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Why is the US always looking for places to bomb?

Bill Maher is puzzled by it.

New rule: 12 years after 9/11, and amidst yet another debate on whether to bomb yet another Muslim country, America must stop asking the question, “Why do they hate us?” Forget the debate on Syria, we need a debate on why we’re always debating whether to bomb someone. Because we’re starting to look not so much like the world’s policeman, but more like George Zimmerman: itching to use force and then pretending it’s because we had no choice.

Even worse, bombing seems to be our answer for everything.

Since 1945, when Jesus granted America air superiority, we’ve bombed Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Serbia, Somalia, Bosnia, the Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen. And Yemen only because the tenth one was free.

How did we inherit this moral obligation to bring justice to the world via death from above? Are we Zeus? It doesn’t make any sense. Our schools are crumbling, and we want to teach everyone else a lesson?

Who acts like this?

People in other countries don’t talk like this. Probably because, if they did, we’d bomb them. Is there no self-awareness about how arrogant it looks to sit around politely pondering who needs a good bombing?

Perhaps the reason is, as cartoonist Tom Tomorrow suggests, that the US is the only country that distinguishes between war and “war”.

Comments

  1. raven says

    It’s dueling reflexes.

    1. Reflex 1. Atrocity/war crime. Moslems!!! Arabs!!! Let’s bomb something.

    2. Reflex 2. Oh Cthulhu, not another “war”. I’m still visiting the graves of my friends killed in the last one.

    Rather than operating on automatic pilot, maybe we could think things through and come up with an optimal reaction.

  2. Lucas Beauchamp says

    Excellent points, but I don’t think that the U.S. bombed Grenada. The ships launched a few shells in support of the ground troops, but that is not quite the same as bombing.

  3. Al Dente says

    There’s all that military hardware that needs to be used. A Tomahawk cruise missile (UGM-109E) costs a mere $1.45 million and just cries out to be dumped on somebody’s head.

  4. leni says

    …and just cries out to be dumped on somebody’s head.

    Don’t forget about all of the jobs that will be lost if we don’t cycle through the inventory quickly enough.

    And imagine, if you dare, all the Congressional palms that would go ungreased! The horrors!

  5. colnago80 says

    It should be remembered that the Korean War was fought against North Korea because of its aggression against South Korea. It should also be remembered that the first Gulf War against Iraq was fought because of Iraq’s aggression against Kuwait. I would also point out that the war against Afghanistan was fought because of a terrorist act perpetrated by terrorists who were being harbored there. So, contrary to Singham’s rant, these were three cases where the US was not looking for a war.

  6. Jeffrey Johnson says

    This semantic game between war and “war”, which pretends that for example the US was dishonest about its intentions in Syria, is just silly. Actually, people who claimed we intended to go to war with Syria are the ones who were being dishonest because they were misusing the word and making exaggerated claims. They were misleading people, and many people mistakenly assumed, because some in the media insisted on calling it a war, that a full scale war in Syria was being planned. By using the word “war” rather than “bombing attack” you are not revealing some truth that was being concealed, as if people don’t understand the violence and destruction involved in bombing. You are simply using the word “war” incorrectly.

    If someone says we are going to bomb Syria, but not go to war with Syria, it’s quite clear what is meant. It means something limited, something with a planned beginning and end. It does not mean something open ended with an indefinite number of attacks and counter attacks between two sides. It makes no pretense that bombing is not violent, and it does not pretend people will not die. But it is clearly not a war. A war is a sustained sequence of battles and attacks, with tactics and counter tactics, strategies and counter strategies. War implies a two sided contest where each side is attacking the other.

    If somebody shoots somebody over some dispute, we don’t say it was a war because in wars people shoot each other. By not calling it war we aren’t masking the violence of the shooting. People know what a shooting is. They also know what a bombing is. And any competent speaker of English who is being honest knows the difference between a bombing and a war. A bombing may or may not lead to a war, a bombing may or may not be part of a war, but a bombing is not necessarily a war. It’s not complicated or hard to understand, but pretending not to understand is one of the tools of self-righteous mockery.

  7. says

    As Andrew Bacevich pointed out, our attitude toward bombing is probably strongly influenced by the fact that we haven’t been. It’s something that happens to other people.

  8. says

    War implies a two sided contest where each side is attacking the other.

    That’s why it’s not a “war” if one side is raining destruction on the other and they have no way of responding in kind. It’s confusing because there are military forces involved but one side really only has a logistical problem while the other is in mortal peril. “Slaughter” is a more appropriate word than “war” Yes, the US engages in global slaughter; it does it because it can.

  9. left0ver1under says

    The 1990s called to leave a message.

    “The cities of Europe have burned before
    And they may yet burn again
    But if they do I hope you understand
    That Washington will burn with them
    Omaha will burn with them
    Los Alamost will burn with them

    – Billy Bragg, “Help Save The Youth Of America”

    http://alturl.com/e3dcj

    “Body bags and dropping bombs
    The pentagon knows how to turn us on
    [...]
    Wave those flags high in the air
    As long as it takes place over there

    – L7, “Wargasm”

    http://alturl.com/vyxk9

  10. machintelligence says

    Since 1945, when Jesus granted America air superiority

    I suppose when you have the biggest hammer around, all problems begin to resemble nails.

  11. left0ver1under says

    Or more aptly, when a two year old child gets his hands on a hammer, he has a tendency to hit things with it.

    Like a two year old, the US hasn’t yet figured out that other people matter just as much as themselves.

  12. Jeffrey Johnson says

    Yes, the US engages in global slaughter; it does it because it can.

    This has a grain of truth to it, but it seems like over the top cynicism to me. Many on the left have expressed this kind of sentiment about the intention to bomb Syria. I think this represents residual anger over Iraq, and that’s understandable.

    Nobody does things they can’t do, and in this trivial sense things are done because they can be done. The actual motives are far more complicated in reality. It is far more true to say the US uses violence when it (or a substantial part of it) feels it is necessary. There is of course a lot of room to argue about what is and is not necessary.

    If you were correct, the US would have told Putin to shove it and we would have slaked our evil thirst for slaughter all over Syria no matter what. If you were correct, there would be far more slaughter, because the US rains down far less destruction than it has the capacity to do. The US has made some astonishingly bad choices, I agree, and too many millions of innocents have suffered, I agree, but at the same time the US actually shows restraint. I know we can do better, but the truth is not that the US is casual or unconcerned about wanton slaughter, and it is dishonest emotional rhetoric to imply that it is.

    In the case of Syria, the intention was to stop chemical attacks before they expanded and got worse. This is not neoconservative exercise of American power to force our ideology on others, it is liberal interventionism. It is the mark of Samantha Power and Susan Rice. It is the logic that says we should have intervened in Rwanda to save lives and prevent useless slaughter. But we did not because of what happened in Mogadishu, even though the situations were quite different. And we did not because more traditional foreign policy says only act when vital interests are at stake, which usually doesnt mean human lives, but resources like oil or strategic transport corridors. Many feel a liberal intervention to stop chemical extermination in Syria is bad because of what happened in Iraq, even though the situations and the goals are different.

    There are good arguments from a foreign policy realism standpoint to not engage in liberal interventionism. But at some point a line is crossed when standing by and doing nothing, when you have the ability to act, is criminal. The complex question that is hard to answer is, where to draw that line? Pure pacifist isolationism in WWII could have led to even greater disaster for the world. And let’s look at a hypothetical. What if Hitler had not had ambitions to take over Europe, but had simply kept within Germany’s borders while carrying our a genocide of the Jews. Should we then have avoided slaughter by sticking to our own business and leaving Hitler to his own? Or should we have engaged in slaughter in order to save innocent lives and prevent a hideously abominable crime?

  13. Jeffrey Johnson says

    Actually, it is thinking that other people matter that led to the threat to bomb Syria. If we thought other people didn’t matter, then we should have just ignored the whole situation and remained at peace while the Assad government progressively gassed larger and larger populations in order to stay in power and punish their enemies.

    I agree that triumphal celebrations of military power are repulsive. There are many Americans who easily objectify foreign people. There is xenophobia. Our media only counts American deaths as important. I hated the ticker tape parade after the Gulf War in 1991 because in my view it was like spiking the football in a macabre end-zone celebration. That war was justified because Iraq invaded Kuwait for territorial expansion. It had the support of the world. But still it was a nasty dirty job, and it should have been undertaken with a sense of somber duty, not with the joyful whooping and hollering of a football game.

    This attitude in American culture is ugly, but it doesn’t seem to be the attitude driving our foreign policy choices, at least not in the present administration.

  14. colnago80 says

    By the way, I don’t recall that we bombed Lebanon, unless one wants to call a few 16 inch salvos fired by the New Jersey bombing.

  15. reinderdijkhuis says

    @Marcus: I’ve been saying for years that there’s nothing wrong with the US that five years of brutal foreign occupation wouldn’t sort out. Of course, it’s now become outright dangerous to say such a thing in public, but what the hell.

  16. sailor1031 says

    I’m intrigued that someon could possibly think for a moment that bombing another sovereign country is not going to war. How Humpty-Dumpty is that?

    What if Hitler had not had ambitions to take over Europe, but had simply kept within Germany’s borders while carrying our a genocide of the Jews. Should we then have avoided slaughter by sticking to our own business and leaving Hitler to his own?

    The USA in common with many other nations did precisely that. Without the japanese attack on Pearl Harbour the USA would still not have intervened – unless Roosevelt had managed to manufacture some casus belli that would have been large enough to overcome american isolationism. I doubt that america’s isolation was pure pacifist, passive isolationism but it was isolationism none the less. No one at any time opposed Hitler militarily on idealistic grounds and certainly not because of his genocide against the jews.

    And would it have led to even greater disaster for the world had USA not joined in? The tide turned against Hitler in 1943 while the USA was still on the sidelines in Europe (but still making handsome profits from sale of war materials to Britain, Commonwealth beligerants and the USSR). WW2 in Europe would have taken longer than it did but it would have ended in victory for the USSR (and UK) eventually. Make no mistake WW2 in Europe was won by the USSR not by the USA.

  17. Jeffrey Johnson says

    I’m intrigued that someon could possibly think for a moment that bombing another sovereign country is not going to war. How Humpty-Dumpty is that?

    It is pretty simple to understand that the United States was not planning to go to war with Syria, just as we were not planning to go to war with Libya when we bombed them in 1987. This is simply a matter of language meaning. The Japanese didn’t want a war with the United States when they bombed Pearl Harbor. Instead they were calculating that it would keep us out of the war, or delay entry.

    None of this changes the undeniable fact that bombing is an element of war, that it is violent, destructive, and lethal, and can be called an act of war, even if it occurs outside of a war. To distinguish between bombing for one day and fighting a war is not to pretend otherwise. It is simply a conceptual difference in scale and temporal open-endedness. Unilaterally bombing someone often leads to a declaration of war, which then obviously leads to war. But it may not lead to a war. It is obviously two different things to say you will bomb a country for a specific period of time or to take out some specific targets, or to declare war. And for these reasons saying the US was going to war with Syria is conceptually misleading, a distortion of the actual plan and intent. It is an error of scale and scope in the conceptual usage of language, just as dipping your toe in a pool is not going swimming, or glancing at a television for thirty seconds is not watching a program, or tasting the soup on the stove is not having a meal. These are all misleading usages of language, and when it comes to politics people often have reasons to mislead. Saying the US was getting into another war, and trying to equate Syria with Iraq was misleading and factually inaccurate. It could only be considered true poetically or metaphorically. But it didn’t involve round the clock logistics flights for six months to get a mass of troops and supplies into a neighboring country, as happened prior to the invasion of Iraq. Now that was going to war.

    Make no mistake WW2 in Europe was won by the USSR not by the USA.

    Who won the war, and it was not won by any one country alone, is totally irrelevent to my point, which you must have missed. If Hitler had not attacked anyone, and stayed within his borders, but contented himself with genocide of German Jewry, what kind of world is this if every other country remained peaceful and neutral, persuaded by an anti-war movement to not get involved in German internal affairs? Is that a moral world exhibiting universal human rights because they are so admirably peaceful? My point is that a line can be crossed where a strong moral case for a liberal intervention exists. The difficult question is not if such a line exists. It is where is that line in any specific case? Where was it in Srebrenica, and where was it in Rwanda?

    The threat against Syria was an attempt to draw that line for chemical weapons use at the August 21st attack, and to punish and warn Syria to go no further. One could argue whether that is where the line should be. Is the humanitarian value of setting such limits worth the cost and risk? Not an easy question to answer. But to claim that what was proposed was going to war, in the way that Iraq and Afghanistan were going to war, was either ignorant of the situation however well intended the concern, or else it was just deliberate distortion to try to win political points or to simply vent hostility.

  18. Nick Gotts says

    You are right that it was the USSR that won the war in Europe, and the first vital check to Operation Barbarossa came in December 1941, before any significant aid reached it from the western powers. But your wider point depends what you count as “intervention”. Without American supplies, and the prospect of actual American military participation (which inhibited German attacks on the Atlantic supply route), it is doubtful if Britain could and would have stayed in the war; and even if it had, doubtful if Hitler would have felt constrained to attack the USSR before completing the war in the west. See Ian Kershaw’s Fateful Decisions: Ten Decisions that Changed the World 1940-41, especially the chapters “Hitler Decides to Attack the Soviet Union” and “Roosevelt Decides to Lend a Hand”; and Adam Tooze’s The Wages of Destruction: the Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy, especially the chapters “Britain and America: Hitler’s Strategic Dilemma”, and “Preparing for Two Wars at Once”.

  19. colnago80 says

    Contrary to popular opinion, the war was a near run thing which was not won by the former Soviet Union but lost by Germany. Frankenberger made two strategic blunders long before the war even started, the most serious of which was to build the Bismarck and the Tirpitz instead of a fleet of ocean going Uboats. Had he built the Uboats instead, he would have had 40 or 50 ready to deploy in the Atlantic instead of the dozen or so that were actually available. With 40 Uboats deployed in 1940 after the fall of France, and before the British anti-Uboat defenses had been fully developed, Britain would have been starved out of the war by the Winter of that year. With Britain out of the war in 1940, there would have been no side shows in Greece, Crete, Yugoslavia, and North Africa so that Operation Barbarossa could have been launched earlier then it was (although in fairness, Liddell-Hart argued that the condition of the roads would not have allowed an earlier start to the campaign) with the full might of the Wehrmacht sans the wastage that the above side shows caused. Given an earlier start and a larger deployed force, it is quite possible that the former Soviet Union would have been forced out of the war by the Winter of 1941.

  20. sailor1031 says

    Bombing another sovereign nation is an act of war! It’s irrelevant what you call it. You can’t softsoap this. Your attitude is representative of the arrogant american notion that the US can commit acts of war with impunity (because America is just so special – not like any other country and therefore not bound by international norms) by simply defining them as something else. I am tempted to believe that if teh USA attacks Syria Assad will consider it an act of war and will retaliate. Will the USA then just go home? No – you’ll have a war on your hands whatever you choose to call it. And whether you intended it or not..

  21. sailor1031 says

    The american participation in the convoy system in the western Atlantic, while crucial to Britain’s survival as you point out, was not loudly trumpeted by Roosevelt’s administration because american isolationism was so strong a current in the country. As for the launch of Barbarossa that was Hitler’s priority all along. He seemed to think that Britain could be mopped up easily later after he had conquered the USSR with more Blitzkrieg on the model of Polish campaign. Goering convinced him that Britain could be easily defeated by the Luftwaffe but when that appeared not to be the case Hitler withdrew support for Sealion and concentrated on Barbarossa.

  22. Jeffrey Johnson says

    For the purposes if the people getting bombed it doesn’t matter what you call it, and I made that clear. For the national debate prior, it matters to be clear that going to war is not the plan.

  23. says

    there would be far more slaughter, because the US rains down far less destruction than it has the capacity to do

    Yes. But you’ll notice that we have been more or less constantly bombing someplace or other since WWII. Officially or unofficially. That’s a lot of bombing. Who else does that?

    In the case of Syria, the intention was to stop chemical attacks before they expanded and got worse.

    Are you joking? It has nothing to do with that. It’s about preserving Israel’s monopoly on WMD in the region. If anyone actually gave a fuck about the people in Syria that are being killed, they’d have done something (more than wring their hands!) a year and 100,000 dead ago.

  24. Nick Gotts says

    On Barbarossa, have you read the references I supplied? Because on the whole, I’ll take the views of professional historians who’ve spent years studying the matter over those of a pseudonymous blog commenter. Yes, Hitler had long intended to attack the USSR, but his purpose in doing so when he did was to convince Britain to abandon the war if possible, thus forestalling American military intervention, and to secure the supplies for a war with the USA if not. During the period running up to the launch of Barbarossa, the first half of 1941, he was putting huge resources into preparation for war with the USA, hence the title of Tooze’s chapter “Preparing for Two Wars at Once”. His (also huge) error was to think that he could afford to do this, expecting the USSR to collapse within weeks. Most western “experts” on the USSR had the same expectation. If he had put everything into preparation for Barbarossa, he might actually have defeated the USSR (it was a close-run thing: if Stalin had fled Moscow in the second week of October, as he nearly did, Soviet morale might have collapsed); although he’d probably still have lost the war.

  25. lorn says

    I’m always amazed when people consider international relation different than interpersonal relations. I’ve lived in rough neighborhoods and seen bad situation develop from both excessive involvement and not enough involvement. A neighbor got into trouble with the people in the house next door over noise. The man would get up around 5:30 AM and play music. My friend would be forced awake. He felt frustrated, and fumed quite a bit over this situation. Having a night job he was entirely justified in his frustration but not in his extended lack of communication and action.

    I asked him why he didn’t just go over some time and explain the situation and ask him to keep it down. Well … he didn’t want to cause a conflict, the guy might react badly, etcetera. This, of course, overlooks the fact that there was a conflict before any confrontation and that any discussion is not so much causing the conflict, as attempting to resolve it.

    Of course, true to human nature my friend said nothing. At least he did until one morning he had had enough. He storms over, fortified by months of frustration and foul oaths, and demands that the guy turn off his music. Of course, the guy, entirely unaware of the months of frustration, and having a bad day himself, figuring my friend is is a nut case who has suddenly decided he hates both him, given his ethnicity he assume some racism, and his music, so he bows up and they end up slugging it out on the lawn.

    Here are two grown men, otherwise rational and self-aware, good guys, neighbors, who bring their baggage with them, make assumptions about what the other is thinking, feeling compelled by norms of reputation and masculinity, trapped by the situation and reduced to fisticuffs at 6AM.

    The sad part is that this is what humans do. Mostly it doesn’t come down to direct physical violence. Not surprising given the vast potential to inflict pain without being exposure of passive-aggression and character assassination. Humans simply have a hard time living together as individuals. And it has always been this way.

    Given that international relations deals with life, death and the fortunes of literal billions of people I’m always surprised when the general conclusion is that if we just do this or that international relations will be easy to get right. If these conflicts were interpersonal we could, as a last resort, call the police, where the whole thing could be hashed out to a rough justice standard of the criminal justice system. It isn’t anywhere near perfect but mostly it works well enough to knock off the rough edges and promote something like civilized behavior. Gandhi thought western civilization was a good idea.

    Why bombs? Simple, because it is one of the few things we really do well. We can land a 1000 pound warhead anywhere on earth, at any set time, given a weeks notice. If we have ships in the area we can beat the advertised delivery time for pizza. It is an amazing gift. Of course, it is entirely natural that if you are good at something you will seek out ways to constructively use your unique talent.

    What other options do we have? Diplomacy without threat of violence is/has been largely useless, there is no internationally recognized cop on the beat, at least not any that has any real power or commands any respect, neighbors are either powerless or uncaring, and a whole lot of people are making money and political hay off the war as it was. Hand wringing and lamentations over the suffering of civilians might get aid to refugees but it does nothing to change the situation which caused the war. Any ceasefire or weak settlement is likely to just be a delay of inevitable violence. And, as always, it is important to judge things by the area under the curve, not just the current rate of violence. Over time a smouldering brush war or insurgency can kill more people, while making fewer headlines, than a “hot” war of much more limited duration.

    Hot wars tend to be short because they chew through the available manpower, arms, and ammunition, very quickly. Beware of diplomacy that seeks to lower the intensity of the conflict without settling the underlying issues. I see a lot of ink being spilled criticizing hypothetical, and threats of hypothetical, missile strikes but I don’t see much discussion of how to constructively address the underlying issues like water, land, Shea/Sunni conflict, inter-religious strife, or power sharing. Or why letting/helping this side or that win would be beneficial to anything we care about. Of course, custom demands we all lament the loss of life and …

    Aside: I suspect that the US got Russia to cooperate by promising to support their keeping their Syrian naval base on the Mediterranean. Without that they would be hard pressed to maintain a year-round forward deployment in the Med and wouldn’t really be considered a major player on the world stage.

  26. colnago80 says

    As I point out below, he couldn’t put everything into Barbarossa because of the wastage of resources in side shows in Greece, Yugoslavia, Crete, and North Africa, side shows that wouldn’t have been necessary if Britain had been forced out of the war in 1940.

  27. colnago80 says

    If the Germany Navy had had 40 or 50 oceangoing Uboats available after the fall of France, American participation in convoy protection wouldn’t have been sufficient as neither the US or Britain had sufficient numbers of anti-Uboat vessels to keep Britain from starvation. As it was, the Battle of the Atlantic in 1943, 3 years later, when the anti-Uboat vessels were far more numerous, was almost a near run thing.

    Actually, despite his many strategic and tactical mistakes, if Frankenberger had been able to convince Japan to invade Siberia, the Siberian troops would not have been available in the fall of 1940 to forestall a German victory in the Western Soviet Union. It was the arrival of the Siberian reinforcements that stopped the German advance just West of Moscow.

  28. colnago80 says

    I have not read Tooze’s book but the notion that he was building up forces and supplies to attack the US seems rather quaint. The 1944 plan for the Germany Navy envisaged 4 aircraft carriers. In 1944, the US had some 20 Essex class carriers. Far too much of the German naval 1944 plan consisted of battleships, including a couple of super Bismarcks displacing 120,000 tons mounting a dozen 20 inch guns! Such ships would have been utterly worthless and would have suffered the fate of the Yamato and the Musashi. Frankenberger was fascinated by battleships, as, apparently, were his naval strategists. In the event, the plan was scrapped as, with the failure to eliminate the former Soviet Union from the war in 1941, Germany lacked sufficient resources to implement it.

  29. Jeffrey Johnson says

    This is a thoughtful post. I think people can benefit from looking at international relations, to some degree, as we do interpersonal relations, though there are other complexities because nations are aggregates. There are differences between psychology and sociology, economics, and history, there are micro causes and meso-causes and macro-causes, there are emergent properties that don’t make sense at the individual level.

    But your point is good. I often wonder why proponents of American Exceptionalism can’t do this. If we look at the community of nations like a neighborhood of families, clearly nobody in the neighborhood will like the family that spends a lot of time touting how great they are, and who have backyard BBQs where they can be heard chanting “We’re number one” loudly in the night. The example seems to indicate that some national humility is called for. Also the ability to engage in introspection and self-criticism should not be seen as “self-hatred” but rather a healthy response to a realistic view of one’s place in relation to others, one’s natural limits and fallibility. This is provided that introspection does not indeed become a destructive self-loathing that over-emphasizes negative qualities while under-emphasizing what is positive. I think many who don’t have the “USA #1″ mania err in this latter way of degrading into “America Sucks Syndrome”.

    Clearly there are American behaviors that, when analogized to the neighborhood metaphor, put us in the role of neighborhood bully. This doesn’t mean everything we do is bullying, or that we are irredeemably lost. I would place Iraq in the bullying category, and the coups in Iran and Chile and Guatemala and others, and the Vietnam war is also in that category, which is not an exhaustive list. But the Korean war, on the other hand, seems to have made some real difference for the positive for a lot of people. Also WWII, and the 1991 Gulf War. The expansion of Afghanistan from bombing sorties to destroy Al Qaeda camps into a massive nation-building operation seems to have been a mistake. A few decades into the future may change the judgement on that, but I doubt it. There were probably much better ways for the international community to help Afghanistan progress, and the people would have dumped the Taliban eventually when they got too tired of them.

    In a neighborhood with, as you point out, no police department or fire department, it is up to members of the community to be active in these roles, and the size and wealth of our family makes it a good candidate to have a leading role. If the family down at the end of the street is engaged in a huge fight, we can’t call the police. It makes perfect sense that at some point things can go so far that the conflict threatens others in the neighborhood, and something ought to be done. People can disagree on what that point is, and what kinds of intervention are effective, but I think it’s pretty hard to stand on the position that no family should ever get involved in another family’s business no matter what, or that we are being morally upstanding and righteous by never killing no matter how much slaughter happens elsewhere.

    I think a combination of well meaning pacifism and the admirable but naive wish that we should all just get along and love each other, plus a certain amount of “America Sucks Syndrome”, together with a media that fails because it has forgotten about serious journalism and analysis because it is so muddled by its role as an entertainment business and a lobbying wing of our politics, has created a lot of really stupid narratives about Syria. For example, the incredible one that we are going to war to save the President’s credibility (worthy of a television soap opera critic), or that we lucked into a diplomatic solution solely because of Kerry’s “gaffe” and some dumb luck (bears the mark of TV sitcom writers). It seems lots of journalists and bloggers are in competition not to be insightful and accurate and comprehensive, but rather to win the twitter popularity contest of who twists events into the cleverest and wittiest snarky story, regardless of its relation to the truth.

    I think this quote from President Obama is very pertinent to the media’s Snarky Syria Story Sweepstakes: ““Had we rolled out something that was very smooth and disciplined and linear, they would have graded it well, even if it was a disastrous policy. We know that, because that’s exactly how they graded the Iraq war,” – President Obama.

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