It's jaw-dropping astonishing to realize we may not be going to war with Syria.
Once Congress and the White House start discussing whether we should go to war, the answer is almost always yes. Yet the deal to remove Syria's chemical-weapons stockpiles, if it goes through, may actually quench the government's enthusiasm for blowing other countries up.
And Elizabeth O'Bagy, a paid advocate for some of the rebel groups, was actually identified as a propagandist before we went to war (that's not how it usually works out
) though not before Sen. John McCain and Secretary of State John Kerry quoted her as an unbiased expert.
However, the deal is not done yet. And even if it is, it won't be the last time we have this debate. So I figure it's worth pointing out how shitty some of the pro-war arguments were'because make no mistake, we'll hear them again.
It's not war, just a limited strike.
So Kerry says, but that's nonsense. Try imagining any circumstance in which someone bombs us and we don't take it as an act of war. I suspect Washington considers that totally differently because we're the world's policeman
. If we bomb people it's from virtuous motives; if they bomb us, it's because they're pure evil.
Experts say we should go in.
O'Bagy was one of them. And some of the other experts were convinced the Iraq war was an awesome idea too. Think-tanker and warhawk Danielle Pletka, for example, admitted in 2008 that it never occurred to her post-Saddam Iraq wouldn't immediately transition to a peaceful, prosperous country. That indicates she's, well, the opposite of an expert. Nevertheless she (and other equally wrong warhawks) still gets to write columns about the need to attack Syria as if her judgment was actually proven good.
Refusing to go in is appeasement. Obama is Neville Chamberlain and this was America's "Munich moment."
Both Kerry and McCain have made this argument. And yes, failing to intervene in civil war against a dictator who can barely control his country is exactly like not taking a stand against a would-be European conqueror'oh, wait, it's not. Assad's a nasty piece of work, but he ain't Hitler (or Napoleon or Genghis Khan for that matter). And contrary to UN ambassador Susan Rice, it's hard to see him as a threat to our own security, either. Seriously, if we're vulnerable to Syria, what the hell are we spending so much money on our military for?
Not attacking Syria will "undermine the credibility of the United States."
That's according to McCain and several others. The argument is that if we stand by while innocent people are gassed, it will convince other evil regimes they can literally get away with murder.
If that's actually what's at stake, then we've already blown it. The world knows we supported Mubarak's dictatorship in Egypt and still support Saudi Arabia's repressive theocracy. Governments that cooperate with us almost always get a free pass (Reagan had no problems with our then-ally Saddam using poison gas against Iran). Even if we look at non-allies, we're not doing anything about Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, the dictatorship of Uzbekistan or China's conquest and occupation of Tibet. If not acting weakens our credibility, every tyrant that exists weakens it. Attacking Assad won't change that.
In reality, of course, we've overthrown three governments already in the 21st century. We're waging war in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, among other nations, not to mention possible cyberwarfare and assassination against Iran. Only in Washington, where shooting missiles at another country doesn't really count as war, could anyone imagine that not attacking Syria will convince the world we're really a pacifist, safely neutered pussycat.