Syria: to war or not to war. This is our dilemma. Political or moral? You can’t choose to never ever go to war (say, for moral reasons) because some people have no scruples and, given the opportunity which can always be manufactured, will totally crush you. On the other hand you can’t always go to war on the slimmest of excuses (or reasons) because that’s insane and you’ll wander into areas not right for civilized behaviour. The question is: when to war?
It’s unclear to me why Syria is the right one. Bashar Al-Assad is ‘evil’ (so was Bush in the effects of his actions) so we must depose him. So goes the central argument. But wait a minute: no one advocates war over Putin who must be the most sinister of all major political leaders and no one contemplates war against that hell-whore, Mugabe. Bashar dropped chemical weapons and we have a moral obligation to … but to whom? If China uses chemical weapons (‘oops, sorry it was a factory accident, it just happened to fall on malcontents’) so do we have an obligation to risk the whole of mankind by fighting a war with China on moral grounds?
Syria is militarily weak (compared to the ‘allies’) and we can get away with it but will we get away with it or do we just end up with side effects that turn one bad situation into another kind of bad situation or worse, into a worse situation? We drop some bombs, certainly kill a lot of Syrians and maybe, just maybe kill Bashar and then what – the Iraq scenario? That turned out well.
The neo cons are all out again justifying war for moral reasons (chemical weapons is illegal, right?) and that dubious term ‘human rights’. The neo-libs are out eschewing war because it’s also illegal but this time against ‘international law’ whatever that is. Both sides marshal the most audacious arguments but, for anyone who hasn’t taken a stand and isn’t just banging the party drum, life isn’t black and white. It’s muddy; very very muddy. Sometimes you have to respect the law because it’s a civilized way of resolving conflicts and other times you must fuck the law because it sucks and one has to resort to moral actions and common sense. Which road one takes calls for wisdom. In the old days one consulted the gods. They turned out to be frauds but that’s another write-up.
Just because something is lawful (e.g. arranged marriages) doesn’t make it a good thing and just because something is illegal (e.g. LGBT equality) doesn’t make it evil. The real question is: if we go into Syria what do we get out of it? After Iraq we don’t need another fine mess. “Women and children are suffering” may well be true but the fact is dropping a few bombs here and a few more there will not stop that. The West are not fairy godmothers from a Cinderella story who will make pain and suffering go away. We only replace one form of suffering with another.