Haley that we’re “locked and loaded” to go again, if need be, was a clear tell.

There is no real goal here, and no real plan. The military had to react to a Trump tweet, and took the least actionable action. We carefully avoided triggering war with the Russians (which is good!) but will not involve ourselves in any other way, and will do nothing to stop Asad’s more routine atrocities, nor do anything to end the civil war.

Basically, Russia and Iran know that Trump is hollow. Please don’t get me wrong: I am not in favor of escalation in Syria, and certainly not in favor of war with Russia or Iran. But it is quintessentially Trumpian that a “mission” meant to “show resolve” really shows the exact opposite. It shows that Russia and Iran are free to have Syria so long as ISIS is sort of contained, and that Asad has a free hand, so long as that hand isn’t holding chlorine.

I think it is good to show that what happened last night is no different than what happened a year ago, save for different people dying (which, to the American press and politicians and, really, the public, doesn’t matter a fig). It’s all theater, and will go back to the same carnage, until Trump shoots some more missiles again, and becomes President.

So after the jump, here’s last year’s article on bombing Syria, from 53 weeks ago. Except for the part about Don Rickles dying, it could have been written today.

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