Saturday, August 31, 2013

On Intervention in Syria

I'm gonna go ahead and say this now just to get it on record before the war starts.  I don't want you guys to think I'm un-American in wartime, but now, before the war starts and while we're still debating the proper course of action, now is the proper time to express an opinion.

This attack on Syria is a stupid, stupid idea.

And I'm annoyed at our so-called liberal President for his apparent close-mindedness on the issue.

The run up to the strike on Syria reminds me very much of the run up to the invasion of Iraq, especially because we're supposedly having a debate on the issue in the public conciousness, and the American public is obviously, manifestly split (at best) on what the proper course of action is going forward, and yet there is nothing that anyone can seem to do to actually affect the decision-making process of the powers that be.  Bottom line, the decision has already been made, it was made by one man, in consulation with a single member of his cabinet, and manifestly without the advice and consent of Congress, and there doesn't seem to be anything that anyone anywhere can do to affect it.

This is explicitly not the governmental design that the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted the Consitution for the precisely reason that they didn't want the nation to run into armed conflict half-cocked, and our President ought to know that because he's a freaking expert on Consitutional law with a J.D. from no less than Harvard University, and yet here we are.

I grant you that the situation in Syria is bad, but then again, so are the various civil wars in sub-Saharan Africa and Somolia and Nigeria--just to name three off the top of my head--and yet, we're not considering strikes (or other interventions of any kind) in any of those places for the simple reason that those places don't immediately affect American national interests.  And guess what?  Syrian internal politics doesn't immediately affect American national interests, either.  They're bad, yes, but here's the reality: there's NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT.  Trying is only going to show explicitly the limits of American military power in a place where frankly we'd get more mileage out of a more nebulous, indefinite fear of our abilities, and yet no one seems to care about that.  I guess because they don't understand it.

As one of my old bosses used to say, sometimes you have to play your strength and do nothing.  This is one of those times.

Even the British are against us on this one, and frankly, that ought to tell you something.  I thought George W. Bush's "Coalition of the Willing" was disastrous policy when he announced it during the run-up to Iraq, but this coalition makes that one look like a true, legitimate international effort, and that is bad.  But like I said, no one is listening because it doesn't seem like anyone cares what the actual people that they represent are thinking...  Well, that's bad, too.


This is the same President who won the Nobel Peace Prize before immediately ramping up the drone strike program in Pakistan, sending massive additional forces to Afghanistan, leading (albeit reluctantly) an air campaign against Libya, and then initiating a program of targeted killings of American citizens overseas when it was deemed too difficult to bring them to trial.  Now, not all of that was bad policy, but some of it was, and lots of it was at best non-productive.  And frankly, killing American citizens without trial--regardless of where they are--that's horrifying, and the fact that no one, not even the ACLU, said anything afterwards is even worse, but there you have it.

I think this is what comes of having a Congress that is so entirely disfunctional.  The Executive Branch feels that it has to work "around" Congress, and as a direct consequence, we wind up with little or not legislative oversight, and that trend is not leading us in good directions.  We, the People, are losing control of our government, and that's not a good thing.  Hell, we're about to go into a war, and we're not even having a true national-level debate on the issue.

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