Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Are They Syrious?

Q: How can you tell when a politician is lying?
A: His lips are moving.

Suddenly there's a "coalition of the willing" congealing around the insane notion of "punishing" Syria's Assad regime for its use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. At least one of the countries that was vociferously opposed to Operation Iraqi Freedom, which targeted a regime that used both chemical weapons and environmental warfare against its own, has demanded that the U.S. strike the Assad regime.

"Let's you and him fight," anyone?

No question we could put a big hurtin' on the Assad regime. And despite the objections of some, there's plenty of reason to believe that the regime did use poison gas on at least one rebel-held district. But I have this teeny little question no one seems ready to answer:

What's in it for the United States?

Not long ago, I wrote that:

Borders matter because people matter. Borders are important because there must be a limit on every man's responsibilities for others, and on every nation's, too. Every political system binds its citizens in a web of mutual responsibility. Not for everything, but for the really big things commonly delegated to government: the defense of the realm, the maintenance of order in the streets, a common, generally comprehended legal system, and above all the protection of individuals' rights to life, liberty, and honestly acquired property. Israel granted the Palestinians autonomy within their zones, or, as Eric Frank Russell once put it, "the right to go to Hell in their own fashion." Now that they've chosen their course, they should be allowed to follow it to its conclusion, out of respect not only for their right to do so, but the right of Israelis not to be involved in it. Likewise, America did not agree to shelter or employ the whole world. If our borders were better secured, not only would our streets be safer, but Mexicans' interest in reforming their own polity would be greatly increased.

The quoted post was a refutation of the supranationalist argument that America has "responsibilities" to all the peoples of the world, which had most recently been advanced in support of the insane notion that the citizens of other countries should have a say in our elections. But the Border Principle also applies to the use of military force.

A national military is not a charitable organization. No, not even ours. Nations raise and support armies for the protection and advancement of their own people, territory, and interests. He who is taxed -- i.e., compelled under the threat of punishment -- to pay for the maintenance of a military establishment, which establishment is then used to do "good works" for the peoples -- or the governments -- of other nations is being robbed, by exactly the same reasoning as applies to involuntary taxation for the support of a welfare state.

Yet for sixty-eight years, the United States' military, which has been pressed into service as a "world policeman," has hardly been used for anything else. What's wrong with this picture?

If there's nothing for the U.S. in striking the Assad regime, then why is Washington oozing toward it as we watch?

At one level, it's about Barack Hussein Obama's vanishing credibility. No one, even among his most ardent backers, believes anything he says anymore; certainly no one in a position of power in the government of some other nation. This is as it should be; no other American politician of comparable stature has amassed anything like Obama's record of distortions, prevarications, and outright lies. But you can bet your bottom dollar that it rankles him, especially in the wake of his most recent foreign-policy missteps. So he's ready to "flex his muscles," to show the world that he means what he says...even though, most of the time, he doesn't.

At another level, it's a gesture of defiance aimed at Congress, both houses of which have become ever more reluctant to follow Obama's lead. A chief executive determined to "show 'em who's boss" is more likely to exercise his military than anything else at his disposal -- and flouting his contempt for Congress by blatantly ignoring the statutory limits on his use of America's armed forces is a particularly contemptuous way for Obama to flap his genitals at Capitol Hill. Obama's record of opposition to Operation Iraqi Freedom, which had overwhelming Congressional support, makes the gesture even more striking.

Finally, there's Obama's waning popularity with the electorate. He knows his image has been badly tarnished. He's desperate to restore some luster to his "legacy." Drawing the sword against the Assad regime, given the general and justified horror of decent persons at the use of poison gas as a weapon, probably seems to him to offer the best prospect for the improvement of his popular standing.

Inasmuch as no one seems to be able to rein Obama in -- I've lost count of his violations of the Constitution -- he'll proceed with this adventure, even though, as a number of other commentators have already observed, striking the Assad regime as "punishment" rather than to achieve some definite objective is the worst thing he could do.

Yet another war is imminent. It's impossible to put a bound on the repercussions at this time. They might involve Israel, as both Iran and Syria have threatened to take vengeance on Israel should the U.S. strike Syria. Only this is certain: more American treasure will be expended, and more blood will be spilled.

Regardless of what any Washington Insider might say -- see the gag at the top of this essay -- it won't be "surgical." It won't be just Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from airborne and seaborne platforms that are completely out of harm's way. Our uniformed men will be put in mortal danger once again...and once again, for no good reason. American casualties are possible, perhaps likely. And once again, we will ask ourselves "Why?"

You've just read a thousand words of "why," Gentle Reader. What do you propose to do about it?


Anonymous said...

Once I had a young Marine Sergeant come to me with a complaint of being beaten by a Corporal. Upon investigation I found that the Sergeant told the Corporal if he ever did whatever again he would whip his but. The Corporal said why wait and pounded the Sergeant. My response to the Sergeant was - don't make promises that you can't keep. Did we make one here?

As one who has made a profession of arms I can tell you one thing. You never know the outcome of battle or a fist fight. Oh, you can predict outcomes based on historical data, etc. but you never can be sure of the final outcome. If we strike Syria we could truly be looking at the demise of the western world. How can a small country take on the might of the United States? Simple, take away the lubrication of commerce. Strike the Saudi oil fields and block the big ditch where the tankers must pass. You don't have to completely block the ditch. You just have to make it too expensive for insurance coverage of those big tankers.

Who says they have to play it any other way. Always go for your enemy's weakness.

Are we willing to pay $6-10 for gas in a recession? What would that do to our economy? So goes our economy as does Europe's. This would also cause the demise of the industrial East. How many allies do you think we would have then?

Who benefits? Russia! Lots of oil to sell there. Hey, you need an AK or other stuff? Missiles? We have plenty left over from the no so "cold" war.

So how do we stay out of this conflict. The solution to me is simple. You want the title of "Commander-in-chief" then lead your army as Kings of old. To the nobility (congress) you can have your own Brigade!

Oh, a final thought: How many wars have we won since WWII? Why do we think we can win this one?

Anonymous said...

Fran -

I wrongly tussled with something last year, and I did apologize to Mark directly. So I hope there's no grudge on held on that end.

Your post above (as have most every one for moths) was spot-on.

We have no Constitutional justification for what is about to happen. None. jb

Daniel K Day said...

What to do? Why, I ... called my useless congressman and both useless senators. I hope they're impressed.

Xealot said...

All we need to do is keep it simple. Instead of war or "surgical strikes" I propose a proper President of the United States would draft a letter something like this and send it to Assad:

Mr. Assad,

You may have heard some rumors that America was prepared to conduct a number of strikes on Syria in response to your use recent use of weapons of mass destruction. I can assure you that this is entirely false. America does not particularly like you, and neither do I, but we have a responsibility to our own people and to those with whom we have pacts of mutual defense.

However, I can assure you that if your weapons of mass destruction find themselves leaving your borders, or are employed against our citizens or those of our defensive allies, you will find our response both swift and conducted in-kind. Now, as you may know, we do not maintain chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction. America only has one type of weapon in this classification, and that is the thermonuclear warhead.

Any attack on American citizens or the citizens of our allies with such weapons will be immediately followed with the transformation of you and your major military installations into ash and glass with the aforementioned thermonuclear weapons.

Best wishes,
A better President than Obama

Anonymous said...

This was carefully calculated to draw in America. This war has been going on for 2+ years but it is too bloody to get full coverage in USA. They wont/cant show the American people the headless bodies and brains blown out. But a bunch of little bodies with no blood, they have no problem showing that to he American people. The questions are why now? Who benefits? Is it a trap?
It is a good way to get the NSA out of the headlines for a day or two.

Anonymous said...

Obama's red line comment was surely not an "off-prompter' gaffe, (though he has made many of these), despite complicit media assuring us that it was. IMO, given his duplicity and malevolence, that comment was an open invitation to the rebels to do precisely what unfolded. How they must have thanked allah for Obama ...the gift that keeps on giving. mara