RANGER AGAINST WAR: War Begets War <

Thursday, August 29, 2013

War Begets War

 --Miley, what America does best

"Therefore, my Harry, 
Be it thy course to busy giddy minds 
With foreign quarrels, that action, hence borne out,
May waste the memory of the former days." 
--Henry IV, Part II, Shakespeare

 I don't want you to be no slave
I don't want you to work all day
But I want you to be true
And I just wanna make love to you 
--I Just Wanna Make Love to You, Etta James

Just lemme put the tip in
--Richard Pryor
________________________

We at RangerAgainstWar often employ lyrics and quotations to make our point.  Here are a few for you.

Shakespeare needs no help from RAW (h/t to Chris), but the late Richard Pryor had a brilliant sketch about a lover imploring his resistant partner to "just allow the tip" in. We all know of course that if you do that, you get the shaft. Shouts all 'bout for just sending in war heads to Syria -- "just the tip".  Right-o.

And then there's Etta James telling her lover that she just wants to cook him bread and wash his clothes, if he will just be true to her. Substitute, "I just wanna make war on you," and you have the United States' 21st century version. End of lesson.

But we will ramble on, as it's fun to tell the truth.

The New York Times yesterday ran an Op-Ed arguing for bombing Syria on "moral grounds" (Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal.") We wonder if author Ian Hurd has ever faced having the prospect of having a mega ton dropped on him, and if he did, would would he think it very moral? We suspect that even if he were one bad dude, he wouldn't cotton to the idea. It's all about walking in the other guy's shoes, Ian, something that requires you understand a little about him.

Let's be clear about the U.S. position: We are so morally outraged at the use of chemical weapons to kill people that we have to kill some other people by bombing them ... not exactly Logic 101. Nor is it a consistent position, which claiming for "morality would seem to require.

If we go into Syria for "humanitarian" reasons, why didn't we go into Africa where millions of innocents were being slaughtered? Darfur has be
en experiencing ongoing genocide for over a decade, but no one advocates  bombing Sudan? Ranger just read an excellent book of reportage on the Rwanda genocides (We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families.) Brutality beyond the pale, yet which failed to enlist one American bomb -- not ONE.

But let us shelve all this high-falutin talk of morality, and talk common sense. What sense is there in supporting al-Qaeda rebels whom the Syrians hate who hate the U.S. and who are at war with the U.S. in Afghanistan -- Hello? Politicos have offered plenty of stupid and immoral reasons for bombing and killing since the war in Vietnam, but we don't often hear arguments for peace and focusing on prosperity.

Make no mistake: Bombing Syria with cruise missiles and stand-off weapons has no relevance to the welfare of our nation. Not one million+ dollar missile will help to repair even the smallest section of sidewalk in Detroit, nor will our water quality, public education and general welfare will not be improved one iota.

Ranger had an up-close and personal experience with aerial bombardment during the Vietnam War -- an action which was sold as pulling a rabbit out of a hat in terms of its ability to settle an internecine dispute cleanly. Aerial bombardment has never stopped a nation from fighting, when a fight is what it wants. Air power can simply deliver death and destruction, it cannot resolve conflicts. The Germans, Russians, Japs and Brits soldiered on in the face of overwhelming air power.arrayed against them.

Bombing does not shake a nation's resolve, and may even steel it. It will surely gain you no friends. And what if the Syrian loyal forces fall as a result of our actions? Do we imagine they will be treated humanely and in accordance with the rules of land warfare? Are we willing to accept their annihilation as the price of our supposed "morality"?

We have a war machine out of control, and it is so under civilian guidance. This was not the Founding Father's intent, who sought civilian oversight to rein in the military. When you as a citizen risk life and limb, you think twice ... of course the problem today is, only 1% of the population bears the service burden for the hawkish wonks.

So, we will unleash our Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) because we don't like someone else using their WMDs all under the rubric of, "We'll never forget 9-11-01", or somesuch. Dr. Strangelove's got nothing on us. Like comic Ron White says, you can't fix "stupid". If you believe bombing Syria "just a little" is an important "slap on the wrist", that's stupid.

The highest moral imperative it seems is, feed the military-industrial complex ... it's a hungry beast.

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9 Comments:

Blogger FDChief said...

Well, yes.

But when has this EVER stopped nations, and peoples, going off and starting stupid wars, or attacking others, or doing any of the many gajillion other stupid things that people and nations do and have done?

Are we such a speshul snowflake that we're immune to that virus?

I'd be nice, but I ain't holding my breath.

No, fankly, this is just power-geopolitics-business-as-usual. The U.S. has a vested interest in not letting anybody get the notion of sliming U.S. troops. I actually see a point to that. Don't agree (since if you keep the U.S. troops out of their backyard they won't slime us) but I see the point.

But in this case it REALLY makes no sense. Assad's people are fighting for their lives; they lose, they die. What the hell do they have to lose using the chemicals? U.S. ordnance will kill them deader than a Sunni from Homs with a bad case of revenge and a rusty bayonet? Please.

No, this is just another case of having the power to do something, whether or not doing something - as opposed to nothing, or some OTHER something - will produce any sort of result...

The strong do what they can, the weak suffer what they must. Two thousand years ain't changed that, my friend, and we both know it...

Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger no one said...

Chief, I gotta tell ya, you're a confusing person.

You say stuff like, "you'd think that even with those sort of moron-grade-policy-beer-goggles on, someone in D.C. would stop and think" and "this is just another case of having the power to do something, whether or not doing something - as opposed to nothing, or some OTHER something - will produce any sort of result..."

Which makes sense to me, but then when whenever we talk about domestic issues you demand that we turn over our hard earned money to these very same beer goggled power crazed morons that you hold in contempt re; foreign policy so they can implement some scheme to save us domestically.

We need more of these very same cretins in our lives?

And now you add that abuse of power and stupidity is just the way it always has been and always will be.

Am I missing something here?

Any how, I don't see Canada going off and starting stupid wars, or attacking others, or doing any of the many gajillion other stupid things that people and nations do and have done. I don't even see the Chinese doing any of that, and they actually could be pretty good at it if they put their collective mind to it.

So, as usual, I disagree with you. It isn't just the way things are and will always be. That's a sorry copout.

It's the way *we* are. We are that special snowflake and it's a psychological defensive projection to excuse being that way by saying that everyone else is doing it too - especially when everyone else is NOT doing it too.

As you astutely note, they can't slime our troops if we aren't in their backyard in the first place.

So why are we in their backyard?






Friday, August 30, 2013 at 5:36:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim at ranger said...

Chief,
You are right -this is games of empire EXCEPT we aren't an empire, and EVERY EMPIRE has wilted and faded away.
Empire also implies/demands a benefit to the empires citizens. No empire screws with another unless there is a tangible benefit. When this isn't in the equation we know what happens historically.
Ask the Hapsburgs/Ottoman/or any of the other usual suspects.
BTW none of these defunct empires were borrowing money from the Chinese to implement their wars.
jim

Friday, August 30, 2013 at 8:24:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.mintpressnews.com/witnesses-of-gas-attack-say-saudis-supplied-rebels-with-chemical-weapons/168135/

Oh wow, Some rebel factions themselves are saying that the Saudis supplied the chemical weapons to other rebel factions, who then used them on the Syrians.

Gosh, who would have guessed?


No one

Friday, August 30, 2013 at 11:33:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

jim: Well, we ARE a sort-of empire. Here's the definition of "empire" in Wikipedia:

"An imperial political structure is established and maintained in two ways: (i) as a territorial empire of direct conquest and control with force (direct, physical action to compel the emperor's goals), and (ii) as a coercive, hegemonic empire of indirect conquest and control with power (the perception that the emperor can physically enforce his desired goals)."

I'd argue that we qualify under definition (ii). And in this case Emperor Obama and Emperor Boehner (and all the little sub-emperors in their agencies and committee chairmanships...) are going to physically enforce their desired goals on the poor sonsofbitches in Damascus...

Like I said; I can see how you can make the argument that hammering down any potential foe that even thinks about using chemicals is a "national interest". I don't agree with it, but I see how you can make it.

IMO, though, we've so thoroughly poisoned the Middle Eastern well (with, I should add, the enthusiastic aid of the locals...) that there's really almost no way this "works" in the way that the people proposing it seem to think is will.

I hope I'm wrong.

Friday, August 30, 2013 at 7:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

"And now you add that abuse of power and stupidity is just the way it always has been and always will be.

Am I missing something here?


Yep.

There's a difference between doing stupid things and BEING stupid. There's a difference between acknowledging that my government has gotten ahold of some very poor (in my estimation) policy analyses here and assuming that my government is ALWAYS going to be wrong and fucked up.

You said it yourself; I'm old-school. I still believe in the U.S. government, the one that won WW2, the one that helped pull the country out of the Depression, the one that reined in the predatory robber barons and cleaned up the Love Canals and the Rocky Mountain Arsenals.

So - just like other nations and peoples - sometimes we do smart and sometimes not; in this case, I think not. But I don't think it's a feature of ALL government all the time...

Add to that there's a vast difference between the conduct of a nation's foreign and domestic policies, between the sort of cluelessness on display here (largely the result of a long-standing national inability to make sensible foreign policy in the Islamic Middle East, which I've discussed at length in a number of fora but basically comes down to the need to keep petroleum flowing and the need to help Israel keep from getting overrun which automatically puts us at odds with 90% of the locals) and foreign policy clueless in general. We did the Cold War pretty decently. We're doing pretty well with Asia and Europe, and better in South and Central America with some major issues on some things like immigration and drugs.

We're just not so good in the Middle East.

However, just because a bunch of my country's governments have fucked up the Middle East doesn't mean that my default position is "my country's government is fucked up."

"Any how, I don't see Canada going off and starting stupid wars, or attacking others, or doing any of the many gajillion other stupid things that people and nations do and have done."

Ask a Canadian about Dieppe. Or the Parachute Regiment in Somalia. Or the problems its had with Quebec. Or the problems it has with its First Nations.

The U.S. is a defacto empire and has been since 1945. Canada is about the same size and weight as Belgium, which ALSO hasn't invaded anyone but has about as fucked up a government as anywhere in the world. Comparing the U.S. and Canada on a global foreign policy scale is like comparing apples and hand grenades.

Oh, and this: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/08/28/syria-canada-baird-sabra-united-nations.html

"I don't even see the Chinese doing any of that, and they actually could be pretty good at it if they put their collective mind to it."

China is a fucking mess internally. It doesn't do this farkling about internationally because it CAN'T. It has done all sorts of stupid things internally, from invading Tibet to suppressing national minorities to it's trainwreck of an economy to the massive incompetence and corruption of its government. Again, you're just wrong here and using a bad analogy.

"It isn't just the way things are and will always be. That's a sorry copout."

And, as usual, I didn't say that, you did. I said "this is just power-geopolitics-business-as-usual."

This is no different from Russia smashing the Chechens or bullying Ukraine or the Chinese intimidating the Viets or the Indians or the Tibetans. The fucking ROMANS did it. It's the strong doing what they can and the weak suffering what they must. Yes, ALL Great Powers do it. Christ, man, how little history did you learn in school?

Friday, August 30, 2013 at 7:39:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim at ranger said...

Chief,
We lack the HEGEMIC part of the definition.
We have NO CONTROL over anything including our own lawmakers.
That isn't empire.
Your comment sounded like the David Spade character on the series-Rules of Engagement.
jim

Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 10:35:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger no one said...

"There's a difference between doing stupid things and BEING stupid"

Not in my world. I recognize stupidity - or any other mental characteristic - in actions and the result of actions. What good would intelligence be if whenever we acted, we ignored it - "I knew the burner on the stove would fry my finger, but I went ahead and touched it any way". Ok. Maybe it is possible to be intelligent and then act stupidly because one is masochistically insane. Some how that doesn't really strengthen your argument.

" There's a difference between acknowledging that my government has gotten ahold of some very poor (in my estimation) policy analyses here ..." well, if this was an isolated instance, then you might have a point. Unfortunately, this has been an ongoing pattern since the early 1960s (at least).

"Ask a Canadian about Dieppe" Come on. Dieppe had nothing to do with imperialism and you know it.

"China is a fucking mess internally..." Irrelevant. Given Detroit, etc. the same could be said of the US. So What? We are still trying to do imperialism via military might + cloak and dagger shit and China is not. The Chinese proved that they *could* be doing it as far back as the Korean war, when they essentially kicked our ass.

"This is no different from Russia smashing the Chechens ..." What? The Chechens were a rebellious collection of Islamic trash right off Russia's border. Syria is half a world away from us and is no threat. That alone is a big enough difference to distinguish the two situations.

"The U.S. is a defacto empire and has been since 1945" What, pray tell, is a defacto empire?

Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 9:23:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger no one said...

You see Chief, in all your examples and counters examples of, ostensibly, strong bullying weak you neglect an obvious and important factor. None of these nations where going half way around the world to pick a fight. They were taking corrective/punitive actions along their own borders (e.g. Chinese v Viets).

Now, the Romans might be a different case, They definitely had an empire going. So you want to compare the US to the Romans. Is imperial Rome a good model to follow? Any how, the case can be made that Med. nation states were constantly at war with each other pre-Rome so it made sense for the Romans to attempt to establish control over other states in the region for their own security against physical invasion.

The US doesn't have that excuse, does it?

Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 9:43:00 PM GMT-5  

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