The Thin Red Line

In the filthy Syrian conflict, the Obama Administration ‘red line’ drawn has been declared crossed, and now there’s hell to pay. Sarin deployed by the government forces against civilians (Russian skepticism aside) has stirred the international community to encourage America to play the good cop, and selectively hammer Syrian military targets for a bit. Teach these dirty, nerve agent spewing Arab bastards a lesson, right? How dare they taint otherwise tolerable sectarian slaughter with chemical agents!

What the well-dressed chemical weapons warrior is wearing this season

What the well-dressed chemical weapons warrior is wearing this season

The John Kerry-directed morality play staged last week before less than adoring Congressional audiences invites several questions. For the dead Syrians whose lives were brutally snuffed out by nerve gas, does it really matter whether their Angel of Death descended from a chemical cloud, or took them to eternity with a bomb or a bullet? The suggestion that chemical warfare is the ‘poor man’s nuclear weapon’, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird’s line provided as diplomatic cover for the looming American missile strikes, rings so hollow to these tired ears.

The Syrian Gordian knot cannot be undone by missile strikes, limited, extensive or obliterating. The US Senate boyos who voted against military intervention earlier this week got at least part of this problem figured out – is the Syrian opposition that stands to gain from American muscle flexing any better than the Assad gang? Any chance at all that the rebel military forces are as horrible as the dictator they seek to topple? And what if Assad – who the Western media breathlessly declared to be in full retreat mode a year ago – extends his middle finger? What then?

It is understood that the global policeman must make tough choices – such a big beat, and so little time. The fact that Assad’s army or its loosely aligned militias likely killed fellow citizens by means that contravene various international conventions is hardly precedent setting. The world stood by when 800,000 Rwandans were hacked to death in their 1990s civil war. The same virtuous American leadership seeking Congressional approval for the pending Syrian show and tell might look with greater care at its own recent track record. The ubiquitous US drones and their civilian population ‘collateral damage’ delivered with astonishing regularity to the Pakistan / Afghan border badlands? Is Gitmo still open? Does the self-proclaimed world’s greatest democracy need to systematically spy on its own citizens? Questions, questions…

Syria will be far worse before it gets better. More people will die – lots of them. But missile strikes, and an Assad bloody nose at best? It is a horrid, rotten, and unprincipled war – like every war, if one places any stock in the sanctity of human life. The poor dead don’t care about chemical weapons – neither should the US, or anybody else unless this conflict goes regional. Any intervention, limited or otherwise will only make things worse.