Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Depressingly Familiar

It’s incredible, but depressingly predictable, how quickly many Democrats and almost all the pundits fall in line: “anti-war” when things go badly, but reflexively pro-war when the always righteous call to arms first sounds. It’s always “this is different” and, for them, the lessons of Iraq (Afghanistan and Vietnam) don’t apply.

Russia and the UN

One of the most widely accepted excuses is that there’s no point going to the UN because of Russia and China.  The implication is that if the UN won’t go for an American-powered military strike, nothing else matters or is possible. Further, the implication is that Russia and China (unlike us) have no concern about the use of weapons of mass destruction. History tells us otherwise, or how in the world have we survived the foreign policy crises of the last sixty-plus years?

We don’t like Putin and it’s mutual, for rather obvious reasons. But is the rallying of votes for military action in the US Congress more likely to yield hope than bringing the Syrian crisis to full and open consideration at the UN? No government — not Russia, not China, not the US — is immune to consideration of political realities and can afford for long to simply ignore the pressures of an aroused world.

Crime and Punishment

Who is there to punish us when the US violates international law— when we used the atom bomb in Nagasaki even after Hiroshima demonstrated that it was a monstrous crime against humanity? When the US military made massive use of “Agent Orange” in Vietnam? When US presidents enabled assassinations and military coups against democratically elected governments? And who has a veto over the CIA’s right to drop missiles from drones anywhere on Executive order?

It seems that our moral compass too often points to “might makes right.”

Certainly the slaughter in Syria and the unforgivable use of chemical weapons horrifies humanity and must shock the world into action — not to pour fuel on the flames, but to demand cooperative efforts to bring an end to the violence and for all possible humanitarian assistance to its millions of victims. War criminals (some, but hardly all) have been brought to justice before, and will be again if the UN is empowered to do so.

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