Friday, January 6, 2017

Can we disable the tyrants?

If reports in by Gareth Porter are correct (Inquiry Points Toward a Pentagon Plot to Subvert Obama’s Syria Policy,, January 5, 2017) then the Generals ordered this attack on what they described as “ISIS” positions were really Syrian army posts. They also knew that by attacking they would subvert Secretary of State John Kerry’s recently achieved agreement with Russia to work together in Syria against ISIS.

 The report documents an American attack at Deir Ezzor on September 17, 2016 that killed 62 Syrian soldiers and wounded dozens more.
John Kerry told the Boston Globe (according to the Porter report) that there were parts of the U.S government who were strongly opposed to any agreement with Russia to work together in Syria, opening to the public the kind of chasms of opinion, within the government itself, that now threaten the optimum functioning of the American government.

When the public is and has been awash in fake news, for the last several months, including Russian cyber attacks that have been characterized yesterday by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as an “existential threat” to the United States, (information that is now disputed by the “Donald”), this kind of new report throws public confidence in public institutions out the window even further. Some argue the world is moving quickly to some kind of “boil” in geopolitical affairs; perhaps, the boil has already begun and the people of the world are like the proverbial “frog” in the boiling pot, “fine until too late” when the boiling water finally kills the frog.
Of course, such apocalyptic pictures are so frightening that the public media and most water cooler conversations studiously avoid “going there”. Fear, as we all know, is a toxic weapon in any search for a resolution of serious conflict. It debilitates all participants, whether their wounding is clearly evident while attempting to lower the temperature or not. And while deception is considered an essential “arrow” in the quiver for any international conflict (Russia v. United States, for example) deception with one’s own people will ( or at least it once would have) erode the trust of the people in their leaders.

It would seem fitting to observe that we now have two “pugilists” (Trump and Putin) who are engaged in a monstrous and dangerous campaign of deception, mis-information, and they both will, on January 21, command massive military arsenals. Both have publicly mused about the renewal and enhancement of their respective nuclear capabilities. Both have demonstrated contempt for the truth and also for the normal modicum of trust based on truth from their respective “people”. Both are happy to surround themselves with sycophants, and to punish their enemies, without limits to their methods. (Trump has announced the beginning of an “enemies” list!) Both are engaged in blatant and unapologetic manipulation of the media, whether they “own” them or not. Both have amassed fortunes, regardless of the methods of their respective acquisitions. Both are clearly sparring for a “title bout” that would trumpet the formal beginning of a new Cold War. And both are so overflowing with hubris that they hold even the normal levers of governing in contempt.

And the number of their “gang of thug” leaders grows, with all of them fawning in their approach to superpower leaders. Setting the bar for “acceptable” leadership among especially ‘democratic’ nations, on a rung at the bottom of the sewer was never a concept conceived as acceptable in our lifetimes. Angela Merkel and Barack Obama must be writhing in political pain at the world they are witnessing. Clearly, millions of their constituents, and former electors) certainly are!

Turning to the new global “progressive” leader, Justin Trudeau, a neophyte in domestic politics and a kindergarten student in foreign policy (friendships with foreign leaders is not equivalent to foreign policy gravitas!) is neither comforting nor justified. While his motives for “doing good” may not be in question, his capacity to seek and achieve complex foreign policy ententes, himself or through the agency of his Foreign Minister Stephane Dion, has never been tested. His propensity to “balance” in the interests of the environment with the need to grow the economy may seem reasonable, as it attempts to balance two competing interests.

However, the international cauldron has many mutually exclusive competing interests and factions, and few fully functioning negotiating agencies, including, it would seem, the United Nations. “Shooting stars” like Trump and Putin will do whatever it takes to move in the opposite direction from international collaboration. They will attempt, in putting their own country’s “fortunes” ahead of all others, to fragment even further the global consensus, gossamer as it already is.

When a self-appointed and self-designed “hero” archetype takes over the national stage, it takes a compliant populace, a sycophant media, a narcissistic corporate structure, and a politically correct culture that frowns on dissent to contribute to their rise, and more importantly to sustain their emptiness.

So fragile and trembling are the cultures of both the United States and Russia that these two dangerous tyrants have mounted their serf-like “votes” to the pinnacles of power in their respective nations. And, even that little potential agreement that Kerry had worked out with Lavrov over Syria and ISIS could have been a first step in reining in both Trump and Putin.

It is to those committed to formal and informal dissent, at a time when dissent is becoming ever more challenging and potentially dangerous that the world must look, as we enter what many consider the darkest period in human history for the last half century.

Dissenters, activists, “artivists” (artists who are also activists), small, medium and large information organs, academics, thinkers and all of the lunch-bucket armies who make our world function have to come out of our political closets, and fight, not only for the repair of our streets, bridges, schools and hospitals but also for our world’s political, economic and environmental health.

And a first step in the process is to disable the tyrants!

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