Friday, September 12, 2014


Here's some weekend reading, with footnotes no less:

We've got a lot of these anniversaries piling up right now: there's Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and also 9/11. Just this week Mr. Obama seems to have capitulated to the din of howling which has plagued his presidency from day one. Much like the NFL scandal, which mirrors in microcosm the same decision-making process, the purely sensational has been allowed to drive major foreign policy decisions. Mr. Obama, who provided an antidote to the Bush administration's devotion to theatre, has finally been beaten down. Theatre it will be. And just as in the Ray Rice story, the facts were already there and quite unable to drive policy, until a spectacular and ghastly event was televised for everyone to see.

On the one hand, the two American journalists were victimized in brutal view. On the other, ISIL had executed thousands of "ordinary" people for months on end. While the American public didn't see these anonymous murders, surely the West's intelligence apparatus did. And yes, the Americans were utterly victimized. And, yes, they had of their own free will inserted themselves into a complex war zone and surely knew exactly these dangers and many others lurked around every corner. Are we then to move entire Armies (so to speak) at every such atrocity? Compare the coming campaign against ISIL, not to mention the coming political furor, with the events just this spring, where another radical "islamic" group, Boko Harem, kidnapped hundreds of anonymous children. Or for that matter, compare our anemic response to a ghastly epidemic of the ebola virus, which may in the next year prove to be the true danger to our most exceptional heimat. According to NPR we've decided to contribute a 25 bed field hospital, which will give succor to medical professionals who've been infected. As someone pointed out last Sunday on the Melissa Harris Perry show, when the tsunami destroyed parts of Indonesia, we engaged the entire US Navy, at a cost of billions. Of course in those lands our coffee supply was endangered.

One might even wonder just why it is brown people in distant lands have grown so enraged at the West that they embark on these campaigns of terror and destruction: beheadings, murders, suicide bombings. Can a West so enamored of its exceptionalism have anything at all to do with the reactions of whole peoples who are essentially beneath our notice? Even after the 9/11 events, the people in power at the time scoffed at a response to Afganistan with the shrug that there's nothing to bomb there.

Yet in that very moment of contempt and derision the ISIL was conceived.

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