A popular anti-war slogan of the 1960s asked “what would happen if they started a war and no one showed up?” The modern state has answered this question with an affirmative: it doesn’t matter. Drones, long-range missiles, and grossly efficient aircrafts have made the need for large standing armies nearly obsolete. A corollary of not having a draft and no longer having thousands of GI’s die every week is that the calls for ending war on the basis of preserving our own lives have lost a lot of their steam. But war, regardless of which moderate Democrat is at the nation’s helm, will go on.
Joe Biden’s recent foray into revamping conflict with Iran via an airstrike that killed twenty-two people in Syria is simply par for the course the United States has been on for the better part of the past century. The flag stitched on the uniforms of service members no longer represents a liberation force, but more a global police force safeguarding American profits and maintaining the standards which we set for other countries around the world. Standards, which perhaps isn’t worth even mentioning, we often fall hilariously short of. Either way it is put, the US has very few commitments apart from maintaining the systems which give an illusion of control.
Since taking office, Biden has made no signs of an earnest commitment to alleviate the growing wealth gap, the broken healthcare system, or the continual mistreatment and murder of people of color by our citys’ police. But he did greenlight a missile strike in a country that on paper we shouldn’t have any business in. The dizzying onslaught of tweets and incoherent utterances from our former president won’t be sorely missed. But the opposite, near radio silence except from staff-written acknowledgements to the various societal ills, is worse. Trump is gone, yet our daily experience has not improved. We are still waiting on that check, are still in the dark about the future of our healthcare infrastructure and economy post-pandemic, and we are still sitting back watching the evening news air stories about people dying in the Middle East at our hands.
Joe Biden’s legacy will be the president who followed Donald Trump. It will be a long time before the presidency won’t fall under the poster-in-chief’s shadow. Trump’s crime, that high-ranking politicians will never forgive him for, is that he laid bare the fragility and absurdity of our national government. Biden didn’t magically show up to the White House and assume direct control of how the world functions. It is a little more complicated than that. Americans are condemned to the consequences inflicted by the strange child born out of a union between hate and greed. Trump was really important for the American psyche as far as presenting us with a physical manifestation of the country’s dark child, fits and all. Joe Biden doesn’t have the power to shield us from the tantrums this child makes and the strategy he has chosen to deal with it is to smile and wave.
So why escalate tensions with Iran and mess around in a country where half the US population couldn’t point to on a map? I bet there is a convoluted answer buried somewhere within the Pentagon. But most regular Americans don’t have any beef with Iran or Syria and would be happiest if we just stayed out of it. Sure Iran can be a little touchy on the subjects of foreign troops hanging out just across their border and might not have the same standards for equality as we do, but is it really any of our business? It is, literally, when oil money is on the line. What a dream it would be to have the entire region peacefully cooperating with western oil companies extracting the only resource we deem valuable from the region. These questions and talk of money matter only to the extent that they can be applied to nearly all of our misadventures in foreign policy that took place in the middle east. World War II saved the US from economic recession. Maybe a proxy war with Iran will help us get out of this slump.