Blowback

Shooting yourself in the foot is stupid. What is the word for shooting yourself in the heel?

Iraq, wrecked by misgovernment, had been sliding into sectarian dictatorship for a decade, when, a few years ago, various governments on the Saudi side of the Persian Gulf and further up in the northeastern Mideast and in the West evidently decided to promote Salafi radicalism as a tool for certain short-term foreign policy goals. Assad’s proclivity for slaughtering his own people spurred and encouraged this dangerous behavior. And thus came the collapse of the geographic center of the Mideast.

Despite all the lessons that this sad experience might have conveyed, last spring Saudi Arabia, surely with some help from its friends, decided that it would be good to transform the Yemeni civil war into an international conflict.

These two distinct plans to achieve foreign policy objectives through reliance on force rather than reason generated streams of events that yesterday resulted in an Islamic State car bombing of the leader of the portion of Yemen now under Saudi control. Starting fires so you can play fireman can get you burned. Such is the nature of blowback. Everyone currently in a position of power in the world has spent the better part of his or her adult live observing the fatal danger of foreign policy blowback, a word that came into common usage in reference to the implications of manipulating Salafi jihad for Cold War purposes in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

My congratulations to all the brilliant leaders responsible for designing the marvelously ingenious socio-political dynamics that create perfectly circular policy in which a leader intentionally lights a match that ends up setting his own heels on fire.

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