Traverse City Record-Eagle


Careless Rhetoric Can Get us into War by Accident

Cathy Stripe LesterSome years ago, Zbigniew Brzezinski commented that reckless sabre-rattling and warlike rhetoric could get us into a war by accident. Obama is just now proving him right.

A year ago, Obama made a “red-line” statement about unacceptable use of chemical weapons and how we wouldn’t allow it. Now Assad has used poison gas, and the president and his administration seem to think we have an “obligation” to retaliate somehow or other.

Obligation? Who says we have an obligation? This is an invented “obligation” of our own creation, not from any higher force. If we “have to” attack Syria because we feel some moral outrage at what the Syrians are doing to each other, we should have attacked Hafez al-Assad (Bashar’s father) in 1982, when he massacred around 25,000 people in the city of Hama. Few Americans even know that happened, partly because no one made any rhetorical vows about it at that time.

Never mind that various polls show something like 80% of Americans don’t want another foreign entanglement. (At the time of writing this, the Record-Eagle’s own poll shows 80.3% against an attack, though the number is shifting constantly.) Never mind that most of the Middle-East experts say there is NO good response, and that weakening Assad could empower Al-Qaeda. Because Obama said we’d do something, his advisors have told him that if he doesn’t do anything people will call him “weak.”

Weak? The country with the most wealth and the most guns, soldiers, nukes, planes, ships and everything else in the world? So if we make a rational decision NOT to use said missiles, etc., that’s supposedly “weak”? Someone should remind the war-hounds that sometimes it takes more strength to hold off than to throw our weight around.

Here’s where the president’s own rhetoric comes back to bite him in the rear: If he never said we’d be weak if we didn’t attack Syria, who on God’s green earth would think we were weak?

Zbig was right. Loose talk costs lives.

But aside from the rhetoric, the issue is more complex than even the nightly news acknowledges. We’re supposed to kick the Syrian hornet’s nest in order to “send a message to Iran.”

What message would that be? We think it would be, you have to give up your nukes (which they don’t have anyway) or we’ll attack you instead.

Is that the message the Iranians would receive? I doubt it. The message they’d get would be, “We LIKE to attack first and ask questions later, so never mind about peaceful overtures, we’re going to get you one way or another.”

The most painful thing is that, with Iran’s new president, we actually have a chance to make peace with Iran. But if we attack Syria, we might be nailing the lid on the coffin of diplomatic overtures. Our tortured relationship with Iran is a 30-year old imbroglio that deserves to be put to rest.

Iranians are very sensitive on the subject of poison gas. Iran lost huge numbers of soldiers to Saddam Hussein’s poison gas in the Iran-Iraq war, and there are Iranian vets still in hospitals, dying slowly of the after-effects of being gassed, to this day. Iranian leaders are highly divided on Assad’s use of gas. The old guard refuses to criticize Assad but several other leaders have spoken out against it. We could even make a common cause with them on this issue, if we decided to think outside the box. Iran is one of Assad’s few allies. If Assad doesn’t listen to us, he might listen to an ally.

Unfortunately there’s another player behind the scenes that doesn’t want us to make peace with Iran: Israel.

Never mind that if we manage to establish a diplomatic understanding with Iran, Israel would actually be safer. Israel has been trying to get us to attack Iran, or let them attack  for years and years. To Obama’s credit, he’s resisted it so far.

However, Israel, as I’ve said in previous blogs, isn’t actually afraid of Iran’s non-existent nukes. Israel is in a power struggle, and they just don’t want anyone in the region with as much power as them.

Now Israel is hinting that if America doesn’t kick the Syrian hornet’s nest, they’re going to declare that we’re “weak” and attack Iran unilaterally (for which we’d get the blame and then get dragged into war with Iran).

So, if we attack Syria we get into a war and lose our chance of peace with Iran, and if we don’t attack Syria, we get into a war and lose our chance of peace with Iran. Thanks loads, Israel. There’s really nothing like a tiny nation which keeps afloat only with American money, bullying us to sacrifice our peace prospects, our tax dollars and possibly the lives of our military, for their behalf.

  • Bobdisqus

    CSL, It is so strange to find myself on the same side of an issue with you. You and I, and Pat and most of the American people want no part of this. It is not too late even after a decade+ of disastrous war to return to the old wisdom, “vindicator only of her own”.

    Assad is a monster as was his father before him of this there is no doubt. He is a Russian and Persian supported monster, and yet for all of that I see no American interest that can be advanced by doing him a small injury. Once done, we have no way of knowing what the cost of such will be.

    Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

  • GenePH

    Like Bobdisqus, I first thought it strange to agree with Cathy. Have the planets realigned since Ed gave up his heavenly blog here? But of course, she turns out to be wrong again. You see, President Obama says he didn’t set the red line. The world set the red line.

  • Chris Goodson

    Actually, there is no evidence that Assad used gas, and you are correct that there is no obligation. The words from the mouth of this ‘president’ do not represent the voice of America. This president is a joke and it is his mouth that will be his downfall. He is a self important, community organizer – not the Leader in Chief.

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