Karl Sharro wrote a satirical piece at his blog yesterday, We Give the Scottish Independence Referendum the Middle East Expert Treatment. It is along the lines of, If It Happened There… But instead of reporting on domestic affairs the way we would report on them if they happened elsewhere, Sharro is reporting on the Scottish vote to leave the United Kingdom the same way American “experts” report on the Middle East.
I don’t follow events in the Middle East enough to fully appreciate the article. But it is impossible not to get the gist of it. For example, the common confusion in the west regarding the Shai and Sunni Muslims is lampooned with, “The sectarian dimension relates to the independence question in a very complicated way, so for the purpose of journalistic expediency it’s not inaccurate to say that Protestants favor the union while Catholics prefer independence. Or the other way around.” They’re all the same. Am I right?!
But I was most taken with the conclusion to Sharro’s article because it gets to the real problem with the way that anything happening in the Middle East seems to cause otherwise reasonable people to throw up their hands and say, “What else can we do? We must bomb!” What he writes here seems to sum up the full extent of our thinking regarding ISIS, although its ridiculousness is apparent when applied to Scotland:
This is exactly the logic that I was talking about yesterday in, Education Reform: Help Those Who Don’t Need It. As I put it, “So it’s the same old American idea: it is better to do something, regardless of how bad it may be, than to do nothing at all.” I didn’t think about it much at the time, but when Obama said that the executive branch had not determined a strategy for ISIS in Syria, it was widely mocked — most especially by conservatives. This goes along with the idea that it is better to make a bad decision quickly than a good decision slowly. Of course, it just so happens that a quick decision leads to what conservatives always want: military action.
When it comes to ISIS, it seems that there was an actual reason for some of the bombing: to protect the Kurdish territory. I could be wrong about that, but that was what was reported. And that doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do; but at least there was something like a clear objective. The rest of the bombing campaign seems to just be what Sharro was lampooning. We seem to be bombing because we don’t know what else to do. And because it is what we always do. And it is more important to be seen to be doing something than to actually be accomplishing anything. The tragic thing about this is that Obama seems to be doing it to pacify people here in the United States who are broadly of two kinds: ignorant people who have been frightened by the second kind of people who are demagogues.
I’m sure that lots of “bad guys” get killed. But I’m equally sure that at least as many civilians die for the sin of having been born Iraq. One thing is certain: the people of Iraq would be far better off if the United States had never invaded back in 2003. People suffered under Saddam Hussein, and then they suffered more as a result of our war, and then they suffered in the aftermath, and they suffer under ISIS, and now they are being bombed because, hey, we have to do something!
H/T: Zack Beauchamp