Drop paint on Syria. Or glue.
Or drop truckloads of cicadas, or barrelfuls of fish emulsion, or rotten eggs, prepared as low-impact omelettes. Nothing that would kill anyone.
Drop chickenshit, if you must. (Not pigshit; let's be culturally sensitive.)
Drop used kitty litter. Drop sand -- tinted brightly, magenta and lime.
Drop something they'll remember. Drop something that will persist. Drop something that will make a point.
Do not drop bombs.
Everyone expects bombs. Bombs don't make the point.
Everyone's used to bombs. Bombs are themselves an atrocity. Dropping bombs is stupid.
What is the point? The point is not "we can kill you." They know that. They resent it. After Iraq, most of the world resents it.
The point of dropping magenta and lime paint ...
... or pictures of Miley Cyrus twerking ...
... or pictures of Donald Rumsfeld meeting Saddam Hussein ...
... or colorful, sticky feathers ...
... or novelty store chattering teeth ...
... or dead rats (microwave sterilized first, of course) ...
... or McDonald's hamburgers and french fries, that will still be found decades from now, their form unchanged ... is this:
"By using chemical weapons, you have sacrificed a portion of your sovereignty."That is the point we want to make, isn't it?
If you break a central tenet of international law, don't count on international law to protect you.The problem with Obama's wrongheaded determination to bomb Syria, for us sometime or frequent critics, is that he's partly right. And the fact that some of the worst people in the country, the right-wing defense-contracting ghouls, agree with him doesn't change that.
Are we an imperfect agent to delivery such a message? Very, very, imperfect. Lousy, in fact. We've been complicit in worse. And yet, someone has to stand up for international law, however hypocritically, however unfairly, because this portion of international law is good.
The only reason that it should be us is that it's not going to be anyone else.
We don't want people using chemical weapons as instruments of war. But more than that, we don't want to countenance it. We don't want to normalize it.
So -- attention must be paid. Syria must be stained.
Magenta and lime. Glue and feathers and glitter. Something non-toxic, but smelly.
Pulped durian. Dead fish. Blooming corpse plants.
Something humiliating -- a reminder to its leaders that worse could yet come, that we pulled our punch this time but that that can't be relied upon forever.
Our model? Perhaps it should be the French castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. If we could catapult a cow into Damascus without killing anyone -- and we shouldn't want to kill anyone, because then that we killed people becomes the story -- we would.
We want to egg Syria's house. We want to piss in Syria's pool. We want to leave a flaming turd on its front porch. We don't want to burn down its house -- that's crazy, dude. (What's wrong with you?)
We probably want to order more. than one thing from the menu, because the point is to capture the imagination of the Syrians -- and one does that with audacity. (Remember audacity, President Obama? Bombing is not audacious. It's just destructive.)
Ideally, one or more of the things would drop on Syria should be something /lasting. Paint. Glitter. An odd but persistent smell.
We should drop something lasting because we want the message we sent to last. We want people hearing the chitter of cicadas for weeks. We want people smelling the faint odor of artificial barbecue sauce flavor for months. We want people picking lime green-dyed McDonald's french-fries out of their eaves and their bushes for years.
We want to leave a constant reminder to Syrians that Syria can be touched. This is not simply a message to the Assad regime -- it's also a message to those who resist it. The non-toxic stains that we leave on Syria will be signs of hope for those under attack.
If you think that we shouldn't drop anything, that's fine -- but President Obama disagrees and apparently he has the final call. We can assuage our personal guilt at our taxpaying complicity, but it doesn't change what's coming. The only thing that can change what's coming is a better idea.
I don't blame President Obama too much, because we are at a historical moment. Our response -- or the lack of it -- will be remembered.
From a historical standpoint -- presuming that the intelligence about the intercepted calls truly does hold up -- Syria's regime has crossed a line by its substantial use of poison gas against internal dissidents and innocent civilians in their midst.
I completely understand why we have to do something. But I also completely understand that that something -- or somethings: a plague of plastic beads, a plague of chicken beaks, a plague of plastic bags from Target -- should not be bombs.
Dropping bombs helps them. Dropping magenta-colored plastic molded toy soldiers doesn't.
One could imagine harsher actions, still less potent than bombs. We have sickening agents in our arsenals. We have tear gas. We have pepper.
You really want to drop something "military"? Better those than bombs. Balloons filled with red pepper. That's noticeable. It gets across the point that chemical weapons are bad, but in this attack no one dies.
We're in a propaganda war. Let's act like it.
Drop pictures of those massacred by gas.
Drop cards with autoplay mp3s like those in greeting cards, emitting the screaming of the victims, each cards printed with a name of a victim.
Get across the point of the atrocity. This is our chance to speak to history; speak clearly and memorably -- do not speak with bombs.
Drop paint on Syria. Glitter and glue on their planes. Sliced pickles. Photoshopped pictures of Bashir Assad twerking Robin Thicke.
But not bombs. Drop bombs and we lose. Stain Syria and perhaps we make our point.