War and Consequences: A Mass Shooting Again

  • Esteban Santiago is taken from the Broward County main jail as he is transported to the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
    Esteban Santiago is taken from the Broward County main jail as he is transported to the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. | Photo: Reuters
The shooter’s amily says he has had mental problems since he returned from the Iraq war. So the Iraq war continues to claim victims.

Yet another mass shooting in the U.S., this time at Fort Lauderdale airport, Florida’s second largest. A certain Esteban Santiago flew from Alaska changing planes en route at Minneapolis. Arriving, he headed to the baggage collection area, claimed his suitcase, opened it in the privacy of a toilet, removed a gun, methodically loaded it, and began shooting in the baggage area. When the police reached him, he was sitting on the floor with the gun in front of him. He offered no resistance.

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His family says he has had mental problems since he returned from the Iraq war. Yet he was allowed to work as a security guard and have a gun. Of course the pay is low and the firms are not choosy.  Five dead and eight injured is the tally. Questioned, he volunteered to the FBI that the government was forcing him to watch Islamic State videos. He heard voices.

So the Iraq war continues to claim victims both at home and abroad, and of Special Forces personnel in Iraq/Syria as the battle with the Islamic State group continues. U.S. Special Forces were deployed in an astonishing 138 countries in 2016. Our violent society discarding those least able to take care of themselves made the mentally ill shooter also a victim.

The neocon enterprise of destroying every country that could possibly be a threat to Israel, handily executed by Democrat and Republican administration alike, has boomeranged badly. Thus the Islamic fundamentalist actors unleashed are more of a threat, given their asymmetric warfare, than the countries with established static centers of power ever were. Israel was and is qualitatively a vastly superior military, and President Obama has just given it a $40 billion military gift including state-of-the-art goodies to retain that superiority.

This deliberate policy displacing culturally advanced secular regimes in Iraq and Libya has failed for now in Syria although the country is a wreck.  Russia charges that the U.S., instead of targeting rebels in its air campaign, is systematically destroying Syria’s infrastructure. Nothing new given the experience of Iraq and Libya.

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Meanwhile, the most culturally primitive regime proselytizing an 18th century cleric’s version of a rigid, blinkered Islam, continues to receive the West’s support unquestioned — even enhanced by the purchase of billions of dollars of arms.  So it is that Saudi Arabia has just sentenced a group of protesting foreign construction workers to 300 lashes and four months jail for burning a bus during a protest against unpaid wages.  They have not been paid for over six months.  The lashing sentence was reported on January 4th; no doubt on Jan. 6, a Friday, the Saudis, as is the custom, were lopping off a head or two in the public square.  The crimes vary from murder to adultery.

Of course the merciless killing of Yemeni civilians continues. Experts and rights groups have labeled the more horrific incidents war crimes in which the U.S. and U.K. are complicit for refueling and supplying Saudi aircraft. Both have also sold the Saudis cluster bombs prohibited under the May 2008 Dublin “Convention on Cluster Munitions.” A significant majority of the world’s states, a total of 119, have joined the Convention according to its website.

A president with great promise who offered greater promises, awarded a Nobel Peace Prize at the beginning of his tenure, instead of ending wars gave us new ones, offering change gave us more of the same, instead of diminishing enemies and developing more friends gave us the opposite, instead of lessening inequality increased it, instead of reducing poverty moved the goal posts.

A trip to downtown Chicago, the president’s adopted hometown, is revealing. Beggars line the streets in numbers now numbing; they have increased steadily during his eight years in office.  Worth noting, there were none until 1980 and the start of the Reagan revolution.

So what did the people do?  They elected a billionaire!  He offers … promises.  Go figure, as they used to say in the old days.

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