tomahawk-cruise-missile-bosnian-genocideBetween talking to kids about homework and doing other domestic chores, I managed to ask my wife about Syria tonight. She didn’t want to talk about it. I did.

“I don’t want us to bomb them. That’s it. That’s final.” She was serious. She wanted to talk about our busy little life and how we were possibly going to manage taking the kids to commitments every night of the week.

“But people are dying and being driven out of their homes. And their leader just poisoned them with gas. That’s Hitler shit. Can we just stand by and just let it happen?” I asked.

I don’t think we should bomb Syria either. And yet, when I hear myself talking about the atrocities, I make a very compelling case for why we should intervene. My wife doesn’t want to hear about why we should because just below the top layer, she knows we should too. I think most Americans do. It’s just easier not to think about it.

We are the most powerful military on earth, as we damn well should be considering how much we spend on it. We’re also one of the most benevolent cultures on the planet. Sure, we segregate ourselves through politics, skin color, and religion, but at our core we’re a bunch of mutts who believe in doing the right thing. And since 1900, doing the right thing has usually meant standing against oppression. Usually. Except for when we drove native Americans into the hills. But that’s a rant for another post.

But here’s the thing – we can’t bomb Syria. We just can’t. If the objectives, as laid out by our President, really are A) not to take out Assad, and B) not to put boots on the ground, then why bomb at all? We can’t bomb the gas – even if we know where it is because, duh – it’s poison gas. And it’s likely embedded in civilian locations by now. So, do we take out Assad’s Air Force? Maybe bomb some of his (now likely deserted) military bases? Doing that would surely weaken Assad.  Hell, we can drop pallets of weapons behind the (blurred) front lines while we’re bombing his airfields. But then what? Who leads the charge into the vacuum? al Qaeda?

I just have a hard time believing that the puppets, I mean our elected leaders in Washington who can’t get anything right domestically, will somehow get Syria right. But I will say this, W was right when he said that there is an Axis of Evil – and Syria is right in the thick of it. Thankfully, we have Dennis Rodman to deal with North Korea, but we still have to deal with Syria. Somehow. Look, I don’t like this Assad character either. He’s as bad as they come. But he knows that nothing we do militarily will work out. Nothing. So why do it?

Why indeed. If there are two countries on this planet that could possibly stand toe-to-toe with us militarily, it’s China and Russia. And they happen to like Syria just the way it is. Oh, and then there’s Iran. Neither Syria nor Iran could touch us directly, but they could touch Israel. Not that Israel couldn’t hold its own against either (or both) of those countries, but why bring potential harm to them by bombing Syria?

Then there’s the law. For us to have legal justification for bombing Syria we’d have to provide overwhelming evidence that chemical weapons were deployed by the Syrian regime against its own people. Like that’s going to happen. Therefore, if we bomb Syria without justification we’re basically breaking international law. Making us war criminals. Even if we did somehow prove that Assad was behind the poison gas attack, guess who has UN Security Council veto power? Yeah, China and Russia.

Plus, would you really put it past a terrorist group to use weapons like this against civilian populations in order to draw Americans in? And don’t give me any crap about them not having access.

Finally, aside from France, who else is with us in this thing? Maldives? Saudi Arabia and a few other oil-rich nations that sit back and throw money at us while we put our asses on the line? That’s not exactly the Allies of WWII.

Despite all of this – we can’t do nothing. We just can’t. We’re America. Despite our flaws, we’re the one nation on earth with the power and the will to halt oppression (especially when oil is involved.)

So then, what do we do? I think I know – talk. That’s right, talk. And by talking I mean keep debating the possibility of blowing Assad off of the map regardless of the potential outcome. Because even though everyone knows that we shouldn’t bomb Syria, logic hasn’t stopped us in the past. Americans have itchy trigger fingers. And there’s NO WAY Assad is going to use chemical weapons while the world is watching – especially with angry ships carrying tomahawk missiles trolling the waters just out of reach in the Mediterranean. He knows that all we need is an excuse to go in there, and then at that point we’d bring everyone else with us. Do you really think the UK would continue to sit on the sidelines if something else happened? Do you think China and Russia could continue to try and legitimize Assad’s regime? No and no. Nothing will happen while we’re talking. Maybe we even extend the dialogue to something like peaceful negotiations – bringing China and Russia to the table (Iran will never go for it though, so they’re out.) Of course we’ll have to keep our ships out there just in case, but the only way out of this mess is to just keep talking.



Jim Mitchem


Post - 911

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.