"What Could Go Wrong?"
by Jim Kunstler
“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.” Yeats wrote. The funny thing is, we didn’t seem to miss the center all that much after it was gone. America is perfectly satisfied hunkering down at the margins these days. Especially the margins of thinking.
One thing that used to occupy the center was public discussion, debate, and argumentation. Now and again, it featured a coherent exchange of ideas. These days, the main political factions are sunk in hysteria of one kind or another. Their primitive promptings hardly add up to ideas but rather limbic spasms of fear and rage. And then there is the shadow partner of the two parties called the Deep State, led by the quaintly dubbed “Intelligence Community.” These birds, many of them lifers, are dedicated to making the public discussion of anything as incoherent as possible so as to prevent any change in policy that might curtail the growth of the Deep State, a sort of cancer of the body politic.
Case in point, the recent Syrian aerial gas attack in the town of Kahn Sheikhoun. Elected officials were all over the cable networks selling the NSA’s story that Syrian president Bashar Assad bombed women and children with Sarin gas three days after State Department declared that it had a new policy of letting Assad remain in power after decades of sedulously scheming to shove him out. That might have led to the end of the six-year-long Syrian civil war, which Assad seemed to be winning, finally - with Russian assistance.
But instead the incident has led to new official calls to shove Assad out… to be replaced by what…? Nobody knows. Because the US Deep State thrives when chaos reigns in foreign lands. So much the better for their looting operations, such as the theft of Libya’s 141 ton gold reserves in 2011. And if not looting hard assets directly, the Deep State benefits when its many black box vendors - the private security armies, materials suppliers, arms sellers - are raking in the accounts receivable.
The fascinating part of the Syrian gas bombing story is how easily the public swallowed it. Those elected congressmen and senators infesting the cable stations told the public that the Intelligence Community “issued a consensus report” that the Syrian air force has dropped Sarin gas bombs on the hapless civilians. Nobody offered any actual evidence that this was so. These days, mere assertions rule.
That’s how we roll now. I’m still waiting to see some evidence that Trump’s campaign “colluded with Russia” to spin the election toward him. Those claims, too, were put out as “a consensus analysis” by the Intelligence Community. And then in March, months after the disputed election, just-retired NSA director James Clapper told NBC’s Meet the Press that his agency had no evidence of “Russian collusion” with the Trump forces. That was only a few weeks ago.
For the moment, it may benefit casual observers to adopt the most cynical attitude possible about the “consensus reports” that emanate from these myriad agencies. What it all finally seems to represent is the snowballing incompetence, venality, mendacity, and impotence of the US government in general, in all its layers and branches.
Hence, the idiotic PR stunt the other day of dropping the so-called “Mother of All Bombs (MOAB)” on some backwater of the once-and-future Mother of All Backwaters, Afghanistan. Did you happen to see a photo of that Mother Bomb? It looked bigger than any airplane that might be assigned to carry it, a cartoon of a bomb, more ridiculous than anything you might see in a Vin Diesel movie. It even had the acronym “MOAB” plastered on its fuselage in case anyone might confuse it with a canister of Round-up. I wonder what it cost. Got to be more than the $1 million-plus for a Tomahawk missile. You could probably run the whole Medicaid system of Alabama on what one MOAB invoice comes in at.
Meanwhile, the Navy’s Aircraft Carrier Strike Force 1 steams off the waters of North Korea and we lately have word that the US might just try to preemptively take out Kim Jong-un’s nuclear bomb assembly site. There’s a tang of excitement in the air (and on the cable channels). America’s back in the game, proving that when all else fails we can be depended on at least to blow some stuff up. What could wrong?"