Squandered in Syria
You can tell that lately I've been waking up thinking about Syria, just as earlier it was Trayvon Martin.
If I can be permitted to set aside, just for this moment, the overpowering grip that temporizing has on him, never seen more clearly than in his first debate with Romney, I wonder if, by this time, whether B. Obama isn't deeply sorry that he didn't take my advice to go with his Syrian strike right after he revealed that it was in the wind, in whatever form that his military experts proposed it to him. And they must've had something out of the ordinary and even brilliant in mind, otherwise what good are all those Pentagon types with all the scrambled egg stuff on the bills of their caps? Instead he took the easy route in which much of the rest of the country appears to be sloshing and wallowing, and he decided to bring Congress in on it, with the all too predictable blah results that you always get whenever those 535 drags on the country are brought into anything.
Since then all there's been is a non-stop torrent of blather about all the dreadful things that will happen, should Obama give the order -- outcomes that not one of these doomsayers could possibly know, and that includes numerous diarists and commenters right here at DKos, even by that site's supposed highest authorities -- endlessly belching out fiddle-faddle that amounts to nothing except essentially saying what a bad idea it is to try to slow down and even stop the wholesale slaughter of Syrians that has been going on with hardly a pause for the past two and a half years, by a huge variety of means.
Bobby Fischer, the late and highly successful, Brooklyn-bred chess grandmaster (nowadays most American grandmasters seem to have been born and raised in Eastern Europe), said, "timing is everything," and one of the things he meant is that a player shouldn't hem and haw, once the idea for a sharp, hard-hitting combination takes shape in his head. The sacrifice that can't be refused must be made while it's sitting there to be made and even when the ultimate success of that combination isn't quite clear as yet.
Now that opportunity, like all those lives, has been squandered in Syria, and if Congress likewise trumpets and brays "Nay," everybody will congratulate themselves on having been on the side of something that they were pleased to call "peace," and they will go back to scratching their butts, throwing back a few, and in general devoting their lives to being the same old slobs that they always were, while in Syria, unhindered by the international world and instead feeling themselves being cheered on by Russians, Chinese, and a host of "sometimey" American progressives, Syrians will keep on killing other Syrians en masse by a great variety of means, for no more reason than to keep the government in Damascus headed by an Assad.
"And after all," the non-thinking would continue, "all we're talking about here is a bunch of brown people (sometimes also called "sand niggers" in the better homes and churches) busy killing other brown people, right? And everybody knows that situations like that have never been worth our making any kind of a sacrifice. Besides, we're not talking about an American office tower being suddenly demolished by some of those same people, are we? Because even if that were to result in just a tiny fraction of the number of Syrian casualties, in that case everything would be totally different, of course."
Having missed the boat on Iraq, everyone is determined not to commit that crime again. But it was all too easy to see that pounding into Iraq was not a good thing to do. Syria is more a mess than Iraq was, despite Saddam's constant misfires and the attentions Iraq had been shown by American sanctions and air power. The water, electrical, and health systems were all still working, and for a long time Saddam had been spending most of his days huddled quietly in his palaces and doing much more stewing than brewing.
Some have tried to say, "All right. If Syria is not like Iraq, then it's not like Libya either." But I don't see that. Wasn't Gaddafi on his way to an al-Assad slaughter of his own people, until NATO air power stepped in?
It worked once, and the geography is as level in one place as it is in the other. Who's to say it couldn't again? And after all, we're talking about volunteers, who presumably stepped forward for this job, implying, "We can do this!"
Having been, a very long time ago, something of a military man myself, though only what in those days was called a "shotgun volunteer," I think I can say that true volunteers can never expect to be asked to take part only in made-to-order campaigns of their own choosing, such as on the beaches of Tahiti. It's just bad luck for today's GI's that -- along with the vagaries of plate tectonics -- badly deluded refugees from Europe are still holding on tightly to land deeds in the Middle East that expired 2,000 years ago, and the easiest oil is found mostly in hot, arid, ungodly places where all the women are compelled to walk around dressed from topmost tress to toe in outright tents.