I don’t know if it’s my libertarian leanings or I’m just sick of it all but I’m fast becoming an isolationist. And by “sick of it all,” I mean the alleged U.S. Middle East policy which for the last ten years or so, has been cloudy at best.
I was good with Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan started out with clear objectives and netted good results. The Taliban were removed and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan dismantled. While I never made it over there, I came to more clearly understand the rationale for and the planning and execution of the war as a member of the Army’s Crisis Action Team. That was my first job when I came back on active duty.
Then came Iraq. I heard all the arguments and saw all the justification that the rest of the world saw. I didn’t have any special access to any information beyond that which everyone else in the world saw. I trusted that our national leadership at the time was presenting the world with factual information. There are a zillion reasons why the information turned out to be less than factual, the biggest of which I call the fog of bureaucracy — spinning bad news so that the boss can draw his desired conclusion anyway and still not be 100% wrong. I saw this so often that it’s a wonder anyone in authority could ever make a decision with real “facts” because no one was willing to present real “facts” if they were contrary to those which were expected. And there were those who just plain lied for personal gain. So it’s really no wonder that the real situation with WMD’s in Iraq never made it to the highest levels of the Administration.
Anyway, that’s a tangent. Back to the story.
Now we’re likely going to attack Syria. I don’t believe a word that’s coming out of my TV set except for the fact that hundreds of thousands are being slaughtered over there by another jackass dictator in another god-forsaken place I’d never want to visit in a million years. To say that the massacre there is a horrific act is an understatement. I won’t argue that nor should I. And yes, killing is killing, but chemical weapons are so indiscriminate in their targeting that they deserve a rightful place as far worse than conventional weapons.
But folks, a “shot across the bow” from a U.S. Naval vessel is not going to accomplish a thing.
If we are the engage Syria to prevent the slaughter of innocents, then that’s what we should do — prevent the slaughter of innocents. Sending a warning shot is a waste of effort, money and won’t prevent a single death from the continuing use of chemical weapons.
Only one thing will do that: denying ANYONE the ability to deploy and use chemical weapons now and in the foreseeable future. If you want to keep the bad guys – regardless of who they are — from doing bad things, destroy their capability. A warning shot is as useless as a strongly worded letter from the United Nations.
Do we have national interest there? Beyond the defense of Israel, I’m not yet sure that we do. And yes, I get the whole proxy war argument, but haven’t we been down this road before? Haven’t we learned anything?
Look, if we’re going to do this (and the jury’s still out on whether this will happen or not) please let whatever action we take have a real effect on saving the lives of innocents. After all, that’s what this is supposed to be about, right? Lobbing missiles over there as a “we have to do SOMETHING” response is not the answer. If we’re going to shoot the missiles anyway, let’s aim that so that it will HELP. Destroy the ability within Syria for ANYONE to use chemical weapons.
So yeah, I’m still not convinced that the U.S. has any business there. There’s that whole isolationist thing again. But if we’re going to go to war to prevent the slaughter, then we ought to do something that will have meaning. Something meaningful and effective that will let the world say “This time, the U.S. saved lives.” Something that will accomplish our stated goal. From my position here at Fort Living Room, Virginia, a “shot across the bow” won’t do a damned thing.