Saturday, September 7, 2013

Outrage. I think we should have more. Liberals used to have it, but not about Syria

Outrage.   I  think we should have more.    Listening to the Senate hearings and cable talk , I was amazed how  the degree of outrage about Syria  broke along ideological lines.  The Tea Party and the libertarians joined forces with the far left to conclude that whatever happened in Syria was   was not worth risking the unforeseen fallout from any military action, no matter how limited.  “Yes, so sad those pictures of innocent children wrapped in white lying side by side, sometimes next to their parents, but it is none of our business and feared repercussions make the risk of an even limited strike  too much".
 I would expect no less from   the ideological isolationists. They are related to those who turned a blind eye as England was blitzed and Hitler marched across Europe.  But  excuse me,  liberals. It used to be your business.
  You used to be the outraged ones. Chemical  weapons may be 100 years old so  memory dims but there was enough concern that this new weapon used in World War I  could kill or maim so many that most of the world condemned its use and signed onto treaties banning it even in war. Syria was one of the signers. Horrified at the killing of populations in Nagasaki and Hiroshima with nuclear bombs, fear of a  nuclear threat we experienced  the cold war is much more recent since so many of us are still alive whose heart stops at a picture of a mushroom cloud.
I am old enough to remember the anti nuclear movements of the post World War II  and the pre Viet Nam eras. Spread of nuclear weapons, fear of mutual self destruction, home bomb shelters, under  desk drills in schools, cold fear as I sat in ground zero in New York city in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis waiting for a bomb to drop on me (and as we learned later, it came close to  happening). Remember the anti nuclear marches with saffron robed monks drumming in front of activists?
 That was the outrage then and  rational leaders  saw the writing on the wall. Arms treaties, weapons inspectors, and world condemnation of the spread to unstable nations still reverberate today.
War is hell, but some wars are more hell than others, especially when the  use of chemicals and nuclear explosions kill so many innocent.
While 100,000 of a Syrian population of 20 million have died in mortar attacks and gunfire and mostly conventional weapons, and , we  tsk tsk, with the nonsensical argument that we did not feel a need to intervene then, so why should we now with only 1400 killed.   What sets apart recent events in Syria is the choice of weapons and fear of the future use of chemical weapons condemned by the world.  That is the outrage that exceeds the usual civil war combat totals.  
 Do not think those rogue nations and others are not watching us to see if we care not nor do we think it is important to stop any usage.  Our unwillingness to put our foot down is switching on  the green light for the irresponsible, power grabbers and power maintainers, to use such weapons again and again, with no repercussions.  In fact, we are experiencing the results of our  turning  a blind eye to Saddam’s killing the Kurds and the small scale use of Assad’s use in the civil war prior to the Damascus suburb attack in August. They got away with it then and they must be smiling as their calculations are proving correct. They could get away with it now, too.  Or will they?

 And the Syrians  must be smiling as anti war liberals piously push negotiation by embargoes and international  condemnation as the solution, too.  Been there, done that. Let us get real. Experience has been  negotiated settlements only happen when both sides reach a stalemate. If we continue to allow Assad to have the upper hand and the free use of chemical weapons, why should he negotiate in any good faith. He has nothing to gain.  We did not get a Dayton accord in the Bosnian conflict until after we intervened militarily, and we only had to do take out the Serbian's  air capacity  and we never had to put boots on the ground. 
We will  be tested again  and again in the future if we do nothing. Those who want to use chemical and nuclear weapons will have learned their lesson.   How then will we respond?  Not enough people died because of a chemical attack? Or it is none of our business; we’ve got our own troubles at home? Or let others lead, unequipped and unable as they are, so we can truly  lead from behind ?  
 So how many should die before we become outraged enough to be moved to take action?  What is your outrage number?

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