We previously discussed the curious step of President Obama seeking approval for a new war while insisting that he does not need such authorization to attack Syria. Now, Secretary of State John Kerry has referred to a one week period for Syria to comply with U.S. demands or presumably face an attack. It so happens that the Senate is set to vote this week, but opposition in this country is extremely high to yet another military intervention by the Administration. Moreover, unsuccessful in his earlier pitch for a free war, Kerry is now trying to sell the world on an “unbelievably small” military campaign. The U.S. seems to be saying that President Obama just needs the world to let him attack briefly to show that he cannot be dismissed or mocked in his earlier red line announcement. However, Kerry suggested a new red line in turning over control of the weapons and Russia has now announced that it will ask Syria to put chemical weapons under international control. That would undermine further the U.S. rationale for war if Russia says that it is moving to comply with Kerry’s demand. However, State Department handlers are trying to again walk back from the Secretary’s public statements.
Kerry was speaking on Monday alongside his British counterpart, William Hague, when he set a new red line for war. He said “Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week – turn it over, all of it without delay and allow the full and total accounting (of it) but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done.”
As has become a common scene with Kerry, a team of State Department officials quickly rushed in to clean up after his latest slip. The Department insisted that the reference to a week was merely “rhetorical,” though the Administration continues to insist that Obama could simply ignore a negative vote in Congress.
I previously represented members of Congress in challenging Obama’s intervention in the Libyan civil war without a declaration from Congress. In the case, President Obama insisted that he alone determines what is a war and therefore when he needs a declaration. Since the court would not recognize standing to challenge the war, it left Obama free to engage in war operations in any country of his choosing.
While Kerry conveyed a week deadline and did not indicate any restriction on unilateral U.S. action, the State Department asked people to ignore his precise words and just take the statement as an attempt to show that Assad has “a history of playing fast and loose with the facts.” Of course, as opposed to those how play fast and loose with words.
I particularly liked the comment for Hague when asked about the decision of Parliament not to allow Britain to enter another American-led war. Hague responded that “[t]hese are the two greatest homes of democracy and we work in slightly different ways and we each have to respect how each other’s democracies work.” Yes, the difference appears that the British government respects the need for a legislative consent for war while the United States now has an unabashed Imperial Presidency.
152 thoughts on “Kerry Suggests Assad Has One Week To Avoid Attack While Promising Obama Only Wants An “Unbelievably Small” Military Campaign”
Groucho Marx summarizes President Obama’s speech — pick any one you prefer — on Syria:
“Those are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.”
I’d be willing to find an armourer to forge the extra large cod piece if that will make him think he can back down from this war brinkmanship and retain his feeling of manhood.
“BFM “In any case I have never claimed that Obama wants a war”
Then later on in the same post…..“I think both these questions are secondary to the immediate question related to the rush to war with Syria.” Thanks for the laugh.””
From the beginning I have held that the president is on a reckless path that could easily lead to widespread, long term war through the process of unintended consequence, commitment and escalation. I think the reckless nature of the president position is demonstrated by the first resolution he sought from the congress which was unlimited in scope, location or duration. We have seen a similar process several times since the end of WWII.
An example of how unintended consequence and escalation can lead to war can be found in the actions of Kennedy and Johnson. I don’t think either of these presidents wanted wide spread war. But their actions lead to and continued a tragic war.
The claim that the president’s course is reckless or dangerous is not the same as the claim that the president wants war or is trying to start a war. I think that the distinction between a reckless path that could easily lead to war and wanting a war is clear and easily understood by most thoughtful people. The distinction between escalation to an unintended war and planning to start a war is really not that difficult to understand.
“….NO means at all to hold Assad responsible for the gas attacks. You give him a pass or the benefit of the doubt on this and blame Obama for lies on OTHER subjects. Thus he MUST be lying on this. ”
I have not given anyone a pass. Before any reasonable person could hold Assad or anyone else responsible they would need to have some indication that the person is actually the perpetrator of the gas attacks. Assad is a pretty good suspect. But right now no one outside Obama’s administration, Assad’s regime and possibly some unknown militia knows for sure. And there are indications that even the Obama administration doesn’t know with any certainty.
There is also the question of who has the authority to hold anyone responsible. Many commentators from Ban Ki Moon to Chris Mathews of MSNBC claim that it is only the international community that can hold Assad or anyone else responsible.
I never said the president must be lying in this matter. I have pointed out that the president has lied on matters of vital importance to all Americans. And he has. I asked why should we trust the president or this administration.
When it comes to matters of war and peace we should demand and the president has an obligation to make the case. There is no reason why the American public should trust anyone in matters of life or death, war or peace. This country did trust once before. And we have nearly 7,000 KIA and approximately 70,000 combat wounded to show for it. For what? For what purpose? What exactly was accomplished?
Americans now know that we have an obligation to demand clear explanations in matters of war and peace. I think it fair to say that in the decades since Reagan the American public has learned ‘don’t assume anything, but verify’.
“the probability of an ATTACK, not a war ….. but according to all on this site Obama will be outraged that he has missed the chance for a war.”
An attack on a sovereign nation is an act of war. Anyone who says differently is ignorant, delusional or lying.
I do not know what sites you read. But the remarks I have seen here have been uniformly relieved that there is the possibility for peaceful resolution of this dangerous situation. If anything the view of the president has been enhanced.
“Then nobody has tried to explain how using planes and missiles equals sending 100,000+ troops as Bush did in Iraq. ”
I am not aware of anyone, except you, who has claimed the two are the same. The claim is that, as has occurred in the past, unintended consequence, and commitment can lead to escalation, greater involvement and wider war. We have seen it in the past. Our concern is that it could occur again.
“Then there is NO explanation of how we avoided sending in US troops in Libya if such attacks lead inevitably to an all out war. ”
I am not aware of anyone who claims “such attacks lead inevitably to an all out war”. The concern, as I have stated before, is that unintended consequence may lead to additional commitment, escalation and wider war. You seem intent on knocking down a straw man. I would suggest that our discussion would be more meaningful if you criticized things I actually say and positions I actually hold.
“Then nobody can explain why Israel is not now engaged in an all out war with Syria since they just finished a massive number of air strikes themselves last week in Syria.”
Well there are a number of possibilities. My understanding is that Israel took out munitions being transferred to Hezbollah. It is not clear to me that Assad would count attacks on what are essentially Hezbollah resources with the same priority as an attack on Syria.
Syria and Israel live in the same neighborhood and have been at each others throats since the 1950’s. They have learned to accommodate each other and to settle scores in ways and on a schedule that is simply not included in your calculus of peace/attack/all-out war. I doubt that the fact that we do not see all out war after a week is an indication that Israel gets a pass.
“and the US will suffer mass warfare from afar! ”
The US certainly could suffer retaliation from afar. That has happened so recently the wounds are still raw. But the claim I have been making is that Obama’s path includes the risk of involvement, escalation and wider war in Syria and the middle east.
“In short, I do not see a whole lot of rational thinking”
Actually, when we consider the accusations of things I never said and the continual attack of convenient straw men, I believe that is my line. I don’t see a who lot of rational thinking.
But if I can offer a friendly word of advice, you would be much more persuasive if you criticized things I actually said and positions that I actually hold.
bfm, Once again you cannot look at ALL military actions through the prism of Vietnam. When discussing Vietnam, you have to bear in mind some facts. The first is that as Eisenhower admitted, if free internationally supervised elections had been held in Vietnam as the Geneva Accords mandated, Ho Chi Minh would have won with over 80% of the vote. The whole thrust of US policy was to prevent any such vote from taking place. In the words of Kissinger when talking about Allende and Chile, Just because they want to vote communist, does not mean we have to let them. THAT was the reason for the US invasion of Vietnam. The puppet government the US installed at no point had even asked for US troops. So US policy was to conquer Vietnam and try and force them to accept US orders under a Quisling government. Thus the need for US troops on the ground and the reason for the increasing numbers of troops. So ALL US Presidents were in favor of keeping the Vietnamese as colonial subjects. The only miscalculation was that they did not fully understand how big Vietnam is, and the terrain which favored the VC and NVA. This object is a FAR cry from what Obama is proposing in Syria.
IN Fact, this situation is much closer to what Obama did in Libya, yet I see no explanation why that did not result in US troops being there, though two pilots did bail out. If even more extensive and longer duration strikes in Libya did not result in US troops being involved, then it is highly unlikely that more limited air strikes for a shorter duration will put US troops in Syria. Obama and NATO were quite clear from the outset that getting rid of Qadaffi was the policy of that intervention.
As for your protest that you did not say a rush to war, it is simply not true. You did NOT say a slippery slope to war, you did not say a possibility of a war, you said “A RUSH TO WAR”. Those are YOUR words, NOT my interpretation or strawman. Along with this you think that any act of war will sooner or later lead to full scale combat. What Israel did recently in bombing Syria is by ALL definitions an act of war. Syria did not respond because they know that if they do, Israel will kick their butt. The same holds true for any further escalation should the US do a limited air strike in Syria too, unless you think Israel has more military force available than the US or the US is weaker than Israel. I also recall that the US and Germany were in actual combat in the North Atlantic before Pearl Harbor, and the Nazis even SANK TWO US destroyers, yet the US and Germany did not go to war over those actions. Remembering Obama cited FDR which is quite appropriate since the latest coalition against Obama is just like that which fought against FDR. The far right, most Republicans and Nazis were against FDR helping Britain, as were those on the left, including the CPUSA. We are seeing a similar coalition now. Of course, nobody can say it is absolutely certain that it is impossible to have a wider war. It is highly unlikely though to the point it is almost nil. Hell if the US did not go to war over the sinking of two US ships before we got into WWII, I think that intervening with limited force at such a smaller foe, the danger is pretty non-existent.
I agree that saying that you give Assad a pass is poorly worded, but my point is that you do NOT give Obama the same consideration that you give Assad before you call him a liar. You stated in other posts that there may be “rogue” units, so Assad may not be responsible. That is simply absurd since as head of state Assad IS by that fact, responsible, just as I said Obama is responsible for the actions of his people, even if he did not order them to violate the laws or lie.
Here is a Washington Post December 30, 2002 article by Michael Dobbs, on Saint Ronald’s role in aiding the shipping of chemicals and biological agents to Saddam Hussein. Saddam used the chemicals to gas Iranian soldiers during the Iraq/Iran war. I’d heard of this years ago, but Lawrence O’Donnell cited the details on “The Last Word,” recently.
From Dobbs’ article, in the Washington Post:
“A 1994 investigation by the Senate Banking Committee turned up dozens of biological agents shipped to Iraq during the mid-’80s under license from the Commerce Department, including various strains of anthrax, subsequently identified by the Pentagon as a key component of the Iraqi biological warfare program. The Commerce Department also approved the export of insecticides to Iraq, despite widespread suspicions that they were being used for chemical warfare.”
So, where’s this “Red Line” we been talking about?
I heard something about President Obama’s latest speech — for those who can keep track of these things as they go whizzing past — and the headline shouted: “Obama’s pitch to liberals: ‘Do it for the Children.'”
Yes, fellow Crimestoppers, “Cruise missiles and Al Qaeda for the kids.”
Someone with a higher tolerance for baldfaced bullshit please tell me that O-Body-Count did not really say something this lame.
“How come we missed out on having a dictatorship if this is just the beginning of one when they did FAR worse in the past?” randy rooster
Who said that we missed out on the dictatorship just because the dictators do not openly announce themselves as such? And if morons like you keep championing government criminality, what would lead you to believe that a dictatorship wouldn’t get here even sooner than it would had you put up even a modicum of a fight?
I mean, when did you start working for the dictatorship, and do they actually pay you to plead their case?
randy rooster says he does “not see a whole lot of rational thinking on the anti-strike folks part.”
Not hard to explain that. How would a rabid U.S. war-agitator recognize rationality? He can’t even call a war a “war,” but tries to hide behind feeble Orwellian euphemisms, such as “strike.” I would say that he has gasoline and matches on the mind, but randy rooster shows no sign of having a mind.
As well, the United States did not initially send half-a-million troops to Vietnam. It took a few years of mission creep escalation before the handful of “advisers” became entire divisions. The notion of “limited” warfare has never proven one of the U.S. military’s particular strengths. Quite the opposite, as failed “surges” of tens of thousands of U.S. troops into Iraq and Afghanistan, launched by both Deputy Dubya and Barack Obama, depressingly attest. Our vaunted Visigoths just had to come out again with their tails tucked proudly between their legs.
randy rooster thinks that a flyby shooting from above and outside harm’s way will demonstrate the valor and credibility of U.S. demands that other nations abide by rules that America and its pet parasite, the Apartheid Zionist Entity, scoff at with tedious regularity. Murderers mouthing morality. “Is this a private fight, or can anyone join in?”
Here our corporate overlords silence a professor’s blog at Johns Hopkins. Totalitarianism by both the govt. and its corporate masters–what’s not to love! Take down that blog, it offends the NSA, says a corporation. Johns Hopkins says, sir, yes sir!!!!
White House Press Corps
Korzybski called them “spell-marks”
Writing empty sounds
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller”
BFM I hope that you notice that I accept your criticism of Obama for not telling the truth on the spying. Since he is the President, he is responsible, but I seriously doubt that he ORDERED the NSA and its people to lie. Yet, you will give Assad a pass on HIS responsibility for a FAR worse thing of poison gas killing great numbers of people since you say you cannot determine if he gave that order. So you expect and think Obama should be held responsible for all the acts that he has very little knowledge of or that he even ORDERED such actions. So absent any evidence that he ORDERED the illegal spying, you have a hard time making the case he lied. Since he refused to dismiss Clapper, he thus takes the blame for his actions, even though he did NOT tell Clapper to lie.
The illegal spying and surveillance is wrong for the most part and I have spoken out against it. On the other hand I have to look at just how serious this is compared to our past. To say that this is leading to a police state is way overblown. I recall our own history during the McCarthy era and right after WWI. In that time, the US government rounded up naturalized American citizens, arrested and deported them for thought crime and sent them to the young Soviet Union. Free speech from that point on was basically a dead letter in most of the US.
During the McCarthy era, the US government did virtually ALL of the things that the US government is doing now and far worse in terms of actual criminal activity in break ins, theft, robbery, murder of US citizens. The US government tracked dissidents, put them in prison for only their political opinions and speech, and if they could not get them in prison, they got them fired from jobs, and made it impossible for them to have any worthwhile job. I would like folks to make two columns, one for our past, and then one for today and make a list of all the crimes committed back then, and then what is being done today. There is no comparison at all since none of the worst of the governments actions of today come close to what was done back then. Yet we do not have a police state today, even though worse things were done in the past. How come we missed out on having a dictatorship if this is just the beginning of one when they did FAR worse in the past?
Transparently Opaque Ambiguity
Obama will speak
Word-like noises. Moving lips.
No one will listen
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller”
“Maybe we should just forget about Syria. The American record of meddling in the Middle East is so consistently disastrous for the region and for the United States that that’s a perfectly legitimate argument to stay out.” — Christopher Dickey, Obama’s Weasel Words on Syria
Abroad and at home
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller”
Important news: Why we don’t trust the govt. NSA caught making shit up again!
“The National Security Agency on Tuesday declassified a sheaf of documents showing repeated violations of its own privacy instructions for its bulk databases of Americans’ phone records.
The documents, mostly from 2009, describe what a judge on the secret court overseeing surveillance said were “thousands” of American phone numbers being improperly accessed by government counterterrorism analysts.
They also indicate that US government officials, including NSA director Keith Alexander, gave misleading statements to the court about how they carried out that surveillance.
Despite repeated public assurances of NSA competence, the agency told the so-called Fisa court in 2009 that “from a technical standpoint, there was no single person who had a complete understanding” of its phone records “architecture.”
All that led to what Judge Reggie Walton, now the presiding judge of the court, called “daily violations” for more than two years of call records from Americans “not the subject of any FBI investigation and whose call detail information could not otherwise have been legally captured in bulk.”
Another critical observer reports the obscene murders of Christians by rebels in Syria…..
Mother Agnes Mariam: ‘Footage of Syria Chemical Attack is a Fraud’
Daniel McAdams at 02:30 am EDT on September 10, 2013
Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib, mother superior of St. James Monastery in Qara, Syria, told RT today that she has evidence that the video footage currently being shopped around by Sen. Feinstein and the Obama administration as proof that the Syrian president used gas on his own people is a fraud. Part of the problem with the videos is that they were all taken nearly at the same time as the alleged attack itself. How to gather all the bodies in one place and begin videotaping in some cases before the attack had even taken place?
Mother Agnes Mariam is a Catholic nun who has lived and worked in Syria for the past 20 years. She has been particularly outspoken about the atrocities committed by the US-backed Syrian rebels against Christians and other minorities. Her reputation is impeccable, though she is routinely slandered in Western media.
Said Mother Agnes Mariam of the events on the morning of August 21:
I am not saying that no chemical agent was used in the area – it certainly was. But I insist that the footage that is now being peddled as evidence had been fabricated in advance. I have studied it meticulously, and I will submit my report to the UN Human Rights Commission based in Geneva.
Also new today, Belgian teacher and former Free Syrian Army supporter Pierre Piccinin, who was kidnapped by the Syrian insurgents and just released, vehemently denied that the Syrian government was behind the chemical attack.
Piccinin stated to RTL as he landed back in Belgium after his release:
It is a moral duty to say this. It is not the government of Bashar Al-Assad which used sarin gas or another combat gas in the suburbs of Damascus. We are certain of this following a conversation that we had. It hurts me to say this because I have been a fervent supporter of the Free Syrian Army since May 2012 in its just struggle for democracy.
He promised to submit the proof of his assertions to the authorities. But will anyone listen?
Mother Agnes Mariam also pointed out the double standards among Western governments and the Western media. On August 5, US-backed insurgents went on a murderous rampage in several Alawite villages, killing more than 500 innocent civilians. Western governments pretended it did not happen. Western media obliged their governments in a conspiracy of silence.
Said Mother Agnes Mariam to RT today:
[H]ow [can] the international community can ignore the brutal killing spree in Latakia on Laylat al-Qadr early in the morning of August 5, an attack that affected more than 500 people, including children, women and the elderly. They were all slaughtered. The atrocities committed exceed any scale. But there was close to nothing about it in the international mass media. There was only one small article in “The Independent”, I believe.
We sent our delegation to these villages, and our people had a look at the situation on-site, talked to the locals, and most importantly – talked to the survivors of the massacre.
I don’t understand why the Western media apply double standards in this case – they talk about mass murder that the use of chemical weapons resulted in non-stop, but they keep quiet about the Latakia massacre….
A total of twelve Alawite villages were subjected to this horrendous attack. That was a true slaughterhouse. People were mutilated and beheaded. There is even a video that shows a girl being dismembered alive – alive! – by a frame saw. The final death toll exceeded 400, with 150 to 200 people taken hostage. Later some of the hostages were killed, their deaths filmed.
Asked about the persecution of Christians in Syria, Mother Agnes Mariam was quick to point out that not only Christians, but also many Muslims are being murdered by the Western-supported insurgents in Syria. She said that the insurgents are emboldened to commit even more gruesome atrocities because they feel they have the backing of Western powers:
I would like to say that if these butchers didn’t have international support, no one would have dared to cross the line. But today, unfortunately, the violation of human rights and genocide in Syria is covered up on the international level. I demand the international community stops assessing the situation in Syria in accordance with the interests of a certain group of great powers. The Syrian people are being killed. They fall victim to contractors, who are provided with weapons and sent to Syria to kill as many people as possible. The truth is, everywhere in Syria people are being kidnapped, tortured, raped and robbed.
So while the Obama administration is obsessed with a few suspiciously-timed Youtube videos that purport to show a few hundred killed in some sort of chemical attack — but even they have no proof the government was responsible — they remain criminally silent about the thousands of atrocities committed by their allies, the insurgents. Even as indisputable evidence of the insurgents’ Nazi-like violence continues to surface, the US and its tiny group of supporters (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel) continues to stand by their men. Never again? Well it is happening again and no one in power seems to give a damn.
I couldn’t put this better….
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Sean Thomas is a novelist, journalist and travel writer. He also publishes thrillers under the name Tom Knox. He is currently writing a memoir of his extremely misspent youth, and similarly misspent adulthood, and tweets under the name @thomasknox.
Spare us the hypocrisy over chemical weapons, America. What about Agent Orange?
By Sean Thomas World Last updated: September 9th, 2013
284 Comments Comment on this article
Agent Orange: America’s chemical weapon
John Kerry is at it again. According to the BBC, the US Secretary of State has stridently asserted that the Syrian president’s use of chemical weapons, on August 21, crossed a “global red line”.
I’m curious about these “global red lines”, though. Who laid them down? Are these lines thin, thick, dotted – or kinda wiggly?
If this seems facetious, it shouldn’t. These red lines are damned odd. For instance, the red lines against horrid weapons make a large detour around the concept of drones. Over the last decade or so, America has unilaterally launched hundreds of drones across Asia and Africa, killing an estimated 3000 civilians in Pakistan alone, in pursuit of anyone who gives the President dyspepsia. To some, this might seem improper, to the point of illegality – like chemical weapons.
But maybe this is an unequal comparison: after all, with Sarin gas you have to die in prolonged spasms alongside your family, whereas with a drone your wedding party gets turned into pink mist before the doughnuts are finished in the Pentagon.
So perhaps the lawyers are right, and there is something particularly sinister about the chemical-iness of chemical weapons that makes them red-line-worthy. But even then, the red line is eccentric. Because the red line doesn’t seem especially worried by napalm (an American invention).
Technically speaking, napalm is “a mixture of naphthenic and aliphatic carboxylic acid”. I don’t know about you, but “a mixture of naphthenic and aliphatic carboxylic acid” sounds awfully “chemical” to me, and yet this weapon has been liberally used by the US army to incinerate soldiers (and luckless civilians) in many recent wars, including Gulf War 1.
So maybe the “global red line against chemical weapons” has a strange footnote which exempts chemical weapons that are devised in America? That makes sense, because the greatest anomaly, when it comes to Kerry’s global red line, is Agent Orange.
If you’re under 40, you might not have heard of Agent Orange. You probably think it’s Tony Blair’s codename, as he works tirelessly to bring peace to those bits of the Middle East he worked tirelessly to blow up. But no. Agent Orange was a chemical dropped on Indochina, with great abundance, by the US Air Force during the Vietnam War. Its stated intention was to “defoliate” Vietnam, i.e, kill all the plant life so Viet Cong soldiers could not hide in forests, thus enabling America to napalm her enemies more easily.
Unsurprisingly, it turned out that Agent Orange, so effective in killing plantlife, was not great for humankind, either. Tens of thousands of Vietnamese have died as a result of this poison that the Americans monsooned down on them, and such is the evilness of the dioxin within Agent Orange, even today children in the third generation are being born with hideous deformities.
The pictures of the suffering caused by this atrocity are extremely upsetting: you can see them here, here, and here.
And you know what? The one US politician who should know most about Agent Orange is John Kerry. He was one of the senators who fought for the right of US Veterans, exposed to Agent Orange, to achieve proper compensation. However, at the same time, Kerry is part of the US Establishment which refuses to compensate the Vietnamese for the same chemical poisoning by America’s Agent Orange.
So that’s a really wiggly “global red line” which surrounds, like a protective halo, all of America, and any US troops abroad, but specifically excludes anyone else, especially the Vietnamese.
If this sounds absurd, that’s because it is. America’s claim to moral superiority on horrible weapons is illusory. And yet, this does not mean that America – a great country which, for all its faults, is still the arsenal of democracy – should not stop dictators from killing their people in nasty ways. Certainly they should: even, perhaps, in the ethical labyrinth of Syria.
But, please, spare us the cheap moralising.
I do not believe that Obama was so moved by the alleged chemical attacks -If the deaths of innocent children were so important to him, he would have intervened a year ago… and stopped his use of drone strikes elsewhere in the world. So if that is not the reason, why do you guys all think he WANTS to go to war here? genuinley curious…
A lot of folks seem to think that Kerry and Obama tricked the other players by assuming “bad cop, good cop” roles, with Putin.
I believe that, to achieve this level of legerdemain, you’d need to be clever and brave. I don’t see those two coming up with a tactic like this.
But let’s not be brave and clever with missiles. Missiles are what fools use.
“James I see that you are too stupid to be part of this debate…”
But…you’re in this debate, aren’t you?
I fail to see how anyone could match your level of intelligence.
By your presence, you’ve set the bar to an impossible-to-achieve level.
James cannot be below that level.
No one who has sufficient intelligence to maintain heart function, is below that level.
“George W. Bush has admitted the US failed to plan for a speedy victory in Iraq, describing the sudden collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime as a “catastrophic success.” — the Australian, August 30, 2004
“There is a theory which has not yet been accurately formulated or given a name, but which is very widely accepted and is brought forward whenever it is necessary to justify some action which conflicts with the sense of decency of the average human being. It might be called, until some better name is found, the Theory of Catastrophic Gradualism…. The formula usually employed is ‘You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.’ And if one replies, ‘Yes, but where is the omelet?’ the answer is likely to be: ‘Oh, well, you can’t expect everything to happen all in a moment.'” — George Orwell, “Catastrophic Gradualism” (1946)
Another Catastrophic Success
With their tails tucked proudly ‘tween their legs
Advancing towards the exit march the dregs
Of empire, whose retreat this question begs:
No promised omelet, just the broken eggs?
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2011
Perhaps this time around in Syria we can skip the unnecessary breaking of eggs to produce the omelet that we never get to eat but must pay for anyway (unto the generations). Why can’t we just skip all this “war” business and get immediately to the inevitable retreat. Why not get the unnecessary over with before the inevitable begins? As we used to say back in Southeast Asia: “We lost the day we started and we win the day we stop.” So if we stop first, we can win for a change, rather than losing by starting what we shouldn’t. The U.S. corporate-political-military really should do this more often. It could become habit forming.
The Chinese and the Americans in China
The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam
The Iraqis and the Americans in Iraq
The Afghans and the Americans in Afghanistan
The Syrians and the Americans in Syria
Now, note all the obvious “differences” here:
The Syrians are not the Afghans who are not the Iraqis who are not the Vietnamese who are not the Chinese.
So how can one possibly argue that an American military intervention in Syria will turn out anything like the American military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, and China (to name only four such epic failures)?
Long answer: Simply look at the one constant among all these “differences.”
Short Answer: The Americans.
Great countries cannot fight little wars.
The United States insists on fighting little wars
The United States is not a great country
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