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View Diary: The Onion absolutely nails Syria. (126 comments)

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  •  Was "red line", "game changer" thoughtful? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawgrass727, NYFM, Jorybu

    Actually, I think it was, and the Onion has got it completely wrong.

    The important point here is to end the use of chemical weapons. Period. The President was thoughtful and specific: the use of chemical weapons will bring about a deterrent response. Yes, more Syrians will die either way. But we need to hit Syria hard and back up the President's words so that Assad realizes he means it and the chemical weapons use will stop.

    You say that the American people are tired of war. No, we are not. As von Clausewitz said, "War is the continuation of politics and diplomacy by other means."

    We had two wars, both of which were over in 2003.  The Afghan war, which ended on the day we defeated the Taliban, and the Iraq War, which ended when Saddam's military was defeated and Saddam and his regime were removed from power in 2003.

    Everything else, including the bogus "war on terror", "war against Al Queda", etc. was NOT war. We don't negotiate with terrorists - correct, which, by definition, means that actions taken to combat terrorism do NOT constitute a war, because there was no politics and diplomacy to begin with.  Once the Taliban and Saddam were gone, there was no political or diplomatic goal to be had.  With Al Queda, a terrorist organization that stands for nothing, there is no diplomacy to be had, therefore no war to be won.

    Do not confuse any of our use of military force in those countries beyond 2003 with war.  It was not and is not now. For that matter, neither was the war in Vietnam beyond 1968.  And don't get me started on the ridiculous and stupid use of the word war in conjunction with drugs, poverty, crime, etc. This cavalier and ignorant use of the word is what has led to the overuse of our military for purposes other than its proper use to achieve a clearly defined and discrete diplomatic end in which war is the only means to achieve that goal.

    Here, we have a classic case for war.  The diplomatic goal and political negotiations with the Assad regime to prevent his use of chemical weapons has not been achieved. Therefore, we will now undertake the use of military force in an attempt to end their use and achieve the diplomatic goal - a true war.  It need not go beyond a week long series of military strikes against critical Assad military assets that will convince him of our resolve to prevent his further use of chemical weapons. But, at this point, it is a situation that calls for war to achieve this end.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by absdoggy on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:15:22 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  NO, we have a classic case for NOT WAR (41+ / 0-)

      We have not been attacked.

      We have not been threatened.

      We have no strategic interest that has been challenged.

      Any action we take against Syria without clear sanction from the International Criminal Court or the United Nations is itself immoral, illegal and criminal.

      We can do nothing, or we can be the "bad guys".  There are no other choices.

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:22:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not that simple. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        absdoggy, jan4insight, Tortmaster, twigg, NYFM
        We have no strategic interest that has been challenged.
        I don't know about "strategic," but I think I'd definitely say that we—and the rest of the human race—have an interest in no nation's leaders thinking they can use chemical weapons and get off scot-free.
        Any action we take against Syria without clear sanction from the International Criminal Court or the United Nations is itself immoral, illegal and criminal.
        That presumes that the UN and the ICC are the sole arbiters of morality, legality, and criminality.

        If there is clear, hard evidence that Assad has actually used chemical weapons against the rebels, and the UN refuses to act thanks to giving veto power to Vlad Putin, who never met a human right he wasn't willing to stomp all over simply out of sheer pique, then what do we do?

        I'm not saying let's go to war, but I am saying that if the UN is presented with clear evidence that Assad used chemical weapons against his own people and doesn't take any action against him, then it is the UN—not those who take action—that is "immoral, illegal, and criminal."

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:43:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We are too inconsistent (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JamesGG, costello7

          to play the "genocide" card. Besides, American presence in the Middle East is toxic to the region.

          Where were we in Rwanda?

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 05:16:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't necessarily disagree with that. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            twigg
            We are too inconsistent to play the "genocide" card. Besides, American presence in the Middle East is toxic to the region.
            I agree that we're not exactly in a position to be presenting ourselves as having a whole lot of moral authority (though Bill Clinton has acknowledged that not acting in Rwanda was one of his greatest regrets).

            My point is that if the UN investigators come back and provide definitive proof that Assad did use chemical weapons, and the UN still doesn't take action because Vlad Putin has veto power, then the UN will have even less moral authority than any country that does take some kind of action against Assad.

            I think this goes beyond national interest, to the interest of humanity itself. Chemical (and nuclear and biological, though that's not at issue here) weapons should be completely off-limits, with the promise that the unimaginable fury of an angry human race will rain down on any leader who dares to use them.

            I don't support military action at this point because I don't think it's been proven that Assad used the chemical weapons—but if it is proven and no action is taken in the UN because Vlad Putin thinks geopolitical bullshit is more important, someone is going to have to step up, or the next monstrous dictator will be much less hesitant to use chemical weapons.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 05:28:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The UN Inspectors (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JamesGG, pajoly, Buckeye Nut Schell

              will NOT provide proof that Assad, or anyone else deployed chemical weapons, only that such weapons were used by someone.

              The vote in the UK was a massive blow to President Obama, because without a broad coalition, or a UN mandate, those in the region will see any action as just more US aggression.

              The Iraq chickens are coming home to roost.

              I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
              but I fear we will remain Democrats.

              Who is twigg?

              by twigg on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 05:39:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's definitely the case. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                twigg, pajoly, XenuLives
                The Iraq chickens are coming home to roost.
                I completely agree on that—the world's skepticism about claims of Assad using chemical weapons is definitely a result of the massive lie perpetuated by Bush, Cheney et al. in front of the UN in 2003.

                If it weren't for the world's mistrust of WMD claims thanks to Bush, I think we'd already be seeing a broad international coalition telling Assad that it's time to go, and threatening to force the issue if he didn't. The Brits, the French, and the Germans would be standing alongside us telling Vlad Putin to back the hell off. (We'd also be in a much stronger position militarily/economically, given the cost of the Iraq war.)

                Which, I think, means that the blood of future Syrians who are killed by Assad—whether by chemical or conventional means—is at least partially on George Bush's hands, for making it all but impossible to form an international consensus in the Syria situation.

                "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                by JamesGG on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 06:46:59 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  So by this logic we shouldn't have intervened (0+ / 0-)

            in Rwanda. We can never intervene in another humanitarian disaster because we didn't intervene in the last one. Etc etc etc.

            When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

            by PhillyJeff on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 09:27:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  You do not know what war is. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        truong son traveler, NYFM

        I will repeat von Clausewitz:  "War is the continuation of politics and diplomacy by other means".

        This is the definition of war. Note that:

        - there is nothing about one side or the other having been attacked. Nothing. It is irrelevant.

        - there is nothing about one side or the other having been threatened. Nothing. It is irrelevant.

        - the definition of war DOES require that a strategic interest - that is, a political/diplomatic goal - be involved. Here, I strongly disagree with you: the prevention of the use of chemical weapons is very much in the strategic interest of the United States, and indeed in all the world's best interest. To allow their use to go unchecked is to invite chaos.  What if Assad's next use is in a border region with Turkey and innocent civilians in Turkey die? Or near the border with Israel, or used on or near the Mediterranean and water supplies are befouled?

        - there is nothing that requires the ICC or the UN sanction war.  They did not sanction the Korean War, they did not sanction the Vietnam War, they did not sanction the war between Israel & Syria, Israel & Egypt. They did not sanction the war in the Congo, etc. etc. In fact, other than the Gulf War back in 1990, the ICC or UN has never sanctioned any war in over 50 years, yet dozens of wars have gone on in that time. It is irrelevant.

        War, in this case, is the use of military force to achieve the political/diplomatic goal of ending the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.  Nothing more, nothing less. Do not be baited into emotional, good guys / bad guys arguments as to what war is.

        If you actually believe that achieving the goal of ending the use of chemical weapons is not worth waging war, then so be it. The world will then live with the consequences of allowing the use of chemical weapons to go unchecked. I disagree with this course of action. I would lay waste to Assad's military bases and command/control assets for a period of one week, then revert to political means of assuring that Assad will not use them any further.

        Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

        by absdoggy on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:49:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That leaves out the other half of the definition (11+ / 0-)

          Clausewitz put forward a dialectic of war. The other half of dialectic is "War is thus an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will." This is often forgotten or ignored in the US because we aren't huge fans of dilectics. It's smack too much of communism. This partof the dialectic does not require an interest.

          What you miss most of all is that the definition of war has nothing to do with whether a given war is justified. All the things you say aren't included in the "definition" of war aren't included because they don't matter as to whether something is war, only in regards to whether we should go to war in the first place.

          I would suggest a rereading of Clausewitz.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:29:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Two points here (0+ / 0-)

            No, I do not forget the other half.  But look at the wording:  war is THUS . . .

            The other half is therefore dependent on the first, so yes, a political/diplomatic interest is required.

            As to whether a war is justified, that is a meaningless concept. Defining war properly is of vital importance precisely because good/bad, right/wrong, justified/unjustified are all irrelevant to war.  

            War is a tool, a means to an end. If arrived at properly, all political and diplomatic means to achieve the strategic interest have been exhausted, and therefore war is selected as the tool to use to achieve our ends.

            So, we really have 2 questions:

            - Is the strategic interest / political goal justified? Is that goal the right goal? Is it in our best interests?  In this case, I believe the answer is yes.  The unchecked use of chemical weapons emboldened Saddam back in the 1980s, and will embolden Assad and others of his ilk today.  It will give North Korea and Iran assurance that they can do as they please with their nuclear programs as well.

            - Can that goal be achieved without a war?  And remember: war does NOT mean we have to remove Assad.  It does not mean we have to help the Syrian opposition win.  It does not have to mean boots on the ground, etc. etc. It only means the use of military force to achieve our interest. In this case, I believe war is the only tool left to us.

            Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

            by absdoggy on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:47:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  It has not been proved that Assad used chemical (6+ / 0-)

          weapons. It is entirely possible, and certainly more logical, that the rebels did it.
             And why is the use of nerve gas more heinous than, say, Israel's use of white phosphorous?
            Or any similarly novel weapon?

          •  LOL (0+ / 0-)

            Yes, and the Kurds gassed themselves in Iraq as well.

            This is incredibly naïve. Look back at what has happened in previous uprisings in Syria. Assad's father used chemical weapons in quelling the uprising in Hama back in 1981- 1982. Syria has long been among the worst countries in the world for engaging in indiscriminate killing of civilians and abuses of human rights.

            The use of chemical weapons by Assad is business as usual in Syria.

            Israel's use of white phosphorous was indeed just as bad.  Guess what? They stopped it - diplomacy worked. This is now the 3rd use of chemical weapons by Assad - that we know of - and there are no signs that he is going to stop without being forced to do so.

            Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

            by absdoggy on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:59:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  war is killing people (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lepanto, corvo, caul, Sandino, costello7

          Nothing Assad has done comes close to what the US did in Vietnam and Iraq.  I suggest that you turn your high-horse justifications for bombing on the more appropriate target (which used no small amount of chemical weapons in both those (I'm sure you think noble and justified) wars).  

          Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

          by Deward Hastings on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 10:17:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sigh. Again, a total lack of understanding of war (0+ / 0-)

            The point of Vietnam and Iraq was that war was used improperly - I do not condone what happened in Vietnam after 1968 or Iraq beyond 2003.

            In Vietnam, the political goal was to stop the spread of communism. War was used to do so, and in 1968, having defeated the North Vietnamese army and crippled the infrastructure of the country, the use of war should have ended, as it had accomplished everything it could towards that goal. The last 7 years of the use of military force in Vietnam was an improper use of war.  It was neither noble nor justified.

            In Iraq, the political goal was to  . . . ? And therein lies the problem.  The goal was a dog's breakfast of complaints against Saddam and undefined "support of democracy in the Middle East". The only definable goal for which the use of war was appropriate was to remove Saddam from power and defeat Iraq's military.  We did so in 2003, and should have brought an end to military use of force at that time. Everything after that was an improper use of war and was neither noble nor justified.

            Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

            by absdoggy on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 08:15:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  UN action on Korean War (0+ / 0-)

          Comment reads:

          there is nothing that requires the ICC or the UN sanction war.  They did not sanction the Korean War,
          In fact:
          The United Nations Command (UNC) is the unified command structure for the multinational military forces supporting the Republic of Korea (South Korea or ROK) during and after the Korean War. After troops of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea or DPRK) invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 82 calling on North Korea to cease hostilities and withdraw to the 38th parallel.

          On June 27, 1950, it adopted Resolution 83, recommending that members of the United Nations provide assistance to the Republic of Korea "to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security to the area". Security Council Resolution 84, adopted on July 7, 1950, recommended that members providing military forces and other assistance to South Korea "make such forces and other assistance available to a unified command under the United States of America".

          http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      •  Actually, there is a third option... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sillycarrot
        We can do nothing, or we can be the "bad guys".  There are no other choices.
        We can use diplomacy.  It does still exist if we would get off our high horse and quit saying things like we do not negotiate with terrorists or evil dictators or whatever.

        Call for a cease fire, declare temporary peace and sit down with these people (they are people after all and not just some derogatory label of choice).  Ask them how they can resolve this peacefully, be an arbitrator, tell them you will side with whoever makes the most valliant effort to come to a peaceful resolution or rather against whoever lets the talk of peace fail.  Explain that you want to be an ally of both sides but if forced, you will be an enemy of both sides.

        Diplomacy, it works!  Why have I not seen that option even mentioned in the media or even here?

        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 06:23:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  If chemical weapons were the red line (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, Teiresias70

      then shouldn't the first use of them in this conflict meant something?

      I didn't see any response then.

      To me that was the major mistake. The lack of action there made it into a giant muddle.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:15:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  absdoggy - I presume you're enlisting. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, caul, Sandino

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