On Those Beautiful Babies
Looking for a safe place to land. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images
It's tough to choose the most egregiously ghastly element of Trump's "presidential" charade of mindless militarism in Syria. So much offends: The illegal, unauthorized and historically knee-jerk move to armaments, the lewd wag-the-dog distraction motive, the inchoate aka non-existent long-term strategy for entering never mind exiting yet another quagmire in another Muslim country, the mirror image of rich-kid-war-tourism as the flaq-jacketed-over-blazer Jared dropped in on Iraq, the trite, bumbling language of outrage - "Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror” - or the freakish war porn swoon by a fawning media. What was more surreally obscene: Brian Williams' unironic abuse of Leonard Cohen's "beauty of our weapons" or the New York Times' WTF claim that "Trump's heart came first?" So many crimes against journalism, so little time.
But two things emerge as key. The first, following this weekend when entirely unfazed Syrian war planes undertook at least two new air strikes in the same area as Idlib, is the utter, empty, hollow pointlessness of Trump's $75 million "message." Bombing an empty airbase and its concrete bunkers had virtually no impact: Strikes both Saturday and Sunday reportedly killed at least 18 including five children, with the number expected to rise; at the same time, Trump took a few moments off from his Florida golf course to frantically explain he didn't take out the runways 'cause they're "easy and inexpensive to quickly fix (fill in and top)!” and anyway how's about those "great military men and women... representing the United States, and the world, so well in the Syria attack.”
Above all, is the sickening, sanctimonious hypocrisy of the effort by a petty, vindictive, ill-informed, forever lying buffoon worried about his ratings to justify the gaudy pricey spectacle by pretending to care about Syria's "beautiful babies," when up to 60,000 of them have already suffered and died over the last six bloody years in Assad's Russian-backed barrel bombs, air raids, decimated buildings and yes chemical attacks, including the 2013 one in Ghouta that killed close to a thousand people, and let's not forget the atrocity of Aleppo. At the same time, he now seeks to cut millions in UN humanitarian funds, along of course with millions more for this country's schools, meals, clean water, health care, environmental protection and a zillion other worthy causes easily funded by a few Tomahawks.
And still, the beautiful babies remain trapped in a war zone. We need to ban them because they are Muslim and they are dangerous; notes Nikki Haley helpfully, "Syrian children come with Syrian adults" - unless they drown en route - and we can't have that. Better to leave it at our long tradition of faux righteous, utterly pointless military actions seen somehow as reflecting presidential moral resolve never before witnessed while remaining complicit in the atrocities under which kids continue to suffer. Is this really the best we can do? Hopefully not, writes Ben Mathis-Lilley in Slate. "We can, in theory, ask the politicians who represent us and the media that reflects us to attend instead to the bigger picture - namely, to the millions of urgently needy Syrian refugees who have not yet been able to figure out how to use Tomahawk missiles to clothe or feed themselves. We can say it again: Let them in. Let them in. Let them in."
Photo by Mohamed Al-Bakur