(Florida Phoenix ) – Humans are stupid, and it’s going to get us all killed.
Hang on, you say, we humans have built mighty cities, created great art, invented computers, and cured diseases. We went to the freaking moon!
All true. Hooray for us. Nevertheless, we suffer from fatal short-termism.
Look at Gaza: Israel claims it wants to “destroy” Hamas in retaliation for the atrocities of Oct. 7, but the wholesale slaughter of the civilians interned on that tiny piece of land is not only a war crime, it won’t rid the world of Hamas.
On the contrary, it will only radicalize more Palestinian kids — the ones who manage to survive the bombs, anyway — and ensure that more angry young men join Hezbollah, ISIS, and other violent groups determined to destroy Israel.
The guy to thank for the debacle? Benyamin Netanyahu, Hamas enabler.
His goals: Wreck the possibility of a Palestinian state and cling onto power.
Netanyahu has known for eight years that Hamas earns hundreds of millions of dollars from a portfolio that includes property in the UAE (the United Arab Emirates), mining in Sudan, and building in Turkey.
The former head of Mossad’s economic warfare division says Netanyahu just “didn’t care that much about it.”
You’d think he’d be concerned with all the weapons Hamas was buying with that money. But Netanyahu did nothing. He wanted Hamas to have money, encouraging the Qataris to bring suitcases full of cash into Gaza, sometimes accompanied by Israeli intelligence officers.
The U.S. State Department also knew about Hamas’ money pot and has belatedly been trying to disrupt the flow.
Israel couldn’t be bothered to help. In fact, Netanyahu disbanded Mossad’s economic warfare intelligence operation.
Insane, right? But Hamas is not only a useful enemy for Netanyahu, distracting from his corruption trial, propping up his ultra-right-wing coalition; it further weakened the far more moderate Palestinian Authority.
The PA exercises some administrative authority over West Bank Palestinians — when they’re not being murdered by illegal Israeli settlers, that is.
You reap what you sow. That comes from Galatians, which is in the wrong end of the Bible for Netanyahu, but he might want to think a little harder about how his determination to remain in office endangers the future of the whole Middle East, including the country he claims he wants to protect.
The U.S. Capitol. (Jennifer Shutt/States Newsroom)
A bit of dictatorship
Republicans in the U.S. might also want to reflect on that verse. By refusing to fund the Ukrainians in their war against Vladimir Putin, these self-proclaimed lovers of freedom are supporting totalitarianism.
Not that they’re particularly opposed to totalitarianism. Their likely presidential nominee, who aspires to be Vladimir Putin when he grows up, has made clear that if elected he’ll use the Justice Department as his personal revenge squad to go after enemies, shut down agencies designed to protect citizens, and turn the federal government into his personal fiefdom.
Maybe that’s why so many Republicans are untroubled by Putin’s imperial ambitions. They like a bit of dictatorship.
Besides, most of them can’t find Ukraine on a map.
Maybe they don’t realize that if Ukraine falls, that won’t be the end of it. Poland is next door; Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia aren’t far. They’re all NATO members. If Putin casts his lizardy eye upon them, it could kick off World War III.
The Republicans shrug: Polls show public support for Ukraine is declining — and 2024 is an election year.
This is short-term thinking at its most cynical.
Such behavior comes not merely from political opportunism but ignorance and cruelty, too. The historically illiterate and morally bankrupt wing of the party are holding Ukraine hostage, demanding that the southern border be somehow closed and asylum seekers denied rights.
What they’re really doing is damaging the U.S economy.
Military aid to Ukraine doesn’t involve suitcases of cash toted over the border. Most of the money goes into manufacturing ammunition, missiles, artillery, medical supplies, anti-mine equipment, body armor, guns, and aerial defense drones, made by Americans in American factories.
General Dynamics wants to build a new factory in Mesquite, Texas, to make ammunition, creating at least 125 jobs. Yet their local congressman opposes Ukraine aid.
Abrams tanks, central to Ukraine’s war effort, are made in Lima, Ohio — where they’re critical to the local economy.
Lima’s in Rep. Jim Jordan’s district and, while he insists he supports manufacturing, he opposes giving more help to Kyiv. He’s so busy shouting at Hunter Biden and trying to impeach Joe Biden he can’t muster enough brain cells to figure out that if the Abrams plant doesn’t score more tank orders, some of his constituents could lose their jobs.
The important thing is owning the libs in Congress.
Rishi Sunak, the hapless British prime minister, can only dream of owning the libs in Parliament.
All indications are that his Conservative Party is heading for an embarrassing defeat in the coming national election.
The Tories are desperate to lure back disenchanted voters. But instead of putting forth policies that would help the country long-term — controlling inflation, addressing homelessness, and funding the NHS — they’ve gone all in on craziness that appeals only to their reactionary base: shipping asylum seekers to Rwanda, cracking down on charities that give tents to homeless people (a former cabinet minister called sleeping on the street “a lifestyle choice”), and sucking up to the rich by cutting inheritance tax.
I’ll say this for the Conservative Party: They do acknowledge the climate crisis. But Sunak now wants to roll back his pledge on zero admissions by 2030 and compound the problem by drilling for more oil in the North Sea.
That’s not leadership; it’s pandering to instant gratification.
Not that it’s working. Unlike their short-termist government, British voters understand that we’re running out of time to reverse the most serious effects of planetary warming and look likely to punish the Tories by voting them out.
Here in the U.S., more than half of the population says addressing the climate crisis is the most important issue we face. Two-thirds think the government should prioritize developing clean energy and focus on going carbon neutral.
It’s hard to know how many of us would actually get up off our backsides and demand our elected representatives stop pushing new oil wells, demand manufacturers clean up their act and make greener cars, stoves, and refrigerators, but at least most Americans now realize the planet’s got a big, big problem.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Congress is still full of deniers.
In politics, short term thinking is a feature, not a bug. To get elected, you have to promise to make people’s lives better soon, not someday. But Republicans, and a few Democrats like Joe Manchin, have decided that their livelihoods (political and financial) depend on refusing to admit that we’re on track to destroy ourselves.
They take refuge in blaming China and India or hollering about how solar power will destroy the economy.
As the wildfires rage, the sea rises, and the storms batter us, I guess their strategy is to hope somehow something will turn up, some magical solution that allows Americans to keep driving SUVs and Escalades, choke the seas with plastic, pile our methane-emitting garbage in landfills, and generally pretend that a burning planet won’t affect us.
We want what we want when we want it.
Air-conditioning is a human right, isn’t it?
Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo.