War not enough of a ratings grabber to be of note

But look way down the page of Memeorandum, less trafficked and important than “Senate GOP Plans Health Care Vote Next Week”, “GOP considers cancelling August recess to salvage agenda “, “Spicer searching for candidates to take over White House briefing”, “Megyn Kelly’s Alex Jones interview got lots of attention, but not many viewers”, “Otto Warmbier, American student detained in North Korea for 17 months, dies” and “Mother with knife killed by police was pregnant and had mental-health issues, family says”:

Russia to treat US jets in Syria as ‘targets’ after America guns down first regime warplane
Tom Batchelor / The Independent

Russia has said it will treat US warplanes operating in parts of Syria where its air forces are also present as “targets” amid a diplomatic row caused by the downing of a Syrian jet.  The country’s defence ministry said it would track US-led coalition aircraft with missile systems and military aircraft, but stopped short of saying it would shoot them down. A hotline set up between Russia and the US to prevent mid-air collisions will also be suspended….

It says much about our priorities as a nation, and our parochial mindset (with a soupçon of denial of the Endless War) that we are taking this less seriously than the other “important” stories of the day.

I think what you see above is the triumph of narrative over historicity. The NARRATIVE about the woman shot in Seattle is far more in our consciousness than the downing of a Syrian war plane, and Putin’s subsequent escalation and REconfliction, as a result.

Let us hope that it is posturing. Sincerely hope. But history has too many instances of brutal wars started by perceived affronts to a monstrous ego rather than existential threat.

Having painted themselves into rhetorical macho-man corners, we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of having shot down a Syrian fighter jet in Syrian airspace, in “self-defense.” Vlad the Tressaillir —  who militarily inserted himself into a three-way civil war just to have “influence” in the Middle East — now has his air-support troops on lock and load, and Russian airspace has been defined: a message to the US that he has set up a “No Fly Zone.”

Hillary wanted one, Putin has imposed one, let’s now see what happens when the safeties come off for, arguably, the world’s two most advanced air forces.

But I have to take the cost/benefit ratio here: what are we risking (World War III), and what do we hope to obtain for that risk? (An ISIS-less rebel takeover of Syria, with a democratic, NON-sectarian government.)


Frankly, at this point, I’d figure out a way to get out, except, as I pointed out in a NON-RACIST blog using American folklore: the Middle East has become our “Tar-baby.”* Every time we (Br’er Rabbit) hit the recalcitrant tar baby (people in the Middle East we don’t like) we get further stuck. Now, we’re aiming our massive firepower at the Russians and the Iranians who happen to have mixed themselves into the (admittedly horrific and despicable) Assad Regime.

  • Tuesday, March 28, 2006


    [Note 2017: you will need an Internet Explorer tab on your browser to NOT just see raw html code. Scroll down to the date.]

    I remember the madness of September 11. I was sitting with my sketchpad on the observation deck, drawing an Alaskan fjord, when the announcement came onto the loud speaker. An hour later, we pulled into Juneau, Alaska.

    And as I watched the madness unfold, each port of call — from Ketchikan to Skagway to Sitka, and thence back, through Canada and back into the Bizarro-world version of the USA, was an unfolding of a “Heart of Darkness,” or an “Apocalypse Now.” Safe in our little bubble, we had watched the world go mad, sailing on calm waters.

    And then, when we invaded Afghanistan a few months later, I said to my wife (and my friends): Dear God, this is Br’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby. Every blow we strike will get us deeper and deeper into the mire of the Middle East.

    I have been proven correct….

Unspoken: The “US-backed” rebels had US personnel with them. And since it is taboo for body bags to start coming back from Syria, it was deemed BETTER to take out the Syrian jet bombing the sub-rosa troops than to allow it to continue. (I’m reading between the lines here, but I have a pretty good track record on that score.)

And we’re back to Cold War calculations: How much firepower can be expended before the other side feels it has to up the ante, perhaps to nuclear confrontation?

Given Trump’s inability to back down, I’d say that both in Syria and in North Korea, we’re rapidly sliding down a greased rail into a war that talking heads and politicians will argue “what else could we have done?”

Recognized that a snowball has started rolling down a steep (if not slippery) slope and we happen to be aboard?

Naw. Too easy a call. Need some melody more soothing to play on their fiddles.

After all, Rome is starting to burn.

Here’s US Central Command:

Coalition Defends Partner Forces from Syrian Fighter Jet Attack
Release No: 17-228 June 18, 2017
 June 18, 2017
Release # 20170618-02

SOUTHWEST ASIA — At approximately 4:30 p.m. Syria time, June 18, Pro-Syrian regime forces attacked the Syrian Democratic Forces-held town of Ja’Din, South of Tabqah, wounding a number of SDF fighters and driving the SDF from the town.

Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force and stopped the initial pro-regime advance toward the SDF-controlled town.

Following the Pro-Syrian forces attack, the Coalition contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established ‘de-confliction line’ to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing.

At 6:43 p.m., a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah and, in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet.

Ja’Din sits approximately two kilometers north of an established East-West SDF-Syrian Regime de-confliction area.

The Coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat.

The Coalition presence in Syria addresses the imminent threat ISIS in Syria poses globally. The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated.

The Coalition calls on all parties to focus their efforts on the defeat of ISIS, which is our common enemy and the greatest threat to regional and worldwide peace and security.


You can print that out and put it in your “Gulf of Tonkin” scrapbook, kiddies.


[* Note: “-30-” is old teletype code for “end of story” which told you where to rip off the sheet in the teletype machine. It is now a quaint anachronism, like “dialing the phone” or “Republican integrity.”]




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