Week 38

     One good thing happened in Week 38.
     Attorney General Eric Holder resigned.
     He was described as “a champion of civil rights if not civil liberties” — naively I thought they were the same. He attacked racial inequality while eroding the rest of the Bill of Rights by approving mass surveillance of Americans and subpoenaing more journalists than any past administration.
     The rest of the news was mostly bleak.
     The environment continued to get worse, with carbon emissions hitting new records that included a 2.9% increase in the U.S. last year. President Obama urged the countries of the United Nations to combat global warming but the Republicans have stopped any effort to do something about it.
     Ebola continued to spread, with the World Health Organization saying last week that the contagion was far worse than previously thought. A look at a map of the affliction shows hot spots in Sierra Leone and huge zones where the disease has started to spread.
     And in the Middle East, the U.S. continued its turn back into the theatre we just left.
     Islamic State, described by UN monitors as committing “acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale,” was making headway across an enormous front from the north of Syria to the towns around Baghdad. While Iraq Army units were left short of ammunition and support.
     All of it was bleak but not surprising.
     One story, however, turned my head around.
     Our man in Iraq, the new president Haider al-Abadi, told a group of journalists that he supports the bombing of IS forces in Syria, with a condition.
     I figured the condition was the same as that expressed by our president who says he does not want the bombing of IS positions to help the Syrian government which we oppose. Iraq’s president would therefore be echoing the position of his benefactor and bomber in chief.
     I was part way through the story and realized I had better go back and start over.
     It turned out that, no, the Iraqi president took the opposite position. He wants to make sure the bombing does not hurt the Syrian government. Because he supports the murderous Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
     In the British Parliament, which unlike our Congress debated the decision, one parliamentarian heatedly compared bombing to an attack on a barbarian to aid a butcher.
     But our man in Iraq wants us to be careful on how we go about attacking the barbarian at his gate because he supports the butcher next door. He prevaricates. He dithers, as his army loses battles.
     And the butcher of Damascus, it turns out, has had a working relationship with the barbarian of the north, refraining from bombing his positions and paying him to keep oil pipelines intact while also refining some of the oil shipped from the wells he controls.
     Meanwhile, our president snubs our natural ally in the region, Iran, which opposes the barbarian of the north but also supports the butcher of Damascus, as does the fool of Baghdad.
     Into that hot mess along comes our government with drones and warplanes dropping bombs.
     As the admiral in the movie Hunt for Red October says, “This business will get out of control.”

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