An Alcoholic, Letting His Body Die

There’s a reason why airlines instruct passengers to put their own oxygen masks on first before assisting anyone else in case of an emergency. Everything has to be good at home before you can help on the outside. Everything must be plentiful within, and then consider trimming the excesses in the direction of your choosing. Ever since French ships sat in the cool waters off the coast of Yorktown, allowing Washington’s smashing victory over Cornwallis, the United States has felt the need to keep paying it forward. And it does so without noticing that its own oxygen mask has several leaks and it’s on crooked. From World War I to its sequel to policing the world, America, it ain’t got time to breath.

United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of State, John Kerry, have been pushing for a military strike against Syria. A strike with the goal to punish President Bashar Hafez al-Assad for a chemical attack on August 21, 2013. East to North-East of Damascus, chemical weapons were used in areas mostly populated by opposition forces. And while it’s usual when the right hand is cut, it’s the fault of the left, we don’t know in this case. Each side is blaming the other for the attacks. While the Assad government says they are not responsible, the rebels / opposition says the Assad government is. Maybe members of the government military acted without Assad’s orders? Maybe an offshoot of the rebel camp in possession of chemical weapons decided to stage a false-flag attack against itself? We don’t know. At this point, it’s he said, she said.

But let’s assume Assad gave the order. On the opposition are members associated with Al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and other like minded people. Ones who take the Qur’an at face value. Ones who want to bring back the Ottoman empire. Ones who were all AK-47 in the air when skyscrapers came crashing down in Manhattan on September 11, 2001. Do we really want to take their side? Maybe. History has shown that the United States gets on the side that benefits it and it’s interests (whatever that happens to mean to those in charge at the time). Saddam was our buddy in the 80s, then our enemy afterwards. Osama Bin Laden was our buddy for a bit too (he just didn’t know it). We’ve made treaties with the Indians, then ignored them.

Setting aside the acquisition of Indian lands of North America and then sparring with Mexico to complete the Manifest Destiny, the United States has meddled in foreign governments for over the last hundred years or so. The first dot on the map can be found on January 14, 1893, when John L. Stevens, minister to Hawaii, conspired with others to overthrow the Queen of Hawaii in favor of “American Interests”. American sugar growers appear to have been the benefactor. It was the first documented case of an American government official engaging in an overthrow. The United States Marines were used to overthrow Queen Liliʻuokalani because she had enacted a Constitution that curtailed the power of non-natives. Oh, I’ve dealt with this before. On a different ground, but it’s part of the same problem. Americans going around, bossing others, picking sides then getting nailed by the other side, then siding with them then having the picked-over-kid punch back. Sigh. If you really want a detailed account how the United States has been overthrowing foreign powers since that fateful meeting of Minister Stevens, see Steven Kinzer’s, Overthrow. Title isn’t hard to remember.

So while the United States goes around thumping it’s chest in the name of human rights, all the while being more concerned about American Interests, what is it about Syria that has Secretary John Kerry all hard and bothered? Considering U.S. history of interventionism, what does Syria have? I mean, this can’t really be about the use of chemical weapons, can it? I don’t wanna say chemical weapons are the same as a good punch in the throat but essentially, the U.S. didn’t bother involving itself when Syrians were killing other Syrians (and travellers who came across the border to help) with conventional weapons. Death by baseball bat and firearms is greeted with simple furrowed brows from Washington. In other words, we have a military build up going over there not because people are being killed, but because chemicals were used. Kerry isn’t pissed a hammer was used to crush a skull, he’s pissed someone did it with a sledgehammer.

It can’t be about U.S. worry that this civil war will spill into neighboring countries. It can’t be about Hezbollah possibly gaining the upper hand and having more influence to assault Israel. It can’t really be about oil again, can it?

And do we really want to get into a religious war? After World War II, the Allies divided up the Middle East, creating artificial borders among several different sects and beliefs. It’s been more of a Middle East Culture than a Crisis to see them go at each other ever since. By taking one side over another, we’re insulting one side’s God. Ugh. September 11 redux on the horizon.

I wish I had the answer. I simply don’t know why we’re over there. Especially when…

I’m just about finished with Detroit – An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff. If you want to see where every major American city is headed, give this a look. I take this book personally as I live in a suburb of Detroit and work in Detroit itself. I’ve worked east, west and down town Detroit. And I’ve moved in and around the two cities within, Hamtramck and Highland Park. I work at a street level position where I travel the neighborhoods, meet with those who live in this dying D-Town. Detroit is the sideways mask with leaking holes in our own country. I look out my office window and it might as well be down town Beirut circa 1986. While Secretary John Kerry is handing money to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, we’re seeing nature reclaim once beautiful houses. Everyone who drives through for the first time has the same reaction: “Beautiful architecture…or, was beautiful architecture.”

2008 brought on a financial crisis close enough to the crash of 1929 that we all thought it was the 1930s again. Big banks were bailed out of their debt but home owners were left with theirs. The price of gas went up, and SUVs started getting torched by owners who could no longer afford them. Jobs were lost, some never to return. And Detroit just kind of stood there and said, “Welcome to the party”. With a city who has an ex-mayor in jail, on his way to prison, a few circuit court judges under investigation and a once circuit court, then supreme court judge, in prison, Detroit’s a tough town.

I still love my dying town. Why? Because it hurts to fall from the Penthouse but not from the gutter. Detroit has a chance to rebuild itself. It was made for two-million people and now houses under seven-hundred-thousand. Services are being stripped and neglected. Some days, the garbage isn’t picked up. Street lights have been off for years. The police have ten-year-old vehicles. Detroit could come back, not as it was, but as a new entity. But it can’t if all the money is being siphoned out by crony politicians (Kwami Kilpatrick and gang) and tax dollars sent to Washington. And then Washington turning around and nation building here and there and everywhere.

Why save oil interests in the Middle East when the city that pumps out the cars isn’t pumping out cars anymore? Or home owners have no homes to heat? There’s a trend in Detroit of urban gardening. I’m seeing more plots of land being taken up for this, more abandoned properties being used for good. Maybe it will expand. I’ve even seen groups of young people, black and white, banding together moving into Detroit from the suburbs, buying up whole city blocks for practically pennies, and building their own communities. And since there’s a lack of police resources, these little communities have been policing themselves, creating their own boards and rules. Little paradises or something. Maybe Detroit will be the first Libertarian, self-run oasis. Phoenix style. I’m kind of excited to stick around and be part of it. “It’s only after you’ve lost everything, you can do anything,” said a favorite character of mine.

I can’t predict the future but maybe decades from now, Detroit will be the model for other large cities on the verge of decay. But whatever happens, America must secure America first. It must adjust its own mask. Stop moving money out of local areas and into Washington where it can send warships whenever it feels like it, on the flimsiest of evidence. And for Christ’s sake, Washington, don’t insult my intelligence and say things like, “Trust Us” when you claim to have evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Saying something over and over again doesn’t make it true. You’re not a five-year-old. And neither am I.

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