It feels like it’s been forever, doesn’t it? Some of you might be wondering where I had been, but that’s a complicated answer. Life got pretty busy for awhile and with everything I had going on there just wasn’t any way I could meet all of my deadlines on time and working toward my degree simply takes priority. But, that was then and this is now — I’m back, as you might have been able to guess and today we are going to be talking about a subject near and dear to the heart of all of us; the world we live in today. I warn you now, this post is likely to jump tracks alot but it is an analysis of the sum of all that we have become in the year 2014, and you’ll probably stop and wonder how it even got this far.
If I had told you in 1999 that by 2014 we would be living in a world where the police looked more like an invading army and going through the airport meant having a machine pervasively blast you with radiation to see beneath your clothing, would you believe me? Probably not, because the idea would have seemed absurd. That is the reality of the world we have come to live in today. People say that everything changed because of 9/11, and that is only true because we allowed it to change everything. We played those images over and over again and allowed them to become ingrained in our memory.
Two wars later, and the terrorists have won. I know, shocking, right? But look at it realistically, the entire point of a terrorist is to create fear. That is literally its one and only job, and that is why terrorists target civilians or perform heinous crimes like the ISIL have been committing in Iraq, because fear is their weapon. If I had told you in 1999 that there was going to be a super computer hub in Utah where the government stored tons of information on our citizens and that people were mostly fine with it, would you have believed me? That is the power of fear, it is like a weed that chokes at the roots of the tree of liberty. We signed out rights away and gave it to the government on a silver platter and because why? Because we were afraid, but who wouldn’t have been…It was a perfectly natural reaction to what had happened.
However, was it worth it? Probably not. Sure, we killed Osama, but at what price? We sacrificed the very freedoms that made America so unique in order to protect those same freedoms without even realizing or acknowledging the fact that we had already signed them over without so much as a whoopsadaisy. It seems to me counter intuitive that the argument most used for these egregious violations of our personal liberty is that it is necessary in order to protect our freedom. Is living in a state of perpetual fear really freedom? Are we truly free when we tacitly surrender our fundamental, constitutional rights in order for a specter of protection? By the way, those full body scanners at the airport? They don’t even work, they basically just exist to inconvenience travelers and give people the illusion of safety. Don’t get me wrong, the terrorists suck and we’ve kicked al-Qaeda’s ass, but did we have to give up so much in order to do it? Probably not.
So how is my local sheriff owning a vehicle designed to withstand mine attacks in Iraq protecting my freedom, exactly? I understand the Pentagon has a surplus of stuff lying around after the pullback from Iraq, but at one point in time did a school district need grenade launchers? I’m not going to question the semi-automatic M16 variants, because school shootings happen and some of the perpetrators have been fairly well armed, but I cannot recall in my mind an instance in the world where a school district police officer would require a grenade launcher. What contingency were they planning for with that one? An Iraqi invasion of California? Perhaps China? Russia? Hipsters, maybe? There is a lot to be said about the state of our world when we feel that school district police officers need grenade launchers. If the goal of terrorism is to instill fear, I have to say that the terrorists won that one.
…Which sort of brings me into my next point. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — what a fucking bunch of guys these are. Just when it seems like the war against al-Qaeda is going well and that we could even possibly be rid of them for good, these group of schmucks step right on up. The funniest part to me about all of this is how in the past few months there has been an outcry that the POTUS hasn’t done enough to stop ISIL and that it’s his fault and that he left us unprepared for this…..and to that I must say, slow your roll folks. Did you forget in 2013 when Obama wanted to bomb Syria, and the same people complaining now were the same people screaming no? Because I remember that. ISIL would have never gained the ground it did if the people would have just allowed Obama to go through with his original plan of launching strikes on Syria.
The Assad regime would have been toppled and the mostly moderate rebels would have been able to sweep in and probably stabilize the country instead of leaving it wide open as a breeding ground for religious fanatics. Of course radicalization starts to look appealing when your own government is using nerve gas on you and all the international community does is shake their finger at them and call them a bad boy for doing it. It isn’t hard to see why they would turn toward an extremist movement that not only hates the Assad Regime but also the Western nations that did literally fuck all to help them. The fact that al-Qaeda has been on a steady decline resulted in a power vacuum that needed to be filled and ho boy did ISIL ever step up to that plate.
So, 13 years later and what do we have to show for our trouble? A brand new war on terror, except this time a War on ISIL, whereupon the POTUS used the same legislation he condemned Bush for using to sanction his own little wartime excursion….But what does that tell us overall about the War on Terror? After 13 years of bloody fighting we managed to break al-Qaeda down to the point that it was so irrelevant….that a more fanatical and extreme group had to rise up in its place. Great. Now we have a brand new enemy that was birthed out of the United States invasion of Iraq. So now you have people ramping up the propaganda machines and telling us all about how ISIL is essentially al-Qaeda on steroids and we need to take them down,.
And then what? What comes next? It is starting to look to me like declaring War on Terror was a fundamentally flawed decision, because it’s like fighting a Hydra — you can cut its head off, but it just grows back more of them and becomes an even stronger beast. I’m not trying to say we don’t need to fight ISIL, or that we shouldn’t actively try and stop terrorism but is a war of eradication going to work? Not at all. We aren’t fighting an enemy country or something concrete, we are fighting an ideal, an entire belief system which they have corrupted to their purpose, but a belief system none the less. It is not a war we are used to fighting, it is a war which we cannot win because with every stray bomb and every stray bullet that takes the life of an innocent civilian in collateral damage, we simply create more enemies for ourselves.
So, why didn’t we attack Syria before? Well, there were the obvious complaints from the American people and the usual talking heads, but there was one more reason — Russia. Russia is one of the Assad Regime’s biggest supporters and we did not want to risk a confrontation with Russia by getting involved in the Syrian civil war, so why did that change? We have the situation in the Ukraine to thank for our sudden bravado in how to deal with Syria without concern about what Russia thinks. Misstep after misstep in the handling of Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine have shot Russia’s credibility so far down that it is nothing short of a joke when the Russian ambassador to the U.N demanded that the United States must respect Syria’s sovereignty. Sure, they can block us at the Security Council and stop America from getting the United Nations involved by that doesn’t matter.
Why doesn’t it matter? Because we got the dream team back together, baby. That’s right, the coalition of the willing has decided to come back together for a reunion tour, except this time they’re kicking the ass of ISIL instead of Iraq, though that still essentially boils down to more bombs being dropped on Iraq….Though this time in a surprising turn of events, we have Iran basically supporting us which is funny considering as Iran is one of those countries big on the ‘death to America’ agenda.
ISIL are pretty bad guys, don’t get me wrong…They need to be stopped. What bothers me, however, is the thought of what foul beast will arise out of the darkness to take its place once we wear ISIL down the same way we have worn al-Qaeda down. The only real way to stop the extremism is to stop leaving so many people feeling disenfranchised and marginalized. Stopping the oppression of the Palestinians would be a big step forward on that goal, but perhaps I’m just being a dreamer again.
Anyways, that’s my rant for the day — take it or leave it. I have had bronchitis for the past week, which has made my life a living hell and I didn’t even actually feel like writing much of anything, but I did promise the bossman that I would deliver something for him while he was on vacation.