Syria makes me so sad. If you’ve been with me through the Trump years, you’ll remember that I’ve periodically celebrated Trump’s approach to Syria. The truth is I got played.
The fact that Trump hasn’t gone whole hog and launched Iraq 2003 2.0 in Syria is a good thing, but Obama accomplished that too. We were promised more. Over and over. Today’s video makes clear how little was delivered.
It’s interesting to reflect on how much has changed over the past four years. This video comments on the ways my view of things have changed directly, but the process of making it was also clarifying on shifts in my own attitude. It reminded me that two years ago, right after her upset victory, I wrote half a script about AOC I never produced. In introducing her, I wrote in a joke about my inability to pronounce her name. It’s a small thing, but I don’t find that “joke” funny anymore.
It feels like the period since late 2016 has just flown by, as a never-ending flood of chaos. But it has been four years. I have changed. We have changed. The country has changed. In addition to the arguments I make in this video, that may be one of the best reasons to support Biden. He could finally give us a moment to pause, collect our breath, and reckon with what we have done to ourselves.
It really is amazing how committed Washington, DC can be to utterly fantastical narratives. If Turkey experiences real consequences for turning on the S-400 missile system it has purchased from Russia, it will be because of the damage this choice has done to US defense contractors who feel left out. But that won’t be the story that US congresspeople use to explain the collapse of the 70 year old relationship with Turkey. No, they’ll blame it on Turkey’s choosing to side with Russia.
DC has been trying to sell this idea for years. Despite the fact that Turkey shot down a Russian jet in 2015. Despite the fact that Russia and Turkey are involved in the most serious cold war between great powers that Western Eurasia has seen since the 1980s. Today’s video lays out how Russia and Turkey are now facing off against each other in not one but three separate regions. Today’s video also explains the real reason Turkey could be about to fall out of NATO.
YouTube comments are great. A week or so back I issued a pretty clear condemnation of Azerbaijan’s actions over the past ten days. They have launched a military attack on the Azeri regions that Armenia has occupied for the past three decades. I still believe that Azerbaijan is the driving force behind the new hostilities and that they should knock it off. But the outraged comments from Azeri nationalists helped me see that my analysis was neglecting some really important aspects of the conflict.
With every video I learn a ton more about every topic I cover. Not just about the actual events that have occurred, but about which events and actions are most important to the people involved. As irritating as an occasionally abusive comment section can be, I’ve learned a ton. Today’s video seems geared to piss everybody off, both Turks for acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, and Armenians for pointing out the parallels that their 1990s behavior presents with the Ottomans in 1915. It should be another fun and educational comment section!
It’s staggering how many Trump administration scandals we’ve forgotten completely. Who remembers Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Interior who was let go when the Democrats took the House, because even the Trumpers knew his behavior would be unacceptable under even an ounce of oversight? Who remembers Scott Pruitt, the EPA head who wasn’t just taking favors from lobbyists, but was actually living under their roof? The constant deluge of scandal has been destabilizing through sheer volume alone. Things that would be litigated for weeks or months under the Obama or Bush administrations fly by in a day or so, because something even worse comes up. We’ve all got our most hated Trump appointee, for me it’s probably Jeff Sessions, but as the election looms, I think it’s important to try to look at the big picture. That’s what I’ve tried to do with here to support this project through Patreon. Please do reach out to us through Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, or our e-mail newsletter.
I have been sitting on this one for a while. When the war crime pardons happened in 2019 I was appalled. They finally made it crystal clear for me that Donald Trump was something far worse than some amoral, vaguely racist grifter. We’re lucky that he is incompetent, because his vision of this country is not compatible with constitutional liberty. As with every fascist in history, Trump has started by targeting the weakest. If he’s given another term, he, or, more dangerously, the people surrounding him, will not stop there. I have known since last year that these pardons would be the centerpiece of my case against Trump. I hope that I’ve done a decent job delivering it. This video doesn’t just come from a place of outrage for the minorities persecuted, but out of a sense of self-preservation. This man is not good for the country. We need to vote him out.
It’s basically impossible to over-state how stupid the current US position in Syria is. What’s going on there is a proxy war between two clearly opposed sides. Obviously it would be preferable if Syria was still whole, and half a million people hadn’t died, but it is possible to envision a fairly stable frozen conflict, that would allow everybody to move on and rebuild. There being no justice in the world, this frozen conflict would also work out pretty well for the US. Worried about Iran? Turkey’s there to balance them. Worried about Turkey’s growing influence in the region? Russia and Iran are there to confront Turkey. Want to shield the Kurds from Turkey’s (alleged) genocidal plots? Assad, who the Kurds have been working with closely since 2011, would be happy to do it.
The United States is the only thing standing in the way of a more peaceful situation that works out better for the United States. Our insistence, with Israel, on being everybody’s enemy, all at once, keeps Syria in a permanently unbalanced state. Thanks to the Russians, the meat grinder stopped a number of years ago, but it could tip over into a mass death situation again at any moment. It almost did this past spring. My hope is that today’s video can help to illustrate how much better off we would be if we just left.
Today’s video is a particularly crotchety one. I sometimes worry a bit that I’m insufficiently respectful to the heads of state of these countries in videos like this one. But in reality it’s these politicians that are being disrespectful of their duties to their countries. The East Mediterranean issue is fundamentally not a very serious one, yet Turkey, France and Greece are committing military forces as if real issues are at stake. This kind of thing could back fire terribly. I don’t think it will. But the reckless actions that these men are taking are certainly not going to get me to treat them respectfully. I hope you enjoy my explanation of one of the more requested topics in recent months.
Cancer Sucks. Fundamentally, that’s what today’s video about. It’s absurd that a 43 year old should be dying of cancer in the 21st century, and honestly it’s absurd that anybody should. We have the technologies and principles we need to be moving much more quickly on cancer than we are today. The main thing holding us up today is a failure of political imagination and a dramatic mis-allocation of funding.
The death of Chadwick Boseman is significant for many reasons, but I don’t think this aspect has been covered enough. Today’s video is an attempt to correct that oversight.
This is a video I’ve wanted to make for a while. After looking at it intensely for at least three years now, I’ve got some very strong opinions on the history of the Arab World. I’ve been reluctant to lay them out however, because it’s impossible to talk about the Arab world in general without talking about Israel. It’s a topic that is guaranteed to alienate at least half my audience. As you can tell from today’s video, my views are capable of irritating all sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict. I have held off on addressing that conflict directly because of general chicken-heartedness, and a feeling that I haven’t read enough on the subject yet.
Well a week or so back Israel and the UAE took it out of my hands. The deal announced by Trump is tremendously significant, though not for the reasons that the parties or the deal-makers suspect. This really could be a turning point in Arab history more generally. Or maybe not. Anyway, I’m delighted to have been forced to get these ideas out there. Let me know what you think!