Why So Syria?

Media, Plus ça change motherfuckers, War and Politics

My friend D. recently sent me an email asking the really critical question: why does Captain Janeway suck? Fortunately, I had recently re-watched most of Voyager, and had given the question a fair bit of cogitation prior to his asking. Viewed in relatively quick succession over the course of a month or so, what you really notice is that the Janeway character combines an immoveable moral rigidity, which manifests as a strident self-righteousness, with an extraordinary capriciousness, a mercurial ethic completely at odds with her self-presentation as a pole of right conduct.

It strikes me now that this is the perfect analog for the Obama administration’s approach to armed violence and the use of the military, stentorian correctness overlaying a feckless utilitarianism, utter conviction the costume of callous ineptitude. The last few months’ red line drawing and redrawing have been as arbitrary as any underwritten weekly serial, and the promises of punitive action suggest an adolescent aesthetic enthusiasm for some explosions right around the third commercial break. That may even be over-crediting this government; at least B-rate TV throws in the space battle because the audience demands it.

Yes, there is the irony of the government that murders 16-year-olds because it doesn’t like their dads arrogating to itself the right to punish other governments for choosing the wrong method with which to kill their own citizens, but I think the grimmer joke is the US so publicly preparing to once more wade into a civil conflict as an act of Public Relations, because if you listen to the appeals and to the rationales, what you hear, again and again, is that the US must make a tepid—albeit deadly—gesture of disapproval at the conduct of a war in order to maintain its brand as the industry leader in hasty moral arbitration. “They must not doubt our resolve.” Yes, and there’s a reason that phrase sounds like an ad for detergent.

Truly, all the agonizing—do we, or do we not light the rockets and launch the mortars—has the real moral seriousness of a generically pretty 30-something commercial actor wondering “where do all these stains come from.” Casuistry is deeply repellent as theater, and the fact that our government is willing to kill even against the better judgment of its own professional military is a sign of just how little it really values life. For all the showy agonizing, the administration has treated its decision to kill as casually as any decision to issue a press release. The thing is already written; they’re just waiting for the right moment to blast it out.

18 thoughts on “Why So Syria?

  1. It does raise some questions about the practicality of International Human Rights (TM). But of course that’s just the latest iteration of the same old theodicy – is a God repeatedly proven as a petty and malodorous asshole really the entity best placed to keep track of merits and demerits in the Book of Life? (Seasonal reference). It really does seem to me these days that high American government officials from Cheney to Obama see themselves in these terms – not priests of democracy, but its gods.

  2. what amazes me is the explicit disregarding of international law for the explicitly stated purpose of affirming the viability of international law. i may be drunk, but that shit’s crazy.

  3. For 5 years now, Brand Obama has maximally leverage public sentiment that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were Bush wars, and so B.O. bore virtually no political responsibility for the murderous harm he perpetuated in those places. He certainly benefited from it, not least by seeming “hard” in the full heteronormative sense of that term. At times, Dick Cheney made approving noises.

    Curling up in Bush’s shadow carries a price, though, and not just the sense that B.O. will have to atone for his atrocities across numerous lifetimes. He is being held responsible for Bush-style manufacturing of evidence, Bush-style alienating the U.S. from international allies, and Bush-style stupid viciousness for trying to bear-bait the public into supporting another murder-for-hire scheme. Perhaps the two of them will share a moment together in public soon, just to assure the skeptics.

      1. “The trick to the Prime Directive is it’s okay to interfere as long as you don’t get caught interfering by the natives.”

        ….and bang any hawt alien chicks.

        Worked for Kirk.

      2. Barry,

        If you’re referring to Shatner [sp?] , yeah, and I always did think he drowned his young female object. Baretta though, another story altogether, really fucked up there when he said he went back to retrieve his gun from that restaurant booth while presumably leaving his female object with her nose wide open …

        Although, fast forward: the Libertariat Singularity [i] is Upon Us All! …There will no longer be a need for non-Alpha Toppers among the Galaxies!!!!!!!

        [1] Singularity University
        NASA Research Park Building
        20 S. Akron Rd. MS 20-1
        Moffett Field, CA 94035-0001

  4. their main claim to action is, “Mockery Avoidance,” amongst other (R2D2) things. Makes my dick harder than a diamond in an icestorm.

  5. Welp, one might have thought that one of the Social Media Thought Leaders, Nick Denton [1]/Gawker, $wore his lurve to a darkie [of Texas Granddaddy Chiropractor origins, Mind You!] a darkie said to despise the [WHITE [and A$IAN], TOPPER BOYO [ONLY] TECHIE] Social Media which Nick has cunningly and viciously made his fortune on [jus’ can’t imagine why anyone might despise a medium where only those still able to afford palatable food and a roof over their head, RULE, …. and presume to speak for those whose shoes they have never ever been pained by] there might be an easing up of the death cult drum roll ……….

    (Waves to [“Gandhi” …Spats ….Kindest of the Kindest Land LORD!!!!!] Markos Lambert, of the Capitalist, Rancid Orange and Somewhat Familiar, Font!!!!!)

    [1] some have so much money, influence, and so many fawning INVESTORS!!!!!!they yawn at bricks through their windows, the majority of humanity, get a clue…

  6. (will Lambert ever forgive me for a, lack of grammatical clarity, missing comma above!!!!!!!, when Markos Lambert insists on acronynizing entire sentiments (because he thinks he’s cute and current?), despite his understanding that many don’t know what his acronyms mean ? The IRAQ CPA ™ acronym bit (look it up and think a bit about how historic CPA’s were supposedly in the business of fair dealing -….and many of them actually tried to do that and lost their mother fucking shirts … one will not hear their voices Online, outside of cryptic fallen through the cracks language, AND RAGE), pulled off one of the largest thefts in the history of ‘currency’ and should have cured anyone with any concern about clarity from the disgusting use of acronyms …


  7. Dear Nick Denton:

    For Molnar, … the experience still smarts, eight years on. His interpretation of the root of the conflict differs from Denton’s. His politics did not suffer from excessive idealism; they were undermined by the “false realism” of cynics who refuse to draw a meaningful line in the sand. “I don’t want to say negative things about Nick,” Molnar said, sounding less frustrated than nervous. “I don’t like to say negative things about people in general.”

    (apparently you agree with him on an extremely limited basis, in terms of sleeping with “a darkie” at night who you don’t want to be haunted with nightmare$$$$$$$$, ver$u$ serving your human [?] needs?)

  8. I notice your “jacobbacharach” comments are now posting at London City time, does WordPress also “allow” one to have a site without being subjected to ghastly FaceFiend Likes?

    pondering an I despise the [N$A, FROM ITS very INCEPTION] Web site, titled $unnyHell

    I’m sorry homey (of Pitt’s berg) , but is this really all there is? ….

    yeah, …. no it is not.

  9. bREAKING, FROM proPUBblica [ETCTERA] serious TECHIE KNOWLEDGABLE!!!!!! “white” aceDEMIC [etcetera] alphas who aided and abetted everyone not being considered valid unless they are ONLINE AND AND NO LONGEr ANSWE Their DOOR, or THEIR LANDLINE: ….. MICROSofT also spooked to the NSA all those MS wORD EXCEL etc docs one never THOUGHT THEY ‘uploaded’ On Line ….

    look for it …… and look for some to pretend they didn’t aid and abet …

  10. Can I bring this back around from the ludicrous inconsequence of dead Syrians to the ultra-serious topic of Voyager’s flaws?

    I would have loved to see a series where a starship’s crew has to deal with a situation where the Federation’s core ethical norms simply fail. “Uh, we can abide by the Prime Directive and starve, or we can zoom down from the sun, blast the hell out of these cavemen, and steal their crops and water. What’s it going to be?” Essentially Roddenberry’s techno-utopian vision crashes headlong into the “The Road” (novel version) and we see what the hell survives and how. I think this would unavoidably raise the issue that the Prime Directive, etc., can only be the product of a post-scarcity society–and likely a society with a strong military (read: “exploratory”) fleet.

    i think we got large chunks of those ideas with Battlestar Galactica, at least on occasion, but I really would have liked to see it within the particular IP framework of Star Trek, simply because it would have been more transgressive and compelling to see all the iconography going astray.

    Oh, and I’m a little amazed we haven’t bombed the shit out of random Syrians (at least by 9/18, lord knows what the future holds).

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