The first question to ask about our war with Syria has nothing to do with Syria
Summary: It’s a script. Trumped up crisis, heated rhetoric from US leaders, vague plan, violent actions, long-term regrets. Change the names and our wars sound the same. Here are valuable resources explaining the Syrian situation, and the far more important question about the nature of these wars: why do we repeat the same mistakes?
- What we have here is a failure to learn
- Analysis of our pending war with Syria
- The futility of analysis if it doesn’t lead to public action
- For More Information about Syria & our mad wars
(1) What we have here is a failure to learn.
Yet again it appears we go off to war, in pursuit of vague goals, following the advice of people wrong in the past, repeating tactics that have repeatedly failed us. Even if the merits of a war with Syria, the overall situation should make us pause. And, like our previous adventures, the situation is far from clear.
There is no need to grind over the details. Others have done so better than I (see the links below). It’s the opposite of on the edge of the known, and so not in our ambit. But there is a question: why do we repeat the same mistakes? We have done these mad interventions so many times, with almost uniformly bad results. The bloodletting in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya continues as your read this. Before each of these wise experts accurately foretold the result. We did not listen. We did not learn. Despite repeated failures.
This is an important question, affecting the prosperity and perhaps even survival of America. I draw three conclusions (prelude to an answer):
- It is not a lack of good advice. After so many cycles, the good analysis and advice flows rapidly but to no effect.
- These mad interventions, taken against growing public opposition, are teachable moments. They prove that the government has slipped its reins, evolved beyond our control. The consequences of failure to reassert our control will be horrific. It’s a political problem. A domestic political problem.
- While our wars result largely from domestic dysfuncationality, these repeated interventions in the Middle East are the equivalent of playing with nitroglycerin. Eventually there will be an explosion.
Please post your ideas in the comments.
(2) Analysis of our pending war with Syria
I strongly recommend these as among the best analysis of this situation. Note the two from The Onion; unfortunately they are straight news reporting. Nothing shows our dysfunctionality as fact also being black humor.
- Results of our previous intervention: “‘Violent chaos’: Libya in deep crisis 2 years since rebels took over“, RT, 26 August 2013
- “Questions for President Obama — Before He Pulls the Trigger on Syria“, Andrew Bacevich, “Bill Moyers & CO”, 26 August 2013
- “Experts Point To Long, Glorious History Of Successful U.S. Bombing Campaigns“, The Onion, 27 August 2013
- “Obama Weighing His Syria Option“, The Onion, 27 August 2013
- “They’re Baaack: Neocons Launch Push for Regime Change“, Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, AntiWar Blog, 27 August 2013
- As usual, a crazy historical precedent given for our new mad war: “The Kosovo Precedent: Syria in the Crosshairs“, Franklin “Chuck” Spinney, CounterPunch, 27 August 2013
- Asking the questions that Obama will not answer (and probably does not have answer): “Making War In Syria“, Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, 27 August 2013
- Dissecting the usual nonsense in the Weekly Standard: “‘Experts’ Who Are Always Wrong About Everything Want to Bomb Syria“, Scott Lemieux (Prof History & Pol Sci, College of St Rose), 27 August 2013
- “How an Insular Beltway Elite Makes Wars of Choice More Likely“, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, 28 August 2013 — “The pressure on President Obama to intervene in Syria is hyped, and the pressure to stay out of the conflict is unjustly ignored.” In DC only hawks are considered legitimate experts.
(3) The futility of analysis if it doesn’t lead to public action
(4) For More Information
Posts about Syria
- The Syrian dominos, Tom Hayden, 25 October 2012
- Some questions as we march to war in Syria, 17 June 2013
A guide to our mad wars:
- A guide to our Middle East Wars – change you cannot see, 31 March 2009
- Is America a destabilizing force in the world?, 23 January 2009
- “War without end”, a great article by George Wilson, 27 June 2009
- Every day brings new advocacy for war. That’s our America.,
1 November 2010
- A look back at the madness that led us into our wars. How does this advice read 6 years later?, 26 June 2010
- About the violent mobs in the Middle East. And in America, 16 September 2012