Listening to the Republican Debate, thinking about the Middle East

cwjmo160114“What makes illegal immigration hard to fix is not that it defies law, but that it defies the minimum wage regulations, health care regulations, safety & employment regulations & avoids the employment taxes that all hinder the job creators from growing the economy. The job creators try to get rid of, or reduce these job-killing regulations & taxes whenever they can, the legal way, but they are blocked by leftists who don’t believe in capitalism. So, not being stupid, the job creators found a way to prevent these socialist laws from destroying the economy. The result is that we now have a good, solid, tax-free, unregulated, cheap labor pool to drive the economy AND an “illegal” foreign racial group, that can’t vote, to motivate lower middle class & poor white voters who might otherwise support the socialists. The socialists can’t shame these whites for not being “politically correct” because the foreign workers are not “following the law.” They’re following the money, which is what anyone who wants to understand law & the politics that shapes the law it must do. Anonymous.

Michele and I watched the Republican Debate the other night and, as each contestant bad mouthed Barack Obama’s job as President, I was struck at how simple they viewed the problems and how easy the solutions sounded. Every problem could be solved by an almost casual wave of the hand. Trump says “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall.” and the immigration problem will be mostly solved. Ted Cruz tells us “We will carpet bomb [ISIS] into oblivion.” and problem over. But I was also very aware of the how persistent these problems have been and how they have gotten worse during the Obama Presidency.

I would not say the quote at the top in quite the same way but I completely agree. I couldn’t have said it any better (except for the socialist/job creater part). To me, the operative part of the quote is the implied complexity of the issue, the broad spread of the interested and entrenched players, and the difficulty of finding an agreed upon solution that really works. Immigration is not my issue but it probably would be if I were middle age and working in the trades and I suspect that it isn’t really Donald Trump’s issue either but it is obviously his supporters’ issue and it is a good issue to campaign on because the Obama Administration has been less effective than most of us would like. Global Climate Change and Income Disparity are two additional areas that are arguably worse than they were eight years ago. Of course, part of the reason for this is that the Republicans have made every effort to stop Obama from doing anything, but the bigger part of the lack of  solutions is that Immigration, Wealth Disparity, the Middle East, and Climate Change are unimaginably complex issues with entrenched, interrelated, and conflicting, vested interests.

The quote on Immigration, with a few minor changes could be about Wealth Disparity and the Middle East has many more players and is way more complex. The region is being polarized by the rivalry of the two local powerhouses, Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. This polarizing Middle East, in which order – mostly Western imposed order – is falling apart was not caused by Obama. It was starting to fall apart years before Obama, even before Bush the Younger was elected who, while he may have accelerated the Middle East’s fall into chaos, didn’t really create it either. I like to believe think that the problems in the Middle east aren’t entirely – or even primarily – the West’s fault, still we have been poking at this hornet’s nest for over a century.

The British and French drew lines – in the sand – defining states that were arbitrary. As an aside, although I’m cynical enough to think the Brits and French drew their lines defining borders to keep the local populations fractured and thereby easier to control, it is possible that it was just bad luck that a Sunni Ba’athist happened to rule a primarily Shiite state in Iraq and a Shiite Alawite happened to rule a largely Sunni population in Syria. End aside. The Eisenhower Administration engineered a coup d’état to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran because we didn’t like that the democratically elected Prime Minister and the democratically elected Parliament voted to nationalize their own oilfields. And the list goes sickingly on and on.

But we are not as pervasive and all-powerful as we think, the local interests run much deeper and stronger than we want to believe. There are old grudges to be settled. For seventy five years, those grudges were covered by a mutual hate of Israel but Israel’s closest neighbors, including the Saudis, have now made virtual peace with them. Religious fanaticism is blooming which I suspect is pretty normal when the Empire’s religion is different from the local religion and nobody can agree on the one true path. A prolonged drought is driving farmers from their fields into towns and cities, angry and rebellious. All this on top of the world’s biggest oil supply bringing incredible wealth to a few and displacement and poverty to most. The money from that oil is also providing a market for first class weapons because everybody wants swords to rattle.

These are not problems or conflicts that can be solved by carpet bombing. These are religious problems and political problems, aggravated by a changing climate. Everybody has their own version of what a solution would be or should be, and nobody, including us, is ready to give that up. As unAmerican as it is to even think this, there may not really be a solution. Change, uncontrolled change, change we probably don’t want, may be all that is going to happen here. The Middle East, of course, is simple compared to Climate Change.

Back at the Republican Debate, every time a candidate gave a simple answer, usually centered around Obama’s lack of success, the crowd cheered. In this atmosphere, admitting a problem is complicated seems weak. Thoughtful answers seem indecisive and actual experience is a handicap. It is sad and scary.

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