I have been struggling these last few days and weeks to come up with something to say about the possible US engagement/bombing of Syria. Usually when I write a blog post, it comes together quickly and the words just flow but this is different. Part of it is knowing that some people I respect seem to think bombing Syria is a good idea for some reason. Another part is a lot of people I do not respect are now sounding like the dirtiest of ef’fin’ anti-war hippies that ever came down the protest road.
I am a veteran even though I am and have been staunchly anti-war since my college days in the early ’70s. There is a small amount of irony in this as I attended a military high school in the late ’60s and at one point thought I wanted to be a career infantry officer. My draft lottery number was six and if I had not had an ROTC deferment, I would have been in the US Army during Vietnam. As it was, I avoided Vietnam but wound up enlisting in the Air Force and serving from 10 December 1976 to 9 September 1982.
We have the most technologically powerful military in the world. I almost said “the most powerful” military in general but a lot of the military has been broken through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet we have people in Washington today calling for the US to intervene militarily in Syria in a civil war.
The DeeCee “conventional wisdom” seems to be that the Syrian government gassed their own people so we have to bomb them. Yet, there are credible allegations that any gassing may have been done accidentally by the rebels using chemicals provided by the Saudis and mishandled by the rebels. Secretary of State John Kerry says there is evidence to support attacking the Syrian government but that it is secret. I would like to believe him, I really would. But the US government, headed by presidents from both major political parties has long forfeited its right to be believed and trusted. There has been way too much adventurism based on incomplete or cherry-picked evidence for the US Executive or Legislative branches to be trusted.
This lack of trust in the government goes much further back than just the ten years ago run up to invading Iraq based on lies and half truths. It goes back beyond the Gulf of Tonkin “incident.” It goes back beyond the recent admission by the CIA that they helped over throw an elected Iranian government in 1952, installing the Shah; eventually leading to his overthrow, the attack on the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and the stand-off between the US and Iran that exists today. I am not a tin-foil wearing conspiracy theorist but these items I have mentioned are not conspiracies, they are facts, albeit often not admitted for decades.
I don’t know for sure which side is which in Syria. I have a strong sense of “a plague on all of your houses” may be the best response. I keep hearing that we will only support the “moderate” rebels, as if there can ever be such a beast. The saber-rattlers in Washington seem to think we need to drop bombs, even if some of them admit that it won’t do much good and won’t end well.
I seem to recollect learning in school that if you were a larger person, more powerful, you had an obligation to walk away when provoked. The theory being that because of the power, the individual had a responsibility to do all in their power to avoid conflict, not seek it out. It was only the bullies who sought out and provoked conflict. Nowadays, it seems the prevailing thoughts are that we must bomb other countries to “save face.” I seem to recall another set of lessons from my school days where the idea of having to “save face” confused many of us as it seemed to lead to such awful outcomes such as many of the wars we studied.
I would like to close with a question that has been floating in my mind these last few days. Do the dead really care how they were killed, by chemical weapons or by bombs? Or do they just recognize that either way, they are dead? It is too bad we can’t ask them, isn’t it?