Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Supreme "Bait and Switch" From the Roberts Court

Supreme "Bait and Switch" Part One
 Prop 8 and DOMA

MeanMesa had a chance to see part of the Albuquerque Gay Pride Parade.  The atmosphere was jubilant.  The crowd was celebrating the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage.

Albuquerque Gay Pride 2013 (image: Mitch Tillison)
 However, there may have been either a subtle misinterpretation of the decision or, in MeanMesa's estimate at least, an overly optimistic presumption about the behavior of the stubbornly bigoted block of US states suffering the misfortune of being controlled by biblically zealous, "hybrid Republicans" jealously guarding political policies from the last century -- or, perhaps, the Third Century.

[All this contemporary "gay hating" clap trap had its origin well into the Dark Ages, not anywhere within the tenuous account of affairs in biblical times.]

Had the celebration been in California, that jubilation would have made much more sense.  In that particular State the Supreme Court ruling actually resulted -- almost immediately -- in gay couples being able to get legal marriage licenses.  The uglier but also quite "real" side of that decision actually had almost the opposite consequences in far too many other places.

This won't be the case in the backward states, however.  For them the Supreme ruling  just about completely legitimized a perpetual -- federally endorsed -- state of discrimination.  All those states have to do to receive their "full pass" from the Roberts Court is to repeatedly crank up their election machines any time a bill to do otherwise might survive long enough to actually land on a ballot.

Most Americans live under GOP control in their state government. (image source)

While the map [above] shows the dismal story which began with the 2010 mid-term election, for gays it paints and even darker future given the "bait and switch" ruling from the Supremes. We may assume that the states in magenta will never pass a gay marriage non-discrimination bill.  The recent Supreme Court decision made that not only possible, but supremely legal.

Once again, the Roberts Court ruling clearly says that perpetual discrimination in those states "perfectly okay with us."

The fascist bloc on the Court didn't simply step into an unnoticed "cow flower" while they were cooking up this deceptive ruling.  Any "thoughtful, judicial construction" this exquisitely complex and deceptive took plenty of conscious effort.  That effort was designed to produce precisely what this ruling will produce -- an agonizing opportunity for the nation's Leviticans to continue to drool, illiterate and comatose, just a little longer in their stifling Bronze Age, biblical bigotry.

Supreme "Bait and Switch" Part Two
ObamaCare is "Legal" If It's Paid For With Tax Money

Whoever owns the fascist majority on the Supreme Court obviously ordered their dutiful, Supreme, "judicial servants" to insert just the tiniest, most subtle "poison pill" in the decision to allow tax paying Americans to almost purchase the kind of health care they actually wanted.  Like the national response to the "bait and switch" considered in Part One [above], there was jubilation among the millions of citizens who had been "poorly used" by the rapacious insurance corporations and, in tragic irony, their "death panels" of bureaucrats.

If the overly genteel term, "poorly used," threw you off, just substitute "gang raped" for more clarity.

The "pivot point" in the Supreme analysis of the Affordable Care Act was the barely noticed provision that it was "judged" Constitutional based exclusively on the proposition that its revenue provisions had been instantly -- and, of course, "Supremely" --  retitled as a "tax."

All that seemed palatable enough as a tiny carbuncle amid the pages of a surprisingly conciliatory "Supreme" decision.  However, once the dust settled,  more and more "far less palatable" realities emerged in the daily talking points of a corporate media already suffering from heartbreaking "credibility scabs."

The "behind the scenes" directors of the anti-ObamaCare media onslaught which began the evening of the first day of "debate" in the Senate have spent an average of $1 Mn per week since then, year in and year out, to lethally sabotage the bill.

The reason for such a sanguine, obsessive interest?

The health insurance corporations have embedded themselves into the blood veins of the $6 Tn dollar per year "money flow" which is the annual price for medical care in the United States.  Feeding like a giant, Congressionally protected, interstate tapeworm, even the tiniest continuing swallows of such a monumental flow of cash can create corporate wealth beyond measure.

For these criminal beneficiaries it is, clearly, worth any effort to protect their parasitic "food supply."  For even the most feeble "Googler" the un-recused, brazenly public, outrageous conflicts of interest are no secret at all.

They are not even subtle.  There is no denial or shabby obfuscation.  For example, the tea bag wife of "Justice" Clarence Thomas is the head of the extremely skanky lobbying firm, Liberty Consultants, pole dancing in Washington D.C. in a manner which would make paid prostitutes blush. (Read more.)

When the Affordable Care Act not only survived all the attacks against it, but began to garner a growing appreciation among the voters, the  execution of the Supreme Court's desperate, doomsday, last ditch, "Hail Mary" tactic was inevitable.  There was, it turns out, no hideous creature in any horror movie more terrifying to the Republicans and their oligarch masters than a wildly popular alternative to their old "pain for pay" health insurance system.


The same billionaires who feed through the corrupt health insurance corporations and obviously own the fascist, corporate faction of the Supreme Court also happen to own vast clutches of sold out, tea bag, GOP House members -- you know, the illicit "minority-majority" in the same House of Representatives which establishes taxation policy for the country.  The health insurance billionaires keep all these GOP House hill billies in a constant servile frenzy with the threat of painlessly funding well financed primaries against them in their gerrymandered home districts.

Still, there had to be a token prize somewhere to "sweeten the cake" for all the Southerners now convinced, thanks to the oligarchs' massive media investments, that Satan himself had authored the health care reform.  While there would penalties to pay for states "opting out," the "escape clause" was still surgically inserted into the decision.

Just as the DOMA/Prop 8 ruling made perpetual discrimination against gays legal for the states which wanted it, the Affordable Care Act ruling made it just as legal to not participate in the Act's implementation which might ever provide access to care for anyone without a lobbyist.

Connecting the Dots

The only real problem with this complicated scheme for a "final solution" for the Affordable Care Act arose from the unavoidable visibility of the Congressional butchery. which would be required  Finally, in a rare cogent instant, even the billionaires remembered that there are still the problematic remnants of actual elections.

We see that both the gay marriage decision and the Affordable Care Act ruling slipped a tantalizing dollop of "red meat" to the crackers still understandably worshipping the "benefits" of lots of Supreme "states rights."  These folks were hanging onto the joys of their old, not so sweet, Jim Crow days with the same white knuckles that Ted Nugent was using to grip his $10,000 dollar shot gun.

At first this seemed to be an anomaly.  Why were the billionaires so interested in fanning the flames of the mortally gerrymandered, bright red, "Romney states?"

One clue is that these "Romney states" were generally morbid examples of massive over dependence on federal spending, suffering from horrible Republican economies, filled with hopeless, desperate citizens and led by embarrassingly "flap jawed" tea bag politicians with only one foot in their mouth only because they couldn't find their other one.

However, that "anomaly" reveals the inescapable desperation the owners of the Republican Party feel when they look at a map showing their sequence of defeats in election after election.  The entire existence of the "Grand Old Party"  thing is now hanging by a few quite frayed racist thread dangling forlornly under their now tiresome penchant for redistricting, disenfranchisement and their other rather greasy, ongoing, state level election crimes.

So, we have to add one final, Supreme dot before we begin connecting the ones we've already mentioned:  crushing the Voter Rights Act.

Recall that the House and Senate have re-authorized the Voters Right Act every time it came up to be reaffirmed.  Also remember that those votes were bipartisan, and that the bills were all passed with a strong majority.

Ask yourself.  You are stranded with the dwindling number of disgruntled, racist hill billies listening to the relentless, constantly incendiary corporate media on one side.  At your other side are clutches of "not very happy" billionaires such as  the Koch brothers, Simpson and Addelson.

Those hill billies continue to swill their beer and obediently belch out the media talking points, but they have become demoralized.  It had been repeatedly promised to them that if they would just "suffer through" a tiny bit more of the steaming wreckage of an economy that the "millions" of their new personal wealth would be found "just around the next corner."  We know now that this cynical deception was intended only to use them as a "breaking news" fodder to distract the rest of us until the looting rampage was complete.

It's nearly complete.

The billionaires, on the other hand, are feeling strangely plundered after dropping their "Romney billions" with FOX inebriated shysters like Karl Rove.  The "conservative masses" of zombie like voters who were supposed to rush forward once their heavily "over lubricated" right wing nut "leadership" was revealed were substantially less than what had been promised by the Super PAC glad handers to whom they so eagerly gave all those checks.

So, what's left for the angry old country club vultures who were dreaming that they would be pecking away the last morsels from the corpse of the American economy by now?

"Save the Queen!!" (image source)
It is, ironically, the precisely tattered tea bag/GOP desperately shouting "Save the Queen!  "Save the Queen!"

The "queen" to which these histrionic, 1960's style political gangsters are referring is their last bastion of possible hope to ever win another election before the ground completely evaporates beneath their feet -- the GOP's "election crimes" department.

The craven gerrymandering found so politically addictive by the oligarchs' "rural country side" servants, that is, by the red state governments with such a penchant for every kind of ballot mischief, represents the only remaining, functioning political mechanism for a Party with such a horrendous record, hideous candidates and terrifying policy.

The GOP needs states rights more than air and water right now.

The only way the GOP can sustain the heavily soiled, yet proverbially unreliable and frustratingly fickle, "loyalty" of the bigots in its base lies with the protection of the gerrymandered districts.  To accomplish this,  crackers from Alabama to Wisconsin must be paid off with a free pass to continue their anti-democracy, "GOP saving" rampage on fair elections.

The Voting Rights Act was, shall we say, "getting in the way."  The old Jim Crow gerrymandering worked, at first, amid a vocal bus load of outraged FOXites, but as the years passed, one after another, each one accompanied by another hopeless paralytic economic doldrum in the red states, the shine began to tarnish.  The Congressional districts are still gerrymandered, but the captive voters are now yawning instead of cheering.

The Supreme scheme was simple enough.

Hand the gays something to shut them up, but hand the old states rights crackers as "sweet little something," too.  Promise them that they can legally discriminate to their heart's content forever --  keeping North Carolina and Alabama locked in a museum-like conservancy reminiscent of the day before General Sherman reached Savannah.

Give millions of Americans the fleeting possibility of actual health care, but then turn it over to a tea bag Congress -- the one that has passed 40 bills destroying that same health care bill -- to "drown it in a bath tub" with a rat pack of corporate media cheer leaders "giving it their all" to keep the water muddy during the slaughter.

In the ensuing chaos stridently pronounce racism a "thing of the past."  Obliterate the Voting Rights Act and allow the same drooling Southerners to be elected and re-elected for another century.

See?  That's "states' rights," and the states with those new "states' rights" aren't any more racist than Antonin Scalia -- he told us this.

If you're wondering what can be done, this might cheer you up a bit.

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Plan for Post-Assad Syria

Investigating Our Ideas of the Likely and the Possible

Imagine that you are standing by the water cooler with someone from your work place.  Making casual conversation to extend the break from the job, he asks you "How do you think the conflict in Syria will turn out in a year or two?"

The content of conversations like this one are important in a representative democracy -- that content still remains important even in the shambles of one. Further, as a functioning member of an "informed electorate" such as the one our nation's founders mentioned, you should probably have a few ideas as to an answer for his question.  Given the very material approach of this unfolding series of events, how could it reasonable for a citizen not to hold ideas, plans, hopes and cautions?

In fact, could such a lack of interest and participation be considered responsible at all?  Patriotic -- at all?

The President's decision is a heavy one.  It reaches to the heart of our citizens.  During its execution our fellow citizens who serve in our military will be posted to risk.  Our nation's tarnished reputation will emerge either rehabilitated or even more deeply questioned.  Finally, money from our future taxes will pay for it -- with an outcome either good or bad.

Please consider this hypothetical conversation very seriously for a moment.

Almost immediately you realize that you may have no real expectation that the outcome in Syria will be much more constructive or decisive than the other military outcomes in recent history. Perhaps a majority of Americans, having a similar, less than promising expectation, would agree with your view. We have become pessimistic experts at expecting muddled, indeterminate, brutally clumsy, overly costly wars with years of mismanagement which finally deliver us to a dull, moribund "peace by exhaustion and attrition."  

It is the purpose of this post to see if there can be an alternative to that dismal pattern.

Post Assad Syria

At the moment it looks very likely that the civil war torn country will be entering the next phase of the misery -- war by proxy.  For the United States this will be an echo of the decades long disaster in Vietnam.  For the Russian Federation, it may well begin to look sickeningly familiar to Afghanistan.  If these two industrialized military powers slide mindlessly into this choice, it will be evidence of a monumental lack of imagination -- for both of them.

Let's replace the phrase "war by proxy" with "peace by proxy."

Just how can this be possible?  What exactly could the United States do to create such a change?

Naturally, the "heavy lifting" would fall to our President and his State Department.  Right away, though, remember that he is most effective when he can act in unison with other nations and the UN.  One need look no further than the liberation of Libya.

As surprising as it may seem, the first step in MeanMesa's plan involves the full, robust execution of the President's decision to arm the opposition.  So long as there remains even a remote possibility of dictator Assad retaining power and continuing his genocidal subjugation of Syria, no party will feel compelled to depart from the current course.  The opposition forces must threaten not only the dictator's grip on power, but probably also his physical safety before the international players will start to listen.

With the right arms supplied to the Syrian opposition forces this military outcome will become essentially inevitable, but there will be plenty of serious work to be done during the time it is developing.

In its current fractured state, Syria is incapable of peace.  If the dictator fell tomorrow, a highly inflamed, violent sectarian civil war would ensue immediately.  The "outside players" would not only be pumping incendiary propaganda into the region, they would also be supplying men and weapons in hopes of finishing the fray -- if it ever actually ended -- on top.  We are speaking of the Iranians and the Hezbollah here.

This prospect for civil war is not entirely the coincidental result of Syria's sectarian fragmentation.  It has also served as a justifying probability for the dictator's continually harsher suppression.  In some ways, Assad has been the great benefactor of the cultural and religious animosity between various sections of the Syrian population.  By constantly referring to the threat of social mayhem as the only alternative to his brutal practices, Assad has maintained some fleeting credibility with Syrians who "just want the violence to stop."

When the successful outcome of the opposition's efforts becomes more likely, it will be the moment for the President to present his "Grand Bargain" to all the countries now maneuvering themselves into position for "proxy war."  Having said this, let's break for a visit to the old British Empire and an interesting conversation from the Vietnam War era.

Colonialism's "Bad Rap"

With respect to the "bad rap," the English colonial Empire is a good choice as an example.  The imperial psychology driving the world wide efforts to create that Empire, while quite exploitative, were at the time, tenuously validated by the consideration of "how things would have been otherwise."  However, problems arose from the "compensation" the Empire felt entitled to after its military adventures had succeeded.  The 1800's were a time when "extraction" was still fairly acceptable so long as "you were the extractor."

British Imperial -- colonial -- rule brought, well, "tranquility" to places such as India, that is, at least the British Imperial version of "tranquility." The combatant parties within the country at the time found themselves facing an overwhelming colonial military force; a force with the primary mission of protecting British colonial interests, but also, almost as an aside, maintaining the peace.

Consolidated into a nation under British colonial rule and experiencing the benefits of decades of a more or less peaceful existence, India became a nation capable of self-government.  That is the point.  There were very many outrageously infuriating aspects to colonial rule, but there were also a few very constructive sides, too.

The prospect for the united country we see today would have vaporized if the British had simply left a century earlier than they did.

The question that President Obama's "Grand Bargain" must answer is daunting.  "Can the benefits of colonial rule be offered without the down side aspects of historical colonialism?"

Now for the conversation MeanMesa promised earlier.

During the domestic mayhem of the Vietnam War's early years, a British friend's mother was visiting him in Alaska.  On one occasion MeanMesa enjoyed a very casual, very pleasant, afternoon cup of tea with this thoughtful woman.  Naturally, the conversation touched on the already tragic US war raging in Southeast Asia.

At this time, the government of "South Vietnam" was suffering a rapid series of corrupt autocrats who were violently replacing each other on a fairly regular basis.  For Americans it had become clear that the country could never be won militarily by propping up one abusive government after another.  This series of governments was populated by characters such as the beautiful and captivating  "Madam Nhu," the "Brothers Diem" and others.

This woman's comments on the topic have remained in MeanMesa's memory since then.  She said, "American are paying a horrible price for their almost blind rejection of the possible positive benefits of colonialism.  Vietnam is a good example.  The US is intent on crushing all opposition so that interest parties within Vietnam can transform themselves, literally over night, into a representative democracy."

She continued.  "The Vietnamese people can't do this.  This is not a criticism of the Vietnamese people, but there is not nearly enough understanding among that population to make this work.  Worse, there is also not nearly enough experience with democracy among that population to make them interested in even trying this.  Even if the military strategy is successful, what will be left is simply not ready -- and cannot get ready quickly enough -- to transform itself in the democratic country the US is dreaming of creating."

"No matter how unpopular it might be in both Vietnam and the United States, the Americans should have formulated a plan to pacify Vietnam under essentially colonial authority, maintain law and order long enough for its society to know and enjoy peace, allow its economy to return and guarantee that it will not fall into the grip of another unqualified, autocratic strongman before trying to establish something like democracy there." 

Now, we're ready to consider President Obama's "Grand Bargain."

Peace by Proxy

There is no way to convince MeanMesa that the United States government, currently broke and in collapse under the onslaught of domestic oligarchs, could rise to the task of managing colonial authority over Syria.  Equally, there is little prospect of the oligarchs in the Russian Federation doing very much which could be considered to be consistent with "high borne" ideals, either.  Both of our respective records are far too heavily soiled -- the US by the atrocities of the Bush W. autocracy and the Russians by Chechnya and a few other horrors.

While the Chinese might be slightly more promising -- they have been modestly constructive socially with some of their African clients -- it would probably be a mistake to assume that they would "change their state-oligarchy stripes" much.  The Iranians are basically insane with rage as are their sponsored Hezbollah death squads from Lebanon.

Further, all these parties are officially "on record" of not trusting each other any farther than two Mafia bosses the night before the start of a city wide gang war.

Is this the best we can do? (image source)

Okay.  Let's change that.

The President could "cordially invite" everyone with a "dog in the fight" in Syria to join a Joint Syria Colonization Authority under the auspices of the Security Council.  The price of admission would be cash and cooperation.  The JSCA could guarantee an end to the fighting -- between everyone and everyone else -- with a joint military presence.

Different participating nations could each sign off on the responsibilities of a specific Syrian district -- hopefully districts which each included representative populations of the warring factions.  Syrians would have some gun fire free breathing time to learn to live together peacefully.

If one tribe of the fractured opposition decided to extract revenge on the Alawites or vice versa, authority military police would be authorized to stop it.  JSCA money could go a long way in the rebuilding of the smouldering wreckage, and perhaps the various members could constructively compete with each other in a wide variety of projects.  Syria needed a lot of work even before the carnage began.

Replacing the inevitable "no holds barred" gun fight we're looking at right now, perhaps even the Syrian people might favor this program to its bloody, inevitable alternative.

The world will be watching.

The JSCA would function under well publicised and transparent regulations -- regulations which would include to the greatest extent possible sensitivity to the prevailing religious and cultural realities of Syrian society.  The program would have a five to seven year "sunset clause" already openly established at its outset.

During the time of the multi-national colonial authority the Syrian political process would be instituted and supported from the very start.   Elections to create a representational Syrian Parliament would commence with campaigns, party formation, policy formalization and candidates.  Once elected, this Parliament would have a gradually increasing voice in the JSCA council.

By the second year of the colonial authority, the fractious Parliament would almost certainly be in a deadlock similar to what was encountered in Iraq, but the open street violence and terrorism would be quelled by the colonial authority's military police.  Rather than the rapacious looting and violence of the raw, suddenly born Parliament of Iraq, Syrians would have time to decide that the idea had potential, they might grow to have an appetite for this and they might begin to expect it to actually work.

Social institutions would also have time to form in a contentious but, more or less, peaceful environment.  In the Iraq example corruption flourished immediately at an incredibly faster rate than justice, services, trust or efficiency.  In Syria, under colonial judicial rule, this inevitable wave of corruption could be largely suppressed.  Societies which have experienced a low level of government corruption have a tendency to place a high value on continuing the policy.

Special concentration on the formation of a palatable, functioning Syrian judicial system would be a priority in the structure of the JSCA.  Under the Assad dictatorship the majority of Syrian people had no expectation of justice and had no confidence in the judicial system.  This skepticism will not subside quickly, but it must ultimately be replaced with a general acceptance of the "rule by law" alternative.

These are a few of the areas requiring a very thoughtful yet pragmatic approach as the skeleton of the JSCA is formulated.  Of course, there are many more.  Of course, unanticipated difficulties will arise.  Of course, this is a bold, daring and, perhaps, dangerous departure from the examples of the past.

We -- and the rest of the world -- have either learned something from Afghanistan and Iraq, from Chechnya, from Vietnam, from the PLA, from Latin America, from, well, from all of the failed attempts littering history, or we haven't. It's time for the "civilized" world to step up to the plate, to try this one more time.  We can do this.

Inviting the World to the "Party"

How could such a colonial coalition possibly be formed?  What incentives might possibly entice the cooperation of so many nations with such staunch records of bad behavior and not cooperating in the past?

The answers to these questions may, indeed, be quite daunting, but those answers are not impossible.  At every juncture the world's most expert opportunists will be waiting to sabotage the project as they inevitably maneuver to exploit its promise for personal wealth or power.  Likewise, every schism of existing distrust and enmity will appear as if from a vapor at every juncture.

It's not JUST the Russians. (image source)

Concessions must be negotiated.  Successful negotiations will almost certainly include a continuing Russian naval presence at Tartus.  The Iranians and the Hezbollah must be excluded -- as well as Israel.  Al Qaeda in Syria must continue to be considered as criminal for US and European participation.  The immense refugee population must be accommodated in a new manner quite novel compared to the festering, decades old hate factories of the Palestinians.

The JSCA will have to find a convincing "middle ground" between the Shi'a and the Sunni which allows regional Arab participation from both sides of the "great division" -- difficult, but not impossible. 

This monumental proposition holds every possible, threatening fiber of failure and disaster, but all of these negatives are not a reason not to try it.  In fact, these are precisely the reasons why the world should try it.

Sure, the GOP's Congressional war mongers will be screaming for "US leadership" all along the way, but we now know better than to listen.  Their codependent side will supply the predictably violent, dependably maudlin, faux passion, but their aim, as usual, will be to dominate Syria's future potential for power and profit -- at this point a well established recipe for another Iraq-Afghanistan disaster.

We in the US and elsewhere in the world have been in a decades long suffocating void of statesmanship.  We have lost the great courage and optimism which is inherent in our species.  We have ceased solving problems.

Our national stoic acceptance of this mediocrity may actually be at an end if we can still muster enough optimism to refuse to settle for more foreign policy oatmeal this time.

Solving problems is the essence of our humanity.  The plan was that we would get better and better at it -- not quit trying.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Syria, Obama and the US Congress: Managing the Domestic Side of Intervention

Congress and Syria: Should We Expect Help or Hindrance?

5 Star Gen. Ike Eisenhower (image)
We've all repeatedly heard Eisenhower's chilling 1960 admonition about the dangers of what he termed the "military industrial complex." [Read his entire speech here.]  This conveniently unsettling phrase is still muttered relentlessly in conversations between US citizens at coffee bars and drinking fountains.

It should be.

Now, in 2013, we can easily see that we, as citizens, have done very poorly with the responsibility of taking Ike's words to heart.  This warning was not the issue of a incompetent war maker or an isolationist.  These were the words of a 5 Star General of the Armies as he was bidding farewell after two terms as President.

Eisenhower's idea about the dangers of the "military industrial complex" are, once again, front and center as we consider what lies before our current President after his decision to "intervene" in the Syrian civil war.  This time around we find our democracy crippled by an unruly maelstrom of "military industrial" corruption lurking just below the murky surface of an even worse looking, hopelessly sold out Congress, all cast and scripted for the uninterested.

We have to begin any discussion of the domestic side of US intervention in Syria by facing this fact.  The illiterate chaos on Capitol Hill will present just as much -- or more -- of an obstacle for so much as even a glimmer of hope from even the most rational policy as the most determined enemy on the ground could ever hope to accomplish.

Syria was reported to have been a topic of discussion at the recent G8 conference of developed nations.  It's no coincidence that the "visible" surface of the talks led to no movement with the central impasse.  The primary participants in the G8 were the surprisingly war-ready Europeans, President Obama, the Russian Federation's Vladimir Putin and the Peoples' Republic's President Xi Jinping.

While these would have been the faces one might have seen if visiting those talks in Northern Ireland, there is a quite rational -- that is, not particularly wildly cynical -- darker side.  When we strip away the glamor of so many national leaders, we see quite another world of power and influence surfacing almost immediately, an alien world where values are stridently removed from what would have seemed to be in play.

Oligarchs Everywhere

Any serious effort to "decode" Syria must necessarily start here.  A cold look at those present at the G8 reveals, for the frankly honest among us, three powerful oligarchies, each with oligarchic interest in what might unfold in Syria.  The differences between these three megaliths hold the key to understanding Syria.

The Russian Federation is an oligarchy more similar, perhaps, to an Elliot Ness movie about the gangster days of Al Capone and the deep city Mafia crime families.  Russian oligarchs, unlike their American counterparts, are not so deeply invested in the military industrial complex, preferring the profits extracted from control of large businesses such as oil, gas, mining and, to some extent, corporate agriculture.  This is understandable.  These are the areas of great wealth in the Russian Federation.

The "crime family-like" influence of the Russian oligarchs reaches directly into the Kremlin -- and into the pants pockets in the Douma, as well.   Unlike the "no limit" access the American oligarchs have into the Congress and Senate, the Russian Federation occasionally demonstrates a violent jealousy when disciplining Russian oligarchs who "over step" -- that is, violate the lines of their acceptable distance from the decision making.

Perhaps the foremost Russian Federation interest in Syria is the naval base at Tartus, but there is quite a lot more.  Don't be mistaken.  The oligarchs directing the Russian Federation make money selling arms, too -- just not nearly as rapaciously as their corresponding American oligarchs.  The Russians spend a pittance on military procurement compared to the bulging, embarrassingly wasteful, over fed Pentagon, but in terms of expressing power and influence with that much smaller military, they do quite well.  This is largely attributable to the formidable geopolitical expertise of their "man in charge," Vladimir Putin.

The Chinese Peoples' Republic is an oligarchy where the Communist Party's State Council is the automatic "silent partner."  Deeply connected to the government, the Chinese oligarchs -- compared to the other two varieties -- are controllable by the Communist government.  While this doesn't mean that they are any less ruthless than their super power counterparts, it does mean that they are potentially controllable -- at least, potentially controllable by someone.

The China oligarchy's interest is primarily export manufacturing, but, rest assured, it enjoys startling advantages from its state connection.  It also pays dearly for the sympathetic attention of its sponsor.  For example, we saw just a glimpse of this with GOP billionaire Sheldon Addelson and his plutocratic habit of bribing Chinese government officials to grease the wheels for his next giant casino there.  It was worth $100 Mn to Sheldon to deliver Mittens to the Oval Office where his "Chinese crime problem" could be vaporized by a sympathetic President.

The US oligarchy is parasitic on a number of "avenues of cash flow" inside the American economy -- but primary among these is its noteworthy attachment to the "military industrial complex."  The amount of money flowing through annual Pentagon procurement channels is immense, and it naturally attracts the attention of the US oligarchs.  Because Pentagon procurement is, hypothetically, at least, controlled by the Congress, it is only natural that the Congress should be controlled by the oligarchs -- and, of course, it is.

Highest priority to un-elect Obama?  What about policy? (image)

The consequence of this oligarchic attraction to the Pentagon's massive spending is also sickeningly clear.  Making war means making money.  If a few million injected into the political campaign of an influential Congressman or Senator can deliver another war, that "seed money" will turn into a "return on investment" worth a hundred or a thousand times more.

So, while the President is working to implement any sort of rational foreign policy on Syria, the flood gates of corporate oligarch money will be thrown "wide open"  in another feeding frenzy -- a grisly layer cake made of blood and bullets and iced with another round of feckless, incendiary media fraud.

Count on it.

For the visitor who anticipated some MeanMesa discussion about domestic politics -- that is, perhaps some speculation about what this or that Senator might say or do and so on -- all this ranting and raving about oligarchs may seem somehow less that relevant.  It is highly relevant.  The faster the rapidly vaporizing ideal that representative governments -- here, in Europe, in China or in Russia -- represent any interests besides the interests of local oligarchs can be smashed, the sooner the world's response to the Syrian crisis will become comprehensible.

Watching Obama

More than other Presidents who have become Commander in Chief without direct experience in the military, Barack Obama has already demonstrated a remarkable, albeit civilian, pragmatism and effectivity in the "projecting force side" of foreign policy.  A comparison with the previous Commander in Chief reveals some of the reasons for this.

1. The current President probably gathered more insight into such matters during his time in the South Side of Chicago than George W. Bush did during his "career" as a failed, overly protected Air Force officer.

2.  President Obama has avoided the catastrophic mixing of political advisors with military advisors which effectively castrated the prospect of any rational military policy leadership in Afghanistan and Iraq in favor of brazenly exploitive defense support contracts, a plummeting national image around the world and outrageous damage from his Dark Ages biblical penchant for torture and other horrors.

3. The current Administration has, deservedly, regained the political endorsement of a demoralized military with policies aimed at re-establishing the vital trust factor between personnel and their government. 

4. Perhaps most importantly of all, military campaigns conducted under this Administration have worked.  There is nothing more discouraging to those Americans serving in our military than a string of poorly designed, costly military adventures with outcomes reeking of utter mediocrity.

Whatever course the President may select for our involvement in Syria, we can expect that it will produce outcomes which are befitting our nation and our fellow citizens in the military.  It takes a while to shake off the disasters of the last decade, but we have made a good start, and we have a President who is determined to not add any disasters to his legacy -- or ours.

Fortunately, at this time the Congress remains unable to sabotage foreign policy decisions with its penchant for political advantage.  There will be the predictable bellowing and pessimism, but the actions of the Administration will reflect the traditional, direct connection between the Commander in Chief and those he commands instead of the drawling political "theatre of the absurd" we see in other domestic matters.

The rest of the world remembers. (image DNC)
This may sound like typical MeanMesa ranting and raving, but the rest of the world -- especially the Middle East -- remembers the George W. Bush years even if we don't.  All that hatred and terror are an inextricable element limiting and complicating the possibilities of what can be accomplished in Syria.

The final post in this MeanMesa series on the Syria conflict will describe a possible "end game" for our involvement.  Is there a way in which we can actually applaud our efforts and the outcome?