About a week ago, so we’ve been told, the Syrian government deployed chemical weapons against its own people in several villages east of Damascus, killing several hundred. On Monday, our Secretary of State, John Kerry, looking like an unshaven bum in his expensive suit, called it a ‘moral obscenity’ deserving of American military retaliation. (And this is the same John Kerry who ran against Bush for President in 2004?)
Why don’t I believe this narrative?
I’m reminded of the runup to the Iraq war in 2002, when we were told that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the world, when it seemed clear enough, even in 2001, that we were looking for a pretext to fight Iraq so that the younger Bush could avenge where the older Bush had wimped out.
We’re against the current Syrian government, when we were OK with them until a couple of years ago. We’re now arming the ‘rebels,’ some of whom belong to al-Qaeda, which, I thought, was the enemy.
President Obama now proposes ‘a shot across the bow’ to send the Assad regime “a pretty strong signal, that in fact, it better not do it again.” Perhaps that’s meant to be reassuring, but I’m not reassured.
A literal shot across the bow is a warning measure (not intending to accomplish actual damage) taken against a warship in a context that makes that ship a legitimate target. Obama proposes cruise missile strikes against Syrian military installations to actually destroy them: if that’s not an act of war, I don’t know what is.
Last year, Obama indicated that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would be a ‘red line’ that would trigger severe consequences. So now either the narrative of last week’s attacks is true, and we need to follow through on our word and retaliate, or else visibly wimp out; or the narrative is fake, and we’re setting ourselves up for another pointless military adventure.
I don’t believe that even President Carter would have been that stupid.