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    • Kelvin Wade

    • September 8, 2013 in Columnists

    Syria just may be Pandora’s Box

    Syria. What should be done in a country where a bloody civil war has cost over 100,000 lives? Both the U.S. and British governments say they’ve confirmed that sarin nerve gas has been used in Syria by the government to kill over 1,400 people outside Damascus last month. The Guardian reported that the Syrian government dropped a napalm-like incendiary device on a school playground that killed over 10 children and horrifically burned others. Atrocity after atrocity is piling up.

    The point is, there have always been horrific civil wars, massacres, torture and the like going on in this world. Many of the governments and actors we’ve aligned ourselves with are no better on the morality scale than the people we’re fighting. Our partners in the war on terror, the Uzbeks, sodomize prisoners, give them pepper extract enemas and pour boiling water over them, yet they remain our ally. Does anyone believe that a government that replaces Assad’s will be less reactionary, less authoritarian, less anti-American than the one in power? Do you think the rebels would have any reservations about using chemical weapons themselves?

    The ghastly video released this week of rebel forces summarily executing Syrian forces reportedly made the New York Times editors who screened the unedited video physically ill.

    And if the suffering of innocents is enough to get the world’s mightiest nation to act, then how come we haven’t acted in Detroit? In Detroit, 60% of children live in poverty. Crime is through the roof, with most murders going unsolved. Or what about the body count in Chicago, with innocents getting caught in the crossfire between warring gangs and drug dealers? Where’s the outcry?

    But the larger point is what threat does Syria pose to us, and would bombing eliminate, reduce or worsen that threat? It’s horrible what’s going on over there and while it certainly pricks the conscience, is it a matter of American national security?

    Is it sad that children are dying? Yes. Is it horrible that innocents are caught in the crossfire and are dying? It surely is. But over 8,000 people have died in the Mexican drug wars this year. Hundreds are dying in the Sudan, the Congo, Mali, Somalia, Nigeria, Egypt, Burma and on and on.

    When I think of the Syria question, there are four things that come to mind. The first thing is, I understand the world being skeptical of U.S. claims of WMDs being used in Syria because of the Bush Administration crying wolf in Iraq. And it’s not just the usual crazies who are speculating if Syrian chemical weapons use is a “false flag” operation to give U.S. cover to attack. Some speculate the real target is Iran. When your government lies the nation into war and then proceeds to engage in unprecedented spying on American citizens, why would anyone be shocked that a war weary public would be skeptical?

    The second thing is that the U.N. needs to dissolve as a body if it’s incapable of consistent enforcement of conventions and norms. The permanent U.N. Security Council’s veto power means the body will always be manipulated and neutered by the members. Why do nations sign compacts against chemical weapons if they haven’t the heart to enforce them? I guess it’s easy for countries to sign on to something if they fully expect enforcement to fall to the U.S. while they continue to pour their money into their nanny states.

    Third, it doesn’t matter if we engage in a “limited strike” in Syria. In war, your opponent gets a vote. What if Syria fires sarin or VX gas tipped missiles at Tel Aviv? What’s Israel’s’ response? What’s Iran’s response? Lebanon? What if Russia isn’t bluffing about helping Syria? What if Moscow shares satellite photos of our ships’ positions and Syria sinks one of our Destroyers? What happens if U.S. and Russian forces exchange fire?

    Lastly, and this is my real problem with getting involved in Syria: I don’t trust our allies on the ground. We’ve seen this movie before. In Afghanistan, after giving cash and weapons to the Mujaheddin against the Soviets, they turned against the U.S.

    What happens if we help the rebels topple Assad in Syria? What happens to the control over that nation’s stockpile of chemical weapons? What happens when they hold elections and vote in a strict, brutal, Sharia-law-following theocratic government? Let’s face it. While they’ll gladly accept our money and arms and air power to help them now, that’s not Thomas Jefferson, George Mason and James Madison over there.

    While it’s terrible that a brutal dictator may be using chemical weapons to aid in his slaughter of his own people, what I worry about is aerosolized sarin aboard a BART train in the tunnel between Oakland and San Francisco. I worry about Syrian sarin nerve gas in the New York subway system or at an NFL game, rock concert or shopping mall.

    I don’t know if Congress is going to authorize force or if the President will use force whether he’s authorized to or not. But if we help rid the world of a brutal, anti-American dictator only to replace him with brutal, anti-American, jihadist dictators what have we accomplished?

    • I so agree with you Kelvin. The UN is worthless and should be disbanded if it can’t get all the leaders to a table to negotiate a cease fire and I mean the leaders not their underlings. I also agree that there is so much wrong here in the US and we need to get out own house in order before we try and morally corrupt other nations.We are blind to the ways of others and always think we can do it better. Russia was in Afghanistan for 10 years and then the good old USA goes in with the attitude we’ll show them how it is done-NOT. We are so full of ourselves it makes me sad that others history is set to doom us if we don’t learn. The countries in the middle east must sit down and work it out, it is not our responsibility in my mind. And believe me if Israel comes under real attack they will take care of themselves and it will all be over for the countries who attacked them without us so much as entering the fray. I used to be proud of our peacekeeping efforts but we have abandoned them with our morals and now it is time to regain some respect by doing the right thing and bringing everyone to the table and exploring all options before so much as sending one plane over there. Also,the recent video that was shown was from over a year ago and was mistakenly said it was recent. Bad enough it was even allowed to happen but we are not the answer.We need mediators to rise up and volunteer to help countries that truly want to safe their people and respect the diversity. If this doesn’t happen we will see the destruction of human kind. With all the issues in the US I am surprised there have not been numerous real uprisings already as the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. Let’s redirect our efforts to giving everyone food on their table, a roof over their heads, jobs and a QUALITY education.

    • Very good, but don’t count the UN out. the UN is the only hope we have as humans. The veto power of the “Big 5” is sure to come into conflict with just about any action the UN wants to take. At least one of the big 5 is sure to have some interest in any action. However I still hold out hope for the organization. There is risk in any action the US might take militarily but I think any action, whether right or wrong, is better than in-action in this instance. On all levels, people judge you by your actions or the examples you set. Talk is cheap and it’s time the entire world stood up against such crimes in a big way. One smart bomb would do it if it was well placed. Any more than that and we cross the line as well.

        • Kelvin

        • September 9, 2013 at 11:54 pm
        • Reply

        I haven’t given up on the UN but it’s insulting the way countries so easily sign these conventions and compacts and resolutions but have no intention of enforcing them. Why should they? They can always sit back and wait for the United States to shoulder the burden. And then they can criticize us for the way that we enforce it. The veto situation renders the body less effective than it could be. It’s set up in such a way that some countries are more equal than other countries.

        You have the White House saying today that they cannot produce irrefutable evidence that Assad was behind the chemical weapons. They admit that. Then you have the case of only 502 of the alleged 1400 deaths caused by the sarin nerve agent have been confirmed. But even if it is 1400 let’s say it’s 2000, well over hundred thousand people have been killed by many different methods these past years and somehow these deaths by chemical weapons are so much worse? We’re the country that uses depleted uranium in our bombs. It’s been reported that cities like Najaf in Iraq has seen a spike in birth defects and leukemia. How is that not chemical weapons?

        Do I think anyone should be using sarin? No. But if its the boogeyman everyone says it is, the world should be rising up to combat it. I believe there are peace and freedom loving people in Syria. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that’s who will assume power when the present regime is deposed.

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