Someone just shoot me.
In between doing lines of ground kopi luwak and practicing visualization techniques that are supposed to keep me from slashing the tires of my enemies, I spent my afternoon today brushing up on some current legislation. One focal point was S. 532, a bill introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). The bill would block the U.S. government from funding known terrorist groups abroad such as Al Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIS, as well as any foreign governments known to have been funneling support to such groups. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) has introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives. (Sometimes Members of both chambers get their shit together enough to introduce corresponding legislation simultaneously in order to speed up the deliberative process a little.)
Good on them and all that. It’s real nice, isn’t it? A little bipartisan, bicameral effort to stop The Bad Guys never hurt nobody, ain’t that the truth? Get a little friendly debate going, hash things out together, come to some kind of mutual understanding, maybe get a vote in that represents the Will of the People, whatever that is. Not a bad way to whittle away the days of one’s Congressional term, so full of marble hallways and private meeting rooms as they are.
But wait, WTF? Congress is looking at bills to stop funding known terrorist groups – like, ones that have killed innocent civilians, both in the West and not? Why are we even funding those groups in the first place? Check out with Rep. Gabbard had to say in a press release announcing the bill:
“For years, the US government has been supporting armed militant groups working directly with and often under the command of terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government. Rather than spending trillions of dollars on regime change wars in the Middle East, we should be focused on defeating terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, and using our resources to invest in rebuilding our communities here at home.·
Well said, lady. She went on:
“The fact that American taxpayer dollars are being used to strengthen the very terrorist groups we should be focused on defeating should alarm every Member of Congress and every American. We call on our colleagues and the Administration to join us in passing this legislation.”
But just hold on for a second. Right about here is where I stopped fantasizing about the sound of pressurized air wheezing out around the hilt of a switchblade and tuned back in to the fact that there are way bigger issues going on than my little resentment of the week. Suddenly I’d reached that singularity of mind I’d been striving for so hard, one meditation session at a time, and my only thought was this: Am I the only one who thinks that sending American money to murderous ideologues abroad isn’t just alarming, it’s completely f**king insane?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m really, really happy there are at least a few Members of Congress who have perked up to the absurdity of the situation. But the fact that it’s even gotten this far – the fact that the US government has been systematically arming militant groups abroad for decades – just kinda engenders the concern that there’s something seriously wrong, like, at the root of American governance, that’s distorting incentives past the point of absurdity and into the realm of utter tragedy.
If these bills pass, it’ll mean the faint glimmer of hope in an otherwise irredeemable foreign policy posture. Good – I’ll need something to distract me, and I know I can’t be the only one.
Julie Ershadi is an independent correspondent based in Los Angeles and, previously, Washington, D.C. She writes about war and foreign policy, Iranian-American issues, pop culture, and video games. Reprinted with permission from The Libertarian Institute.