The Summer That Didn’t Matter

At times like these, I’m glad I’m not a top-tier political satirist.

Certainly, I wish I could pursue satire full-time. And even more certainly, I wish I were top-tier at something, anything. But there are advantages to having an easy life.

Case in point: The Summer of ’14. Or, as it will be remembered in decades hence, “Huh?”

It had all the potential for being a watershed season. So many things went wrong. Ferguson. Ukraine. Gaza. ISIS.

But ultimately, none of it really mattered. On a cosmic scale, I mean. Sucks to be a captured journalist, a Dutch epidemiologist, a member of the Khan Yunis PTA, or Mike Brown, but still. A year from new, we’re not going to even remember any of this.

I’m not saying that because I think that’s the way it should be. If we were living in the Conditional Tense-topia, we’d be discussing meaningful ways to ensure that law enforcement has the support rather than the scorn of the neighborhoods it protects, dispassionately generating checklists and rehearsing plans for controlled responses that distinguish between opportunistic looting and constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of speech and assembly.

We’d explain to Vladimir Putin, in the only terms he respects, that The Civilized World won’t put up with the armed invasion of a piece of it; if you want to make a case that ethnic Russian rights need stronger guarantees in countries where Russians are a minority, there are other ways to do it than to give some numb-nuts a lesson in surface-to-air warfare and set him loose to blow an AIDS conference out of midair.

Should I even go into the whole Gaza thing? I got nothing but sympathy for those unfortunate people trapped in the crossfire. But please, please, please, read up on how they got there. And don’t rely on any one source. They all got a horse in this race, as do I. If I held all the power in Israel — that is, if I were the fundraising chairman of the Shas Party — I’d go to the West Bank and make a deal — today! — with Mahmoud Abbas. “Thanks for not bombing us all the time and suggesting that we might have a right to live. Tell you what, we’ll take down the Green Line fence, open the border permanently, let you declare independence, be seated at the UN, establish a full-scale defense force, mint your own money, whatever makes you feel like a country rather than Israeli-occupied Jordan, which is what you are. We’ll remove the outposts and any settlements that aren’t any older than the soldiers we have to commit to guard them. The rest of the Jewish towns stay where they are and are afforded the freedom to practice their religion, in return for which they’ll pay taxes to you instead of us. You take control of east Jerusalem, including all the outlandishly gerrymandered precincts that were added after our 1967 land grab. We keep the rest. For the disputed four or five blocks in the middle, let’s both claim it, jointly administer it, and allow UN peacekeepers nominal control; don’t worry, they’ll shit in their baby-blue helmets and run if and when we have a disagreement, then they’ll be back as soon as we’ve sorted stuff out. Meantime, Hamas is left to rant and rave in Gaza, getting nothing of what they want.

ISIS? That’s easy. They consider themselves an independent state. Hell, they consider themselves the Caliphate. Fine. I say, let’s recognize them. Tomorrow. At 9 a.m. Then, at 9:01 a.m., let’s declare war on them. Then, after our second cup of coffee, let’s figure out what we’re going to do next. I agree with those who said that we shouldn’t rush to unseat a dictatorship without having a plan for putting something else in place which could be worse. Guess what, Policy Nerd, you were right. That’s exactly what happened. More than once. And thus, we got ISIS. You really think things can get worse? I got a few tens of thousands of Yazidis who don’t.

And for all that, 2014 will fade into history as the year nothing much of importance really happened. The Democrats will make whatever political hay they can out of Ferguson, and it could very well be the edge they need to hold onto the Senate. And even if it doesn’t, the Dems really don’t care about the Senate because, as we’ve all learned, having a majority in the Upper House means next to nothing. And cops will still harass blacks. Sorry, but I don’t care what high-tech features your new ride has, if you’re black then your taillight went out as soon as you drove it off the dealer’s lot.

After a few weeks of blind panic in Kiev, then a few weeks of blind panic in Donetsk, the Ukraine war shows every sign of winding down. Is it the triumph of diplomacy over militancy? Is it a new detente between East and West? Naaah. There was too much money being lost by oligarchs in every nation in the northern hemisphere. The bag men just said no.

There’s a ceasefire in Gaza. It will last until the arms merchants clear up their back-orders. Then the cycle will start again, and 2014 will prove to be a bloody but ultimately inconsequential year.

And everybody is going to forget ISIS as soon as it fades to insignificance on its own. Nobody wants to remember them. Nobody. Especially not the chicken-hawks who, just a year ago, were urging us to arm them because they were fighting Syria’s Assad regime, and are now urging us to arm Assad against ISIS.

Here’s hoping we have a less interesting but more productive autumn.

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