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?

From Russia With Love (or maybe not)

Putin

Frank Weathers has the story. 

It seems that President Vladimir Putin is breaking new ice for Russian heads of state. He is now an op-ed author for the New York Times. Frank has nothing but praise for President Putin’s prose. I, on the other hand, look at it a bit differently. 

President Putin wrote an op-ed piece in which he discussed America’s recent foreign policy. He accurately said that we’ve gotten into too many random military encounters lately, and that we are turning too often to force in our international engagements. 

He also said that America’s way of dealing with other countries has become a matter of “relying on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan ‘you’re either with us or against us.’” I think he may have been talking about things like the obvious bullying that President Obama engaged in to coerce foreign nations to refuse sanctuary to whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

It is interesting indeed that this particular strategy backfired with President Putin, who, alone of all the heads of state in the world, took Mr Snowden in. President Obama was so miffed by this that he canceled a pre-G20 meeting with the Russian President, an action that, honestly folks, sounded personal and grade school to me. 

President Putin goes on in his op-ed to remark about something that is quite serious: Nuclear proliferation. He evidently sees this growing push to develop the bomb by impoverished countries who cannot feed their own people as a defensive measure on their part. He is right again when he says, “If you have the bomb, they can’t touch you.” 

In other words, nobody talks about randomly lobbing Tomahawk missiles at nations who have the bomb, no matter how egregious we find their behavior in other matters. 

This raises an important question: Is America’s international policy, with its bully-boy tactics and constant deployment of force against small nations who can’t fight back, actually pushing smaller nations to follow a policy of developing nuclear weapons? 

That is a discussion for another day, but it is certainly one worth having. 

Obama

Having said all this, there is one thing I want Public Catholic readers to understand about President Putin’s op-ed piece. That one thing is that President Putin is using the op-ed to side-step our president and lobby the American people directly. 

I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing. 

After all, he’s not paying a bunch of lobbyists to slime their way around the Capitol greasing campaign accounts and non-campaign pacs with their donations in order to convince our elected officials to vote against us. He is going out there in the court of public opinion and making his case in a straight-forward and direct way. We know where he’s coming from and what he’s saying. We do not have to listen to hours of lies from bought and paid for cable news talking heads interviewing bought and paid for think-tankers and bought and paid for politicians while they try to propagandize us. 

We don’t have to sort through what President Putin is saying to decide what he really thinks. It’s all there, for the reading. 

But we should be aware and never forget that he ain’t us. 

He is the President of Russia and the interests he’s promoting are the interests of Russia. That doesn’t make what he’s saying wrong, and that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to him. Quite the contrary. That makes what he’s saying important and worthy of our thoughtful analysis. 

Odd as this sounds, I have a higher opinion of his motives than I do our cable news people. He, at least, is working for his country. 

Don’t Stop Praying, But We May Be Out of the War-Making Woods

Way out

I don’t think there are any lambs in this particular gathering, but it appears as if the lions may decide to, if not lie down together, at least make war another day.

Presidents Putin of Russia, Rouhani of Iran and Assad of Syria have been talking about a proposal to remove chemical weapons from Syria to Russia for several days now. I first read about this before the weekend, but didn’t write about it because the sources were publications inside Russia that I didn’t know anything about.

Haaretz, an Israeli news outlet, has also been running stories about it. The proposal became quasi official yesterday and today the New York Times wrote that President Obama has “tentatively embraced” the idea.

I expect that the war-promoting members of the press (which is a substantial portion of the press) will react to this with an analysis that President Obama has been “weak” and went to Congress “looking for a way out,” etc. I want to say, in anticipation of that, that if this compromise works, a good portion of the reason why is that this president made the decision to involve the American people, through their representatives, in this debate.

I’ve been critical of this attempt to take this country into another unnecessary war from the outset. I expect that I am going to be equally critical of the inevitable future attempts to do the same thing. Our press has become a powerful lobby for armed intervention all over the globe. There is one cable news network in particular that never stops agitating for war. The place where they want this country to use armed force changes, but the demand that we do it is almost constant.

I am not a pacifist. I believe in self-defense.

I am most definitely a patriot. From the soles of my feet to the hair of my head, I am an American.

I believe without equivocation that if we do not take an honest and critical look at this situation, we are dooming ourselves. I’ll write more about this, but we are spending ourselves into bankruptcy to finance a war machine that is out of touch with reality. Then, we are being sold on wars and “military actions” one right after the other to use it and justify it.

War has become our major industry.

This cannot go on if we are to survive. We need an economy that is based on manufacturing the goods and services of the people of this country, not an economy that is based on manufacturing weapons.

As I said in the title of this post, Don’t stop Praying.

We are not out of the woods on this yet.

And the peacemakers in this situation are hardly peaceable people.

But it looks as if there is a real possibility that we will be able to avoid firing Tomahawk missiles at the people of Syria. There may even be a possibility that we can let them work out their own civil war without shedding American blood.

We need to continue praying for peace, and for our Christian brothers and sisters who are so very vulnerable in this war. I’ve read that President Assad has treated the Christian minority in Syria with tolerance and that the rebels have targeted Christian villages for attacks and attempts at forced conversions to Islam. Again, this information has come largely from the Russian press and the Russians have a stake in this war, so I’ve been slow to write about it.

But, the Christians in Syria who have contacted me have said much the same thing.

I am grateful to the Holy Father for his powerful leadership in this matter. I am also grateful to President Obama for making the decision to allow Congress to vote on it.

I hope that is a precedent-setting move that future presidents will take seriously.

Don’t stop praying. It appears to be working.

Vigil for Peace: Pope Francis’ Homily

Pope Francis called the world to negotiation, not war, yesterday. He also called all Christians to follow the Gospel teaching of reconciliation.

Thousands of people responded by standing reverently for four hours throughout the lengthy Vigil for Peace.

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EWTN Nightly News on the War in Syria

I just learned about this new effort from EWTN.

It’s an impressive beginning that I will watch as often as I can. Compared to the unprofessional approach the most of the cable news networks take, EWTN’s Nightly News is a breath of fresh air.

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Schedule for Pope Francis’ Vigil for Peace

EWTN will carry full coverage of Pope Francis’ Vigil for Peace today, beginning at 1 pm, Eastern time. 

The schedule for the Vigil is below. 

God bless Pope Francis. 

(Vatican Radio) On Saturday, 7 September, Pope Francis will preside over an evening of prayer in Saint Peter’s Square as part of the international day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria and the world. The evening will include Eucharistic Adoration, recitation of the Rosary, and a period of silent meditation. Priests will also be available during the evening for those who wish to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

See below for the full schedule of the evening vigil:

5:45: Priests will hear confessions under the colonnade of Saint Peter’s Square.

6:30: Pope Francis’ appeal for peace will be read aloud.

7:00: The Pope begins the prayer service as Veni Creator Spiritus is sung. The icon Salus Populi Romani will then be processed into the Square, carried by four Swiss Guards. 

Pope Francis will then lead the recitation of the Rosary, followed by a meditation.

After a period of silent meditation, the Holy Father will then preside over Eucharistic Adoration, during which there will be readings from Scripture and responsorial prayers. 

Following the guided period of Adoration, there will be the recitation of the Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours.

10:15: A period of silent prayer will be held before the vigil concludes with Benediction.

Text from page 
of the Vatican Radio website

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/09/07/prayer_vigil_for_peace_with_pope_francis:_schedule/en1-726478 

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The Marine Times Answers My Questions, and They Didn’t Even Know I was Asking

Obama syria

The  Marine Times answered a couple of the questions I have about this rush to war in Syria, and they didn’t even know I was asking.

Frank Weathers, a former Marine who served in the Middle East, passed the article US considers training Syria rebels along, and the minute I read it, I thought So that’s why we’re being pushed to war in Syria.

It turns out that the president is

“… considering a plan to use US military trainers to help increase the capabilities of the Syrian rebels, in a move that would greatly expand the current CIA training being done quietly in Jordan.”

That one sentence answers just about all the questions I raised in this morning’s post. I asked what we would accomplish by hitting the people of Syria with Tomahawk missiles, given the paucity of legitimate military targets in the country.

While I was typing and musing, I wondered aloud, Is the plan to devastate the infrastructure so that the government crumbles and the rebels win this civil war?

Then, this afternoon, I had time to read the article Frank had found and it was one of those Spoing! moments when the pieces fall into place.

Of course the plan is to destroy the infrastructure of Syria so that the government falls and the rebels win. That is the only military objective for firing Tomahawk missiles that makes any sense. All this stuff and nonsense about “red lines” and “chemical weapons” has always had a How dumb do they think we are? quality to it. 

After all, chemical weapons have been used on civilian populations a number of times in past years and there were no “red lines” and no talk about bombing people for humanitarian purposes. That never added up. 

Our government knows the goodness in the American people. They know that we can be motivated, even against our own self interest, by calls to save innocent people from terrible suffering. They know that we are ignorant about our military, how much it costs us in dollars and lost growth to our economy and our nation. They know that we are so disconnected from these realities that they can feed us any sort of gobbledy-goop imaginable about how bombing people “helps” them, and we will believe it. 

I don’t think there is any other people on this planet who are willing to sacrifice so much to help others as the American people. Our government knows this and it is using it to try to push us into intervening in the civil war in Syria to help the rebels win.

I have a small question. Who are these rebels?

Do we really want them to win?

Why do we want them to win?  

And don’t give me any more lies about humanitarian needs. Tell me the truth. 

That would be refreshing, wouldn’t it, if our government tried telling us the truth? 


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