A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
The rubble of a home reportedly hit by a U.S.-led coalition airstrike in Kafar Daryan in Syria.
* Said by a 13th century Catholic crusader when asked how to distinguish heretic Cathars from faithful Catholics in southern France, “Caedite eos! Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius“.
(News Break: The White House’s previously announced policy of preventing civilian casualties in bombing raids will not apply to splattering civilians in Syria and Iraq, it was announced a few days ago by the National Security Council.)
I always wanted to join the US Air Force which rejected me because one eye is out of kilter. So when I see a plane in the sky I sometimes look up and wonder who’s driving it to where. For weeks I’ve studied a National Geographic map of our current air “strikes” vs. the ISIS jihadi enemy. But no matter which way I turn the map my confusion only deepens. So how does the mazelike Iraq-Syria landscape look from 60,000 feet to a U.S. F22 Raptor pilot flying a machine notoriously mal-equipped with tortuously slow processors that also messes up its F35 wingman.
To repeat: Obama has abruptly, and with little publicity, reversed his “strict policy” of avoiding civilian casualties by U.S. drone strikes and air attacks. This insurance policy, like so many in our health system, has been canceled without warning.
I don’t know what criteria the medieval Crusaders used to “kill them all”. But from the distant aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush or Raptor bombers or a Reaper drone pilot “flying” an unmanned aircraft while sitting comfortably in an air-conditioned cubicle at Holloman air force base in New Mexico, how can they possibly separate and identify the players – except by killing all the “imminent threats”, including kids and women, as happens every day now, for example the Syrian grain-silo village of Manbij, because surely the White House Lord knows who are the faithful and who the heretics.
Look at this confused and complicated batting order. They include al-Queda in Iraq; Jabbat al-Nusra or Al-Qaeda in Syria; Assad’s Syrian army that barrel-bombs and gasses its own citizens; the “moderate Syrian opposition” (who they?); the anti-Assad “Free Syrian Army who may or may not exist in reality; the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga allegedly on our side except when it isn’t because it’s allied to the “terrorist” pro-independence Turkey-based PKK; and the Syrian Kurds who…oh, forget it except when I’m inside the canopy of an F22 armed to the teeth looking for Jihadis, who am I supposed to kill?
Pity the poor pilot attending a pre-flight orientation. As Abbott said to Costello, Who’s on first today?
Our so-called partners-in-death include Saudi Arabia (which until only yesterday and probably now as well) funds ISIS; the mainly Sunni United Arab Emirates ethnically hostile to Shiite Hezbollah and Shiite Iran who really do want to fight ISIS; Jordan, Bahrain and Quatar – all of whom fly American-made jets and drop American-made bombs. They’re buying all we can sell.
(Business note: “Three days after U.S. warships fired 47 Cruise missiles at Sunni militant targets…last week, the Pentagon signed a $241-million deal to buy more Tomahawks from Raytheon, a windfall for the military giant and its subcontractors,” reports W.J. Hennigan in the LATimes. “Shares of…Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman and General Dynamics…all have (suddenly) been trading at all time highs.”)
Impressive hypocrisy. We preach what is now improbable, bringing down the mass murderer Assad who is one of our few potential effective allies against ISIS while at the same time, without a doubt, carrying on back channel chats with Assad’s government. And of course we’re talking under the table to the Iranians who are dying to have a go at ISIS.
No matter which way you peel the onion, or turn the map, we are once again taking sides in a confused, confusing hate-filled sectarian civil war without end. But business is good and getting better.
— Clancy Sigal writing for Common Dreams
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Photo: Sami Ali / AFP/Getty Images)
Clancy Sigal, is a screenwriter and novelist in Los Angeles. Chicago-born, he has worked precincts for Democratic candidates since his teens. He emigrated to the UK during what David Caute calls the ‘Great Fear’ and returned to America after the 1984 miners’ strike. He is a reformed Fleet Street journalist