I went to the doctor for a cough that I had thought I had gotten rid of. I used a blend of heavy-duty tranquilizers, opiates, and a little Humboldt green thrown in for good measure, and the problem seemed to subside. Or so I thought. Not too long after I started to celebrate in my head, it came back again, this time much worse than before.

The doctor looked at me nonchalantly and said, “Try some more codeine. At least you won’t be coughing then.”

M.D. Harkins

I went and filled the prescription and made a cocktail with my new narcotic syrup, and Syrup-7 on the rocks in hand, solving the world’s problems came naturally into my mind.

In many ways, my nagging cough is similar to the problem America faces today with ISIS, a vicious terrorist group hell-bent on setting up an Islamic state (using archaic notions of a brutal interpretation of Sharia law) in parts of Iraq and Syria. ISIS, or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, came to prominence in the power vacuum created by the perfect storm of the U.S. muddling in and then pulling out of Iraq, leaving a weak government behind, and all hell breaking loose in Syria, much of which is owed to American interference.

So, what does this have to do with my cough? By going after these groups, we may kill off the symptom (a cough in my case, some radical jihadi group in the case of ISIS); however, the cause is still there. I still don’t know why I’m coughing. Hard living? A deep-rooted case of bronchitis? Some strange African flu? But I’m coughing. Same with ISIS, only the cause there is much simpler to diagnose: Gulf-funded extremism being exported to other parts of the Middle East and the rest of the world via vast amounts of petrodollars. ISIS is a symptom of that.

Which makes President Obama’s speech about going into Syria quite ironic. He rambled on about how Saudi Arabia is going to be our great ally in combating these crazy people, when, in fact, the Saudis are the ones supporting them. The Kingdom is using its vast petrodollars to export Wahhabism, a bastardized form of Islam that is central to the Saudi state. The U.S. is sort of paying its adversary to “fight” its adversary. This is like having a coyote watch the hen house while you go run a few errands.

This move comes on the heels of a bipartisan congressional effort to declassify 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report which allegedly links the Saudi Government to the 9/11 attacks. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

If the U.S. were serious about putting an end to this insanity, we would do a number of things, a number of things we currently aren’t doing. For one, we would take advantage of the fact that we will be the top non-OPEC petroleum exporter and use our oil in domestic markets instead of shipping it abroad, thus making us energy independent. An energy-independent United States would weaken the Gulf States and weaken their ability to export their extremism.

We would also be well advised to cut ties with the Saudi government, to quit propping up dictatorships (such as the brutally oppressive Saudis, Qataris, Jordanians, Egyptians, etc.), and to let nature take its course. It would certainly bring in some needed goodwill from the region if we quit propping up tinhorn dictators. It may not be as expedient, but it would pay off in the long run.

Because the solution as it is now may provide short-term relief at times, but it allows the real problem to fester and get worse. While my temporary “solution” caused the cough to subside for a bit, it also left me a bit spacey, incoherent at times, and often with an insatiable craving for candy, tacos, and other fast-foods.

And what has the U.S. solution done? It’s left a once-stable nation in ruins, wasted trillions on fruitless military adventures, killed and displaced untold hundreds of thousands of people, and created a whole generation of people that hate our guts.

Even worse, it’s inflicted a paranoia on us, its own citizens, which may never be shaken. There were times in my musings during which I would stagger around and mumble like Ozzy Osbourne. I wasn’t sure if I would recover. The same could be said of the American psyche right now. People are afraid of everything, and things get increasingly authoritarian by the day. Drones will soon be in the sky, monitoring your moves, there are cameras everywhere, and some bald, fat bureaucrat who would have trouble getting laid in a Rwandan whorehouse is undoubtedly masturbating to phone calls tapped without a warrant.

So yeah, maybe we feel safe, maybe we feel like we’ve done something, but have we?

The root of the problem is still there. And until it gets fixed, we’re going to stagger around in our own drug-concocted haze indefinitely.

Old fools never change their ways, I suppose. I’ll go back into a stupor thinking I’m getting healthier, still wondering why I’m not well in a month from now, and the U.S. will bomb some poor bastards into obscurity, thinking we’re making a difference, and wonder why, in a couple years, there’s some new flavor-of-the-week, fanatical, violent group going apeshit in the Middle East.

M.D. Harkins is a noted authority on small hand tools and Nuristani mating rituals. He has lived in such far-flung locales as Beirut, Lebanon, and Billings, Montana. He maintains the Enlightened Despot blog and has written one novel, Feast. He currently resides in a fortified compound near Isla Vista.


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