War, Weapons, and Secretary Clinton on Eggs and Tomatoes in Syria

US Condemns Attack on Envoy in Syria reports Al Jazeera. “More violence!” I thought. Apparently Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared my initial shock declaring, “We condemn this unwarranted attack in the strongest possible terms.” Whew, that is intense, but then I found out the envoy was “attacked” by eggs and tomatoes.

The American Ambassador, Robert Ford, was thankfully unharmed, but those egg shells “seriously damaged embassy vehicles.” Anyone who has been in a school food fight knows that eggs and tomatoes can result in a pretty nasty hair day, and we are glad that Ford did not have to go through something so atrocious, but damage what was probably an armored SUV – please.

“This is clearly part of a campaign to intimidate diplomats who are bearing witness to the brutality of the Assad regime,” Jay Carney, Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman said. I couldn’t agree more. Syrian civilians who happen to support President Assad by throwing eggs at what is probably a fortified vehicle, is very scary. It does not matter at all that the US government is doing its dandiest to get rid of their President. At least these people didn’t have access to something that can really cause damage like those missing SAMs in Libya, which, by the way, the US probably sold to them.

It is true that the Assad regime is using excess force on his people and it should cease immediately, but the Syrian people do have the right to protest for him or against him – and they can protest for or against the US, who in this case, is inappropriately intervening.

These wayward Syrians should be very careful though because these very dangerous “eggs and tomatoes” could get an unexpected response. The US is already busy bombing the Libyans, Afghans, Pakistani and Yemenis (and might I add Gazans who are being bombed with US weapons although not by the US technically) and pretty much destroyed Iraq. Before Syrians move forward on any other “attack” they should ask the Iraqis, who lost over 200,000 civilians, what it was like to feel the wrath of a US JDAM because they had an “axis of evil” leader that we know was a tyrant, but no threat to the US. Sorry about all that “collateral damage.”

This posturing by Clinton is another example of how the United States continues to go directly to defense (not the other 2Ds – diplomacy and development) without putting events in any perspective. To condemn these actions in the “strongest possible terms” sounds to me like another threat of violence possibly in the form of unmanned flybys dropping a few tons of explosives not caring at all who gets hurt.

Come on people – eggs and tomatoes? Certainly, if thrown hard enough, they can sting or even cause a pretty nasty oval black and blue mark, but to liken them to the brutality of a regime using attack helicopters, AK 47s, and tanks storming and pounding civilians is quite a reach.

This comment by Clinton, who is suppose to be America’s leading diplomat, reminds us that even our supposedly peaceful arm of foreign policy has become excessively militarized with policies that involve nothing more than threats and war.

I suppose that now that the US is the number one maker and exporter of weapons that it must do its part in using and distributing them. I already mentioned how they are being used. Unfortunately they are being distributed and used in more than half of the world. Israel, our number one consumer of lethal wares gets over $3 billion weapons per year – gratis – thanks to the US taxpayer. Of course these weapons are necessary in the case of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the rest of the Gulf countries in cast that nasty country of Iran rears its ugly head.

Is anyone else seeing a very dangerous pattern here? And let me tell you all this rush to violence is getting far too embedded in American culture. This country has been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan for ten years now. Ten years while selling all kinds of military equipment to countries who may want them or perhaps may or may not be helpful with the war on terror. Even if you smile nice or the US just feels like it this week, you can get weapons.

Iraq for its pains is now the proud owner of multibillion-dollar Lockheed Martin F-16s warplanes – 18 of them and the US probably somehow paid for them. This means you pay taxes so the government can give Iraq money and they can spend it at Lockheed on war planes. Why not just give Lockheed the money directly and have them do something beneficial like more efficient and better medical technologies to save lives and money? Personally, I’d really appreciate painless mammograms, but that’s another story.

Afghanistan is getting billions of its very own lethal weapons too including 75,000 M16 rifles. Whoo hoo!! Only problem is that they are now being used on US forces.

Saudi Arabia got over $60 billion dollars in advanced aircraft and weapons in 2010, the United Arab Emeritus is the US’s third largest weapons client after Egypt and Israel and Israel, well they have so many weapons I don’t even have to go there. Although, recently they supplemented their stockpile with some nice shiny bunker buster bombs, again, courtesy of the US taxpayer and Obama Administration, who sold weapons that the Bush Administration wouldn’t event consider. Case and point, this US weapons bonanza is getting worse.

Now the US banks are basically busted, all this country seems to be exporting are weapons and pretty nasty ones for that matter. And I haven’t event talked about the arsenal being sold to countries like Taiwan, South Korea or the various countries in Africa.

While the Arab world is working to rid themselves of dictators and authoritarian governments so they can build nations of democracy and civil justice, the US is selling and using tremendous amounts of weapons there. I’m baffled. How did we all become so numb to widespread lethal action. Even the military is against all this sharing of deadly technology because they know how it can be used and how it may be used sometime in the future – against them. Selling armaments to other countries – i.e. weapons that may someday kill your own people – seems to me to be somehow counter intuitive or just simply mad. Yet, not only does this country do it – it is proud of itself for spreading death.

Instead of threatening people who throw tomatoes, Mrs. Clinton, would be better off building a stronger diplomatic and engagement machine. Her Ambassador should be fired for inciting more chaos in a country where people are dying. Diplomacy is not used to cause more conflict, it is used to mitigate or prevent it. Clinton should know better. Unfortunately, the US diplomatic machine has been severally compromised and she has sat by and watched.

The Department of Defense has taken over much of its management and implementation responsibility and Congress has failed to give the State Department sufficient funding. In reality it still gets about $52 billion a year and from where I’m standing Clinton could have made a lean and mean diplomatic service with that so the US can resort to something other than force.

Unfortunately, the Secretary herself has done little to make true change. Instead, she continues to rack up frequent flier miles while State destroys itself by deferring to defense, failing foreign service officers by sending them out without proper support and training and allowing FSOs to be compromised in their duties. Compromised by fortified embassies controlled by the military disallowing diplomats and staff to engage with the very people they are suppose to work with: because no one knows them, they are always in danger. She had another opportunity with the QDDR, her knowledge and her own political prowess, but Clinton wasted it.

Her tenure was an opportunity to build a stellar State Department, brilliantly reorganized, to lead America into the next age of complex diplomacy and engagement. Instead she has chosen specific projects and resigned herself, like too many Americans, to the fact that defense – while sacrificing our soldiers and souls – should be in charge of foreign policy because it is an easier way to go. Building a talented team of regional foreign policy professions who understand complexities beyond war, and don’t live behind bars, is just too hard.

Peace creates a world of prosperity diminishing the opportunities and abilities of those who prefer violence. The sooner we all realize this, the less we will feel the need to lethally punish someone who is doing nothing more than tossing a tomato.

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