Wednesday, September 11, 2013

war is not heinous

President Barack Obama's willingness to refrain from an immediate attack on Syria based on its recent alleged use of chemical weapons shows a lot of things.

It shows (sort of) the the U.S. is not trigger-happy. It shows that the American public is war-weary and skeptical after the no-win wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It shows that American influence is draining from the Middle East and elsewhere. And there are a lot of other things it shows ...

Among them: That it is OK to prosecute a civil war that has already created two million refugees and untold suffering ... as long as there are no chemical weapons in play. War is OK, but there are limits, dontcha know.

Chemical weapons are heinous, but war is not heinous.

The U.S. is in a damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don't position. Attack and risk what would almost certainly be a wider war, one consuming not just Syria, but also its neighbors ... and, courtesy of George W. Bush, Americans at home and abroad. Fail to act and risk an uptick in the number of radicalized combatants who might rightfully see the U.S. as long on talk and short on action ... a fork-tongued Judas if ever there was one, from their point of view.

And here it is the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, the date on which the World Trade Center towers were demolished ... an act that is now so routinely ('terrorist") linked to the American war in Afghanistan that suggesting a more careful investigation is considered conspiracy-theory claptrap ... despite the physical and other scientific evidence.

As the Anglican theologian and writer Charles Williams once wrote, "People believe what they want to believe."


  1. Well I might be totally naive here Adam but it seems to me that it is not LACK of action that radicalises Islamic youth.
    I suspect that had the West not inserted it's nose into the Islamic world that the Twin Towers would still be standing.
    And Saddam would still be in charge of Iraq and Assad would be running Syria with a grip of iron, the 'rebels ' would not have assumed ( wrongly it would seem ) that they would be supported by the West.
    What effect all that would have had on the general peace of Nations (if a correct summation ) is too tangled a knot for me to get my head around.

  2. Peter -- I am willing to accede to your analysis ... the web is too tangled for me, though the demolition of the Twin Towers with its thermite-sheered steel uprights, its pancake collapse, its architecture that had built in the eventuality of a plane strike and the upcoming cost of removing asbestos all leave me skeptical of source and purpose ... and whether the towers might still be standing today.

    OK ... I'm no politician or analyst. The kids will play in the sand box and, as usual, we will be tasked with getting the grit out of their eyes.

  3. Well it would be the same difference as far as the Twin Towers was concerned, surely Adam ?
    I don't believe for a moment that 9/11 was in inside job.
    But as I have said before I think that the widespread idea that it was gives a very important insight into the current American psyche that I find scary.
    A House fundamentally divided against itself.
    But lets suppose that it was a domestic would not have taken that form if American army boots had not been on the Saudi peninsula. Not even the most crazed government would have invented an action with no precedent providing a motive to cover its actions.

    I think there are real signs in the Western world that if we want to minimise whirlwinds we had better stop sowing the wind. No matter how much we see ourselves acting out of compassion.

  4. I'm not sure that 9/11 was an inside job. But simultaneously, I am not sure it was not, however heinous and draconian that thought may be. In the event, I simply dislike the scientific loose ends that are tied up with a lethargic "oh well."

    Maybe a house divided against itself cannot stand on the one hand, but on the other, perhaps it is like meiosis ... a house divided against itself is simply the way a house grows and flourishes.

    I dunno. I haven't had enough coffee yet.

  5. The definition of an empire is the willingness to use arms to protect financial interests abroad. And empires bankrupt themselves as the upper classes find a way to dip into the till. They then factionalize and fall. Considering the increased speed of communication i'd say we were relatively on schedule.

    As to inside jobs, history is full of such machinations. Why was the nearest fighter base put on stand down the day before? Why couldn't the worlds most high tech fighters with satellite and radar support not find a wayward airliner?

    I'm reminded of Pearl Harbor, where the declaration of war from Japan was mislaid, the radar was ignored, and the ships actually lost were tenders and WW1 vintage boats. Our newest boats, carriers and submarines all safely away.

    Why? We privatized a massive nationalized oil field. We established bases that threaten Iran. And of course Israel takes comfort from our heavily lobbied financial support.

    Do the powers that be really care if Syria or anyone else engages in genocides? Or do they care about markets and resources? History suggests the latter.