… to wit, the Boredom Bomb, which seems to be a beefed-up version of the old hot air blast ordnance known affectionately as Tubby Tommy. The new model appears capable of boring whole nations to death at one stroke.
I happened to pick up a copy of last Saturday’s NY Times today on the subway and was gobsmacked to find a mighty piece by the apparently retooled, neobionic Thomas Friedman occupying almost the whole of the op-ed page. The online version runs about 2,300 words. Never have I seen a neuron-buster on this scale dropped by the Times, even on a test range, much less in combat. The effect was devastating. As soon as the page was exposed to the air, people all around me began to lose consciousness and snore sterterously. I don’t know why I was spared; perhaps I used to read the Times enough when I was younger to develop an immunity.
But even I didn’t dare read this damn thing of course. There are limits. I cherish what scraps of sanity I have left. A quick browser word search — eyes averted — revealed that this is clearly not the old Thomas Friedman, since there is no reference to a cabdriver anywhere in the text. Prompted by a hunch, I searched for the word ‘Shiite’ and sure enough, found that it’s all the Shiites’ fault, according to Obie:
The fact is, said the president, in Iraq a residual U.S. troop presence would never have been needed had the Shiite majority there not “squandered an opportunity” to share power with Sunnis and Kurds. “Had the Shia majority seized the opportunity to reach out to the Sunnis and the Kurds in a more effective way, [and not] passed legislation like de-Baathification,” no outside troops would have been necessary. Absent their will to do that, our troops sooner or later would have been caught in the crossfire, he argued….
“[W]hat we have is a disaffected Sunni minority in the case of Iraq, a majority in the case of Syria, stretching from essentially Baghdad to Damascus. … Unless we can give them a formula that speaks to the aspirations of that population, we are inevitably going to have problems. … Unfortunately, there was a period of time where the Shia majority in Iraq didn’t fully understand that. They’re starting to understand it now. Unfortunately, we still have ISIL [the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant], which has, I think, very little appeal to ordinary Sunnis.” But “they’re filling a vacuum, and the question for us has to be not simply how we counteract them militarily but how are we going to speak to a Sunni majority in that area…”
So it’s still all about encircling Iran, apparently. ISIL, that Golem ginned up by the Gulf States, no doubt with help from the US and Israel, may be a somewhat dangerous and problematic tool; but what’s a Death Star gonna do?
When the big bombs go off, one doesn’t ordinarily pay much attention to the popgun, but a kind, or perhaps unkind friend forwarded me a cri de coeur from no less than Louis Proyect, that keeper of the Fourth International flame and great friend of the Sunni. (I don’t normally see Louis’ stuff any more since I finally unsubbed from his Marxmail list. This, also, in aid of protecting the abovementioned scraps of sanity.)
Louis, as far as I can tell, is indignant that what he calls ‘the “anti-imperialist” Left’ — the embedded quotes are important — isn’t leaping to the defense of ISIL:
For days now, the US military has been launching air strikes against the reactionary Sunni-fascist group Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS, or just IS now) in Iraq. Yet, strangely, not only have I not seen any evidence of anti-war demonstrations, or organising for them, I have also not seen the entire faux-“left” cybersphere full of fulminating attacks on US imperialist intervention, with everyone repeating and slightly re-wording the same half-baked, evidence-free article, like we saw last August during the alleged build-up to an entirely imaginary US attack on the reactionary, secular-fascist regime of Bashar Assad in Syria.
I say “as far as I can tell” because Louis has an uncanny capacity to tie himself in intellectual knots that any topologist can prove are impossible in the ordinary 3-D world, so being hit by a Proyectile of this kind gives one a queasy, churning sensation, like looking at one of those puzzle pictures by Escher.
Update: I’m told on good authority that my topology metaphor misfired (see comments). A Valuable Prize to the best suggested replacement for it.