Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

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.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, it is a good title, though I suspect that unlike the Micky Mouse in the film, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, President Obama still believes his magic is working, even as the flood rises around him. He, like so many inside the DC beltway are indifferent to the reality of this world and the decline of our society. Will he be re-elected? It may not matter as all those who stand in the wings are filled with the same hubris. Obama will write a book, as did GW Bush; either ignorant to the part they played in the nations downfall or truly deluded. Someday, some professor will offer a course called the rise and fall of the American empire, and people will wonder how they could not see what was so obvious.