Sunday, September 01, 2013

Quote of the Day: War and Therapy

This whole Syria debacle is turning out to be a huge pain in the Assad:
War used to be the pursuit of politics by other means. Today, if the statements made by the Western politicos and observers who want to bomb Syria are anything to go by, it’s the pursuit of therapy by other means. The most startling and unsettling thing about the clamour among some Westerners for a quick, violent punishment of the Assad regime is its nakedly narcissistic nature.  
... Easily the most notable thing in the debate about bombing Syria in response to Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians is the absence of geopolitical considerations, or of any semi-serious thought about what the regional or international consequences of dropping bombs into an already hellish warzone might be. Instead, all the talk is of making a quick moral gesture about ourselves by firing a few missiles at wickedness. In the words of a Democratic member of the US Foreign Affairs Committee, there might be ‘very complex issues’ in Syria, but ‘we, as Americans, have a moral obligation to step in without delay’. Who cares about complexity when there’s an opportunity to show off our own moral decency? 
All the discussion so far has focused, not on the potential moral consequences of bombing Syria, but on the moral needs of those who would do the bombing.
Hell, there's not even a clear objective here.  This is supposed to be satire, but I can't really discern the difference between its substance and the actual expression of purpose from the Obama Administration.  Can you?

Oh, I can't help adding that Brendan O'Neill wins the palm of hono(u)r from me for riffing on Carly Simon as he lambastes the Syria bombification fanboys: "They’re so vain they think someone else’s war is all about them."

1 comment:

Eric said...

I'm reminded of your recent proportional v effective post. Obama wants to be proportional with Syria to anything but a significant effect because that would be too costly and risky.

Instead, Obama wants to make a symbolic gesture - with real death and destruction - calibrated to set up a claim for domestic political consumption that he's an effective international leader, irrespective of the actual consequence of the action.

After 9/11, Bush rationally matched the means to achieve the ends of American liberal foreign policy. Obama has not.