Should I Care?


Yesterday while browsing the “news” between college football games I saw the Huffpo headline: “Afghanistan Falling to Taliban!”

Seems the Taliban had taken the Afghan “city” of Kunduz and was immediately attacked by government forces trying to push them out.  Apparently the U.S. joined in with air attacks against the “terrorists” – bombing and destroying a Doctors Without Borders hospital and killing doctors and patients indiscriminately.

Big help indeed.

We are in our 14th year in Afghanistan – a god-forsaken place if there ever was one.

I mulled over the headline and then said to myself – “Do I care?”

Should I care?

What does it matter to me if the Taliban returns to power in Afghanistan and bans listening to music?  Did we expect a Jeffersonian democracy to emerge after we pushed them out?  I wrote years ago that a non-Taliban Afghan President installed with our support was a dead man after we left.

Why should I care for one side or the other in an all-Afghan fight?

Our policies in the Middle-East have been absolutely stupifying commencing with the destruction of Iraq based on lies.  Seems we wanted “regime change” no matter the cost.

Not too long ago the region had the likes of Saddam, Qadaffi, Assad, the monarchial Gulf states, the Saudis and of course, “revolutionary” Iran.  Egypt has been under military dictatorship since Nasser.  There was no ISIS.

The dictatorships, sectarian in nature, were based on the Fascist parties of old Europe – a strongman, secret police and oppression of any opposition – including religious zealots.  Outwardly the dictators appeared more secular than religious.

The Saudi princes on the other hand run a theocracy as a family business as do the Gulf states.  The guardians of the holy places have been allied with the Wahabists since taking power and among the Wahabists are Salafists, who believe that the golden age was the 8th century.

The Iranian “revolution” is also a theocracy created after the students and mullahs overthrew the demi-fascist Shah who had been installed by the west.  The Iranian theocracy however is Shia; the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam have been fighting for fourteen hundred years.

Let us not forget that when Saddam went to war with the Iranian mullahs, resulting in 1.6 million dead including tens of thousands of boy soldiers, we sided with Saddam.  Then we sided with the mullahs, offering secret arms as a way to get the hostages released and to fund the Nicaraguan Contras.

After the attack on 9/11 (predominantly by Saudi nationals), we first attack Afghanistan and then attack Saddam, In toppling Saddam we removed the boot he kept on the necks of Sadrists, Sunni and Kurds.  Saddam, while certainly a bastard, was the glue that held the “nation” of Iraq together.

Today, after spending trillions, Iraqis can’t fight their way out of a paper bag with vast sections of the country now controlled by Sunni/Salafist, ISIS militants.  The Shia are supported by Iran and ISIS is supported by our “ally” the Saudi princes and Gulf states.

I won’t bother writing about Libya – it no longer has a central government worthy of the name.  Add it to the list of failed states; the west is responsible for it’s failure.

That the war in Syria is sectarian was obvious almost from the start, despite the credulous belief that Bashar Assad ran a nonsectarian regime. That a sectarian ruling minority fighting for its life would not fold easily was obvious within months, despite happy guarantees that the regime’s downfall would come within weeks. That a sectarian war in Syria would stir similar religious furies in Iraq and Lebanon was obvious more than 3 years ago, despite wishful administration thinking that staying out of Syria would contain the war to Syria alone.

What should be obvious today is that we are at the dawn of a much wider Shiite-Sunni war, the one that nearly materialized in Iraq in 2006 but didn’t because the U.S. was there, militarily and diplomatically, to stop it. But now the U.S. isn’t there. What’s left to figure out is whether this mega-war isn’t, from a Western point of view, a very good thing or a very bad thing.

Of course it isn’t just Islamist radicals of one stripe or another who are dying in Syria, but also little children and aging grandparents and every other innocent and helpless bystander to the butchery.

In Syria it seems we are opposed to all sides – we don’t want ISIS, we don’t want Assad, we don’t want the Russians or the Iranians.  Our position is almost laughable except it’s not funny.

We want “democratic moderates” – except there aren’t any.

Russian support means Assad is going to hang on to power.  Our Saudi allies meanwhile continue to support ISIS (whom we are bombing) while Iran supports Iraqi Shia (whom we covertly support while the Saudis oppose) against ISIS on Iraqi territory, thus far without much success.

So I again ask myself the question – do I care?

There are many voices out there that rail that America has not done enough.

“It’s tempting to rejoin that Syria is small and faraway, and that if Vladimir Putin or Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei want to play in the Syrian dung heap they’re welcome to it. But these guys aren’t dupes getting fleeced at a Damascene carpet shop. They are geopolitical entrepreneurs who sense an opportunity in the wake of America’s retreat.”    The quote appeared in the Wall Street Journal in 2013.

Yet if Mr. Obama were to move against Assad today, the odds of success would be far longer. He would be going against an emboldened and winning despot,  backed by Russia. And he would be abetting a fractured insurgency, increasingly dominated by radicals answering the call of jihad. The administration has gone from choosing not to take action to having no choice but to remain passive.

On the other hand, I no longer know anyone in the military – none of my children, nieces, nephews, their children faces conscription. None of my friends have children or grand children in the military.  And Congress will not pass a “war tax”.

So should I give a rat’s ass about Syria or Iraq?

The rest of America doesn’t seem to  – because war is no long personal. War is for other people. War is for those who volunteer.  Your kid currently has a better chance of being killed at school or at the movies than by a bonafide terrorist.

Ask yourself  how you would feel if your son or daughter was drafted and this country took a side on a faraway battlefield in this mess.  If your kid faced conscription, three months at Fort Leonard Wood and then 12 months fighting ISIS, Assad, jihadists, Iranians or whoever  in Syria or Iraq?  If your kid hadn’t volunteered.

War is now for those people from military families (Dad was an Admiral) and poor kids from the rust belt with high school degrees and no prospects. It’s not for my kids or the kids of Congressmen and Senators and movie stars. War is not for the people with money, the one percent. Nope.  It’s kind of like hiring the Hessians.

If you support U.S. intervention, with boots on the ground, then you should support re-instating conscription.  How quickly the parents of millennials would be out in the streets  demanding  a negotiated peace.

Otherwise you’re just another chicken hawk – all for war so long as someone else has to fight and die in it while you make up a spin of how they died for freedom, when they actually died for nothing.



About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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13 Responses to Should I Care?

  1. beetleypete says:

    An incisive and intelligent appraisal of the situation in that region, Frank. Unfortunately, us older, thoughtful people don’t get any say in what happens. We still have to care about it though. Once we stop doing that, what is left?
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. charlypriest says:

    I´ll just put my two cents in, I really don´t care about those places. And I have been in both with the Spanish Legion. I will say this, you are actually right about wars not being for the children of politicians and rich, here in Spain you could enlist not even having a highschool diploma, you only had to finish 8th grade. And you are elegible to later enter into not the armed forces, but the pólice too. Most of the guys I was with didn´t even want to say they had a highschool diploma because even though we had signed in for infantry if they higher ups find out that guys had “special” skills in something (who know what really) they might pull them out of infantry and to the rear. And none of those bastards, since the stories from each of these guys, including mine and mine was probably the most mellow of the ones, not a probably it was. Most of them came from broken families, poor families usually from the southern región of Spain, quite a few had criminal backgrounds and if they where good soldiers the unspoken rule was that the higher ups would allow guys with criminal records inside the legion. You don´t have to be an outsanding citizen to be a good soldier I can guarantee that, actually I found quite the contrary, most of the mellow guys who you could go out and discuss a book instead of talking about tits and buts and getting into fistfights, and where good people(very few really) I didn´t want them nearby when we went to those places and things really started flying, They tended to freeze and not react. And that puts me and the others in danger if not all the small parts of the machine are doing what they are assigned to do

    But the majority we did have one thing in common, was the will to test ourselves (meaning going to war), a steady paycheck, but for the most part was the rush of adrenaline. Plus they did ask for volunteers for Afgahanishit in 2005 with a pay of 3,000$ a month, so I jumped into that one as quick as I could.

    This last point being, that people who do that job I myself consider me a person that is looking for a high and adrenaline, and most of the guys I know and that I love, even if their a bunch of bastards but they are my mean bastards, well why not the son of a congressman that needs that high or sense of testing themselves?

    Just my point of view, pobably not the best one of patriotism and that bullshit. They did tell you from the very beginning that this was not for love of country, this was a profesional job and that was it. At least they told us behind close doors you might say.

    So for me, I did my job there. We did good when they gave us our mission and whatever happens later to those countries is none of my concern. I came alive, 3 didn´t,, but most did And we where and still are damn proud of the job we did Now, we could care less where those countries end up.

    This was a long comment…

    Liked by 1 person

    • toritto says:

      Long comments are allowed. It’s nice to see a post spur discussion.

      How about some posts from you on your time in the Spanish Legion? I would read them!



      • charlypriest says:

        That was 8 years ago now. Long time, I could write them in my funny way though. For me, making fun of it makes life just keep on living and not get stuck in the past like a lot of people do. But I do have quite too many stories to tell really. Even my parents( if you can believe that) have told me to write about some of my experiences since I always tell my funny mishaps in the Legion. Like calling a Coronel a seargent, not good.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonder what the region would look like today if the UK and the US hadn’t overthrown the elected Iranian government of Mossadegh in 1953 …
    (UK: “Operation Boot”, USA: ‘TPAJAX Project’)
    Since then American and British enterprises and ‘free’ nations have earned resp. saved trillions for that…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I definitely support reinstating conscription. What we have now is basically a poverty draft in which we make poor people and minorities fight our wars for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jfwknifton says:

    You are absolutely right. Too many brave men and women have died trying to improve this benighted region. Leave them to it. They deserve each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Norman Pilon says:

    Yes, bring back the draft, that all of the needless murder, pain and suffering – the direct and immediate consequence of the insatiable lust for power and wealth of a hundred or so multi-billionaires and the inculcated ignorance of the many doing their bidding – may elicit the necessary collective outrage to put an end to the senseless slaughter.

    Otherwise, it’s exactly as you suggest: why should I give a f**k!

    Liked by 1 person

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