Thank goodness it is a new month. Last month was at the same time, marvelous and deeply depressing. On the marvelous front, the return to Japan was without a doubt the highlight of my year. Returning to Germany however was a big swoon and a drop to a real low. There are a bunch of reasons for this.
To start with, there is a lot of churn at my work. The unintended consequences of the megalomaniac's merger from hell are coming home to the roost. The biggest of which is the revelation, that the merger exposed, about the great disparities in compensation among people doing exactly the same work. More discouraging in the long term, is the inability of this soulless individual to recognize, that he could take some straightforward steps to correct the worst issues-and also avoid the repeated ethical bypasses he takes to keep all control solely in his hands. Even though we "divorced" because the relationship was most unsatisfactory, and the "customer" we work for recognized he was getting f*cked at the drive through-there is still a lot of damage that was done and cannot be quickly undone. And we who all came in about the same time-with expectations of upward mobility-are becoming more than a little disillusioned. We are probably going to lose one, maybe two people in the next few months-and their replacement process will be iffy at best. So my work level, at least in the short term, will increase. And of course it makes even more bittersweet, my return to Japan, when it gets coupled with the increasing realization that getting back there to live is / or will be extremely difficult if not impossible. The pain that alone engenders is excruciating.
But life, on many levels, has to go on. For the short term, I have to remain focused and attack my work, but also keep an eye out for the writing that is visibly scrolling itself across the wall.
Which leads me to the public disappointment. I don't think I am saying anything earth shaking when I say that on the global news front-the last month just sucked. Chief among my public concerns is watching the United States sink back into the quicksand that is yet another war for Arabs who cannot solve their own issues-or put their silly religious disputes behind them. It may in fact be that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is not up to the task of dealing with this issue. But I know with certainty none of his potential GOP successors is up to the challenge-just as his predecessor was not up to the challenge of dealing with 9-11 or it's aftermath. His decisions created this mess in the first place, chief among them being the utterly disastrous decision to invade Iraq in 2003. All of the current agony, as well as the United States political and economic dysfunction stems from that one single disastrous, completely flawed decision by a deeply flawed man.
And its troubling our country has no memory of this chain of events. When the consequences are plainly in front of it. And yet, the march of the war lovers goes on again and again-second ( or third) verse, same as the first.
It would do us all well to think about this:
It’s important to remember that moment now, amid our current bout of war fever. It may be worth attacking the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria for purely humanitarian reasons. After all, the United States launched air wars against Serbia (twice) and Libya without claiming that their regimes posed a national-security threat, and ISIS is more savage than either Slobodan Milosevic or Muammer al-Qaddafi. It may be worth attacking ISIS because of the threat it poses to our allies in the Middle East. If unchecked, the group could destabilize not only Iraq and Syria, but potentially Jordan and Saudi Arabia too. (Judging by social media, ISIS has a lot of fans in the kingdom of Saud.)
But, for the most part, that’s not how this war is being sold. It’s being sold as a war to protect the United States homeland against a profound terrorist threat. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein recently said, “The threat ISIS poses cannot be overstated.” Her Republican colleague Jim Inhofe has claimed that ISIS is “rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city” and that as a result, “We’re in the most dangerous position we’ve ever been in as a nation.”
This time, the press needs to aggressively investigate whether that’s true. If it is, then the Obama administration should be considering ground troops, as General Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East,reportedly requested—domestic politics be damned. We sent them into Afghanistan, after all. And if the ISIS threat really is greater than the al-Qaeda threat was on September 10, as Inhofe suggests, then there’s a case for doing the same in Iraq and Syria today.
If, on the other hand, ISIS lacks the motivation and capacity for anything close to 9/11, then President Obama’s stated justification for even an air war looks weak. So far, the press hasn’t done a good enough job of determining if this is the case. Many publications have uncritically accepted Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s claim about the number of Americans who have gone to fight with ISIS—a figure that New America Foundation terrorism expert Peter Bergenargues is dramatically exaggerated. Other media commentary simply assumes that if Westerners go to fight with ISIS in Iraq or Syria, they’re destined to attack Europe or the United States. But that’s not true. Bergen notes, for instance, that of the 29 Americans who have gone to fight with the Somali jihadist group al-Shabab, none have tried to commit terrorism against the United States. One reason is that many of them ended up dead.
The problem is, no one can answer for me the key question: How does this end?
I don't think anyone in power knows the answer to that question either. And there is one more thing:
I am continuing to come to the conclusion that, despite all efforts to the convince us to the contrary, there is something fundamentally wrong with the Islamic faith. I'm kind of in agreement with Bill Maher on this-even though he is taking a lot of heat for his statements to that effect. Maher called Islam “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will fucking kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book.”
Yes, the number of extremists are a minority-but there seems to be no one of authority in Islam, including so called "Islamic" nations, who have the balls to stand up to this minority. Or publicly denounce it. It's a part of the problem-and its a big reason why the invasion of Iraq, or anywhere else did not work-because of a tired adherence to stupid parochial bickering-Arabs always screw things up.
And thus we are back to the central question: How does this all end?
I don't know, and I don't think you do either. There 1.5 billion Muslims in the world however. So today – the future continues to look bleak.
Have a good weekend.
Lots of things could threaten the United States. The critical question, as the U.S. launches a war against ISIS that will likely take years and have myriad unforeseen consequences, is what “could” actually means. This time, the press needs to do a better job of finding out.