Round and Round and Round We Go

Kind of funny how this latest war is sneaking up on us. The steady drumbeat from the usual suspects, the obligatory front page pieces:

andthewardrumsbeat

Listen closely and you can hear the orc drums, but right now we are just priming the pump, because, you know, from a marketing point of view, you never introduce a new product in August. Oh, and the chemical weapons- that’s the trump card. We get so upset when middle east tyrants use chemical weapons on each other and their population, but damned if that doesn’t keep us from helping them when they use them:

The U.S. knew about, and in one case helped, Iraq’s chemical weapons attacks against Iran in the 1980’s, according to recently declassified CIA documents obtained by Foreign Policy. Their detailed timeline, also constructed with the aid of interviews with former foreign intelligence officials, indicates that the U.S. secretly had evidence of Iraqi chemical attacks in 1983. The evidence, FP writes, is “tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.”

Ever since last week’s devastating evidence of chemical attacks in Syria, analysts have looked for benchmarks to predict the U.S.’s response. On Sunday, a U.S. official suggested that the U.S. is moving closer to possible military action in the country as the U.S. has “little doubt” that an “indiscriminate” chemical attack took place. Officials are reportedly looking to the 1998 air war on Kosovo for a precedent — a similar humanitarian crisis in the face of virtually no chance of a U.N. Security Council resolution to authorize use of force, thanks to dissent from Russia. And while Foreign Policy’s additional reporting places the Iraq situation in contrast to today’s debate over Syria, the details reveal just how sharply, in the past, the razor of U.S. interests in the Middle East has cut: “it was the express policy of Reagan to ensure an Iraqi victory in the war, whatever the cost,” the report explains. And apparently, that went up to and including helping Saddam Hussein gas Iran.

At any rate, it is in one sense comforting to know how things will play out. This will ramp up for a while, we’ll build a group of nations who have military might and similar business interests “coalition of the willing,” we’ll bomb the fuck out of some people with “surgical strikes” that will “send a message that the international community is serious” and undoubtedly kill a shitload of people accidentally have some collateral damage, but at least we are “doing something.” Meanwhile, for the poor bastards in Syria, this means that they will be getting shelled externally and internally, one of which will be deemed legal under international law, one of which will be deemed illegal because Assad is no longer in the cool kid’s club (Saddam says hi, Assad). Unfortunately, the bombs and artillery will not discriminate.

At home, we can expect he usual shit. Of course there will be the taunting of the anti-war left for being wrong and not serious about national security or the atrocities of chemical warfare, but until then we can just concern troll them for not being vocal enough:

Pro-tip, Dennis, you asshole. The anti-war left is pretty predictably against a war in Syria.

And then we get to look forward to the whole liberal hawk debate, and then the diehards who will support whatever intervention Obama engages in, should he, and call everyone else closet Republicans, someone will force me to read the fucking New Republic again, and then, the best part- if Obama does intervene, and the mostly secular Assad regime leaves, there will be elections in Syria, and a muslim government will be elected. We can then be treated to years of hearing how Obama and the Democrats lost Syria, just like they did Egypt, all of which will be more proof for the necessity to invade Iran.

There. You are welcome.






185 replies
  1. 1
    dollared says:

    Not a lot of satisfaction in being right, is there?

  2. 2
    Liquid says:

    Dibs on Poland!

  3. 3
    Mnemosyne says:

    Funny how you went through this entire rant and never once used the word “Libya.” Has it fallen down the memory hole so soon?

  4. 4
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Why do you suppose there will actually be a war? I know you disagreed with the Libya intervention (which I supported) , but why do you think the US will get into this mess?

    Also, if we don’t get involved will it be any better? There is no upside to any action or inaction in Syria. Woohoo.

  5. 5
    srv says:

    The anti-war left is pretty predictably against a war in Syria.

    Let me be the first to pre-emptively call Obama a baby killer*

    *forgetting the dronez baby killings

  6. 6
    Liquid says:

    “War in Syria.” Tish Psshaw! Call me when we send in 2ID.

  7. 7
    dollared says:

    @Mnemosyne: What’s your point? It’s the exact same pattern, without the mustard gas. It is now an ungovernable mess with a substantial radical jihadi element that is completely uncontrollable (the real story of Benghazi), and the odds of it becoming an Islamic state are still above 50%.

  8. 8
    are2row says:

    What kind of message are we sending, again?

  9. 9
    srv says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: You really think this cat can be walked back?

    Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a fine statement today on chemical weapons use in Syria. Too bad it was not delivered the first time these weapons were used. Too bad it was not delivered even earlier, before 100,000 civilians had been killed by traditional weapons. But now that we are where we are, Kerry made three essential points.

    Jennifer Fucking Rubin.

    People think I’m trolling when I call Kerry “President McCain’s Secretary of State”

    derpa derpa jihad, baby.

  10. 10
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, since we’re staking out our positions, I would not be against the US taking similar actions in Syria as they did in Libya (ie technical support, no boots on the ground or planes in the air). Let the Arab League and/or the UN take the lead and offer assistance to them.

    Having the US actually take the lead and do it themselves? No the fuck thank you.

  11. 11
    dollared says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: You don’t think it will be a war? I’m confused.

  12. 12
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Nobody outside of the political realm will give two shits about this. It will be flushed down the memory hole in a few weeks anyway when Debt Ceiling 2: This Time, It’s Personal rears it’s ugly head.

  13. 13
    danielx says:

    It’s like watching Hamlet – you know what’s going to happen, but each performance is a little bit different. Only the cast never varies. And they’re Very Serious People, so you know they can’t be wrong.

    Why, any day now, like this coming Friday, we can look forward to a David Brooks column explaining how intervention in Syria is a moral responsibility, and if B. Barry Bamz doesn’t tell the services to let fly with the Tomahawks and so forth then he is irresolute, indecisive and insufficiently aware of his responsibility to Display Our National Resolve. Or something.

    I tell ya, this shit just about writes itself. Thanks, we’ll be here three more nights – try the veal.

  14. 14
    Liquid says:

    Maybe they’ll label the hunt for Assad as Oh-Dark-Thirty. That number again is Oh.

  15. 15
    Mnemosyne says:

    @dollared:

    It’s the exact same pattern, without the mustard gas.

    Libya followed the exact same pattern as Iraq? Because that’s Cole’s contention here: this building to Syria is exactly like the buildup to Iraq (that he fucked up the first time and I didn’t, but what’s a little warmongering between friends?)

    That’s why it’s so fascinating that Libya has gone down the memory hole as far as this stuff is concerned. We’re not actually tied down in Libya. We don’t have troops there. We’re not bombing them on a regular basis. So far, the worst — the very worst thing — that’s happened to Americans in Libya is that four (4) of them were killed by Islamists.

    So my question is, what makes this build-up Iraq II (or Iraq III?) rather than Libya II?

  16. 16
    are2row says:

    I wonder what Susan rice would’ve done or said in this instance.

  17. 17
    srv says:

    And John, I know it is hard, but we need the Angry Sober John more than evah.

    You are the cold steely-eyed fucking hippie who is ready for his beating. Bring it on.

  18. 18
    mai naem says:

    I don’t think we should get involved IN Syria. Sorry, Assad’s an asshole and supposedly using chemical weapons(not sure if it him or the rebels using chemical weapons.) I don’t see what difference surgical sites are going to make except get more Arabs po’d at the US. I don’t see any strategical advantage in us getting involved now.

  19. 19
    Liquid says:

    @Mnemosyne: So you’re suggesting that some missiles are the same as a ground invasion? Where’s admiral Fitzwallace when you need him.

  20. 20
    John Cole says:

    @Mnemosyne: Libya is a fucking disaster. You honestly think that was a success? Jesus Christ, this is today:

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/libya

    If you really do think that is the model of success, then fuck it, bomb the shit out of Syria. By those standards, what the fuck could go worse? I hope we drop some dpicm and fascam so we can have lots of kids lose limbs- then they’ll know we were serious for decades to come. Let’s make sure we also flood the zone with weapons so sectarian battles can be well armed- makes for good tv and we can all sit in our barcaloungers cheering on the freedom fighters in Syria. Maybe we should have a color coded sticker to put on our bumpers?

  21. 21
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, too, jack shit is going to happen unless the Chinese and Russians agree at the UN. Hey, Snowden fans, maybe that was his real heroism in stealing secrets — he was trying to trash relations between the US, China and Russia so nothing would get done in Syria!

  22. 22
    Mnemosyne says:

    @John Cole:

    You honestly think that was a success?

    I think it was less disastrous for the US than Iraq and, messy as it is, I think the Libyans are better off without Ghaddafi using his hired mercenaries to slaughter them. Why do you think Libya would have been better off without the Arab League and NATO’s intervention?

    But, then, I was against Iraq from the beginning and didn’t have to come to the slow realization that I’d fucked up and trusted the wrong people since I didn’t trust them from the start, so what do I know?

    ETA: Oh, and the first horrific story from your link? Gaddafi’s (adult) son is going to be tried for his crimes. Gosh, yes, what a horror show it is when criminals face charges for their crimes.

  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @srv: I don’t believe anything Jen Rubin says including “and” and “the.”

    @dollared: I am hoping we stay out. I also think that even if we don’t have that amount of sense, we will go no further than we did with Libya. For the record, I think even that level of involvement is a bad idea in these circumstances.

    ETA: Philosophically, I tend toward liberal interventionism. I just don’t see the point in jumping into a patently no win situation.

  24. 24
    Liquid says:

    @Mnemosyne: So Russia would have jumped at the chance to join our Coalition if it weren’t for Snowden? That is just a teeny-teeny-tiny-bit-of-a-skosh-of-a-stretch.

  25. 25
    dollared says:

    @John Cole: What John said. Couldn’t some place turn into an ungovernable shithole for five generations on their own, without our “help?” And then maybe we piss away the money we save on, you know, bridges and food?

  26. 26
    GregB says:

    Syria and Iran are saying that an attack on Syria will open up a new front in Israel.

    The old maxim about dying on one’s feet applies here.

    This whole fucking thing is insane. Fucking insane.

    This is the shit that will lead to WWIII.

    What the fuck is going to happen to world oil prices?

    What if Hezbollah takes the nod from Syria and decides it is time to light up Tel Aviv and most of upper Israel with 40,000 rockets?

    Egypt is in collapse. Libya and Iraq aren’t far behind. The maelstrom won’t consume those ratfuckers in Georgetown, or maybe it will this time.

    Fucking A.

  27. 27
    dollared says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Agreed and agreed. I think Kerry just put in the ten dollar ante, though, didn’t he?

  28. 28
    srv says:

    @are2row: Do you people not do twitter?

    https://twitter.com/AmbassadorRice

    The case is closed.

  29. 29
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @dollared:

    It’s the exact same pattern, without the mustard gas.

    No it isn’t. There isn’t nearly the same homogeneity as in Libya, and the jihadis are already extremely active in Syria- they just waited in the wings in Libya. And Libya didn’t threaten to further disrupt the shit between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

    This one is the tinderbox. Stay out.

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: Quoi?

  31. 31
    dollared says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): All good points, and I already wanted to stay out. Agreed.

  32. 32
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Liquid:

    You may want to take your snark meter in for servicing. Just sayin’.

  33. 33
    BruinKid says:

    Sigh… one of my friends at UCLA has relatives still living in Damascus. I have no idea how she’s holding up with all this shit in the news right now. And if their lives are put in danger, I have no idea if it will be because of the rebels, the Assad regime, or from a U.S. intervention.

    Sigh.

  34. 34
    Liquid says:

    @Mnemosyne: It’s so tough to tell these days, ‘build a better cynic’ and all.

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Apparently my snark is too subtle.

    No matter how loudly Kerry and Hagel rattle the sabers, the US isn’t going to do anything unless Russia and China agree at the UN. Russia and China are not going to agree. So everyone is getting worked up for nothing, and Snowden’s defenders can claim he saved us all by making China and Russia extra pissed off at the US with his shenanigans. Win-win!

  36. 36
    Mark S. says:

    I’m not sure what we should do in Syria, but I am sick of the cool kids (like the shithead Anne linked to earlier) acting like a dictator using chemical weapons is no big deal. It is a big fucking deal. Yes, other weapons are better at killing people, but we largely live in a world where nations don’t gas each other and that is a principle worth fucking defending.

    And yes we were hypocrites back in the 1980’s but does that mean we can’t ever do the right thing?

  37. 37
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @dollared: What has Kerry said that fucks us? Not arguing, I just haven’t seen it yet.

  38. 38
    Tone in DC says:

    Gotta sell moar gunz. Dick Cheney needs that Halliburton cash for Lizzie’s congressional run. Mark Halperin doesn’t work for free.

  39. 39
    GregB says:

    @Mark S.:

    Hey McFuckface.

    What if, what if it wasn’t the Assad regime that used the gas and it was elements within the rebel groups that used them on their own people in order to prompt the Western involvement they(the West) had promised if Assad used chemical/bio weapons?

    Seriously answer that.

  40. 40
    Suzanne says:

    @dollared: Do we have no moral imperative to act in the face of the use of NBC weapons against civilians? In one of the threads last night, some of us noted that our liberalism/progressivism is deeply rooted in our morality and our ties to one another. To that end, I generally find the argument that we should not intervene because it isn’t our business deeply problematic.

    However, this is not me arguing that we should intervene.

  41. 41
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mark S.:

    I agree with you right up to the point where this one triggers WWIII.

  42. 42
    Liquid says:

    @Mark S.: It’s times like these that I take solace in an old quote — “Which of you Motor City motherfuckers wants to bet me this one isn’t?” — T-Bird.

    No wait!

    It’s “Death solves all problems — no man, no problem” — Uncle Joey.

    How’s that for cynicism?

  43. 43
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mark S.:

    We had this argument a few months — maybe a year? — back when the allegations were first swirling, and a lot of people didn’t realize that the horror of chemical weapons isn’t when they kill people. It’s when they don’t kill you, and you have to live with the lingering aftereffects. Assuming you survive, mustard gas causes birth defects in your future children, assuming you don’t die of cancer first.

    Chemical weapons aren’t banned for their immediate effects, they’re banned for their long-term lingering effects. A regular bomb might blow your arm off, but at least it won’t affect your ability to have normal children later on.

  44. 44
    srv says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    There isn’t nearly the same homogeneity as in Libya

    What? I mean I like anti-neocon jihadi’s here, but:

    http://geocurrents.info/geopol.....tion-state

    It’s complicated, but homogeneity is not the right word.

  45. 45
    Mark S. says:

    @GregB:

    Go die of bowel cancer.

  46. 46
    Person of Choler says:

    “The anti-war left is uncharacteristically quiet on possibility of Syria strikes”.

    Well, why is Code Pink invisible? What has become of Mother Sheehan? Is there nobody remaining with Absolute Moral Authority to Speak Truth to Power? Where are the demonstrations of yesteryear?

    Please, anti-war left, fight to release Our President from the toils of the Neocon Republicans dragging him relentlessly toward another bloody conflict.

  47. 47
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suzanne: Here is me, the liberal interventionist, stepping in to help. Per Just War theory, war is only justified when reasonable calculation suggests that participation in the war will cause less harm than not participating, that more good than harm will result. I doubt that this condition has been satisfied.

    FWIW Just War theory involves far more factors and considerations but since this one doesn’t satisfy the cost/benefit one, it fails and one can stop the analysis.

  48. 48
    Bobby Thomson says:

    Well, I’m glad the front page finally woke up today. Ken Pollack and the usual gang of idiots have been out spreading bull shit for several days now, but hey, priorities.

    Anyway, there’s nothing to be gained here by unilateral action, and no multilateral action without a smoking gun, so everyone needs to chill the fuck out and stop taking advice from Joe Fucking Lieberman. And Kerry should stop asking people to be the first to die for a mistake.

  49. 49
    Tone in DC says:

    At this point, how many Mid East countries have we NOT bombed the living shit out of?

    Iraq
    Libya
    Pakistan
    Afghanistan

    Some people out here must like (other) folks going off to war better than Boehner pills.

  50. 50
    Liquid says:

    @Person of Choler: I remember reading/hearing about just how effectively we destroyed left-wing groups. It was the obvious reason as to why the country has drifted so far to the right.

    I’m reading a biography of Edward VIII (Philip Ziegler) and his ‘concern’ for the coal miners (“like you would show concern for your horse or dog but he never though of them as men or brothers”) and so forth.

    Kinda fortuitous that Netflix just posted “The King and Mrs. Simpson.”

  51. 51
    Miz Conception says:

    I can’t see how anyone could think that the guy – who most of us probably voted for – who was against “dumb wars,” and who fairly quickly – politically speaking, anyway – wound down both Iraq and (soon) Afghanistan once he got into office, is gonna get us into an actual WAR in Syria. Just don’t see that happening.

    That said, I don’t know how anyone could watch those heartbreaking videos of the children convulsing from Sarin gas, and not want to do something. Keep the collateral damage as low as humanly possible, but if it were me, I’d feel helpless if nothing was done.

    At some point you gotta trust the judgment of the person you voted for, and I do trust President Obama’s judgment. He’s not Bush, and Syria is not Iraq.

  52. 52
    Cacti says:

    Maybe Assad’s been using Saddam’s long lost Weapons of Mass Destruction?

    Has anyone thought of that yet? Well, have ya?!

  53. 53
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tone in DC:

    Libya is in North Africa, not the Middle East. Pakistan and Afghanistan are in South Asia.

    So the answer is, not very many.

    ETA: We’ve bombed the crap out of several Islamic countries, but that’s not the same thing as Middle Eastern countries. IIRC, the largest Islamic country is Indonesia.

  54. 54
    srv says:

    @Tone in DC:

    Some people out here must like (other) folks going off to war better than Boehner pills.

    Syriaously

  55. 55
    Linnaeus says:

    So the weapon does matter now?

    I don’t ask that sarcastically. It’s just that we’ve heard from time to time here (in other contexts) that the weapon used doesn’t matter, dead is dead, etc., etc.

  56. 56
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @srv:

    I meant that in that the sense that the overwhelming majority of the population of Libya is Arab-Berber and Sunni. Yeah, you’ve got the sub-Saharan Africans down south, but the map of controlled areas belies population density and distribution. Roughly 5.5 million people, and 90% live along the coast.

    And compared to Syria, with its Arabs, Syrians and Kurds (with others in there, too), the different sects of Islam and their sub-sects, along with Christians…Libya is homogenous in comparison. Hell, Libya is homogenous compared to the US, France and the UK.

  57. 57
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Linnaeus:

    IMO, the weapon matters if it’s one that continues to harm people well after the war is over, which is why land mines and cluster bombs are worse than bullets and hand grenades.

    In some ways, the people who die immediately from the mustard gas are lucky. They don’t have to watch themselves for signs of cancer for decades to come, or anxiously monitor every pregnancy to see if maybe this one will be normal.

  58. 58
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Mark S.: I endorse this message:

  59. 59

    @srv:

    Too bad it was not delivered even earlier, before 100,000 civilians had been killed by traditional weapons.

    Yes, because the ideal time to invade another country to protect the citizenry is before a single civilian has been killed. We better fucking hurry up and get overflight on New Zealand before its too late.

  60. 60
    TriassicSands says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    Debt Ceiling 2: This Time, It’s Personal

    A good enough name, but I think the GOP Braintrust got together and Boehner has announced that it will be called: Debt Ceiling 2: A Whale of a Fight.

    It’s pretty well accepted that the Republicans have universal naming rights…for everything. (See Death Panels)

  61. 61
    Liquid says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yeah, the opposite argument has been making the rounds.

    I would prefer to be “Don’t turn around’ed” rather than gassed/irradiated only to recover and pass it on to my children.

  62. 62
    GregB says:

    @Mark S.:

    Did you pause Honey Boo-Boo and put down your Swanson’s TV dinner get in the mindset to deliver such a brilliant riposte?

    You should fax that bit to Johnny Carson because that is how old that bit is.

  63. 63
    askew says:

    Reading this post makes it perfectly clear why Cole was a dittohead for years. He seems to have zero ability for nuance, can’t discuss anything without pre-emtevly attacking the other side, repeats talking points he doesn’t understand and has limited ability to learn from his mistakes. This hysterical reaction was exactly like his hysterical reaction against Libya. It was going to lead to Iraq II. It was going to involve us in a lengthy war, put boot on the ground, that we would be causing massive civilian casualties, etc. All of his hysteria was proven wrong and those arguing for Libyan intervention were proven right. We never said it would turn Libya into a Utopian paradise but we did say that a limited intervention would save millions of Libyan lives and help the rebels remove a brutal dictator from power. And that is what happened. Does that mean that all of Libyans’s problems are over? Absolutely not. But, they have a better chance at a future now. It will be up to them to decide if they want to embrace it or not.

    Syria is a much more complicated problem than Libya because of where it is located, the # of outside agitators embedded within the rebel groups who are less interested in a future for Syria than they are in their own agendas. That plus the fact that the fighting is within an urban area, there are fewer places for us to target that won’t result in serious civilian causalities (something we avoided in Libya) and most importantly, the Arab nations and the UN are not yet behind intervention in Syria. However, the bizarre need on the left to shrug their shoulders and act like a chemical attack is no big deal and should just be ignored is pretty repugnant. The Syrian regime is engaging in chemical weapon slaughter of their own people. That demands an international response. What that response is can be discussed but doing nothing is not a moral option IMO. I still feel the biggest moral mistake of Clinton’s two terms was doing nothing in Rwanda. If there is something the US and the international community can do to lessen the Syrian regime’s slaughter of their own people without investing serious money and American lives, it is absolutely the right thing to do.

    What I find most frustrating is that Cole and many on the left were dead wrong on Iraq, they were dead wrong Libya and they then arrogantly argue that they are right and the Obama admin is wrong on Syria. Well, Obama has a much better track record that they do on foreign policy decisions. He was right on Iraq and Libya and he could be right on Syria. But agreeing with Obama on Syria is just mindless cheerleading even though he has the proven track record. Yeah, that makes sense.

  64. 64
    Suzanne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I may be persuaded to your viewpoint.

    I am ambivalent (in the classic sense of the word) on this issue. There is really no position I feel good about taking.

  65. 65
    Brandon says:

    I will personally admit to being totally clueless about Syria. I tried once to figure out who’s who and who supports who and what, but it was impenetrable to me and in the end everyone side looked like bad guys. So I gave up.

    With that in mind and considering the track records of those most ardent supporters of interevntion, I have to say that I am against it. I don’t care much for proxy wars and don’t particularly care for conflict just because we can and/or the military industrial complex demands it.

    Furthermore, the constant and steady roll from conflict to conflict troubles me greatly. I am not a strong student of history, but believe Rome was similarly lurching from campaign to campaign as the Republic and then the Empire fell. I also have grave concerns about the normalization of the state of constant war and its effect on democratic freedom, which is a topic Orwell obviously covered in great detail.

    We already live in a brutal and shitty world, it is incomprehensible to me that there are so many who are intent to make it worse.

  66. 66
    srv says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): All those minorities are with the Alawites. Kurds, Christians, Druze, they all know their days are numbered under a Sunni majority.

    http://www.al-monitor.com/puls.....nsing.html

    What destabilizing Syrian Kurds does for Erdogan, I have no clue, but it isn’t going to be pretty. Cleansing will be the active verb.

  67. 67
    Liquid says:

    I say deploy around Krak des Chevaliers!

  68. 68
    askew says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Of course you do. It is a simple soundbite that is easy for you to digest and repeat as an attack against Obama. It doesn’t matter that this situation and Iraq are completely different. It doesn’t matter that the Bush administration was pushing for war in Iraq while the Obama administration has done everything possible to slow the rush for war down and make prudent decisions. That post sums up in a nutshell what’s wrong with your front page posts. You copy, paste and regurgitate someone else’s glib arguments without understanding them in the slightest, which basically makes you the Huffington Post of this blog.

  69. 69
    Linnaeus says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I think that’s a good argument against the use of chemical weapons and why we put them in a distinct category. The broader point I’m hinting at is that there’s no bright, objective line as to when we “know” whether the particular weapon we use is beyond the pale. These norms are negotiated, and negotiable, it seems.

    land mines and cluster bombs are worse than bullets and hand grenades.

    They are, though the United States has sadly not seen fit to sign the conventions banning the use of either.

  70. 70
    AxelFoley says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Funny how you went through this entire rant and never once used the word “Libya.” Has it fallen down the memory hole so soon?

    Exactly.

  71. 71
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @srv:

    Yeah. This is all part of why we should stay out of it. I hate the Assads, but I can’t think of a better, viable alternative. It’s all quite frustrating and sad.

  72. 72
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suzanne: In my view, that justifies being against. The default position should be against war. If someone can’t persuade you that the violence is in a good cause, not initiated by the party in question, and that it will do more good than harm…. Well, don’t do the violence.

  73. 73
    Liquid says:

    @askew: At this point I choose to believe that she is agitating certain elements/persons within our BJ :) community.

    At the same time I believe we can say that no one here is seriously comparing a West Wing Season 1 Strike VS. Ground Assault.

    I love the idea of sending in troops as much as you do. Whenever I watch “THEM” and the soldiers descend into the Los Angeles sewers my pants start to fit funny.

  74. 74
    Linnaeus says:

    Given this nation’s history, I’m typically skeptical of US military interventions. I’d like to see, however, the evidence that the administration says it has about this chemical attack before I say much more.

  75. 75
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Linnaeus:

    The broader point I’m hinting at is that there’s no bright, objective line as to when we “know” whether the particular weapon we use is beyond the pale. These norms are negotiated, and negotiable, it seems.

    Part of the problem is that new weapons are being invented all the time, and the aftereffects of them are not known until years later. No one knew that Agent Orange had lingering mutagenic effects until after the Vietnam War had ended — turns out that was actually a chemical weapon, not “just” an herbicide.

    But it’s also true that history is written by the victors, and if the Reagan administration wanted to turn a blind eye to Iraq using chemical weapons during their war with Iran, well, that was just geopolitics as far as Reagan’s cronies were concerned.

  76. 76
    GregB says:

    For the record. I was against Iraq. For Libya. Against daily drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    I also think that calling for more information on the who’s, what’s and where’s of the chemical attack is needed.

    And yes, I am going to call the President’s judgment into question on this one because I think he set himself up to be pressured into a war that he may not have wanted when he made the red lines comments.

    And yes, the red lines comments also could have given other actors the idea that accusing the Syrian regime of using chem/bio weapons was the way to get the big guys on their side and acting militarily on their behalf.

    I don’t trust Assad or his regime but I trust the Saudi’s even less and their money and fingerprints are all over the rebels. They could very easily want to draw us into a war that will escalate and hobble their regional nemesis, Iran.

  77. 77
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Cacti:
    Those weapons don’t exist. UN weapons inspectors searched the country and never found them. Your American troops invaded and never found them. So I reckon we can say no, no one has considered that Bashir Assad might have been using weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein couldn’t have given to him.

  78. 78
    fuckwit says:

    @askew:

    That demands an international response.

    Ding ding ding!!! Not a US response. Not even a NATO response or a US-led “coalition of the extorted” response either. It demands an international response.

    This is a job for The Blue Helmets, if ever there was one.

    If the world governments think this shit is hunky-dory, then we have a problem. If the world’s governments want to just punt on this and let the US just take care of it, we have an even bigger problem.

  79. 79
    askew says:

    @Liquid:

    @askew: At this point I choose to believe that she is agitating certain elements/persons within our BJ :) community.

    At the same time I believe we can say that no one here is seriously comparing a West Wing Season 1 Strike VS. Ground Assault.

    I think people here have already jumped over a WW Season 1 surgical strike and have decided that we are going to a ground assault war. This is the same over-reaction that happened before the Libya announcement and during Libya. Same people, same hysterics. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people are incapable of learning from their mistakes or taking responsibility for their actions. And yet, here we are with the exact same people who were wrong on Libya so sure that they are right on Syria. It gets old.

  80. 80
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amir Khalid: I would give Cacti the benefit of a doubt on this one. Bushies argued that WND had been transported to Syria. Cacti could well have been playing off that.

  81. 81
    AxelFoley says:

    @askew:

    Reading this post makes it perfectly clear why Cole was a dittohead for years. He seems to have zero ability for nuance, can’t discuss anything without pre-emtevly attacking the other side, repeats talking points he doesn’t understand and has limited ability to learn from his mistakes. This hysterical reaction was exactly like his hysterical reaction against Libya. It was going to lead to Iraq II. It was going to involve us in a lengthy war, put boot on the ground, that we would be causing massive civilian casualties, etc. All of his hysteria was proven wrong and those arguing for Libyan intervention were proven right. We never said it would turn Libya into a Utopian paradise but we did say that a limited intervention would save millions of Libyan lives and help the rebels remove a brutal dictator from power. And that is what happened. Does that mean that all of Libyans’s problems are over? Absolutely not. But, they have a better chance at a future now. It will be up to them to decide if they want to embrace it or not.

    Syria is a much more complicated problem than Libya because of where it is located, the # of outside agitators embedded within the rebel groups who are less interested in a future for Syria than they are in their own agendas. That plus the fact that the fighting is within an urban area, there are fewer places for us to target that won’t result in serious civilian causalities (something we avoided in Libya) and most importantly, the Arab nations and the UN are not yet behind intervention in Syria. However, the bizarre need on the left to shrug their shoulders and act like a chemical attack is no big deal and should just be ignored is pretty repugnant. The Syrian regime is engaging in chemical weapon slaughter of their own people. That demands an international response. What that response is can be discussed but doing nothing is not a moral option IMO. I still feel the biggest moral mistake of Clinton’s two terms was doing nothing in Rwanda. If there is something the US and the international community can do to lessen the Syrian regime’s slaughter of their own people without investing serious money and American lives, it is absolutely the right thing to do.

    What I find most frustrating is that Cole and many on the left were dead wrong on Iraq, they were dead wrong Libya and they then arrogantly argue that they are right and the Obama admin is wrong on Syria. Well, Obama has a much better track record that they do on foreign policy decisions. He was right on Iraq and Libya and he could be right on Syria. But agreeing with Obama on Syria is just mindless cheerleading even though he has the proven track record. Yeah, that makes sense.

    This. All this.

    You’d think Cole would learn his fuckin’ lesson and not jump the damn gun again.

  82. 82
    askew says:

    @fuckwit:

    @askew:

    That demands an international response.

    Ding ding ding!!! Not a US response. Not even a NATO response or a US-led “coalition of the extorted” response either. It demands an international response.

    This is a job for The Blue Helmets, if ever there was one.

    If the world governments think this shit is hunky-dory, then we have a problem. If the world’s governments want to just punt on this and let the US just take care of it, we have an even bigger problem.

    There is no evidence that the US is going to go it alone. That is completely unlike the Obama admin’s track record. The admin has been releasing statements on their conversations with foreign governments about Syria for days. Samantha Power has been tweeting about her work at the UN on Syria. The hair-on-fire crowd has leapt to the assumption that the U.S. will be going it alone based on their psychic ability I guess.

  83. 83
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Amir Khalid: @Omnes Omnibus:

    Cacti could well have been playing off that.

    I am 99.9999999969% sure that it was snark.

  84. 84
    magurakurin says:

    @Linnaeus: We can have an ideological debate about whether weapons matter and it is a difficult one. But in terms of geo-political matters that debate has been done and settled and, rightly or wrongly, the world community has decided that it does matter and chemical weapons cross a line. Our own personal feelings about it aren’t going to be forceful enough to change that world opinion by Sunday. So, yeah, the weapons matter.

    Personally, I’m with Omnes. I don’t see a large involvement coming on the part of the US. The French will do the heavy lifting. Also like Omnes I don’t see a small scale airstrike doing much good. But destroying Assad’s air superiority will set him back I suppose. That, however, will end up prolonging the civil war.

    I’d prefer no intervention, but nobody is going to ask my opinion. I also share a concern that the rebels may have used these weapons as a ruse to draw in aid. I hope that the Adminstration let’s the UN finish it’s investigation before acting, but I think other countries such as France, really want to do this. This isn’t only a US thing. The French are independent actors as they have quite clearly demonstrated in Libya and even more so in Mali.

  85. 85
    Mnemosyne says:

    @fuckwit:

    Russia and China are refusing to approve an intervention, so no Blue Helmets.

    As I said above, in the absence of UN intervention, I would be satisfied with the Arab League intervening, perhaps with some technical assistance from NATO led by France or Germany.

    US doing solo bombing runs? Hell to the no.

  86. 86
    Liquid says:

    @askew: It was very disconcerting to hear some blowhard on Al-Jazeera basically spewing the same lines. He even said “Coalition of the Willing.” So now the choice is —

    “Hey, we’ll use drones, don’t you worry! just sit at home, go shopping and let us collect your info for later.”

    OR

    “Hey, we’ll use troops, don’t you worry! just sit at home, go shopping and let us collect your info for later. Plus, we might throw a bone to the men and women being fed through the meat grinder.”

  87. 87

    @askew:

    If there is something the US and the international community can do to lessen the Syrian regime’s slaughter of their own people without investing serious money and American lives, it is absolutely the right thing to do.

    I don’t think there’s anything that can be done about that. We might reduce the number of people that Assad kills, but the action will likely just dump the country into a sectarian conflict and they’ll die from that instead. The sectarian problems in the region are beyond our ability to fix, and our intervention is likely to make them worse. Libya was an outlier. It wasn’t part of the Sunni/Shia Muslim/Christian Kurd/Arab/Persian mess. Syria definitely is in a big way.

  88. 88
    askew says:

    @Liquid:

    I love the idea of sending in troops as much as you do. Whenever I watch “THEM” and the soldiers descend into the Los Angeles sewers my pants start to fit funny.

    Now, I remember why I had you pied. What a dumbass comment. There has been nothing in any of my comments cheerleading for war. The idea that only neocon war hawks can see a reason for some kind of international response to Syria using chemical weapons against their own people is moronic. Another poster who is incapable of understanding the world is not black and white. Doing nothing is not always the right response (see Rwanda) and intervention is not always bad (see Libya and Bosnia).

  89. 89
    Linnaeus says:

    @👾 Martin:

    I want to see more evidence and more details on the range of actions being considered, but right now, I feel much the same way.

  90. 90
    askew says:

    @👾 Martin:

    I don’t think there’s anything that can be done about that. We might reduce the number of people that Assad kills, but the action will likely just dump the country into a sectarian conflict and they’ll die from that instead. The sectarian problems in the region are beyond our ability to fix, and our intervention is likely to make them worse. Libya was an outlier. It wasn’t part of the Sunni/Shia Muslim/Christian Kurd/Arab/Persian mess. Syria definitely is in a big way.

    I don’t think we can say that with certainty yet. The situation is clearly messier than Libya and there will be sectarian violence if Assad is removed by rebels after our bombings weaken his military. However, doing nothing while Assad slaughters millions of his people has been tried for 2 years and isn’t working. We are not the world’s police, but I do think the entire international community has a responsibility to step in when there is mass slaughter by a government. That doesn’t always mean a military response. It could mean sanctions or other options. I think it is too early to tell what the Syrian response is going to be yet and I am unwilling to say that any intervention will make things worse.

  91. 91
    Time Travelin says:

    @Mnemosyne: What if it blows your junk off? Or paralyzes you? Killing 100,000 by incineration, shrapnel or bullets – no biggy. 300 by chemicals – unacceptable. I just find that odd.

  92. 92
    Liquid says:

    @askew: Ok whoa, whoa! I was not insulting you or judging you. I was simply stating a fact that watching the giant ant movie — THEM — is awesome. Watching our post-WWII military just drop-the-fuck in on those Formicdae-ist bastards is fucking CLASSIC!

    James Whitmore is a badass and my Grandfather plays his partner who ‘meets an an unfortunate fate at Gramps store.”

    Seriously, I was not insulting you it was just a reference to an awesome ’50s monster movie!

    Shit, the only other one worth a watch would be “Tarantula.”

  93. 93
    TG Chicago says:

    @Miz Conception:

    That said, I don’t know how anyone could watch those heartbreaking videos of the children convulsing from Sarin gas, and not want to do something. Keep the collateral damage as low as humanly possible, but if it were me, I’d feel helpless if nothing was done.

    Do I want the killing of children to stop? Of course. But that doesn’t mean I see a means to that end via tomahawk missiles.

    It’s no fun to feel helpless, but there’s nothing in the Constitution guaranteeing against it. Sometimes America lacks omnipotence.

  94. 94
    askew says:

    @AxelFoley:

    This. All this.

    You’d think Cole would learn his fuckin’ lesson and not jump the damn gun again.

    He definitely hasn’t learned a thing. He also seems very invested in being outraged about everything lately, which seems to be clouding his ability to reason.

  95. 95
  96. 96
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TG Chicago: Exactly, to justify getting involved, one should have some probability of making things better.

  97. 97
    Mandalay says:

    @askew:

    However, the bizarre need on the left to shrug their shoulders and act like a chemical attack is no big deal and should just be ignored is pretty repugnant. The Syrian regime is engaging in chemical weapon slaughter of their own people. That demands an international response.

    A fine post. I am with those who don’t really have much of a clue about what should be done, but I am certainly not persuaded that doing absolutely nothing is automatically the best option. It’s possible I suppose, but seems pretty unlikely.

    Those screaming “Have we learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan???!!!” are being overly simplistic. The situation in Syria is nothing like the situations that existed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not remotely close, and inviting the comparison looks like blinkered thinking to me.

  98. 98
    Mike with a Mic says:

    The reason chemical weapons are a line is pretty simple. CBN weapons contaminate the environment in ways conventional weapons do not. CBN cannot be used in any sort of remotely surgical way and just kill left and right, factor in the weather and their ability to move through the water and this gets even worse. CBN weapons kill in horrific ways.

    This was all figured out the hard way, but the general assumption is anyone using them either has to be mad or the situation is so out of hand they’ll do anything.

  99. 99

    @askew: Syria is a proxy state for Iran. Saudi Arabia will act to prevent Iran from gaining a stronger presence there. The Kurds are involved in this mess in a big way, and they have their own interests here apart from those two which gets Turkey and Iraq involved in other ways. And then Russia has their interests. And Israel. And there’s new problems brewing in neighboring Lebanon.

    Iraq was straightforward compared to this. That should give everyone a really big pause. Keep in mind, I was one of the stronger defenders of intervening in Libya. This is a whole other thing entirely.

  100. 100
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @askew: Cole basically decided that he could not trust his own judgment on military involvements. As a result, he is resolved to be opposed.

  101. 101
    Liquid says:

    @askew: POST # 92 you bastard!!1

  102. 102
    TG Chicago says:

    @askew:

    Syria is a much more complicated problem than Libya because of where it is located, the # of outside agitators embedded within the rebel groups who are less interested in a future for Syria than they are in their own agendas.

    And if the US gets involved, there’s another outside agitator.

    the bizarre need on the left to shrug their shoulders and act like a chemical attack is no big deal and should just be ignored is pretty repugnant.

    I don’t think anybody is saying it’s “no big deal”. The point is that if you can’t do anything to improve the situation, it might be best to do nothing.

    The Syrian regime is engaging in chemical weapon slaughter of their own people. That demands an international response. What that response is can be discussed but doing nothing is not a moral option IMO.

    But what if there is nothing that can be done that will improve the situation? Why is it better to “do something” when you don’t even know what that “something” is and you don’t have a projection of what the outcome will be?

    If there is something the US and the international community can do to lessen the Syrian regime’s slaughter of their own people without investing serious money and American lives, it is absolutely the right thing to do.

    Now you go back to an “if”. But what if there isn’t any response that meets those criteria? I haven’t heard of one.

  103. 103
    Mandalay says:

    @Miz Conception:

    That said, I don’t know how anyone could watch those heartbreaking videos of the children convulsing from Sarin gas, and not want to do something

    You would probably feel the same way if you saw what we have done to the innocent in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq Yemen et al. But that would be very dangerous. So those in power do all they can to get you to see the videos from Syria, and they make damn sure that you never ever see videos of what the US has done to children in the past 12 years or so. Bush wouldn’t even let us see the coffins of dead soldiers arrive in Delaware ffs.

    I’m not saying we should do nothing in Syria. But we shouldn’t fall for shameless propaganda. And “heartbreaking videos of the children convulsing from Sarin gas” are most definitely propaganda.

  104. 104
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @👾 Martin:

    The Kurds are involved in this mess in a big way, and they have their own interests here apart from those two which gets Turkey and Iraq involved in other ways.

    And Iran.

    And then Russia has their interests. And Israel. And there’s new problems brewing in neighboring Lebanon.

    And when Israel comes in, some Protector of the Faith in Pakistan with dreams of the new Caliphate wants to get involved. Then in comes India. Then China drops in.

    Bad fuckin’ hoodoo, man. Bad.

  105. 105
    TG Chicago says:

    @Mandalay:

    I am certainly not persuaded that doing absolutely nothing is automatically the best option.

    But isn’t it incumbent upon the interventionists to outline exactly how they wish to intervene and what they plan to accomplish?

    I understand why you wouldn’t be persuaded by “do nothing” by itself, but it seems to me that the “do something” crowd is the one that needs to be persuasive.

    In the absence of a clear, viable and desirable “something” to do, the “do nothing” option looks pretty good.

  106. 106
    GregB says:

    @Mandalay:

    Let’s not forget that the ‘babies ripped from incubators’ story used to gin up anti-Saddam fervor in the first Gulf War was a total ruse hatched in order to win the PR war.

    Here’s a piece about the possibility of a broader conflict erupting.

  107. 107
    magurakurin says:

    @TG Chicago: I agree. This is no Libya. The Libya situation US intervention was measured, in the background, and ultimately did some good, Cole’s claim to the contrary notwithstanding. But this situation is very different. It’s hard to see what good a limited attack can do.

    I would add though, that the folks who are saying, “this is just like the run up to Iraq,” aren’t helping reasoned discussion.

  108. 108
    Mandalay says:

    @GregB:

    And yes, I am going to call the President’s judgment into question on this one because I think he set himself up to be pressured into a war that he may not have wanted when he made the red lines comments.

    And yes, the red lines comments also could have given other actors the idea that accusing the Syrian regime of using chem/bio weapons was the way to get the big guys on their side and acting militarily on their behalf.

    What you said.

    As the Assad regime has pointed out themselves, why the hell would they use chemical weapons in such a manner, given that they knew that it would provoke international outrage? Of course that doesn’t automatically make them innocent, but being absolutely certain of who did it should be a clear prerequisite for any US response.

  109. 109
    Mandalay says:

    @TG Chicago:

    But isn’t it incumbent upon the interventionists to outline exactly how they wish to intervene and what they plan to accomplish?

    Yes, absolutely. And step 1 of that plan must be to establish who used chemical weapons beyond any doubt.

    If that can’t be done that then the plan should not have a step 2.

  110. 110
    TG Chicago says:

    I think it was a bit unfair of Cole to bring up the front page of WaPo in the way he did given that one of the stories was this one:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....ml?hpid=z1

    That story lays out the skeptic’s case pretty clearly. One point I haven’t seen in the BJ threads on Syria:

    Christopher Harmer, a former Navy planner who is an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, said a quick military campaign that is not accompanied by a clear end goal is a terrible idea.

    “Conducting a punitive attack that does not fundamentally alter the balance of power is in my opinion worse than doing nothing,” said Harmer, who last month drafted a report outlining how cruise missile strikes could degrade Syria’s air force and air defenses. U.S. bombs raining down on Damascus could boost Assad’s standing, giving credence that the war he is waging is one against external threats.

    “The way he has been defining himself now becomes true,” Harmer said. “It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

  111. 111
    askew says:

    @Mandalay:

    Those screaming “Have we learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan???!!!” are being overly simplistic. The situation in Syria is nothing like the situations that existed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not remotely close, and inviting the comparison looks like blinkered thinking to me.

    It’s not like the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan were all that similar to each other either. There were some mistakes the Bush admin made in both countries, but initially the situations and reasons for war were very different in each country. That Bush managed to fuck up both of those wars similarly has more to do with his incompetence than in any similarities between the two situations.

  112. 112
    TG Chicago says:

    @Miz Conception:

    That said, I don’t know how anyone could watch those heartbreaking videos of the children convulsing from Sarin gas, and not want to do something.

    I responded to this before, but I thought about it more and want to add something.

    Miz Conception is right: sitting back and doing nothing when children are being subjected to chemical weapons is truly a terrible option.

    The problem is that sometimes in war, all you have are terrible options. The goal is to find the least terrible one.

    I think that dropping nuclear bombs on Japan was a horrifically terrible thing to do. But I also think that there is a very good case to be made that, as awful as it was, it was the least terrible thing to do. And that makes it the right choice.

    So yes: doing nothing is, in fact, terrible. But I have not seen a case made that a less terrible option exists.

  113. 113
    askew says:

    @TG Chicago:

    But what if there is nothing that can be done that will improve the situation? Why is it better to “do something” when you don’t even know what that “something” is and you don’t have a projection of what the outcome will be?

    Now you go back to an “if”. But what if there isn’t any response that meets those criteria? I haven’t heard of one.

    Doing something doesn’t automatically mean a military intervention for me. I don’t think we know enough about the available options to know if there is a response that meets my criteria or not. That is what we’ll find out in the days to come. What I am pushing back on is the assumption that there is doing nothing is the best option period when we don’t know all the facts yet.

    U.S. bombs raining down on Damascus could boost Assad’s standing, giving credence that the war he is waging is one against external threats.

    I don’t think anyone is envisioning bombs raining down on Damascus. If the US is doing any bombing, I’d imagine it will targeted to military targets with minimal chance of civilian casualties. The idea that the US is planning on raining scud missiles down on the Syrian people causing serious loss of life is an overreaction by those who are pushing to do nothing.

  114. 114
    TriassicSands says:

    @Mandalay:

    The situation in Syria is nothing like the situations that existed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not remotely close, and inviting the comparison looks like blinkered thinking to me.

    Fareed Zakaria explains what Iraq and Syria have in common and I find his description more credible than the two sentences of yours I’ve quoted above. (You can see the video on Kevin Drum’s blog at Mother Jones.) Take a few minutes and listen to what he has to say. Then, see if you might not want to reconsider what you’ve written. You may disagree with his conclusions, but I think you may find it difficult to still maintain that Iraq and Syria are utterly different.

  115. 115
    dollared says:

    @askew:

    minimal chance of civilian casualties.

    May your family get bombed into the Stone Age.

    I’ve a few points in response to your 19 prowar posts in this thread:

    1. First and foremost, it’s not about fucking Obama. I like the guy. Whether or not I support being stupid enough to blunder into the Syrian situation when there is no benefit to the US, it’s just not about Obama. Let me say it another way: it’s not about Obama. So stop insulting the rest of us.

    2. This is exactly the same stupid fucking American colonialist perspective that has cursed us since we were lucky enough to have the Russians win the Second World War for us, and we got to take the credit. Bombs have never won a war. Ask the Germans how well they worked in capturing Stalingrad and London. Ask LBJ how they won the Vietnam War. Tell me how they created a permanently stable and prosperous Iraq, They just kill people, either by blowing them up, or dropping walls and roofs on them, or by cutting off their power and water and letting their children die of dysentery from dirty water. When we do “surgical bombing” we fuck up a country’s infrastructure and kill hundreds of innocent people. Every time. But you don’t care about them. Or you would realize this.

    3. Like every single other one of these situations, the worst outcome is to unleash the extremists and to revive all the group tensions that are just under the surface in these post-colonial amalgamation countries. The biggest winner of our stupidity in Iraq is Iran. The biggest winner of Israel’s stupidity in Lebanon is Hezbollah. The biggest winner of any stupidity we do in Syria will be Hezbollah. And Israel will be less secure.

    4. If Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Vietnam, are any indication, the surest outcome of any bomb-driven regime collapse, midwifed by the US, is decades of reduced standard of living, conflict, lower life expectancy and hatred of Americans for tens of millions of people. But again, you must know that, because you cannot be completely ignorant of history. But you don’t care.

    But if we think it’s a bad idea, it’s because we’re looking for any excuse to blame/shame Obama. Got it. We are evil and shallow, aren’t we ?

  116. 116
    Liquid says:

    @dollared: So to summarize your position = Kill ’em all!

    If you are not an advocate of said position then I recommend you brush up on Uncle Joey and his –Hearing Lena Heady swear I–I wait, what? = Every King evar, wod

  117. 117
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    Who the hell is Steven Dennis, and why should I care about anything he says?

  118. 118
    TG Chicago says:

    @askew:

    I don’t think anyone is envisioning bombs raining down on Damascus. If the US is doing any bombing, I’d imagine it will targeted to military targets with minimal chance of civilian casualties.

    Even if that’s true, I don’t think that speaks to the larger point. Let’s imagine he said “U.S. bombs raining down on Syria could boost Assad’s standing, giving credence that the war he is waging is one against external threats.”

    I mean, I get your point that there is a real difference between bombing Damascus and bombing a remote military base. But either way, Assad gets to claim he’s the little guy being attacked by big bad America and might get locals to rally around him. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s a negative. For us to consider bombing Syria, that negative should be weighed in the equation.

    Also:

    What I am pushing back on is the assumption that there is doing nothing is the best option period when we don’t know all the facts yet.

    Seems to me that doing nothing is absolutely the best option in the absence of good information suggesting otherwise. If new facts come in, then we can revisit.

  119. 119
    dollared says:

    @Liquid: No, my position is that it is none of our business, and a 30 second perusal of the last 100 years would tell you that getting involved is a bad idea that helps no one.

    Beyond that I have no idea what you’re talking about. Are you trying to equate this to Apocalypse Now somehow?

  120. 120
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    John’s view on things now is that ‘whatever crisis’ will have the worst possible outcome. It’s black and white, as simple as that to him. There are no other possible alternatives or outcomes except for the worst one.

    It’s easy to see how he was once a Republican and why he’s now drifting into full-metal libertarianism.

    We’re DOOOOMMMMED!

    Regarding Syria, there will be no winners no matter the decision(s) made. It’s that simple and yet it’s anything but simple.

  121. 121
    dollared says:

    @Liquid: BTW, that was quick and funny.

  122. 122
    manyakitty says:

    @John Cole: For realz. The ultimate question is, “What do we gain here?” I’m guessing a whole lot of ass-ache and not much else. The entire middle east is pretty much in a constant state of turmoil and our attempts at nation building seem destined for failure. Crucify me for saying it, but democracy is not the best way for every single culture in the world, and it’s not our job to force it down everyone’s throat.

    That said, what’s the best course of action? Standing idly by while the entire region erupts in flames? We’re already massively weakened by the wars were still fighting and our own political system is fracturing. Honestly, I think the violent rhetoric of hate and poor-shaming coming out of the conservatards is going to send us into a civil war of our own.

    Harrumph.

  123. 123
    manyakitty says:

    @Suzanne: Exactly.

  124. 124
    COB says:

    Any action that involves blowing things up has at least two positives for the military-industrial complex: 1) using bombs requires replacing bombs, ergo; profit. 2) the sequester rules will be conveniently “not applicable” regarding the funding to support the action, ergo; profit.

    We, as a country, do nothing for pure humanitarian reasons anymore, unless there is a way to wring out a little profit.

  125. 125
  126. 126
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    and the mostly secular Assad regime leaves, there will be elections in Syria, and a muslim government will be elected.

    So a liberal would prefer supporting a dictator over the possibility of a free election. Is this the message I should be getting here? After all there is a very real possibility of Assad falling as it is and we just know Arabs won’t vote in a proper fashion (brown people for you)

  127. 127
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @COB:

    Any action that involves blowing things up has at least two positives for the military-industrial complex

    If the military-industral complex was that all powerful do you seriously think there would be a Sequester?

  128. 128
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @TG Chicago:

    I think that dropping nuclear bombs on Japan was a horrifically terrible thing to do. But I also think that there is a very good case to be made that, as awful as it was, it was the least terrible thing to do. And that makes it the right choice.

    Meanwhile everyone ignores all the firebombings that happened before the atomic bombings that killed far more Japanese civilians and that the US has successfully destroyed enough of the Japan merchant marine that Japan faced starvation.

  129. 129
    PopeRatzo says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    If the military-industral complex was that all powerful do you seriously think there would be a Sequester?

    Yes. It’s given the biggest military contractors the excuse to lay a lot of people off, which has been great for their balance-sheets and in some cases, stock prices.

    Normally, a military contractor is sort of required to keep a lot of local people working as quid-pro-quo to the local congresspeople for getting them the contract. The congressman can say, “Look at all these jobs I brought to this district! (or state, if it’s a senator)”. But, since the contractors (especially the manufacturers) are looking to bounce a lot of high-benefit employees and union members, this gives them the perfect opportunity.

    It’s a win-win because the contractor gets to shrink his payroll and the congressman gets to say, “Look at how Obama is killing jobs”.

    The sequester has been very very good to military contractors, especially since they know it will end and when they start re-hiring, it will be at lower wages. One is even using the sequester as an excuse to move to a right-to-work state.

  130. 130
    cvstoner says:

    The anti-war left is uncharacteristically quiet on possibility of Syria strikes

    If they’re uncharacteristically quiet, it’s because they have come to finally understand the futility of it all. Just like climate scientists who have been trying to warn us repeatedly about what we’re doing to the environment, they’ve pretty much just given up trying to knock some sense into the overwhelming majority of stupid assholes out there.

    1. Obama will stroke his machismo by lobbing some bombs into Syria.
    2. People unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time will die.
    3. The defense contractors will collect their checks.
    4. We will forget about the whole thing in about 3 months or so, when the War on Christmas takes center stage.
    5. Life will go on.

    This is what the anti-war left has accepted. There is nothing that will change it. Pour some beer on the sidewalk for Syria’s innocent this weekend during your Labor Day cookout. Move on.

  131. 131
    cvstoner says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    Meanwhile everyone ignores all the firebombings that happened before the atomic bombings that killed far more Japanese civilians and that the US has successfully destroyed enough of the Japan merchant marine that Japan faced starvation.

    Exactly.

    The only reason we dropped atomic bombs on two of Japan’s population centers is because we wanted to see what would happen. It was merely another performance test.

    We could just as easily bombed the desert and said “your next.”

  132. 132
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @cvstoner:

    Fuck, there is so much stupid in your statement that I am not even going to try to correct it. I have family who were loading up for the invasion of the Japanese mainland and they knew it was going to be a meatgrinder of horrendous proportions based on the Pacific campaigns. How many people would that have killed, eh? Do yourself a favor and learn some history, you are a fucking embarrassment to your teachers.

    This is the intellectual level that John seems intent on attracting here? Good job!

    “your next”…lol!

  133. 133

    Fallows weighs in, pointing out mostly that the intervention has the support of the world’s greatest dumbasses:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/int.....ia/279110/

  134. 134
    Ken_L says:

    The reaction of the mad right on their web sites is interesting. “Don’t do anything” is the most common demand, expressed with varying degrees of vitriol but usually with fervour. Maybe they only think that way reflexively because they are constitutionally incapable of endorsing anything done by Obama, but it suggests a deep fracture in conservative ranks over America’s role in the world. Given the latest sanctimonious “More war more often” crap spewed today by Boot, Lieberman, Abrams, Kristol and all the rest of the self-appointed experts in their Open Tablet from the Mount, the neocon fantasies would finally seem to have come untethered from the Republican base. If so, the rest of the world will breathe a sigh of relief.

  135. 135
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mandalay:

    And “heartbreaking videos of the children convulsing from Sarin gas” are most definitely propaganda.

    Tell that to the kids in the video.

  136. 136
    zach says:

    It blows my mind that John Kerry is the point man on making the case for bombing Syria. Why would anyone in the world who’s capable of remembering things that happened 10 years ago trust another American Secretary of State who says we’re certain that another country possesses and used banned weapons, that we know where these weapons are, and that bombing will lessen the threat they pose?

    JFK set the standard for this over half a century ago. Obama should go on TV and present the actual evidence required to draw the conclusion that Assad ordered the use of banned weapons. Then he needs to make a rational case for why bombing is in anyone’s best interest; every article I’ve seen today is full of anonymous administration quotes saying Assad simply needs to be punished… that’s ridiculous.

    I don’t have a problem with America supporting revolutionaries (Libya, etc). A full throated alliance with Syrian rebels would be OK. But this sort of kangaroo court approach to international law is something I hoped we’d learned to avoid 10 years ago.

  137. 137
    weaselone says:

    @zach:

    It blows my mind that John Kerry is the point man on making the case for bombing Syria. Why would anyone in the world who’s capable of remembering things that happened 10 years ago trust another American Secretary of State who says we’re certain that another country possesses and used banned weapons, that we know where these weapons are, and that bombing will lessen the threat they pose?

    1. John Kerry is a Democrat, not a Republican
    2. The conclusion that Syria has used chemical weapons is in part based in information provided by the UN team sent to Syria and other sources in the country, not fabricated by the US
    3. I suspect any initial attack would be punitive as opposed to trying to eliminate the threat posed by Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons.

  138. 138
    sherparick says:

    Welcome to the DFH club John. But do we both need long hair (although I have come to the conclusion that it looks pretty ridiculous on me)?. I must admit that Obama seems to be doing this because he said a couple of stupid things to appease the VSPs in D.C. in 2012 (“Assad must go.” “Use of chemical weapons is red line.”) As I understand it we are going to blow up some people in Syria so as to send a message to Iran that we “really are serious” about you developing nuclear weapons. Generally, I prefer telegrams and e-mails for my messages over bombs. It all appears very half-hearted and absurd, so I expect the guys and gals on the ground when the bombs start to land will die laughing at us silly, psychopathic Americans.

    Question for the Group: How different is the U.S. from Dexter, except I don’t think Dexter has murdered as many innocent by-standers as the U.S. as he eliminates the “bad guys.”

    Meanwhile he is about to appoint his BFF Larry Ffffing Summers, as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, thereby giving Larry another opportunity to screw millions of people on a grand scale and perhaps destroy another institution as he came close to doing at Harvard. http://econospeak.blogspot.com.....-deal.html. Ah, well, he was and is “the lesser of two weevils” and this is not enough for me to support impeachment yet, especially since U.S. Presidents have been doing this George Washington.

  139. 139
    Suffern ACE says:

    Iraq of course started with a lie and ended badly. Maybe if this intervention starts with the truth it will end better.

    We do need to be clear here. The intervention is to stop Assad from using chemical weapons. If he uses them again, then what?

  140. 140
  141. 141
    glasnost says:

    If there is something the US and the international community can do to lessen the Syrian regime’s slaughter of their own people without investing serious money and American lives, it is absolutely the right thing to do.

    Reasonableness will be patently wasted I’m sure, but the first thing worth pointing out is that this is a difficult choice and there’s more than one valid opinion.

    First of all, to me, yes. Chemical weapons are an arbitrary line to have drawn. People do a lot of bad shit other than chemical weapons and we would ideally stop that as well. Yes, we overweight chem weapons. But also, yes, there is a case that chem weapons are marginally worse as an experience than other weapons, between the lifelong effects, environmental contamination, uncontrollability and general freakishness. It’s not a perfect case. But the status quo is a major bias against chemical weapons, and nobody thinks that using them is a good thing and discouraging them is a mistake, so hypocrisy and sloppy relative merit doesn’t really matter.

    Personally, I would rather us have intervened in Syria in 2012. I guess that makes me a liberal hawk. It has nothing to do with Iran or Israel to me. Simply that you could tell that this was going to be the kind of war with a high chance of ending in genocide and/or touching off multiple other wars the longer it burned, in an area we have a hard time ignoring anyway. If you believe that our intervention could make the war end sooner with less people killed, was better done a year ago, and I do.

    Why? Lots of reasons. The rebels, despite Islamism and fragmentation, are reasonably formidable. They control half the country. There’s a reasonable argument that Assad is mostly hanging on from his weapons advantage, and if you take that away, he will crumble. And if you don’t it could be a 15-year war, since the Sunnis have the manpower advantage and safe havens.

    As has been pointed out, breaking an airforce isn’t as messy as close air support in COIN for collateral damage. You can’t hide a jet in a shopping mall. And if someone does, the right choice is not to bomb it, because it can’t take off from the shopping mall. If they start hiding that stuff in apartment blocks, declare victory and wait.

    Context matters. It’s bad to kill 100 people as collateral damage in a peaceful environment. It’s forgivable when doing it to force the outbreak of peace when 10,000 civilians are dying every month.
    you may not force the outbreak of peace succssfully, but it’s worth a try. We have to do lots of shit where success isn’t guaranteed. it is right to be skeptical and right not to jump in and right to take a burden extra seriously when it does things that could kill other people. But the humanitarian calculus works here, because the situation is already horrible in ways we in no way caused. There’s just less to be afraid of in making it worse.

    Assad needs to fall, for Syrians. The Sunnis will at least have the option of not massacring the Shiites, because they are the numerical vast majority, or, for brutal realism, they represent a survivable number of refugees for the region. There is no Assad wins endgame that doesn’t involve depopulating Syria. He can’t regain control of the country with his 15% of the populace without making the rest of the country dissapear.

    So, to recap. Rebels with substantial military ability. Assad clearly the worse behaving guy with the worst incentives to massacre people and demonstrated history of it. War looks to be horrific and destabilizing without us and very unlikely to end on its own anytime soon. The baddest guy depends on advanced tech that can feasibly be destroyed.
    The case is there.

    Yes, it’s a very inefficient way of helping people, but choosing to refrain from helping people in this way will not suddenly make the political obstacles to helping people in other ways dissapear. It’s this or nothing (else), not because we want it that way, but because this is the political system we have, and this is what it wants to do.

    Also, inefficient as it is, it’s seems way of stopping situations like this one from just getting steadily larger and more destructive, once they get going.

    So we should have done something before this. This is another political opportunity to do something, so let’s take it. I say this with the opinion that ground troops will never be worth it, some types of high-collateral damage air ops are a bad idea, and.. right, intervening in a civil war is very different from starting one. Not all interventions into civil wars make them better, it’s a very complex topic, but some of them do. I believe this particular intervention is likely to do so, if only because the prospects with only the current set of interveners – Sauds, Iran, Russia, Turkey, etc, etc, are so bad.

  142. 142
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Mandalay: @TG Chicago: This and this. Not to mention the lack of an attractive end game, no matter what the initial result. Removing all the region’s secular leaders doesn’t seem to be going well, unless you’re a religious fundamentalist of some kind.

  143. 143
    cvstoner says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    Do yourself a favor and learn some history, you are a fucking embarrassment to your teachers.

    I know my history quite well, dipshit. And I know it well enough not to confuse it with propaganda and jingoism.

    I stand by what I said. Nagasaki and Hiroshima had no military significance. They were opportunistically chosen to see what would happen.

  144. 144
    TAPX486 says:

    I’m sure the 100k Syrians who died the old fashion way – bombs and bullets – will rest much easier knowing that the US has avenged the 1k or so dead from chemical weapons. We must insure that mass murderers play by the proper rules and use only western approved tools of destruction!

    This movie got old long about the Tonkin Gulf resolution

  145. 145
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @cvstoner: I suggest you do some reading about the invasion of Okinawa. That meatgrinder had a lot to do with convincing Truman that dropping Fat Man and Little Boy would be necessary to end the war.

    I’ve seen the estimates. I’ve seen the debates about what would have happened without the atomic bombs. They were the least bad of the available options.

  146. 146
    zach says:

    @weaselone: This is still the same Department of State informed by the same intelligence agencies. Their analysis should have no credibility with the world after Powell’s infamous Powerpoint presentation and anthrax-vial show-and-tell. Kerry’s politics aren’t relevant.

    If there’s a convincing case to be made that Assad ordered the use of chemical weapons, it’s not being made… I’m not expert enough to evaluate videos that are out there and I don’t think any of the editorial boards, bloggers, etc I’ve read draw conclusions from them are, either. Over 50 years ago, JFK made a convincing case that Soviet nuclear missiles were in Cuba with convincing satellite photographs; I think it’s reasonable to expect Obama to do the same when it comes to something that’s easier to prove in an era with much more intelligence technology. Instead, the case for this war, like Iraq, seems to rely heavily on leaks by anonymous officials in the administration and intelligence agencies (e.g. today’s report in Foreign Policy about intercepted Syrian phone calls).

    As far as punitive bombing goes, why? If it’s to deter future Assads from using chemical weapons, it won’t hurt to wait until there’s more certainty as to what happened. Do we even know what chemical was used? Bombing now or later is equally punitive, but bombing now will have more influence on the Syrian civil war. The rush-rush-rush nature of this is way too evocative of the lead-up to Iraq… we’ve even got Jay Carney saying weapons inspectors should leave because we already know the truth anyway.

    If Assad violated international law, go through processes established in international law to punish him. If it’s actually about unilaterally intervening in a civil war, then make a case for doing that.

  147. 147
    zach says:

    @weaselone: This is still the same Department of State informed by the same intelligence agencies. Their analysis should have no credibility with the world after Powell’s infamous Powerpoint presentation and anthrax-vial show-and-tell. Kerry’s politics aren’t relevant.

    If there’s a convincing case to be made that Assad ordered the use of chemical weapons, it’s not being made… I’m not expert enough to evaluate videos that are out there and I don’t think any of the editorial boards, bloggers, etc I’ve read draw conclusions from them are, either. Over 50 years ago, JFK made a convincing case that Soviet nuclear missiles were in Cuba with convincing satellite photographs; I think it’s reasonable to expect Obama to do the same when it comes to something that’s easier to prove in an era with much more intelligence technology. Instead, the case for this war, like Iraq, seems to rely heavily on leaks by anonymous officials in the administration and intelligence agencies (e.g. today’s report in Foreign Policy about intercepted Syrian phone calls).

    As far as punitive bombing goes, why? If it’s to deter future Assads from using chemical weapons, it won’t hurt to wait until there’s more certainty as to what happened. Do we even know what chemical was used? Bombing now or later is equally punitive, but bombing now will have more influence on the Syrian civil war. The rush-rush-rush nature of this is way too evocative of the lead-up to Iraq… we’ve even got Jay Carney saying weapons inspectors should leave because we already know the truth anyway.

    If Assad violated international law, go through processes established in international law to punish him. If it’s actually about unilaterally intervening in a civil war, then make a case for doing that.

  148. 148
    TAPX486 says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism: Thanks for the chart. I actually thought the situation on the ground was way more complicated:-) :-)(sigh)

  149. 149
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Linnaeus: Some of us (umm, hi, maybe you haven’t met me) have been saying that very thing all along and haven’t changed that position.
    We shouldn’t get involved in Syria for the simple reason that there’s no benefit to the US.

  150. 150
    tybee says:

    an interesting discussion:

    http://www.boomantribune.com/s.....232250/253

    and i agree with booman, i need better proof than “yellow cake!” and “aluminium tubes!”.

  151. 151
    TAPX486 says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Unless you have a high limit on your credit card so that you can buy out the booze supply at the local warehouse, I would recommend you not read the articles at the link t o James Fallows. It is so utterly depressing. The cliché ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’ doesn’t begin to express the futility of what is about to happen.

  152. 152
    LAC says:

    @AxelFoley: Double amen to that. I am still reeling from the last wave of hysteria about Libya. It is like listening to the know it all pundits the day after last two presidential elections – never an admission of being wrong or that perhaps in the future, the analysis of the situation will not be the same set of talking points.

  153. 153
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @cvstoner:

    I guess you have your version of history that keeps feeling smug and righteous but I have the words of those who served and are glad they didn’t have to die taking over every single inch of the Japanese mainland, just as those who served and died in the island hopping campaign in the Pacific did. They would have done it too, without fail, killing everyone that got in their way. You think the nukes we dropped were horrendous, how about how many on both sides would have had to die to accomplish this instead of having the Japanese surrender. As it was, the Japanese on the islands were committing suicide to avoid surrendering to us.

    Learn your history you stupid fuck.

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    Exactly.

  154. 154
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: My father was Coast Guard, an ABS on one of the APAs that delivered troops to Okinawa.

    I’ve always regretted that I didn’t have a recorder with me at his visitation. No one outside the family knew he was a veteran, so I was asked often about the flag at the casket. And then they recounted their stories, the most memorable being the man, one I had known almost my entire life, who told me of being one of two survivors from his unit, going from dead buddy to dead buddy along a Pacific beach, grabbing their guns, emptying the clips, dropping the guns and moving on to the next. He died before I could get back to ask him for more details.

    ETA: My boss’ grandfather was one of the first Americans to go into Hiroshima after the surrender. That’s all anyone knows. He never said anything more.

  155. 155
    Lavocat says:

    John Cole, you pure American brother, ya nailed it.

    As always.

    I never thought I’d meet a more acidly cynical person than me.

    Does your blood eat through metal, too, when shed?

  156. 156

    C’mon, everybody sing! Bomb, bomb, bomb….

    [gag]

  157. 157
    Librarian says:

    That title wouldn’t be an “O Lucky Man” reference by any chance, would it?

  158. 158
    Linnaeus says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Hi, there. We have met. Thanks for jumping in.

    I do realize that that’s still your position. But the chemical weapons seem to make a difference for some folks, so that’s why I brought it up. Like you, though, I don’t believe I’ve yet seen a convincing case for US military intervention in Syria.

  159. 159
    Denali says:

    @Martin
    You nailed it. Syria is just a place marker for Iran. Remember all those headlines month after month about Iran’s threat. So, we go after Syria, even though Syria has not even remotely threatened us. People should look at the big picture. Syria can defend itself and is not a soft target like Iraq. You would think people would exercise caution in these circumstances. Why on earth is bombing a solution – if the aim is not to topple Assad. Military adventures certainly take the focus off the excesses of the NSA.

  160. 160
    cvstoner says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    We dropped the bombs on a couple of fishing villages with little or no military significance other than to show the world just how devastating our shiny new weapon could be.

    It is recorded fact that the Japanese were already willing to surrender. The sticky point was over keeping the Emperor in place. If we would have conceded that point, the war would have been over.

    Read your history. There’s more to it than what they show you in the war movies.

  161. 161
    TriassicSands says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:
    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    Read “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” by Gar Alperovitz. It may not convince you that the bombs were unnecessary, but if your mind is open at all, it should shake your certainty.

    The book is a bit of work, probably largely due to the exhaustive research that Alperovitz did, but it ought to be a must read for people who display such righteous superiority.

    Cvstoner is right about what caused such intransigence on the part of the Japanese. It was well-known that the Japanese, whose emperor was considered a god, would not agree to “unconditional surrender” if that meant the threat of execution for Hirohito.

    Learn your history you stupid fuck.

    What unfortunate language coming from someone who appears to know only selected historical facts — facts specifically designed to support our use of the atomic bombs. I can never understand why anyone thinks resorting to insults strengthens their argument.

  162. 162
    cvstoner says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    Admiral William D. Leahy, who served as Chief of Staff for both FDR and Truman:

    It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons

    Secretary of State John Foster Dulles:

    On July 20, 1945, under instructions from Washington, I went to the Potsdam Conference and reported there to Secretary [of War] Stimson on what I had learned from Tokyo – they desired to surrender if they could retain the Emperor and their constitution as a basis for maintaining discipline and order in Japan after the devastating news of surrender became known to the Japanese people.’

    Stanford historian Barton Bernstein:

    the worst-case scenario proposed by military officials was 46,000 deaths for U.S. forces if they invaded both Kyushu and Honshu islands.

    50,000 deaths is a lot, but much less than the projected 500,000 that was used to justify dropping the bombs on civilian targets, considering that the Japanese had already conceded defeat.

    @TriassicSands: Thank you.

  163. 163

    […] small excerpt from a more acerbic John Cole look at what is to […]

  164. 164
    chopper says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    it is funny seeing john go, over less than a decade, from a knee-jerk right winger to a knee-jerk left winger.

    OTOH, i’d much rather people default in the anti-intervention camp than pro-.

  165. 165
    chopper says:

    @cvstoner:

    We dropped the bombs on a couple of fishing villages with little or no military significance other than to show the world just how devastating our shiny new weapon could be.

    hiroshima was a ‘fishing village’ with no military significance?

  166. 166
    Joel says:

    I’m pissed about this. We can establish an essentially permanent sequester on most domestic programs, but we can always find room to bomb some people! Bipartisan support!

  167. 167
    chopper says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    the question really comes down to ‘how close, really, were the japanese to surrendering’? i mean, we’re talking about a culture where full-scale surrender wasn’t a fashionable concept to say the least. how would the subsequent occupation have worked if the emperor threw in the towel because of the effects of blockade and conventional bombing?

    there’s an argument to be made that, for the aftermath of the war (the rebuilding of japan and their acceptance of a system we established for them) to be successful, a culture like japan’s needed to be absolutely cowed, and the presence of an american weapon of unimaginable destructive power helped bring that about. the idea that japan was just about to surrender is tempting, but then again so is the idea that japan would have needed months more of blockade and bombing to finally give in which would have easily killed more than dropping nukes did.

    OTOH, you know the military was itching to test their new bomb on japan, on an actual tactical target full of people.

  168. 168

    […] Well, I’ll say some more, anyway. The always-wrong experts want the U.S. to arm the insurgents. My understanding is that there are several different insurgent groups, some of which are hard-core Islamists, although some are not. John Cole writes, […]

  169. 169
    TriassicSands says:

    @chopper:

    OTOH, you know the military was itching to test their new bomb on japan, on an actual tactical target full of people.

    I don’t think the idea of “testing” the bomb on Japan was that important. We’d seen the destructive power of the bomb in New Mexico. What was far more important was to let the Soviet Union get a good look at it. The USSR also figured in another significant reason for our using the bomb. The US absolutely did not want the Soviets engaged in combat in Japan. It had been agreed that when Europe was wrapped up, the USSR would enter the war against Japan, but the Americans wanted to prevent that at all costs. If one looks at all the problems post-war Europe had between the “West” and the USSR, this shouldn’t be surprising.

    People looking for easy answers can fall back on “a million dead allies,” but looking a little deeper reveals some pretty compelling reasons for some in the US to want to use the bomb that had little to do with Japan itself. Japan was a defeated nation; it had no chance of turning the tide, but Truman and others in the US government were looking ahead to post-war Soviet relations. If the Soviets hadn’t been viewed with such distrust, I can imagine the likelihood of our using the atomic bombs would have been reduced significantly. Stalin and the USSR loomed very large in American thinking at the time.

  170. 170
    cvstoner says:

    @chopper:

    OTOH, you know the military was itching to test their new bomb on japan, on an actual tactical target full of people.

    Exactly.

    And Hiroshima was chosen primarily because the geography surrounding the city was expected to enhance the destructive power of the bomb for maximum collateral damage, which may have been in violation of international law which sought to prohibit indiscriminate bombing. Obviously, there is no such thing as “precision bombing” with regards to nuclear weapons.

  171. 171
    taylormattd says:

    The U.S. knew about, and in one case helped, Iraq’s chemical weapons attacks against Iran in the 1980′s

    No shit sherlock.

    Is this supposed to be informative, in any way, shape, or form?

    How the fuck does the fact that Ronald Fucking Reagan was an unethical piece of shit 30 years ago shed *any* light whatsoever on what should be done about Assad’s use of chemical weapons today?

    The argument that there are no good answers here, and that military intervention of any kind is just a bad idea makes sense to me.

    But the trash in that blockquote is a fucking embarrassment.

  172. 172
    chopper says:

    @cvstoner:

    i don’t think the fact that there were nearby hills was the primary reason hiroshima was chosen. i think its military significance and industrial center (contra your bit above about it was merely a fishing village with no military significance) was a bigger reason, and the general layout of the city itself was a plus.

  173. 173
    chopper says:

    @TriassicSands:

    I don’t think the idea of “testing” the bomb on Japan was that important.

    actually it was, with respect to hiroshima. the bomb dropped there was an untested type; no uranium gun-type bomb had ever been tested. not that the physicists were worried, mind you.

    in spite of this, when i said ‘test’ i meant ‘test in the field’.

    What was far more important was to let the Soviet Union get a good look at it.

    that was certainly important, but if that were the big deal then it would have been dropped in a less populated area.

    the generals were very, very interested in seeing the bomb’s effects on a live city target. being an urban area with susceptibility to blast damage were requirements in the military’s choice of targets.

  174. 174
    dollared says:

    @taylormattd: No. Because every person in the world who can read (outside the United States, where reading leads to terminal stupidity) understands that the US supported Saddam Hussein, and drove him to a vicious, insanely destructive ten year war against Iran, looking the other way while he violated every rule humanity has ever lived by, and facilitated – helped him target actual usage – his use of chemical weapons in literally hundreds of circumstances, killing tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians by those weapons alone, while also reaching a death toll of about 1M for the war itself.

    (and then we were so fucking stupid we let him invade Kuwait and then we spent $4T and hundreds of thousands of lives removing him from power and handing control of the country to Iranian sympathizers)

    And so our posturing about chemical weapons is the height of hypocrisy. Really. Nobody in France, or Egypt, or Japan or China cares about which president did it. The United States did it.

  175. 175
    TriassicSands says:

    @chopper:

    that was certainly important, but if that were the big deal then it would have been dropped in a less populated area.

    the generals were very, very interested in seeing the bomb’s effects on a live city target. being an urban area with susceptibility to blast damage were requirements in the military’s choice of targets.

    The second sentence casts doubt on your first sentence. Which would impress the Soviets more? The bomb dropped in an empty field (or a small city) or on a significant population center? It would make sense for the US to want the Soviets to see the maximum possible destructive power of the bomb. Hiroshima was well-suited to that task. The surrounding hills promised to enhance the bomb’s damage.

    Don’t forget, there were people within the US government and military who wanted to attack the USSR once Japan surrendered.

  176. 176
    journal mack says:

    Not for nothing but nagasaki wasnt the primary target for second bomb. Not even the primary island…but, had to bomb sumpin’.

  177. 177
    chopper says:

    @TriassicSands:

    but you minimized the US’s desire to test it on a civilian target; i mean, if it’s our intention to show the russians that we can blow up a city full of people with a bomb that has never been tested before or dropped on an actual target, aren’t you basically arguing that it was very important for us to test it on such a target?

    i would argue that testing it on an actual target was paramount. letting the russians see it was secondary, since the latter would be meaningless without the former being successful.

  178. 178
    Big Wayne says:

    Why are people describing a few limited air strikes as “war?” This was never the norm prior to Bush II’s disastrous Iraq adventure. Prior to that *actual* war, people called air strikes “air strikes,” and no one pretended they constituted “war.” So what has changed that now all of a sudden people are describing limited air strikes as full blown war? It’s irresponsible and it’s stupid. And dishonest.

  179. 179
    Big Wayne says:

    @Miz Conception:

    Thank you.

  180. 180
    Big Wayne says:

    Can someone fix the comment form? You should be able to press the Tab key on the keyboard from the comment field (where I am typing this message) and have the focus move to the “Submit Comment” button. This is one of the most basic rules of interaction design and should have been built into the form by default. It was probably working at one point and was broke by someone making some kind of change along the way.

    It’s a five minute fix, and it would save users an enormous amount of time (cumulatively) and aggravation.

    In the the meantime, for those of you who can’t resist the habit to hit Tab after typing a comment, only to find yourself way back up at the top of the page, know that you can press Shift-Tab on your keyboard to be taken back to the comments field. At least this way you don’t have to scroll all the way back down to your comment.

  181. 181
    chopper says:

    @Big Wayne:

    beats me. when clinton sent cruise missiles to sudan and afghanistan it wasn’t ‘war’.

  182. 182
    cvstoner says:

    @chopper:

    beats me. when clinton sent cruise missiles to sudan and afghanistan it wasn’t ‘war’.

    I think that probably depends on which side of the cruise missile you were. I’m sure the governments of Sudan and Afghanistan most certainly felt the use of cruise missiles against them to be an act of war :-)

  183. 183
    Cain says:

    @GregB:

    Fuck, I’m buying stock in Tesla.. oil prices go up, and shit will hit the fan everywhere. Probably a good thing as we’ll end up dismantling globalization in a big way.

  184. 184
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @chopper: Hiroshima is pretty flat generally, a major railway nexus which was one factor that put it on the target list along with the major Army headquarters situated there. Nagasaki sits in a bowl surrounded by mountains and open to the sea on one side where the Mitsubishi shipyards and the island ferry port docks are, factors that put it on the target list. I’ve been to both cities by the way, even visited the hypocenter in Hiroshima (the point directly under the explosion of the Fat Man bomb, it’s a car park today) which isn’t actually in the Peace Park.

  185. 185

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