2013 Favs: Smoke Signals, Courier, Carrier Pigeons, Telegraph, Telephone, Email and Now Tomahawk Missiles? You Gotta Be Kidding Me.

Tomahawk cruise missile bosnian genocide1

Bombing in warfare can serve tactical purposes.

Say, for instance, that you are at war with a country that has actual war-making capabilities. This hasn’t happened to America in a long time, so let my refresh your memories.

Remember Pearl Harbor?

The Japanese people who attacked us were able to build airplanes, aircraft carriers and guns of all types. They had the ability to train their own pilots, navigate their own ships and come half-way around the globe to launch a devastating attack that sank most of the Sixth Fleet. Then, they had the ability to turn around and go back across the ocean to their home port.

That is war making ability.

You know, the ability to wage actual war on a global scale.

If you are at war with a nation with war-making ability, bombing can serve the purpose of leveling their factories where they make these planes and ships. It can cut the supply lines they use to feed these factories and move their troops. In short, dropping bombs on or shooting missiles at an industrial power with war-making ability during an actual war can serve a strategic and tactical purpose.

This raises the question, at least in my mind, of what, exactly, the backers of the president’s proposed “intervention” in Syria expect to accomplish by lobbing tens of millions of dollars’ worth of Tomahawk missiles at innocent civilians because their government or maybe their government’s opponents … because somebody used sarin gas.

Sarin gas is a gas. It can be carried in a canister. There are comments in various news stories that Syria has “stockpiles” of chemical weapons and that it also is “manufacturing” them. But I find even more sources theorizing that they got these weapons from Saddam Hussein, or even that the United States gave them to Syria a long time ago.

So far as I can tell from this, Syria has no munitions or chemical weapons plants where it is manufacturing this gas that would make legitimate tactical targets. I haven’t found anything except vague, unsubstantiated claims in the popular press that such sites exist.

So, are there military targets that are linked to the sarin gas or not? I keep remembering the way President Kennedy outlined the menace to the American people at the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He spoke to us in a straight-forward 1,2,3 manner. That was a serious threat to our survival as a nation, not some we-can’t-explain-it nonsense. But that president trusted the American people with the truth.

If there is such truth now, we have a right to hear it. Based on the fact that we haven’t heard it, I am assuming that the only reasons for creating this war are the reasons that we’ve been given, none of which claim any threat to America or the American people.

That raises the question: What does our president and the war-promotion machine that’s hammering us think they are going to accomplish by hitting these already miserable people with Tomahawk missiles?

What is the military objective? What tactical purpose does this proposed attack supposedly serve?

The only explanation I’ve read as to what they hope to accomplish came in an unintentionally silly little article from NBC News. According to them, we want to use these missiles for “sending messages” (I kid you not.) to the Syrian government. For instance, the article says (emphases mine),

The U.S. Navy can use those capabilities to send a message to Syria’s leaders about their chemical weapons program, just as it sent messages in the past to leaders of IraqYugoslaviaAfghanistan, SudanYemen and Libya.

Almost as important, the Tomahawks can send messages back — in the form of real-time battle damage assessments. As in those earlier conflicts, Tomahawk cruise missiles are America’s point of the spear for the Syria crisis. President Barack Obama and his aides, members of Congress, leaders of other countries and U.N. officials are continuing to debate if and when to attack Syria. Meanwhile, Pentagon leaders have their battle plan ready, and the Tomahawks are expected to deal the first blow.

Now, I’m familiar with the use of the phrase “send him a message” as it is used in trite movies to describe wreaking some form of mayhem on a character by other characters in the screen play. The dialogue usually begins with a command to burn down someone’s house, kill their family, beat them to a pulp or some such and “send him a message.”

I assume that may be what the writer of this article is talking about.

What kind of message are we supposed to be sending by firing thousand-pound bombs at the people of Syria?

Is the plan to devastate the infrastructure so that the government crumbles and the rebels win this civil war? Do we want the rebels to win this war? Who, exactly, are these rebels, and who is backing them? What kind of future war would we create by getting into this?

I wonder if the president and his crew have considered other means of sending messages. I mean, have they tried email? Or how about sending a courier or using carrier pigeons?

Anything  makes more sense than “sending a message” with Tomahawk missiles.

Unless these missiles are sarin-seeking, or known stockpiles and manufacturing plants we haven’t been told about exist, we’re not going to get at the chemical weaponry. What we are going to do is kill people, create even more havoc and entangle America and Americans in somebody else’s civil war.

I listened to Secretary of State Kerry’s testimony before Congress as he flatly refused to “take the option” of “boots on the ground” “off the table.”

Aside from the question, Do these people really talk in unending strings of cliches? I wondered how many of the people listening to this understood what he was saying. He wants authorization for Tomahawk missiles now, with whatever the president decides he wants to do to follow.

He’s saying this vote is a blank check.

Also, for those people who seem to keep forgetting this, he wasn’t talking about sending boots to Syria. He was talking about sending American men and women over there to die.

Maybe the reason for all the hackneyed cliches is because nobody, either in Congress or the White House or the press for that matter, wants to say precisely what it is that they are proposing. It just doesn’t have the same Rambo/Corleone-esq macho block-headedness to say the truth.

What if the Secretary of State had said,

  • We probably will send ground troops into Syria. We haven’t decided how many or for how long.
  • We are certain that we are going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fire Tomahawk missiles at non-military targets in a largely defenseless nation which doesn’t have any military targets.
  • This talk about a “red line” is just for public consumption. We created the “red line” a few weeks ago, and are relying on the propaganda press and the short attention spans of the American people to sell it for us.
  •  We are not going to discuss the rumors of Russian involvement in this war because if we didn’t ignore it, this attack would be even harder to sell to the American people than it is now.
  • In the final analysis, after all this bizarro cliche talk about “sending messages” with Tomahawk missiles and the “option of boots on the ground,” what we’re talking about is killing people. Lots of people. For no tactical reason that we will discuss with the American people.

Firing Tomahawk missiles into another nation is not “sending them a message.” It’s an act of war. And this particular war is not our war.

We do not need to go to war in Syria to defend America.

Let me repeat that: We do not need to go to war in Syria to defend America.

Is there some other reason for committing American troops? Is our military a police force the president can use as he wishes to “send messages” to whomever he wants?

Or, is it for the protection of this nation and its people?

I have said from the beginning that I am open to being persuaded about military action in Syria. But persuading me means convincing me that there is a reason for it that has to do with protecting America and that the negative consequences of military action do not outweigh the threat to our safety.

So far, all I’ve seen is an appeal to kill lots of people by firing missiles at them because somehow or other that’s the “humanitarian” thing to do. I have not heard anything that convinces me that there is a tactical purpose to this action, or that there are even tactical targets for the missiles. I also have not heard anything — and I mean anything — that addresses how America is endangered by the civil war in Syria.

What is the tactical, military purpose of firing missiles at the Syrian people?

How does firing missiles at Syria protect the homeland and the American people?

Why are we being pushed into this war?

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I’m going to believe the president of the united states (through his secretary of state) that Assad has used chemical weapons repeatedly. I’m going to believe that in this last instance nearly 1500 people were killed from it, including over 400 children. I’m going to believe that we have a strategy (though this one is harder to believe given the shear incopetence of this president and his administration) to substantially degrade assad’s defenses with the possible hope of his downfall. I’m going to trust my government that Assad’s fall is a better situation for the region and our national interests (afterall Assad is allied with Iran) than he remaining in pwower. I’m not an expert in foreign policy and no one pontificating on the internet is an expert either. What I do know is that Assad has used chemical weapons repeatedly and if not stopped there is no indication that he won’t use them again.
    So here’s a few questions for you Rebecca. If we don’t do anything this time, will you still advocate doing nothing the next time Assad uses chemical weapons, especially on civilians? How many times will it take for Assad to kill innocents with those weapons for you to change your mind? Or is your position that it doesn’t matter how many times he kills innocents with chemical weapons it’s not in our national interest period? And if that is the case, how did you feel when you learned that 800,000 Tutsis were slaughtered in Rwanda and we did nothig to stop it because it wasn’t in our national interest? How will you feel when more innocents are slaughtered in Syria?

    • hamiltonr

      I think that American arms are meant to protect America. That raises the question, which I am going to devote a full post to, Are “American interests” the same as America? In fact, exactly what are “American interests?” We keep going to war for “American interests” rather than America. What, exactly are they?

      What are your parameters for being the world’s cops? Do we intervene in on-going genocide? Or do we intervene when “American interests” are at stake? Which one are we dealing with now? In fact, are we dealing with either one.

      Ten thousand Christians have been slaughtered in Nigeria in the past few years. Why don’t we intervene there?

      Why are we allowing North Korea to go on and on and on?

      Why Syria?

      Why now?

      What, exactly, are we going to accomplish by hitting the people of Syria with Tomahawk missiles? It seems to me that there’s an excellent chance that we will kill more than 1500 people this attack if we do this.

      As for me and what I would do, first and foremost, if I was president (spare the thought) I would put America and Americans first. Because that would be my job, and doing that job with integrity would require me to do that. I would mostly likely find myself the object of all sorts of unexplained attacks from those who make soooooo much money off these wars, and I might not survive it. But that is what I would do.

      However, I am not the president of the United States.

      • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com/ D. A. Christianson

        “However, I am not the president of the United States.”
        And that’s a shame!

        • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

          I keep saying she should run. But what do I know, I’m just an Italian foreigner.

          • FW Ken

            Rebecca needs to hold national office first, or better, be the governor of Oklahoma for a few years. In any case, I’m not sure I would wish the presidency on her. It’s a killer job.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        “I think that American arms are meant to protect America. That raises the question, which I am going to devote a full post to, Are “American interests” the same as America? In fact, exactly what are “American interests?” We keep going to war for “American interests” rather than America.”
        That’s the Libertarian position and runs counter to the American post WWII consensus of both parties. If that becomes the new American position then what do you think countries like Iran and N. Korea will do? They will be more aggressive in pursuit of their larger objectives. How many more countries will you convert into new Irans and new N. Koreas?
        If you don’t believe that post WWII American consensus asn’t accomplished anyting, look at how many south american dictators have fallen. Look at how China has radically changed? Look at the stability of Europe. Look at the middle east when at one time all those countries were gearing up to attack Israel every ten years. If you don’t believe that American power exerting itself against to keep bad nations in line makes a difference, then you have to start looking at the world not one ation at a time but as a system of nations.
        It’s not any one event. This rings beyond Syria. If we turned around here, it won’t be the end of the world, but put several of these weaknesses together or announce a new Libertarian foreign policy and slowly world stability will degenerate. Think of it similar to why Catholics believe contraception leads to a poorer culture. Sin begets sin and alters the mindset that allows for divorce and abortion and broken families. That Libertarian position will lead to a mindset across the world of less inhibition. If you had no police in inner cities, do you think there would be less crime or more? The history of mankind and nations is not stability and prosperity. Without a countervaling power to keep options of aggression limited, nations and humanity pursue other than noble goals.
        Anyway this president has so botchd this that I don’t think any good will come of it, no matter what decision he makes.

        • hamiltonr

          I hadn’t thought of it as a libertarian position, you may be right. I honestly don’t know enough about libertarianism to say.

          What I’m getting at here, and which I’ll go into in more depth outside the combox, is that I think that the phrase “American interest” has become a justifier for sending this country to war for special interests who are controlling our government, and that these special interests have no loyalty to this country or its people, and that further, their “interests” are often antithetical to both the common good and the specific interests of the American people. I’m not going to go further than this here because it’s waaayyyyyy outside a combox discussion.

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            OK, but I have no idea who and what you’re talking about “special interests who are controlling our government.” That’s paranoid. Actually that sounds like what Liberals claim people from the Tea Party say. And I bet people from the far fringe of the Tea Party do say that.

        • hamiltonr

          Manny, I want you to know that in your various comments you are raising all sorts of valid questions that we need to sort out as a people. I appreciate you doing so and I am going to try to address some of them in more depth later. Thank you.

          • FW Ken

            Let me second that. This whole issue had me baffled. I’ve lived to see us drawn into the quagmires of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. On the other hand, there have been military actions that didn’t lead to further war, and, perhaps, did some good. Korea? Kosovo? Libya? Grenada?

            I just don’t know.

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny


    • Cliff Towle

      Really? An hundred thousand have died in the Syrian war, and we are only now concerned? How are chemical weapons more abhorrent than bullets? Dead is dead.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        True enough. But if you don’t set boundaries then inhibition never naturally evolves, Chemical weapns was a boundary the world has establshed for almost 100 years.

  • Bill S

    “Do we want the rebels to win this war? Who, exactly, are these rebels, and who is backing them? What kind of future war would we create by getting into this?”

    For once, I agree with you completely. Your questions must be answered before we decide to do anything.

    How many Al Quaeda members are serving in the Syrian government as opposed to those with the rebels? When’s the last time Syria attacked us?

    Assad must pay for the gas attacks in a court of international law. If we can’t take him out without massive collateral damage, then we can’t do anything. And we’re not allowed to take him out anyway.

  • CathyLouise

    I feel like one of the townspeople in the fable of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. The leaders of the town will send our troops in. Once again the United States will end up in a quagmire that we can’t get out of. The townspeople will be angry. Someday we won’t respond when we actually should. Because the boy who was to watch the sheep kept crying wolf.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I meant to add to my other comment. If the president is only after sending a message, it’s not worth it, and it won’t change the impression across the world and to other dictators that he’s incompetant, pusilanimous, and weak. Unless Assad crumbles after US intervention, Obama’s credibility, and therefore his presidency, is over.

  • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com/ D. A. Christianson

    No reason that I can see, nor has anybody advanced one. A thug administration is turning America into a thug nation. It’s time to stop and think about it.

    And by the way, earlier this week I promised myself to never use “Boots on the ground again”, instead I will plainly state “American soldiers in harms way.”

    Enough nonsense is more than enough.