Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Well, That Was Confusing

When Obama told us last night that he was going to “talk to us about Syria” I wasn’t expecting much in the way of validity, but his opening statement set the bar really low. “What began,” he said, “as a series of peaceful protests against the repressive regime of Bashar al-Assad Apparently he’s been watching CBS Evening News.

The protests would more accurately be described as “food riots” than as protests against the government pro se, and “peaceful” is a relative term. I don’t actually know how brutal Assad actually was, and am inclined to doubt that he was any more brutal than several dictators whose governments we support to this day, but Assad enjoys even now the support of quite a large portion of the civilian portion of his country, including two million Christians. Everyone seems to overlook that, implying that the only ones on his side are soldiers who are somehow forced to fight for him.

Anyway, having given us a history lesson, which included “American GIs in WW1” and the Nazis of course, because any such speech has to include Hitler even if not by name, he goes on to describe how utterly essential it is that we launch a military strike on Syria, then says that thanks to Russia we aren’t doing it right now, and finally reminds us how utterly essential a military strikes remains. I was left with the impression that we’ll do it after Russia is finished flubbing around.

The long and the short of it, of course, is that he was about to lose the vote in Congress and Russia saved his ass by allowing him to call off the vote. The cult of personality surrounding Obama is claiming that makes him look brilliant and puts him on top of the issue as a three dimensional chess player, but I regard that claim as utterly delusional. He was insisting on a military attack that no other nation in the world supported, that Congress was about to vote down, and that is wildly unpopular among his constituency and a foreign government came up with a solution that he’d never thought of. Whatever that is, it most certainly is not brilliant.

Naturally, he had to present Syria’s chemical weapons as a “national security threat” to us, using a “slippery slope” argument that was convoluted and, to say the least, tenuous.

“If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons.” It has not, of course, actually been proven that they started using chemical weapons

“As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas, and using them.” Other than the bad grammar, that is what's called a non sequitur.

“Over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield.” We could, of course, avoid that by not having our troops on the battlefields, but we can’t expect Obama to think of that solution.

“And it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons, and to use them to attack civilians.” And we have come back to the threat of terrorists because Saddam Hussein was going to give nuclear bombs to Osama bin Laden.

“If fighting spills beyond Syria’s borders, these weapons could threaten allies like Turkey, Jordan, and Israel.” He later says the threat of retaliation against our allies is irrelevant because these nations are fully capable of defending themselves, so

“And a failure to stand against the use of chemical weapons would weaken prohibitions against other weapons of mass destruction,” And we have to fight global warming because of watermelons.

“and embolden Assad’s ally, Iran -- which must decide whether to ignore international law by building a nuclear weapon, or to take a more peaceful path.” And who could have predicted that this would be about Iran?

Not to mention that no one has proven that Iran even wants to have a nuclear weapon, let alone is trying to develop one. And of course, several high ranking military people have suggested that Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon would not really be a problem; a suggestion which is backed up by the fact that a large number of countries already posses nuclear weapons and have not used them. Except us, of course.

He says, then, that the purpose of the military strike is to make clear to Assad that “we will not tolerate their [chemical weapons] use.”

Interesting. This started out as a world ban on these weapons and how the world felt about them, and suddenly it is about what we, and we alone, will not tolerate. That may be related to the fact that the rest of the world refused to join the “coalition of the willing” in using force against Syria.

In answer to the assertion that “we should not be the world’s policeman” he launched into some flowery dissertation about the “burden of leadership” and something to do with “seven decades,” but I think he was speaking in tongues by that time, because he lost me completely. I think he was saying that in fact we should be the world's policeman, or that we actually are or something, but it sounded like bullshit to me.

Of course, the whole thing had been sounding like that, so

1 comment:

bruce said...

Any peaceful protests were a long time ago and maybe Obama's getting the other Arab countries mixed up in here. Sure Assad has a lot of support, but then so did Saddam Hussein, Adjadminidad [sic], even Obama himself. In theory, democratic countries allow that sort of thing. Repressive countries/leaders, well, I'm of the opinion that maybe we shouldn't be messing in other countries business so much.

The whole speech seems to be a lot of trying to talk tough and at the same time get a consensus or a bunch of disparate people /countries /political groups to join him on this endeavor. And it doesn't sound logical and doesn't make sense. He can't have it both ways. And it makes him look more like a bumbling idiot or foolish than otherwise.

I think Assad did use them, but I don't see how this is a threat to the US in particular, or to the region. Invoking "terrorists might get them" is like the boogie man under the bed. Far more damage, killing, etc. has been done my conventional arms than WMD and will continue to do so, but nothing is mentioned about those.

Iran shouldn't have anything to do with the Syria question. Here he's preaching to the neocon in the US, I'll bet you. And as far as not tolerating chemical weapon use (which it shouldn't be), it's a tad hypocritical to say that when there is all that other bombing, shelling, of civilians and fighters both. Are they any less dead that way? is their livelihoods and homes not ruined? It's just chemical weapons raise a spectre of 'horribleness" that others do not, perhaps.

If we (or anyone else) were going to support the Syrian rebels, it is far past time to do so. It should have happened a long time ago, but then it still raises the question of "is it our responsibility to actively assist those in their own internal regime change"? The US doesn't have real good track record in that.

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