Saturday, September 7, 2013

Wheel's on Fire: More Background on the "Decision"

Surfing around the internet this morning it was easy to find some remarkable information relevant to our impending decision to attack Syria. The remarkable mincing of words by Secretary Kerry and Mr. Obama on this is almost astonishing, and a symptom of the problem a striking majority of the American people already have with the upcoming decision. Look, if we shoot missiles into Syria we are attacking Syria, i.e., making war on Syria. That's just a fact. Fifty years ago the mere fact that the Soviet Union was positioning itself to launch a missile attack on the United States by setting up missiles in Cuba came within a hairs-breath of starting a nuclear exchange with us. They hadn't fired a shot!

One of the salient references both John McCain and John Kerry are citing in their arguments for warring on Syria is an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by one Elizabeth O'Bagy:

But it turns out that Ms O'Bagy is hardly neutral: On Thursday, The Daily Caller examined O'Bagy's role as political director for the Syria Emergency Task Force, a group that has lobbied the White House and Congress to support the rebels. O'Bagy told The Daily Caller that she is not a salaried employee, but serves as a paid contractor. (From Digby)

Andrew Bacevich, in a conversation with Phil Donahue on the Bill Moyers show, makes some striking points:

It is indeed mere common sense to note, at this point, thirty years down the line from what Bacevich calls the Carter Doctrine, that overall our military intrusions in the Middle East have not lead in the direction of peace and stability, but quite the opposite. For all our exceptionalism, which has become apparently a foundational pillar of all that we do as a country, we can't even affect the desired outcome in a relatively peaceful overthrow of a military dictator in Egypt. Perhaps we must finally admit that American Exceptionalism is a self-serving myth, better demolished than lived by.

And if we continue down the path, Marcy Wheeler bothers to engage her first rate intelligence and explore some real politic consequences, particularly should Mr. Obama choose to go it alone, without allies and without even Congressional backing:

We like to pretend that each news story is a discrete thing. Today we have the chemical weapons event in Syria. Yesterday there was the boring but successful diplomatic effort to create significant sanctions on the oil exports of Iran, with the aim of mitigating their efforts to create a nuclear weapon. A coupla months back it was the sequester, now long forgotten, but in fact having major effects on our military readiness to respond to something unexpected. But:

...going to war in Syria without any sanction from the UN effectively tells the international community to fuck off. And there are a lot of countries — most notably China and India — that would welcome an excuse to start importing a lot more oil from Iran; if oil prices continue to rise, that urge will only become stronger. If the US is busy conducting unilateral action against Syria, what would prevent a bunch of countries from ending their adherence to our sanctions?

Judging by the actions of my local gas stations here in small town North Carolina, tensions with Syria are already causing fuel distributors to raise prices as a hedge. No doubt fuel futures are on the upswing as well. In the real world, which is measured by such indicators as fuel futures, all these discrete stories are quite entangled. As Ms Wheeler concludes:

We don’t know what Iran and Russia plan to do here. One thing we do know, though: they’re both shrewder than the people who caught themselves in this red line trap. That ought to raise more alarm about going forward.

(By the way, you might want to drop a dime on Ms Wheeler's blog, Day in day out she and her cohorts do extraordinary, highly detailed analysis. While they're most obviously not in it for the money, but for the truth of it, I'm sure a contribution would be helpful to their efforts.)

And if you want some more, here's one of many excellent comments from Mr. Pierce, as this "story" unfolded:

I thought, when Mr. Bush drummed up the war response to the shock of the 9/11 attack, well I guess he didn't learn a thing from Vietnam. Nope. So we watched it all unfold again, including Mr. Obama, who was a child when Vietnam went down, and Mr. Kerry, who tossed his medals over the White House fence in utter disgust. My generation sat in murky rooms filled with broken furniture, stoned to the gills, and listened to "Wheel's On Fire" over and over again on a portable phonograph. The alternative was ending up a name on a wall, or a guy sleeping on a mattress on the sidewalk, arm around his only friend, a grizzled German Shepard. Finally Mr. Nixon flew away in his chopper, and after the farewell party was over Reagan was elected. The damn thing was set on repeat.

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