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Monday, September 9, 2013

Cocaine is a hell of a drug

Ahhhh Syria. Is it even worth commenting on the growing crap circus that this has all become? I'm not entirely certain it is. On the micro level, what is happening in Syria is clearly horrible, and Americans are right to wring their hands and exclaim how terrible it is that people have to die. This is the correct reaction, and warranted emotions. But on the macro level, the hypocrisy of getting involved in Syria is mind-boggling. For one, you have the obviously troubled history of the US getting involved in wars for "humanitarian" reasons. Humanitarianism is probably the worst reason to get involved in an armed conflict, if for no other reason than it opens such a gigantic can of worms that it's best to just leave the top on. Why get involved in Syria when there is terrible suffering happening in North Korea or China or several Latin American countries or Sub-Saharan Africa? Why haven't we invaded Mexico over the thousand women who have died just across the border in Juarez that are so obviously connected to the drug trade? Since we can't possibly save the world from everything then why get involved in Syria? Furthermore, we have practically no history of actually achieving any of our humanitarian goals when we get involved in these sorts of conflicts. We tend to just make things worse, or end up as the bad guy so that one side or both aim for us instead of their original target.


There is an arrogance inherent in the desire to intervene that is more and more at odds with the reality in America. We are struggling ourselves, not as clearly as many of our neighbors and comrades, but we are struggling nonetheless. We really no longer have the productive capacity, money, or moral high ground to engage in these sorts of nation-building exercises without causing undue stress to our own system of governance. We conduct foreign policy in this country as though we will remain at the top forever, as if we are still at the top, when most every measure of superiority shows that we are slipping. Our roads are worse. Our education is worse. Our water mains are crumbling in the ground, and our republican government can barely deign to arouse more than 50% participation. Even our military, as powerful and well-funded as it is, hasn't really come close to achieving a single important objective in about 40 years.

We are marching headlong into another Middle Eastern war because we are locked into this narrative about American exceptionalism and power that we are unwilling to break out of, and we are consequently marching to our own doom. We will not be the first world power who fell trap to their own greed and lunacy. In fact this is such an obvious and well-worn cliche that most are already sick of the comparisons. But we aren't just Rome, we're also the Aztecs and Mayans and Babylon, and Greece, and the Chinese, and the British and Spanish and every other great power who acted as though they were the end of history and watched horrified as history marched on.

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