Saturday, April 8, 2017

Not freaking out yet

USS Porter, somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean, launches a Tomahawk missile toward Syria. AP photo via Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
It's pretty cute of Trump, I was thinking Thursday night, to have taken what looks like the first steps of a Hillary Clinton approach to dealing with the Assad regime—aim at the air force installations, toward the aim of interdicting the air war, which is their primary method of mass murder, with the chlorine barrel bombs rained down on densely populated urban areas and now the return of sarin gas. Clinton was going to ground the Syrian air force with this kind of raid, killing planes instead of people, at least theoretically, and creating "safe zones" (there was a little bit of Underpants Gnomes logic at work here, I'm not trying to hide that—I'm mindful, too, that Iraqi Kurdistan may have been able to construct a very functional society under a "no-fly zone" in the 1990s, but Syrian Sunni Arabs are living with their own internal civil wars, with Qa'eda and ISIS forces among the warring parties, so it's a little more complicated for them).

Only it doesn't now look as if that's what they have in mind, or as if they have anything in mind at all. Nobody can say what plans they have, or what objectives, military or diplomatic, The Guardian reports. Spicer and Tillerson make statements in which each seems unaware of what the other is saying. The runways at Shayrat Airfield haven't even been damaged enough to stop Syrian planes from taking off there on Friday, apparently to bomb the same town, Khan Sheikhun, that they were attacking with sarin three days ago. They're not interdicted at all, or even slowed down. Just going back to the more "conventional" weapons.

So it's basically the theater of Trump, demonstrating the depth of his emotions over dying babies to garner the applause of Nancy Pelosi and Nicholas Kristof and the outrage of the brocialists predictably crying that it's "unconstitutional" (sadly, it's not—the Constitution really doesn't work that well on this as other Trump-related issues; it's not even illegal, under the 1973 War Powers Act, as long as they remember to notify Congress within 48 hours, which I'm sure they've done by now) and elaborately constructing imaginary universes in which Assad and Putin aren't to blame. I'm so sick of these people on both sides, yes I said it,, of this conversation and the automated answering systems that respond to everything with the nearest cliché.

And babies have been dying horribly in Syria for six years, every day, at least 652 children killed in 2016, a 20% increase over the previous year, many blown up when their schools were bombed, to say nothing of all those dying of disease because of the continually worsening conditions of health care facilities in the country—there were 338 attacks against hospitals and medical personnel in 2016 too, desperate shortages of electricity and vital supplies, and so many doctors and nurses fled to Turkey or Jordan long ago, and it's not for me to judge them but only to wonder that any stayed. Or all those whose parents are snatched away to Assad's military prisons where they are starved or given food dumped directly on a floor already covered with blood and piss and shit, beaten until they can't keep on screaming, and taken out blindfolded in batches of 20 or 50 to be hanged, in botched executions in which it can take ten minutes or more to die, somewhere between 5,000 and 13,000 since 2011, according to Amnesty International (Guardian).

What have the babies of Khan Sheikhun got that the others don't have? High-quality video, which the US media have taken to, so that Americans, including our Emperor, have finally managed to notice for the first time since, oh, August 2016, when five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, filthy and bloodied, was pulled out of the rubble of besieged Aleppo, and the shock in his little face registered on people who saw the photograph, or September 2015, when the body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on the Anatolian shore, and people cared about that for about twenty minutes. Little-remembered fact: the Kurdi family took to a boat to carry them from their Turkish refugee camp to Greek territory because Canadian law wouldn't let them join Alan's aunt in Ottawa—and this tiny horror really did have an effect on Canada, which upped its quota for Syrian refugees, and approximately half an effect on the US as well, to which that famous lover of children Donald Trump responded in October:
If [Hillary Clinton] did nothing, we'd be in much better shape. And this [apparently the fact that Clinton failed to do nothing after she left the Obama administration?] is what has caused the great migration where she has taken in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees [2,290 from 2011 through 2015 and then, following the death of Alan Kurdi, 12,587 in 2016; Clinton left the State Department in 2012] who probably in many cases, not probably, who are definitely in many cases ISIS-aligned [no evidence has connected any Syrian refugee in the US to ISIS*]. And we now have them in our country and wait until you see this is going to be the great Trojan Horse. And wait until you see what happens in the coming years. Lots of luck, Hillary. Thanks a lot for doing a great job.
* —Trump may have been thinking of the two Iraqi refugees of the Bowling Green Massacre, who were jailed in 2011 after bragging to an FBI sting operation that they had "fucked up" US Hummers with IEDs as insurgents against the illegal US occupation of Iraq in 2003-06, which may well have had some element of truth to it, though I have trouble seeing how it's a crime, and allowed the G-Men to talk them into joining a fake FBI scheme to send cash and weapons to the Iraqi branch of al-Qa'eda.

Video, too, has played a role in the success of Trump's very brief Idlib war. That fool Brian Williams gave the game away by calling it "beautiful" on MSNBC:
I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: 'I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.' And, they are beautiful pictures of fierce armaments making, what is for them, a brief flight over to this airfield.
Lead us not into temptation, Leonard. Because just as dead Alan Kurdi or traumatized Omran Daqneesh are beautiful, bombardment is beautiful, as Robert de Saint-Loup told Marcel in the Great War:

War porn is all about the beauty! But it's very bad form to say so; you're supposed to maintain a solemn, sad face, not over the people getting blown up below but over the Leader who has been forced to make a Tough Decision. They're all sitting behind a desk making their solemn faces, so you can't see their bombardment chubbies, but you can see how lovely and strange the pictures are.

No comments:

Post a Comment