When this chapter of US history is finally written, it will look like a deep dive into a vat of lentil soup. In Syria Friday night, we came, we saw, and we slung 103 cruise missiles into largely symbolic targets, including a supposed chemical weapons plant just outside Damascus, and some other places where we were not likely to kill Russian military personnel. The Russians apparently decided to just suck it up, knowing that the civil war in Syria is nearly over. Then what?
Will the US tolerate what has effectively become a Russian client state in the Levant, with some Iranian sprinkles on top? The Saudi Arabians clearly don’t relish that prospect, and one wonders how much the nominal Saudi leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, put the squeeze on US officials (including the Golden Golem of Greatness) to do something (!) when he paid a call here a few weeks ago. Israel may not like having Hezbolah’s patron, Iran, camped on their doorstep, but there’s reason to believe that Bibi and Putin understand each other well enough, and that Russia will do what’s necessary to moderate the Iran-Hezbolah-Shia axis of maniacs. Israel’s February strike against Syrian air defense installations was a reminder to all concerned that they will act on their own when they choose to. Finally, Russia certainly has no interest in protecting the caliphate maniacs, since the Bear has plenty of restive Islamic factions in its neighboring former soviet republics.
The various moves and statements having been made, the balance of power in Syria may be settling into a sort of freeze. Actually, anything that arrests the process of Syria turning into another failed Middle East state is better than the alternative. Before al Qaeda, Isis, and their many mutant armies showed up, before Russia came on the scene, before the US set this regional meltdown in motion next door in Iraq, Syria was not the world’s problem. But neither, really, was Vietnam in 1963.
All this raises the question: when will reasonable people in the USA — if there are any left — begin to see the Russia-meddling-in-our-election story as a botched attempt to cook up a giant distraction from America’s own swan dive into failed state-hood? The moves on that game-board have been so crude and bizarre that the very machinery of the republic is melting down as if on-purpose. President Trump begins to look like a pitiful, helpless, hostage to unseen forces. For the moment he can’t control a rogue Department of Justice, even when they trespass on a pillar of due process by seizing his personal attorney’s papers and computer records. He does what his generals tell him to do in the war room. He affects to combat all this chaos and incoherence with his illiterate barks and squawks on the ridiculous Twitter platform. And there seems to be no way forward from this morass except through more broken institutions and disorder.
So far, the financial system has not disintegrated, though fissures have been showing for weeks in the extreme volatility of markets. These markets are watched over and massaged by that other arm of the Deep State, the Federal Reserve and its ancillary forces in the “primary dealer” too-big-to-fail banks. It’s amazing to see the stresses that these markets are withstanding, and rather than attribute it to some mythic “strength of the economy,” I’d wager that it has more to do with the marshaling of algos and bots to do whatever it takes to preserve some veneer of normality.
When that line of defense here at home cracks, nobody will give a barreling fuck about Russia, or Syria, and the great barge of wishes that Donald Trump sailed in on may finally sink. Even if the DOJ Inspector General’s coming report on FBI political misdeeds prompts a severe housecleaning of the FBI, and drives a stake into the heart of the Mueller investigation, a Wall Street train wreck will kill any delusions about the USA turning back into the 1955 “Life of Riley” utopia that dreams are made of. Reputations in government and the media will be shredded and even the bystanders will be tainted for failing to show reality its due respect.