Friday, September 6, 2013

Thoughts on Syria pt. II: Partisan Hypocrisy

If you are a hardcore progressive or a hardcore conservative you should probably take this opportunity to stop reading and close this page. 

Still reading?  OK.  I warned you....

Conservatives.  I find it comical how many of you are suddenly anti-war.  I find it hysterical how many of you are so concerned for innocent life.  I find it laughable how many of you are suddenly a bunch of red palmed peaceniks.  Just a few short years ago you were all so gung ho GI Joe.  I remember how you guys rallied behind GWB in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I remember how adamant you were about how we had to "teach Saddam a lesson".  I remember how eager you were to rain hell on the middle east.  I remember how any opposition to those wars was label unpatriotic, un-American, and even treasonous.  I remember how any criticism of military action was labeled liberal pacifism.  What a difference a decade and a President makes eh?

Progressives.  I find it comical how many of you are suddenly pro-intervention.  I find it hysterical how many of you readily support raining missiles on Syria.  I find it laughable how many of you are suddenly more than willing to support waging war in the Middle East.  Just a few short years ago you were all "No more War".  I remember how adamant you were about how we should stay out of the middle east.  I remember all kinds of talk about international law.  I remember how any justification for military action in the middle east was labeled war mongering, war profiteering, and even treasonous.  I remember how any support of military action was labeled conservative fascism.  What a difference a decade and a President makes eh?

Partisan politics in many ways is like an infectious disease.  It poisons the mind.  It suppresses common sense and reason.  It places party above all else.  It causes normal people to abandon critical thinking and demands that they tow the party line.  It is an echo chamber filled with hive minded drones who are incapable of thinking for themselves. 

The Syrian debate highlights the hypocrisy that is partisan politics.  We see hardcore progressives blindly supporting President Obama.  We see hardcore conservatives blindly opposing him.  They seem oblivious to their own hypocrisy.  Either that or they simply don't care.  It makes me wonder if they care at all the events taking place in Syria or if this is just another opportunity to cheer for the home team.  It makes me wonder why any of them should be taken seriously. 

It's clear that these hyper partisans are not truly passionate about the issue.  They are passionate about their party's position on the issue.  They are passionate about towing the party line and perpetuating the current party narrative.  Syria is just another opportunity for many Americans to engage in the intoxicating sport of partisan politics.  That to me is a shame.  Because this is an important issue.  More than we realize I think.

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Thoughts on Syria pt. I: Asking Real Questions

*For those that are already up to speed on the situation in Syria, feel free to skip the first paragraph*

Syria.  Unless you've been living under a rock you are aware by now that the Obama Administration is seeking approval from Congress to launch a military strike against Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian regime.  For those that might be unaware(all five of you) Syria has basically been locked in a bitter civil war for the past three years that has seen more than a hundred thousand Syrians killed.  Recently, several hundred Syrians were killed in a chemical weapons attack prompting the Obama Administration to call for military intervention by the US and it's allies.  While it is not 100% clear who initiated the attack(al-Assad or Syrian rebels) it is abundantly clear that chemical weapons were used.  Almost all evidence points to Assad's regime although there have been conflicting reports that it was the Syrian rebels and NOT Assad's regime who were responsible.  That said President Obama wants to launch what he calls a limited military engagement in Syria with no boots on the ground.  According to the POTUS, use of chemical weapons violates international law and makes this a humanitarian issue that the US cannot ignore.  He believes military intervention is the right choice and it is important that a message be sent to al-Assad that chemical weapons use crosses the line and will not be tolerated. 

Got all that?  Good.  Now if you've been following my posts on FB and my extended tweets you are aware that I absolutely DO NOT support President Obama's proposed course of action.   Here are a few reasons why, in my personal opinion, President Obama and the US needs to stay the hell out of Syria.  Here are some questions that I believe every American should be asking.

For starters President Obama and Secretary John Kerry want to carry out cruise missile strikes to key military targets in Syria with "no boots on the ground".  Now according to several military experts it is safe to assume that airstrikes WILL NOT kill al-Assad.  No one believes al-Assad can be taken out from the sky.  What's more, there is no reason to believe that once we are doing raining missiles into Syria that Assad wont just go right back to killing Syrian civilians.  It is also very likely that military assets will be placed in civilian areas, increasing the odds that a cruise missile strike will kill many of the Syrian civilians we are supposed to be so concerned about.  There are few positives and a host of negatives.  Airstrikes will not get rid of Assad.  It is unlikely he will be deterred by them(especially with Russia aiding him).  So why do it?

Which brings me to my next point.  The President has said there will be no boots on the ground.  Conventional wisdom says that there is little to no chance of killing Assad from the sky.  It is safe to assume then that regime change is not the objective of this intervention.  So what is the objective?  What do we stand to accomplish by doing this?  If the objective is not to remove Assad and it stands to reason that missile strikes will have only a marginal impact on Assad's ability to wage war then why do this? 

Another question that should be asked is why are we pretending that this is suddenly a humanitarian issue?  Supporters of military intervention say to me all the time "Doc Sinn we cannot allow Assad to use chemical weapons on innocent Syrian women and children".  To me this is very disingenuous argument.  For three years Assad's regime have been killing civilians.  It is estimated that over a hundred thousand Syrians have died since this struggle began.  Are we going to suggest that only NOW after chemical weapons were used that this is suddenly a humanitarian issue?  What about the tens of thousands who were bombed?  Who were shot?  Who were assassinated?  Who were tortured?  Are they not human?  Do their deaths not matter in humanitarian terms?   Dead Syrians are dead Syrians.  It's a bit hypocritical to speak of Syrian woman and children killed by Sarin gas while ignoring the ones killed by shrapnel and mortar fire don't you think?

Here is an even harder question.  Who are we aiding?  I don't see how civilians benefit from airstrikes.  So it stands to reason that we are aiding the Syrian rebels.  The problem with that is the case can be made that the rebels are no better than Assad(depending on who you speak with and what news reports you choose to believe).  There are conflicting reports that many of the Syrian rebels are Al Qaeda sympathizers, supporters, and even members.  Senator John McCain, Secretary Kerry, and others have all but denied this but the questions linger.  Do we want to take the risk?  Is it possible we could be AIDING Al Qaeda by striking Syria and empowering the rebels?  Are the rebels any better than Assad?  Shouldn't we answer these questions DEFINITIVELY before taking military action?

There are too many question marks, too many uncertainties, and far too many risks based on what we know. I am directly opposed to the President on this.  President Obama has not made a very good case for military action in Syria.  Based on what we know it is clear that such action will be ineffective at best and at worst it will make an already unstable, volatile situation extremely worse.  Which brings me to the mother of all questions.  The question I ask whenever I hear about something like this.  The question we should ask above ALL OTHERS....

What is the government not telling us?

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