Remain Calm, Etc: On the Warpath
Posted August 29, 2013on:
Good Thursday, Widdershins.
Most of this week was devoted to the memory of Martin Luther King. the prophet of non-violence. Now that we have dutifully paid homage to The Dream, we can turn our attention to the other American pastime – war.
The drums have been beating for some time, lead by Senatorial percussionists Graham and McCain. The Senators issued a joint statement, reported here by The Washington Times:
“Using stand-off weapons, without boots on the ground, and at minimal risk to our men and women in uniform, we can significantly degrade Assad’s air power and ballistic missile capabilities and help to establish and defend safe areas on the ground,” Mr. McCain and Mr. Graham said in a joint statement. “In addition, we must begin a large-scale effort to train and equip moderate, vetted elements of the Syrian opposition with the game-changing weapons they need to shift the military balance against Assad’s forces.”
“Vetted elements of the Syrian opposition”? So who vets them? I seem to remember not so very long ago, a President Reagan decided that the very best way to stifle the Soviet Union was to arm some dude named Bin Laden to the teeth and turn him loose. How did that work out? The good news is that the Soviets went home, the bad news is that we ended up in Afghanistan cleaning up the mess. That’s the ticket, “vet” the Syrian rebels. What could go wrong?
Thirty-five years ago, I considered Damascus to be a one-stop shopping center. We were living in Saudi Arabia, and the souks in Damascus were a whole lot better than the local equivalent, so whenever we could wrangle the time off and an exit visa simultaneously we were off. Syria was edgy back then as well, but not really dangerous. The people were gracious, and in customs lay somewhere between the ultra-religious Saudis and the much more secular Jordanians. Watching what has happened to them of late is almost painful. As a nurse, I am on board with the notion that some form of neurotoxin was deployed against these people. The only thing that stops me just short of full commitment is that their caretakers are not wearing any sort of protective gear, yet exhibit none of the symptoms. Neurotoxic agents, particularly ricin, linger on skin, hair and clothing, and are acquired by anyone who touches the victims.
The UN has investigated the matter, and plans to release a report any day now. In the meantime, naval vessels are positioning themselves off the Syrian coast. The President must now figure out his next step. The “chemical weapons” line in the sand has likely been crossed, and the time for leadership is here. There is really no point in approaching the UN, as Russia and China would gleefully veto anything more punitive than sending Assad a birthday card, so that’s out.
Congressional Republicans are now in full swing. Speaker John Boehner is loudly demanding “answers” from the President. The Sunday talk shows were laden with Repubs discussing the War Powers Act of 1976, and whether or not this gives the Prez carte blanche to go clean some Middle Eastern clocks. Some say yes, some say no, and I’ll post the salient portion of the aforementioned Act so that you might decide for yourself. Here it is:
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