Well here we are again. Nothing seems to bring Team Reebok and Team Nike together like a little death inflicted on some foreigners. Now, this is beyond my credentials, but help me understand this. The Syrian regime can kill as many of its people as it wishes by all kinds of means – like shooting them or bombing them. But, when it kills people, the very same people, using some particular other means (e.g. chemicals) then we should intervene? What’s different? Isn’t killing people a pretty crappy thing?
Now, I’m not at all in favor of bombing or doing anything over there, or much of anywhere for that matter. I admit that this might be a stupid/wrong position to take, it is based on both my opposition to wars but also on my reading of the literature that suggests that these sorts of interventions do not lead to good outcomes. But aside from that, if we are going to intervene, then intervene because people are being killed and are suffering. Why does the type of torture matter? Am I missing something here? It’s not like chemicals are new, or that we have not used them ourselves?
By the way, some are asserting that the death toll figures that the US is tossing around are too high and that we are exaggerating the extent of the weapons had by the regime. Sounds familiar. I am very much looking forward to seeing all of those new bumper stickers, “Obama Lied … Thousands Died” … and “No War on Syria.” I won’t hold my breath of course.
OK, back to la la land.
Vietnam and spraying chemicals reminds me of a story. My brother, a master farmer and conservationist, began planting corn with a no-till corn planter. (No-till methods conserve topsoil.)
Now, whether you plow the field and harrow and cultipack it, or do no-till, after you plant corn you spray for weeds, pre-emerge. These weed killers are applied carefully. The chemicals are expensive, and one wants not to apply so much that one renders the field worthless, poisons the well, poisons a hundred cows, and poisons you.
So my brother in his first adventure used Paraquat, the defoliant agent abhorred so publicly by the young John Kerry, spokesman for the Viet Nam Veterans Against the War, along with his allegations of other misconduct. We sprayed Paraquat to defoliate Charlie’s hiding places.
Now, I am not saying that was a good idea, using Paraquat there. Rather: Paraquat, properly applied, can be useful, and I can remember my brother smiling ironically, as if he had applied it from an Air Force tanker.
I am sure WC noticed the sainted Coase died Monday. And last week Elmore Leonard. RIP.
My apologies to WC for adding another.
We news junkies remember the “Bush Lied, People Died” bumper stickers, and the other events leading up to the second war against Sadaam Hussein.
The big deal before it was the inspection of Iraq by UN inspectors, led by Hans Blix and Secretary General Khofi Annan.
They were looking for proof that Sadaam had weapons of mass destruction, having begged the question that such proof was necessary for preemptive war.
This stupid search took months, during which Sadaam Hussein had ample time to move this stuff, anthrax and sarin, in a few semis to wherever he could, including Syria, an overnight trip as simple as from Philadelphia to Cleveland, maybe shorter. Were there any cloudless, moonless nights during that period when Khofi and Hans took a quick peek, and flew back to Cyprus for dinner?
My hope then was that our intelligence picked all of this up, and that someone decided not ever to reveal it for a good reason.
We are now in a perilous mess, begotten by the proposition that The Land of the Free is the problem. While we apologize for our defects as a people; strategically we announce to our mortal enemies our plans, including our resolve to pull the next punch according to a precise schedule.
Today a reporter asked our President whether it was his intention to turn the US into a version of Sweden, and he gave a wordy equivocal answer that suggested it might be a good idea, an omen of how far we have come from being a free people.