It’s a corny title, but I don’t know of a better one to describe the situation of our President.
Like the Mickey Mouse character in Walt Disney’s ‘Fantasy’, who carries buckets of water ever faster to try to stop a flood he caused in his master’s house, President Obama rushes from one fire to another, to no avail. The US is no longer the world’s policeman, but its fireman. And no matter how many buckets of water we carry, the fire just keeps spreading.
The latest developments in Iraq are really no surprise. In the early nineties, I translated a book by a Lebanese diplomat (whose name, alas I have forgotten) on the regimes and events that led up to the invasion of Kuwait. It pictured an astonishing succession of megalomaniac leaders, and an unending series of expansionist policies. Under all these rulers, the majority Shi’a were the underdogs, as in other Middle Eastern countries with the exception of Iran. The Kurds are a people without a country, living in a territory that is located in Turkey and Iran as well as Iraq. Our eight-year occupation has been but an interlude in Iraq’s internal drama.
And for us, Iraq is part of the past. What keeps President Obama running, is the new world that is rumbling into existence through earthquakes, floods, nuclear disasters, financial meltdowns, and rigged elections. American efforts to carry on as usual, by setting up a base in Australia, or seeking one in the Stans, will be as ephemeral as a child’s soap bubbles.
While Americans are held in thrall by the ‘race’ to the White House, history marches on, as it always has. Efforts to compare the present crisis with the Civil War, or other hard times, ignore the fact that the WORLD was a different place. America’s oscillation between isolationism and domination trained its people to either ignore or look down upon what happens beyond our shores and our borders. Hence they fail to visualize our decline within the confines of that larger world.
It’s too late for us to put out the fires ignited by our hubris and our indifference.