Once more, I would like to thank the folks who have donated to WARN's fundraising drive.
I want to thank the kind friends and supporters of the site and my work who threw in some monies today and yesterday. We have cut the amount remaining for the donation drive down to 100 dollars--so cool--and with a few more acts of generosity and kindness, if folks are able and willing, we can end our fundraiser.
I went for a walk yesterday. I started listening to Artie Lange's great--and very depressing, raw, and honest second audio book--while strolling near Lake Michigan. My legs carried me towards downtown Chicago. I channeled my inner Forrest Gump and kept propelling myself forward. At some point, I had reached a point of no return, 4 miles in, it was easier to keep on walking. By mile 8.5 I was reminded that my 38-year-old body ain't 23 anymore and that walking such a distance while wearing boots does not make for the most comfortable of experiences.
When I returned home, invigorated but a bit tired, burrito in hand, Coca-Cola in pocket, excited about the prospect of using a pilfered hand me down free bus pass for the next few days, I turned on the TV. The talking heads were all giddy about the prospect of a new war in Iraq, yammering about some group named "ISIS", and joyous because they found a new "if it bleeds it leads" story, one with international consequences, so that they would not have to talk about the Las Vegas shootings and the Right-wing media's culpability for domestic terrorism.
The breakdown of civil authority in Iraq is a function of a State which has no legitimacy with its people. The roots of the new insurgency/people's uprising/governmental collapse has its origins in the near history that was the horrible decision by George W. Bush to invade in 2003.
The ethnic conflict in Iraq can be traced even farther back to World War One, and how the British, with the swipe of a pen and a few seemingly arbitrary marks, created countries out of various peoples who have little to no use for one another.
While it may be a betrayal of my secular humanist beliefs, the pragmatic and realist perspective on foreign affairs and war which I adhere to, demands that I acknowledge, at least partially, the "wisdom" that maybe Saddam was a "son of a bitch"...but he was "our son of a bitch" and kept a lid on the boiling over cauldron on top of which he sat.
The march of ISIS across Iraq and how strategic cities and other locales are being overrun reads like something from James Bond, a G.I. Joe cartoon, the movie Iron Man 2, a video game, or Tom Clancy novel.
[I often wonder if at some later date, 50 years from now, the American and world public will be let in on the joke that James Bond and G.I. Joe cartoons were in fact a way for elites to propagandize and prepare the general public for the world as it actually was/is, as opposed to the world as depicted by the "serious" news media. Maybe I have read Behold a Pale Horse too many times and its author's claim that movies like E.T. were based on real events and the public has been trained in preparation of the announcement that first contact was made years ago.]
It is unbelievable that a group of a few thousand (maximum?), without air support, heavy artillery, armor, or other integrated, organic elements could repeatedly route the Iraqi military and police. Yet, the unbelievable is apparently taking place. Alas, an event is termed "impossible" until it actually transpires.
While acknowledging that yes, the New York Police Department is one of the largest paramilitary forces in the world, they would be able to contain such a force with a modest amount of effort.
How can a national military not stop a few hundred (or thousand) insurgents, marching and driving across the country like something out of Mad Max?
I have a few questions and thoughts that I hope that folks can help me to sort out. Do teach me a thing or too if you are so inclined.
1. I am very suspicious of the claim that there is a well-armed and coordinated group called "ISIS" which is running ramshackle all over Iraq. Is this a coherent group made up of formally organized fighters with coherent leadership and top down strategy? An ad hoc alliance?
2. Is the battle for Iraq really just a reflection of deeper troubles, i.e a failed government, inter-ethnic conflict, and a public that wants to separate itself along sectarian lines? Thus, ISIS is a symptom and not a cause of the turmoil; their intervention is functioning as an excuse for a decision by the Iraqi military and police to melt away...one which they made some time ago.
3. The American public should be skeptical and cynical about the claims made by the talking head "experts" who are offering up their analyses of the still developing "crisis" in Iraq. Pundits are business people who are personally and financially interested in advancing a given narrative. Their narrative may have nothing to do with offering up an accurate depiction of the events as they are transpiring in Iraq (or elsewhere).
For example, many of the most popular and called upon experts in the lead up to the second Iraq war (and Syria) were stakeholders in the companies that make the weapons of war.
The moral hazard and conflict of interest is readily apparent: said expert advocates for war then get paid when a company hands him or her a bonus or dividend check. I have long advocated that when an expert or pundit is featured on a news show that there should be a disclosure of their professional and financial relationships to the topic being discussed.
4. Imagine if the post 9/11 invasion of Afghanistan was treated as a matter to be handled by covert operatives and F.B.I. agents as opposed to a nation building operation? Imagine if the United States never followed George W. Bush's eschatology End Times Christian Dominionist impulses to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein? Would the United States be safer? What would our lives be like if all that gold and treasure had never been spent on such an ill-advised adventure of misplaced vengeance?
5. Whose interests are being served if the war hawks in the Republican Party who are clamoring for the United States to intervene in Iraq have their way?
6. Am I so wrong to suggest that the Iraqis should fight it out, create their own ethnic conclaves, and the United States should wash their hands of the whole mess?