So the case for Congress voting war against Syria is taking the usual turn from the merits of the war itself to how it will affect domestic politics and the elections in 2014 and 2016, and what it means for Israel. These are the topics that our chattering classes really care about. And of course the obligatory comparison with Hitler is brought up because no stampede to war is complete with invoking the latest incarnation of good old Adolph as the enemy.
So we have the usual arguments for war against Syria coming from the usual factions that went to war against Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya and … but this time they are joined by the liberal war hawks. The latter are those who oppose wars when Republicans start them and support them when Democrats start them. A portion of this group consist of Obama cultists, those who still cling to the delusion that Obama is a Good Man who hates war and always does the right thing and so we should place our trust in him and never do anything to undermine our Dear Leader.
The arguments used by these to rally support from fellow Democrats are as one might expect. That noted liberal columnist E. J. Dionne captures this mindset, saying:
It was only a matter of time before our polarized politics threatened to destroy a president’s authority and call into question our country’s ability to act in the world. Will Congress let that happen?
The question now is whether Congress really wants to incapacitate the president for three long years. My hunch is that it doesn’t.”
So what does Dionne recommend?
“They will not prevail, however, unless Obama makes an unabashedly moral case on Tuesday explaining why things are different than they were a few months ago while laying out a practical strategy beyond the strikes.” [My italics-MS]
Note that he wants to make a moral case. This is the usual tactic. When the US is accused of doing something wrong, it retreats into highly esoteric legalities to absolve itself of any guilt: Agent Orange is not legally a chemical weapon. Waterboarding is not legally torture. Bombing another country is not legally war. Killing civilians is not legally a war crime. And so on.
But when the law cannot be twisted to serve its needs even by the sophists in the government, then they go into full moral outrage mode: What has been done is morally abominable, so damn the constitution or international law, we must do something, by God, because we are a good people and a good nation that always does the Right Thing. And that something is always to bomb another country.
Dionne ends his disgraceful piece with with a splendid peroration.
If Obama wins this fight, as he must, he should then set about restoring some consensus about the United States’ world role. He has to show how a priority on “nation-building at home” can be squared with our international responsibilities. The seriousness of this crisis should also push Republicans away from reflexive anti-Obamaism, Rush Limbaugh-style talk-show madness, extreme anti-government rhetoric and threats to shut Washington down.
If we want to avoid becoming a second-class nation, we have to stop behaving like one.
Yes, who gives a damn about the Syrians and having their country go through perpetual war? The real issue is how to combat Rush Limbaugh and the Republicans. The question of whether Syria should be bombed comes down to the key question: What is good for Obama?
With liberals like this, who needs conservatives?