A friend recently asked me for a political opinion.
“Uh-oh,” I thought, remembering what a famous New York columnist said when she first made it big. “I’m not ready for this.”
Arguably, this doesn’t count as ‘making it big’, but consider it a first step. Clair, a cheery red-head from Alaska who loves to weed as much as she loves to read the things she finds here recently asked me for my take on the Georgia-Russia crisis.
“What Georgia-Russia crisis,” some of you will ask.
I had assumed she was asking because she’d seen reports on TV, the tanks rolling in, the bodies piling up, the accusations and the denials fluttering about the breezes like bullets in Anbar. I was going to start with the immediate reaction of rambling off about some background, who’s the aggressor and who’s the victim? Trying to see who’s right, who’s wrong, and who’s stupid, as is always the case.
But I thought: there is a bigger problem here, isn’t there? This is just another story that two days from now will be wiped from everyone’s conscious thoughts, might surface again 3 days after that, and by week’s end they will have show you all you will ever see of it on CNN, MSNBC, and whatever the hell other 24 hour shit stations wanna touch this one.
The things is, I don’t fit into that cycle. There’s no place for me there. Mine is not to tell you what’s REALLY happening, the raw facts, the DATA. That’s for reporters. That’s for journalists. That’s for people on the ground. No, no. I’m here to ask other questions, to comment on the things that are not being discussed out in the ether because there’s no place for them there. Nobody wants to hear it, and if they do, they don’t want to do anything about it. They don’t know how.
So I paused a bit longer before answering her email, I considered what is really happening here, or perhaps, what is it that she REALLY wants to know about this situation. There is only one answer.
Jesus, what are you people DOING over there?
This “explosion” in Georgia is a tragedy of greed & incompetence. Nothing new. People are reacting now only because of circumstance, which is to say “Olympic interruption”. Nobody would’ve been watching the news closely enough to comment on Russia’s invasion (which was ironically timed, I guess with John Edwards’ confession of an affair some time ago, and you know, who cares?) had they not been checking constantly to see if Michael Phelps had won another medal. To be surprised by the conflict over there would be as silly as being surprised at how many are dead and dying in Darfur, but that will only happen when China decides to stop investing in that country. Obviously, because Bono couldn’t draw enough attention to it.
And that won’t happen. Business is business, and altruists and idealists are poor.
As for the details of the conflict, l have what you have, I’m sure. Which is what John Q. averagely informed citizen has. You don’t need more because you don’t have to take sides: they’re both wrong, and they’re both right, and they’re both suffering. The only ones to come out on top are the people with money (on both sides). Fundamentally, this is no different than any other ethnic struggle of differences between people that simply live too close to those that are different from themselves. Tribal affiliations, blood lines, sectarian opinions, religious conflicts, economic interests, language, food, freedom, limited resources… these are the things that hold us together when needed, and drive us to murder and destruction when we’re afraid. Indeed Ireland, Israel, Georgia, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tibet, Taiwan, Vietnam, Euskadia, The Balkans, Haiti, Rwanda, Darfur, Congo, Kenya, Somalia… well, most of Africa… all of Europe for the last 2000 years…
This is what happens when there are too many people in one place. We’re too different, too intolerant, too panicky and too easily frightened. We’re too stupid and too short-sighted, too greedy and nowhere near open-minded. We cannot live together. Not this closely.
Those are my deep thoughts. I’ll develop them a bit, but that’s the outline.
More immediately to her point is the fact that Rice and Bush and the Congress all went on vacation and refused to come back for this mess… that’s not helping. It’s their prerogative but it’s also irresponsible. Not the first time the leaders were caught jacking off and butt-slapping beach volleyball Olympians when they should’ve been working. I mean, they should at least have been sitting at their desks pretending to work when the call came in. But that doesn’t make the image of the thing any better, you know?
I don’t expect much from Congress, because this is a focused situation, the abilities to solve them falling on the shoulders of about a handful of people. And besides, they haven’t really done anything since their first 100 days in office anyway. But you know… that 3 am call they keep talking about on Fox News? Have you noticed that no one is answering the phone at the White House TODAY?. So who cares, you know?
Bah. The answer to all of this eludes me too, and I make no claim to resolve… only to method. But that’s not what she’d asked for, so I didn’t bother. I will say this though: kicking Russia out of the G8 is simply a stupid idea with no front and no back, and I wish McCain would shut up about that and find himself a new foreign policy. He’s good at changing his views, so that shouldn’t be too hard. What the hell would that even accomplish? He hasn’t said, but you can bet he doesn’t know either. Sure sounds tough, though, eh?
The fact that his close advisers are financially linked to Top Georgian officials is not helping the situation either. Then Rice goes to France on her way to mediate the talks and says NOTHING of value at the press conference. Way to inspire me to wonder what makes you think you’re worth anything at all.
What else? I don’t know, but seemed like it was worth a post. Maybe I’ll think about it some more while I’m traveling in Scotland next week. Not bad, eh? By then the media should have latched on to something fresh and just as useless, and maybe then I can get back to writing a novel or something.