Once more, we are in Syria, because?
Are we there to fight ISIS (a catchall name I’m using for Islamic terrorists), to eliminate chemical weapons, or to project our power in the Middle East? Does anyone care?
We don’t have the military draft so that helps avoid a lot of public protest.
You are paying your taxes, though, and it costs plenty. Trillions of dollars that could go to things like health care, finding a cure for cancer, fighting the opioid epidemic, housing the homeless (including needy children you should feel sorry for) or just reducing your taxes so you can keep more of your hard-earned money.
Or if you are of a mind we have to fight them (terrorists) over there before they come over here, then why are we not doing that full bore? Wasn’t President Trump going to do that (even though he goes back and forth on instituting a new pre-world War II style isolationism)?
War in general seems to accomplish very little. World War I was billed as the “war to end all wars” and you see where that got everyone. Two decades or so later there was World War II.
Of course if you are attacked, you have to defend yourself if you are to survive and retain your own style of government and culture. The United States was attacked directly at Pearl Harbor in 1941 by the Japanese and at the same time fascism in Europe, most notably Hitler’s Germany, was overrunning other sovereign nations.
At a heavy cost the western allies were successful in their defense.
That was back in the day when war was war and you fought to win. The goal was rather clear, although the allies could have stopped short to cut their losses and make a deal with Hitler and Japan. But the wise decision was to go for total surrender of the enemy.
Since then our wars are not fought like that. The goals are not clear to begin with, they tend to be nebulous or confused or just plain vague, i.e. George W. Bush’s “War on Terror”. A war against evil. But who is this “evil”? We cannot identify it as a single entity or nation. That makes it handy for those who choose to use war as a tool for geopolitical gamesmanship.
Maybe you think that is good or practical in this day and age, especially since the United States is the world’s superpower (for now). From what I have read our founding fathers did not intend this but of course they could not have possibly envisioned the world in which we live now.
But again, war seems to accomplish very little or only forestalls problems for a time. And wars with less than specific goals really are problematic. Take Korea. It began as a “police action” to prevent North Korea from taking over South Korea. But name it something else, it was still a war and was eventually recorded in history as such. But instead of total victory over the enemy we chose a truce. Today North Korea not only threatens South Korea but the whole world.
Then Vietnam had nothing to do with defending America, it was a proxy war between the United States and the Soviet Union (North Vietnam’s major backer), in a battle over world hegemony.
We still had a military draft and we killed off part of a generation of mostly young men in a losing geopolitical game in which we lost by default — when you quit you lose.
My question was always, why get into a war you do not have the will to win?
And I’ll skip over other skirmishes to Iraq — the war against evil under the pretext of going after those who attacked us on 911, except we went into the wrong nation.
And now Syria.
Actually president Donald Trump I think might have inadvertently come up with a more sensible approach in his presidential campaign, that is go after the actual terrorists, destroying their assets, no holes barred. But that fell by the wayside. He does not seem to know what he is doing.
I think that there is some suspicion though out there that he has some secret deal with the Russians who only pretended to be unhappy with the missile strike on the chemical weapons assets of their ally Syria. Some think he might have tipped them off to avoid hitting Russians or their own equipment. That is just a theory.
But whatever the case, the first attack last year did not stop the chemical weapons use and it seems this latest one will not likely either, but if there is a resolve to keep up the pressure it might, I would think, but then we are committing ourselves to the possibility of ground attack — and then all that is not fighting ISIS, the official reason we have for being in Syria.
I think we need to take a sober look at the best way to fight terrorism, which could be a combination of military operations and economic measures, and other methods. But we have to admit to ourselves what we are trying to do and then do it.
Actually we probably can work with the Russians (we already are to a limited extent). They have a stake in fighting terrorism themselves. They have had such threats within their own borders.
You know, things were a lot safer for us all when the United States and the Soviet Union shared equally world dominance and kept each other at bay, and the whole world in the process, with mutually assured destruction. But there are more players in the game today, what with nuclear proliferation and technology that allows terrorists to infiltrate our physical territory and the ether of the internet.
And back to war. Even though the nature of war has changed, it still consists of using weapons that kill or maim people and costs a lot in blood and treasure and is too often futile over the long run.
The United States needs to get back to its constitution and reserve the power for making war for the congress — allowing the president to only order military action in bona fide emergencies for the immediate defense of our nation. Otherwise we will be committed to endless and pointless war with no end, as each president tries his (or her) hand at the geopolitical contest.
And I will contradict myself slightly because I see nothing wrong with projecting power. We have to keep those who would threaten us off balance. I mean sometimes it is a bluff, and sometimes we will be called on that bluff, but we have to be wise enough to know when to respond.
CLARIFICATION: in the original draft of my previous post by way of a typo I wrote that chemical weapons were outlawed after World War II and I meant WWI. I changed it later. I make typos and blunders and it haunts me, especially when I catch them months later. At least on the internet one can correct them — I used to write for newspapers. I have blunders that will last forever in print. And I may have them in this post — I try to be careful.