Ok, now that I’ve gotten over the juvenile urge to tip my hat to the disaster movie spoof “Airplane”, let’s break down this Syria thing.
Let’s get this one out of the way immediately. Please don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. The folks killed by chemical weapons are a drop in the bucket compared to the total number of folks killed in Syria in the past two years. Where was our humanitarian urge for the past two years?
Basically our policy has been “you can keep killing your people by the hundreds so long as you don’t do it in a way we deem too nasty.” If that is humanitarianism then it defies logic. But then the entire global sanction against chemical weapons makes no real sense. Either we condemn countries for senseless slaughter or we don’t.
A limited targeted strike against Bashar al-Assad will punish him for killing people in a really nasty way (as opposed to the nicer ways to kill people). Really? We are going to kill innocent people while punishing Assad. Why don’t we send in a mercenary to kill Assad? Isn’t that the real punishment we want to deliver? Assad is dealing with a civil war. He is managing daily chaos whether we like his methods or not. Do we really think a slap on the wrist will really keep him up at night? Please, we’ll be a minor distraction. Unless of course we sign up for …
Obama said “Assad must go”. Assad’s natural response is “who’s gonna make me? You and what army?” And in steps John McCain and his merry band of war mongers who never saw a war they didn’t like. That combined with Obama’s secret delight at defying the wimpy liberal stereotype almost guarantees “boots on the ground” despite the President’s claims to the contrary.
This brings us to another totally baffling side of this story …
The Element of Surprise
As in, there is none. I find it profoundly embarrassing that we are having a public discussion about how big a badass we are going to be. I’m not alone in this. Retired Major General Robert Scales writes in the Washington Post
So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.
My only solace is we are not alone in our public hand wringing as Great Britain has already made a spectacle of itself with Parliament telling David Cameron “bloody hell no!”
How ’bout Minding Our Own Business?
Remember back in 1963 when we turned fire hoses and dogs on innocent Americans including minors? Remember how Khrushchev sent ships to our Southern shores and warned Kennedy that if we didn’t stop abusing our own people he would attack the US?
Me neither. In fact when Khrushchev had the balls to put missiles in Cuba we threw a hissy fit that brought us to the brink of nuclear war. So where do we get off putting our ships within striking distance of Syria when they have presented no direct threat to us? How might this story evolve if Assad said “Barack, you’ve got 48 hours to get your ships away from my country or I’ll blow them out of the water.”
He won’t do that because he and everyone else has gotten used to America patrolling the globe as the self-righteous guardian of all that is decent and good. It’s one reason why a handful of nations hate our guts.
To me with each passing day this Syria thing becomes a no-brainer. It’s way too late to play humanitarian; we can’t really punish Assad without overcommitting; we look incompetent and ham-fisted in our public debate about what should be confidential military strategy; and finally, a sovereign country’s civil war is none of our business no matter how nasty it gets.
A no from Congress will humiliate Obama. Tough. There is no reason for us to lose a single American life to protect the street cred of a President.