In the last several days the Siege of Aleppo has ended. The rebels holding the city have been defeated by the Syrian government forces, aided by Russian air force bombing.
There is some talk of this being a turning point in the years-long civil war in Syria, since Aleppo was by far the largest city held by the rebels, even partially, and the preponderant portion of the country’s population is now under government control.
The usual response by outsider or foreigners to a civil war that has ended, even if they support the folks who lost the civil war, is to recognize the winners.
When the Bolsheviks won the Civil War of 1919-1921, the U.S. recognized their government in 1933, which made us one of the last of the Western Powers to do so. Great Britain recognized the Soviet Union in 1924. The gap was only three years for the British, and twelve years for the United States.
With Communist China the corresponding delays were 23 and 24 years after the end of the civil war, an unusually long period of time.
In Syria, however, we already recognize the Assad government of Syria as its legitimate government; what happened at the fall of Aleppo, however, was a wall-to-wall outburst of concern for the civilian victims of the military overthrow of rebel control.
I’d like to compare that response to the response we also saw, to the election of Trump as President.
In both cases there is a strong resistance, for wholly disproportionate reasons, to the acceptance of the real world. People of good intentions are beseeching the rest of us to demand a cease-fire out of the Syrian government, or the United Nations, or Russia, or whomever. Hey, the Syrian government won. Why should they listen to us? Get real, bro.
In the event, the Syrian/Russian side, once hostilities ceased, did indeed establish, after some glitches, a cease-fire and an evacuation of those who wanted to leave for the rebel-controlled territory upon the surrender of their small section of the city still under their control. I really doubt any expression of concern by those of us in the West or the United Nations pulled any weight in that arrangement.
Similarly, the Internet has been alive since the surprise election of Trump with calls for us to petition Mister Trump not to appoint one or another person to his Cabinet. The reality is, Trump won the election, and history strongly suggests that Congress is going to approve every single one of his Cabinet appointees. It hasn’t refused to do so since 1868 (and that, recall, was in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War).
Seeing how silly that expectation is, the Clinton campaign and the Washington Establishment has devised a fear campaign in its stead. We are now advised that we have to respond to intelligence service charges, always attributed to anonymous sources, that the Russians swung the election in Trump’s favor.
The reality is, Clinton lost the election. All this falderol about the Russian hacking is beside the point. Even on its face, we are only talking about the leaks in question telling the voter things which were secret, but true. It is laughable, to claim that knowing something that is true has stolen the election. And even then, that which the revealed documents showed, that Clinton was in hock to Wall Street and that the Mainstream Media pushed Clinton’s candidacy beyond the bounds of professional journalistic ethics, was obvious anyway.
What is at the bottom of this strange reaction is, that we good-thinking people are supposed to unite in support of the intelligence services. The ones who brought us the Iraq War (and the interventions in Serbia, Libya, and so on).
As with Syria, as with the Iraq invasion, the recipient of this fear campaign is supposed to suspend critical thought.
We are no longer allowed to belong to the world of reality — the one where Clinton lost the election because most people in swing states didn’t vote for her. The reality where the Syrian civil war has been decided, in Assad’s favor. Where he now bids fair to run the whole country, at the cost of a lot of people dead and in the face of efforts by Sunni rebels and Saudi subsidies, not to mention C.I.A. subversive dirty tricks of one sort or another.
Instead we are offered a rejection of reality. Somehow, we are to save the people who are now under Syrian government control, by petition, or by computer clicks, or something, never mind what. Similarly, by Congressional investigation, or by petitioning the electors, or some such rejection of reality, we are to protest the fact that Trump was elected.
That’s what Ronald Reagan offered us, you may recall. In the face of Jimmy Carter’s call to turn down the thermostat because we were disrupting the planet’s climate, we turned away from reality and elected a fantasist. We built monster cars where we needed smaller ones. We looked for ways to extend our dependence on foreign oil, and to secure it in the face of whatever the locals wanted.
It was a national indulgence in wish-fulfillment. We are now being invited to repeat it.