Monday, September 2, 2013

Love those Cruise (Tomahawk) Missiles, or "How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb"

public domain image, yahoo.
I've been paying attention to the situation in Syria and the process of the President's decision to "punish" Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons, an outrageous act in every case.  Assad is now the devil incarnate (always need one) in the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, which has seen it's share of these kinds of disasters and these kinds of leaders.

We have taken out at least two of them, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, maybe more, and it's all been like some kind of movie.   Saddam in some rat hole, running for his life, haggard, bearded, looking like a lost soul cut down to size. Bin Laden in his home hiding in plain sight, maybe on the toilet or watching movies.  We even have photos of the key American players in the War Room  watching the action LIVE with great anticipation, then erupting into cheers as bin Laden dies in front of us.

Obama is in love with cruise missiles and unmanned drones.  He likes the idea of "limited, tactical" strikes against enemy targets, to limit death and destruction and more intensive involvement, or so he thinks.  In this he is in the tradition of Bill Clinton, who loved them, too, and used them against Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and even Belgrade.  At $1.4 million a pop, he ran up a huge bill.  Just like  Obama.  In fact you might call this Obama's major National Security Policy.  He's already approved 283 strikes in Pakistan according to a CNN report.

So now Obama wants to send his beloved tomahawk missiles into Syria.  You know, just a few targeted strikes that will reduce Assad's military capability, then get the heck out of there and wait and see what happens. Lots of us are not sure about this  choice or this "mission"?  Will it open the door to sending in the troops?  What will success look like? If we are "the punishers of evil" in the world, like the global moral policeman, will there be any end to our involvements? Will it be another Iraq?

The modern Middle East has been in turmoil since1948 when Israel was born,  Every Arab country thereafter has seen the rise of dictators and civil war, the rise of Al Qaeda and Hezbollah and civil war, the ongoing conflict since the 7th century between the Sunni majority in the region (90% of all Muslims) and the Shiite minority (10% of all Muslims).  These are about the most brutal kinds of wars.  Death and destruction without end. It's only gotten worse since 9/11.

We go in and out as peacemakers and warmongers, to little effect it seems.  Iraq and Afghanistan are examples: many Americans lost and wounded, billions spent, and for what? It doesn't look like there have been any changes in these places. Wars without purpose, without outcomes.

How can we forget the duplicitous ways we got into Iraq? Those lies upon lies about WMDs, pushing Gen. Colin Powell to the brink in his charade at the UN, even in the face of contrary evidence. Bush and Cheney wanted a war and they got one. The only winners were the military-industrial complex, oil producers. and international giants like Haliburton who made huge profits off of death. Still do.

wiki-image on yahoo. 
Americas were left stammering at the extent of the lies.  We felt like characters in Joseph Heller's Catch 22, helpless victims of the use of language tortured into new forms and meanings.

I feel that way again. Obama's love of cruise missiles brings it all back. His reasoning also has Dr. Strangelove written on it, Stanley Kubrick's classic 1964 parody of the Cold War and nuclear disaster, a noir comedy of errors.  Obama seems to have his General Rippers, but will one catch 22 lead to another, and yet another?

"No fighting in the war room," right?
"Oops, made a terrible mistake, unleashed tomahawks  and can't recall the decision." 
"Oops, the target's counterattack system, its Doomsday Machine, can't be dismantled and dissuaded either."
"Oops, we're on a deadly collision course."      

Whatever formidable logic Obama has brought to the table, and however much the US Congress may support it, it's not at all clear what outcomes will emerge after US cruise missile attacks on Syrian targets.

The iconic image at the end of Dr. Strangelove floats up to the surface: General Kong, cowboy hat flying, riding the A-bomb like a bronco off into the nuclear sunset.  But it's Obama riding that bomb.  At this point, there seems no turning back. The Senate is almost on board and the House will be next.  We can only pray that "war is peace" and that "bombs bring hope."

So why do I have a feeling that a no-fly zone and troops on the ground aren't far behind, and that taking out Assad is already on the military drawing board?


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