The Expediency of Tomahawks, Colltalers
It’s easier to bomb than to talk. The Trump administration has tried hard to get to this point, when headlines are about hitting another country. It’s already got North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran, on its crosshairs, but Syria has had the best excuse, so it got struck twice. More to come?
Very likely, indeed. Even that bombing changes nothing, only kills more people, at both times, timing was most convenient. But the strikes we’d rather support are those by teachers. For what they demand, from West Virginia to Arizona, will improve our life without killing anyone.
To this president, who dodged the draft and never had to fire a bullet to save a soul, war is always a handy diversion. Whenever lies, sex and incompetence threaten to derail his week, talk about bombing someone does the trick, playing the compliant media as Nero did with his lyre.
But alas, there are things that even Trump can’t be solely blamed for, even as he’d gladly take credit for them. For war, as a highly profitable business that it is, has always opportunities for all, from the aggressor to the invaded, except of course, the unarmed people on the ground.
It keeps the weapon industries solvent, the multi-billion defense contractor market well oiled, and Pentagon hawks and militaristic zealots quite happy. War is never about saving people, proving a point, or righting some perceived wrongs; it’s a self-feeding engine despots and tyrants can’t live without. Few see it that way but how can a massive loss of innocent lives be justified by some ephemeral ideal of justice?
Both times, the justification to strike Syria has been the alleged use of chemical weapons, with what’s called the ‘international community’ blaming both the regime of Bashar al-Assad and its Russian support for the attack. Pictures of victims, many children, are indeed devastating.
It wasn’t enough in the 1980s however for the U.S. to bomb the Saddam Hussein regime, which used it several times against Kurds, Iranian forces, and his own people, if intel of the time is to be trusted. The reason was pragmatic albeit not less inexcusable: he was then a U.S. ally.
Of course, the U.S. is not alone applying that kind of ‘measured’ hypocrisy as a foreign policy tool. Specially now,
when there seems to be hardly one to speak of. Atrocities committed by allies are ‘strategic mistakes,’ while those by alleged enemies must be relentless pursued.
Bomb strikes and their next related step, troops on the ground, are rarely about protecting those caught in the crossfire. Assad’s biggest miscalculation has been not to foresee that Syria would become a playground for geopolitical war games between Russia and the U.S., Iran and Kurd factions, along a myriad of resistance groups of varying nationalities, credos and ethnic origins. Plus mercenaries and contractors.
As for solution, who says there has to be one, pre-made and customized to local conditions? One of the reasons that such efforts are always doomed is that there’s this perception that a general solution has to be concocted first and then tweaked to be applied to any particular crisis.
If the U.S., France and the U.K., the three coalition forces that struck Syria over the weekend, or any other party involved were even remotely interested in a solution, a massive rescue operation and refugee program would’ve been already in place. Otherwise, it’s just about weapons.
There are only few of Trump’s inicial cabinet left at the White House now. Most of the incompetent, or ill-intentioned, billionaires are gone, replaced by war mongers who, like the president, never saw a war they didn’t like, but never went to one themselves, or had anyone related to them killed by one either. Torture-deniers John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, once vetted by Congress, have surely their work cut out for them.
It’s also no coincidence that social policies and respect to civilian lives are issues that all three nations involved in the recent bombing are being challenged by their own citizens. Americans, the British and the French have taken to the streets in mass, to protest their governments.
So let’s not buy into the fallacy that bombing will right wrongs and defend the innocent. On the contrary, rockets only reaffirm the failure of sending armies to save lives: even as their destroy war factories, which can easily be rebuilt, they’re bound to inflict even more casualties.
But it’s better to strike than to starve, if you’ve chosen to teach for a living in this country. What else is left to do, if after your 8-hour shift, you still need some odd job to supplement your income, and split it between your family and your pupils’ school supplies and snack food.
It’s not that you’re counting on billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to come to the rescue anytime soon. She’s busy selling vouchers. But the good news is, teachers are once again teaching us all two big, but forgotten lessons: that there’s strength in numbers and unions work.
In fact, given that the so-called gig economy – where no one has a contract, vacation days, or health coverage – has been happily embraced by corporations, the renewed appreciation for the power of unions, possibly retrofit to meet these more demanding times, is more than welcome.
After all, it’s evident that what built America into the most powerful nation in the world was an organized workforce and a predictable but dynamic market for a wide range of skills, not the benevolence of wealthy people. And that health and education used to be affordable to all.
What successful strikes staged in West Virginia, Kentucky, Arizona, and the recently called off walkout in Oklahoma, have accomplished was not so much income increases to teachers’ wages and pensions, for that was truly modest, but was how they were supported by everyone.
That’s significant considering that these states have clearly believed on promises made by Republicans and the now president, that have not produced any quantifiable improvement to their lives. Or that of those who care for their children. Someone did their math homework well.
Besides offering them our unrestricted support, we can hope that a union revival catches fire and irradiates to the national conversation. Just don’t count much on Democrats to join in the current, not just yet anyway. As with the fight for gun control, led by high school survivors of school shootings, or the struggle to raise minimum wages, or even to prevent Trump from escalating the war in Syria, they’re all but missing.
In fact, it’s still startling that they have scored a number of meaningful wins in local races, and in some of the same states, as we head to the November elections. Mostly, and with rare but honorable exceptions, we see them joining in but for tax cuts to the wealthy, or rolling back bank regulations. The 800-pound donkey in the middle of the room is that they’re rarely seen at the podium of these big mass movements.
Better sooner than sorry could be a useful memo that someone should write them. Meanwhile, we must prevent, yes, Trump from escalating this and any war, and we may be on our own on that. The media’s already sold on the idea, and him, well, just think about Robert Mueller.
Speaking of students and walkouts, Friday is the somber 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, which left 12 students and a teacher dead, and forever scared this nation. The National School Walkout, and some 2,000 events around the country, will mark the date. Media and politicians may be quick to move on, but let’s keep on fighting to end gun violence. We still need to learn this lesson. Cheers WC