Syria, Russell Brand, and Miley Cyrus: Strange daze indeed
Is it just me, or have we been here before? Say, back in 2003, during the buildup to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq? And is something amiss when one of the most reliable voices of reason amid the current World War III scenario is Russell Brand? Or when a (possibly former) entertainment icon for early adolescent girls steals the show by doing a faux softcore stage performance on cable television?
After a week-long mounting media storm here in America, and also in Britain, and also in many other countries, here’s what we’re now faced with:
From CNN this morning:
The United States has concluded Syria carried out chemical weapons attacks against its people, President Barack Obama said Wednesday, a claim that comes amid a looming diplomatic showdown over whether to strike against Bashar al-Assad’s military.
From Reuters yesterday:
President Barack Obama vowed on Wednesday that the Syrian government would face “international consequences” for last week’s deadly chemical attack, but made clear any military response would be limited to avoid dragging the United States into another war in the Middle East.
From The Washington Post this morning:
As the United States and its allies weigh limited military strikes against Syria, their lawyers have been exploring a range of legal frameworks for any operation, including propositions that members of the international community have the right to use force to protect civilians or to deter a rogue nation from using chemical weapons.
However, the Post also reports that
the Obama administration’s efforts to build a legal case are encountering skepticism from U.N. officials and other experts, including former Republican and Democratic State Department lawyers, who argue that the use of force against the Syrian regime, absent a U.N. Security Council resolution, would be illegal.
On the other hand, the Associated Press (via Yahoo! News) reports that
Britain’s leaders said Thursday it would be legal under humanitarian doctrine to launch a military strike against Syria even without authorization from the United Nations Security Council.
Meanwhile, Reuters (via Yahoo! News Canada) reports that
Russia is sending two warships to the east Mediterranean, Interfax news agency said on Thursday, but Moscow denied this meant it was beefing up its naval force there as Western powers prepare for military action against Syria.
And of course the Syrian government itself has weighed in, as reported this morning by the Toronto Star:
Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday that his country “will defend itself against any aggression,” signalling defiance to mounting Western warnings of a possible punitive strike over a suspected poison gas attack blamed on his regime.
Furthermore, and in case all of the above isn’t already ominous enough, Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Muallem, has amplified the government’s vow to defend itself with some darkly suggestive rhetoric, according to The Telegraph:
Syria would demonstrate military capabilities that would “surprise” the world, added the minister, and any US-led campaign would make no difference to the regime’s determination. “We have the means to defend ourselves and we will surprise everyone,” said Mr Muallem. “We will defend ourselves using all means available. I don’t want to say more than that.”
And in case anybody wonders about the position or intentions of Russia, mentioned above, The Telegraph helpfully clarifies:
Russia, meanwhile, accused the West of behaving like a “monkey with a grenade” as the Kremlin began evacuating its citizens from Syria.
Again, I ask: haven’t we been here before?
One person who think so is Russell Brand (!), who further cements his status as Somebody Worth Listening To in this brief clip from British television, recorded last month, as he recalls the debacle of the non-existent WMDs in Iraq and says this has left him unable to believe government propaganda when it comes to things like, say, attacking Syria:
If you, like me, live in America, and if you find all of this as troubling as I do, then don’t forget that you can easily distract, comfort, and numb yourself by paying attention to any number of other things. Such as — to name one decidedly non-random example — the sad spectacle of Miley Cyrus. In “How America Reacted: Miley Cyrus vs. Syria,” investigative journalist Ben Swann observes,
The world is now positioning itself for what could possibly be the beginning of the next world war. France, Great Britain and the USA are now aligning against China, Syria, Russia and Iran.
And yet when Mr. Swann used Google Trends to analyze the respective popularity of the Miley Cyrus “story” vs. the Syria story, he found that Internet searches for Ms. Cyrus in the wake of her universally degrading “performance” at the VMA Awards went explosively higher and searches for Syria actually went down right as this new WWIII scenario was beginning to unfold.
We’re living in strange days, people.