Michael S. ROZEFF
In case it is not clear, the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is a neocon. Strong evidence of this unfortunate fact is his speech on January 17, 2018 at Stanford’s Hoover Institute. After warmly acknowledging his debt to Dr. Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz, Tillerson goes into his “Remarks on the Way Forward for the United States Regarding Syria”.
What do we hear? “…it is crucial to our national defense to maintain a military and diplomatic presence in Syria, to help bring an end to that conflict, and assist the Syrian people as they chart a course to achieve a new political future.” He wants the U.S. to stay in Syria indefinitely, its purposes being to defend the American nation, to cause the war to end, and to create a new government/state in Syria.
We’ve heard the same neocon language in the past 17 years regarding Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and other countries. None of these countries are “crucial” to American security. Entry by U.S. forces into each and every one of them has increased American insecurity, generating ever more Muslim terrorist forces. None of these places posed state-led threats to Americans and none posed non-state forces that could not have been addressed by means other than the failed methods that the U.S. government adopted, symbolized by the entirely unnecessary and counter-productive War on Terror.
In his speech, Tillerson presents new elaborations, new rationales, and new flowerings of neocon thought, but the root of it all remains unchanged. It’s the same old rot we’ve heard for the past 17 years and longer. The War on Terror remains fixed firmly in his mind. This he makes clear, saying “The fight against ISIS is not over.” And he says “Similarly, we must persist in Syria to thwart al-Qaida…” The secondary excuse for the uninvited U.S. presence inside Syria is to get rid of the Assad government and create a new state. “Additionally, a total withdrawal of American personnel at this time would restore Assad and continue his brutal treatment against his own people. A murderer of his own people cannot generate the trust required for long-term stability.”
Baloney. Tillerson’s language echoes the language used against Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi. The U.S. always resorts to holier-than-thou language like this when it wants to justify the empire’s presence in some place that has nothing to do with American security.
Tillerson knows enough not to name “nation-building” in Syria as U.S. policy. Instead he uses a euphemism: “STABILIZATION”.
The world is not a pretty place everywhere, not even in parts of the Americas that I’ll refrain from naming; but some are close to the White House. This doesn’t justify a costly U.S. presence that, in any event, is very likely not only to fail but also to produce a worse situation.
It’s not the role of the U.S. government to dry out an alcoholic world, or to get it off drugs, pretty it up, wash it clean, apply new makeup, get it a paying job, find it a mate, turn it into a responsible citizen, and have it raise its children as good parents. Why not? Because it cannot! It doesn’t know enough to do it and it cannot know enough to do it, so that when it tries the results are no better and often worse than doing nothing at all, not to mention the costs.
People in power who use lofty language as in this speech present to us a scenario, which is that they have surveyed the turf, discovered the issues, and formulated a plan. They make out that they actually understand human problems and can do something about them using the powers of their office. We should believe none of this. The processes that they think are predictable and governable are neither. Non-ergodicity rules much of human life.
NON-ERGODIC: “Attribute of a behavior that is in certain crucial respects incomprehensible through observation either for lack of repetition, e.g., by involving only transient states which are unique, or for lack of stabilities, e.g., when transition probabilities (see probabilities) are so variable that there are not enough observations available to ascertain them. Evolution and social processes involving structural changes are inherently non-ergodic. To understand non-ergodic behavior requires either reference to the underlying organization of the system exhibiting it or the study of a large sample of systems of the same kind (see ergodic). (Krippendorff)”