Fireground Rules, Part 1: When in Doubt, Cease and Desist

Wild FireIn the fire service, we had a simple rule that saved a lot of lives – when things go totally to shit, STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING!

Don’t do it harder. Don’t do it longer. Don’t throw more resources at it.

It’s not working, so STOP!

This rule applies to US foreign policy as well. In a nutshell . . .

STOP fighting stupid wars. The US has launched some five dozen invasions, ‘interventions, ‘police actions’ and ‘regime changes’ in the last 60 years. None has made the nation or the world safer. All have made the nation and the world poorer. All have cost lives, damaged the environment, and skewed local and national economies. And all have cost the US cash, credibility, status and relationships.

STOP supporting stupid governments. The long history of the US picking and backing losers and criminals continues unabated. The Karzais are no more noble nor capable – and will ultimately prove no more durable – than Diem, Marcos, Pahlavi or Pinochet. America’s support for Israel, Pakistan and Egypt, to name only a few of the current crop of losers and lame-os shored up and funded by the US, is equally stupid and counterproductive.

STOP supporting stupid organizations. From the IMF and the World Bank to multi-national predators, private military contractors and Halliburton, US support of corrupt and incompetent institutions digs an ever deeper hole of environmental destruction, inequity, unrest and insecurity. These organizations have amply demonstrated over the past several decades that they have neither the intention nor the ability to create a better future, so why waste time and money on them?

STOP buying stupid weapons. (Especially the ‘smart’ ones.) Not only is the cost of Cold War legacy weapons a major factor in the impending bankruptcy of the US, their profusion and use further separate both warfighters and the general population from the ugly reality that what the US does best is kill people and destroy nations. Anything that allows that process to be more sterile and remote – more like a video game than the vicious murder it is – allows us to ask only the question of whether something can be done, rather than whether it should be done.

And, finally, to the voters who ultimately choose the policymakers . . .

STOP electing the fools, criminals, liars and corporate whores that currently populate the administration and congress. These are the people who brought you to this dangerous and potentially disastrous point. Unless you want more of the same, stop electing more of the same.