TechBro’s Totally Sustainable Guide to Syria

Dan Johnson

A lot of big words have been thrown around lately: “Putin,” “Syria,” “Disruption,” “Proxy War,” “IPO,” “ISIS.” It’s really hard to keep track of all the sad and scary things going on in the world today, especially when you’re just getting into Crossfit and trying to make the most of that first two week beginner discount.

Not gonna lie: this shit is complex and you might not like the portrait of the world it paints for you, but like Coachella, learning about global power tensions in the Middle East is a rite of passage for people who want to be accepted and revered on social media as “trend setters,” “forward thinkers” or “30 Under 30.”

So gather around. Take a “before” selfie. Heat up a dab. Shovel down a paleo meal. Strap in. Because shit’s about to get real real. Not like no uber to pick you up from that dope warehouse party Downtown at 4 a.m. real, but real like question the basic ideological premises that legitimize your life as a voracious consumer of propaganda and commodities.

OK, so that shit in Paris was super scary right? I mean terrorism really hits home when it overlaps with music from an artist on your coworker Damien’s “Best New Music Fall 2015” Spotify playlist. Team America totally predicted a terror attack in Paris, but it’s still hard to imagine a vicious attack on the city where you went to that sweet sub zero bar with the ice luge during your semester abroad.

I know what you’re thinking. “Fuck. These Islamic terrorists are crazy.” It’s true. They’re hell bent on recreating this thing called a caliphate which is basically a dominant Muslim empire run on die hard interpretations of sharia law and determined to either outright destroy or subjugate the world’s non-believers, which is wild because they’re super dedicated to fucking people up right and left and drawing the west into an apocalyptic war in the middle east.

Scary, man. Super scary. Nobody wants that. But check this out: I’m about to offer you one last out a la Morpheus. Take the blue pill and you wake up in your own bed thirsty for bulletproof coffee. Take the red pill and continue reading.

Ok, thanks for taking that red pill (it’s low cal and won’t interrupt your juice cleanse) and apologies in advance. Basically, ISIS is a new swine flu. Yeah, they’re recruiting our kids, but let’s be honest — the dolts who willingly travel to Syria to join the international jihad weren’t going to fucking cure cancer or solve global warming either way. As scary as they threat of ISIS infiltrators in the Western world may seem, I’d just like to remind you that the United States government surveils the living shit out of anyone and everyone including you and I (hello there NSA friends, how is the weather at Ft. Meade today?)

Moreover, in a highly contentious world of rival ambitions, the only thing most countries in the Middle East and abroad can agree on is that these dudes need to go. The beleaguered Assad regime in Syria and its Russian backers fucking hate ’em. The moderate Jordanians fucking hate ’em. Israelis are always looking to bitch smack a radical Islamicist. Iranian Shias want to assert their building regional power so when they’re not busy encouraging their proxies in Hezbollah or the Houthi rebels in Yemen, they’re looking to score some brownie points with the world power structure by bombing some labia-mutilators back to the stone age. Most hot and bothered are the Saudis whose ass-backwards devout brand of Sunni Islam spawned the idea behind ISIS and gave them their ripest target. Even these lazy fucks are willing to get off their ass and fight their own war for once.

Which is to say that we got this. And if we can’t shut this shit down, pack it in cause it’s game over — we, the world at large, officially suck. You probably don’t need to lose too much sleep over this. Your Muslim neighbor is probably not trying to kill you, unless you keep finding him in your house scrounging around for nitrate fertilizer and D-cell batteries, in which case you might think of narcing him out.

See, all this shit in the Middle East is not really about religion or age-long battles between civilization and barbarism. This whole kit and caboodle is about major powers manipulating a zone of instability to accumulate vast fortunes and consolidate new axis of power. The whole anti-ISIS frenzy is a totally sweet brand, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not exactly selling justice and peace in the Middle East. More like the idea of justice and peace as a sweet vinyl skin stretched over the promotional SUV that the marketing manager sends out to steal a shit load of free oil.

Anyway, bro, do you remember the Arab Spring? No, not that Lebanese place in Mar Vista that went under a few years ago (although that shawarma was super dope), I’m talking about early 2011 when all those people in the Middle East figured out they could use twitter and social media to organize mass protests and oust brutal dictators in places like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Yeah, so all that shit went down for a variety of reasons. A. Dictators in the Muslim world are downright nasty. B. Some of that Wikileaks data drop implicated these regimes in vast corruption scandals that really added insult to injury to their piss-poor population’s struggles. C. Drought and attendant famine across the region super-stressed the social fabric. D. President Obama and his Secretary of State Hilary Clinton adopted a policy of “smart power” in which the United States opted not to blow the fuck out of an unstoppable popular tide of public action against some of their proxies, but instead attempted to co-opt these internal political revolutions after the fact.

It was a new look and a popular one: like the man bun of regional reorganization. It was downright sick nasty for us here across the Atlantic and the Med. Even Time Magazine called “The Protestor” the Person of the Year in 2011. But regional instability is significantly less fun when you’re a member of the ruling class in the insanely oil-rich states of the Arab world where rigid social hierarchies are essential to maintaining control of the vast resources that prop up your way of life and means to power. Even though Yankee backed Mubarek fell in Egypt, other regional powers with better armed, better organized and better backed security forces nipped that shit in the bud.

A lot of dudes protesting government corruption in the heart of Saudi Arabia (also America’s best customer in the arms trade) suddenly disappeared. And I don’t mean like moved back to Connecticut to live with their parents for a few months and save dough telecommuting so they could find a rad live/work loft disappeared. I mean like bullet in the head, buried in desert disappeared. Hey, shit happens. In this, the age of moral relativism, who am I to judge?

Like bare backing a chick once, a much larger horror began with what seemed like something rather small. On January 26, 2011, protestors gathered in Dara, Syria to protest President Bashar al-Assad. What did they want? As it turns out, democratic elections, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly (all that goofy shit we barely get stiff for anymore unless we’re getting patted down for ecstasy on our way in to Hard Summer to see Major Lazer (totally sick btw)) are all things that the Syrian people would really dig having. Unfortunately for them, Bashar al-Assad felt differently. Protests built. Better still, a large-scale drought from 2006 and 2009 forced rural Syrians into urban population centers, putting undue stress on existing social order. (Unless, of course, you rabidly read Breitbart like Jeremy, in which case you believe climate change is a hoax and Rand Paul’s cum tastes like gold.) In April of 2011, a beleaguered Assad basically suspended what was left of Syria’s constitution in favor of a marionette government chock full of totalitarian undertones.

So why the fuck didn’t all those angry protestors with the ideas for equality and happiness just take over the country with their optimism and their twitter? Well, the Assad government is a proxy for Russia. The Russian government sells them arms and props them up against internal and external threats. Like the not too dissimilar relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, Russia uses Syria’s advantageous position to facilitate its ambitions for regional hegemony via petro-superiority. Also the billions of dollars in arms deals sweeten the deal a little bit for the suzerain.

In the face of mounting assaults that pushed the Aleppo regime to the brink of collapse, Assad used increasingly brutal measures including chemical weapons to suppress a variety of threats to his dictatorship.

So basically shit has been messy for a minute. Now the Russians are saving the world, right? Sort of. Imagine you had a good bro who got super into home brewing and he let you be the taste tester of his newest beers, which was sweet because you got to drink a shit ton for free even though the beer didn’t taste that good, because, you know, it’s home brew. Now imagine some fucking crazy bible-thumper came into you bro’s apartment and tried to start a bonfire where the exposed brick meets the brand new dry wall. Amidst babbling and crazed pyromania, you stop the bible-thumper and then all of a sudden people are like, “whoa, this guy’s a hero, man, he stops arsonists.” You’d be like, “yeah, totally all of that, but I also really just want to keep getting drunk here for free.”

That’s Russia. Not only are they milking the global PR machine to seem like the deus ex machina of Damascus, they’re actually acting in their own best national interest by intervening militarily to maintain the Assad regime in Syria because the future of their economy sort of relies on it. Russia, despite much talk about modernizing their economy to rely more on a heavy tech sector, is a petro-state. They are extravagantly rich in petroleum, natural gas and coal, which is convenient given the high demand in adjacent Europe. In fact, almost a third of the energy consumed in Europe is extracted and imported from Russia.

Dig this. Remember when Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion came out? I was just out of college and going to parties where people in loose fitting cardigans and thick rimmed glasses played “My Girls” on repeat while talking about James Murphy as if he were god. I drank a lot of PBR and Natty Light that winter, smelled a lot of skunk and lost my first friends to coke. I wouldn’t have called January 2009 a happy time by any stretch of the imagination, but apparently Europe had it way worse. That winter was cold as shit and the price of Russian oil became a contentious issue with its neighbor to the south, the Ukraine. A good bulk of Russian oil destined for Europe ran through the Ukraine (and Belarus), but the government in Kiev had long been tres upset about the rates it paid for ruskie petrol. Things had been messy between the Ukraine and the Russians on the oil question before, but that winter the lover’s quarrel turned into a posturing battle, in which the former Soviet proxy state cozied up the EU forcing Putin to counter with extremely advantageous rates and eventually the threat of an oil shut off.

Well things got ugly in the Ukraine last year. A de facto Civil War between Pro-Russian and Pro-West Ukrainians climaxed with an airliner getting shot out of the air and a Russian seizure of the Crimean peninsula in the Black Sea. With Germany’s Merkel in the lead and an enthusiastic President Obama feeding alley-oops from Washington, heavy sanctions hit the Russian economy hard. Worse yet, the Kiev regime basically held a gun to the head of Russian oil exports travelling through the Soyuz, Brotherhood and western leg of the Blue Stream oil pipelines.

Meanwhile, thanks to crafty exploitation of shale fracking techniques, the United States was well on its way to being the world’s dominant oil producer, flooding the market with cheap crude and natural gas that made the price of oil per barrel plummet. Think about that shit man. Imagine you’re living high on the horse in the fall of 2011 and you buy a weekend pass to Coachella thinking, “hey, I could always resell this.” Then you leave your job at Google to work on a slam dunk start up but all the angel venture capital up and disappears after a few bad beta tests and you’re like, “fuck man.” But you’ve still got that Coachella ticket you can sell for a few hundred bones because demand is so high. WHAM. Goldenvoice announces a second weekend and all of a sudden the scarce resource you thought you’d be able to sell at an upcharge is not scarce at all. You really have to do some soul searching and penny pinching.

Tack on to this economic quandary the essential and unspoken pride of the Russian people. Not too long ago they were a super power and now they’re trying desperately to find themselves back in that position again. In their heart of hearts, they see themselves as the rightful heirs to Eurasia and when led by a military strongman with a penchant for shirtless photos and a will to quash domestic dissent with an iron fist, the sky’s the limit. Meanwhile, Western Europe and the U.S. have treated Russia like a j.v. putz without any apparent accord for that country’s special might or extremely sensitive self-image issues.

More on Russia in a moment. Let’s talk about the United States. Over the past fourteen years, the U.S. has spent somewhere in the neighborhood of four trillion dollars on invasions, occupations and reconstruction efforts in the Middle East. An untold amount of diplomatic capital, international support and consensus against Islamic terror was squandered in an ill-advised and unpopular war in Iraq. Protracted, costly and internally divisive, these conflicts have fostered an extreme unwillingness on the part of the United States to get bogged down in a ground war in the Middle East.

The previously mentioned Obama/Clinton doctrine of “smart power” eschews traditional shows of force in favor of heavy sanctions, negotiations, global surveillance, precision strikes from unmanned vehicles and utilization of a long roster of armed client states that have been the calling card of proxy wars since the end of World War II. With the nascent turmoil of the Arab Spring and a swirling void created by America’s departure from Iraq in 2011, a pandora’s box of shitty possibilities opened in the region. Not least of which was the potential for rabid Sunni extremism (ISIS).

Deep in the heart of 18th century Arabia, a violent form of back to basics Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism scorned revisions in the faith that drew Muslims away from the “true word of the Prophet.” These dudes were like hardcore Christians who believe in a strictly literal interpretation of Leviticus bull shit about unkempt hair and eating lizards and having sex with your uncle’s wife. Flash forward three centuries and these crazies in the bedrock of Saudi society have mutated and spilled into the power void in Syria, which is convenient because the Saudis are feeling a bit unloved at the moment. Their sugar daddies over in Texas and Washington D.C. are begging them for less and less oil and, in fact, have started spending more time with the Saudis’ arch-nemesis, Shia Iran.

That’s shitty news because ratification of a treaty between the United States and Iran would mean the end to oil embargos for the latter and any increased revenue flowing into Iran would presumably be spent on that country gaining further military influence in the region. The Saudis are now in that awkward place where their best buds are fucking them over, the dudes they hate are getting mad street cred, there’s a bunch of crazies above and below them (and hell, inside their very country) who want to cut their decadent heads off and create an austere caliphate and meanwhile the only people who want to kick it with them are the Jews.

The Sauds have bigger problems though. You remember Season 3 of The Wire when the once dominant Barksdale crew has fallen apart and the ruthless Marlo Stanfield moves in with better product and stiffer muscle? Yeah, that’s what’s going on here. Saudi Arabia is like Bodie, a mid-level pusher who used to enjoy unlimited protection from Avon’s muscle (the U.S. military). Now that Avon’s locked up and Omar (ISIS) whacked Stringer Bell (an American backed Iraq), this cold-eyed sociopath named Marlo (Putin) is nosing in on territory Bodie has held forever and a day. Get me?

And when Putin deploys Russian military assets to Syria, he is well within the realm of acceptable behavior. It might offend our Western sensibility, but let’s face facts here: the dubious moral and legal ground on which President George W. Bush and company built their case for an American invasion of Iraq ennobled and legitimized Vladimir Putin’s imperial aspirations in Asia Minor, the Middle East and the Black Sea. Filtered, refined and amplified through the power of the public opinion savvy Russo-propaganda machine and Putin’s own cunning tongue, Russian efforts to prop up Bashar al-Assad have been portrayed as a stabilizing force in the region. This role is made all the more plausible after the perceived ineffectiveness of American airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Never mind that Russian sorties and ground offensives in Syria are heavily targeting American backed anti-Assad rebels because, in the post-Paris world, any strike against non-state powers in the region can be reframed as “anti-terror.” Obsequious use of the “T” word helps draw attention away from the original terms of the brutal civil war in Syria.

Why exactly does Vladimir Putin want to get himself involved in the steady stream of bull shit that is the Middle East? In the geography of the Settlers of Catan world that we live in, Syria is the keystone to Russia’s future. Like a testosterone filled high school sophomore, Putin is in the career center asking the job’s counselor if energy heir to the entire Euro-Asian landmass might be a good fit for him. From China and India to the Balkans and Western Europe beyond, Putin envisions a ten thousand mile arc of influence spanning the largest land expanse on earth. By 2035, Russia hopes to supply energy resources to a bevy of developing regional manufacturing powers and, in turn, ascending to a mantle of new prominence.

Not only is a Pro-Russian Syria an important buffer zone between the stupid shit that seems to happen all the time in the Middle East, it’s also an important geographic hub connecting a number of interests. To the east, newly unshackled and Russian friendly Iran will definitely be looking to unload nearly a century’s worth of oil reserves. Farther north, a on again/off again proposed “South Stream” oil pipeline will eventually reach across the Black Sea to provide central and southern Europe with a source of Russian energy that bypasses the Ukraine. Just on Syria’s northern border, the existing joint Italian and Russian Blue Stream pipeline moves fuel through Turkey, across the Bosporus into the Balkans.

Oh, and lest we forget, the Israelis have recently begun exploiting a newly discovered pocket of oil in the Golan Heights in the south of Syria (or the north of Israel depending on whether or not you recognize the right of land seizure). Yes, Mr. Netanyahu, this would be something Russia’s Gazprom would be interested in.

You remember the music video for “Wicked Game?” Basically Chris Isaak and his pompadour are rolling around in the sand on an exotic beach with a scantily clad Helena Christensen. I may or may not have had my first strongly identifiable sexual experience watching that video, but that’s beside the point. Now imagine that Vlad Putin has been recast as Chris Isaak and instead of turning himself into a sexy, sexy sugar cookie on a distant playa with a Grade A hard body, he’s dry humping a duffel bag filled with gold coins and rare pieces of art. Now hear in your mind the lyric, “the world was on fire and no one could save me but you/it’s strange what desire will make foolish people do.”

You don’t just build a network of oil pipelines and walk away trusting all the little shits in the neighborhood to leave the keys to your future financial security alone. Ask the Mexican government how that’s working out for them. No, you guard that shit like a hawk. You inject yourself militarily in the regions from which you derive the energy and to which you deliver it. You project power. In this case, the most potent threat to Vlad and his duffel bag full of fun are existing power relationships that allllllll lead back to Washington D.C.

Think of Vladimir Putin as the dominant female velociraptor from Jurassic Park and the United States and its allies are, in his mind, John Hammond, Samuel L. Jackson and that ambiguous Australian hunter dude who are all conspiring to keep the noble raptor penned up, chewing on gift heifers. (“Cheetah speed, fifty-sixty miles per hour if they ever got out in the open. And they’re astonishing jumpers. They’re extremely intelligent. Even problem solving intelligent. Especially the big one…That one, if she looks at you, you can see she’s working things out. That’s why we have to feed them like this. She had them all attacking the fences when the feeders came. They never attacked the same place one. They were testing the fences for weaknesses systematically. They remember.”)

Russia loves to the test the fences as cryptically as possible. The West expects them to behave one way, but they behave another. So much misdirection, so much seeming irrationality. They maneuver in a series of provocative acts that are always just shy of casus belli but still threatening enough to illicit a telling response from the West that shines light on a larger tactical disposition. They’re headfuckers. Did you ever stop to wonder if the raptor intentionally placed Samuel L. Jackson’s forearm on Laura Dern’s shoulder just to get inside her head? How the fuck else would it get there?

Sorry if this pisses anyone off, but Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden have inadvertently played the role of Dennis Nedry in this off-broadway, worldwide version of JP. No matter the intentions with which they set off on their grand experiment in informational transparency, each has played an unwitting role in shifting the larger global paradigm that helps the raptors create a little wiggle room and eventually get enough momentum to bust out.

Putin and pretty much everyone else in the world is now privy to American diplomatic and military methodology, communications infrastructure and Uncle Sam’s capacity to bluff. This creates an increased zone of strategic wherewithal in which to maneuver interests and shows of force to produce a reshuffled international hierarchy that bypasses the United States, hence revealing what Putin believes to be that nation’s inherent weaknesses.

From the American perspective, Yankee power is not too dissimilar from the power dichotomy in Martin Scorsese’s (really our most important living film director) 1995 classic Casino. To our friends, America is a lot like Sam Rothstein. Ace is the shrewd, smart dude and a safe bet you can rely on to toss you a little cash now and then and put in the hard work that turns your provincial backwater, resource rich third world hick empire into a thriving artificial metropolis like Las Vegas. But so help us God, if you fuck with the U.S. we’re like Nicky Santoro, we’re stupid, we don’t give a fuck.

We are the supreme and unquestioned masters of wielding the carrot and the stick. The staggering generosity and potential for prosperity represented in our Post-Marshall Plan willingness to inject cash and prop up a country are matched in infamy only by our willingness to punitively destroy a country and ransack its economy to protect our own perceived commercial interests. (Paging Smedley Butler. Smedley Butler to reception please.)

The ways and means by which the United States manifests its power range from employing client states, economic destabilization and diplomatic isolation to full scale ground invasion. American tax dollars facilitate a massive military force, a multi-branch fleet-in-being if you will, that epitomizes the power of a Mahanian paradigm in which the Stars and Stripes ensure the freedom of the seas and threaten to descend on any number of world choke points to prove a point, petty as it may be.

What we’ve seen in the last year is a valiant and oblique attempt on Vladimir Putin’s point to challenge the myth of American strategic invulnerability. Most telling are the dual bookends of the Russian seizure of Sevastopol and that same country’s increased hostility towards Turkey.

Situated as it is on the Crimean peninsula at the north of the Black Sea, Sevastopol represents a facility of the upmost importance to Russian ambitions. To facilitate its further petro-dominance, Putin must first ensure that his navy owns the tactical disposition in the body of water astride and across which much of his future sales will flow. Never mind that Sevastopol nominally belongs to western oriented Ukraine, who exactly is going to stop Putin from seizing a land that sees itself as culturally Russian and is essentially adjacent to that country? Imagine if the U.S. decided it wanted to annex the sweeter parts of Mexico. Who would stop us? The Mexicans?!

Russo-Turk tensions seem slightly more threatening than the Crimean incursion. Adding stress to the scenario is Turkey’s standing as a NATO nation, which gives it a right to invoke Article 5 and ask all other NATO countries to kick the shit out of whosoever is pissing on their campfire. The downing of a Russian Su-24 all-weather bomber at the hands of Turkish F-16s last week spawned a war of words and news cycle posturing that made laymen worldwide feel as if the inevitable conflict between West and East had come nigh. Alas, friends, the likelier end-game is a slow con to destabilize and delegitimize the Erdogan regime in Turkey.

Why? Well a lot of folks would argue that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to Turkey as Bashar al-Assad is to Syria. Between 3.5 and 7.5 million Turks participated in the potent 2013 Gezi Park demonstrations in the hopes of unseating Erdogan because he and his police exercise undue authority over the Turkish people in ways that are fairly similar to the tyrannies that spawned the initial struggle in Syria. It’s always refreshing to find out that non-tampered elections, open media, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are put at a premium across the globe.

But if Erdogan is a brutal dictator why do the Americans and their land of the free support him? Because you can ask anyone from Darius I to Alexander to Justinian to Tamerlane and they’ll tell you that Turkey is one of the most strategically important land masses on the face of the earth. Like the thin line at the core of a yin and yang, Turkey is the very interface, the sublime and significant axis that separates East and West, Asia and Europe. More germane to our current topic, Turkey controls the Bosporus Strait, a narrow choke point separating the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean and Aegean to the south and west.

Like that celebrity’s daughter we all matched with on Tinder, Turkey is something everyone in the global community conspires to slide into. America’s hard for Turkey because of her pedigree and position and the fact that our relationship with the Turks makes the Russians super jealous and deeply uncomfortable in their bootleg roost in Syria. The Russians meanwhile look back at a history of three wars between their imperial ancestors and the Ottoman Empire between 1768–1878. They fixate on their Baltic Fleet’s past inability to transit another Middle East choke point, the Suez Canal, and the resulting butt fuck by the Japanese at Tsushima. They might even reminisce over palling up with us Yankees to keep the Suez neutral in ’56 or meditate lustily on the way the U.S. sold the Turks down river after the Cuban Missile Crisis by removing our Jupiter medium ballistic range missiles. Either way, the Russians act like they can fuck with the Turks, they just haven’t decided whether it’s going to be consensual or not.

Meanwhile we’re doing our best Sam Rothstein over here. Putin has been a naughty boy this year, but that won’t keep him from sitting on St. Nick’s lap this holiday season, looking up at those jolly blue eyes and asking him sweetly for a brutally cold winter in Western Europe and a preemptive strike from the West. But we’re holding our cards close because the odds aren’t that great and the game is fucking stupid. We’re talking about a potentially catastrophic war for oil (which we have a shit ton of) and bragging rights over having the most sway in the Middle East? The smart play here is to let Putin figure it out. American commitment in Iraq isn’t going anywhere. American allegiances in Turkey and Jordan aren’t going anywhere. American guns in Saudi Arabia aren’t going anywhere. If Putin has a master plan by which ISIS’ pipe dream fantasy of a caliphate is disposed, Sunnis and Shiites all put down their guns and host a kosher BBQ to toast the new regional hegemons and Israel and Iran collaborate on a new chain of Wawa knock offs to sell their immense surplus of petroleum, then be our fucking guest, man. The good money is that those dreams ain’t that easy. Even for a petro-giant.

I’ve heard a lot of butt hurt people tighten up their jackets and squint knowingly as they invoke the words “World War III.” Look, we’ve been in a third world war since the end of the second one. Major powers have used proxy elements to galvanize, militarize, polarize and utilize burgeoning state and guerrilla powers in Third World Countries to destabilize stagnant economic zones and unlock previously inaccessible natural and human resources vital to development in the ever-metastasizing global marketplace.

Ending the world just isn’t profitable. Simple as that. While pride and nationalism definitely factor in, Russians and Americans and French and British and Indians and Atlanteans and the Greys are all pragmatically unified in their quest for money. If you want to sell me on WWIII being triggered by a sudden ice cap melt that frees up untold resources in the arctic while simultaneously flooding vital naval facilities in Vladivostok, Kitsap, Murmansk and Norfolk then I’m all ears, but until then I wouldn’t cancel your New Year’s plans, Tony. The lifts at Mammoth will still be running.

Two parting thoughts: 1. Figure out this refugee shit, because if a drought in an arid ass country like Syria can displace this many desperate and motivated people, think about the human catastrophes we have to look forward to in the coming century. And telling these people to fuck off isn’t sufficient because, as you will have already noticed, major arms manufacturers sell a shit ton of lethal stuff across the globe. Guns, unlike diaphragms, are not user exclusive. Without the proper care and attention due to humans in dire need, a scorned population can turn into something radical and vindictive real quick. Right Jesus? 2. Did you notice who we didn’t talk about at all in this little chit chat? The Chinese have got some big plans for their slice of world pie and their glacially paced encroachments into the South and East China Seas suggest that they prefer to do their dirty work stealthily and without much bravado. In a US vs. Russia distraction the big winner is China.

Anyway, sorry to harsh anyone’s vibes. I just know you bros are really down to have substantive discussions that probe the inner motivations that enliven any study of geo-politics. I’m just glad to know enlightened, thoughtful, really spiritually in-tune dudes such as yourselves and I’m also super pumped that we could all meet here at Daybreaker, where the savviest minds in tech come to dance away our troubles in the early hours of the morning before work. Somebody pass the Kombucha.

Dan Johnson

Written by

Politics, Culture, Cheap Food, Existential Dread, Los Angeles — Author of Brea or Tar and Catawampusland

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade