Saturday, September 7, 2013

Bomb Syria.

Today, with the self-righteous blinders on our hindsight, we condemn Neville Chamberlin for his policy of "peace in our time" appeasement of Hitler.

This is unfair to Chamberlain, to a degree--because he was expressing the will of the English people at that time. World War I had exhausted the English and killed a generation of young men in the trenches of Europe. The last thing they wanted was another war. So they demanded peace at any price, at any sacrifice of anyone who wasn't English.

They paid an enormous price for their shortsightedness.

Now Assad isn't Hitler. Syria is a patch on the 3rd Reich powerhouse. The price of our standing aside will be lower than the price England paid, and Assad at his worst will murder far fewer people than Hitler did.

At the same time, however, the price of our involvement would also be a patch on the price England paid when it was eventually forced into WWII, kicking and screaming. At least they didn't roll over like puppy dogs, like the French did.

The real point of the comparison is that the English were dead wrong in 1938 and didn't realize it.

America's doves-on-Syria are equally wrong. Their efforts to minimize what Assad is doing, to claim we can't tell whether the other side didn't really do it, to say it's none of our business, are all--for the most part--efforts to rationalize an unwillingness to expend any of our treasure to save the lives of people-who-are-not-us.

The far Right are at once hawkish and isolationist. This isn't a paradox, because both are consistent with being tribal. And Syrian women and children aren't included in what they see as our tribe. As good tribalists they're unable to empathize with innocent civilians who aren't part of our tribe, and we haven't been attacked, so their hawkishness isn't triggered.

Plus many of them are sufficiently racist that they're inflamed with a permanent, seething rage at that Uppity Negro in the White House. If he's for it they're against it--almost without regard to anything else.

The far Right are pacifistic. It's amazing to see their moralistic posturing against the American government for thinking of attacking one of the worst governments on Earth--while letting that Worst Government off the hook--is truly amazing. These people are not isolationist. In fact they tend to downplay the importance of national sovereignty--they believe we should give Mexican citizens American citizenship practically for the asking, because the Mexicans are poor and suffering.

Well the Syrians are poorer and suffering vastly more. But it will take acts of war to save those suffering Syrians.

Which means that for the Far Left, others' suffering doesn't matter if it would require action by our armed forces to right the wrongs involved.

This is simply cowardice.

The people who oppose hammering the Syrian government say the President hasn't thought through the potential consequences, which are unpredictable. But they aren't fully unpredictable. Russia isn't going to go to war with us over this because they possess a grossly inferior military establishment relative to ours. We would do to them what they did to Georgia. Syria isn't going to declare war on us, any more than they declared war on Israel when Israel took out missle shipments headed for Hezbollah.

We can't predict who will win this three-way civil war in Syria. But we can predict what will happen if we do nothing, given that Syria is being actively supported by Russia and Iran and the rebels don't have what they'd need to shoot down the government's choppers and jets or take out its tanks.

Right now the Russians are running their mouths about America's weakness. That isn't reason enough to start shooting, but it is a factor that will come into play in other situations. The notion that we're a paper tiger tends to make other governments misunderstand what America can do when sufficiently roused. But you have to use your warmaking power least when others are most convinced you will use it where you say it's important to you.

Both action on Syria and inaction over Syria have long-term consequences. The pity is that we're now suffering the long-term consequence of the previous Republican administration's military recklessness and arrogance. That consequence will go on for decades. This is not, however, an excuse for America withdrawing to our borders and telling the world to go hang itself. Which it will without the moral and physical force of the world's most powerful country continuing its thankless but necessary--for US--role of World's Cop.

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