Approaching the Syria Insanity

A friend writes:

I can’t stand the fear-mongering from pro-war media. It seems like their primary argument is a “what if…” argument, even more so than their humanitarian argument. “What if we don’t punish Assad and the refugees from further attacks become violent extremists, what if other regimes learn that chemical attacks will go unpunished, what if North Korea and Iran are empowered by our inaction, what if, what if, what if…” 

It seems like the motive for war is far less about humanitarianism (even though people like Samantha Power will play on people’s natural sympathies to gain support: http://usun.state.gov/briefing/statements/213901.htm) than it is about making a statement, a statement that, fromwhat I’ve read, will not be effective.

Agreed. And my response:

(Some of) the questions people should be asking.
And governments (especially the USG) have a long history of launching wars over events that are later proven to be false, manipulated, or at least very fishy–from the Maine and the Lusitania to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident and Iraqi WMDs. The initiatory event, the “shocker” that galvanizes people to war, is as often as not (probably far more often than not) later demonstrated to have been total crap.

I think this is the right attitude.

And I, too, hate the “we need to make a statement” mentality. These people must have insanely short memories.Traditional American foreign policy (i.e. pre-WWII, and especially pre-20th century) was (with several notable exceptions) peace (i.e. neutrality), commerce with all nations, entangling alliances with none. Syria in no way poses any sort of imminent threat to the safety of the United States.

It’s amazing that there once was a day when an American president could, with confidence, say this.

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