Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife

Photo by Marcel Trindade | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Marcel Trindade | CC BY 2.0


According to Hesiod in his Works and Days, there are two different goddesses named Eris (or Strife).  It is the second to whom this piece refers.  In this work, Hesiod writes of her: “So, after all, there was not one kind of Strife alone, but all over the earth there are two. As for the one, a man would praise her when he came to understand her; but the other is blameworthy: and they are wholly different in nature. For one fosters evil war and battle, being cruel: her no man loves; but perforce, through the will of the deathless gods, men pay harsh Strife her honor due.”  In his work Theogony, he describes her further as the mother of “Ponos (“Hardship”),Lethe (“Forgetfulness”) and Limos (“Starvation”) and the tearful Algae (“Pains”),Hysminai (“Battles”), Makhai (“Wars”), Phonoi (“Murders”), and Androktasiai (“Manslaughters”);Neikea (“Quarrels”), Pseudea (“Lies”), Logoi (“Stories”), Amphillogiai “Disputes”) Dysnomia (“Anarchy”) and Ate (“Ruin”), near one another, and Horkos (“Oath”), who most afflicts men on earth, Then willing swears a false oath.”  It was she who began the Trojan War when she tossed the Apple of Discord into the weeding party of Peleus and Thetas.

It is also she who reigns in today’s world, especially in the Middle East.  The recent US bombing of a bomb shelter in Mosul, Iraq is but one more murderous Apple of Discord.

According to eyewitnesses quoted by news services, dozens of people hid in a house while Islamic State fighters shot at Iraqi (and perhaps US) forces in a Mosul neighborhood.  As the fighting continued, US military planes arrived and began attacking the house where people were sheltering and other targets.  After the planes left, Islamic State fighters had disappeared and a search and rescue operation begun.  After reports began to leak out of a massive number of dead civilians found in the house, US and Iraqi forces at first denied culpability.

As more evidence was made uncovered and more bodies discovered, US military spokespeople acknowledged the possibility of culpability.  However, that admission was cloaked in an explanation that essentially blamed the Islamic State enemy for the deaths.  According to this explanation, the Islamic State “uses civilians as human shields.”  In other words, they live amongst civilians instead of on well-protected military bases like US troops.

Furthermore, goes this circuitous reasoning, it is rumored that IS booby traps houses that are used as shelters.  This means that any missile or bomb attack on a house rigged with explosives would set off what is called a secondary explosion.  Left unsaid in this rather half-assed attempt to shift blame is the fact that the US military should not be bombing buildings used as air raid shelters.  Indeed, if today’s technology is as good as it’s supposed to be, they should rarely if ever even wound a civilian.

The bigger question is why the United States military is even in the Middle East, much less actively engaged in killing them.  The last several decades of US involvement in the region has proven that military solutions are incapable of resolving the issues in the region.  Indeed, it can be reasonably argued that the ongoing military presence in the region has only exacerbated existing problems and created many new ones.  Foremost among the latter are the millions of refugees created by the wars and repression that has been precipitated by imperialist adventurism.  The sheer numbers of refugees have overwhelmed European nations unprepared for the influx.  In addition, the fear of refugees among certain segments of western societies has been inflamed by racist demagogues and liberal politicians alike, resulting in numerous crimes against the refugees and their supporters.

If one looks at more recent history—say since 1991 and the first US invasion of Iraq—it would seem that Washington has a multifaceted approach towards the Middle East.  This approach involves at least three approaches.  The first would be to prop up dictators in the region with cash and military sales in exchange for those dictators support against Washington’s current enemies.  This was the case with US support for Saddam Hussein until August of 1990, when Washington turned against him.  It was also the case vis-a-vis the Assad regimes in Syria until recently.  The second approach involves military invasion and occupation.  One assumes the desired result of this approach would be the installation of a client (puppet) regime in the invaded nation.  The third approach, which seems to occur when the others fail, is to allow and even encourage chaos.  This is the current situation in Iraq and Syria.  Both nations are embroiled in multi-sided civil wars supported by outside regimes and interests.  The actual fighters who aren’t regular military come from criminal gangs, religious sects, paramilitaries and locals merely defending their homes.  In addition, various political organizations of the right and left are represented in the fighting.  The only certainty seems to be that death will come to many.   The again, what would one expect when the man leading the charge is known as “Mad Dog?”

There are no new ideas coming from those powers responsible for the chaos in the region.  Indeed, the recent loosening of the US rules of engagement seems to foretell a return to more classic practices of imperial war.  In other words, there will be fewer targeted drone attacks and more bombings and other less specific aerial attacks.  If this is to be the case (and one assumes it will be in the wake of various pronouncements of the new regime in Washington), there will be many more incidents like the attack on the shelter in Mosul.  There will probably be less concern about such incidents from the White House and Pentagon, either.  After all, a government that wants to put in place an immigration policy that considers everyone from certain nations as suspect would have few qualms (if any) about bombing others who happen to live in the same neighborhood as those it has deemed terrorists.  After all, goes this type of reasoning, who’s to say they aren’t terrorists too?  It is a simplistic reasoning that might ultimately create the exact scenario it pretends it is working to prevent.  The ultimate outcome of such reasoning would be the death of all those who look like those deemed terrorists by the nations whose policies have done much to create them.  This is not reason.  It is madnes

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Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

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