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Friday, August 30, 2013

Syria and Thoughts on Things We are Decreed to Hate

Don't get angry with me over this post. Don't start citing international law to counter my thoughts. I am just thinking out loud, engaging in a bit of modern blogger angst of the existentialist sort, "analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad."

I watched what I could stand of SecState John "Xmas in Cambodia" Kerry's presentation of "evidence" on Assad's use of chemical weapons. I kept thinking, "Where is the President? Why is some appointed flunkey doing this?" On Bengahzi, the SecState disappeared and left the heavy lifting and big lying to Hackmistress Susan "YouTube did it" Rice. On Syria, Obama disappears and leaves the heavy lifting and, well, is Kerry lying? I don't know. Could the AQ-allied rebels have used or misused gas weapons in Syria? Yes, of course, well, maybe, oh, who knows? Could the President of Syria have used chemical weapons on the people of Syria? Sure, why not, I guess. Saddam certainly did it in 1988. Have others used gas weapons? They were widely used in the First World War, and Mussolini used mustard gas in Ethiopia. There were lots of ultimately unproven allegations of Soviet use of gas in Afghanistan. I know. I used to run around the Pak-Afghan border interviewing "survivors" of these gas attacks, but never became fully convinced that the story was not just anti-Soviet propaganda. Kerry's presentation, likewise, had lots of assertions but was remarkably content free.

Gas. It provokes a revulsion among most people. We, for example, no longer use the gas chamber for executions to dispatch murderers on their journey to their maker, or, at least, to His rival below. Instead we use a cocktail of drugs in a lethal injection, something I find even more repellant than gas given the elaborate quasi-medical procedure that surrounds that cocktail's use . . . but, back to history and international politics. Despite the temptation, the US did not use gas against well-entrenched Japanese troops in the Pacific, even when gas likely could have saved many American lives. FDR did not want to be known as the President who used gas--he, of course, was developing an atomic bomb, but, more on that later. There are all sorts of international treaties, conventions, protocols, and such banning the use of chemical (and biological) weapons.

We didn't use gas in WWII either in the European or the Pacific theaters. No. Instead we used atomic bombs to obliterate two Japanese cities. I think the decision to use those bombs was the right one, as I have stated before. Those bombs saved millions of lives and shortened the war considerably. No sooner had we used these two "miracle" weapons, but that we were repulsed by them and spent the next seventy years bad mouthing them, trying to design bureaucratic and legal structures to make sure they got never used again, while simultaneously building a huge arsenal of them and molding our national security strategy around them. We, of course, also never felt the same repulsion over the conventional bombing of Japan and Germany which killed many more people than those two A-bombs. We never used nukes again, even when we fought two major wars in Asia, i.e., Korea and Vietnam, where their use or threatened use probably would have assured victory and saved lots of American lives. Instead, we bombed and napalmed. I guess death by daisy cutters or flaming gelled gasoline is less of a death than one by gas or nukes. We, likewise, have some amazing thermobaric weapons which do a real number on personnel in enclosed structures. Those deaths, too, I guess, are lesser deaths compared to the ones caused by gas. I leave that debate to the philosophers and lawyers who enjoy arguing whether a tree falling makes noise if nobody is around to hear it.

Back to Syria and gas weapons. For the sake of argument assume Assad used them; for the further sake of argument, and this is a stretch, assume the Obama misadministration knows and is telling the truth. Does use of gas in Syria, resulting in some 1400 dead, present a danger to US national interests? Is it more of a danger than the death of 1400 Syrians, say, by an intense bombing campaign? What if those people, including the 400 or so children, had been killed when a building collapsed on them after an artillery round crashed into the structure? Would Kerry be there filling in for the President trying to make a case for war on behalf of a group of jihadi organizations? Are these 1400 deaths more important than the alleged 100,000 that have preceded them in Syria?

Back to gas: Is there evidence that these weapons will be used against the US or an ally, e.g., Turkey, Israel, or even another country, e.g., Cyprus? Saddam killed thousands with gas, as well as with more conventional weapons, posed a continuos threat to his neighbors, provoked a massive war with Iran, openly abetted terrorism, and according to all the intel organizations of the world, sought a nuclear weapons' capability. He was an avowed enemy, yet Senator Kerry and many of the Democrats now baying for war just couldn't see the reason to attack.

Now, of course, things are different. The liberals are in charge, and they know what's best. The liberals are doing what they always do. They drive their agenda with emotion, with emotion-laden words, e.g., gas, racism, poverty. As I will write elsewhere, they do that because it's easy; it's easy to be a liberal. Throw out some words and reality is expected to conform to them. The word "gas" is supposed to make us stop thinking, and stop asking our "leaders" to explain the US interest in attacking Syria in what seems will be a half-baked manner that will do nothing except make Obama and Kerry look macho and appear as guardians of humanity.

We have been Pavlovian conditioned to respond to "gas."

Just wondering about it all.

WLA

40 comments:

  1. Dip,
    We think identical to you. Not accepting the premise that this was Serin gas...not at all, nor that the regime did this. So many rebel parties that would do this to their own people. (Like the Democrats, the ends justify the means)for them.
    And this feels like a bait to get us in over heads...not to mention a terrible and unpredictable strain on our already burdened military....
    We have one over there. Want him home. He may be held over......saddens all of us....
    ETR

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  2. Dip, This is a little bit aside from your musings, which I think are important, but the moment is so dire. Do you know anything about the whole gas or oil line theory of this conflict? Heard something about this on Rush today, that someone wants to build a pipeline across Syria, the Russians are against, the Europeans are for, Assad is against, the jihadis are for. Or something. Though I suppose petrochemicals are like religion in the mideast--everywhere and always available to provide an explanation for conflict.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You may, Anon recall not so long ago Gazprom reducing throughput to (especially the northern) EU? There are extant already in place pipes exiting Iran - and oddly enough - transiting through Turkey ending in Gazprom refineries.

      There's been some "planning" on a pipeline bypassing Turkey, routing under and via the Black Sea. I've not been keeping abreast of that pipe though. Rigzone.com likely has info on it though.
      ________________________________________

      Something to keep in mind viz Afghanistan - we're "apparently coming out nearabouts 2014 - at least that's the plan.

      We've got "a lotta stuff" that, for three reasons or others, likely as not must exit via Kazakhstan and then transit by rail through ... We'd be in a bit of a pickle if say, one of our HARMs in seeking out O & Co.s ADVERTISED "Command & Control" targets ... went rather than as intended, down the stack of a certain Nation's sure to be radiating ships.

      (I suppose we could, pullout totally through Karachi, escorted of course by "friendly" Taliban all along the exits.)
      _________________________________

      Of course "a lot" of what I've just conjectured depends of whether O & Co. actually intend to use the surface combatants our media's been hammering home - I rather think any TLAMs will launch from SSGNs but given the environment - "if" Syria wanted to retaliate ... oh, did I mention Russia's sending a capable ASW cruiser?

      Pipelines at this point Anon - I'm of the opinion, don't matter much.

      Arkie

      Delete
  3. Photoshop Obama making foreign policy as a two year old with blasting caps and a hammer or pushing buttons at random saying "I wonder what this one does?"

    ReplyDelete
  4. When I heard the words "core national interest" come tumbling out of O's mouth a few days ago, I thought to myself, "I wonder if that was on the teleprompter, or did he just blurt that out?" Now I see a spokeswoman for the administration has used the same phrase. Of course, they're doubling down on the stupid. What's missing from this picture is a compelling explanation of just what that national interest would be. There is none, of course, other than the children, the children! It's time for O to step forward and deliver the goods. But he won't. If the media doesn't jump on board right away, O heads for the sidelines. Just like he did when his economic plans failed to gain any traction. Ditto his plans on affordable college education. Ten bucks says we sit this one out, which is fine by me-no compelling national interest, you see. And if the President loses all credibility, well the rest of the world will learn what we already know about this feckless, reckless man. The only problem is that the ayatollahs are smacking their lips right now. Ten bucks also says we'll stop reading MSM stories about how the new regime really, really wants to make a deal with us on their nukes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Remember that for the modern Democrat Party, "core national interest" = their political survival.

      Delete
  5. I wonder too. What exactly is the long game of the likes of Obama & Kerry?

    They don't appear to have anything resembling an actual foreign policy. Yet they somehow manage to choose the least desirable option in every instance.

    Wait a sec ... is it possible that IS the policy?

    - Augustus

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  6. Obama talked himself into a box with his red line statement, never thinking that Syria (either side, it doesn't matter which) would call his bluff. We don't even know for sure who used the gas? poison? but golly gee let's go bomb someone so that the world will take Obama for serious? GMAFB. He's a weak leader, a buffoon, an incompetent surrounded by sycophants. The commander in chief of the greatest military force the world has ever seen doesn't have an effing clue what he's doing. In Syria, >100k have been killed by conventional weapons and he plays golf, but if ~1000 are killed by chemical weapons that's somehow worse & we need to "do something"? Don't get me wrong: I believe we don't have a dog in this fight. If Syria's neighbors are content to let al Assad's thugs and his opponents murder each other, then it's sure as hell not our duty to intervene. (I suggest that Obama's time would be better spent figuring out what his response will be when Iran begins to blackmail the West with a credible threat of nuke warhead & delivery system.)

    He's not working with Congress because he doesn't want to be told, "No, no military action." He is sidestepping the UN because he can't get a resolution through. His "coalition of the willing" is France. Who will be right BEHIND the U.S. in any military action. He should just man up and say, "I mis-spoke. We have no national interests at risk in Syria. It's a tragedy that Assad and his opponents have the civilian population caught in their crossfire, but the U.S. can't resolve this dispute."

    He's not got the moral courage to say he was wrong to speak at all. What we see once again is a brilliant display of his lack of wisdom and forethought every time he opens his mouth.
    Reader #1235

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    Replies
    1. Excellent points. Hope you don't start a competitor blog.

      Delete
    2. High praise, indeed. Thank you.

      Delete
    3. Reader 1235, I agree with you. But I also think that this is the O trying to prove he's an effective leader in a military crisis, and sticking his foot in Uncle Sam's mouth in doing so.

      I have to admit that young Barry
      Strikes me as just a bit scary.
      Newsrooms galore
      Seek to serve as his whore
      When on Syria they ought to be wary.

      Delete
  7. Of course the french are with us,Kerry as Secretary of State Locks that in!
    Blatherer #9

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  8. "As if by magic, and to make the outcome even better in key respects, the French have popp'd up saying that THEY will stick by Obama on this one. If we needed any proof that the whole planned military intervention against Assad was more about showing-off than substance, this is it."
    H/T Charles Crawford

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  9. We've got to accept that when facing an existential threat, no dictator with a pulse will refrain from using whatever weapons he has at his disposal.
    There is no 'deterrent effect' by attacking Syria in terms of reducing the threat of other leaders gassing their own people.
    I can see an argument that failing to react to this will push the world towards chemical weapons becoming more "just part of any country's arsenal", but it's an extremely weak one.
    I don't think the current "we're all just going to be gentlemen and not have it" silliness can stand the test of time.

    We *only* don't have stocks of chemical weapons because we have stockpiles of nukes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. The left refuses to acknowledge that the world is filled with ruthless power seekers, who have not the conscience that reins in more restrained men.
      Obama needs to go back and re-read his Machiavelli, the bit about wanting to be feared, not loved. He's apparently got those two reversed, and he's failing at both.

      Yes, we have nukes now, but he's still making noises about drawing down our stock, and he's reducing military capabilities to levels that he may regret, as that severely reduces his threat options. 'Course, the military is so obsessed by its "diversity" mandates that I'm not sure the leadership remembers what its primary mission is.

      Delete
    2. Not quite. The Left ARE the ruthless power seekers.

      Delete
  10. Thanks for all of the thoughtful posts the last few days, Diplomad. I've really enjoyed them. I have nothing to add, except to admit that today during POTUS's Taped Lecture, I found myself humming "Hawaiian War Chant". I vote to make this the theme song for the Obama Doctrine.

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  11. Another gem from Mrs. Palin: “So we’re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria? And I’m the idiot?” - Sarah Palin

    See more here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151832583113588&l=9dad685d2e

    -Blake

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  12. This is the Gumby President, reared on the 60s Gumby theme song, he can mold himself into any book......... complete with "narratives" and "composites". When challenged to explain a core national interest, well, don't be silly you haters - it's because he cares about the gassing of innocent children and how dare you adults demand a serious understanding of geopolitics. Don't you know that the Gumby President has a Harvard degree, that's all he needs to prove his intellectual superiority.

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  13. Oh my. Now is the point in the movie when someone grabs your collar, slaps you across the kisser and tells you to get a hold of yourself. I bet the world will be here tomorrow. And I bet you will deal with it - poorly or well. Signs point to poorly. Poor D.Mad. This wasn't in the manual.

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    Replies
    1. Me no understand your point.

      Delete
    2. You got the wrong guy, it's Obama's faces that's stinging not the Serene Doyen of Diplomacy D. Mad.

      Delete
    3. Just a rather meandering seemingly panicked post. "We have been Pavlovian conditioned"? Perhaps the author has been, but I reject that sort of thinking. Perhaps, it may be a government conditioning thing - but it doesn't really matter where it comes from. If the author believes he has been conditioned beyond rationality, he will deal with the world as it now exists poorly. That is the point.

      Delete
  14. Benghazi Barack is pretty much doing this because he has to. He redlined himself right into a box and now the country will pay for it.

    And what's with his timing -- soon to be 9/11 and on his way to St. Petersburg.

    What concerns me most is the reaction to Obama's feckless behaviour. Because there will be a backlash to this "shot across the bow". And it will be dangerous.

    Hope Embassy security has been beefed up.

    Maybe when the terrorists respond Barack will address the nation from the Oval Office -- if he can find it.

    pmc

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  15. "Gas. It provokes a revulsion among most people."

    But only, generally, in those who aren't, have never and will never be 'the boots on the ground'.

    (Straw poll amongst ex-oppos listed Phosphorous not surprisingly, although mines are not particularly favoured).

    It's similar to the mindset in which thousands are beaten stabbed or stomped to death a year with nary a blink, but some gets shot ....

    I suspect (navel gazing) that the emotional reaction might be related, in part, to that Oh so Anglo tradition of 'chivalry', that it isn't 'sporting'. After all it's only seen as a 'bad thing' by 'us' (definitely not by Russia, China, Cuba, the entire Middle East, ....).

    I've always been struck by the 'liberals' schizophrenia, where anything they do is right, good and well intentioned but anything anyone else does ... Most of them appear to be of the mindset that if someone 'accidentally' gassed a tea-party rally, an NRA convention (or any random group of Anglos for that matter) the feigned moral opprobrium wouldn't be quite half so evident.

    The thing is, I can't see, other than as a distraction for NSA, IRS, Benghazi, etc., just what exactly they are actually after here?

    ReplyDelete
  16. We have been Pavlovian conditioned to respond to "gas."

    Oh dear. I hope not.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/31/us-china-accident-ammonia-idUSBRE97U04420130831

    *Check the attire of the rescuers.

    Arkie

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  17. A minor point regarding:

    "Despite the temptation, the US did not use gas against well-entrenched Japanese troops in the Pacific, even when gas likely could have saved many American lives."

    Instead of chemical gas, though, the US poured "gas"oline into underground Japanese bunkers in a number of battles in the Pacific, and napalm was developed during WW II (partly at Harvard, no less) and used in both theaters.

    One more eccentric psychological point in favor of Diplomad's perspective. It's morally acceptable, or at least not hated, when the US firebombs cities such as Tokyo or Dresden, but somehow dropping a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is seen as much less defensible behavior. Of course, the Japanese saw it that way militarily themselves. Operation Meetinghouse, the firebombing of Tokyo on March 9 and 10, 1945, destroyed about 16 square miles of the city and killed well over 100,000 people and yet the Japanese fought on . . . . .

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  18. IF in case Diplomad's on "dog-duty" - recall from his first paragraph:

    "I am just thinking out loud, engaging in a bit of modern blogger angst of the existentialist sort, "analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad."

    Ark

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  19. Reminds me of seeing bumper stickers saying 'one nuke will ruin your whole day' and thinking how much ruin you'd be in if you were on the free fall end of a 500 lb dumb iron bomb.



    I guess suffocation from explosive concussion shredding your lungs is better than dying from neuro toxin because the former might not leave visible evidence to whoever finds your corpse. Makes them feel better about it all you see.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ain't that the stupid truth... *sigh*

      - Read #1482

      Delete
  20. I am not biting the O's emotional bait. I agree wholeheartedly that the Ba'ath regime in Syria, like its counterpart under Sodom Insane of Iraq, has always been a reprehensible gang of thugs. But the USA has not business supporting the Qaida-types and Muslim Brothers who provide the backbone of the rebel forces. Syria isn't our fight, and we should stay out.

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  21. I am not student of history but it seems that when the people in the Middle East have some serious wealth, the troubles start. When they are poor as a people, things are quiet.

    In the 15th century, Spain and Portugal were looking for a sea route to China. Were they looking for a lower cost way of transporting goods? Were Arab/Turkish middlemen being viewed as charging too much? Did a collapse of the Silk/Spice overland routes lead to centuries of Muslim dormancy and the ascendency of the West?

    Would expansion of domestic energy sources eventually starve the jihadists of the ability to wage war?

    The foreign policy of the U. S. should be to make the West energy independent of the ME. Let China be the No. 1 customer of ME energy and develop the diplomacy and military to protect their lines of communication and commerce. Other than Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan, and other nations along an arc that stretches from the Med to India, we should be wary of foreign entanglements in that part of the Old World.

    ReplyDelete
  22. "We have been Pavlovian conditioned to respond to "gas."

    Yes, I have, and when gas happens I take Di-Gel, with simethicone, whatever that is.

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    Replies
    1. Simethicone? You can't say that here! This is a family blog . . .

      Delete
    2. Sorry, Dip, but some things need to be said.

      Delete
  23. Diplomad, perhaps you can speak to what I thought I saw. It appeared to me that Obama finished his speech and pretty much ran away, well, maybe walked rapidly back into the White House. I found it rather astonishing and undignified, the way the President took off.

    Your thoughts?

    Thanks.

    -Blake

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    Replies
    1. He was late for his tee-time.

      Delete
    2. There was so much undignified about the whole performance it's hard to pick one aspect.

      Delete
  24. They are just waggin' the dog.

    You know, had all those nicely wrapped corpses actually been killed by a persistent nerve agent, those who did the wrapping would be dead as hammers as well. The corpses would have to have been totally decontaminated , a lengthy process for a single body, carefully and completely done by well trained personnel .

    It's all a crock,something to make the LoInfos and their willing enablers think that Teleprompter Stalin is a real warrior .

    It won't be long...

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  25. i heartily second all the comments describing bho's utter misgovernance as president, syria only being the latest. that said, i would urge that we hold off on french-bashing, or at least change it to hollande-bashing (bho's fellow leftist). leaving aside the whole revolutionary war help thing, more recently the french acted resolutely in mali as bho yet again led from the rear and france continues its participation in isaf. jst

    ReplyDelete