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President Obama made his case for possible/eventual intervention in Syria last night.  Let’s jump right into some of the language with a critical eye.

   

Over 100,000 people have been killed. Millions have fled the country.
Clearly, the first 99,000 people that died rather horribly didn’t matter as much as the 1,000 that died rather horribly.  Now is the time for the world to show its morals and intervene more heavily!  The logic speaks for itself.

   

When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory, but these things happened. The facts cannot be denied.
And when elected leaders commit atrocities, like drone striking loosely defined “imminent threats” on foreign soil that violates international laws, they also depend on the world to look the other way.  The facts cannot be denied.

   

It’s also a danger to our security…I believed it was right in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security to take this debate to Congress…the Assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military….Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria.
…What?  Good luck following that logic.

   

Iran, which must decide whether to ignore international law by building a nuclear weapon or to take a more peaceful path.
An odd statement since, as previously noted here, U.S. intelligence has confirmed Iran has “decided” already not to pursue nuclear weapons.  He may want to check his sources before throwing out those accusations.

   

I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. (Which came after he said the following):
    Over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield.
If you are confirming you aren’t putting “American boots on the ground”, why would our troops “face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield”?  It’s kind of either one or the other.

   

Neither Assad nor his allies have any interest in escalation that would lead to his demise.
Which begs the question: why would he have ordered the use of chemical weapons in the first place since he knew it would up the chance of international intervention which would lead to escalation possibly leading to his demise?  This suggests he is somehow logical and rational while being very sadistic.  And if he is just sadistic, why did it take so long to order this type of strike and why hasn’t he ordered more since?  Or maybe he never gave the order at all, as has been suggested.

   

But al Qaida will only draw strength in a more chaotic Syria if people there see the world doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being gassed to death.
Note to world: please ignore the undeniable fact Al Qaeda has drawn strength in a more chaotic Iraq because people there see the world doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being killed.  And the strength they drew there is why they are now so strong in Syria.  Our bad on that one.

   

My fellow Americans, for nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security. This has meant doing more than forging international agreements; it has meant enforcing them. The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world’s a better place because we have borne them.
See sentences immediately preceding that quote, then pretend that didn’t happen.  That’s how you are able to believe that as an accurate statement.

Also ignore the slew of actions by the American government over the past seven decades that haven’t made the world a better place (e.g. Vietnam, Iran-Contra, helping to overthrow democratically elected leaders around the world such as in Iran, supporting and propping up dictators like Mubarak in Egypt, etc., etc.).

   

What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way?
If we chose to look the other way, I suppose we would live in a world where the U.S. helps a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas, like we did with Hussein in Iraq, as was recently revealed.

   

…along with our leadership of a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used.
Please ignore the U.S. use of depleted uranium in the Iraq War.  Thank you for looking the other way world.

Maybe one day we will live in a grownup world where this type of ridiculous rhetoric that completely ignores history and is rife with hypocrisy will be replaced with a more realistic view of the planet and the things that occur on its surface.  We can only hope…

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow no comments? (0+ / 0-)

    I would've thought this would draw a lot of attention. I think most of your points are interesting and while I don't agree with all of them reasonably well put together. The boots on the ground comment versus our soldiers facing nerve gas, Obama is clearly talking about future engagements. Not Syria. So that makes you lose one point.

    In general, your argument that past misdeeds makes us hypocrites so we should not have a leadership role is not compelling. We are where we are as a global power, and it is our job to wield power responsibly. There is something to be said about selective outrage, especially when you use your outrage to push another agenda. And we have done that many times.

    It's just that in this case, I think this may be one of the few times in which we don't have another agenda. If we do, what is it?

    I hear gardening is a nice hobby.

    by SeanF on Wed Sep 11, 2013 at 05:21:48 PM PDT

    •  To Bluto221, I say Bravo! (0+ / 0-)

      "It's just that in this case, I think this may be one of the few times in which we don't have another agenda. If we do, what is it?"

      SeanF's above comment deserves an answer: in a word IRAN.  Dick Cheney once considered having the CIA attack a US war ship is craft disguised as Iranian speed boats.  Israel and their American counterpart AIPAC is pushing Obama and Congress into War with Syria to weaken Hezbollah and farther isolate and surround Iran. In short the "Arab Spring" has been "hijacked" inverted and being used to rewind the Middle East back to the good days of colonialism.  

      Excellent post, highly recommended.

    •  A few points I would argue. (0+ / 0-)

      As far as the boots on the ground, what is the proof that will happen? Is it just that they are in chaos? Because if that's the case we may need boots on the ground in the future because of Egypt, Bahrain, or anywhere else that is currently unstable in the region. There isn't really proof that will happen. It's just an assumption with little evidence to back the claim.

      You are also assuming we have to wield military power simply because we have it and have to impose our will on those we choose. First, the US wasn't created by someone imposing their will on us. We were created through our own actions. Who is to say other people shouldn't be allowed the same circumstances?

      Second, it does makes us hypocrites when we take a do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do attitude toward the other countries of the world. I haven't seen a recognition of many of these past wrongs by the US and until that happens, most around the world won't have much respect for our rhetoric.

      •  I don't think our rhetoric is really the issue (0+ / 0-)

        The world respects our power, not our rhetoric.  I understand and agree with the hypocrisy argument. But in the world of realpolitik, No one really cares. It's your capability that matters, not how virtuous you are or were.

        If I remember correctly, our country did come from an external force imposing its will on us. And we solved it through violence. Most of humanity solves its problems through violence. We are a very violent species.

        And that's where American power comes in. How it is involved is that American power creates a framework through which violence is reduced. Yes there have been some terrible exceptions where we have caused violence. But if we are going to take credit for that, we should also take credit for the relative stability of Europe and Asia. Since World War II, when America became a superpower, violence and suffering in these areas has been reduced greatly.

        So while you seem to dismiss the notion that American power matters, I think the more interesting question is how should America wield its power responsibly.

        I hear gardening is a nice hobby.

        by SeanF on Thu Sep 12, 2013 at 01:38:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not sure Asia would agree (0+ / 0-)

          that there has been stability there since WWII.  Korean War, Vietnam War, Suharto's brutal reign in Indonesia, the millions that died due to Pol Pot in and around Cambodia, the expansion of US bombing during Vietnam to Laos and Cambodia.  Even today, Thailand still deals with insurgency, the Philippines is becoming more and more violent as political groups are warring with each other, Uzbekistan still lives under a ruler responsible for the 2005 massacre there, and a possible genocide is occurring in Myanmar.  And in most of these cases the US was either directly involved or supported the more brutal side of the violence.

          In fact, one could argue that a big part of the reason Europe has seen its violence decline since WWII and Asia has dealt with so much violence is because the borders of the Asian countries were decided and imposed by outside forces and not through the people deciding on their own.  Once colonial rule was over and they gained their independence, the infighting began.  Not as much the case in Europe.  Even one of the biggest example of violence in Europe after WWII, the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s, can be attributed to artificial borders resulting from the Ottoman Empire.

          I do believe American power matters but there are many ways to lead the world and be an example to others around the planet.  One of the ways that hasn't been as successful as we may believe is heavy military intervention by outside forces on people.

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