Gore Vidal called our country “the United States of Amnesia.” Not only is the American media forgetful they fight violently not to remember. Every day is a new day, every war a new war. As the bombs were launched cable TV bombarded us with uniform accounts: the bombings were “surgical,” “effective,” and “proportional.” Our media so obsessed with ‘fact-checking’ and ‘fake-news,’ didn’t wait to verify these accounts. They know their script; it is almost like they have been here before.
There was an eerie unity of opinion to the attack revealing that none of the pundits on CNN took seriously the consequences of unilateral action. Instead, former generals sat together and praised the effectiveness of the strikes unchallenged by the hosts, even though the strikes were ongoing, premature conclusions at best. Leader of the resistance, Chuck Schumer, said the strikes were the right thing to do.” Nancy Pelosi joined the chorus adding, “Tonight’s strike in Syria appears to be a proportional response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons.” It seems Trump has proved his merit to the political and media elites, the praise reminiscent of the applause he received after he used a dead Navy Seal as political prop during his address to Congress.
Bombing and bravado are bipartisan. For all of the talk by Democrats about proportionality they don’t seem to understand it. Hillary Clinton yesterday called for airstrikes against Syrian airbases, beating Trump to it. When there is this much consensus in politics we should worry. Many on the left were chided for opposing Hillary Clinton because, “we agreed on 90% of the issues.” Apparently, being pro-war or anti-war is a trivial difference. By entertaining the Democrats long held desire to antagonize Russia and attack Syria, Trump has proven to the ruling class that he really is one of them and the US imperialism will not be interrupted. There seems to be much more that unites them than unites us. With Steve Bannon in seeming bad grace with Trump, it looks like the military has become ascendant.
Incredibly, the Russian conspiracy theorists refuse to put away their toys. Eric Boehlert of Media Matters crudely scribbled connections between Trump and Putin claiming that giving Russian troops warning of the incoming strike proves collusion. The attack, it seems, could only be justified if Russian blood was spilled. Only a Russian agent would avoid the killing of Russians: Putin’s sloppy work exposed! Not wanting to be softer than Trump, Fmr. Hilary Clinton advisor and “proud American” Peter Daou, declared that we must “use appropriate means” to stop “human rights violations across the globe.” Democrats against Trump want more not less.
There is romanticism behind the praise for Trump’s unilateral attack. The New York Times wrote a squishy titled piece, “On Syria Attack, Trump’s Heart Came First,” (though they seem to have gotten cold feet and changed the title.) Brian Williams, with a sparkle in his eye, called the bombing, “beautiful.” Nothing inspires warms the heart of the media like 59 tomahawks. The war pornography continued late into the night on CNN, which covered the attack with a split screen of the missiles being fired one by one. I hope someone can get Brian Williams a copy.
What is terrifying about this class of pundits and politicians is not some conspiracy to unite the powerful, but that the powerful are genuine in their reactions. Shock and awe tactics, bright lights in the sky impress them. They willingly choose to forget history; in the exuberance announcing “this time we have got it right!” Wars after war begin with the confidence of the rich, and end in the suffering of the poor. Karl Marx wrote in the introduction to The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” As the punditry rails off support for yet another military occupation in the Middle East, you must forgive me if I have lost count.