I caught just a couple of minutes of Fox News and Charles Krauthammer was talking about how legalistic the White House was being about the suspected chemical weapons use by Syria. So far as I could tell, his argument was that this is a war zone so we don’t have time to be careful. That makes sense for people who are in the war: when the mustard gas comes, you put on the mask, you don’t do tests to see if it is really sulfur mustard rather than just the result of a Wienermobile crash. But, as usual with conservatives in general and Krauthammer in particular, he’s making a false analogy. The question is whether we should go to war based upon potentially bad information.
This is the time when someone says, “Just like in Iraq!” But that isn’t really true. In fact, this is an issue that makes me really mad. It was clear that there was nothing to the whole rush to war in Iraq. And I get angry especially at Democratic politicians like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry who claim they were misled. Please! True, the Republicans got the ball rolling, but by the end, both sides voted for it because they didn’t want to miss out on the glory of being for another bloody good war like Persian Gulf.
Today in Syria, we really don’t know what’s going on. And let’s face it, wars where one or both sides are behaving badly are not rare. What is Krauthammer worried about? That this great opportunity is going to pass us by? That would be like George Clooney feeling like he has to fuck a supermodel before she changes her mind. There are plenty of supermodels for George and plenty of wars for us.
But I understand why Fox News and all the other conservatives want us to jump into a new war. In almost all cases, the more we know, the less we will want to go to war. So it’s important for us to go to war quickly, knowing as little as possible. One thing is for sure: by the time the war is over, nearly everyone, including most of the conservatives, will think it was a mistake. But just like that last batch of buffalo wings that gave you heartburn so bad you wanted to die, they claim this war will be different. But it won’t be different. And we at least need to understand why we are going to war. I would hate to see us do it because the Syrian resistance finessed us into it.
Charles Krauthammer is generally more nuansed than his conservative allies. But in the lead up to the Iraq War, he wrote the following in Jewish World Review, “Hawks favor war on the grounds that Saddam Hussein is reckless, tyrannical and instinctively aggressive, and that if he comes into possession of nuclear weapons in addition to the weapons of mass destruction he already has [No amount of being wrong ever hurts a pundit!], he is likely to use them or share them with terrorists. The threat of mass death on a scale never before seen residing in the hands of an unstable madman is intolerable—and must be preempted.” He goes on to say that he sides with them. This is a supposedly serious foreign policy thinker! The argument that any despot would take his hard-won weapons and share them with terrorists is ridiculous. This is the kind of argument you make when you just really want to go to war. And apparently, Krauthammer always really wants to go to war. (Well, not him personally. He was sadly paralyzed in an auto accident as a young man. But apparently, no argument is too specious to justify having the same thing happen to more young men in every war opportunity Krauthammer notices.)