By Dmitry Orlov
I couldn’t help but notice that over the past few weeks the Empire has become extremely silly—so silly that I believe it deserves the title of the World’s Silliest Empire. One could claim that it has been silly before, but recent developments seem to signal a quantum leap in its silliness level.
The first bit of extreme silliness surfaced when Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the head of the United States Central Command, told a Senate panel that only a very small number of Syrian fighters trained by the United States remained in the fight—perhaps as few as five. The tab for training and equipping them was $500 million. That’s $100 million per fighter, but that’s OK, because it’s all good as long as the military contractors are getting paid. Things got even sillier when it later turned out that even these few fighters got car-jacked by ISIS/al Qaeda in Syria (whatever they are currently calling themselves) and got their vehicles and weapons taken away from them.
General Austin’s previous role as Lt. General Casey in Tim Burton’s film Mars Attacks! It was already a very silly role, but his current role is a definite career advancement, both in terms of rank and in terms of silliness level.
The next silly moment arrived at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, where Obama, who went on for 30 minutes instead of the allotted 15 (does Mr. Silly President know how to read a clock?) managed to use up all of this time and say absolutely nothing that made any sense to anyone.
But it was Putin’s speech that laid out the Empire’s silliness for all to see when he scolded the US for making a bloody mess of the Middle East with its ham-handed interventions. The oft-repeated quote is “Do you understand what you have done?” but that’s not quite right. The Russian «Вы хоть понимаете теперь, чего вы натворили?» can be more accurately translated as “How can you even now fail to understand what a mess you have made?” Words matter: this is not how one talks to a superpower before an assembly of the world’s leaders; this is how one scolds a stupid and wayward child. In the eyes of the whole world, this made the Empire look rather silly.
What happened next is that Russia announced the start of its bombing campaign against all manner of terrorists in Syria (and perhaps Iraq too; the Iraqi request is in Putin’s in-box). What’s notable about this bombing campaign is that it is entirely legal. The legitimate, elected government of Syria asked Russia for help; the campaign was approved by the Russian legislature. On the other hand, the bombing campaign that the US has been conducting in Syria is entirely illegal. There are exactly two ways to legally bomb the territory of another country: 1. an invitation from that country’s government and 2. a UN Security Council resolution. The US has not obtained either of them.
Why is this important? Because the UN, with its Security Council, was instituted to prevent war, by making it difficult for nations to engage each other militarily without all sorts of international economic and political repercussions. After World War II it was thought that wars are rather nasty and that something should be done to prevent them. But the US feels that this is rather unnecessary. When a Russian correspondent (Gayane Chichakyan from RT) asked the White House press secretary under what legal authority the US was bombing Syria, he at first pretended to not understand the question, then babbled incoherently, looking rather silly. You see, the US likes to fight wars (or rather, its military contractors like to fight wars, because that’s how they make money, and they happen to own a big piece of the US government). But the US can’t win any wars, and that makes its entire war effort rather silly (in a murderous sort of way).
In spite of American recalcitrance, the UN does in fact prevent wars. Recently it prevented the US from mounting a “limited strike against the Assad regime in response to the brazen use of chemical weapons” (or so said Obama during his UN speech). This was helped by a deft bit of Russian diplomacy, in the course of which Syria voluntarily gave up its chemical weapons stockpiles. Undeterred by diplomacy, the US squeezed off a couple of cruise missiles in the general direction of Syria, but the Russians promptly shot them out of the sky, triggering a major rethink at the Pentagon and, of course, making the US look rather silly.
But once you make a fool of yourself, why stop? Indeed, Obama shows no intention of stopping. Just about the entire audience at the UN General Assembly knew that the Syrian government’s chemical attack on its own people never happened. The chemicals were provided by the Saudis and were unwittingly used by the Syrian rebels on themselves. Lying, when everybody knows that you are lying, and knows that you know that you are lying: what could possibly be sillier?
Ok, how about continuously prattling on about “freedom and democracy”—in the Middle East, after throwing the whole region into chaos through their brain-dead interventions? The only voice of reason in the US seems to be that of Donald Trump, who recently declared that the Middle East was more stable under Saddam Hussein, Moammar Khaddafi and Bashar al Assad. Indeed it was. The fact that the only non-silly politician left in the US is Trump—that bloviating moneybag—sets a rather high bar for silliness for the country as a whole.
Prattling on about “freedom and democracy” in the Middle East is also silly because the entire region is tribal—has been tribal for a few thousand years, and will be tribal for a few thousand more. In each locale, some tribe is on top. If the idea is to carve it up into sovereign territorial units (none of which qualifies as a nation, because each one ends up being multinational) then each territorial unit ends up being ruled by some tribe while others grumble. Blunder in and exploit their grumbling to bring about “regime change”—and the whole place invariably burns down.
A case in point is Israel: it’s got the top dog tribe—the Jews, and they can shoot or bomb anybody else with impunity. It is considered “democratic” because the Jews get to vote, which is very nice for the Jews. The Alawites in Syria get to vote too—and vote for Bashar al Assad—so why isn’t that good enough? Because of American hypocrisy and double standards.
It’s like that right down the line. Saudi Arabia is owned by one tribe—the House of Saud, and everybody else is disenfranchised. Iraq used to be run by the Sunnis from Saddam Hussein’s tribe, but the Americans dislodged them, and now what remains of it is ruled by the Shia from the south of the country while the Sunnis ran off and joined ISIS. This can all seem like super-simple stuff, but not for the Americans, because it runs counter to their ideology, which dictates that the world must be remade in America’s image. And so they keep trying to do this (or keep pretending to be trying, because results don’t matter as long as their military contractors get paid) and don’t seem to care one bit that this is making them look very silly.
And so the typical pattern has been this: the US bombs a country to smithereens, mounts a ground invasion, sets up a puppet regime and, promptly or not so promptly, pulls out. The puppet regime falls apart, and then you have either ungovernable chaos or some new, especially nasty form of dictatorship, or a little of each: a failed state, like Libya, and Yemen, and much of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. It doesn’t much matter that this is the result (as long as the military contractors are getting paid) because America’s motto seems to be “Look Silly and Carry On.” Wreck a country—and it’s on to the next bombing campaign.
But this is where it all gets meta-silly: in Syria they can’t even achieve that. The Americans have been bombing ISIS for a year now; meanwhile, ISIS has gotten stronger and occupied more territory. But they haven’t gotten around to overthrowing Assad; instead, the ISIS boys have been busy prancing around the desert in black head rags and white basketball shoes taking selfies, blowing up archaeological sites, enslaving women and beheading anyone they don’t like.
But now it appears that the Russians have achieved in five days of bombing what the Americans couldn’t in a year and the ISIS boys are running away to Jordan; others want to go to Germany and ask for asylum. This has made the Americans upset, because, you see, the Russians were bombing “their” terrorists—the ones the Americans recruited, armed and trained… and then bombed? I know, silly—but true. The Russians will have none of that, because their approach is, if it looks like a terrorist and quacks like a terrorist, then it is a terrorist, so let’s bomb it.
But it is understandable that this approach is unpopular with the Americans: here they were carefully pumping the place full of weapons and equipment, and bombing carefully around the edges so as not to blow up any of it, and the Russians just blunder in and blow it all up! The Saudis are absolutely livid, because it was they who paid for much of it. Plus the terrorists are their own Wahhabi-Takfiri brethren—the ones who like to declare various other Muslims that they don’t happen to like to be infidels, in direct violation of their own Sharia law. Does that remind you of anyone? Anyone silly?
But it doesn’t appear that the US can do anything to stop the Russians, or the Chinese who also want to get a piece of ISIS to stuff and mount, or the Iranians and the Hezbollah fighters who are ready to march in and mop up what remains of ISIS once the bombing missions destroy all the war materiel it has amassed. And so it’s time for Americans to start an information war by accusing the Russians of causing civilian casualties.
Of course, being Americans, they have to prosecute this information war in the silliest way possible. First, you trot out your claims of civilian casualties before the Russians fly a single sortie. Oops! Then you stuff the social media with fake pictures of wounded children produced beforehand by performers in white helmets paid for by George Soros. And then, when asked for evidence, you refuse to provide any.
So far so good, but let’s get even sillier. Immediately after screaming loudly about Russians causing civilian casualties, the Americans blow up a hospital in Afghanistan that was run by Medecins sans Frontières, in spite of being informed of its location both before and during the bombing. “Don’t kill civilians… like this!” Could it get any sillier than that? Of course it can: the US can start blatantly, nakedly lying about the event: “There were Taleban fighters hiding in that hospital!”—no, there weren’t; “The Afghans told us to bomb that hospital!”—no, they didn’t. Bombing that hospital was an actual war crime—so says the UN. Are are the Russians now going to listen to criticism from war criminals? Don’t be silly!
It’s really hard to tell, but anything seems possible now. For example, the US no longer seems to have a foreign policy: the White House says one thing, the State Department another, the Pentagon a third, Samantha Power at the UN pursues a foreign policy of her own using Twitter, and Senator John McCain wants to arm Syrian rebels to shoot down Russian planes. (All five of them? John, don’t be silly!) In response to all this confusion, America’s political puppets in the European Union are starting to twitch uncontrollably and go off-script, because the nerve center in Washington is no longer sending them clear signals.
How is this all going to end? Well, since we are all just being silly, let me make a humble suggestion: the US should bomb everything inside the Beltway in Washington, plus a few counties in Virginia. That should significantly degrade the country’s capability for being extremely silly. And if that doesn’t work—so what? After all, it is clear that results don’t matter. As long as the military contractors are getting paid, it’s all good.