Tomahawk missile test, 1986.
Part of me really wants us to go to war in Syria. That part of me, after seeing the pictures of dead civilians and bombed out cities and crying children with no legs, wants cruise missiles to obliterate Syrian military bases and chemical weapons depots. It wants Army Rangers to parachute into Damascus and take Bashar al Assad into custody, ideally slamming his profoundly ugly face into a couple walls along the way. It wants medics to take care of the injured people, engineers to rebuild homes and schools. Part of me just really, really wants America to go be the good guy and save those poor people.
Because seriously – how fucking cool would that be? Somewhere in the world, people are being hurt and oppressed by a dictator, but then the United States, with its considerable wealth and high tech gadgetry, comes to dramatically save the day. That’s what Batman would do, and who doesn’t want our foreign policy to be more like Batman?
Most men disregard their inner 13-year-old, because they understand that he lives in a very simple and clear cut world that does not exist. The men in charge of the most powerful military in human history, on the other hand, have given that 13-year-old a two liter bottle of Mountain Dew and are listening very intently to all of his opinions.
That, I imagine, is where Nobel Peace Prize laureate President Obama got it in his head that Bashar al Assad needs to be ‘punished’ for his use of chemical weapons against his own people.
Chemical weapons are bad because they kill people, and killing people is bad. Evidently chemical weapons are more than 100 times as bad as conventional weapons, because Assad used those to kill about 100,000 Syrians punishment-free. Only after he killed about 1000 Syrians with chemical weapons did President Obama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, begin planning to shoot missiles into Syria as punishment.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner in chief’s rationale for attacking Syria is that we must punish Assad for using chemical weapons because it will show the world that using chemical weapons is evil. It will also show the world that killing 100,000 innocent people is totally cool so long as you don’t use chemical weapons to do it.
Of course, we’re not 100% sure that Assad is the one we should be punishing for the chemical attacks – at least, that’s according to Nobel Prizeident Obama’s chief of staff, who took a break from exhorting us to punish Assad’s wrongdoing to admit that the administration doesn’t have “irrefutable, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence” that the wrongdoing is actually Assad’s fault, saying "This is not a court of law. And intelligence does not work that way."
So, for those of you keeping score at home: When deciding whether or not to convict someone of tax evasion you must be convinced of their wrongdoing beyond a reasonable doubt. When deciding whether or not to shoot missiles into a sovereign nation, on the other hand, you can just kind of go with your gut.
Whether or not Assad is responsible for the attack (as opposed to the heart-eating, al Qaeda-affiliated rebels) I think we can all agree that he’s a pretty terrible person, and that if ever there was a person who we would like to be punished, it’s him.
I’m just not sure I understand how shooting a bunch of missiles at Syria is supposed to effectively punish Assad. It’s been made clear(ish) that the goal here isn’t regime change, but simple punishment – to "...make sure that the Iranians, Hezbollah, and others understand that you cannot ... pursue weapons of mass destruction," in the words of White House chief of staff Denis McDonough. The missiles won’t be targeting Assad – they’ll just destroy military targets and infrastructure over the course of three days as a show of force.
Naturally, even though these are “precision” strikes against military targets, there will be some collateral damage – not just because Assad is stationing his troops and military equipment in residential areas but also because collateral damage is kind of America’s deal. We accidentally murder innocent people all the time with 100 pound missiles fired by Predator drones that are within a mile of their target – if you think our luck is going to be any better with 3000 pound cluster bombs fired from hundreds of miles away, you’re more gullible than I was in 2008 and 2012.
So President Barack Obama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – which, lest we forget, is awarded to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses,” – is going to punish Assad for killing innocent Syrians by launching an attack that will kill innocent Syrians.
Given that Assad has already killed enough innocent Syrians to fill Michigan Stadium, I doubt that us killing a few more innocent Syrians, however accidentally, is going to deter him all that much - let alone Iran, Hezbollah, or anybody else.
I just hope that when one of the missiles my taxes paid for lands slightly off-target in a Syrian neighborhood, the force of the explosion sucking the air out of civilians’ lungs, the fires burning the flesh off their bones, that they understand in those final excruciatingly painful moments that there are no hard feelings. We're just trying to send a message, is all.
Truman Capps thinks those “Change” posters are pretty ironic right about now.