The Evil Reason for Attacking Syria

Obama NopeI am not a pacifist. But on a practical level, I might as well be. The truth is that pretty much no country ever goes war because of any just cause. As we’ve seen very clearly here in the United States, wars are sold as surely though less explicitly as toothpaste and laundry detergent. This morning, I caught the last bit of Andrea Mitchell Reports. It was not as bad as Sunday’s Weekend with Alex Witt segment with Alan Grayson. None the less, on MSNBC—remember: the liberal network—the onus is on those who don’t want to go to war. War advocates are just given softball questions while anti-war advocates are tapped on all sides as though the reporters are looking for cracks.

Meanwhile, serious journalist who I normally agree with find themselves conflicted on the Syria question. Ed Kilgore at Political Animal says he is trying to sort out his own views. To some extent, I understand that. If it is true that the Assad government is using chemical weapons, it’s terrible. But this gets to a point I made a couple months back, On Being an Asshole and Possibly Right. There are so many tragedies going on at any given time. I’m skeptical when authorities tell me I should worry about this tragedy. I don’t think I’m wrong to believe that they have other reasons for bring it up.

And look: the United States has hardly been pure when it comes to chemical weapons. We did, for example, help Iraq use chemical weapons against Iran. And what about our widespread use of cluster bombs? One thing is certain, if Assad were an ally, we wouldn’t be talking about this. It would hardly have made a bleep on the news and government officials would have assured us that it was accidental, a rebel plot, or never happened at all.

What really bugs me is that people as brilliant and insightful as Paul Waldman at The American Prospect falls for this stuff. He wrote, Syria Turns into a Political Story, about why everyone wants to talk about this as a political story rather than a tragic story of civil war. But he pushes the “no good options” canard. And he says something that is flat out wrong, “Assad killed 100,000 Syrians quite adequately with guns and bombs before everybody got really mad about the 1,400 he killed with poison gas.” I agree with the point that he’s making. But Assad did not kill 100,000 Syrians. I don’t question that Assad is a despot, but these deaths are due to a civil war. As I reported yesterday, roughly half of the deaths have been Assad’s own forces.

So I’m not a pacifist. But my gut instinct, when someone presents evidence in favor of another “bloody good war,” is to call bullshit. Can’t we all just admit that the only reason we are talking about this is that Obama blew it by defining a “red line”? Everything follows from that. All the people who want to attack Syria have their own reasons. But MSNBC is pushing this war for that one reason: Obama made a mistake and now we have to kill Syrians so he doesn’t look weak. That is as purely evil as anything we see in politics.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

4 thoughts on “The Evil Reason for Attacking Syria

  1. Very reasonable discussion by Paul Jay of "The Real New Network" and Chris (Droopy Dog, but I still love him) Hedges:

    [url=]Chris Hedges on Obama Decision to Attack Syria[/url]

    What I like about this especially, and what real liberalism means to me, is that neither is trying to propagandize. When they know something historical, they say it. When they’re not sure of something current, they give their opinions, and admit they aren’t sure.

    Propaganda, despite the howls from the right whenever anyone doesn’t agree with them ("just more liberal propaganda"), isn’t the same as debate, or argument. The selection of points one wishes to make (of necessity selecting some and not others) is argument. Propaganda is the willful use of suppression and dishonesty to forestall argument. We have a few on our side who demonstrate propagandistic tendencies. They have few on their side who don’t.

    Anyhoo, I appreciated Jay saying what I was thinking; that Obama’s shout-out to Congress on this is basically a stalling tactic. Hopefully, a good (for Syrians) one. (I wouldn’t mind seeing an international peace-keeping force in Syria or anywhere else riven by civil war, but no country wants to participate in that if they don’t have material interests to protect.)

  2. [quote]Obama’s shout-out to Congress on this is basically a stalling tactic[/quote]
    That’s what I was wondering. Do you think he expected Boehner et all to automatically disagree w/him and it backfired this time? Or maybe it came up to give them all something to disagree about and further tear the Republicans apart while taking the pressure off of the debt ceiling/nsa/ira/bengaziii!

    Anyways, I agree w/Mr. Frank on all points and also call Bullshit.

  3. My impression is that Obama feels trapped by his own rhetoric and that he is hoping that something will happen that will give him cover or perhaps wriggle out completely. It’s not that I think that Obama is a great guy and he may want to even things up in the civil war there. But in the grander scheme of things, this just isn’t that big a deal. To me, 110,000 deaths in Syria over the last two years is a lot more important.

    The video is really good. Chris Hedges is even more cynical about the future than I am. And Paul Jay is excellent. They said basically exactly what I think.

  4. Mary — I don’t follow Washington gamesmanship closely enough to be able to say for sure, but your theory may be correct. Asking Congress for authorization would be a way to split the Ron Paul, "constitution"-loving types (like all self-styled defenders of old texts, they pick and choose which parts to emphasize and how to interpret those parts) from the Republicans determined to paint Obama as "soft on defense."

    Whatever the case, a little (or a lot of) hesitation before using military force is almost never a bad thing!

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