Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Leave Syria to the Syrians, it’s none of our business

The United States, the most bellicose nation on Earth, is once again rattling its rockets at a foe. Will the American people, as they have done so placidly in the past, just shrug their shoulders and let it happen?

The Syrian civil war is a tragedy. What each side, or the many sides, perhaps, has done to each other in the conflict is barbaric. But then, all war is barbaric.

What difference does it make if a combatant in a war is blown to tiny, bloody bits by a 155mm artillery shell, burned to ashes by napalm or poisoned with nerve agents?

Dead is dead and the dead are beyond caring about the manner in which they were killed.

Much ado has been made about women and children having been possibly poisoned with some kind of rudimentary Sarin gas in the Syrian conflict. Why not the same ado when a child is disintegrated with a mortar round? There’s been a whole lot of those – hundreds of shot, blown up and burned children, according to the U.N. A dead kid is a dead kid, what difference does it make the manner of the killing?

How did the use of chemical weapons rise to some different status of weapon that is somehow more abhorrent than a sticky, gelatinized gasoline that burns you to a crisp? Is not napalm a chemical? Are not explosive munitions made of rapidly reacting chemicals?

In the world of so-called weapons of mass destruction, the most distressing are nuclear weapons, not only for their destructive power, but also because their destruction can’t be contained on the battlefield. Its radiation spreads far and wide injuring those who are not part of the conflict. Biological agents, likewise, can’t be contained on the battlefield and are perhaps more nefarious than nuclear arms because death comes sooner to noncombatants rather than later as with radiation poisoning.

Chemical weapons are contained on the battlefield. They’re only lethal within a few dozen feet of their use, or maybe a few miles if massive quantities are used. Our repulsion of them stems from their use in World War I when war was fought with some weird sense of chivalry by gentlemen generals. Blow a guy to smithereens with artillery? Sure. Poison him with chlorine gas? Why, that’s just not cricket.

President Obama, likely in an effort to keep the nation’s war hawks happy, said a year ago that use of chemical weapons was a “red line,” meaning that if Syria used them, the U.S. military would react in some way.

Well, the supposed evidence shows the red-line Rubicon has been crossed. Now what?

The Nobel Peace Prize winner through his tough talk has talked himself into a corner.

If he fires off missiles he opens a can of mission creep that only ends badly for the U.S. What if it doesn’t work and Assad uses them again? What if he threatens to give them to Hamas in Lebanon for use against Israel? Then what do we do? Put those boots on the ground, that’s what. Plus, if we do attack, we just kick the beehive of global jihadism one more time and keep having to have our private parts cupped by TSA agents at airports for another 20 years.

If we don’t do something, the dastardly bastards of Iran, North Korea and al-Qaeda will smile. They’ll know the U.S. might have been crazy enough to invade a country for no good reason in 2003, but not anymore. Not to mention the green light Assad gets to cross that stupid red line at will.

And what happens if Egypt continues to disintegrate? Do we lob a few missiles in there, too?

This nation is still a democracy and ultimately, the people are in charge. But for most of our existence, the people have been OK with sending young men into harm’s way without any declaration of war by the Congress. We do it all the time, every decade of the nation’s existence, and we take little notice or care.

If Obama does bomb Syria, we can be mad at him, or the Congress, or both, but the fault will lie with all of us. As long as we keep letting it happen, war will remain good business and good politics.

Mr. President, leave Syria to the Syrians. If there’s a red line in Syria, it’s made of Syrian blood and it’s up to the Syrians to rub it out.

There’s no need starting something that will only lead to adding American blood to that red line.

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