Dithering in the Dust
by Dr. George H. Elder
Thursday, September 05, 2013
The American people have no desire to take on anyone in the Middle East, be the cause good or bad–just or unjust. Thus the majority of us are quite content to passively watch while innocents are gassed en masse, humanocide writ large on our TV screens. We have become like so many beaten dogs, whimpering at the mere thought of yet more conflict. Given the lies that were told to get us involved in Iraq, who can blame the people for being reluctant?
My problem is this: in Assad we have a petty tyrant who truly does have weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, he has shown an inclination to use them on his own people–and on a large scale. He is allied with several quasi-religious and extremely violent groups that are both capable and numerous, and one wonders what we will do if those noxious white clouds suddenly appear in a New York subway or Fenway Park. That is the threat, and not just what is happening in Syria, terrible though it is.
I despise war, and think it is ample proof that humanity has hardly evolved in over 5,000 years. Furthermore, the American people have every right to feel exhausted, having been involved in an only partially justified fight that has lasted the better part of a generation. Alas, there comes a time, exhausted or not, when we have to do what is in the best interest of our children. And like it or not, removing those chemical weapons from the scene is in our best long-term interest.
Yes, it is only a temporary fix, something that may buy us 10-15 years before another dictator arises who has a yearning for power and no qualms about using ANY means to get and keep it. Already, we see all the efforts we extended in Iraq drifting into a mindless civil war that will spawn the next “strong man,” the coming dictator. And in this failure, we see yet more reasons not to get involved, for many American lives have been lost and vast treasure spent for little, if any, long term gains.
It is a matter of using power intelligently. One aids those who are fighting for their own freedom, with Bosnia being a prime example of how effective this policy can be when used properly. We have the technical ability to degrade Assad’s ability to rule without putting boots on the ground, and to do so in a fashion that allows the Syrian people to express their own will. We may not like what evolves, but what choice is there to act given the weapons involved?
So I agree with the policy of removing Assad’s chemical weapons, though I find Obama’s handling of this situation very dubious. If one sees a mad dog at the door, one doesn’t dither before acting–and the butchering of over 400 children surely indicates that we are dealing with a mad dog. Instead, we go through this legalistic national and international debate, and at a time when our people are already exhausted. Our leaders have no choice but to act, even if there is a lack of consensus. To do nothing means that we have truly lost, for we will have become a people who can watch children suffocate by the hundreds while waiting for our dinners to be cooked. Where is the humanity in that?