"Because these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them." Why does the president need to address a classroom full of third-graders? On Tuesday night, hallelujah, he stepped back from the brink of war, but in his address to the nation he spent most of his time justifying his earlier aggression toward Syria, detailing the Assad government's single, heinous deviation from the civilized norms of war. The ever-fresh PR stratagem of war is to cherry-pick an example of evil behavior on the part of the designated enemy and rally the outrage against it, never, never looking inward at one's own behavior, and in ignorance bonding as a clan or a nation or whatever in out determination to destroy the perpetrator of said evil. A little over a decade ago, just after we launched our shock-and awe bombing campaign against Iraq, I wrote: "Pro-war logic ultimately undergoes a mysterious transformation, from a moral absolutism condemning Saddam to a moral relativism justifying the use of MOABs and daisy cutters and even first-strike nukes, if necessary, to get rid of him. Some of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet have no problem with the slaughter of civilians." So Barrack Obama, in his role as president, belies both his own intelligence and that of, my guess, most of his constituents when he asks us to play along with the game. Yes, poison gas is a ghastly evil, though who actually used it in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta remains uncertain, but what ruse to muster all one's outrage over images of "men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas, others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath, a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk" and then use that outrage as the pretext to justify counter-actions on our part that are equally indiscriminate in their delivery of hell to the same people. Virtually every aspect of modern warfare fits the description Obama drew as a sort of "red line"of bad behavior: the use of weaponry that kills on a mass scale, making no distinction between soldier and infant. We are, after all, the nation that developed nuclear weapons and, over the next half century, spent some $5.5 trillion playing arms race with the Soviet Union and, ultimately with no one at all. We're still developing further generations of "tactical" nukes, bleeding more than $30 billion annually into this insanity. The point being, Mr. President, yes, yes, we feel the outrage of Syria's horrific civil war, and no, we're not content doing nothing about that or any other massacre taking place on the planet, whether perpetrated by ally or designated enemy. But we're sick of the inane "solutions" mouthed by tyrants and presidents
that do nothing about that or any other massacre taking place on the planet, whether perpetrated by ally or designated enemy. But we're sick of the inane "solutions" mouthed by tyrants and presidents that do nothing but perpetuate the hell of war and feed the hidden interests of its corporate profiteers. Your decision to step back from the brink of an intervention-lite in Syria is worth celebrating, but spare us the "God bless America" that's backed by Tomahawk missiles and, ultimately, nuclear weapons, and address the nation and the world with courage about how we'll take the lead to end war itself.