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There are a lot of names for war.  And it's certainly helpful to the initiation of war to use a different name.  "No-fly zone" is one -- sounds neat and tidy -- ignore the constant bombing and patrols by fighter aircraft that are necessary to enforce the zone.  Check out this report from NPR (7/23/13):

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says in a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) that:

— Establishing a no-fly zone over Syria to "prevent the regime from using its military aircraft to bomb and resupply" would cost "$500 million initially ... [and] as much as a billion dollars per month over the course of a year."

Dempsey says a no-fly zone could eliminate the Assad regime's "ability to bomb opposition strongholds and sustain its forces by air." But the risks, he writes, "include the loss of U.S. aircraft, which would require us to insert personnel recovery forces. It may also fail to reduce the violence or shift the momentum because the regime relies overwhelmingly on surface fires — mortars, artillery, and missiles."

$1 billion a month sounds like real money.  Lost aircraft -- maybe captured pilots.  Starting to sound like a big commitment to me.  But predictably various advocates of the no fly zone are starting to emerge, and of course they use that handy euphemism.

The latest phrase is intervention.  What a crisp neat turn of phrase.  Has a sort of referee-at-a-cricket-match sound to it.  Hey you kids, don't make me stop this car.

Once we called the Korean War the "Korean War". Now it's called the Korean Conflict.  Note the use of quasi-psychological terms -- intervention, conflict.  And the draft resolution sent up to Congress has more of the same (text).  Section 2 is the important part:

AUTHORIZATION-The President is authorized, subject to subsection (b), to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner against legitimate military targets in Syria, only to: (1) respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction by the Syrian government in the conflict in Syria;
(2) deter Syria’s use of such weapons in order to protect the national security interests of the United States and to protect our allies and partners against the use of such weapons; and
(3) degrade Syria’s capacity to use such weapons in the future.
"Limited and tailored manner" -- what's this, the myth of "precision bombing" all over again?  That never gets old.

"Degrade Syria's capacity to use such weapons in the future" -- what could Prime Minister Cheney do with that one?  Sounds like carte blanche to me, and who's going to say "no more" when the bombing starts?

Everybody knows this, so the draft resolution has a Super Pinky Swear clause (section 7) which says:

SECTION 7. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION. The authority set forth in Section 2 of this resolution shall not constitute an authorization for the use of force or a declaration of war except to the extent that it authorizes military action under the conditions, for the specific purposes, and for the limited period of time set forth in this resolution.
Translation: Please, please believe us.  This isn't going to be another one in the Quagmire movie franchise.  (Rent them at your video store now: Quagmire I: Iraq, Quagmire II: Afghanistan, Quagmire III: Drones over Yemen, Quagmire IV: Drones over Waziristan Quagmire V: Where the Hell is Waziristan etc.).

Of course the ultimate obscenity here is that the proposed war is not accompanied by any plan on how to finance it, such as increased taxes.  What kind of message (another euphemism: bombing = message) is sent by a country which refuses to tax itself to pay for its wars?  

I would bet the war ... er ... intervention won't be one day old before it's used as an excuse to lift the sequester, but only on the military.  And that's already being done or so it appears.  War does solve problems!


Would war (or intervention or whatever) be declared on Syria if it was linked to a tax increase?

4%2 votes
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| 44 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  You know what comes after "tailored", right? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, maryabein, JVolvo


    Made just for Syria!

    Think of it as a make-over of sorts.

  •  It's not a war. Nobody is hankering for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lib Dem FoP, gzodik

    a war. But by calling an attack a "war", opponents have a strawman they can really run with. Everyone is against a war, so if you can just get people to believe that this is war, your job is done. Might even try to call this a "thermonuclear war" (because heck, you never know), or better yet "Iraq Part II". Because if you call it what it really is - the limited launching of missiles in order to enforce a worthwhile law against genocide via poison gas. But that might lead to a more nuanced conversation.

  •  Precision bombing (0+ / 0-)

    Didn't we successfully use precision bombing to tip the balance of the Libyan civil war?  Seems that was not so long ago and people have already forgotten.

    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

    by Brian A on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:47:37 AM PDT

    •  "We" didn't do anything officially. We just (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NonnyO, WheninRome, bleeding blue

      acted as the gas station for the British and French, who have one missile and one bomb each, which they take out for walks in the park on Sunday.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:49:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Suggest (4+ / 0-)

      you google "Lybia Unrest"  to re-gage analysis of the "success" of the precision bombing.

      "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

      by EdMass on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:50:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And I suggest that you consider this: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lib Dem FoP, Dr Swig Mcjigger

        the situation that Libyans found themselves in on Mar. 17th 2011, the day when the U.N.-backed intervention commenced,  was far, far worse than anything that is happening there now.

        "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

        by Lawrence on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 07:50:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ya might wanna hold on that comment (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          burlydee, EdMass, JVolvo
          •  Nope, my comment stands. (0+ / 0-)

            And, quite frankly, Patrick Cockburn's "reporting" on Libya has pretty much been atrocious from the get-go.

            I clearly remember him trying to portray it as an east-west conflict when large parts of western Libya had also slipped from Gaddafi's control.

            "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

            by Lawrence on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 10:31:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  From The Guardian (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              "We are currently witnessing the collapse of state in Libya, and the country is getting closer to local wars for oil revenues," said Swiss oil analysts Petromatrix.

              •  We shall see. (0+ / 0-)

                States tend to go through a chaotic process when a dictatorship collapses, especially when their state institutions were weak.

                And even in its current chaotic state the situation is still far better than it was on March 17, 2011, when the U.N.-backed intervention commenced.

                "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                by Lawrence on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 10:56:37 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Rueters, Human Rights Watch, The Guardian. (0+ / 0-)

              Libya Sidestep FAIL

              This might interest you:

              The Security Council approved the no-fly zone in Libya. And, yes, I avidly supported that because it was done just as the U.N. Charter said it should be.

              Unfortunately, the U.S. and France chose to go further than a no-fly zone and wound up killing hundreds of civilians in the process. And then they pretty much abandoned the Libyans. We've now got this mess in the country in which militias, including jihadi militias are in control in many areas and the central government is having a devil of a time getting a grasp on things. Oil production is one-tenth what it was in January 2011. That's not because of destruction from the war, but because of disorganization and disorder as a result of splintering of who is in charge.  Meteor Blades 9/3/13

              Sound familiar, Lawrence? We blow shit up to kill or stop the current "Bad Guys" then leave the people to fight among the rubble: Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, now Syria?

              Our track record sucks. Each wayward bomb or missiles creates more people angry at us.

              As of 9pm 8/30/13: RETIRED Pie Warrior. Substance over Sh*t Flinging (as best as I am able) ~ JV

              by JVolvo on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 12:35:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I agree with MB that the West dropped the (0+ / 0-)

                ball in post-revolution Libya.  Much more institutional training and massive training for a new police force should have been given immediately.

                In a way, I can understand how that happened, though.  The elections went really well and hardly anyone was really expecting the Muslim Brotherhood to do a power play after having lost the election.

                That being said, it's not correct to say that Libya is rubble.  You should go watch some recent tour videos from Tripoli on youtube if you really think that that is true.

                And btw, the U.S./west is more popular in Libya than in any other North African Country because of the intervention.

                You do realize that "100s" of civilians killed in a 9 month bombing campaign in a conflict that had tens of thousands of casualties means that utmost care was given not to hit civilians, right?

                "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                by Lawrence on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 02:05:24 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Further (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It took the USA over 50 years to reconcile intense political differences between two sides and that were only resolved temporarily after the bloodiest war (proportionally) in its history.  It took another 100+ years to resolve some of the resulting and continuing injustices and arguably they still have not been resolved.

        Even mid/late last century it took armed conflict decades after independence to finally resolve the injustices between the two halves of Pakistan and today Bangladesh and Pakistan are hardly exemplars of democracy.

        So to look at a process halfway through or even just started and throw up you hands and walk away is, to say the least, short sighted.

        We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 08:15:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  When it comes to war, the well never runs dry. (7+ / 0-)

    Healthcare for us?   Tough shit.

    Rebuilt infrastructure?   Tough shit.

    Cracking down on Wall Street?  Tough shit.

    We're too broke to do any of that, you see.   Keeping us alive, and giving us a modern infrastructure costs money, and we're simply too broke for it!

    Cracking down on Wall Street might destabilize our wonderful economy, and we're too broke for that!

    A billion a month to police another countries civil war?  

    No Fucking Problem, here's a blank check!

    The tent got so big it now stands for nothing.

    by Beelzebud on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 07:52:22 AM PDT

  •  There used to be a thing called diplomacy, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, angelajean, JVolvo

    where the State dept. and the UN rep sought to maintain peace and resolve conflict as a condition of international law. The US no longer strongly endorses pure diplomacy, given the expense already incurred of maintaining military supremacy and projection of force. The US now asserts the discretion to determine regime change and has not yet decided on this question for Syria. Much as bin Laden was summarily executed as an expedient, and not detained for prosecution, Syria's government will be summarily punished in a manner determined by the President. While politically useful domestically, this approach undermines the national purpose in the long run. International law and diplomatic conflict resolution are not only not the US's strong suits, but are considered a weakness after 2001. Obama is trying his best to signal that he believes in diplomacy, but believing also that he holds a weak diplomatic hand, he adopts the expedient compromise. A similar case was JFK in Oct. 1962, when he had to conceal that we were removing obsolete missiles from Turkey in order to justify avoiding a much anticipated nuclear war. After that, the people were put on notice that military planning now has a component of insanity, as symbolized by Dr. Strangelove. Or Saudi Arabia. The advocacy of global conflict resolution, which the US once led as the home of the UN, is no longer a popular option after 2001, with the willingness to scrap constitutional rights for security, and the second amendment authorization of personal violence.

  •  I am just old enough to recall that the Korean War (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, JVolvo

    was known as a "police action" at the time. The dead were, presumably, not impressed by such semantic niceties.

  •  Ok - all military action shall now be called "war' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "That was quite a war the Navy SEALS had with those Somali pirates back in 2009, eh?

    "Following the 2010 earthquake, U.S. armed forces - backed by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and the hospital ship USNS Comfort - waged war on the tiny nation with an invasion of 10,000 troops."

    "If the U.S. hadn't declared war on Pakistan in 2011, Osama bin Laden would still be alive."

    "During the U.S. war against Libya, I was confused by the fact that we attacked some Libyans, but not others".


    I understand that the diarist is trying to encourage more critical thinking... but compressing all varieties of military action into a single descriptor will only achieve the opposite.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 11:09:50 AM PDT

  •  What would you have Obama do? (0+ / 0-)

    Just stay out of it?

    That's exactly what he has been doing for a couple of years.

    The result of "staying out of it"? A hundred thousand dead, two million refugees, Al Qaida infiltration of the resistance, and finally ... nerve gas.  So much for "stay out of it".

    Obama, Biden, and Clinton are not Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.

    GOP: Bankers, billionaires, suckers, and dupes.

    by gzodik on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 11:55:31 AM PDT

    •  The eternal binary of U.S. foreign policy (0+ / 0-)

      to bomb...or not.

      Attack with our planes--or "stay out of it."

      Never mind diplomacy, isolating Assad through international alliances (not military ones) bringing economic pressure, or hey, how about doing something about the underlying causes of the strife, like helping people not starve?

      Those are just a few ideas. I'm sure professional diplomats could come up with a lot more.

      Or, we could just give al-Quaeda air support and keep funneling them money and guns as they continue to destabilize the area beyond what it even was originally. Awesome. Let's do that.

      The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 02:15:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, at least Dempsey & Hagel tried to give us (0+ / 0-)

    Some attempt at the Powell Doctrine:

    “Our military objectives in Syria would be to hold the Assad regime accountable, degrade its ability to carry out these kinds of attacks and deter it from further use of chemical weapons,” Hagel said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
    “On this issue, that is the use of chemical weapons, I find a clear linkage to our national security interest,” said Dempsey, who has long been skeptical of the wisdom of military intervention in Syria. “And we will find a way to make our use of force effective.”
    What does "hold the Assad regime accountable" mean in military terms? How is that a military objective?

    Note he doesn't say he will prevent the Assad regime from being able to launch chemical weapons attacks. "Degrade its ability to carry out these kinds of attacks" means "we'll hit some of their chemical weapons depots and maybe places they manufacture the stuff."

    "Deter it from future use of chemical weapons" is at least a worthy goal, but the Powell doctrine requires an attainable goal, and I've seen no reasonable proof that dropping bombs on Assad will do any such thing.

    At one and the same time, we're asked to believe that he's so crazy that he would do a CW attack on suburbs that are not even in rebel-controlled areas mere days after the UN weapons inspectors arrived--while said inspectors were a mere 5 miles away from the attack!--

    and we're asked to believe that he's so practical and sane that being bombed by us will lead him to sensibly scale back on his CW attacks, rather than lashing out like a wounded animal.


    The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 02:11:53 PM PDT

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