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Big Thinkers On Syria: Morality And Strategy

We invite big thinkers to wrestle with the moral and strategic implications of a military strike or pass in Syria.

Syrian rebel-controlled area of Aleppo, as destroyed buildings, including Dar Al-Shifa hospital, are seen on Sa'ar street after airstrikes targeted the area a week before. More than 100,000 people have been killed since the start of Syria's conflict over two years ago, an activist group said Wednesday. (AP)

Syrian rebel-controlled area of Aleppo, as destroyed buildings, including Dar Al-Shifa hospital, are seen on Sa’ar street after airstrikes targeted the area a week before. More than 100,000 people have been killed since the start of Syria’s conflict over two years ago, an activist group said Wednesday. (AP)

The megaphones will be on full blast this week over Syria.  To hit or not to hit the Assad regime after a big, deadly attack near Damascus with chemical weapons.  Public opinion is running strongly against American intervention.

And yet, you can hear Americans wrestling with the moral question:  Do we have a moral obligation to hit back against mass chemical killing?  Or is that a nicety we can’t afford?  A bad idea?

This hour, On Point:  just war philosopher Michael Walzer and tough geopolitics thinker Stephen Walt debate the moral and strategic implications of a military strike or pass in Syria.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Michael Walzer, political philosopher. Professor emeritus at the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study. Author of “Just and Unjust Wars.

Stephen Walt, professor of international Affairs at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. Author of “Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy.” (@stephenwalt)

From Tom’s Reading List

Foreign Policy (Stephen Walt): An Open Letter to My Congressman About Syria – “A U.S. attack on Syria is unwise for several reasons. First, the United States has no vital strategic interests there. Bashar al-Assad’s government is clearly a brutal dictatorship, but neither Democratic nor Republican presidents have cared about that before now. Instead, presidents from both parties have cooperated with the Assad regime whenever it seemed advisable to do so. More importantly, helping to topple the regime is likely to turn Syria into a failed state, igniting a struggle for power among competing sectarian factions. Some of these factions are deeply hostile to America and sympathetic to al Qaeda, which means that U.S. intervention could help bring some of our worst enemies to power.”

The Economist: Fight this war, not the last one – “America’s potency comes not just from its capacity to project force, but also from the enduring appeal of the values invoked by its founders. Those are stronger than Mr Obama seems to think. With China’s economy slowing and its political corruption evident, the Beijing consensus will seem ever less enticing to citizens of the emerging world. Mr Bush tainted America’s values with inept invasion, prisoner abuse and imperial overstretch. Meeting Mr Assad’s atrocities with appropriate force will help to rebuild American moral authority in the world.”

CNN: Obama to take his case on Syria to American people on Tuesday – “Obama wrapped up his trip to the G20 summit in Russia by telling reporters he will address the nation on Tuesday as Congress prepares to vote on a resolution authorizing limited military strikes against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons. Facing public opposition reflected by legislators hesitant to support him, Obama said Friday that he understands the skepticism over his call for punishing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for what U.S. officials call a sarin gas attack on August 21 that killed more than 1,400 people.”

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  • Ed75

    We kill people all the time in abortion – 3,000 – 4,000 each day. We hardly have the high moral high ground. The question is whether a military attack will do more harm than good – and it seems far more harm. The threat of attack has already made the point. Go to the UN, go to the International Criminal Court.

    • Fiscally_Responsible

      It is amazing how we as a nation can rationalize the murder of 3-4000 innocent children each day but condemn Assad for using chemical weapons on his own people. I’m sure that he undertook that act for the sake of convenience, just as those who have, perform, pay for, or support abortion consider it a convenience. We have no right as a nation to lecture anyone about inhumanity to man as long as we sanction and approve this barbaric act.

      • Ed75

        My prediction is that the president will not get the support of both houses of Congress, but that he will attack anyway. We’ll see.

        • JobExperience

          Good guess.

          He gonna father a pile of wasted fetuses no matter how you cut it. He’s the one rationalizing. Him and Chuck and Johnny K.
          in service to Empire.

      • JobExperience

        Efficiency: the Corporate cry!

      • TFRX

        Anyone introduce FR to the word “fetus” yet?

      • JobExperience

        FR: Blame Austerity,, not docs and women.

    • JobExperience

      WE kill ‘em? Really? That’s like saying all the peeps in the TT (9/11) was little Eichmanns. I saw a sorry field of pink and blue surveyor’s markers stuck up on a red mud lot Sunday,, put there by hard hearts that could sleep through a born child’s night time cries without stirring.
      They just wanna get in someone’s pants. What we have is a surplus of borderline personalities in Christian costumes.
      How many unwanted babies have you adopted and paid for? And did you treat them like pups and checkbait?

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      Sorry Ed – an Apples and Oranges argument… best ignored.

  • AC

    i am just concerned about the everyday Joe over there. what if people had been saying all this about jews in WW2? i wish there was a way that if we go over there without taking a side. just make them STOP. everybody needs to stop.
    find out who’s doing what.
    but what are the rules of engagement on occupation? has it ever worked anywhere?

    • Ray in VT

      Saying what about the Jews in World War II? So what? Why should we care? If so, then many people did indeed say that during the period of the Third Reich.

      It would be nice if we, or anyone, could make sure horrible violence just stop, but it’s pretty unlikely. I think that historically occupation used to be much easier, as populaces were in many cases more willing to allow change to occur, but that certainly hasn’t been the case for at least the last century, as partisans have been ever more willing and able to fight “uncivilized” resistance movements of a guerrilla actions. I think that the rules of warfare, at least in the West, started going out the window at least 250 years ago, but maybe they didn’t even really exist prior to that. Perhaps the conception of the sort of gentleman’s nature of warfare as conducted by the noble class, even in Medieval times, is more of a modern romanticization than an historical fact.

      • Bluejay2fly

        Unfortunately, the cold war allowed us to become addicted to using conflicts to sell weapons abroad, allow our military industrial congressional complex profit from interventions, and made us put our finger prints all over evil dictators who were “pro west” but in the end horrible monsters. The blood on our hands was written off for the greater good to defeat the Soviet Union. The USSR is gone but the profit motive still remains and all the rhetoric about us democratizing, civilizing, or humanitarianism is a very dubious smoke screen for people to make money or to boost their liberal ego’s. If you want to rid the world of social evil you have plenty to do at home right here in the USA. As for the war industry that demon should have been shut down post cold war.

        • Ray in VT

          Yup. I can mostly agree with you there on just about everything that you pointed out, especially concerning our history of supporting friendly dictators. I’m highly dubious of attempts to impose our will, values or systems on peoples who have their own issues, beliefs and histories, however the current situation troubles me. I think that it says something poor about us and the international community if we, after so many years of denouncing the use of such weapons, stand by and do nothing if, in fact, such weapons have been used.

          • Bluejay2fly

            I agree, in that regard we have put ourselves in a tight box.

          • JobExperience

            We were born in it.

          • JobExperience

            If the populace is lied to then how do they decide?

          • Ray in VT

            It’s a tough one. Sometimes it’s hard to know who to believe and when.

        • JobExperience

          The US and WE thinking doesn’t help.
          Sort the sheep from the goats.

      • JobExperience

        The very idea of war fodder originates in Medieval times, as do the origins of formalized individual and collective rights. (Uprisings) The Knights could kill all the Serfs they wanted, just like,, “Astronauts could have all the Tang they could handle.” Hop on your horse for another Crusade! A good Arab resembles a good Indian of the 19th Century.

        • Ray in VT

          Yes, it wasn’t like those pesky peasants were real people like the nobler classes.

      • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

        In war, there stands only one ultimate rule: kill or be killed. The question before the supreme commanders in any action is what do they need to do to take and retain control? Scorched earth, pillage, terror… all realities of any war, question is are they incidental or systematic?

        We used incendiary weapons in WWII to burn cities to ashes. Far more civilians in Europe an Japan died in raging infernos than did in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We used napalm and agent orange in Vietnam and white phosphorus in the gulf wars. in 1980 Saddam gassed 20,000 Iranian soldiers to death: we did nothing. In 1988 Saddam killed 5000 Kurds with
        gas: we did nothing. We and the world did nothing.

        It’s all messy and horrible and we like to think we have the moral high ground… but whatever smidgen of that we may have had left after Vietnam, we forfeited when we started targeting bombing residential areas in Baghdad trying to kill Sadam (+50 such air strikes) and began systematic torture of prisoners.

        So what is the point… We let 1/2 million people be slaughtered in slow motion in Rwanda in 1994. The world is a made a vicious place due to evil men and the weak minded and morally corrupt who chose to follow them. Until we address that on a global scale, the history of the human race will continue to be dominated by the actions of the greedy and amoral.

        • Bluejay2fly

          We should teach the world how to not only live together peacefully but also sustainably. Unfortunately, we get low marks on both accords.

          • JobExperience

            This “Share a Coke” bullshit won’t cut it!

          • Bluejay2fly

            Nobody threatens our shores. Remember George Washington beware of foreign entanglements. For centuries we avoided wars and had a tiny non global military. At the same time we became interventionist things started going downhill in this nation.

          • JobExperience

            We had tariffs powering our social responsibilities and we tended to our own bidness. Then some Mafiosos found new markets. (Standards of living were traded for Empire in service to the 1%.)

          • Bluejay2fly

            Yes, and we used debt to build that military machine and wage foreign interventions which the 1% will not have to pay for and yet only a few screwballs like us are on to this scam.

          • JobExperience

            Why didn’t we go vegan?

          • Bluejay2fly

            If that means something you have me stumped.

          • JobExperience

            Forgo ususry… it’s analogy.
            A. Hamilton argued indebtedness would propel the Empire Washington (and sometimes Jefferson/Madison) envisioned.
            Usury is carnivorous and no interest is vegan.

          • AC

            weren’t we the foreign entanglement?? lol! i wonder what native americans think of this comment

          • JobExperience

            Yes, the colonies did the dirty work and the West India Corporation added the value, kind of like our Overlords do in China today.

          • Bluejay2fly

            Nice point the westward expansion with the ensuing mass murder was a sort of colonialism or imperialism. Also we did start taking from fallen empires i.e. Cuba (with our beloved gem GITMO) the Phillippines, Hawaii, etc. I guess domestic wars took priority and did not necessitate a huge global military, well done.

          • JobExperience

            And the top half of Mexico… bought Alaska from the Czar, and greater Louisiana from Napoleon’s heirs. Promised the Delawares and the Cherokees they’d have their own states. Gonna Paint Your Wagon,, Gonna Paint it Good!

          • Bluejay2fly

            I would be happy with us staying within our borders. We killed a lot of people to get where we are no point in being greedy.

          • Don_B1

            In George Washington’s world, with communication between countries taking weeks to a month or more, and armies fighting much differently, his approach was perfectly feasible and desirable.

            In today’s world where stability is needed for world trade and people from all over the world can see how Americans live and aspire to the same lifestyle, the workings of the good and bad of human character. It just is not desirable to not be involved with the rest of the world, but it certainly is necessary for the U.S. to have a better way of interaction than dictating to others on how they need to behave. It doesn’t work well for teenagers and it won’t work well for developing nations either.

          • Don_B1

            Only if you mean more than “teaching by lecturing,” which we have done more than enough of. And the “other kind of teaching,” usually including a lot of “by example” learning is difficult and a long-term endeavour.

            What we really need to do is to help the people of the world discover for themselves what they really want, and how to get that part of it that they can without overly impacting the ability of others to get some of what they want.

            And President Obama has been trying to get the “help for developing countries” oriented more toward this approach. But the old ways, still taken by most of the other actors on the scene, keep intruding.

        • Ray in VT

          We certainly have issues to answer for historically (and presently), but I don’t think that that should preclude us from acting regarding this present situation.

        • Bluejay2fly

          How do you “fix” a society where people murder other people? If you have a society where rape, disfigurement, torture, and horrific murder is employed how can you just waltz in there and instantly instill respect for the sanctity of life. We have not even figured out how to do that in prison where we have total control.

      • hennorama

        And of course, the “historical fact[s]” are written by the victors, who seldom want to put themselves in a bad light.

        • Ray in VT

          That’s for sure.

        • jefe68

          What are you trying to say here?

          That the 6 million Jews and the other 6 plus millions of people who died in the nazi death camps were exaggerating? That somehow the Germans were not as bad as they seemed? Are you f’n kidding me?

          The German army, that’s the army not the SS, murdered millions of Soviet troops.

          I have a friend who at one time collected WW2 photo albums of Wehrmacht soldiers. He bought one that belonged to an NCO in an engineer unit. It covers most of the war from 39 through about 44 where it stops. I guess he was wounded or died. Anyway as they made their way East things got worse. In the Poland snapshots the men are having picnics and setting up telephone lines and so on. Then they get to Hungry in about 43 or 44 and that’s were you start to see shots of citizens being lined up and shot. It was also common to see people hanging from balconies and street lamps in Budapest.
          These were the idle snapshots of one regular soldier’s unit. It was obvious that they committed war crimes.

          • hennorama

            jefe68 – No. Not at all, in fact.

            My post was a comment on [Ray in VT]‘s last sentence, which was:

            “Perhaps the conception of the sort of gentleman’s nature of warfare as conducted by the noble class, even in Medieval times, is more of a modern romanticization than an historical fact.”

            When I wrote “And of course, the “historical fact[s]” are written by the victors, who seldom want to put themselves in a bad light,” it was shorthand for

            “There IS no ‘gentleman’s nature of warfare’ and never has been. War is brutal, and brings out the basest nature of men, gentle or otherwise. The phrase ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ from Robert Burns is the best description one can imagine for warfare.

            “No one wants to admit this, and few have, especially during the ‘modern romanticization’ of war as ‘noble’ or ‘gentlemanly.’ Therefore, the victorious ‘noble gentlemen’ don’t acknowledge their inhumanity during warfare, and instead emphasize only the perceived ‘good’ things they’ve done.

            And they do this by writing the history.

    • JobExperience

      People in the G knew Jews and Radicals and Gypsies were being exterminated and did nothing even as the Goodwar was being fought. Boats of Jews were turned away from American ports. I do not fault AC because she was born much later. Read Norman G. Finkelstein to learn about the uses of holocaust industry. (In 1932 the German T-Party had their sights set on particular Jewish businesses and homes. Before the war pogroms decided the gameshow winners. Some of the art is being chased today. Should we try playing at home?)

      • Bluejay2fly

        Firstly, would you want German refugees? We interned our own foreign born and descendants of such to prevent saboteurs. Secondly, making it a war about saving the Jews would have shifted the dynamics from a political war into a religious war. Like all foreign policy we made some hard decisions in WW2 ,but I do not think we were deliberately callous.

        • JobExperience

          Selling points vary.

        • jefe68

          Really? You need to read up on FDR’s war cabinet.

      • AC

        this is interesting. i must admit, a product of the ‘historical overall view in a snippet’, my idea of WW2 can not be seperated from the idea that jews were imprisoned and freed….in fact, aside from Pearl Harbor also having something to do with the ‘go order’, it was to save jewish people….
        thinking carefully, i know there are some other things about worrying over power grabs on weapons/technology of the time, but really those are the big 2. in this order: #1 jews, #2 pearl harbor
        guess i have a lot i can read that will give me a fuller picture
        **adding this in:
        i also have a hard time seperating the civil war from abolishing slavery. yet i know there was something about a blight on sheep in Scotland and southern farmers gearing up to gouge northern manufacturers over cotton prices….
        maybe we force the most moral high point out of every war historically so we don’t feel bad….(i mean humans, not just us, history is written by the victors, no??)

        • JobExperience

          I bet you got all As in high school history.
          I mean that as a compliment.
          But don’t stop with high school history.
          Read the Onion,
          Intended for critical thinking adults.
          Layers and layers. Don’t let the victors write your Bible.

          • AC

            it’s worse than that – i did get all As, and i was in AP history…:(
            i’m a math/physics person, that’s where i channeled my focus, eveerything else is just interesting….

          • jefe68

            That’s a bit depressing.

          • AC

            to be fair, i went through a big ww2 phase when i was 9 and read a book ‘gideon’ something, which was a jewish boy’s diary, then i read the diary of anne frank, then i accidentally read ‘the painted bird’ (which destroyed me as a 10yr old btw – no one monitored what i read, i read A LOT)
            i think somehow, that’s where the 2 fused into one…

          • JobExperience

            Try “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo. My Grandma gave me that when I was a 10 year old skeet champ.

          • AC

            jeez louiZZZZe
            i just looked it up on wiki……cant believe your granmum gave you that!!

          • jefe68

            If you can try to see the films I listed. They are not only educational they are also amazing films. Come and See has some of the most most beautiful cinematography in it as does City of Life and Death.

        • jefe68

          Again, WW2 was not about saving Jews, or Slavs or the Chinese or other Asians for that matter. You are aware that Hitler his nazi party were in charge of Germany from 1933 until 45. The US did not get involved in the was until 42. The Holocaust was in full swing by 42. The Japanese Imperial army massacred an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 people in Nanjing in 1937.

          With all due respect, I think you should do some reading on the WW2. There are also some very good films on the subject made by film makers from other countries which are worth watching.

          Stalingrad, a German film is one worth watching, very intense film.

          The Chinese film City of Life and Death by the Chinese director Chuan Lu is an amazing film. Be warned though, it’s very difficult to watch.

          Come and See from the director Elem Klimov’s drama shows the atrocities of World War II through the eyes of a 13 year old who joins the partisans in Belorus.

    • HonestDebate1

      Geopolitics is nasty. The decisions are tough. There are never any easy answers and the only certainty is things will get worse.

      • JobExperience

        It puzzles me when you apologize for Empire and Obama. You mean Realpolitik, the breakfast of Nihilists?
        How about your picture on the box?
        Things would get better if you’d quit waiting like Linus for the Great Pumpkin…. The Free Market.
        You ascribe your Luck to effort. Every day many work harder than you ever did and get diddly.
        If you were strong you’d stand up against Crapitalism,, not ride it like a wave.

        • HonestDebate1

          How did you get that from my comment?

          • JobExperience

            The remarkable thing about us debaters is our blind spots.

          • HonestDebate1

            I think it’s the ability to read minds.

          • JobExperience

            Extrapolating from your history….

    • jefe68

      The US did not go into WW2 to save Jews, Pols, Russians or Gypsies. There was a quota on Jewish immigrants that was in place since the 1920′s which made it almost impossible for Jews to get out of Europe and into the US.
      Most went to central South America which did not care where you came from as long as you had the means to support yourself. This period in the US was a complicated one. As the majority of Americans up to Pearl Harbor were more or less in support of the isolationist.

    • Bluejay2fly

      To set the record straight the leading cause of death among the German army was Soviet soldiers. It was a world war and even as our industry played a vital role it still was a global undertaking. Many good people who were French, British, Canadian, Chinese, Soviet, Indian etc died to bring about allied victory in WW2.

      • Ray in VT

        I think that generally Americans fail to appreciate just what World War II cost the Soviet Union in terms of military and civilian casualties.

        • JobExperience

          No wonder they expected prizes…. they won it.

          • Ray in VT

            Well, they certainly did bear far more of the brunt of the weight of the Nazi war machine than we did.

        • jefe68

          After Germany invaded the USSR in June 1941 (Operation Barbarossa) there were millions Russian POW’s taken in that campaign. In all Some 3.3 million Soviet POWs died in Nazi custody, out of 5.7 million. That’s only the military casualties.

          For those interested there is a good film on the invasion as seen through the eyes of the Russian army barracks at the Brest Fortress.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgDBTG0s3Yk

          • Ray in VT

            Well, most of the people in Russia were Slavs, and they were just up the race ladder from Jews by a rung or two, so keeping them alive wasn’t a big priority.

    • Don_B1

      While it does not address each of your questions directly, the points made by “karoli” on the “Crooks and Liars” blog might widen your choice of questions:

      “Diplomatic pressure isn’t working. Still, there are five areas that the president will need to address before I would reconsider what is a pretty firm stance in opposition to bombing Syria.

      1. Israeli use of phosphorous – If the president is as committed to eradicating and eliminating the use chemical weapons as he says he is, then I think it will be incumbent upon him to straight up own the Administration’s blind eye to Israel’s use of white phosphorous [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/25/israel-army-white-phosphorous_n_3157604.html] in 2008 and 2009. He will need to say that Syria is a time to recommit to the international norms, whether one is friend or foe, and he should call out Israel specifically for their use of such atrocities against Palestinians. While it’s true that they are no longer using it and that is the ultimate stated goal with Syria, it is also true that there wasn’t any official United States condemnation, at least, not in public. There should be.

      2. Explain why US intervention wouldn’t destabilize the region further – I have seen no evidence now, or in recent history, suggesting that limited airstrikes could somehow be carried out without further destabilization and harm done to those already suffering under Assad’s monstrous iron hand. It’s safe to assume that the use of force would do harm to civilians and equally safe to assume that Assad would respond with even more vicious retaliation, particularly against the very, very small slice of Syrian rebels that may not be extremists. Why does the president and his national security team think this wouldn’t push rebels into more radical arms than they are now?

      3. Explain why we can’t put more pressure on Russia and China – It seems to me that if Russia and China are the primary proxies in this particular conflict, they should be held to account in the court of public opinion as complicit in Assad’s chemical weapons use. That hasn’t happened, and it should.

      4. Abandon the Domino Theory nonsense – The very, very worst argument John Kerry has used this week is the Domino Theory. He claims that failure to act will rain down more despicable acts not only from Assad, but from terrorists and other bad actors in the region. This argument doesn’t wash with me. We’ve heard it going back to Viet Nam, only to discover later that it was just used to justify our aggression against another nation and our involvement in another regional conflict where corporate interests had more at stake than we, the people, ever did. As soon as I hear that argument I want to scream in frustration and just say no. There is either a case to make for force on its merits or there isn’t. But hanging some amorphous future threat in front of us and using the fear card will not have a positive effect on me, and I suspect many others.

      5. Acknowledge the role that climate change has had in bringing about this disaster. The conflict in Syria arose out of the Arab spring, and the real desire on the part of many to live in a place with some opportunity instead of constant famine, need and want. Syria’s drought [http://www.irinnews.org/report/90442/syria-drought-pushing-millions-into-poverty] led to crop failures and food insecurity, ultimately driving many from rural areas into the cities. This ThinkProgress report [http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/03/03/437051/syria-climate-change-drought-social-unrest/] explains how climate change has contributed to the unrest and rebellion in Syria. In August of this year, Syria sought a way to tap into accounts [http://news.yahoo.com/exclusive-syria-seeks-tap-frozen-bank-accounts-food-115228899.html] frozen to purchase wheat to replenish its stores. Those accounts are frozen because of American trade sanctions imposed in response to the deepening crisis there. That humanitarian crisis is deeper than the one generated by Assad’s use of chemical weapons, which begs the question of why we wouldn’t concentrate more resources into getting food to people rather than raining bombs on them.

      See

      http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/five-issues-president-obama-needs-address-h

      I have the most problems with number 4, which, while having some weight, may not apply in this case. Even if it did, it would not mean that threatening to use military power cannot bring positive results, as may happen from the sketchy Russian-Syrian proposal to give up all Syria’s chemical weapons. There is much that can go wrong here, but removal of Syria’s chemical weapons would be a better result than anyone has ever contemplated in the last two years.

  • John Cedar

    The strategy is immoral:
    Using the everyday occurrence of a Muslim country killing its own citizens, in cruel unthinkable ways, as a distraction from the corrupt sleeper cell president’s dirty deeds.
    Our healthcare system is still imploding.
    The IRS is still a branch of the ‘elect Obama campaign’
    Our economy is still imploding
    Our boarders are still unenforced

    our education system is a misnomer more than ever

    And every day, more and more of our able bodied citizens (and non citizens alike) are encouraged to take free stuff from the government.

    • JobExperience

      I thought you were successful,, but now you’re taking in boarders. Your post is partially correct. I give it a D.

    • Ray in VT

      Thanks for your early submission for Most Idiotic Comment of the Day.

    • MrNutso

      Please point me to the free stuff store.

  • JobExperience

    The Brazilian Ambassador summed up a situation we share: “All the explanations we’ve received so far have proven to be false.”
    Repeated falsehoods is a trait of illegitimate governance.

    This is high pressure salesmanship, where the contract supposedly contains your fondest wishes, but you “don’t need to read it.” Are we buying Syria loaded or just leasing it for 36 months to get in Iran’s pants? The 99% is gifting the 1% again being bent-over by Doctor Obama.

    Are Big Thinkers fabricating Big Lies for Big Bidness?

    Remember 9/11 Wednesday, not the falseflagged one, 9/11 1973 in Chile.

    How in Hell does one terror bomb and get only the black hats?
    This recipe needs sorting out not mixing up. Last night the G exploded a bus in Afghanistan for picking up two suspects and lady parts and kid parts flew in all directions. “All the explanations we’ve received so far have proven to be false.”

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    An interesting thesis. Given the actions of the President, it is difficult to argue with.

    “Obama’s Successful Foreign Failure”
    “The president may look incompetent on Syria. But his behavior fits his strategy to weaken America abroad.”

    “Summing up the net effect of all this, as astute a foreign observer as Conrad Black can flatly say that, “Not since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, and before that the fall of France in 1940, has there been so swift an erosion of the world influence of a Great Power as we are witnessing with the United States.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323595004579062811443943666.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

  • philrho

    What if both sides are correct? Could the use of chemical weapons by Assad have been a mistake in the heat of war with insurgents where a low level officer, inadvertently or with aggressive intention, have loaded a chemical weapon in place of a conventional weapon? Assad did not give the order but would have to admit he is not in total control of his own troops and resources.

    • Andrew Page

      It would have been much more than just 1 shell or 1 rocket. Probably at least 3 dozen 155mm shells or about 5 Scuds to deliver enough gas to kill that many people that quickly.

      Still, you might be right, “Battery B fire! Battery B is loaded with what?? Oooops” That’s almost a scarier scenario, it means his control over these weapons is ‘lacking’.

      • philrho

        What I heard on CNN was that this was one shell in one neighborhood of Damascus where the shell landed. The implication I got, maybe wrongly, was a single shell.

        • Andrew Page

          The real answer is probably somewhere in between. Employing these weapons is a complicated affair. Conditions have to be right. If the wind is blowing the wrong way you could gas your own forces, if it’s blowing too hard or not at all they’re not as effective and you have to use more of them.

          Sadly though, it means that Assad’s troops are gaining experience with them. Next time, they’ll be able to kill more people with fewer shells with the experience they gained from this attack.

  • NrthOfTheBorder

    Why is our response to this atrocity automatically a military one?

    Is it not possible to stand on moral high ground without sowing more death and destruction?

    Why don’t we take the same amount of money (or more even) as aid to Syrian refugees? Seize world-wide assets of the Assad regime, promise to haul every one of his government officials to the court – and mean it? Organize a total blockade of goods and services?

    If we go ahead and send an armada of missiles into Damascus we will have made a statement but nothing will change.

    • Andrew Page

      If that could be made to happen as a certainty, I would agree. However time has a way of weakening will. If the conflict ‘ends’ with Assad still in place the world will be anxious to just get back to ‘business as usual’ and seeking lucrative contracts to help rebuild Syria.

      Sadaam Hussein gassed Kurds and Iranians and never faced justice for it until he was captured by the US and executed by his own people but that was for other crimes.

    • MrNutso

      A non-military option would be sanction upto a blockade of Syria. Unfortunately, there are other nations, who are more than willing to ignore sanctions, and certainly prevent a blockade.

      • NrthOfTheBorder

        Somehow if we were to try ,and be persistent about it, we would be doing the right thing.

        Even if the results were imperfect we might begin to build a reputation as a nation that acts in a manner consistent with its moral principles.

      • JobExperience

        Nerve gas would be the cheapest option.
        Like a neutron bomb it erases the people and leaves the spoils. Remember: It’s OK when the good guys use it, kind of like taking back your yard with Roundup.

    • Bluejay2fly

      We have 500 million dollars worth of cruise missiles which the defense industry would love to expend so they could be replaced with more modern ones.

      • JobExperience

        Senator Gary Hart proposed in 1988 expending one hundred thousand surplus Chrysler Cordobas in a skirmish with the Soviets, canceling Chysler’s bailout debt. I ain’t kiddin’. It really happened.

        • sickofthechit

          Were they going to drop them from planes or what?

          • JobExperience

            Our troops would each get a car and do drive-bys on the Reds. Hart said this when he was advocating simple weapons systems over high tech ones. He reasoned that a thousand cheaper fighter planes is better than ten deluxe jobs. He may have had a point at that time. A good defense is spread out and a good offense is concentrated. Sounds like Monkey Business now,, doesn’t it?

  • Andrew Page

    By all means, let’s demonstrate that Nerve Gas should be the weapon of choice for suppressing popular uprisings.

    Is nerve gas any worse than anything else that’s been used? Consider, Assad killed 100,000 of his own people over about two years. That’s roughly 136 people per day. This gas attack killed 1500 people in one morning.

    Even better, the homes of the victims were left largely intact, ready for distribution to your loyal followers.

    • JobExperience

      Cutting family supports on those who will never find an adequate income without help is the slow version. Hormones and cortisol work from the inside out.

      This new war will justify more Austerity. Shock and Awe on the Underclasss.

  • philrho

    It seems to me the Russian and Chinese see a different future of a failed state in Syria than does America. Their greatest fear is a total conflagration between Shiites and Sunnis in the entire Middle East region and keeping Assad in place holds the status quo. By weakening Assad with a “surgical” strike by America to give the insurgents back their momentum is a plan to keep their civil war going in perpetuity. This is threading the needle of the highest order where we use just enough force to keep Assad off balance militarily and politically balance the future where the possible winning insurgents will not be lead by hostile al-Qaida or the Nusra Front. Does America have this type of control? If Assad ordered chemical weapons use and America doesn’t respond why not wait until Assad makes another mistake and then use new evidence to argue in the UN and seek security council approval.
    Like crimes committed in the US, we seek evidence beyond a reasonable doubt before convicting people. Is the existing evidence circumstantial or could a dedicated prosecutor actually get a conviction based on the evidence at hand?

    • JobExperience

      Both the Saudis and the Israelis think they want Hezbollah squashed but be careful with wishes. Syria is now the Neocon backdoor to Iran and once you light up that hornets’ nest, our standard of living could resemble Bolivia’s. And if you think Democracy is in the frying pan at home now , Obama is down at Sears charging a new grill with no racks.

    • Andrew Page

      I think they’re more afraid of precedent of outside support for internal uprisings. They ‘goofed’ and allowed support for the Libyan uprising(for better or worse). Although in fairness the US and European Allies took the inch of ‘protecting non-comabtants’ an extended that to the mile of essentially giving the rebels the cover of a modern air force until Khadaffi was gone.

      Russia also has a Naval base in Syria that allows them a presence in the Mediterranean that they could not support otherwise. They’re afraid of losing that. I’m curious as to why the rebels haven’t been wooing Vladimir Putin offering him continued use of the base if he’ll just remove his support in the UN and stop shipping weapons to Assad.

      • JobExperience

        You ain’t gonna be correctin’ their papers.

        The same power generated by wealth disparity will magically make policy whole.

        Idealism is like smoke.

  • SteveTheTeacher

    Leaving aside the evidence that the Assad regime was not responsible for the recent use of chemical weapons (such as messages expressing the lack of knowledge and surprise and by Assad’s military leaders about reports of chemical weapons use), and leaving aside the fact that the US has used weapons with barbarous impact upon civilian populations in its wars in Iraq/Afghanistan/etc. (such as white phosphorus, depleted uranium shells, fuel air explosives, bunker busters, cluster bombs); the fact that the focus of the US government’s response to crimes against humanity is to blow things up, reflects very poorly on the collective intelligence of US government officials.

    Even Secretary of State Kerry admits that the only solution to the Syrian war is a political/negotiated one. How will a military strike move the peace process forward?

    Rather than encouraging both sides to feel more motivated to participate in peace talks, US military action is likely to make the Assad regime dig in its heels and the rebels emboldened to pursue militarily victories.

    Why not pursue criminal charges against Assad for the use of chemical weapons?

    Why not pursue other economic or non-military actions against the Assad regime?

    Why is it that our diplomats fail to attempt to engage the Russians, Iranians, Lebanese, and Syrian supports of Assad in getting international observation of chemical stock piles, and towards negotiations for a broader peace process?

  • Roy-in-Boise

    Few non-Muslims comprehend the dynamic differences between Shiites and Sunnis let alone Arab and Persian. Our own ignorance as a nation is our worst enemy.

    • Ray in VT

      What? There’s more than one kind of Muslim. Next thing you know there will be more than one kind of Christian. ;)

    • brettearle

      Understanding ethnic histories is, as you say, essential.

      But if we understood the ethnic conflict better, would this help us to stop the use of chemical weapons?

      How?

      • Ray in VT

        Well, probably not, but it would be helpful to know more about the various and intricate issues at play in a complex region.

    • JobExperience

      Methodists could be hanging Baptists any day now.

    • AC

      i thought it was shia? i thought the shia believe that they are directly blessed by god to be rulers thru direct ‘relation’(?) to the prophet’s son, while the sunni’s believe that leaders should be the most understanding of the prophets words/lessons…oh, and the sunni’s murdered the prophet’s grandson or grand nephew or something. somebody was murdered…..

    • sickofthechit

      Amen brother.

  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

    As I see it, this is not a referendum on who released the chemical agents. As I see it, this is a referendum on whether or not the US subscribes to and adheres to the protocols of the scientific method when examining evidence to sort among all conceivable hypotheses (including the Null Hypothesis) to explain an anomalous observation.

    All Mr. Kerry has done so far is to falsify the Null Hypothesis. He has convinced everyone that there really was a release of chemical agents in the suburbs of Damascus; it was definitely not a Hollywood movie stunt faking the story of civilians succumbing to some mysterious deadly agent.

    As a (now retired) scientist and science educator, I watched closely to see how well Mr. Kerry adhered to the protocols of the scientific method to ensure that the hypothesis he put forward a week ago Friday was the sole surviving hypothesis after rigorously undertaking to falsify each and every conceivable hypothesis on the table.

    I was frankly alarmed and chagrined to observe that Mr. Kerry substantially departed from the protocols of the scientific method, in much the same way as the government had done in previous historic examples in this recurring pattern.

    Modern day humans devised the Protocols of the Scientific Method as our most reliable method for sorting out accurate hypotheses from incorrect ones. Politicians, alas, are notorious for declining to rely on the Scientific Method for drawing conclusions.

    Will this episode prove to be yet another failure of our government to arrive at the ground truth by a trustworthy method?

    Or will this episode mark an historic turning point in our methods and practices for making wise and sensible decisions?

    I fear the political operatives scripting this drama will once again go out of their way to depart from the protocols of the scientific method.

    The first duty of a scientist is to array all conceivable hypotheses and then try like the dickens to falsify each and every one of them.

    I have not yet seen any attempt to array the alternate hypotheses or to falsify the one that the Obama administration (and the Military-Industrial Complex) favors.

    And so the meta-question stands before us. We have the Null Hypothesis and the Working Hypothesis, and the challenge to falsify either of them.

    H₀ (Null Hypothesis) – The US rigorously adheres to the protocols of the scientific method and the concepts of the Rule of Law.

    H₁ (Working Hypothesis) – The US routinely departs from the protocols of the scientific method and the concepts of the Rule of Law.

    This episode now in play will help determine which of the two hypotheses best characterizes the practices of our national governance model and methodology.

    I am frankly not sanguine about the outcome of this trial.

    • JobExperience

      Show us Kerry’s cue cards.

      Then we’ll know.

      • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

        I can tell you his cue cards were not crafted by a scientist. No self-respecting ethical scientist would ever adopt or support Kerry’s rhetoric regarding the evidence purporting to explain what did (or didn’t) happen in the suburbs of Damascus.

        • JobExperience

          Exactly!

    • cnagel

      Because he didn’t use the scientific method doesn’t mean it
      couldn’t be effectively applied. Using this method I would argue would be
      ineffective. Scientific arguments seem to turn folks off i.e. Global Warming.

      • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

        The function of the scientific method is to sort out false hypotheses. Kerry’s failure to adopt and employ the protocols of the scientific method leaves open the fear that, once again, the US may have blindly jumped to an erroneous conclusion.

        It’s important in this case, because the Obama administration proposes to take a drastic action based on its belief that the hypothesis put forward by Mr. Kerry is the undeniable ground truth.

        In the case of climate change, the option of taking positive steps to reduce the levels of CO₂ from fossil fuels is not a catastrophic maneuver it if turns out to be ineffective or unnecessary.

  • Jacob Arnon

    Stephen Walt was quoted as saying that Hitler’s regime did not “use chemical weapons?” Is that correct? Did He actually say that? Does he not consider a policy to murder women and children with gas not a chemical weapon? I wish someone would ask him what he actually said.

    • JobExperience

      Zyklon B….. koolaid right?

    • Bluejay2fly

      He meant that in open warfare against the allies that even Hitler showed some self restraint. In this sense it kept the war from escalating which would have in turn killed far more people. What happened in the camps would have happened even if they were denied the use of chemicals to induce murder. They probably would have used water or bullets.

      • JobExperience

        Maybe it was stipulated in his brown Brothers- Harriman contract.

  • DeJay79

    On the grounds of morality, would it not be the moral high ground to stay out of this fray and show both sides that there is a better way by strengthening america at home, taking care of our own citizens, rebuilding our infrastructure and leading by example.

    Instead of just handing out “American Justice” on those who do things we don’t like.

    • JobExperience

      Mama gonna let Daddy Sam do the belt whippin’?

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Sure, it is always the moral high ground to walk away from murder. It is none of my business. Your house is on fire and I have water, so what! Let it burn!

      • Bluejay2fly

        Better we intercede like in Iraq. At least during Saddam’s reign you could go to the store and get a falafel without a car bomb exploding in your face. Freedom!!!

    • hennorama

      DeJay79 – yes. Let’s stick our heads in the sand.

      Try this at home — strengthen the bars on your windows, add bolts to your doors, put up cameras that only look toward your property, put on a new roof, tear up and resurface the driveway, etc.

      When your neighbor’s car gets broken into, don’t call the police or form a Neighborhood Watch. When someone three blocks over gets assaulted, ignore it. Weld another bar on the windows. then just go into the den and turn the volume up on the TV.

      • Bluejay2fly

        We call that our African strategy.

        • JobExperience

          White Flight.

          • Bluejay2fly

            That’s our African-American strategy.

      • DeJay79

        Showing both side that there is a better way to live to does not equate to “put bars on my windows”. I am not talking about covering our coastlines with artillery. I am talking about building a better more compassionate and prosperous society here in america.

        Have we learned Nothing from the past? It never work out for us to get involved in the middle east, so why do we think this “action” will be different?

      • JobExperience

        But our Empire defecates on the neighbors, then busts their ass when they complain. So what is that you’re sticking your head in?
        *intended as reply to henny

      • DeJay79

        Lets not think that this civil war was started by innocent law bidding citizens. as your analogy would imply.

    • Bluejay2fly

      We would rather rebuild Port Au Prince than Detroit. We would rather intercede in Kosovo than the streets of LA or Chicago. It is treason.

      • JobExperience

        Port Au Prince has less regulation than Detroit and a lower minimum wage. Stop and frisk resembles intervention.

        • Bluejay2fly

          Or our liberal elites who made their fortune at the expense of their countrymen cannot dare to look them in the eye and acknowledge their crimes. So they look for charity cases abroad to alleviate some of the guilt they feel. Meanwhile domestic sacrificial zones are coming to a town near you while some dude in Haiti gets a new home.

          • JobExperience

            Bill Clinton cried in Harlem because he broke their tariff and made growing rice there impossible, in the next sob he regretted exterminating their pigs and sending replacement stock from Wisconsin that died in the heat. Hillary had her hand over his mouth by the time he mentioned the Aristide coup. Democrats can be Neocons too.

  • JobExperience

    Kerry and fellow mouthpieces keep harping on “That man Assad.”
    Our spooks snuff these “one mans” every day so why not Bashar? We even do citizens with drones because they talk contrarily. The object is far from being Assad. It could turn out he gets a villa in Santa Fe while Blackwater gets Iran. American Empire thinks they’re Starship Troopers, but all they are is a drag on daily existence here at home. The object may be Austerity.
    Austerity negates Democracy.

  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

    “More state-sponsored violence in the Middle East is not the solution to the problem of too much state-sponsored violence in the Middle East.” ~Chad Gadya

  • ansapphire

    Just another day in America. Lets go bomb another middle east country. Might as well put in on our money. Lets go kill people to stop to make them stop killing them selves. Of yeah Israel, Iran, North Korea. National security blah blah blah. We are not moral. We just kill better.

  • Davesix6

    Red line, what red line? The only red line that exists is the one Barack Obama drew and is now trying to say he didn’t!Where are our allies?
    Where is the multinational coalition?
    What will be the consequences of Obama striking on his own and dragging the rest of US in?

    Where is the definitive evidence that it was the Syrian army that used chemical weapons?
    Where did these weapons come from?
    Will there be retaliation against Israel?

    What will be the reaction of Russia and other nations against our unilateral attack?
    Obama is leaving us with too many unanswered questions!

  • Coastghost

    Right, Tom: the ban on use of chemical weapons was a trans-Atlantic response to their use in WWI. Good: let Europeans and Americans never use or resort to use of chemical weapons.
    So what stockpiles of chemical weapons sit in the arsenals of, say, all European and American signatories to the 1925 ban? (Plus, as one of your Friday guests observed, the 1925 ban included NO provisions for enforcement: why are international diplomats not keen to introduce enforcement provisions for the international community? What are Susan Rice and Samantha Power being paid for, anyway?)

    • BughouseWW

      1925 = the year of the CW ban.

      In WWII, US and Britain used chemicals to set off firestorms in 131 German cities and over 60 Japanese cities.

      = = =

      According to Rafael Medoff, as of JUNE 11 1944 the Jewish agency in Palestine had no knowledge that the concentration camps were anything other than labor camps.

      But in 1940 — fully 4 years before any inkling of alleged gassing at concentration camps, US built mock-ups of German and Japanese housing, in the desert at Dugway, Utah (about 170 miles from NSA facility). At Dugway, Standard Oil and US Air Force experimented with the most efficient means of creating a firestorm to destroy housing of working-class German and Japanese civilians. The INTENT and GOAL was to terrorize CIVILIANS.
      As Jorg Friedrich records in “The Fire,” between 1940 and 1945 US and British carried out thousands of firebombing strikes over German and Japanese cities, incinerating hundreds of thousands of civilians — deliberately.

      In “Among the Dead Cities,” A C Grayling tries to argue that the firebombing was justified “because of the holocaust.”

      BUT IN 1940-1943, when already over a hundred German cities had been destroyed and at least half-a-million German civilians killed, as noted in Rafael Medoff’s paper (above), THERE WAS NO KNOWLEDGE of an alleged holocaust.

  • Davesix6

    Wasn’t it Obama and the left who accused Bush of breaking international law?
    Isn’t this really about a misguided attempt to save face for Obama and one more act of progressive hypocrisy?

    • AC

      for heavens sake, we get it. you don’t like Obama.
      now comment on the issue – ‘morality’ – what do you think
      about that? Should we or shouldn’t we?

      • JobExperience

        Lesser of evils.

    • JobExperience

      You are correct. Obama is as bought as Bush.

  • Ed

    No one is talking about the deterioration of trust in our government not to lie to us as they had in the past. Trust is important between government and its people, to keep society functioning.
    You cannot ignore the people, or the people will eventually seek others that they do trust.

  • Jon

    Americans having this healthy debate and give Obama credit for the result of his timid leadership or we have another war. Leadership like W is not necessarily a good thing some times. I expect congress will vote No to war and Obama has an excuse to take back his red line words.

  • Mia

    I would like to see some feedback on the idea of targeted assassination of leaders who cross the line to using these types of weapons on their own citizens, or cross other “red lines” with total disregard for human life. why should their lives be protected? I suppose trying them for war crimes might be the more civilized route.

  • rogger2

    Tom please ask prof. Walzer if he would also be for the US intervening where there is current mass extermination of innocent civilians in the DRC, or Somalia, or Sudan….

    • JobExperience

      Show him a map.

      • Bluejay2fly

        He thinks your stupid and do not know history. Unfortunately, for many Americans that is true.

  • jjkraw

    Tried to call but got a busy signal… Here is what I’m not hearing from proponents of an attack: How does this action result in Assad or anyone else not using chemical weapons again? How does an attack make this situation better? The word “punishment” is tossed around, but where is the evidence that it will be effective?

    Here is the image I see in my mind: I have a grease fire in a pan in the kitchen. I have a glass of water in my hand. I am warned: Don’t throw that on the fire – it will make it worse! But I reply, “I have to do SOMETHING!” That is what I’m hearing currently from attack proponents.

    • JobExperience

      Would drones be a good stop smoking strategy?

    • BughouseWW

      The “responsibility to punish” is an element of Niebuhr’s philosophy/theology. Obama and esp. Sam. Power and Rice are Niebuhr aficionados.

      Jean Bethke Elshtain urged Bush to go to war in Iraq based on her interpretation of Niebuhr — “there IS evil in the world and we have a responsibility to punish it.”

      Where Elshtain’s theology fell short was in actually demonstrating EVIDENCE of a crime having been committed.

      In short, she, and Bush, and Obama/Power/Rice operate on the schema, Ready, Shoot, Aim.

      aka

      “We have the ability to punish you to high heaven, and we’re just itchin’ to use it. Don’t annoy me with facts and evidence, I can’t see you from my moral high horse.”

  • Jon

    The whole historical debate on the just war theory has been based on this hypothesis – there is justice. What is justice? I don’t think any philosophers over human history have had a clear definition or even understanding.

    • JobExperience

      There is justice,, but rich folks claim it’s too expensive.

      • Jon

        yes because they have too much to lose – the fact is they will lose eventually for sure

  • sickofthechit

    Why is there no talk of Senator Joe Manchin’s proposal to give Assad 45 days to allow inspection and control of his chemical stockpile. If he refuses, then we go with targeted strikes at his [military] {added by author after two thumbs up} airports, planes, helicopters and artillery batteries. charles a. bowsher

    • JobExperience

      Mansen doesn’t mean it. He’s softly backing Obama.
      Is it Manchin or Manson?

      • sickofthechit

        Manchin. Thanks

    • hennorama

      sickofthechit – pssssst – it’s Senator Joe Manchin.

      Here’s an article on his proposal:

      http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/senate-bill-syria-weapons-ban-96353.html

      EXCERPT:

      “ “If the Government of Syria does not sign the Convention within 45 after the date of the enactment of this resolution, all elements of national power will be considered by the United States government.”

      That’s quite a bit different from “If he refuses, then we go with targeted strikes at his airports, planes, helicopters and artillery batteries.”

  • Cindy Burns

    http://OperationSyriaOpenDoors.org/ A proposal for non-violent, action prepared by strong, experienced Vermont women with judicial and international affairs backgrounds. Help
    congress and the President act, with principle!

    Cynthia Burns, esq.

  • hennorama

    It’s interesting to watch some like Sen. Cruz, who wail about the death of 4 Americans in Benghazi, Libya and who then speak of “amorphous international norms” about chemical weapons used to cause the deaths of 350 times as many people, including hundreds of children.

    Here’s what Cruz said on Sunday:

    “WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) insisted on Sunday that the Obama administration is misdirecting its attention by considering action in Syria rather than continuing to search for the people and groups who attacked a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year, killing four Americans.

    “One of the problems with all of the focus on Syria is it’s missing the ball from what we should be focused on, which is the grave threat from radical Islamic terrorism,” Cruz said on ABC’s “This Week,” noting that it is nearly the first anniversary of the attacks.

    “When [the Benghazi attack] happened, the president promised to hunt down the wrong-doers, and yet a few months later, the issue has disappeared,” Cruz said. “You don’t hear the president mention Benghazi. Now it’s a ‘phony scandal.’ We ought to be defending U.S. national security and going after radical Islamic terrorists.”

    See:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/08/ted-cruz-syria-benghazi_n_3890302.html

    AND

    “Cruz has been a critic of the President’s push for military action against Syria, saying on “This Week” Sunday that “I think a military attack is a mistake.”

    “One because I think the administration is proceeding with the wrong objective, and two, because they have no viable plan for success,” Cruz said. “They are beginning from the wrong objective because this attack is not based on defending U.S. national security… I don’t think that’s the job of our military to be defending amorphous international norms.”

    See:
    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/09/sen-ted-cruz-i-dont-think-president-obama-has-the-authority-to-order-syria-strike-without-congressional-approval/

    • JobExperience

      Cuba is closer and would be cheaper to bomb.

    • HonestDebate1

      Yes, there is no room in the conversation for a viable plan for success or a stated objective of how we are defending national interest. That’s crazy talk.

      • hennorama

        Debates Not, He – if you say so. I certainly did not.

  • hellokitty0580

    I don’t think that just because we haven’t acted before doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act now. In fact, I think those choices not to act are even more of a reason to act now. We need to learn from our past.

    • JobExperience

      Go on Kitty. Jump in there with your AR-15.
      Kill all those schoolyard bullies.

      • hellokitty0580

        I read what you say most of the time on here and you don’t generally contribute anything of merit and you attack people with your vitriol rather than try to bridge misunderstandings. How does your comment foster any constructive communication? Oh wait, it doesn’t.

        • JobExperience

          Blatantly untrue, you trueblue Democrat.
          I’m a peacenik, not some party hack.
          With a name like a babygame how can you be a warhawk?

          • hellokitty0580

            Because of your need to define me and my absolute right to define myself, let me set the record straight once and for all: I believe in the gray areas of life and I don’t believe in labels. All I have known my whole life are gray areas. Nothing is absolute. When I was 16 the day before W dropped bombs on Iraq in 2003 I wore “Give Peace a Chance” on my chest to protest what that excuse for a leader was about to do. I don’t believe in war and I never have, but I do believe in humanitarian action and that is completely different that war or invasion or what many absolutist people such as yourself have said. As an international relations and human rights scholar, I don’t know anyone in the field who would describe my particular sentiments as “hawkish.”

            As I have said multiple times on these message boards, there is no solve-all solution to the civil war in Syria. Will limited missile strikes stop this whole civil war? Absolutely not. Believing that would be naivete to the extreme. Multiple avenues of action must be taken such as getting Russia in check. Enabling the region to act more assertively in its affairs. This absolutely requires multilateral action on many levels and everything needs to done according to international law as prescribed the UN. That is only way it can be legitimate. But I can tell you one thing for sure: More people are going to die in horrific ways if the international community does nothing. That I am certain of.

            There are so many points people are making about US interests and our own problems and Afghanistan and Iraq and the truth of what Assad has done… All I know for sure is this conflict has gone on for 2 years, innocent people (including children !!) have died, and hundreds of thousands more have left Syria to only strain countries in a region that is already in perpetual turmoil. Why is it that the United States is comfortable being the ‘most powerful nation in the world’ only when it suits us? For better or for worse, we do have a lot of power on this earth and that power comes with responsibilities. Just because the United States hasn’t always does “the right thing” by moral standards doesn’t negate its duty to take action based on moral grounds in the future. The United States and the rest of the international community cannot afford to continually sit back and watch this war to continue the way it has. If we have international precedence against certain weapons and violent actions, what do they actually mean if those precedences are breached and the international community does nothing? What is the point of a rule of law if we don’t enforce that law?

            And here is where the gray area comes in: Do I like war? Do I want war? Absolutely not. But hello, there is already a war!! And sometimes the only way to fight fire is with fire. If there was ever a purpose for military action, then I believe it’s to provide relief and protection to innocents who are under threat. Yes, that is what I believe. And I respectfully disagree that those sentiments make me a hawk. Nor does that make me a democratic party hack. I think it makes me empathetic to my fellow humans, those Syrians who have lost almost everything. My beliefs make me an individual and a free thinker. The fact that I can be against the war in Iraq, but be for humanitarian intervention in Syria are the exact representation of that.

            So sir, define me as you must. Label me however you want. Ultimately you will be wrong because nothing is black and white and I can appreciate that reality and analyze based on that reality.

          • JobExperience

            There aren’t many parrots with a vocabulary like yours. Someday you’ll realize your degree is bogus. That’s why I never boast of mine.

            The only tool the US military has without boots on the ground is explosives. (and nukes and chems) I’ve been in a war zone. You need to experience such shock and awe before you advocate it for others. There is no way this intervention will not cost more lives than it saves. Imagine if they bombed your block to get a couple bad guys. You’ve let international law and diplomacy go to your head. Killing is killing.
            Whether a Democrat or a Republican orders it doesn’t matter. Obama is not the man you voted for.

        • BughouseWW

          This is my first time out, kitty. I would oppose your reasoning because it’s vacuous. “Kill ‘em now cuz we failed to kill ‘em earlier.”

          Yup, that’s the Amerikun way.
          Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses.

      • sickofthechit

        Stun-guns in a teachers hands would be more humanely effective with a schoolyard bully.

        • JobExperience

          When stunguns are banned only bullies will have stunguns. Stunguns kill too many.
          It hurts worse than you imagine and can cause hidden damage. Let them taze you, Bro.

  • sickofthechit

    Stephen Walt uses the same disingenuous argument Repub. politicians used when their was talk of only allowing the Temporary Bush Tax Breaks for the wealthy to expire. They claimed “It won’t solve our deficit problem.” They were right that it would not have solved it, but it would have gone a long way towards reducing it. Sometimes it takes baby steps to make our way forward. charles a. bowsher

    • Bluejay2fly

      Why do you never hear fiscal conservatives talk about the cost of intervention?

      • JobExperience

        Shooting is so fun you forget how much bullets cost.

        • BughouseWW

          What are the chances that Israel will repeat the USS Liberty turkeyshoot in the Mediterranean?

          US sailors are sitting ducks for a false flag, and Israelis are masters in the tactic.

          • JobExperience

            It’s possible.
            Snowden has not cited any success in NSA spying on Mossad.

      • Ray in VT

        Because there is always enough money for war?

      • HonestDebate1

        Have Obama or Kerry submitted a war budget for their meaningless little bow shot?

        • JobExperience

          They can’t even get guests to RSVP.
          The promise that Saudis will foot the bill has faded away.

  • Ray in VT

    Seeing as how Turkey is right next door and that they have been taking in refugees, what options or objectives is that government looking at?

    • JobExperience

      Bulldozing parks to make more malls.

    • Bluejay2fly

      I do not know but Turkey has always been a steadfast ally ever since we suppressed information about their mass murder of Greeks and Armenians. In fact, its still hard to find any information in the free USA about the Turks genocide in Smyrna.

      • Ray in VT

        Yeah, they are awfully touchy about that, aren’t they. There are a couple books that I know of on the subject, but I’ve never read about it to any large extent.

        • Bluejay2fly

          We exchanged the truth for an strong ally in that region. It makes you think twice about how much truth exists in in our nation even in places like universities when to this day there is no information available about it.

      • BughouseWW

        The Cathedral at Vank, in Isfehan, has documents w/ signatures ordering the genocide.

        Funny, Iranians have no compunctions about calling out criminal acts.

  • sickofthechit

    Stephen Walt, how many people need to die before it meets your threshold? 5,000? 10,000? 100,000? Please, if 1,400 isn’t enough, how many is enough. A life is a life. It doesn’t make a difference whether they are American or Chinese or Syrian’s. charles a. bowsher

    • BughouseWW

      Ask Mr. Goldstone how many Palestinians have to die before he is more interested in justice than in retaining his place in a pariah community.

  • AC

    the show is over in 15mins and i’m still unsure what i think is best….

    • JobExperience

      You can continue thinking without the show.
      Try it and see.

      The problem is that you can’t find out the facts.
      You have to decide on examples and principles.
      Remember: Every action produces one or more reactions.
      None may be a desired reaction. A desired outcome is unlikely in war.

      • HonestDebate1

        Conversely, inaction also produces reactions. What’s the message to Iran?

        • JobExperience

          “We ain’t gonna blow you up right now, so settle down and take care of your populace.”

          • HonestDebate1

            Or full steam ahead with a nuke to annihilate Israel.

          • JobExperience

            Enrichment is not at the required level far from it. You’re channeling Beebe now; Red Line righcheer, big ole red line.

        • BughouseWW

          Better you should ask What is the message FROM Iran.

          100,000 Iranians were victims of CW at hands of Saddam Hussein, whom US aided and abetted in his crime.

          For over a year, Iran appealed to UN to stop the attacks. The UN, and the USA, ignored Iran.

          Ayatollah Khomeini WOULD NOT PERMIT the use of CW in retaliation.

          read that again:

          100,000 Iranians — including those oh so precious and photogenic children — were gassed, w/ US complicity, but Iran did NOT retaliate in kind.

          To have done so would have violated the religious and moral principles of the men whom Robert Menendez called the “mad mullahs of Tehran.”

          USA would have a long hard climb to reach the moral high ground of the “mad mullahs.”

    • HonestDebate1

      Accepting our role as a country that nurtures freedom and shapes events instead of reacting helplessly in horror to them.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Maybe the President will clear things up in address to the nation tomorrow.

      • JobExperience

        cloud things up more

        • sickofthechit

          Depends if you listen with an open mind.

          • JobExperience

            Can he speak with candor considering his orders?

    • Bluejay2fly

      We do not need Russia and China angry at us. Stay away!!

  • Aria Littlhous

    Why isn’t more of the focus on why the diplomatic solution is so wimpy? Why are true pacifists with strategic solutions not being heard? Why is the US not coming down harder on the merchants of death? On Russian and her allies? Is the US actually choosing to kill rather than risk alienating arms dealers? If a weapons system had malfunctioned, we would ask why–not, as we should, abandon weapons. Instead of saying “diplomacy didn’t work, the only option is to kill” why not ask hard questions about why diplomacy isn’t working?

    • JobExperience

      Headline: Sampson collapses Temple on own head!

      • Bluejay2fly

        Prophetic

        • JobExperience

          Wishful thinking maybe.
          Get a haircut.

          • Ray in VT

            … and get a real job.

    • BughouseWW

      In my view, the Russians have the only principled argument: Sergei Lavrov voiced in on Australian TV over two years ago, while they had inspectors on the ground in Syria, who discovered that rebels were the snipers picking off Syrian civilians.

      Lavrov said, “We condemn violence from either side and both sides. The situation must be settled through face-to-face negotiation. But Russia does NOT take sides. It is not for Russia to chose the leadership of the Syrian people.”

      Negotiations have not taken place because the US insisted as a precondition to talks that Assad step down. US further insisted that Iran, which has actual leverage w/ the Syrian government, NOT be part of the conversation.

      That’s just dumb. But US had nothing to lose from its intransigence.

  • Kash Hoff

    In much the same way that we turn a blind eye to the injustices and social problems of capitalism within the USA, I think we should turn a blind eye to the troubles within Syria. We’re not responsible for what goes on within every other country’s borders.

  • sickofthechit

    We need to be spending more on refugee and humanitarian aid than we do on the military when it comes to this and other conflicted regions. charles a. bowsher

    • JobExperience

      Refugees from Detroit and other domestic sacrifice zones could benefit. That could raise the minimum wage and elicit benefits. Do we want that? Sounds scary and alien.

      • Bluejay2fly

        Detroit is the ruin porn capital of the world right now we cannot afford to lose yet another American industry.

    • Bluejay2fly

      Do you know we have a national debt? Do you take out cash advances on your credit card to give to your broke neighbor?

      • Duras

        Would you give away your car to save a neighbor’s life?

        • Bluejay2fly

          Poor analogy. There are people dying all over the world as we speak you obviously can only do so much. Ask your other neighbors like Norway, Sweden, Japan, Finland, to start loaning out their money. We have a UN for a reason yet when we do not like their answer its unilateral action.

          • Duras

            You’re talking to someone who thinks it is morally wrong to own more than one home while there are so many homeless people in the world.

            We can always do more, but some people rather buy $100 dishes at fancy restaurants instead feeding hundreds of children at the same cost.

          • Bluejay2fly

            We had an inmate in one of our NY prisons who told the nurse he could not call home because prison gangs extort money for phone privileges. She let him use her phone for a couple of minutes. We found this out because her phone (not monitored by the prison) was used to order a hit on a rival gang member whose subsequent death was investigated by the police. Her small act of kindness got a man killed, period. One thing I have learned, there are just as many poor out there who are as evil as our rich. The largest poverty in America isn’t financial it is spiritual. Blindly helping people is foolish.

          • Duras

            Who says I’m “blindly” helping others?

            I don’t know what if foolish about helping one’s neighbors live in financial peace instead of spending millions of dollars buying a summer mansion.

            It was a nice try at a straw man, giving me a case study and stating my position as “blind.”

          • Bluejay2fly

            I grew up in a very bad situation not unlike Angela’s Ashes. I decided that I would help other people because I was never helped. I could go on Ad Nauseam about how many people cheated us or took advantage. Helping people out requires more than just a good heart it really requires knowledge about people. In the case of foreign intervention 90% of the time we are clueless about the culture we help. This ignorance costs them lives, our soldiers lives, and often results in making matters worse. How much does stationing 30K US troops in Korea cost us every year? How much since 1954? Often our interventions creates more damage than good. Be generous in your life but be smart about who you help. PS that incident actually did happen it was not a story.

      • sickofthechit

        Yes I have.

        • Bluejay2fly

          Even if you cannot pay it off. We are Trillions in debt. Do you owe so much on credit cards that you can never pay off the principal or can barely make the interest? We are mortgaging the entire financial stability of this nation.

          • JobExperience

            Jubilee! Let the banks eat it.

          • sickofthechit

            I’m a barely competent juggler when it comes to finance. Everything is still sort of in the air and each day just requires that I keep moving forward as best as I can. The wealthy could afford to do a lot lot more. The richest 20% control more than 88% of our nation’s wealth. Please don’t claim they “earned” it. The system was manipulated by their bought and paid for representatives in Congress. It’s long past time for a little claw back Charles A. Bowsher

      • BughouseWW

        yeah, that’s a great argument; that nails the moral high ground:

        We can’t come in and violate your sovereignty and kill more of your people ’cause we’re broke.

        But boy oh boy if we had the money, or if someone like the Saudis paid our way, we’d kill with abandon.

        Amen and Hallelujah.

        • Bluejay2fly

          That’s an argument most amoral Americans cannot comprehend. If it were up to me WW2 (the last congressionally declared war) would have been the last one we fought. We brought freedom from living to millions of Vietnamese, Korean, and miscellaneous brown people.

  • Mary Wilson

    If we take the moral high road in Syria now, are we prepared to do the same in the future when Israel uses, for example, cluster bombs?

    • sickofthechit

      Hope so!

    • BughouseWW

      Look. When Pope Francis makes numerous statements about the immorality of attacking Syria, but the US MSM — including C Span — chooses to spotlight William Kristol and his acolytes as moral authorities, I don’t have to crack my “Augustine on Just war” to know that the US’s moral high ground is built on a mountain of lies, I just consider the source.

      American Roman Catholics are a large demographic. They should “speak with one voice” and say, Killing more people is NOT the ‘moral high road.’

  • Davesix6

    So Michael Walzer was against the multinational invasion and taking down of Saddam Hussein yet he is for the US acting completely Unilaterally in Syria?

    • hellokitty0580

      I don’t think that’s what he was saying. I don’t think he believes we should act unilaterally in Syria. And that’s not the reality of what would happen anyway.

    • Steven Venick

      The take-down of Saddam wasn’t really “multinational”, it was the US twisting the arms of its allies to marginally back its unilateral action in Iraq. What international credibility we had we squandered in Iraq.

      After all the whooping and hollering we made over WMDs (including chemical weapons) in Iraq, to not act now would be the height of hypocrisy and cowardice.

      • BughouseWW

        Steven, Before we wade in the waters of hypocrisy we must walk through the cleansing shower of actual evidence and proof.

        A magistrate in a traffic court requires more and better proof than is being provided by the Admin, and Feinstein’s stunt with DVDs showing dead bodies was almost an admission that “we can’t make a strong case so we are going to do an updated version of incubator babies.”

        • HonestDebate1

          The proof I want is that whatever we do (or don’t do), it is in our national best interest.

  • Eva M.

    There seems to be evidence that it was not Assad’s army that did the chemical attack. The opposition has a motive to do it: namely, to get the US involved.

  • Chris Jones

    How do we apply appropriate Due Process for this situation?

  • http://straightphotography.org/ Daniel Jackson

    Stephen Walt says Israel has had a”pretty good working relationship with the Assad regime”. Surprised you let him get away with this, Tom.

    Does this relationship cover colluding with Syria to arm Hezbollah?

    Perhaps he meant Jordan rather than Syria?

  • Coastghost

    Tom: we may have opportunity later in the week to consider separately the tension between moral arguments for intervention and rule of law on the international stage. Which do we have an actual chance of building policy options upon?

    • JobExperience

      We could follow the example of 60 Minutes and focus on the turnaround of the Michael Jackson Estate. That has been the pattern.

  • Cyn

    The guest, MW’s, glib assignation of ‘a metaphysical concept
    holding no relevance’ to the concept of ‘last resort is pure arrogance. Never
    the less, let us put it in terms that he better relate to. Military actions at
    this point would pass the point of diminishing returns. But I’d like to further
    remind your glib guest that life and death is a metaphysical concept. All
    things end. Even political perspectives. Even concepts of morality. Even each
    of us. By gas, by bullet, by rot or by our own hand. All things end.

  • youthinasia

    The US has no right to attack, with a “shot across the bow,” in Syria. Just as the Japanese had no right to attack Pearl Harbor. We know how that ended.

    The US is the world’s butt-in-ski, not the world’s savior.

    This program is making a mess of a mess. Whirling around “the issues” with no logical format. My head is spinning.

    Tom is coming off as a spear-thrower for the Washington establishment. At least he’s consistent…..

    • JobExperience

      Tom got his seat by being a loyal spearchucker.

  • Sabine

    This is clearly a no-win situation; given that, we (the world/the US) might as well choose to ‘do the right thing’. Moral imperatives aside, there are practical reasons for responding punitively: by crossing the ‘red line’ against the use of chemical weapons, Assad has become a rogue leader, and lowered the barrier against future use of these weapons. That can’t be allowed to stand, for everyone’s safety. Furthermore, what if he had used (will use?) limited nuclear weapons – how would the world react to that? And if he gets away with chemical weapons, might the likelihood of some nation thinking they can get away with using nuclear weapons also increase?

  • Duras

    Any republican who has yet to admit that Iraq was a mistake and votes against curbing Assad from using chemical weapons is a party drone.

    There is proof of WMDs, they are being used, and Israel has felt the need to bomb the regime forces. The bigger difference between Iraq and Syria is that the U.S. will not be helping and protecting commerce. Syria will be a humanitarian effort. The degree of U.S. involvement is more debatable than inaction.

    • HonestDebate1

      Do you agree with DNI Clapper that WMD were shipped to Syria from Iraq in 2002 and 2003?

      • Duras

        No. A report came out recently stating that Russia had been supplying the chemical weapons.

        • sickofthechit

          I hear not just Russia, but American companies as well.

        • HonestDebate1

          Does that mean Clapper is wrong?

          • Duras

            I trust the AP over the government on these matters.

          • HonestDebate1

            They are not mutually exclusive.

          • Duras

            The AP publishes verifiable facts. And they have credibility.

          • HonestDebate1

            I could argue that but I don’t want to imply I side with the government. I’m not arguing the veracity of the AP report. I’m saying if Russia provided the WMD it does not mean that Iraq didn’t ship weapons to Syria a decade ago.

          • JobExperience

            grasping at straws to rehabilitate Bush

          • HonestDebate1

            What did I get wrong?

          • Ray in VT

            That there is real evidence of WMD shipments from Iraq to Syria.

          • HonestDebate1

            I did not make that claim to Duras.

          • Ray in VT

            Your comment certainly presents Clapper’s 10 year old statement as though it is something that is current. It is a misleading way of presenting what he said 10 years ago.

          • Duras

            I see what you are saying. But I’m also saying there are no verifiable facts showing that Iraq shipped WMDs to Syria.

          • JobExperience

            “Every explanation we have received has proven false.”

      • Ray in VT

        Do I agree that 10 years ago DNI Clapper said that? Yes. Do I believe that he believes it now? I don’t know. Do I believe that such a thing occurred? If it did, then no such evidence has been brought to light.

        “Theodre Kattouf, the U.S. ambassador in Damascus in 2002 and 2003, said
        in 2006 that he did not believe Iraq sent material to Syria in the run
        up to the war.”

        Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jun/4/likely-intel-chief-clapper-held-disputed-wmd-view/#ixzz2ePONtjQK

        Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

        • HonestDebate1

          I would say he would know, no? He watched it. He wasn’t the only one but it doesn’t surprise me that someone else might disagree. I do think it’s ironic that Clapper was one who fed the conspiracy. there were others:

          http://www.policymic.com/articles/62103/how-did-syria-get-chemical-weapons-did-they-come-from-our-old-friend-saddam

          Don’t get me wrong, I am a critic of Clapper and think he is a puppet out of the loop as evidenced by an interview with Diane Sawyer.

          But face it, nobody knows where the weapons came from. As I said before Iraq makes as much sense as any of it. It certainly cannot be ruled out.

          • Ray in VT

            It deserves some consideration if there is evidence to be had, which I have yet to see, and there is certainly plenty of other intelligence information that does show how and where Syria obtained materials from other sources, and I might be more receptive to the Iraq argument if it didn’t get pushed by people who seem to continue to want to justify the disaster and lie that was the invasion of Iraq.

          • HonestDebate1

            So now DNI Clapper is a liar?

            Oh well it doesn’t matter. I’m just glad you acknowledge it deserves consideration after the conniption the suggestion evoked from you the other day. I bring it up as relevant only to remind of the collective mindset across the aisle and the oceans about Iraq’s WMD. I do find it ironic that you would admit Clapper’s assessment deserves consideration. How does that square with your view Iraq was a mistake? If it’s worth considering Iraq shipped WMD to Syria pre invasion then it certainly follows that the notion the invasion was justified should at least be considered.

          • Ray in VT

            Who said that? He offered his personal assessment. It’s not as though he is pushing something as fact when there is either no evidence or evidence to the contrary.

            I said that it warrants consideration early last week. I just don’t think that people should be pushing something that lacks backing when there is presently far better information available.

            Why do you consider my willingness to consider Clapper’s 10 year old statement to be ironic? I’m game for most lines of argument, just so long as evidence can be provided. It’s not like I’m going to deny facts or valid research just because I “don’t believe” something.

            Would it be the case that it was discovered that Iraq had shipped large stockpiles of WMDs to Syria, then I would consider the invasion of Iraq to be slightly less of a total mistake and embarrassment, however, even if they were there, I still don’t think that it justifies the way that the American public was misled on other issues in the run up to the war or how poorly the occupation was managed.

          • HonestDebate1

            We disagree of course, Iraq was not only unavoidable and noble, we are better off with an ally where there was an enemy in this part of the world. We were not misled, we are being misled now. We will never agree and have beat it to death.

            But you can’t be serious on this matter.

            It was NOT his personal assessment! He was acting in his capacity as the chief of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. His job was interpreting satellite photographs and other imagery.

            Lieutenant General Moshe Yaalon was acting in his capacity as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Force, the top job in the Israeli military, when he asserted the same.

            http://www.nysun.com/foreign/saddams-wmd-moved-to-syria-an-israeli-says/24480/

            Even an Iraq general said it.

            http://www.nysun.com/foreign/iraqs-wmd-secreted-in-syria-sada-says/26514/

            And on and on. You don’t have to like the evidence but there was evidence and the notion is worth considering.

          • Ray in VT

            There was nothing unavoidable about Iraq. The choice for war appears to have been made at least as late as the summer of 2002. The public just had to be sold, and the fact that some will still believe that we were not misled says something poor about people.

            What you have provided is a series of statements without the facts to back them up. It is sort of like the difference between a use and a definition. They are separate in many real ways.

            What is the evidence? Not statements. Physical evidence 10 years after the fact to support those statements?

            I am also quite serious, despite your canned response that I am not. One could ask the same of you. I am certainly of the opinion that you are quite sincere in your statements, regardless of what shaking ground and reasoning many of your statements are built.

          • HonestDebate1

            Regarding Iraq: yea, yadda yadda.

            You gave me nothing but a series of statements without evidence about Egypt! I am not saying there is proof but the evidence is the satellite pictures as interpreted by our leading military General at the time who happens to be the current DNI. Obviously I can’t show you the satellite photos.

            You are revising history by looking at 2002 through the lens of hindsight. The drum has been pounded so long that many people believe Hussein never had or used WMD. There was something to it. To dismiss it all as 100% false is crazy. If he didn’t have gigantic stockpiles that doesn’t mean he didn’t have anything and some of it didn’t find it’s way to Syria.

          • Ray in VT

            Yadda, yadda, yadda indeed. I looked at the same link from the CRS, based upon intelligence, that was given to Congress. So, if you want to run with 10 year old comments, which supporting evidence has never appeared to the public, over that, then go ahead. It certainly wouldn’t be the most ridiculous and selective use of sources that you’ve done here.

            I’m working with facts regarding Iraq, not the tired string of lies, distortions and half truths that was peddled to the American public before and after the invasion. It must be sad to have to try to work constantly to uphold that which was questionable at the time and blatantly false now. Bush (and others) lied. People died, and some people still want to try to fool the public into believing that what they said was true by baselessly speculating that the WMDs were there, but they just got smuggled out. Well, where is the evidence 10 years on? That’s all I want. Evidence. Not 10 year old statements.

            Ten years ago we were still looks for the WMDs that we were told must be there. Should I take any comments from then about how we were going to find WMD in Iraq as fact, because I shouldn’t be using hindsight? Should I not look at anything that has come to light since then in order to judge the veracity and validity of those statements?

          • jimino

            Since we provided the chemical weapons to Iraq, we should be able to identify whether the ones used in Syria are from the same stock, shouldn’t we?

          • HonestDebate1

            I would think so.

          • BughouseWW

            In an appearance on C Span on Sept 3 (?), Amy Smithson said that US firms supplied 650,000 tons of chemical precursor to Saddam, which he used to gas 100,000 Iranians, 20,000 of whom died, 50,000 of whom still live with debilitating effects of CW.

            Smithson named two corporations that were prosecuted for violating US law against supplying CW.

            btw, Waltzer’s argument, which amounts to “let bygones be bygones,” is morally bankrupt.

            Israel certainly does not operate on that standard.

      • jimino

        I don’t believe anything he or any other official says without some proof. And if they way “we know but we can’t tell you why” it seals the deal.

        What were the specific WMD’s he claims were shipped?

    • Bluejay2fly

      Does Israel have WMD? How did they get them?

      • Duras

        Does Israel have democratically elected officials?

        Does the U.S. have WMDs? How did they get there?

        Apparently, one Muslim country can have WMDs while the other cannot…?

        • Bluejay2fly

          Their WMD’s are in defiance of US policy and they deny their existence just like North Korea and Iran. It is possible that by 1967 they built the bomb possibly by the French who gave them that technology not us.

          • BughouseWW

            Bluejay, with the difference that Israel DOES have nuclear weapons while Iran does not.
            We know this because IAEA keeps Iranian facilities under inspection, but even on the few occasions when Israel, a non-signatory to NPT, allowed US inspectors in, they hid their activities behind false walls. If they had nothing to hide, why build false walls?

          • Bluejay2fly

            We should have folded up shop in the 90′s and let the post cold war world live on its own. We could have taken all that money wasted and worked on becoming energy independent and more socially just.

          • BughouseWW

            Bluejay, the person who runs Bush’s school at Southern Methodist has researched the Persian Gulf War, and the reasons Papa Bush waged it.

            Jeffrey Engel’s book is “Into the Desert;” you can listen to him talk about it here — http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Intothe

            the core argument is Bush decided that, with Russia out of the way, US was now ready to create a brave new world, “to make the world a better place,” starting by imposing US will on Iraq.

            The Bush I admin had NO concern about Kuwaitis, or even Saudis — those claims were just pretext, or opportunity. Bush just wanted to impose his vision of what the world should look like, on a state that he thought was soft enough PlayDoh for him to manipulate.

          • Duras

            First off, my original comment was about hypocrisy and stopping malicious people from using chemical weapons.

            I am aware that Israel commits acts of terror, and I think they should be taken to the international courts. But for now, they don’t pose imminent danger.

            I am getting at the fact that certain politicians beat the war drums for certain countries’ resources and nothing else.

            Imagine if the same ethic that was applied to Iran last year was also applied to North Korea…. It wasn’t because there are no resources in North Korea.

            All of the rationale that was used to go into Iraq is also present in the Syrian crisis except for what’s good for commerce. That’s my point. And the same people who refuse to say Iraq was a mistake and vote against curbing Assad’s behavior are corrupt imperialists. They are the real imperialists, not me.

            I think you got me to follow a red herring.

      • JobExperience

        Israel (re) sells arms too.

      • brettearle

        What’s your point?

        That Israel can now blow up Iran–but Iran can’t, as yet, do the same thing to Israel?

        That the US, having provided Israel with nuclear weapons or the knowledge to build them, means that the US has no right to act, morally or otherwise, in the Middle East?

        Don’t leave us in the dark, for curiosity.

        What are you implying?

        • Bluejay2fly

          Israel our closest ally of over 50 years whom we have given Hundreds of Billions still has openly opposed our wishes. They may built a nuclear bomb in defiance of our will we do not know because they refuse to allow inspections and deny the existence of any nuclear weapons (sound familiar) they stockpile chemical weapons against many countries wishes (again conjecture as they lie), they are relentlessly spying on us, and have even murdered some US sailors on the USS Liberty (an accident) when it suited their national interest. My point is if we cannot control Israel with all our money and influence what makes you think the outcome will be any better in Syria? If Israel is any example of an American friend who does nothing but lie to the world then perhaps we should just stay out of that region altogether.

          • BughouseWW

            Israel is NOT an ally to the US at all; it CANNOT be an ally because it has not declared international borders and has not signed on to NPT.

          • Bluejay2fly

            Officially and unofficially.

          • brettearle

            First of all, I don’t support the Syrian initiative, without an International Effort.

            Secondly, for you to conflate Israel with the Syrian incident–without taking into account so many other factors, only speaks to your decided political bias.

            Moral relativism and situational ethics abounds, everywhere, in the Middle East.

            Not just with regard to Israel.

            Your Political Bias is Flagrant……

          • Bluejay2fly

            It seems to me the USA only intercedes into other nations affairs when it benefits our end. Libya gassed Chad, Iraq gassed Iran, and we did nothing. Even when you speak of genocide where are we? Certainly, not in Sudan or Rwanda or how about what Pol Pot and Cambodia?

          • brettearle

            You were talking about Israel.

            I am addressing your remarks about Israel.

            And you know it.

            Your Political Bias is still Flagrant, with regard to Israel–whether you address a response to me, directly, about Israel. or not.

          • BughouseWW

            Sam. Power’s self-congratulatory hubris re Rwanda has blinded her to a salient fact: Rwandans emerged from their convulsions and set up Truth and Reconciliation commissions. They tried and punished wrong doers, executing several leaders, and held mass trials where neighbor confronted neighbor, and in the end, had to resolve the horrible thing between them and work out a way to live together going forward.

            In short, Rwanda might be better off today than it would have been if US or others had intervened.

            But Sam. Power cannot permit herself to contemplate the fact that Rwandan’s sinned their own sins and found their own redemption: she has a ‘savior complex,’ she’s of the chosen people ordained by gawd to be the moral leader, the righteous avenger, with the “responsibility to punish.”

            - – -
            I say, if US had left Syria alone in 2011, rather than deliberately exacerbate the situation, Syria would be a struggling but better place today. Hillary Clinton had no intention to leave Syria alone, way back in 2011, she started agitating, stirring up crap, sending in covert operatives and political agitators. That is what her State Dept. did all over the ME.

    • hellokitty0580

      I fully agree

    • brettearle

      Before the Iraq war, the Middle East was quite dangerous.

      But now, I would argue that it is even more dangerous.
      You are simply not taking into account the degree of possibility for escalation and unintended consequences:

      a strike against Turkey

      a strike against Israel

      decreased International support, of any future measures we might have to take–should there be increased violence, as the result of our actions.

      If Assad went after other countries with WMD, like Hussein did with Iran, then there might be more justification for this–both in the eyes of the World and the American Public.

      • Duras

        I am for a limited action that would only curb Assad’s behavior. Assad has to calculate the risk of using chemical weapons after U.S. strikes and he ought to know that his neck is on the line. Inaction would surely mean the use of more chemical weapons, which causes more collateral deaths than traditional combat.

        I was saying early on in the conflict – when Syria killed some journalists – that we should get involved. (The politicians didn’t start criticizing Obama for inaction until a year into the civil war.)

        Something should have been done that would have been similar to what happen in Libya. Obviously, what can still be done is a scaled down version of what happened in Libya. (Not that the Libyan and Syrian crises are the exact same.) But I think positive outcomes can be had.

        • brettearle

          It’s not that your arguments aren’t well thought out.

          They are well thought out.

          But first, Assad would certainly know that if, this time around, it is a “Bluff”, then he would be totally self-destructive to try it again.

          Why?

          Because he would know that many more, from the International Community would turn against him.

          Because, therefore, at that point, not only might Russia not veto the measure in the UN, but the Russians might even withdraw some of their military personnel from Syria.

          I just think it is fatuous to ignore the International community on this.

          It’s not as if other countries don’t express moral indignation, behind the scenes.

          Certainly, the Arab League won’t come out, publicly, about how strong they truly feel about Assad.

          The issue is that there is a tipping point–where many more countries would jump aboard.

          The majority of the World has to make the decision, not the US:

          We are a country which is morally conflicted as any other nation….based on our country’s past actions.

          • Duras

            Well, I just saw a report that says Syria might give up their chemical weapons to Russia (I think Russia) to hold off attacks from the U.S. So that would be great.

            I just think it is too bad that America starts wars like Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of putting humanity before commerce. During Libya, commerce was certainly part of the equation, but humanity concerns were real and primary.

            Because of Iraq and Afgahanistan, America doesn’t look genuine, and I think a lot more nations would be on board if those wars never happened. I also think the Obama Administration would have intervened during the early stages of the Syrian genocide had they not felt over-extended from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Call it lack of political will.

            I’m not looking at Syria through an historical lens with Iraq and Afghanistan in mind, whereas a lot of nations seem to be seeing it that way.

        • BughouseWW

          I am for a limited action that would curb Israel’s behavior, and punish Israel for using chemical weapons against innocent civilians, including children, in Gaza in 2008-2009, just days before Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

          Goose meet gander.

          • Duras

            Fine, lets file suit in the international courts. We should file a lot of suits, including against our own elected representatives. Otherwise, we are in the here and now, and we are faced with the prospects of more mass killings.

        • fun bobby

          “which causes more collateral deaths than traditional combat. ”
          are there some statistics to back that up?

          • Duras

            No, I don’t have statistics.

            I would say that in a combat theater there is more opportunity for non-combatants to escape or hide, as opposed to a chemical weapon attack.

          • fun bobby
          • Duras

            If you really want me too, I can pull up images of a mass of Syrian children dead from one day of chemical weapons attacks, as opposed to the many images of one or two dead children across the many days of the Syrian crisis.

          • fun bobby

            is it more horrifying than the image of the German civilians we firebombed above? why did those people not just run away or hide since that’s so easy to do with non-chemical weapons?
            is it more horrifying than this?

            http://www.earthhopenetwork.net/iraq_phosphorus_victim.jpg
            wow the nation that did that should be held responsible.

    • BughouseWW

      You’re skipping one niggling little detail, Duras: if the whole project of morality is based on rule of law, doesn’t that require things like presenting evidence; giving the accused the right to confront the accuser; weighing of the facts and evidence by an objective third party?

      If “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” is the requisite standard for protesting a parking ticket, why do we accept Diane Feinstein’s weepy DVDs for the standard when war is on the line?

      • Duras

        Who says that the project of morality is based on the rule of law?

        I think the foundation of morality is empathy. If rule of law is alpha and omega, then there wouldn’t be such things as unjust laws. Nonetheless, Assad did break international law.

  • Davesix6

    Tom, when you say “we” have drawn a red line and shown the atrocities please keep in mind it is Obama who drew the red line, And is Obama and the progressive left’s political machine AKA progressive journalists that are banging the drums of war against Syria, not “we”.
    The vast majority of “we”, the citizens see nothing but, as the caller Reinaldo put it, an inept President and his lap dog press.

    • sickofthechit

      Turn off Faux news for a few days.

      • JobExperience

        What if Bill O’Reilly was raped and murdered?

        • Ray in VT

          Maybe by one of those roving packs that I hear is preying upon people like him.

        • TELew

          I still wouldn’t watch it.

      • fun bobby

        but then you would miss when they broadcast a live suicide

    • Steven Venick

      And where were you and the “drums of war” 10 years ago in the lead up to Iraq? Shouting from the rooftops about WMDs and our “international responsibility”, I imagine. 10 years later when we actually have hard evidence of WMDs, you’re hiding your head in the sand.

      The judge of a nations character is not doing what we want when it’s easy to do so, it’s whether we do what we must when doing so is hard.

      • brettearle

        If what you say were true, we wouldn’t have supported Hussein when he used gas against Iran.

        • Steven Venick

          And we shouldn’t have. But like Michael Walzer said during the discussion today: Past mistakes do not condemn us to make the same mistake again. We have an opportunity to make the right choice this time and we should seize it.

          • BughouseWW

            Is there a statute of limitation on crimes against humanity?

            If your sister was gang raped & murdered and the rapists/murderers remained on the loose for ten years and then caught, should THEY be prosecuted?
            Or should we say, “we’ll prosecute the next rapist/murderer that we catch. Sorry ’bout the botched up investigation we did on your sis. Mistakes were made, wot?”

          • JobExperience

            Don’t have many close female friends, do you?

            What if it were you raped and murdered?
            What outcome is preferred?

          • BughouseWW

            I tend not to think of my daughters as friends, but my sister is certainly my friend.

            What’s your point?

            Waltzer pardons folks for provable complicity in using CW against Iran, and proposes to ‘make it all right’ by attacking Syria for allegedly using CW.

          • brettearle

            I agree.

            But only theoretically.

            Every decision, when considering Crimes Against Humanity, must be treated individually.

            Simply because such an atrocity has occurred does not mean the US or any country should step in.

            I am not justifying the Rwanda, the Holocaust or Dafur.

            What I am saying is that you can’t ignore Realpolitik.

            Sometimes Realpolitik can be wrong–in the case of some genocides.

            Other times it can be the right decision.

            It isn’t as if we’re the only country who is expressing moral outrage.

            But the FACT is we don’t have adequate International support. What’s more, the US public is NOT behind this.

            What right should we step in, if the world is not behind us?

            Because we can?

            Because we will decide when something is illegal enough or atrocious enough to step in?

            I think that we live in a dangerous world of self-righteousness and irresponsible autonomy, when we do that.

            [And that is apart from the unintended consequences of:

            Syria striking Turkey

            Syria striking Israel

            Hezbollah striking Israel

            Iran striking Iraq or somewhere else, covertly

            Russia actually retaliating;

            as well as the possibility of a decrease, rather than an increase, of International support, should we step in now and the war worsens.]

          • BughouseWW

            “Every decision, when considering Crimes Against Humanity, must be treated individually.”

            - – -

            iow, ‘equal justice under the law’ is just a quaint notion.

            Your list of ‘what might happen’ betrays a certain bias, but no matter –

            To my mind, it is the wrong list:

            Why is everyone so concerned about Israel being struck — they carried out at least three illegal (i.e. acts of war) attacks on Syria just in the past year — Israelis fired missiles from its Dolphin class (nuclear capable) subs in the Med. on Syria.

            If Israel gets retaliated against, I call it come-uppance, and long overdue:

            Moreover, the language about “degrading Assad’s military capability” is ALL ABOUT Israel’s quest to retain military dominance.

            See this paper by Bar Ilan prof. Gerald Steinberg —

            https://faculty.biu.ac.il/~steing/arms/chem.htm

          • brettearle

            Sir, explain my, quote, `certain bias’, unquote, above.

            Two or three men and women, on the Thread–and you are one of them–clearly have an agenda against Israel.

            So far, I wouldn’t define you as a political bigot.

            At least two others are.

            You seem simply to have a political bias.

            Your view of Israel, in the Middle East mess, is an exaggerated, overblown gross misperception of all the issues and the problems that plaque the US and the World–in that region.

            That, of course, is not to say that many, including Israel, aren’t, in some way. at fault.

            But good luck feeding your anti-Israel bias.

            It will do nothing but drown you in your own ignorance.

          • fun bobby

            and are you saying the right choice is for us to get mired in someone else’s civil war?

      • fun bobby

        killing people with cruise missiles is easy

    • brettearle

      Your comments suggest that you can only see morality through the prism of politics.

      You telegraph your hypocrisy, quite easily.

      That is, if Bush II were at the helm, we would hear Something Completely Different from you now.

      The only reason that you will deny this, here–if and when you respond to this–is….

      Only….to….Save…Face

      Your radically eschewed comment demonstrates only one thing:

      You have humiliated yourself..

    • StilllHere

      He said it was a red line for him, not for the US.
      He’s now asking Congress to draw the same line.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Obama now claims HE didn’t draw a red line. It is teleprompters fault — or the international community — or whatever just not Obama’s fault….

    • nj_v2

      Obama is a “liberal.”

      Hahahahahahaha! Good one, Dave!

  • Buster Kelsey

    Great show. A moral morass to befuddle us all. I think had Bush not invaded Iraq on such flimsy ‘proof’ we might be more willing to consider intervening. But we are not very good on intervention. If we intervene in one place we must in all?
    I wonder how we would feel now if we were in the midst of a civil war and other nations intervened? What would have happened if other nations had not intervened in our revolutionary war? History is written by the winners.
    I’m amazed civilization advances at all.

  • Mike in Canada

    The so-called “international norms” that are constantly being invoked are, in fact, a treaty: the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). There are only seven UN member states that are not party to the CWC. Three of these are in the Middle East: Syria, Egypt and Israel.
    1. We cannot enforce a treaty against countries that are not bound by it.
    2. Even if we could, it would be inconsistent to enforce it against Syria while actively giving military aid to Egypt and Israel, both of which probably continue to stockpile chemical weapons (which is presumably why they have not ratified the CWC).
    3. The US, Russia, Libya and Japan are currently in breach of the CWC, having missed the 2012 deadline for fully destroying their chemical-weapons stockpiles. It would be hypocritical for a non-compliant country to enforce the treaty against anyone (party or non-party) until it at least comes back into compliance by completing the destruction of its own stockpiles.

    • brettearle

      It’s an excellent point.

      Nevertheless, 7 or 8 wrongs don’t make a right.

      It STILL is possible, that with noticeable International support, any need to address a humanitarian issue can supersede Hypocrisy and moral double Standard.

      But in this case, there is not enough International support. If there were, then I would support the initiative.

      **********

      Hypothetical, germane to the discussion:

      If there was a political famine in the Sudan, and millions were dying, if we had backed Bashir for decades (which, of course, we didn’t), does that mean that we shouldn’t help those people who might be in crisis?

      • Steve__T

        Unfortunately this happened in 1998 and we failed terribly.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Sudan

        • brettearle

          I haven’t checked your reference, as yet.

          Thank you. I’ll check it.

          I have done work on Sudan.

          What has not happened, as was put in my hypothetical, is that we have never backed Bashir.

          But you are right to point out that we could have done something–and should have.

    • sickofthechit

      About your point 3. I live in Kentucky less than 35 miles from where a large amount of our chemical stockpiles are stored. I drive past that facility fairly regularly. The last I heard was that the destruction of these weapons would not be complete until sometime in the 2020′s. Are you then saying that we should not act on any use of chemical weapons until after 2020? Kind of gives those who have chemical weapons a pretty large window to act however they want. I like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s 45 day window proposal. charles a. bowsher

      • fun bobby

        personally I cant see any difference between killing with chemical and conventional weapons. seems like people are just as dead either way.

      • Mike in Canada

        To answer your question, Mr. Bowsher: No, I am saying that the money it would cost to attack Syria would be better spent on speeding up the chemical-weapons–destruction process at Blue Grass Army Depot (KY), Pueblo Chemical Depot (CO) and Isla San José (Panama). This could help bring the US back into compliance with the CWC sooner (i.e. before the 2020s), and restore its moral high ground in terms of pushing for chemical-weapons disarmament abroad. The problem with Sen. Manchin’s proposal is that a treaty procured by the threat or use of force is void under Article 52 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT). The US has not ratified the VCLT, but 113 countries have (including most US allies), so the proposal would likely be seen as illegitimate by the bulk of the international community.

  • Amanee Kouamay

    what is this idea?
    Obama is fighting to win his war on in syria than balancing the budget .I sense that once a while Democrats and Republicans will find the consensus as this war will cost a penny to America and it will profit tax payer.

    I’d like to know if there is a difference between Lybia and Syria as these rulers have short memory when it comes to trigger the war machine.

    The knife will turn back against the savior.
    Is the war always the solution?

  • alsordi

    If the Obama gang goes forward with an attack, they can be added to the list of war criminals, along with the Bush/Cheney neocons and Heny Kissinger. Eventually there will be a tribunal for these war profiteers and bankers.

  • fun bobby

    Do we have a moral obligation to hit back against mass chemical killing?
    oh yeah because chemical killing is soooo different than using conventional weapons. that’s why its ok that we have slaughtered 100000+ afghans. it was also fine when assad killed 100000+ people there because he did it our way. BTW does anyone know how many casualties there were when we dropped all that white phosphorous in Iraq?
    its pretty disgusting to see that NPR has become a tool of the warmongers and promotes this new war.

    • Bluejay2fly

      Fritz Haber “it really doesn’t make a difference to a corpse wether he was shot in the face or gassed”

  • Dee

    Obama & Kerry self proclaimed moral voices….

    Where was Obama’s and John Kerry’s so call moral voices
    for action when the Israeli Army bombed the Gaza Strip for
    17 days in 2008-09 and killed over 1,400 innocent civilians?

    Indeed, for the record it was reported there were some
    450 children among the dead. Some were blown to bits
    with American bombs while still in their beds, others at
    their school desks or in the play ground. And still others
    trying to maintain a sense of normalcy by playing soccer
    in local fields and open spaces…

    You know, Obama didn’t utter a word of condemnation
    on those atrocious Zionist war crimes then…not a word!
    And Kerry, then chair of the US foreign relations told
    Gazans when he went there to assess the damage (es-
    sentially being the good Zionist apologists he has been
    throughout his carrer in the senate) delivered an AIPAC
    type message.warning Gazans this is what they get when
    they lob homemade rockets into Israel protesting their
    rights over the Palestinian Territory and specifically the
    fascist likeIsraeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

    Well, I am going to be very blunt and direct to both of
    these men today and their Zionist war mongers in
    Washington.against Syria …Go Jump in the Lake.

    Dee , ( see the URLs below for more of their criminal
    complicity with Israel against other states in the region)

    The Israeli Lobby/London Note the Zionist “next” to Syria
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/john-mearsheimer/the-israel-lobby

    Friends of Syria Not Friends of the Syrian people
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/military-escalation-qatar-friends-of-syria-conference-opens-new-stage-in-syrian-war/5340262

  • pm05

    Amazing to hear our great congressmen and women speak! “It’s not our problem” !!! Really. The “evil” is “over there” so why bother????? Really. I hope I am better than this This man is evil and murdering over and over and chemical weapons on children, and “it is not our problem.” !!!! What have we become!!!

    • JobExperience

      We have become prudent, suspicious after being told lies careful and proportionate in action. When you see Mama stirring a big boiling pot of beans why not try to score two with a big tater from across the kitchen? You’ve let Swiftboatee Kerry stampede you into deep Ketchup. He has no principles so why should you? I wonder if you personally are helping the oppressed near your home and in your community. It’s easier to fry kids from 6K miles away I guess. Can’t stop gas with bombs and bullets.

    • BughouseWW

      well, pm05, when compared to “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here,” I think “It’s not our problem” is a better approach — certainly better for the Syrian people.

    • fun bobby

      yeah lets kill the evil with cruise missiles. brilliant!

    • TomK_in_Boston

      So you’d like a gesture to make yourself feel good, even if it makes the situation worse and kills a few more?

      We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
      — C. Rice

    • Sy2502

      So far, our solutions have been worse than the problem. Maybe we should learn from our previous mistakes instead of going all guns blazing into yet another debacle.

    • BughouseWW

      pm05, you KNOW that Assad is evil because numerous moral authorities — like William Kristol and an entire stable of his minions — have said so.

      Have you assessed Assad for yourself, or are you willing to kill an unknown number of people based on something as shallow as Kristol-induced moral outrage?

      Does the fact that the pope decries additional violence and urges a nonviolent way to resolve the situation, carry more or less weight than the opinion of William Kristol?

  • Melissa Cook

    The guest is saying, in effect, “the devil you know is better than the one you don’t”. People say that when they are thinking of changing jobs, relationships, etc. Not genocide. I am the mother of a US Marine; does anyone think I’m in favor of war? I don’t want my son and his brethren in Syria, put in harms way. . Yet, how do we see a wrong and not right it? To not is to be just as culpable, to condone. I’m tired of this country standing aside for despots and dictators, murderers of innocents, because it’s not in our “National Interest”. I stand with our President; the man is trying to do the right thing. When is it NOT in our interest to do the right thing?

    • Sy2502

      The problem comes when the “solution” is worse than the problem. I think Americans have a very naive attitude sometimes. We already showed it in the Iraq war. How did it go? Oh yes, we’ll overthrow mean nasty Saddam Hussein, the Iraqis will welcome us with open arms, they’ll have democratic elections, and they’ll live happily ever after. Nice fairy tale, but it didn’t really turn up that way. Now I fear we’ll do the same with Syria, and that precious lives like your son’s will be wasted for another misguided, badly organized and poorly executed war. And how many Syrian civilians will die as “collateral damage”? Would you say their death by the hands of our troops will be somehow nicer and more acceptable than their death by the hands of their dictator? I don’t, a death is a death. And if anyone thinks that the rest of the world will welcome our intervention, thank us, or support us, they obviously haven’t learned anything from previous wars. The rest of the world will use it as yet another reason to hate us, to call us “imperialists”, to tell us to stop sticking our noses in other countries’ business, they’ll accuse us of profiteering from war and death, call us war mongers, etc. We have been through all this before, countless times. Will we ever learn from our mistakes? Ever?

      • TomK_in_Boston

        Amen, PLEASE ask yourself if the “solution” will actually make things better or will just make you feel better.

      • BughouseWW

        I’d like Melissa Cook to struggle with the question of the moral culpability of people like her Marine son: “Just carrying out orders?” — when the order is to attack civilians with Depleted Uranium, does he have the moral obligation to refuse to carry out that order?

    • Agnostic58

      Doing something and doing the right thing are not synonymous. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Have you read or heard about the atrocities of those who would replace the current despot? If not, you are living in technicolor if you think bombing and destabilizing the status quo advances your humanitarian values.

    • BughouseWW

      “how do you see a wrong and not right it.”

      There is at least 500 years of history to help with that conundrum.
      1. Carefully and objectively investigate the wrong:
      Who did it? What is the evidence that they did it?

      2. Confront the accused — he has a right to tell his side of the story, and present facts and evidence from his side.

      3. Who has the right/duty to weigh the evidence and assign culpability — does the accuser also play the role of judge and jury?

      4. Who assigns punishment, and enforces it? Does the accuser have the right to
      -make the accusation
      -judge the accused, without giving the accused a hearing
      -impose a punishment
      -carry out the punishment

      Are all these rights held by ONE person/entity?

      Moreover, what is the track record of that one person in whom so much power and authority is invested –
      –has it ever used chemical weapons?
      –if so, was it held to account for use of CW?
      –was it ever punished for using CW?

      “How do we see a wrong and not right it?”

      Indeed, Melissa Cook: How do we look at the crimes against humanity committed serially by the United States — carried out by US Marines under orders (“I was just following orders”) and not do something to right that wrong?

      For you to give voice to your need to “right wrongs,” perhaps you could petition the US government to pay reparations to the parents of Iraqi children who are born without eyes, or with two heads, as a result of US use of Depleted Uranium in Iraq.

      Or demand reparations to the people of Iran who lost 20,000 citizens to chemical bombs dropped with US assistance. 100,000 Iranians suffered attack; 20,000 died; 50,000 live debilitated lives due to effects of chemical exposure. “How do we see THAT wrong and not right it?”

  • TomK_in_Boston

    Have you noticed how the corporate media go after anyone who doesn’t want another war? “So you want us to just stand by when children are gassed, congressman?” “What kind of message will this send to Iran, congressman?” We are seeing a bunch of Judith Millers again.

    Somebody said it a few days ago – this is not new territory for us, in fact it’s same old same old. When you have experience it’s good to learn from it. When has this kind of meddling worked out well for the USA?

    • fun bobby

      it has worked out pretty well for Raytheon and Lockheed

      • TomK_in_Boston

        Right, I stand corrected. Our “crazy” behavior usually works out great for the elite and the MIC.

        • fun bobby

          George bush sr has a great cigar boat he enjoys riding around in up there in maine

  • Potter

    Meeting Mr Assad’s atrocities with appropriate force will help to rebuild American moral authority in the world. – the economist

    Can’t we rebuild moral authority (if we had it) by NOT using military force? And if we act ( or the President alone acts) doesn’t this continue the dysfunction of the UN and doesn’t it preclude others, say those neighbors in the Middle East, taking some responsibility?

    Whatever we do there will be no consensus anyway on our so-called moral authority.

    • fun bobby

      what could be more of a moral act than launching cruise missiles?

  • Sy2502

    After all the Bush blaming (some of which well deserved) that this administration and its sycophants (Pelosi to name one) have done, I am almost tempted to wish they did go to war, and watch them hang themselves with their own rope. But too many human lives will be wasted in the process. I wonder what Obama thinks when he looks at his beloved Nobel Peace Prize.

    • fun bobby

      I was thinking today, like lance Armstrong medals, obama should have his prize stricken from the record books and he should have to return the million bucks

  • SteveTheTeacher

    The Russian initiative to persuade the Assad regime to surrender chemical weapons stockpiles to international control is a move in the right direction.

    Disturbingly, rather than offering encouragement for such a solution, the response by the US State Department (as reported in the Wall Street Journal) was more pressure for military action:

    “Ms. Harf and other U.S. officials said the speed with which Damascus and Moscow responded shows the effect of American pressure and said it was more of a reason for congressional approval of a military force resolution to back U.S. plans to strike Syria.” Source: Wall Street Journal.

    Many Syrian rebel’s are, undoubtedly, encouraged by the US government’s continued threats to use its military. However, from comments I have seen in some of the international media, many others view US threats of military action as tantamount to state sponsored terrorism.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      I bet Obama et al will really love being bailed out by Putin, LOL. But this is the most hopeful development yet.

      • anamaria23

        One could also say that Putin potentially has responded to the threat of military force.
        I hardly think Putin would bail President Obama out from the kindness of his heart.

        • TomK_in_Boston

          That’s true. I was thinking that now Putin has a prominent role in the solution, he’s a big player, which is what he wants. I expect Obama would rather not have “promoted” him.

          • anamaria23

            Or conversely, President Obama might be wise to give Putin his due recognition in hopes of an upgrade in relations, even talks to a resolution in the civil war.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            I agree. I’m saying I don’t think he wanted to do that.

            President Obama was headed for a humiliating defeat in congress and he has now been rescued by Putin, when I saw no way out. Amazing.

          • anamaria23

            I do not see it that way. When has Putin ever relinquished a stand. He has way too much to lose by a strike on Syria..
            President Obama stood up to Assad and Putin. They are the bad guys as much as the President haters would make a hero out of ex KGB thug operative Putin. without the threat, no Putin, sadly.

          • fun bobby

            how did he “stand up” exactly?

          • fun bobby

            hopefully putin will have another hilarious folksy putdown like that shearing a pig line

    • hennorama

      SteveTheTeacher – One can hope for the best, but at the same time prepare for the worst.

      Consider that the “The Russian initiative to persuade the Assad regime to surrender chemical weapons stockpiles to international control” may be nothing more than a delaying tactic.

      Consider also that such an idea may be completely unworkable, as it would likely require a complete ceasefire in Syria, from both the Assad forces and allies, and the rebels and their allies, as well as unfettered access to every possible site inside Syria for U.N. inspectors.

      And even if all of that happened, who will take charge of and responsibility for these weapons, and how would one account for all of them without the Syrian government acknowledging their production and storage?

      That is why a Congressional debate and vote is still a good idea. Note also that approval for military action, if given, is not a requirement to TAKE military action. Such an approval would be quite a handy thing, even if kept in one’s vest pocket.

      • SteveTheTeacher

        I would distinguish between being prepared for the worst and expecting the worst.

        Ever get nervous when a state trooper pulls up right behind you on the highway? You don’t have to be a bad driver to know that you could be cited for driving too fast, going over the lane line, not signaling at the right distance before a lane switch, etc.

        Expecting the worst assures that the worst will be found. If the US government expects the worst, government officials will interpret any slight indication that the plan is not moving forward as they like as grounds for military action.

        On the contrary, the Russian proposal is an opportunity. US diplomats should take an active role in ensuring its success because, in the broader scope of the war, this is only a start.

        However, even though there will be bumps and set-backs, moving forward on this issue can build the bonds of working relations as well as the momentum to undertake the much harder task of bringing representatives of the Assad regime and rebels for peace negotiations.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    Has any mainstream pundit or gvt official suggested bringing Iran into the discussion?

    • fun bobby

      but we would have to be unafraid to talk to them to do that

  • brettearle

    If the Syrians comply, by handing over jurisdiction of chemical weapons, this will decisively turn around the recent wide-spread criticism of the President’s foreign policy.

    It will certainly look as if Syria blinked and possibly Russia blinked, along with Syria:

    It is because the President took a firm, unwavering stance–even ramping up his plans for a fiercer strike, in recent days– that he forced the enemies’ hands.

    And wittingly, or not–and I think it is more wittingly–he has lived up to his Nobel Peace Prize–at least, for the time being.

    [At the time, he received the Prize, of course, he did not deserve it.]

    • TomK_in_Boston

      It will also show, obviously, that involving Russia is better than going it alone, or with a few puppets.

    • HonestDebate1

      Kerry offered the notion as a hypothetical and poo-pooed it out of hand as crazy. Little did he know. Obama is humiliated by Putin yet again but he has no choice. Our enemies are emboldened by this but you can bet Obama will try to make the case you are making and a few will eat it up. It will be for domestic consumption only as the rest of the world gasps at the incompetence.

      • hennorama

        Debates Not, He – please allow me to again quote Vice President Biden:

        What a bunch of malarkey!

        • brettearle

          Political comments don’t require as much reserve as the wit, satire, and humor.

          When my schedules frees up [not freeze up], you’ll get your punching bag, back.

          PS My better half still thinks you’re 2 people. But I still hanker towards the Siamese Doppleganger theory.

          • hennorama

            brettearle – we are not plural.

          • brettearle

            So, then, my Doppleganger-Siamese theory is closer to the Truth….as I thought all along?

          • hennorama

            brettearle –

            We are neither Lord nor Gang, and Peep not, we.

            Sea Me Is, As I Seem.

            Imam I?

            Miami!

          • brettearle

            This is like the anagram in “Rosemary’s Baby”.

            And don’t tell me it isn’t.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        Gregg has to be unhappy, because a good solution might be emerging.

        • brettearle

          You bet…

        • HonestDebate1

          TomK, you and I are on the same side on this one. The vote was going to go down in flames. We had no allies including the historic rebuff in the British Parliament. France went out on a limb and had to step back. There was a red line issued and this was all coming down to saving Obama’s face. Then Putin steps in to save the day. Obama has no choice but to jump all over it. By your comments, I think we agree on that much.

          But I figured you’d part ways at some point. Look back to Iraq to see how weapons inspections work. Hussein made out like a bandit. Assad and Putin are allies and our “reset with” Russia has failed miserably. Putin has played Obama like a fiddle on missile defense for Poland, on Snowden and now this. The inspections are nothing but good news for Assad. Maybe we can bring Hans Blix back.

          This is not a good solution.

          • fun bobby

            “Hussein made out like a bandit.”
            maybe like one that got caught.

            http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2006/12/31/saddamap372ready.jpg

          • TomK_in_Boston

            We may mostly agree on this, but…

            Saddam did not “make out like a bandit”. By 2003 he could barely keep the lights on, the Kurds had set up their own state in the backyard of the mighty dictator, he had no chemical weapons, his nuke program was kaput, and obviously his military was a hollow shell. Quite a comedown from the regional superpower of the 80s. You have a funny concept of making out.

          • HonestDebate1

            As Fun Bobby points out below, in the end Hussein did get what he had coming. It was righteously adjudicated and administered by the Iraqi citizens we liberated. That was actually a good thing but that fact gets lost for some reason.

            You are correct too if you look back through the lens of history, but think about it. The clock had been ticking since Bush 41 left Hussein in power after he took Kuwait. Clinton made regime change US policy in 1998. The UN made demands with well over a dozen resolutions and Hussein played them.

            After Kuwait, Hussein spent the ensuing decade torturing his people and building palaces with the 10+ billion he swindled from “Oil for Food”. He went right on having his sons and thugs rape mothers in front of their children. He went right on with public executions in the soccer fields. He went right on with gouging out eyes and ripping out tongues. He went right on shooting at our jets patrolling the no fly zone (imposed by UN resolution) to protect the Kurds who he previously gassed with WMD. He tried to assassinate our President. He was fat, feared and famous. He lasted a decade more than he needed to. 16 UN resolutions over 12 years meant nothing, he scoffed at the inspectors’ UN sanctioned requests so they left tail tucked in 1998. Then 9/11 and the world changed. You don’t leave crap like that on the table… but for over a decade he made out like a bandit as he played the UN like a fiddle.

            Should we give Assad another decade?

          • TomK_in_Boston

            He lasted while his power constantly deteriorated, from regional superpower to basket case, as I described above. That is not making out.

          • BughouseWW

            You forgot the part where Saddam served US purposes by gassing Iranians with chemical weapons that had not been used since WWI, ‘Honest’ debate.

            By saying, “he lasted a decade more than he needed to,” do you mean, He outlasted his usefulness to the US and was thereafter expendable?

          • HonestDebate1

            9/11 changed everything. At one time Stalin was useful to us. You do what’s best given the circumstances.

          • BughouseWW

            The calendar is your friend, HonestDebate — George H W Bush launched Persian Gulf war in 1990-91 with goal of toppling Saddam.

            See “Into the Desert,” ed. Jeffrey Engel. — In a speech at Texas A&M Engel said the people around Bush who urged him to got to war against Saddam to “liberate Kuwait”, in spite of the fact that Egyptian and Jordanian leaders had worked out a deal with Saddam whereby Saddam would withdraw from Kuwait, were “99% convinced that the Iraqi people would overthrow Saddam. … That’s why they did not include a march to Baghdad in their plans. … And if the same situation presented itself, they would come to precisely the same decision today.” http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/310832-1

      • brettearle

        HD–

        I have NEVER seen you concede your own misimpressions, your own mistakes, and your own misrepresentation of the facts.

        HD…..The President said, TONIGHT, on PBS’s News Hour that he, the President, had these very same discussions with Putin, at the G-20.

        Why don’t you simply say, now that you heard this, here, first, that the President LIED to Gwen Ifel–because he wanted to take credit for some ‘forward’ thinking of his own–BEFORE Kerry made his rhetorical statements.

        Go ahead, say it.

        If you do, you’ll come across as a fool.

        You won’t give the President credit now, much less, rarely ever give him credit, for anything.

        And you likely won’t respond to this comment–because you don’t want to come across as a fool.

        • HonestDebate1

          Okay you’re right. Obama is brilliant. He saved the world.

          • brettearle

            Either we deny or we become excessively sarcastic.

            We can’t simply say,

            “Ok, you’re right. I still dislike him and I still think he’s bad for America. But in this case, he made the right decision.”

            No, of course not, HD.

            That would be beneath you, now wouldn’t it?

          • HonestDebate1

            I just don’t get the accusation that I criticize Obama just because. It’s ludicrous to me. I am not going to give him sympathy points. I will give my honest opinion and I have. If you want to write it off as partisanship then have at it, but don’t expect a serious response.

          • brettearle

            It’s a question of being gracious when you’re wrong.

            Is the point.

          • HonestDebate1

            No it’s not, it’s a question of you telling me I’m wrong when I think you’re wrong. I can disagree without insisting you are too partisan to see it.

  • Moby10

    Sadly, this discussion reminds me of the Eddie Izzard bit in
    Dress to Kill when he says “But there were other mass murderers that got away with it! Stalin killed many millions, died in his bed, well done there; Pol Pot killed 1.7 million Cambodians, died under house arrest at age 72, well done indeed! And the reason we let them get away with it is because they killed their own people, and we’re sort of fine with that. “Ah, help yourself,” you know? “We’ve been trying to kill you for ages!” So kill your own people, right
    on there. Seems to be… Hitler killed people next door… “Oh… stupid man!” After a couple of years, we won’t stand for that, will we?”

  • stillin

    My daughter’s special forces boyfriend, and his roommates, all special forces, say no. Don’t go because it will become a worse situation for everybody, not just them. They are an unselfish group I would listen to them. They also said they will SAY no boots on the ground, to pass what they want, and then there will be boots. I am just telling you what they say.

  • allen 2saint

    Kudos to Ashbrook. Thank you for bringing in THINKERS instead of the parade of paid bobbleheads who serve only themselves and spout stupid bullet points. It is refreshing to hear thinkers tackle this on a moral level. Thank you.

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