What Donald Trump is trying to achieve with his air strikes on a Syrian airfield is unclear. But if you think about it, almost everything about world leaders is unclear. Who knows what their motivations are, who their potential beneficiaries are, and sadly, who their potential victims are.
Who among us “knows all the angles?”
We look to social media, newspapers and broadcast news for explanations. And in those places, everyone is doing their best to sound and look like they are sure about the theories they are pushing into the public domain.
As a result, we have been hearing that the recent US airstrike dispels the crazy Putin stooge theory; or that this is the result of a covert deal with Putin; or that this is an attempt to distract from investigations into the Trump administration's ties with Putin. Apparently everybody knows everything.
People around you have their own theories and they pronounce them with the same degree of authority as a state department analyst with 30 years’ experience. Because you are supposed to have an opinion about world politics, the Middle East, Assad and most of all, what Trump's moves really mean.
Everybody knows everything.
A few years ago, you couldn’t avoid discussions about the breakdown of trust in banks, the state, the church, capitalism, Tom Brady or whatever. Perhaps this led to an upsurge in trust in oneself. Maybe that's why we think we know everything about everything, even the Middle East.
The biggest problem is that most people have morphed into some kind of soldier fighting via social networks in defense of their theories. You will find few more credulous subscribers to various unproven Trump conspiracies than those who were most vocally furious about the president’s birtherism. And you will find no more vicious denouncers of Bannon’s terrifyingly simple worldview than people who have bought into terrifyingly simple conspiracies to which Bannon serves as a figurehead. The “deep state” and “President Bannon” are two sides of the same coin.
Admitting to be clueless is the hardest thing of all at the moment. To be so brave and admit that you are clueless means you don't belong to an army of subscribers to one of the prevailing theories.
It is difficult to keep your uncertain head when all around you are losing theirs to certainty. Sometimes you feel almost forced to have a clue against your wiser instincts. So, you might find yourself talking with people who are absolutely certain they know what is really going on in Syria, a come out of it feeling dumber. I know, I have.
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