By Tom Joyce
September 7, 2013
As I write this column, war drums are sounding in Washington regarding a proposed military strike against Syria, which happens to be the latest nominee for the Haven’t I Heard This Story Before? Award.
Supposedly the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for a gas attack on Aug. 21 that killed more than 1,400 people.
Al-Assad also kicks his dog and wears ugly ties and is just a bad guy all the way around, blah-blah-blah.
So naturally, the U.S. should once again do the John Wayne thing — load up the planes with bombs and go over there and teach this Middle East raghead a lesson. Proponents of such a strike, notably President Barack Obama, conveniently overlook the fact, however, that Syria has a pretty powerful military in its own right and a “simple” air strike could lead to American troops being sent there.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be Obama’s ox that gets gored, but that of American families with sons and daughters in service who’d see some of them come back home in boxes as a result. And for what, just so one corrupt regime can be replaced by another that might be just as terrible?
Haven’t we learned a lesson from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and all the meaningless wars this country has waded into over the years? Sure, we appreciate our military members and the valiant service they have provided, but in retrospect was it really necessary?
One of the strangest moves ever by an American president — other than Calvin Coolidge’s fondness for having his head rubbed with petroleum jelly while eating breakfast in bed, and George H.W. Bush throwing up on Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa at a banquet in 1992 — was the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
At the urging of then-President George W. Bush, the U.S. went to war against the country headed by Saddam Hussein. He also had gassed his own people, wore ugly ties and continually left the toilet seat up along with also kicking his dog.
As it turned out, Bush’s intelligence (a contradiction in terms, perhaps?) that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction was faulty and the Iraq War was a mistake. An expense of $2.2 trillion and nearly 4,500 American military deaths later is the grim realization that it all was one big waste.
Now Bush is sitting pretty in retirement down in Texas, while those who lost sons, fathers or daughters must live with grief as a result of his colossal blunder.
In addition, it can be argued that taking out Saddam was a strategic mistake, because along with kicking dogs and gassing people he after all kept his neighbor Iran in check. But Iran has become another major concern over the threat of nuclear weapons development.
And here we are again, pondering military action against Syria, the flavor of the month for possible intervention by the U.S. Weren’t we hearing the same thing just a few weeks ago after the latest overthrow of an Egyptian leader?
Then there’s also Jordan and other places around the Middle East where conditions are unsettled as well.
My opinion is that we should just sit back and let these people kill each other off, but then there’s the usual suspects to consider — namely oil and the concern for our ally Israel.
But hopefully, the American public — if not its president — has finally learned a lesson about military intervention. Sure, there are bad regimes in the Middle East, but the same could be said of certain countries in Africa.
Many American citizens are opposed to air strikes in Syria, as are members of Congress whom Obama has asked to endorse his plans for military action. Also, both the United Nations and our old pal Britain are declining to get involved in the Syrian affair.
So that leaves Obama.
But shouldn’t the fact that Britain and the United Nations are washing their hands of Syria be a good sign as to why we should do so as well? Obviously, Britain and other countries think there is too great a price to be paid, in taxpayer dollars that are scarce in this economy — and more importantly, the cost of lives.
If I were king (and not president), I would pass a decree that would serve for all time as a barometer regarding whether conflicts should be initiated by the United States or not. It would require any president who decides to declare war, or initiate a strike, to send his own children along.
The fact that Obama’s kids, for example, are young, wouldn’t matter. Strap them into a cockpit of the bomber or put them on the front line if a full-scale ground war develops.
I also thought that George W. Bush should have been forced to send his two daughters to Iraq when that war began.
The point is, if a president, any president, thinks such an intervention is so worthwhile, he should be willing to put his own family at stake and not just the children of regular Americans.
You can bet there would be fewer wars under my decree.
I will always remember what Sun Tzu, a long-ago military official in China credited with authoring “The Art of War,” had to say. He believed wars should be fought correctly, but avoided if possible.
Angry people can be made happy again, Sun Tzu wrote, but dead people can’t be brought back to life.
Tom Joyce is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.