This past week was my spring break, and like the vast majority of students in this country, I spent it working. As I sat at my desk—the very same desk I’ll return to in a mere six hours when the alarm goes off and I have to get up and start my Monday morning—I watched the shifting news cycle turn from the devastation in Japan and nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power plant to Libya and the escalation of violence in what’s basically become a civil war between rebels and those loyal to and/or afraid of Moammar Gadhafi. That took a couple days, but much quicker was the jump from “Libya is a no-fly-zone” to “we’re bombing the shit out of it.”
Because what we really needed was to get involved with another war in the Middle East. We couldn’t just sit back and let France be in charge.
We were more than happy to let them fire the first shots though, so there’s that. And the U.N. said it was okay, so there’s some improvement there. And why wouldn’t they go for it? Finally, a war to liberate an oppressed Middle Eastern populace whose leader is an unapologetic despot willing to slaughter his own citizenry to stay in power! It only took a decade of U.S. dicking around in the region to find it!
It’s nice that it happened on a weekend though. I hate those Monday-Friday wars, the way they take up the whole workday and keep you from getting your chores done. A nice Saturday afternoon watching buildings and infrastructure get annihilated is a wholesome family activity. It’s everyone’s favorite show! This time, I even packed a picnic. Who wants Brie?
Actually, the sad truth is that I didn’t even watch it. I was in the car. I hit up Vintage Vinyl and then went to Long Branch for a show at the Brighton. It ruled. I saw good friends, had a couple of beers (and only a couple, despite the spring break impulse), marveled at the hugeness and brightness of this weekend’s special full-moon, and then I came back home, made a sandwich and went to bed.
My impulse here is to talk about how the last nine-plus years of war have so deadened my empathy and desensitized me to my surroundings that my soul has a callous and nothing gets in, but that’s not really true. I’m just exhausted. I mean, seriously, another war? More bombs? This is what we’re doing now? And we’re claiming it’s justified because we “have to liberate those poor people?” We couldn’t come up with anything new after all this time?
I hope that when you, me and everyone else alive now is dead, some history book has the decency to call these what they are: The Oil Wars. Libya puts out 1.6 million barrels of crude per day, or at least it did before the civil war started. One report from the AP said if Gadhafi holds out and this drags on, oil could go above $140 a barrel, which is what it was in 2008 when you had to take out that second mortgage to fill your gas tank.
The “liberating the Libyan people” thing is a nice idea, and honestly, if it works out that way and we don’t try to set up permanent military installations or give the whole thing over to some “suddenly” well-armed extremist group who 10-15 years later decide to bite us in the ass for it, I guess it could be worse—though I recognize those are big ifs—but we all know what’s going on here. The U.S. and European leaders are protecting their financial stake in Mideast oil. It’s like the old saying goes: “Nothing new under the when in Rome.”
Do you think people will go to war for lightning after we all have electric cars? I do.
Why? Because if there’s one thing the last decade of endless military conflict has done, it’s shatter any conception or understanding I had of humans as being capable of rational thought or action, and nothing I see on either side of this new conflict changes any of that. Spoiler alert: Bombed out buildings all look the same, wartime propaganda all looks staged—whether it’s Saddam Hussein’s kids or some building Gadhafi took a shit in one time—and people die and no one cares. There. I saved you the trouble. Now you don’t have to watch the news footage either.
Awaiting the playing cards,