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“So let me get this straight”, the boy asked his teacher. “Because Syria bombed Syria, we’re going to bomb Syria for bombing Syria?” It seems almost surreal, yet that is the question. And I must admit that my initial reaction to the news that Syria used chemical weapons on “1,500 of its own citizens… including “at least 426 children“, I too was outraged, believing nothing short of an immediate military response was required. Ah, but is the report accurate? Yesterday, French Intelligence reported that they found (just) “281 people” had been killed in a chemical attack… a fraction of the number being reported by American Intelligence. (Great minds think alike? Truthout has a more detailed report on the questionable numbers emerging from Syria.) Shades of the Bush Administration’s wildly fluctuating intelligence reports on Iraq’s WMD’s in the ramp-up to war in 2003. But the fact is, the victims are crying out for America to help those who have ALREADY been attacked. What they REALLY want is for us to help the people hurting now, not to worry about who might be attacked next. If you want to help the Syrian people, then start by actually helping the Syrian people. Medical aide and sanctuary (perhaps a no-fly zone over refugee camps on the borders of Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. You could find FULL U.N. support for something like that.

The use of military force against Syria is already fraught with potentially huge negative consequences. How do you use military force in Syria and guarantee it won’t escalate or spread and we won’t have to go back? We already know that UN approval of military action against Syria is not forthcoming thanks to a veto threat from both Russia & China. Russia… an ally of Assad… has sent a reconnaissance ship to monitor American warships parked off the Syrian coast, and Iran has likewise issued a thinly veiled threat that attacking Syria would “result in a conflict that would engulf the region”. Are we toying with war with Russia? Might Iran start lobbing SCUD missiles into Israel? Might Assad give chemical weapons to Hezbollah? And what if we do bomb Syria and a few weeks later, Assad uses chemical weapons again? Then what? A ground invasion?

The point of ANY punishment is to dissuade OTHERS (eg: Iran, North Korea, etc) from doing the same thing in the future. It does nothing to help those already injured. And in this case, military action doesn’t even ensure that it won’t happen again. It may even INCREASE the possibility of chemical weapons being used again… if not on the Syrian people, then perhaps in Tel Aviv… or maybe even New York?

We are already hearing stories of the Syrian regime “celebrating the start of President Obama’s retreat.” Screw ’em. Let them “celebrate”. They’re not even fooling themselves. For over a decade, Saddam Hussein used to celebrate the day Iraq “defeated” the American Military in the 1991 Gulf War. Assad is still quaking in his boots that we may attack in the next week or two, and I guarantee you, he won’t be dropping any more chemical weapons in the next two weeks. And does anyone really think that because we’re questioning using military force in Syria that they can just thumb their nose at America and do something stupid and not see a squadron of Blackhawks overhead the next morning? Of course not. Let them celebrate. Every conflict must be taken on its own merits. We can’t allow “emboldening our enemies” for the next war dictate how we deal with a current situation.

President Obama finds himself on the side of GOP Chickenhawks when in comes to bombing Syria without regard for the consequences. And as I’ve been saying all week: “Only Republicans use military force without thinking about the consequences.” They think you can just bomb another country and be home in time for supper. And the country we attack will drop to their knees and say, “No more! We promise we’ll be good!” Yes, by all means, let’s take advice from the people that got it wrong on Iraq.

So we have questionable reports on the number of people killed that appear to wildly inflate the numbers (why? Isn’t “281” bad enough?) and a plethora of negative consequences if military force is used (becoming a regional conflict; Spilling over into Israel; Provoking Russian involvement; Escalation if WMDs are used again; etc), no support from Great Britain or even the majority of the American people.

But then, there are questions about whether actual “prohibited” chemical weapons were even used. We know that things like “incendiary bombs” were dropped on school children killing ten, but “incendiary bombs” are not “nerve gas”. Secretary of State Kerry slammed Syria the other day, for its use of chemical weapons on civilians… which is a war-crime. Yet, in his own announcement, Kerry made the eerily Iraq-ish claim:
 

“In the last 24 hours, we have learned through samples that were provided to the United States that have now been tested from first responders in east Damascus and hair samples and blood samples have tested positive for signatures of Sarin.”

 
Did he just say “signatures of sarin”? I hate when politicians start using qualifiers when making the case for war. Congressman (and personal hero) Alan Grayson pointed out Friday that the effects of chemical weapons like Sarin are lingering. You get it on your skin and your clothes, and then anyone that comes in contact with your skin or clothes will get sick & die for WEEKS to come. Why aren’t we hearing about people still dying of chemical weapons exposure days or even weeks after the attack? The USE of White Phosphorous as a weapon may be a war-crime, but not its possession. WE use “Willy Pete” on the battlefield (as illumination), but that doesn’t make its possession a crime. We’d better be DAMNED sure that illegal weapons were used before we ourselves embark on what could very well be another illegal war.

Sen. Rand Paul made a disturbing argument on Fox “news” Sunday questioning whether we were even fighting on the right side, noting that Assad had “protected Christians inside Syria for decades, while the rebels are allied with alQaeda.” A disturbing argument to be sure, but the “alQaeda connection” is still a valid point.

Tavis Smiley on “Meet the Press” Sunday said, “Mass doses of violence never solve our problems”, adding that “The same week we honored Martin Luther King’s words, we dishonor him with our deeds.” Well said.
 


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