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.
|Lt. Gen. Casey|
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 Médecins 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.
'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.'
Ha ha ha, what a joke!
This is the style of your writing that I like so much. Thank you!
But, I also think that things are going to get a lot more silly.
How much longer can this go on, can the mainstream media spin the US out of the ludicrous position it is in? I have a horrible feeling the US government are going to start an even bigger war out of embarrassment. Surely even the dumbest US ally realises it's time to smile and back away from the nutters.
Obama states, after the latest mass domestic shooting, that Americans have become numb to these events. Maybe that's because our government has itself been committing mass murder of civilians year after year. Numb to the violence, numb to the lies, numb to the farcical silliness.
In Europe we go on wainting instruction from Rome
OR, perhaps the empire needs to ramp up the silliness further still (this knob goes to 11)! Bear with me here.
We here in the US are legendary for our fascination with all things digital, electronic, social, visual, and virtual, so perhaps the best course is simply to nudge that proclivity a bit further until we fully achieve it? I envision, with only a minimal expenditure of effort and resources, a US Military Industrial Complex fully transformed into the virtual paper tiger it has always aspired to be: a virtual war machine like no other, with NO actual war making capability, but with INFINITE virtual war simulating capability. Defense contractors would of course continue their recent and ongoing gravitation toward strategic and tactical simulations, gradually rightfully usurping war simulation gaming completely from the current gaming industry.
But wouldn't this impoverish defense contractors with no actual combat hardware to produce, you ask? And I say, no, of course not. Americans, having long since embraced peak silliness and peak corruption, need be none the wiser. Appropriations would continue exactly as before, with most of that money going to the exact same place it goes now: defense contractors' pockets, all while saving them the effort of actually producing their over priced Rube Goldberg machines. But with the issues of silliness and corruption finally brought out into the open for all to see and embrace, Americans could finally achieve the dream of dreams they've always aspired to: to be stars in their very own Hollywood epic action movie depicting Americans as righteous conquering heroes of the universe! And once the rest of the world saw the benefits of all this silliness, I'm sure they'd want to pass the hat and take up a collection to help ensure it lasted into perpetuity. Call it the 21st century "peace dividend."
In summary, US behavior on the international stage of late is not so much that of a petulant child who does not yet know any better, but one of a rapidly failing senile geriatric who is no longer able to grasp reality, which many of our current leadership actually are. And how do you deal with such demented old fools? You separate them and take away their tools to harm themselves and others, give them some good drugs to enhance their natural delusions, and indulge their fantasies to the fullest for their remaining days.
How many movies show the humiliated oaf stalking off in a huff to find his shotgun to even the score? One of the best pieces I have read here: two themes interlaced throughout with wry, sardonic humor with a joltingly real message. Morbidly funny considering all the death and suffering that is going down as a result. As a boomer raised in a military family during the cold war I am often astounded at todays turn of events but.... not too much so, anymore, once one tries to follow the actual monies involved.
Fans of Monty Python will recall that, when a Flying Circus episode was spiraling out of control, the late Graham Chapman, in his persona as a highly authoritarian army general, would intervene and threaten to end the program forthwith, if it did not immediately stop being excessively silly.
Where is Mr. Chapman when we really need him?
It seems to me that the US has an empire without an ideology to go along with it. The US has an ideology of course, it just does not fit the empire.
Oddly enough for an American like me I am considering moving to Russia. Why? A disgust of empire. As the Bible says in Rev 18
“Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
5 for their sins are heaped high as heaven,
and yGod has remembered her iniquities.
Or, they could not be so stupid…
Maybe… they are just pragmatic (you know, after completing Step 2, you continue with step 3... if step 2 did not work, keep walking, later step 6 will fix it).
Perhaps… they are waiting patiently for the fulfillment of a apocalyptic verse, where was promised to rescue with sulfur rain at "the elected people & the exceptional people" from their enemies.
Probably… they rely too much on quantum physics and with their disinformation campaigns, they do not attempt to provoke laughter they are only invoking at "the power of attraction".
Best article yet! Wish more 'Mericans' understood what a joke our nation has become.
But taking the cake for silliness was today's headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
something to the effect that "US says Afghan government asked us to bomb the hospital."
You can't make this stuff up.
Great column (as usual). 'Merica is coming apart at the seams and the rest of world should prepare itself for the coming denuding.
I never comment on blog posts. But this was exactly right what you are saying. The future is uncertain to say the least, but for now, even though most Americans can't see it, the world has changed. Paule Craig Roberts says there are now three superpowers - Russia, China, and US in that order. Is he right?
Somebody PLEASE get the Chinese to cut off America's credit.
We will NEVER repay them. .........................
Interesting. Thank you. Bear with me Also.
It's one thing to say that the United States is a brutal empire, a cruel empire, an evil rapacious, violent, authoritarian, meddling, cheating, dishonest and even incompetent and stupid empire. We can handle that or those and even take pride in what we are. But "silly"......??? That is a level of disrespect that no empire can tolerate. Watch your back dude.
By the way, a powerful essay this week; maybe your best. Keep it up; somebody's got to do it and nobody I know does it better.
The US governments National Security apparatus now exists to defend its existence. The Pentagon has been the world largest bureaucracy for 72 years so they know how to do it.
I recommend people revisit Catch 22, including or perhaps especially the movie. Catch 22 wasn't really about war it was about bureaucracy and institutional hierarchies. Perhaps more than Heller even knew.
And the silliness continues. Now the US wants to know where all the Toyota's ISIS is driving about in came from.
Copy of my comment on MediaLens Message Board thread about 'The Silliest Empire':
I agree with John and MNB, especially M's last two lines. Never underestimate Dmitry's hard-nosed, cold, clear-eyed take on things; what Ted Hughes, writing of West Yorkshire men, called: "..a level gaze of quietly homicidal appraisal.."
That could have been written with equal mot-justice of Russians. Dmitry was born in Leningrad (now reverted to St. Petersburg) and lived there till twelve. He sounds superficially like a Bostonian, but that's just the surface veneer. He, and his wife, are Russians, through and through. One of the things that I always appreciate about his work is its Russian-ness.
What I'm getting at here is a very stoic, necessarily-tough attitude to the world and human society, apparently deeply ingrained in the Russian character, because of the sheer physical nature of where they live, and because of their long turbulent history: that some things about life are deeply horrible, inescapably so, and sometimes you have to do terrible things resolutely, because you're faced with a choice of awful evils, without room to dodge.
So - choose the lesser evil, and then bloody-well do what's necessary to make sure it happens.
Who else will destroy the proxy terrorists attempting to ruin Syria, and beyond that single country, the vital Russia-Iran-Syria-Hezbollah counterweight to the USukisnato-axis gangsters' criminal depredations in MENA?
Who destroyed the Nazis?
Dmitry sees things plainly, and says them with ever-arresting, often laugh-out-loud, mordant wit.
Thankfully, due to the US’s unique geographical situation, I imagine a day not too far in the future where, due to mutual consent of both US and outside world citizens, the US is ring fenced completely to contain our contagion until it passes the lethally virulent stage. Unfortunately for Mexico and Canada, where present contagion levels along border areas is already significant, major areas along their northern and southern borders respectively would likely need to be sacrificed as well. Faux news would be piped in on a dedicated satellite infotainment network unlike anything ever seen before, all supporting Americans’ delusion that they had single-handedly saved the world, and that all the world was now living exactly as they were and under US imperialist control. [And of course JesusTV would simply be epic!] Likewise, actual reality TV shows of life in America would be broadcast elsewhere in the world for all to see as a permanent reminder of the lethal dangers of crony capitalist-enabled, fundamentalist religion-fueled, empire. Travel in or out of the US would of course be completely prohibited, other than an extremely limited number of humanitarian and/or academic research missions, as academia finally had the opportunity to study an actively failing empire going through its death throes in vivo.
Regarding Putin's speech at the UN 70th General Assembly.
Which transcript is more accurate, the one provided by the RT url you link to, or the one at the UN General Assembly's website?
I don't know Russian but, besides the different delineation of paragraphs, also many words seem different between those two. Could those imply different meaning?
Even the English transcript at the Kremlin's website is not as confrontational as yours.
There it says, "do you at least realize now what you’ve done?"
On another note on Silliness (if that's what we're calling cognitive dissonance turning into sociopathy), Senator John McCainiac, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee during radio interview this morning commenting on the MSF hospital massacre in Kunduz Afghanistan by AC-130 gunship:
McCainiac: "...this tragedy...would not have occurred if the Taliban had not attacked the place to start with..."
host: "When you refer to the Taliban 'attacking the place', did you mean to suggest the Taliban were at or in the near vicinity of that hospital...?"
McCainiac: "Am saying that they were in the vicinity because they were < chuckles > in Kunduz."
host: "In the city of, ok."
McCainiac: "Yea but but I think it's pretty obvious that fire was coming from the Taliban in in the city..."
Vox says today that Russia isn't bombing ISIS at all - they're bombing the opposition held territories. Their article has a nice map. Is it accurate? http://www.vox.com/2015/10/7/9471271/russia-syria-bombing-map
Arm the Right Syrian Rebel Group
While reading your brilliantly hilarious post, my wife wondered if I was reading an "Astrix & Obelix" cartoon.
Which, by the way, could well have been. After all the Roman Empire in those cartoons behaves quite silly, too!
Great read, thanks!
@simon.dc3 I translate Mr Putin's phrase as "Do you at least understand now, what you have brought about?". Different ways of translating it but the message is clear.
Dmitry's translation of the now famous phrase "what have you done" is adequate enough. I may add some nuance: it sounds like motherly scolding kids who created mess in her absence. This is especially well understood in Baltic states and Poland. Consider it as acute reminder to creators of "New Reality": wake up lunatics and grow up. Yes, Russia was intoxicated for the last 70 years with the image of the City on the Hill but you wake her up. Nowhere "Fool me once..." adage resonates more than in Russia and be prepared to reality.
In America, we love Putin, wish Trump were already president, and yearn for a nation held together by shared ideals.
Instead we get Obama as president, have to watch as Russia is now the morally superior country, be embarrassed of our inept and childish presidency, and tear each other apart over what our national ideals should be...with none of them being rooted in our history or heritage. Even our Supreme Court has left many of our citizens feeling as if their nation deserted them.
From this shore, Russia looks mighty capable and we look silly indeed.
Actually, to say that these people are silly or stupid does not quite paint an accurate description of them. Add 'vicious' and you would be nearer to what these people really are.
There's a film called "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" (1988), and in that film, a pack of aliens that look like clowns arrive on earth and murder the people of a small town. They use their jestful guise to catch the people unawares and then viciously proceed to kill them off.
While the people you mention may not come from outer space, I think they must be kindred with these outer space clowns. I think there's a danger to the assumption that these people are only either stupid or silly. In fact, they have deliberate intent to them that can only be described as vicious. Hillary Clinton's remark "We came, we saw, he died" is one such example of viciousness which masqueraded as a jest (Mrs. Clinton may or may not know it). Even Pres. Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, bragged about being good at killing people. I think he himself has descended into the pits of viciousness.
I would substitute the word "INSANE" for "Silly", but of course, the satire is probably more effective.
Just got home early enough to watch the evening news. After being briefed by RT.com at work, this is what I found on NBC:
"Here now is our Senior (where's the junior?) Middle Eastern Correspondent Mr. Engel with the latest on Russia's dangerous incursion into the Middle East."
E-man: "Thanks (long anchorman title). The administration claims that two different wars are being fought here, with the Russians bombing anti-Assad opposition groups while the U.S. is bombing ISIS targets. (Continues with many bald-faced lies, then pitches to anchorman who adds some of his own bald-faced lies). 30 seconds and... cut to commercial.
Ok, here's my question. Is this Engel dude a pathological liar or just a puppet? If he is a puppet, is he a willing puppet or an unwitting one? He appears to be somewhere tropical because I saw palm trees in the background, but it was nighttime and I could not see the city he was in. I find it hard to believe he could not know that he was telling outright lies (after all, he is the "senior" correspondent there and not some mere sophomore).
Also, after the Pentagon's own admission that there are only five rebels trained at a cost of 100 million each and who suffered a flat tire and broken radiator upon entering Syria, it just seems somewhat outrageous to believe that Russia would expend millions of dollars in ordnance on just five men who are undoubtedly now on racing camels dressed as women and making their way to the Jordanian border as fast as they can.
Can you blame them? After just one of those explosions, it would only take me two seconds to strip the nearest woman stark naked and make off with her donkey as fast as I could, and I would feel no shame at all. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. After you cross the border, you can spin it any way you want to.
Is psychology dead in America? Does anyone actually practice it, or is it now the modern equivalent of alchemy? Where are the psychologists? Did they burn their white coats, or give them to Goodwill as "outdated"?
This is a masterful analysis, complete, accurate, and compellingly funny.
Also, the author hit the nail exactly on the head, with the repetitive message that is the root core of the entire situation, to wit: "as long as the arms contractors get paid."
Tells the whole story, in eight bloody words.
gigoid, the dubious
Russians must be asking themselves these days how they could possibly have taken advice from these goobers in the 1990's.
Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.
Je suis intimement persuadée que les "bêtises" américaines vont nous plonger dans une troisième guerre mondiale, en Europe, en Afrique et au Moyen Orient. Et que nos seuls alliés objectifs et intelligents seront les russes et les chinois(dans une moindre mesure pour ceux-ci).
Pendant que nous serons plongés dans cette guerre, je suis AUSSI persuadée que les USA seront plongés dans une Guerre Civile d'une ampleur encore plus DESTRUCTRICE que la précédente.
Qu'en pensez-vous ?
FYI Israeli Arabs do vote: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Arab_members_of_the_Knesset
Great Post. We are officially living in a world that can only be described as pandemonium of insanity. Curious; when the soviet union collapsed was everyone in complete denial like here in the states even with the writing on the wall? I mean silly really is a great word to describe this. I'm convinced that if Obama came on T.V. and did a state of report emergency ADMITTING that 9-11 was an inside job and the biggest lie in recorded history that people still wouldn't care or do anything about it. Everything is so beyond absurd it's sickening.
When the absurdity becomes the reality, you know only too well that the end is near.
Nobody can say this is not well deserved, keep watching Monday Night Football with beer and pizza!
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