August 30 2013
Talked into War?
We don’t know yet what our Hamlet president is going to do with regard to Syria.
But his public dithering has reminded me why I wasn’t that upset when the sequester cut funds for the military. We no longer use the military for what militaries legitimately do.
We use it for social engineering (women to the front, even if we have to change physical standards), promoting diversity, sending messages.
In fact, President Obama says he will be "sending a message" if the U.S. attacks Syria.
The real reason for taking action, if, in fact, we attack, is that our talkative president misspoke and made himself look foolish.
Two of my favorite writers today have a message for President Obama: “The military is not Western Union, Mr. President.”
In a column headlined “Shamed into War,” Charles Krauthammer points out how useless such a message will be. He writes:
Into his third year of dithering, two years after declaring Assad had to go, one year after drawing — then erasing — his own red line on chemical weapons, Barack Obama has been stirred to action.
Or more accurately, shamed into action. Which is the worst possible reason. A president doesn’t commit soldiers to a war for which he has zero enthusiasm. Nor does one go to war for demonstration purposes.
Want to send a message? Call Western Union. A Tomahawk missile is for killing. A serious instrument of war demands a serious purpose.
Christopher Orlet of the American Spectator is the other writer to invoke Western Union.
Regarding the rebels, a nasty lot, including members of al-Qeada, Orlet asks, “Why exactly is America taking the side of these people?” Why indeed?
Some of us in the Inkwell community might be pro-intervention and others may share my belief that it is not such a good idea. But I think we can all agree on this: Westerners are prone to do things in the Middle East that turn out far worse than we dreamed possible.
I do wish President Obama would read a piece by Peter Hitchens, the conservative English journalist, before making up his mind.
Hitchens' sobering article explains how disastrous it almost always is when “deluded Westerners” spring into action in the Middle East. Hitchens, by the way, dubs the Arab Spring the “Arab Spasm.”
But remember the joy with which our elites greeted the Arab Spasm?
Hitchens is devastating on how the deluded West reacted to, for example, the riots to oust Hosni Mubarak:
Western observers were quickly seduced, as they tend to be by other people’s uprisings. Their main contact with the demonstrations was with the civilized, English-speaking Cairo elite, educated at the American University and living Westernized lives.
Perhaps that is why they failed to give proper attention to the crudely anti-Jewish aspect of the Cairo crowds, the Stars of David scrawled on trampled pictures of Mubarak, the scribbles on the walls snarling “Mubarak is a traitor for keeping links with Israel,” or the repeated mob attacks on the fortified Israeli embassy in the Egyptian capital.
Those who reported the obscene attack on the CBS reporter Lara Logan in Tahrir Square also mostly failed to mention that her assailants yelled “Jew! Jew! Jew!” at her. In fact it was the suggestion (taken up by the crowd) she might be an Israeli that turned the already frightening incident into a nearly fatal one.
Why do we get the East wrong? Hitchens believes we misjudge the East because we have lost touch with our Western roots:
The real heritage of liberty comes from other sources—the rule of law over power that began with Magna Carta, habeas corpus, separation of powers, jury trial, freedom of the press, and the independent judiciary. These safeguards, as it happens, have been weakened or belittled just as the powers of the West have conducted their noisy love affair with democracy at home and abroad. It is democracy, egged on by a gullible fourth estate, that has given us Homeland Security and its arbitrary powers, and liberal interventionism. It is the same democracy, aided by atrocity propaganda, that has been used to override old concerns for national sovereignty. Yet it is only in sovereign nations, which make their own laws, that liberty can be successfully sustained.
Hitchens is mostly writing about Egypt but before adventuring into Syria—even if it is only a few feckless missiles—President Obama should be afraid, very afraid.
Speaking only for myself, I hope that this time President Obama, not ordinarily a humble man, will be humble enough to take one for the team—to say, in effect, yeah, I look pretty silly. But it’s not worth striking Syria. Oh, and then he should shut up.