Believe it or not, I don't comment on everything here. Well, OK, maybe I do. But I don't think I have the answer to everything. How's that?
Sometimes, I don't know what to do. Sometimes, I don't see any good options. Sometimes, I lean one way,... but not very confidently.
Syria - to attack or not to attack - is probably one of those issues. But I was reading this column by fellow Lincoln resident Clay Farris Naff, I made a comment (of course!), and I thought I'd post it here, somewhat expanded.
Right now, we're tired of war,... and rightly so. George W. Bush not only leaped to war in Afghanistan (when he could have considered the 9/11 attacks to be a criminal matter, a police matter, as we have every other terrorist attack in America), he also had us invade a completely innocent country, Iraq - a nation which had never attacked us and was no threat to us whatsoever.
Now, Barack Obama wants to strike Syria from the air - no invasion, no ground troops - to punish Bashar al-Assad for using poison gas on rebel populations.
Right-wingers - who'd normally be overjoyed at the thought of any war they didn't have to fight, themselves - are reluctant because Obama wants it and they've vowed never to support our first black president in anything. Liberals tend to be more consistent in their opposition to war, though our recent experiences with the Bush administration are certainly having an effect there, too.
But there's one big difference here which hasn't been getting enough notice. We invaded Iraq because of the rosy expectations of right-wingers in the Bush administration. We'd be "greeted as liberators." The war would "pay for itself." Iraq would become a prosperous (oil-rich) modern democracy and, yes, this would open up a perfect opportunity for Christian missionaries, too!
War with Iraq was such a good opportunity, how could we afford to pass it up? (Even if they had to invent a reason for it, which they did.)
But there's none of that with Syria today. There aren't any rosy expectations. The Obama administration doesn't see any good options, whatever they do (or don't do). They're simply between a rock and a hard place.
Since World War I, we've pretty well drawn a line in the sand when it comes to using poison gas in war. But we let it go when Iraq used poison gas against Iran, so what did that tell Assad in Syria? If we let it go again, when he's gassing his own citizens, what will that tell other dictators? How many more will see poison gas as an option?
After we witnessed the horrors of poison gas attacks in World War I, the world came together in revulsion against it. We vowed that it wouldn't happen again, and we've done fairly well in keeping that promise, despite the fact that poison gas is very easy to manufacture and easy - these days - for almost any regime to use.
Poison gas is the poor man's choice in weapons of mass destruction. If dictators could get nuclear weapons, they would. But they can get poison gas - if they dare to use it. The question is whether the world will let them use it with impunity.
There are no good choices here; there's only the lesser of two evils. Doing nothing is also a choice. Doing nothing will demonstrate to other dictators that we don't care. Now, maybe there are better options than a military strike on Syria,... but I don't know what they'd be.
Frankly, I don't have any good ideas here. There aren't any good ideas, not as far as I can tell. And I think the Obama administration feels the same way. (I must say, I like that a lot better than the magical thinking of the Bush administration, whether I agree with their decisions or not.)
In this case, striking Syria might not seem... glorious, but I think it might be necessary. We are not expecting miracles, we really aren't. I don't think that anyone is expecting miracles, not in this case. But not acting might be the worst thing we could do.
That's my thinking right now, but I'd be glad to hear what you think.
Pictures from the TPM Holiday Party - On Saturday we had our first annual TPM Holiday party at our New York City office (yes, War on Christmas, 'natch). As part of the festivities we had an a...
7 hours ago