Unlocked from our Patreon (paused this summer): Bill and Rachel discuss the present-day influences of the momentous 1920 US Census, which grappled with trends in urbanization and the recent breakup of several major home countries of immigrants.
Full episode on Patreon: Bill and Rachel discuss the present-day influences of the momentous 1920 US Census, which grappled with trends in urbanization and the recent breakup of several major home countries of immigrants.
Description: Interventions, Interference, and Invasions: Nate and Bill lead a world tour of the post-WWII history of countries entering other countries’ civil wars and uprisings, for good or ill, and what it means for the future. (We talk about Cuba, Angola, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Indonesia, Guatemala, Libya, Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia, and many others.) People: Bill, Nate. Originally produced: October 20th, 2014. Re-edited and abridged: April 19, 2017.
– Kissinger’s plan to bomb Cuba and what the future of the embargo is
– CIA history: Why arming rebels has often failed and what it means for US plans in Syria now
– What does the future hold for international and unilateral military interventions in armed conflicts and crises? Is the UN still relevant?
It’s reckless and irresponsible for the United States to launch missiles at a Russian air base in Syria, as we did today on President Trump’s orders. That’s really an understatement, too. And it’s ridiculous that former Secretary of State Clinton endorsed this plan publicly earlier today.
There are three realities, beyond the risks of attacking Russia, that have to be acknowledged regardless of the use of chemical weapons:
1) The US does not have the capacity to lead a successful regime change in Syria and it’s wildly foolish to “Just Do Something” with zero plan and zero capacity to execute it beyond the opening shot.
2) Chemical weapons are repugnant, but it is not a “proportional response” to risk a war on this scale, particularly considering that far more people have been killed already (and will be killed by escalation) by conventional arms, which are also horrible. Dead is dead, as Stephen Walt said.
3) This war would have been over years ago (with far fewer deaths or calamities and without the use of chemical weapons) if the United States (and allies) had not supplied dangerous and deadly major conventional weapons systems and light arms to extremist insurgents, many if not most of whom are not Syrian, thereby keeping the war going but with no one able to prevail definitively.
Getting involved further in the Syrian war than we already are, instead of pulling back and cutting off aid to the insurgents, can only increase the catastrophe.
Washington only compounds its culpability while simultaneously reducing the chances of finding a tolerable way out of the jam if it remains addicted to fanciful thinking.
And yet it remains wedded to a set of totally unrealistic propositions. This results in the creation of a make-believe world that bears no relation to reality.
Here are some of the biggest fictions that must be abandoned:
Jihadist Syrian frontrunners al-Nusra/al-Qaeda can be transmogrified into mere expressions of genuine Sunni grievances.
Nusra jihadists can be converted into the instrument for militarily crushing ISIS just because there is nobody else willing or able to a job America won’t take on.
Saudi Arabia and the Gulfies will give priority to defeating the various Salafist groups rather than to the removal the Alawite regime in Damascus.
ISIS’s financial lifeline can be cut without destroying the infrastructure of its oil trade and without getting Turkey to cease and desist its complicity in sustaining the oil trade.
The Russians can be “isolated” and denied a major role in determining Syria’s future by calling Putin dirty names and reciting the number of worthless partners in Obama’s ersatz coalition.
Phantom Syrian rebel armies devoted to tolerance and democracy – that don’t exist except in the escapist visions of Washington’s strategic non-thinkers – can be relied upon to win battlefield victories.
Establishing a no-fly buffer zone in northern Syria would do something other than satisfy Erdogan’s ambition to keep open his supply line to al-Nusra and his lucrative commercial dealings with ISIS.
Such a no-fly buffer zone would not contradict our purposes in Syria and would be tolerated by Russia.
It is within the power of the United States to shape the Middle East to its own specifications while contesting a legitimate place for Iran, Russia, Yemenese Houthis and anyone else who doesn’t hew the Saudi-Israeli-Erdogan line Washington has endorsed.