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The weekly Daley: To war or not to war

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From page A4 | September 13, 2013 | 29 Comments

One pundit likened President Obama’s speech and, by extension, his leadership roughly to that of Hamlet. Out of options, good or bad, the president tried to make the best of an impossible situation. For my money, he didn’t get very far.

Trying for weighty, persuasive language, most of it sounded hollow, self-righteous and illogical. The litany of dire “if this, then that” forecasts didn’t work for me nor for a majority of Americans of every political stripe, according to polls. Somehow, if we “allow” Assad to keep and use WMDs, that will encourage all the other wannabees to get them too? Wannabees could include Paraguay, Lichtenstein, Belize, Nepal and a host of other insignificant places. Places that have yearned for weapons of mass destruction but feared U.S. intervention?

What he suggested is that all the other pipsqueak leaders around the world will naturally set a course for suicide and the destruction of their countries (by us or a lethal coalition of our choosing) as the acceptable price for having WMDs. Somehow, if we don’t take strong action, even “unbelievably small” action, Iran will be greatly emboldened to keep working on a nuclear arsenal. That begs the question, “Has Iran just been waiting for us to threaten Syria in order for it to develop more nuclear weapons?” That makes no sense. North Korea has been doing what it does for years without Syria being a tipping point for its bad behavior.

If we don’t bomb Syria, Syria will think it’s OK to launch WMDs against Israel. If Assad wants to stay in power as desperately as he seems to, why would he throw it all away by inviting Israel and the U.S. to obliterate him? Even evil dictators have a better sense of self-preservation than that.

It may sound cold, but if we piled up 100,000 corpses, sans arms, legs, heads, the results of conventional warfare, on one side of the street and 1,400 corpses who died from weaponized poison on the other side, would or should that really be a “game changer?” Is the image of a father holding his 3-year-old, gassed to death by Sarin, somehow grislier than the image of a father holding up parts of his 3-year-old, killed by a rocket-propelled grenade or torn apart by an AK-47? The issue clearly is not measured by the pound.

If Assad’s WMDs fall into the wrong hands, they will immediately be used by terrorists to: A) attack our friends in Jordan, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia; B) attack American assets around the world; C) attack the Russians from the former Islamic Soviet states; D) all of the above and even more.

Well, that could happen. It could happen tomorrow or it could have happened 20 years ago whether we attacked Syria or not. Terrorists will get stuff to kill with from somebody. Even from us, as Saddam Hussein did during his war with Iran. And if those friends of ours are really worried about such a scenario, why the hell aren’t they joining us to do something about it? Something real. Evidently, Russians don’t see much threat from Chechens having WMDs. (They ought to, and I suspect they know it and they’re trying to figure out how to prevent it without losing face over Syria or losing influence in the neighborhood.)

For all the above reasons, it’s in our national interest to spank Bashar al-Assad for doing what he (allegedly) did. A good spanking is all the president and the administration have urged. I got a good spanking from my father after he caught me smoking when I was 10 or 12.  It didn’t have much effect. And while I don’t recall, he might have added, “Cigarettes today, whiskey, heroin and a life of depravity tomorrow.”

The president said he does not want America to be the world’s policeman, but … (since we really are and must be because no one else is, we have to strike Syria, sooner rather than later, because like it or not, America is the world’s policeman). Well, except when we don’t want to be — think Rwanda, Cambodia, Mali, Myanmar.

Lots of smartheads remind us that Syria is not Iraq. Lots of smartheads reminded us that neither Afghanistan, nor more especially Iraq, was not Vietnam. And of course they are and were completely right and accurate. Syria is not Iraq, and Japan is not Costa Rica, but everyone knows that. Ten years here, 12 years there. A billion or two this week and next and the week after that. Except, of course, “Let me be clear.” This is different. Of course it’s different. But the prospects are just as lousy and events just as uncontrollable and the goals just as unattainable and the objectives just as fuzzy.

Who would have guessed this issue would create such unlikely bedfellows? Big Democrats opposing the president. Big Republicans supporting him. This is about as bipartisan as anything we’ve seen coming out of Washington in a long, long time. Maybe there’s hope for us yet.

Chris Daley is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. His column appears each Friday.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 29 comments

  • EvelynSeptember 12, 2013 - 9:58 am

    Chris: Thank you. My one quibble is with your apparent assumption (4th from bottom para) about what Assad "did". See this.

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  • EvelynSeptember 12, 2013 - 10:01 am

    . . . and this: "High-Level U.S. Intelligence Officers: Syrian Government Didn’t Launch Chemical Weapons"

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  • EvelynSeptember 12, 2013 - 10:03 am

    . . . and this: "12 U.S. Intelligence Officials Tell Obama It Wasn’t Assad"

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  • EvelynSeptember 12, 2013 - 10:05 am

    . . . and this: "Exclusive: Top Chemical Weapons Expert Highly Skeptical of U.S. Case Against Syrian Government"

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  • EvelynSeptember 12, 2013 - 10:07 am

    . . . and this: "Are Spy Agencies Once Again Lying … this Time to Justify War Against Syria?"

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  • EvelynSeptember 12, 2013 - 10:09 am

    . . . and this: "Yes, the Syrian Rebels DO Have Access to Chemical Weapons"

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  • EvelynSeptember 13, 2013 - 7:12 am

    "The CIA Is Pouring into Syria" - HERE

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  • EvelynSeptember 13, 2013 - 7:51 am

    "No Change in Obama's War Plans" - HERE

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  • cookie65September 13, 2013 - 8:38 am

    Looks as though the void created by hope and change is being filled by Putin. obama took all he learned from community organizing (see his old neighborhood) and applied it to the middle east. Chaos, ruin and destruction, I love the smell of leftism in the morning.

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  • EvelynSeptember 14, 2013 - 7:01 am

    ANCIENT HISTORY? "In declassified document, CIA acknowledges role in '53 Iran coup" - HERE: Shortly after Mossadegh's election, the CIA began to plan his overthrow. The goal of the coup was to elevate the strength of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and appoint a new prime minister -- Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi. Before the coup, the agency -- along with the British Secret Intelligence Service -- helped foment anti-Mossadegh fervor using propaganda, according to CIA documents. . . . On August 19, 1953, the coup swung into full effect as the CIA and British intelligence agency helped pull pro-Shah forces together and organized large protests against Mossadegh.

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  • EvelynSeptember 14, 2013 - 7:07 am

    TODAY'S HUMOR: Dept of Defense office can't process Freedom of Information Requests because fax machine broken, no money for new one - HERE

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  • EvelynSeptember 14, 2013 - 7:20 am

    'Network TV Supports War on Syria: “Journalists Don’t Need Proof”' - HERE (Apologies to Chris Daley)

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  • EvelynSeptember 14, 2013 - 7:28 am

    "Preempting The Next Round of Lies Against Syria" - HERE: Relying entirely on the momentum of its massive media networks and their ability to "will" reality into any shape they please, headlines such as "United Nations' Syria chemical weapons report "overwhelming," shamelessly attempt to link two out of context statements by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon regarding the Syria government's "crimes against humanity" and the confirmed use of chemical weapons in Damascus Syria, to place in the mind of readers assigned blame for the attacks.

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  • Phil VeerkampSeptember 14, 2013 - 7:37 am

    . . . but peace is breaking out . . . rebels and Assad will pause the war, destroy chemical weapons then . . . . US and Russia reach agreement in Syria weapons talks . . . LINK - Framework for elimination of Syrian chemical weapons

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  • cookie65September 14, 2013 - 8:34 am

    It begs the question, Why does obama need to bomb Assad? Should he mail his peace prize to Putin? He sure has let the air out his loyal following. 4 1/2 years of making excuses for him already had them short of breath. None of this adds to the beast's resume. There are theories galore floating around the net, from getting all his other scandals off the front page to he and valjar's underlying support of the radical terrorists.

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  • cookie65September 14, 2013 - 9:02 am

    Evelyn, isn't the DoD being out of cash for a new fax machine something the can blame on sequester therefore it has to be the repubs fault? The hand is quicker than the eye. Now you see it, now you don't?

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  • cookie65September 14, 2013 - 9:07 am

    Phil, the framework for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons? Ship them BACK to Iraq. It is probably taking place right now. Instead of a presidential motorcade we just need a couple of clown cars.

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  • EvelynSeptember 14, 2013 - 9:14 am

    DEFINITELY the repubs fault, cookie . . . or at least someone's!

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  • cookie65September 14, 2013 - 11:30 am

    This just gets more and more troubling. http://freebeacon.com/government-seeking-inclusion-of-social-and-behavioral-in-health-records/

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  • Dee#1September 14, 2013 - 2:20 pm

    Evelyn, after reading your DOD article about the only fax for FOIA requests being out of order and being able to replace until the next fiscal year, I am considering donating one to the DOD. However, it would probably take unti 2015 to get the MOU completed. Maybe some Congressmen and women need to be made aware of the situation. Thanks for the laugh.

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  • Dee#1September 14, 2013 - 2:22 pm

    "Not being able to replace."

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  • EvelynSeptember 14, 2013 - 3:39 pm

    Dee#1: Hard times have hit the DOD. They're down to their last few thousand drones and missiles, so must save every last penny. Besides, FOIA requests are such a nuisance.

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  • cookie65September 15, 2013 - 6:26 am

    Now that obama and kerry have been upstaged by Putin, Assad has a time limit to relinquish his chemical capabilities. Is either oblamo or kerry going to suggest that the rebels do the same? obama and valjar have the USA right on track to being a has-been on the world stage. Having the beast represent this country to the world was the first stage of dismantling our global influence, handing it off to the twit kerry appears to be right on track to completing the mission. The founders of this country knew it would only be a matter of time until people would rise to the highest levels of government based solely on their ability to redistribute wealth. Their worst nightmares are our reality. The American people have sold this country over to complete incompetence in exchange for a handout. Liberty has been sold for an EBT card and an obamaphone. The greatness of this country is being trashed by people who aren't qualified to run a popsicle stand.

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  • cookie65September 15, 2013 - 6:39 am

    Our media is ludicrous, not worthy of the greenhouse gases they create in order to push their agenda. This is the first paragraph from an abc report where they give obama credit for averting military action in Syria "with help from Russia". In my lifetime I would have never believed the IQ of the American people would sink so low that such blatant bias in the media would allow them to even stay in business. Can anyone in the media tell us what obama's larger policy is? "After 2½ years of civil war in Syria, President Barack Obama's larger policy is in disarray even as his administration, with help from Russia, averted a military showdown for the time being."http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/t/story/obamas-larger-syria-strategy-disarray-20256106?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.memeorandum.com%2F=

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  • cookie65September 15, 2013 - 6:50 am

    Phil, here is that "framework" I predicted. http://www.jpost.com/Syria-Crisis/Report-Syria-transported-chemical-weapons-to-Iraq-326141

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  • EvelynSeptember 15, 2013 - 7:33 am

    Two-hour radio interview HERE.

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  • Phil VeerkampSeptember 15, 2013 - 7:44 am

    Cookie - TRUE/FALSE THEN? - or - TRUE/FALSE NOW? - LINK - Saddam Hussein moved his chemical weapons to Syria six weeks before the war started, Israel's top general during Operation Iraqi Freedom says. . . . . the possibilities are: true/true - false/false - true/false - false/true . . . or . . . or . . . Bush lied. People died.

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  • cookie65September 15, 2013 - 9:19 am

    ed braindead shultz on pmsnbc, "It amazes me that people don't LOVE obama." It is no wonder so many people in this country wouldn't be able to prove the theory of gravity standing on a cliff with a rock in their hand. Look at how stupid the people who inform them are. http://www.ijreview.com/2013/09/79204-msnbcs-schultz-amazes-people-dont-love-obama/

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  • Dee#1September 15, 2013 - 12:38 pm

    Attached is a well researched article on the down fall of Detroit. It is a template of what is happening to California and the Nation. If nothing else look at the charts and graphs to see where we are heading.-----http://www.freep.com/article/20130915/NEWS01/130801004/Detroit-Bankruptcy-history-1950-debt-pension-revenue

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