A Slide on the Ice is No Reason to Go to War

A Slide on the Ice is No Reason to Go to War September 3, 2013


Much of the news media has been hard-selling war in Syria to their viewers for quite some time now.

Economic issues are the toughest issues to discuss with traditional Christians. I believe this is because far too many of our religious leaders have aligned themselves and their teaching with the Republican party rather than with Christ.

I am well aware that there are many religious leaders who have done the same thing with the Democrats. But when it comes to false teachings about money, the worst offenders are the heretical religious leaders who follow the Rs.

I believe quite firmly that money is playing a decisive part in this push for war-war-any-war-we-can-find that is coming out of certain opinion-makers’ mouths. Not so long ago, these same folks were pushing us to go to war with Iran. If we don’t go to war in Syria, they’ll be looking for another war someplace else before you can say bottom line.

There are real issues involved with this debate about Syria, but you won’t find them on the cable news. That is because the various cable news stations are, as I said earlier “opinion makers.”

Think about that.

Noodle with it.

Let the idea roll around in your mind as you look at it from different angles.

Opinion makers.

Not journalists. Not reporters of the news.

But opinion makers, which is, I think, a nice phrase for propagandists.

They’re not trying to inform you. They are trying to use you. Their “discussions” always go one direction, and that is war, war, more war.

I am not, as I have said many times, a pacifist. I believe in defending this nation. I understand the lessons of World War II when those in power were so hungry for peace that they became enablers of actions that resulted in the most destructive war in human history.

On the other hand, I sort of understand the side-step, two-step of the war that to this day nobody can really explain: World War I. The world slid into World War I like a line of cars rear-ending one another on an icy road.

One salient point that is usually overlooked is that World War I and World War II were not isolated events. They are actually one event. I have always regarded World War I and World War II as the same war with a 20-year, depression-wracked truce between engagements. The world oh-noooed its way into World War II by letting the bullies have their run-up. But the real causes of that war were in the first world war and its inconclusive and destructive pause. In a real way, the horrors of the 20th century began with a slide on the ice.

The moral of all this, at least for me, is that a slide on the ice is no reason, ever, to go to war. We need to think things through.

War is evil. It is destruction. Even when it must be fought, it is always a tragedy, and it always destroys precious lives. I have stood beside enough graves, I have witnessed the psychological deaths of enough parents standing like hollowed out husks of themselves beside those same graves, to be very slow to say that we should commit America to war.

War makes money, big money, for some. But I am from the economic class that fights these wars. I have talked to the men and women who’ve come back and can’t stop remembering. I have, as I said, stood beside graves into which we lowered coffins containing bodies so mutilated their parents were told not to look.

War is not a video game.

There are three points I want us to consider in this post.

1. Should President Obama have asked Congress to authorize action in Syria, or should he have acted unilaterally?

2. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on the Kurds in Iraq, yet the world did nothing. Why is Syria different?

3. Can the American people resist the “opinion makers” who are trying to hard-sell them on war with somebody/anybody and think for themselves?

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17 responses to “A Slide on the Ice is No Reason to Go to War”

  1. Should Obama have asked Congress for war authorization? Absolutely, even if his reasons for asking had the taint of buck-passing. There is no such thing as a limited war, and the tradition, since Vietnam, of divorcing war decisions from the people is a bigger threat to democracy than any foreign enemy we have ever faced, including the Nazis and the Soviets.

    We turned a blind eye to Hussein’s use of chemical weapons for the same consequentialist reasoning which is the root of ALL of our problems in the Middle East. We and the Europeans knew he was a thug, and we in fact helped him acquire his chem warfare capabilities under the guise of “agriculture” (in case, you know, they wanted to grow lots of cotton in the desert and had a weevil infestation). We weren’t too happy about his massacre of Kurds, but they carried no real water with us, and in any case, Hussein was also killing even more Iranians, who had had the temerity to embarass us after our earlier consequentialism led to an Islamic revolutionary regime there.

    Where chemical weapons use is concerned, I would like to see a policy whereby the leaders of a regime would be personally targeted if good evidence shows use of these agents against a civilian population. That action should be undertaken with the support and participation of all civilized countries, and not just the U.S.

    Can we resist the “opionion makers”? I don’t know. Historically, Americans could always be rallied for a war against the “A-rabs”. I think our experience with decades of useless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have soured us on that to some degree. The real problem is that we are too disengaged and ignorant of the world as a people to do any real due diligence or debate on these issues. Most of the day’s top headlines dwell on which useless celebrity just went into rehab or got voted off the reality show.

  2. 1. Should President Obama have asked Congress to authorize action in Syria, or should he have acted unilaterally?

    No. He didn’t for Lybia. Why did he do it now? This is not a war. Unless he intends to put boots on the ground, this is not a war but a limited action. If Obama now fails to get Congressional approval his presidency is over. The US acting as a super power in the world is over until his term is up. Either way, no one will ever trust this man’s foreign policy strategy again. Peter Wehner comments here, Obama’s handling of this is “staggering incompetence.”

    2. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on the Kurds in Iraq, yet the world did nothing. Why is Syria different?
    Because one cannot do it everywhere, that does not justify one not doing it somewhere. I can’t speak to the calculation of the time. I don’t know if we knew where Hussein stored his weapons. I think we have a good idea where to hit Assad to make it hurt. I don’t know if we had equal intelligence of Iraq of 30 years ago.

    3. Can the American people resist the “opinion makers” who are trying to hard-sell them on war with somebody/anybody and think for themselves?
    Here’s where I really wanted to disagree with you. We must be watching different media. I have not seen anything that’s been trying to sell the war, except report on Obama’s policy and rhetoric. Even Conservative media is almost solidly against this. I argue on political boards and I’m getting lambasted by Conservatives for supporting the effort. And really Rebecca, this argument you keep making about business pushing the war for money reasons is ridiculous. I’m mean really ridiculous.

  3. Rebecca asked three questions, all of them good. Here is my understanding of the situation:

    1. Should President Obama have asked Congress to authorize action in Syria, or should he have acted unilaterally?

    I think it was a politically savvy move to ask permission. If Congress votes “No” then Obama is in the clear. If they vote “Yes,” then responsibility for the upcoming war will not fall entirely on the shoulders of Pres. Obama. Moreover, the vote will prevent the war from being used as a Republican wedge issue (although individual Republicans and Democrats may choose to make an issue in their own races.)

    Did Obama’s asking for permission make the US look weak overseas? I don’t know.

    2. Why is Assad’s use of chemical weapons intolerable but Saddam’s use of similar weapons shrugged off? At the time, Saddam was the friend of the US. We weren’t friends as in BFF, but more in the line of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Weakening Iran was a goal of US foreign policy and Saddam was our proxy. We wanted to keep him strong.

    3. Can Americans resist “the opinion-makers?” I read quite a bit of opinions against a strike on Syria, so I am not sure that opinion-makers are on one side or the other. However, I don’t watch cable news, so I can’t evaluate what is being said there.

    I would note, however, that Americas regularly fall for commercial ads which promote products of no extra value e.g. dish soap with antimicrobials added in. And political ads are notorious for their distortions of facts and heavy reliance on appeals to emotion, both which seem to help in the elections. So, yes, claims made on television, claims which are repeated over and over, do sway the the thinking and behavior of Americans.

  4. First and foremost. If we lob missiles in there, it’s a war unless, Assad, Iran, AND Russia say it’s not a war, then its an act of terrorism. Mostly because we have no idea of what we’re trying to accomplish, it’s just more or less random violence, directed at not much of anything.

    1. It’s up to Congress to declare war, it can be done either on paper or allowing the executive to do an operations. That’s what the word mean: by word or action. The executive can only act in defense of America, nobody is threatening us.

    2. It’s only different because the President wrote a check with his mouth, that will overdraw our account, only difference.

    3. Don’t know but certainly hope so. Want to hear the war drums? Get off your computer and turn on the news channels, any of them.

    Rebecca’s comments on WW’s I and II parallel mine (unimportant) but also Winston Churchill’s who referred to them as a new 30 years war. The second war came directly out of the Treaty of Versailles, and the complete and utter bankruptcy of Europe, there literally wasn’t enough money and credit left in Europe to feed itself. In addition for today’s point all of the boundaries in the middle east (which are complete arbitrary) come out of that God-forsaken treaty as well.

    If there was a plan, with a reasonable chance of accomplishing something and bringing our people out safely, i could probably support this. As structured, it’s the stupidest idea i’ve heard from a Stupid government since the Gulf of Tonkin resolutions, which was comparable.

  5. It’s totally about the money Manny. I highly recommend the documentary “Why We Fight” by Eugene Jarecki. I think it’s still an instant play on Netflix. It’s a comprehensive look at where we’ve come since Eisenhauer’s speech and often requested at West

    Also I believe the Kurds were gassed after we turned against Saddam and told them we’d have their back if they stood. They did and we didn’t. No economic interest or resources perhaps.

  6. I would say that’s mostly true. The natural inclination of Americans is to not get involved in foreign problems. A president usually pulls his side of the political aisle along while the other has a natural repulsion. But complicating this is the rise of the Libertarians in the Republican Party, and they are like the pacifist side of the Democratic Party. I hope I’m looking at my support objectively. At least no one can claim I just put political party blinders on. Of course that doesn’t mean my objective assessment is correct. But I’m certainly not following the herd.

  7. On the other hand, I sort of understand the side-step, two-step of the war that to this day nobody can really explain: World War I. The world slid into World War I like a bunch of cars rear-ending one another on an icy road.

    Oh no it did not. That was a legend spread after the war in order to smear those nations that chose to fight rather than enable Austro-German aggression and lawlessness. World War One was fought for the same reasons as World War Two – basically, that Germany and Austria wanted to fight. Here is the evidence, unanswerably set out at the time by an American journalist: No war has ever started by chance or lack of attention, whatever legend-makers and interested parties may claim.

    (I am writing a book on the reality and legend of WWI, so I’ve got strong and informed views on the subject. I quote James Beck’s book because it is an excellent and concentrated look at the actual decisions to go to war at the time they were made, but it is hardly my only source for my views.)

  8. You base your opinion on a movie where the central thinking comes from Gore Vidal? Gore Vidal? “Why We Fight” is in line with “Fahrenheit 911,” propaganda movies of an ideological bent. Pulease. Either consider yourself an ideologue or have better discrimination on where you get your information.
    The Kurds were gassed after first Iraq War and we turned a blind eye. To our EVERLATING DISGRACE!

  9. To an atheist, the scariest thing is when Jews say that God is on their side, Muslims say that Allah is on their side, Christians say that we must defend Israel at all costs, etc. The Muslims are crazy and their going to get everyone killed. All secular countries have to make a pact to put down any religiously motivated hostility perpetrated by any side. We have to tell them “don’t give me any of this ‘God is on our side crap’ or we will put you down immediately. I don’t support helping Muslim extremists in Syria or Egypt or Lybia or anywhere else. Being put down is the only thing they understand.

  10. Saddam attacked the Kurds with chemical weapons on March 16, 1988. At the time, Iraq’s brutal war with Iran was still raging.

    The US abandonment of the Kurds who had risen up against Saddam happened in 1991, when the US changed its mind about invading Ira ( after Kuwait had been liberated.)

  11. Sorry dude but you haven’t seen the movie. It takes neither a hawk nor a dove point of view. Jarecki has personally been invited by West Point more than once to screen the film. John Mcain has more screen time. Others include CIA, marines, and David and Susan Eisenhauer etc. It’s a serious film on a serious subject. I trust it more than my own gov’t .

    Ideologue? Not sure. I am a catholic, a U. S citizen and a mother with a son eligible for Selective Service in 3 short years. I am not willing to sacrifice him for Haliburton any more than to see Iraqi children die from depleted uranium from our weapone of mass destruction.

  12. Yeah, I’m confused on when it happened. I’ve heard both before and after. Maybe he just slaughtered Kurds after the war but the gassing was before.

  13. Oh and I guess there isn’t ideological nonsense in your statement. Selective service? Sacrifice for Haliburton? Do you even know what depleted uranum is? No it is not a weapon of mass destruction. Hahaha! I don’t need to see the movie. You just proved my point.

  14. Depleted uranium is poison – to cut a long story short – used in place of less poisonous metals for financial considerations. Only American military suppliers deny that it is harmful. OK?

  15. LOL, anything in a bullet is poisonous. The gun propellant is poisonous. The lead is poisonous. Lead is worse than DU. Your computer monitor has poisons in it. The stupid light bulbs that our country forces us to now use has poisons in it. That’s right our light bulbs. They use DU in airplanes. DU is safer than these new light bulbs. It’s actually safer than lead and other heavy metals. Please don’t talk to me about materials, including depleted uranium. I’ve actually designed using it and had things built with it. I know what I’m talking about. What you see in the news is complete HYSTERIA. OK?

  16. If computer screens and light bulbs were intended to be hurled at enemies at great speed, your comparison might have a meaning. As it is, is sounds a great deal like a red herring.