April 10, 2016
Many soi-distant intellectuals and upstart concerned citizens are condoning inaction in Iraq and Syria after several chemical attacks by soberly saying, “both sides are wicked.”
Other realpolitik-Machiavellian souls are averring much the same in a different way: let them fight each other and do whatever they wish so long as it keeps our enemies engaged, and not focused on us.
Others take more of a cost-benefit approach by analyzing the “situation on the ground” and claiming the U.S. has nothing to “gain.”
Others assert that this is “Iraq the Sequel” and instantly all sense of morality abandons them.
Some – shall we call them accountants? – calculate and then instruct that we can’t afford the mission.
Meanwhile, the Right non-sequitors that Obama is not a capable leader, and therefore, it is better not to let him mess this up and to let Assad and ISIS kill in whatever fashion they wish.
Modern day Neville Chamberlains likewise abound, yapping for attention, “Why can’t we just talk about it? What happened to diplomacy?”
Moody fortune-tellers keep seeing in their crystal balls doomsdays: Assad remaining in power, ISIS angrier, WW3 commencing, and various “mission creep” scenarios.
Weird moralists aver that since the U.S. turned the other way when Saddam used chemical gases on Iran in the 1980s, they shouldn’t do a damn thing presently.
And so the excuses and justifications go to avoid doing anything after the first use of WMD in the new millennium which was targeted directly at civilians and which killed five hundred children.
It should be noted that all those opposing the bombing of Syria’s government or ISIS for this action are “on the record.”
Thus, nothing will be done, or only for-show actions.
Who knew some kids being gassed to death would unite our world in pacifism and isolationism?
We like to pretend we are tuned in now more than ever – better than the 24 hour cable generation; after all we have smart phones and social media that tell us, any time we would like to know (and even when we don’t desire to know we seem to find out), how dark and demonic things are in far away lands.
But it is quite clear that knowledge isn’t always power, it can be an excuse for weakness.
Never forget how many people “knew” getting involved in the Balkans would only exacerbate the situation.
Still, in our fantasies we believe that we are different than those who came before us – different than those who let the Balkans and Rwanda and Sudan occur. We envision what we would do in times of great danger, we see ourselves doing what is right regardless of the consequences, we see ourselves blocking the Nazis at the door who are coming to kill the Jews we are hiding.
But in reality, most people would give up the innocents to save their own lives and make excuses as to why they had to do so. In eras of grave injustices, the cosmopolitans become just as nativistic as the nationalists.
Today, in real time, one can watch as people back away from obvious duty under the guises of merely acting with sagacity and level-headedness. Syrian and Iraqi children writhe from mustard gas, the man who gassed them faced zero consequences.
Perhaps we do not act because we are incessantly warned that the problem with the world is people losing their minds and overreacting.
But the truth is most mass slayings occur because people lose their souls and under-react to gathering menaces.
That’s what is happening right now in Syria, and one might say, there is something sickening in the air.