Who would we be if we were Syrians? What side would we be on? With what combination of frustration, hope, and fear would we be seeing the deliberations in the West? I know the answer in my case, and I think most of us here know the answer without hesitation. The question is to what extent we're willing to make decisions on the basis of that understanding vs. the same old selfish, zero-sum bullshit of thinking in terms of "blowback" and nth-degree consequences that really have no bearing on what is right and what is wrong. Are we responsible for other people or not? Choose. Decide whether we are isolationist Libertarians who believe in a world of isolated, atomic individuals whose actions have no bearing on each other, or a world where everyone is responsible for everyone else. Decide.
First off, to address the inevitable comparisons, let me say that you will find no greater enemy of the Iraq War and its perpetrators than I. As far as I'm concerned, it was pure treason and pure evil from day one that should have had the entire Bush regime and all the top commanders rotting in prison for the rest of their lives, if not walking the gallows like the WW2 Japanese and German commanders whose actions they had repeated with minimal difference. Not because Saddam Hussein was not every bit the monster he was portrayed as, but because the people demanding that we invade Iraq were also monsters and the excuses they conjured were treasonous lies. Can the same be said here? Not even close.
Instead, we shrink from dealing with the subject of Syria for fear of repeating the horrors of that crime. And that's as much a surrender to its perpetrators as if we were to hand them our future, because isolationism and fascism are just sides of a coin. There is always the one who brutalizes and the one who sits silently watching, allowing, doing nothing because it's not his business. Because he fears being embroiled in matters he does not understand and that are beyond his control.
That is not to say that we should intervene, because in all honesty I don't know. I don't pretend to have the answers here. I just know what isn't the answer: Selfishness and fear. It may very well be that the Syrian people would come out of it better if we did not intervene directly, and that argument may be made. But don't pretend that the other way is not on the table because you're terrified of the specter of George W. Bush raising his murderer-monkey face over the subject. Don't pretend that there aren't vast numbers of people huddled in bullet-riddled warrens, hungry and injured, afraid at all hours, sleepless, with no thought in their minds but survival, hoping that we do intervene. Don't pretend that there is no price to deciding not to intervene.
Make an honest decision, based on what is right for all of humanity, not just for some short-sighted assessment of this country's cost/benefit analysis, or some idiotic contradiction impulse to do the opposite of whatever we perceive to be the desires of the military-industrial complex. Broken clocks are occasionally right. Winston Churchill was a racist imperialist who would have thrown Gandhi onto a pyre if he had had his druthers, but he was right about Germany. Justice is not owned by anyone. It makes its own itinerary. So climb down from your tower of fear and revenge, and just look at what it is you believe this country is, what it is you believe this country should stand for, and what it is you stand for.
I concede nothing to neocons - not public policy, and not fear of their perversion of it. If you're so afraid of them that everything you do is just based on running from whatever you fear they've corrupted, that's all you'll ever do - run. Good luck being useful to the world like that. Of course they want military intervention in Syria: They want military intervention everywhere, all the time. They're psychotic. We aren't. We have no excuse to just be their photographic negatives.
Maybe the American desire to feel like heroes is every bit as insane as the right-wing lust to take and destroy, but that can't be the case if it comes from compassion. We can't surrender to the Libertarian ideology of a world of isolated entities totally incapable of helping each other without shooting themselves in the foot. That said, we can admit that the best way to help each other is not always obvious. But anyone who says we must not intervene places themselves under the obligation to offer a superior alternative. That's all I have to say.
Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 11:50 PM PT: In the interests of full disclosure: I am shitfaced.