After a week like the one we’ve had, I feel like I have to write this quickly. We are literally on the brink of a major power conflict brewing in Syria, and it’s hard to see how it can effectively be prevented. An apparent chemical attack has, once again, triggered the Pavlovian imperial response from Washington – namely that no problem can’t be solved by dropping high explosives on it. The trouble is that the Syrian conflict is so complicated, with major regional and global powers backing different factions in pursuit of their own narrow interests (and civilians be damned). So while the Trump cabal claims to want to strike at Bashir Al Assad’s government, they can hardly do so without hitting Russian personnel.
Threats are being exchanged, partly via Twitter, and this is becoming a very volatile situation. A situation like this makes clear why the Democratic/Liberal approach of blaming everything on Russia is short-sighted and foolish. Trump is now under pressure to be “tougher” on Russia, and it seems he is willing to move in that direction. So in a sense both major political groupings are either pushing for war or indifferent, and that’s a dangerous state of affairs, particularly with this venal, unstable, insecure president. Oh, and did I mention that Monday was John Bolton’s first day on the job as National Security Advisor? Jesus.
Earlier this year the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the minute hand on their doomsday clock to 2 minutes before midnight – the nearest their estimate of risk has come to nuclear Armageddon since 1953. I think they are on to something. President drunk uncle bigot, the Twitter troll, is a crack head, but what he does in his evident dementia is demonstrate how out of control presidential power has become. The power to destroy the world should not be in the hands of the president. I would argue it should be in no one’s hands, but so long as the capability exists, it should be subject to extensive review by more than one branch of government. The more people involved in this process the better. After all, we’re talking about blowing up the whole planet – we should require our war-hungry leaders to keep asking different people until they find someone sane enough to say “no”.
I hope I am just being alarmist about this. All I can say is that, whatever happens in the next week or two, it’s going to be a long, painful three years.
Non-stop fun here in the land of the free. No coincidence that this is the week they dedicated the George W. Bush presidential library. Some of the key “decision points” of his presidency were in play this week. Let’s start with a honking big one.
Syria. Bush’s political allies (and many in the “muscular” liberal establishment) have been pushing for wider involvement in the Syrian conflict for a good long while now. This week, unconfirmed reports of the use of sarin gas by the Assad regime surfaced this week, by way of the Israeli and French intelligence services, for the most part. The Obama administration intelligence services seem ambivalent and non-commital on this evidence, but not so Admiral … I mean Senator John McCain and some of his clones, who really really really wants another mid East conflict on his resume of error.
McCain is once again proving why he would have been a catastrophic president. He affects to believe that creating a “safe zone” in northern Syria and arming the fractious opposition (which includes a strong element of jihadi fighters from the Gulf) will not lead to a broader confilct that will commit us to another long-term occupation of a Middle Eastern state, ignite a broader international war, and generally result in another Iraq-like catastrofuck. I say, let’s just drop McCain on Syria, since he’s so eager to put someone’s life on the line. And if chemical weapons are a “red line”, we should have drawn it before using white phosphorus and depleted uranium munitions in Iraq. If Syria goes to the Hague, they should be in line right behind us.
Seneca Lake. A blockade by activists at the site of a salt cavern natural gas storage site being established by Inergy LLP resulted in arrests a few weeks ago. One of those arrested, Sandra Steingraber, was interviewed on the Capital Pressroom radio program this week along with her attorney. This project involves storing natural gas shipped in from outside the state in salt caverns left from old salt mining operations. Similar facilities across the nation have caused sinkholes, water pollution, etc., and now they want to site this thing on the largest of the Finger Lakes. Steingraber and her fellow protesters are fighting the good fight on this one. Pumping natural gas into geologically questionable formations beneath one of the largest fresh water lakes in the region seems like, well, not a real good idea.
Energy coporations and faulty intelligence. It’s like Bush all over again.