LIARS & TIGERS & BULL***T, OH MY: THE TROUBLE WITH SYRIA IS….
“……there’s always a belief, a want, a need to believe that when there’s a problem in the world, there is an ‘America’ button we can press to solve it”. – Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Disclosure: this will meander.
Let me preface with a little “I’m a progressive” and a lot of “I support the President” with a dash of “most of the time” sprinkled with some “no, I don’t think it’s okay to have innocents gassed by a madman” and just a hint of “……however” – or something like that. I was one of those insane Obama groupies in 2008 who really friggin’ thought that I was the Change (that’s a capital “C”). And that he was “the one”. I worked my ass off to help elect this man. Drove to Vegas in the middle of the sweltering 120 degree summer, canvassed that city and registered voters like there was no tomorrow. I was the biggest cheerleader.
I believe that Barack Obama’s biggest fault is his insatiable need to be liked. Look at the healthcare debate. Debt ceiling. Gun “control”. Each of these seminal benchmark battles has one unifying thread: this President needed, to the detriment of his party, dare I say the Country, and certainly to his legacy – he needed to have some manner of GOP spittle in the mix. Oh, and he always starts from a place of conciliation (it kinda sorta makes me crazy). Instead of just using the power of his Office; instead of “knocking heads”, instead of grabbing Harry Reid by his spectacles, this President still reaches out. Still. And still, they hate him. They refuse to work with him. To respect him or his ideas or to even meet in the middle. They cannot pause for a moment to recognize “hey, he is the President”……but there is no reason for them to do so. He has given them none. Barack Obama’s olive branch is so far up John Boehner’s ass that the Speaker is practically illuminated by peace signs (all this time, you thought it was his tan). Simply put, the President has not “danced with the ones that brung him”. Luckily for him, the GOP has perfected one thing in recent memory: war. No need to dance. We’re gonna blow shit up? Sweet! My yea’s on the way!
Yesterday, after John McCain finished his game of video poker (it was a loooong game), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted, 10-7, to authorize military intervention in Syria. The vote also committed the U.S. to arming the Syrian “rebels”, among other things.
Naturally, there are many, many questions. And the White House finds itself dealing with a cranky and skeptical public. We are told that a missile strike will at least de-stabilize the Assad regime. OK. And? Then…? Weapons fall into the wrong(er) hands. Please tell us – what comes next? We don’t even know who these rebels are. We do know, however, that evidence suggests they too used sarin gas at some point. So I’m having a difficult time understanding how, with so many questions and unknowns, with our, you know, recent history of unilateralism, how do we possibly find this plan for military intervention in Syria to be a good idea?
We note, too, that the world at large, our allies – save for France, primarily – are not with us this time around. Heck, even W. is waffling…..but guys. Guys, guys, guyyyyyyyyys. He would prefer “not to be roped in to the issues of the day”, is “not a fan of Mr. Assad”, whom he says is “making mischief”. Swoon. He was always great with the words, wasn’t he? Mischief. I don’t know about you, but it gives me supreme comfort to know that a former President – actually, the guy from not so long ago, you know, the one responsible for the cluster***k that is the Middle East of today – would just like to stick to painting pictures of Barney and shower self-portraits, please and thank you. Oh, and Dr. Evil – hiccup, hiccup, clears throat – Cheney, is still counting his petroleum-stained piles of cash.
Meanwhile, we continue our slide into the mistakes and patterns of Iraq. Why are we not waiting for the U.N. weapons inspectors to come back with their findings and issue a report, something that would perhaps go a long way with the “rest of the world”? Everything…..everything is analyzed according to the political toll. In this sense, our leaders are “end users”. Just tell me how it turns out, Turd Blossom.
And then we have the too-strange juxtaposition of Secretary of State John Kerry, the same John Kerry who, 42 years ago, turned himself into the face of anti-war – in fact, made himself a Presidential contender – by speaking so passionately, so eloquently, and with such certitude about the horrors and mistakes of Vietnam and the necessity for the United States to just get out. Yet, today’s John Kerry is America’s cheerleader-in-chief on the path to a deadly and dangerous quagmire. Today’s John Kerry is telling us that a “response” to Syria is “the key to U.S. credibility”. Basically: we gotta save face, guys.
Make no mistake. Syria is a lose-lose situation. I do not envy the “deciders” here. But the same President that has done so much right is getting this, of all things, so very wrong. The community organizer seems to have forgotten the meaning of the word. “Community”. As in, “international”. As in, we live in an international community.
I really don’t mean to be the Debbie Downer, but here’s the meat of it.
Americans have zero tolerance for another war, occupation, conflict, strike or military involvement of any sort whatsoever. Why? The simplicity of it will astound you. There is no stomach for Syria because no one was ever held accountable for the lies and atrocities of Iraq.
We were lied into war. Our allies followed us. Over 4,500 American service men and women died because of it. Upwards of 120,000 Iraqi civilians – gone. The toll on our national economy: still tolling. A generation of veterans and their families: broken. Discards. They receive little help, none of which ever comes quickly enough to actually help them. Not to digress, but here’s an idea – why don’t we criminalize veteran abandonment? I believe it’s Joe Biden who always said that our veterans are our “one sacred obligation”. That should be the reality in this country. Should be.
How sad that, what was so shocking to us when President Obama announced he would be seeking authorization for force on Syria via Congress…..was that he was seeking authorization from Congress. This is where we are, post-Iraq. War – force – has become a commodity. A product. One that our leaders – yes, even the leader of the “free world” – sell. As we all suffer from Mission Accomplished Syndrome, we are being peddled war. But what is the mission here? And why is it never defined beyond the Shock and Awe? I’d like to know about the “now what?” And, how do we ever know we’re “winning” (other than because Charlie Sheen says so)? What are we winning, exactly?
Our leaders say that this is about holding Assad accountable. Holding a terrorist responsible for unspeakable acts committed upon his own people. I ask: how can we hold another country’s leaders accountable if we have not, will not, are not, and cannot pin down our own and say “You did this. You lied us into war. You ruined a generation of soldiers who gave everything to their Commander-in-Chief, to their country. You created untold numbers of new terrorists, many of them your very own citizens, aimed at taking the United States down a few pegs. To our allies, you made us a most loathsome nation. You did this and you, along with every single one of your cronies who took part in the greatest foreign policy blunder in the history of the world……you’re all going to answer for it.”No? Anyone?
Assad is a madman, yes. But, like those responsible for the folly of Iraq, he is also, simply, a war criminal. That’s what makes a criminal a criminal. They. Don’t. Follow. The. Rules. Of Law. Or Engagement. So we have standards. Sets of international laws, treaties, mechanisms in place to deal with people like Assad, whether their crimes might be using chemical weapons, or, institutionalized murder via carefully assembled lies. It’s called The Hague. And if the full weight of the international community ever banded together – if dictators like Assad actually thought that there was a chance they would be captured, hauled off to The Netherlands, brought up on and tried for crimes against humanity – then maybe, just maybe there would form a new way of dealing with situations just as we are facing with Syria. Proper justice. Just like Nazi war criminals post-WWII. The point is: the United States can no longer afford to be in the business of policing the world when there is no larger partnership. We can no longer afford to treat “acts of aggression” by other nations – acts not committed upon or directed at this nation – as “wars” because, despite how horrific they are, they are not declarations of war on the United States. They do not pose “imminent threat” to us. Think of it this way: there are mass murders committed by organized crime and drug cartels every day. We’re not about to go preemptively strike Mexico, are we? It didn’t cross our mind that we should take out the entire city of Chicago during Al Capone’s day, did it? No. But instead, there is a War on Sudafed. Silver linings.
I’d like to say one other thing, and I thinks it’s significant to note. The President said yesterday that “the moral thing to do is not to stand by and do nothing”. Everyone from the Talking Heads to President Obama himself like to talk about “the will of the people”. But as I sit here today, the WOTP is a clear NO from the American public on military action in Syria. And you don’t get to use the term “moral imperative” anymore, Mr. President. Why? Two words: SANDY HOOK. Remember the moral imperative there? The Will Of The People? I’d like to remind everyone that nearly one year ago (already), the Will Of The People was a resounding DO SOMETHING – ANYTHING – in the months following Sandy Hook. Nearly 90% of the public. Writing, faxing, emailing, calling, posting on social media, signing petitions. Dear Congress: do something about the ghoulish gun problem in this country. Please. Something. Anything. Gun show loophole, perhaps? Background checks? Should have been easy enough. But oh, look where we are today. Instead, schools are buying up bulletproof whiteboards and armored iPads (no shit). They are hiring armed guards. They are, in some cases, insisting that teachers carry. So it appears that the gun lobby and Big Oil are as indestructible as they are irredemable.
We can continue to guise Syria or other such “conflicts” in morality and say “but, but……it’s something we MUST do, we can’t let innocent women and children die”. No, we can’t. But this – Syria – is different because WE are different now. War begets war. Speaking of, an enlightening bit of history to leave you with – all previous declarations of war by the U.S. – can be found here.
And, a few notable comments or quotes from the last week, re: Syria:
“If you slap a tiger without killing it, what makes you think it will retreat and not attack?”- New York Times columnist Charles Blow
“Let Allah sort it out”. – Guess who?
“Should U.S. risk treasure and lives to send msg to Assad that ‘we don’t want to take you out, we just want you to kill civilians with bullets’?” – California State Senator Ted Lieu, who was kind enough to give permission to quote him (via Twitter)