Friday, September 6, 2013

Some Further Comments on Syria

I want to try and quickly address the much broader question of what the fuck the U.S. thinks it's doing as regards Syria.

What I'm hearing from those in favor of a military response (the White House, journalists, random Twits on Twitter) is essentially this:

Regimes that employ chemical weapons must be punished. That punishment should take the form of an air strike/bombing.

And, separately:

The conflict in Syria will end more quickly with fewer casualties if we intervene via air strike/bombing.

As far as I'm aware, we're only talking about remote warfare (that is: no troops on the ground, near-zero chance of U.S. casualties). We're also only talking about attacking the Syrian government, not the rebels. To make things simple, I'm going to refer to the Syrian government as "Assad" and the rebels as "the rebels" for the rest of this post.

My prior post addressed chemical weapons, specifically why they were actually banned in historical context and why the supposed disproportionate harm caused to civilians is not disproportionate at all. More importantly it is certainly not an inherent property of this class of weapons; conventional weapons can kill more civilians than soldiers too depending on how they're deployed, for example in the bombing of London by Germany during World War II. Banning one type of weapon because it can be used against civilians while allowing other types of weapons that are used against civilians is as arbitrary as banning AR-15s (which are rarely used to kill people) while allowing .22s (which are the most popular choice for murders).

Oh wait, we actually do have stupid gun laws. Huh. Maybe instead I should say it's like banning soda just because some people make bad decisions that have negative consequences for their health. No wait, we do that too. Maybe it's like punishing some countries for violating "international law" but not others. Wait...

At least no one's claiming we're consistent.

Anyway, so much for the "chemical weapons = bad" part of the claim. Let's do the Locke thing and pretend it's actually true. How about the question of appropriate punishment? We're told the point of this punishment would be to act as a deterrent, so Assad and other countries will never use chemical weapons again, knowing the consequences will be horrific. How far must "the horror" go before it's effective, not just to get Assad to stop, but to get all countries on earth, no matter how batshit insane, to never even consider using chemical weapons ever again?

That's right. If we were serious about punishing the use of the second most hated class of weapon, we'd employ the first most hated class of weapon. But we won't, and it's obvious we won't, so it's also obvious that we aren't serious about this deterrent bullshit anymore than we're serious about the "War on Terror" or fucking Due Process.

Ok, now for the second argument, that this air strike against Assad will end the conflict sooner and with fewer casualties. That's just incredibly unlikely to be the case. We're talking about an uprising versus an entrenched regime. In what scenario does the conflict end sooner when you aid the weaker side? Not that I'm a Sith-sympathizer or anything, but you have to concede that a third parting bombing the Rebel Alliance to hell would have brought peace and stability to the Star Wars universe faster than doing it the other way around. Regime change is the opposite of stability.

What makes it worse is that, unlike with Iraq, we don't seem to be talking about a regime change; we're talking about a slap on the wrist for Assad. A slap that will take the form of killing a ton of people who aren't Assad. You know, the ones who didn't make the decision to use the chemical weapons and who don't really have any power in the situation at all. That's the joke of me in this post using "Assad" as a stand-in for "people we decide represent the Syrian government." Obama, the media, and everyone else do not get the joke, unfortunately.

So we're going to weaken the side that's more likely to win the conflict, but we won't weaken them enough to actually change the outcome of the conflict. We're just going to draw it out. You know, the exact opposite of what we say we're trying to do.

This is too stupid to be stupidity. This is conspiracy. A fake-out. Some fucked up tail/dog relationship. Blood for oil? Nah. You think too small. Think wartime powers. Think suspension of liberties. Think of all the NSA warrants speedily approved by secret courts when we're actively at war. Think of all the stories- the police state, the IRS state, the nanny state, the surveillance state- that will be pushed from the front page once the bombs start falling. Think of the expansion of government that can be justified when the war expands beyond Syria to Iran, Pakistan, Russia. Think of all the evil that can be swept under a Persian rug made from the bodies of actual Persians.

The crazy thing is I don't even have to touch on the usual topic of why humanitarian wars- indeed, any war not fought purely for self-defense- are bad, evil, and dumb. But I'm still not going to convince anyone, because we're Team America, World Police, and we're exactly as imbecilic as we sound.


S. Misanthrope

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