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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Standing Idly By (re: Syria)

With the Syrian rendition of the Arab Spring having now stretched into several years, during which upwards of 60,000 people have lost their lives, the Obama administration is coming under strong attack from those numerous quarters who know that they know better, because at last the Administration has come down more on one side than on the other.  Using the language employed by B. Netanyahu in relation to Iran and its supposed and, if true, perfectly legitimate desire as a sovereign state to develop its own version of the nuclear weapons that Israel and the U.S. themselves already possess in droves, the U.S. President now says that the Syrian government under al-Assad has finally crossed his, Obama's, "red line," by having used chemical weapons against the rebels at least four times.   Not much mention was made of all those slaughtered citizens by whatever means and the incredible mess that that has left of Syria in so many ways.   No.  Mainly only  the chemical weapons -- the vaunted WMD's -- weapons of mass destruction.

So the admininstration now proposes not at all to send in troops, which you would think it has proposed, if all the howls of outrage were any sign.   Instead it plans only to supply the rebels with light weapons that don't require any special training in their use.   No heavy weapons, which the rebels would appreciate much, much more.   And no no-fly zones, a tactic that was successfully used by the NATO allies in Libya to keep Gaddafi from succeeding in an identical al-Assad-type mass slaughter of his own people, with or without poison gas.

Likening this move to an earlier Obama policy, people will still stupidly scream, " Look at Libya and see what that brought us!"

Okay, let's look at Libya.   First of all, aside from morally helping the British and the French to get started in sending planes to enforce the no-fly zone and later by furnishing "intelligences" of various types, I don't recall the U.S. taking an active part in the Libyan fight, and it certainly didn't supply any troops on the ground.   The Libyans rid themselves of Gaddafi largely through their own blood and tears.

I suppose that Obama's critics would point instead to what happened in Benghazi in Libya more recently, which involved the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans when thugs took advantage of protests over a badly advised anti-Muslim film to attack not the U.S. embassy but a building being used by the CIA instead and where the ambassador just happened to be present.   But that was just four guys.   I know that the popular equation is that one American life always equals any number from ten to several thousands of foreign lives, especially if those foreigners are not the right color, that is, a European hue.   But let's be for real here, and let's also avoid the "Who's counting?" tomfoolery.   Instead, let's ask ourselves, "Four against sixty thousand?"   Non-American lives mean nothing to ordinary, God-fearing Americans, but on the other sides of the several oceans it's quite a different matter.

This critics of the American move that is now finally being made with regard to Syria also argue vehemently that in heeding advice that has supposedly been standing firmly for American presidents ever since George Washington, the U.S. should always avoid involving itself in foreign entanglements, especially civil wars.   And associated with that is the more recent popular motto that the U.S. is not  the world's police.   But there are two meanings to the word "police" in its verb form.   One is the usual snarling, pistol-packing meaning, and the other is far less well-known unless one has served in a boot camp of some kind, and that is the act of going around picking up any and all little pieces of trash to be found on the ground, mainly cigarette butts -- an activity commonly called "policing the area."

Of course it would be best not to feel obliged to police the world, in either sense of the word, but that is in fact just what the U.S. has been doing ever since the Japanese kicked it into taking part in World War II.   No other country has so many military bases of all sizes scattered all over the world.   No other country has special forces roaming through as many as 65 other countries, under the guise of sniffing out terrorists.   No other country. not even Russia, has such an enormous military that has set itself up to be lords of outer space, the air, the land, everywhere above and below the surfaces of the seas, and even on the Internet.   No other country invests so much money in those armed forces, even to the detriment of everything else that makes it supposedly a civilized country.   And a large part of those forces are posted on the waters adjoining the Middle East, where Syria occupies a linchpin spot.

So, instead of just standing idly by, why not lend a hand to trying to end the widespread slaughter of Syrians, finally -- a move that should've been made many thousands of Syrian lives ago, when it became perfectly obvious that al-Assad was not going to be anywhere near as respectful of the lives of his fellow citizens as was the ruler in Tunisia, or even Mubarak in Egypt, but instead was bent on keeping the Assad family in charge down to the last living Syrian.

"But ...but... what about Iraq?" these critics would finally sputter.

OK.   What about Iraq?   Going in there was nowhere near the mercy mission that dispersing the al-Assad forces would be.  The GW Bush ravishment of Iraq had other motives, none of them admirable in the least.   One was gaining control of the oil pumps.  Another was to make the Israelis happier.   And a third, and maybe the biggest motive was for Bush to strut his stuff, and ostensibly to complete some unfinished business left behind by his father, though Bush's intention was not at all to justify the man.

Bush's father also happened to be a U.S. President just a few years earlier (another indication of how lacking the Republican Party has been in having any figures with any semblance of true stature, so that they have had to depend inordinately on that one family, to the point that they are undoubtedly looking longingly at a third Bush for the next cycle -- the equally undistinguished Jeb).  Though the elder Bush was a considerably more sensible chief exec than GW, few might recall that he was always dogged by the charge of being just a big wimp, and the fact that when Saddam was driven out out of Kuwait, Bush stopped short of going all the way up into Iraq, so that Saddam was still there when GW Bush came in, serving as a means for the son to show off what turned out to be not all the size of his codpiece but instead the size of his behind, for one and all to see.

The trump card that is used for critics of the Obama move is the fact that the terrorist organization that Obama and all the U.S. is pledged to obliterate -- al-Qaida -- has already pledged support to the rebels.   But in World War 2, wasn't FDR glad enough to side with the dreaded Communists of the USSR?

In any case, I don't see how simply standing idly by while the ruler of perhaps the Middle East's most key country outside of Eygpt, uses his equipment superiority to murder his protesting fellow citizens into submission can be much of a foreign policy, especially for a country that has the mightiest Navy in the world standing in a big star-spangled funk just offshore of there.



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