Here we go again…

Here we go again… August 27, 2013

Well, here we are again, on the brink of war, even before we have fully extracted ourselves from our last long national nightmare.  My life-affirming values as atheist/humanist combined with my military experience as a veteran of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are telling me that it would be wrong to start down this path again.

What’s happening in Syria involving the use of chemical weapons is absolutely horrifying and it is natural and logical that compassionate people would want to do just about anything to intervene and keep this from happening to others.   But if the United States government intervenes militarily, it won’t be because the government wants to help people; it will be because the United States government drew a line in the sand and doesn’t like being defied.  Combine this with the fact that war spending makes certain rich people richer and you have a lethal combination of factors that almost certainly will drag us into conflict.

Consider these facts.

There are wealthy, powerful private interests, industries, and firms who need another protracted conflict to keep the money coming in, now that the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down.

There are powerful members of Congress whose districts host these powerful interests, industries, and firms who depend on campaign contributions from these interests and who depend on being able to appear proactive on keeping defense jobs in their districts.

None of these parties actually care about preventing suffering, and certainly none care about the potential future suffering that military intervention will cause.  They do not care that they would spend the lives of members of the US military initiating and fighting this conflict.

There is no way for the US to act militarily in a way that won’t bring along it’s own sort of massive suffering.  Just ask the Pakistani civilians who have lived under years of US drone strikes whether or not they are being harmed.  Just ask the millions of civilians wounded, displaced, or killed because of our actions in Iraq.   Just ask the thousands of families changed forever when their loved ones in the US armed services never made it home from Iraq or Afghanistan or came home damaged in mind and/or body.

I realize I’m engaging in some speculation here, but I find it interesting that while horrible atrocities (which almost always involve bringing war to the doorsteps and bodies of children) occur all over the world, we seem to restrict using the full application of our military forces to Muslim offenders.  For the at least the past decade and a half, our version of seeking justice always seems to involve us, a (nominally) Christian country, attacking, bombing, or otherwise invading the sovereign space of a Muslim country, and I don’t think that is a coincidence.  While I would love to say that our country does not engage in religious wars with other countries, our actions (or lack of them) suggest otherwise.

My heart grieves for the injured and killed in Syria and their families but we cannot help them by harming both us and them.  There just has to be another way…



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  • Guest

    What other way, though? That’s the question, isn’t it? Everything you say is true, and yet…if the Syrian regime is allowed to get away with using chemical weapons, who knows who else will feel empowered to use them? President Obama is in a fix here, because he said clearly that chemical weapons is the one thing he won’t tolerate. And I don’t think the international community can just sit there and allow chemical attacks to be carried out. It would make (even more) of a mockery of the UN.
    It’s true that American investors will profit from any war, but Russian investors are already profiting by selling arms to the Syrian regime. Is that any better?
    I think the best we can hope for is that any intervention will be limited in scope, targeted at possible chemical weapons depots and carried out with the broad support of most of the international community (not Russia or China, obvs.) Civilians will die, but they are already dying in their thousands. There’s not really any way to avoid that now. Ceasefires were tried, there was no success. The whole thing is fucking depressing.

    • Paul Loebe

      We are also in a no-win because if we oppose the Syrian regime we are supporting the rebels which are allied with Al Qaeda…What to do?

    • Delphi Ote

      To summarize your argument: “We don’t know how to solve this conflict, so let’s just start killing people and hope for the best.”

      • Lorenzo Benito

        “I mean, it’s failed just about every time we’ve tried it before, so now it’s due for a win, right?”

    • pennyroyal

      depression is not an option. It’s our responsibility to do more than throw up our hands. If you are a civilian, as I am, do you want to be the first to die in this looming war. I don’t.

  • thepoliticalcat

    Your words are wise, but I would disagree with the part about Muslims. You forget US intervention in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama, Korea, El Salvador, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Chile, Laos, Kampuchea, Malaysia, Colombia, Thailand, Japan. Not one of those countries has a Muslim majority or a Muslim government.

    • Lorenzo Benito

      They had Communists instead. Now that the Communists are no longer a marketable boogie-man, the Muslims have taken up he slack.
      Keep throwing people into the grinder and collecting the money that comes out, that’s what it’s all about.

  • pennyroyal

    we are not a Christian nation and as a country are divided on religion. 20% of us have no religion. Many of us disown the evangelical, bring-on-the-end-times ideology and any kind of theocracy. So your scenario is not apt.