There’s always money for wars and killing


Here we go again.

President Obama has asked Congress for half a billion dollars to support the rebels fighting the Syrian government. But, you are thinking, isn’t that group ISIS (sometimes referred to as ISIL), that consists of a ruthless group of Islamists that seeks to create a new state by combining Iraq and Syria, and whose ideology is so extreme that even al Qaeda washed its hands of them?

Ah, but Obama says he is not planning to fund that group. He is going to send the money to the ‘moderate’ opponents of the Syrian government.

There are two ways to see this. One is that this reveals extreme folly on his part that the US has the ability to identify ‘moderates’ in a conflict, given its awful track record in the past. (Humorist Andy Borowitz has proposed a questionnaire to help them out in this task.) As I have said before, big powers have repeatedly found that the protégés they groom to advance their agenda turn out to be uncontrollable monsters that turn on them once they are big enough. Juan Cole argues that even if the US identifies so-called moderates, they are weak and any arms and weapons given to them are likely to quickly end up in the hands of ISIS.

But when countries repeat policies that have repeatedly ‘failed’ in the past, it may be that they have private measures of success and failure that are different from what ordinary, humane people have. It may be that the real aim of the policy is to help continue the fighting indefinitely so as to destabilize the whole region and weaken all those countries that are not subservient to the US. Note that Saudi Arabia and the countries of the Emirates don’t seem to have any problems, Bahrain quickly suppressed its popular uprising, and Egypt returned to pretty much the status quo, while Libya continues to be a mess, and Lebanon looks next in line for destabilization.

Jon Stewart points out that while money seems to be always available for fighting purposes, there is never enough to fund important social services. That fact alone should tell us how corrupt the US government is.

(This clip aired on June 26, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)

Comments

  1. Mobius says

    Bravo, Daily Show.

    I particularly like the last bit. Defendecny. Warfare Queens. ROFL

  2. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    There’s always money for wars and killing

    Well of course.

    Human nature stinks.

    I wish I were wrong ’bout tha’.

    that group ISIS (sometimes referred to as ISIL),

    Kaveh Mousavi has a very good comment explaining that here :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/marginoferr/2014/06/27/bill-maher-is-wrong-about-ayatollah-sistani/#comment-23996

    Whatever they are called they exemplify the worst of Islam – and we need to beat them and their like if this world is to be a place worth living in.

    Does anyone here seriously disagree with tha’?

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    It may be that the real aim of the policy is to help continue the fighting indefinitely so as to destabilize the whole region and weaken all those countries that are not subservient to the US.

    As spelled out in the PNAC manifesto, other neocon chest-thumping, and various published policies from a small 66-yr-old nation claiming a 6,000-year regional hegemony.

  4. jws1 says

    It is not the case that AQ “washed its hands” of ISIS because the latter’s ideology was more radical than the former; they are the same. ISIS didn’t follow orders all the time, an anathema to fascists like AQ.

  5. says

    Whatever they are called they exemplify the worst of Islam – and we need to beat them and their like if this world is to be a place worth living in.

    Does anyone here seriously disagree with tha’?

    I do. ISIS is an islamic-contextualized political movement. The religious aspects of what they are doing are their marketing message, and it’s how they are explaining their agenda to the rubes that carry guns for them, but really they’re about tribal empowerment and taking the opportunity presented by the Syrian rebellion and the US’ destruction of the dictatorship that kept Iraq under its thumb. When you adopt the “islam” trope you’re playing into their strong suit, which is a bad idea because it moves you away from having a discussion about politics, power, and how/when states should be overthrown and how to treat populations. Those are not “islamic” issues and ISIS’ actions are revealed to be non-“islamic” themselves, in that context.

    “Beating them and their like” is not a religious or islamic issue, either. What I understand you to be saying (though I don’t think you understand it) is that religious/ethnic cleansing is a bad idea, massacring civilians is a bad idea, and large groups of people with guns roaming around declaring new nations is a bad idea. I agree with that completely, but I think you should separate the thin veneer of religious justification/ethnic justification from the underlying political reality of what they are doing. The method I am espousing here is exactly the same as I espouse toward (for example) Israel or the US: ignore their ethnic claims or their claims to manifest destiny, and consider at a detail level what actions are justifiable and which aren’t. In that recontext, I agree with you that nobody should be allowed to engage in mass displacements, ethnic or religious cleansing (genocide) or the creation of thuggish dictatorships based on main force. There’s too much of that going around and people of good will should oppose them all, wherever and however possible.

    In short, when you fell for the “islamic” part of the whole scenario, you gobbled the propaganda. This is not and should not be about islam at all.

  6. says

    Another way of looking at the same point as I raised above: do you think the muslim brotherhood is a religious movement or a political movement? If you think the former, you’ve gobbled the propaganda. They are a political response to the US-backed dictatorships in Egypt. Yes, they contextualize religiously, but that’s a fig-leaf. The real issue is secular power.

  7. colnago80 says

    Another way of looking at the same point as I raised above: do you think the muslim brotherhood is a religious movement or a political movement?

    It’s both. Where the brotherhood gains power, it imposes Sharia law, which is religious doctrine based on the Koran. This is no different then the theocrats like the late and unlamented Rousas Rushdonney who advocate a Christian Theocracy in the US ruled with laws from the Hebrew Bible. Had Morsi been allowed to remain in power in Egypt, he would have removed secular officers from the Egyptian Army, as Erdogan has done in Turkey and as the mad mullahs were able to do in Iran, with a great assist from Saddam Hussein. Like it or not, the armies in the Middle East are often the last refuge of secularists.

  8. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ ^ colnago80 : Exactly. Islam doesn’t make thedistinctionbetween political and religious that most religions (eg. Judaism and Christianity) now do.

    Islam is a religious ideology much like Marxism only flat out religiously powered rather than political with a semi- religious flavour in the caes of Marxism. (North Korean brand of “marxism” OTOH is more openly religious ideology so as with everything on a spectrum from outright religion to outright political nature.)

    @ 7. Marcus Ranum :

    This is not and should not be about islam at all.

    You’ve gotta be joking surely! Islamist extremists – of both main sects – killing in the name of Allah and blowing themselves up to kill other people and thereby supposedly get their paradise with 72 virgins (or raisins – translations vary!) and you seriously reckon it has nothing to do with Islam!? Imposing Sharia religious law and seeking to impose a region (or ultimately world) wide islamic state and its not about islam?

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