- So far, the USA has entered at least 3 wars based on reasons which actually were
1. Spanish American war (Spain allegedly blew up US Battleship "Maine." Actually,
later, divers showed it was an internal boiler explosion).
2. Vietnam war. Allegedly, US boats were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin. However it
appears there was no attack, merely some nervous US sailors firing in the dark at enemy targets that did not exist. "Attack" caused no damage and there was no evidence whatever it ever really happened.
3. Iraq war, Saddam Hussein allegedly had weapons of mass destruction. He didn't,
wasn't even trying to get them, and let in UN inspectors who concluded+said exactly that, but to no avail. (Hussein had earlier used poison gas though, and his poison gas was supplied to him by... the USA. Oh yeah, and Hussein also had been a former CIA employee.)
And now what? Now, we are told we need to enter war with Syria because Assad
killed 500-1300 of his own people in a poison gas massacre (suspected to be the gas "sarin"). Well, I agree there was a massacre, but as of today (27 Aug 2013) see no evidence whatever Assad was the attacker.
As far as I can tell, the claim was (a) there was attack, (b) seems like sarin, (c) Assad is only contender in Syria who clearly has sarin weapons, (d) Q.E.D.
But actually, lots of people could have done a sarin attack. I myself believe I could synthesize Sarin if nobody was stopping me and I wasn't worried about killing myself.
Don't believe me? OK, we know the Japanese amateur cult/nut-group "Aum Shinriko" made their own sarin and used it in an attack on Japanese subways. Further, the delivery method could have been simply "a briefcase with a hand grenade." I believe that would have been adequate to kill 500-1300 people mainly in their sleep. And further, lots of people had motivation for such an attack, namely Obama had publicly announced he'd intervene exactly if such an attack occurred, and plenty of people wanted such an intervention to happen probably including various Syrian rebel groups, the Israelis, maybe Iran, maybe corporations who could make $billions from this war, plus maybe any foreign intelligence agency in the entire damn world who wanted that could have set this up. In fact, just about the only player who was NOT motivated to carry out this attack, was Assad.
So, now we're told we need to enter a Syrian war, carried out, yet again, with no convincing proof at all (at least at the present time), just "trust us, we're your government."
And after all, as we've recently seen, our government is so, so, so vastly trustworthy.
So now, let's compare. There certainly is something to be said for going to war against the perpetrators of outrageous massacres. In the Syrian 2013 case, 500-1300 civilians were killed.
In the case of the My Lai massacre (also called the Son My massacre) in Vietnam 1968,
carried out by 26 US soldiers, somewhere between 347 and 504 civilians were killed,
depending on who is counting. Only 1 US soldier was ever punished for this,
Lt. William Calley, who ended up serving 3 and a half years of house arrest for it. (Compare that, with, say, Pfc. Bradley Manning, recently sentenced to 35 years prison plus
he's already been tortured, for leaking embarrassing information to wikileaks, such as a video of a US massacre of innocent Reuters journalists.)
OK, so if you think Assad has to be warred on because of his (if he did it) sarin massacre, then you must also agree the world should have gone to war versus the USA in 1968
because of the My Lai massacre, which was of the same order of magnitude (albeit with far, far, far vaster proof the USA really did it, in fact the USA has admitted it) and as part of an entire war which was based on a lie. Right? I mean, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, right?
Or, maybe you don't think that. Because the USA in Vietnam 1968 was way nicer than
Assad in Syria. Sure. So what we need here, is a little proof. The standard of proof
required for a war, should far exceed, the standard of proof required to convict somebody in court, of a crime punishable by death. Because 1000s will die in a war.
And we're nowhere near that level of proof. But as history has repeatedly shown the USA does not need proof to go to war. It just needs "some powerful people would find it convenient" and a neat slogan like "operation enduring freedom."
- At 07:42 PM 8/27/2013, WarrenS wrote:
>So far, the USA has entered at least 3 wars based on reasons whichThis is far from conclusive. It's certainly possible. The sinking of
>1. Spanish American war (Spain allegedly blew up US Battleship
>later, divers showed it was an internal boiler explosion).
the Maine, while it became a popular cause "To hell with Spain,
remember the Maine," may have had little influence on the actual
outbreak of war. The Spanish declared war after an American ultimatum
that they surrender control of Cuba. There was never an official
charge by the U.S. that Spain blew up the ship. It was considered
possible that a mine sank the ship. That remains a possibility,
various inquiries conducted over the years have come up with
alternate theories. The Communists generally have asserted that the
U.S. blew up its own ship, but that looks like just one more popular
theory, merely popular in different circles.
>2. Vietnam war. Allegedly, US boats were attacked in the Gulf ofhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Tonkin_incident
>Tonkin. However it
>appears there was no attack, merely some nervous US sailors firing
>in the dark at enemy targets that did not exist. "Attack" caused no
>damage and there was no evidence whatever it ever really happened.
Again, Warren's interpretation is oversimplified. The consensus is
that there was no attack on Sept. 4, but there was an attack on Sept.
2. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident did not cause the Vietnam War, there
seems little basis for that claim. It was used as a pretext, for sure.
We do not learn from the past. The Incident exposed serious flaws in
our political *structure*, but our common, knee-jerk tendency is to,
instead, blame the players for playing their roles. Basically, with
the GoT incident, the Wikipedia account, at least, claims that
intelligence agencies did not pass on correct and complete
intelligence, only passing on what they thought would meet with the
President's approval. That's a consequence of our political system.
Congress commonly has avoided the responsibility for declaration of
war, but has palmed that off on the President; that I ascribe to
Congress not having a responsible intelligence capability, it is
almost entirely a political activity. The judicial branch, which is
set up to produce (at least theoreticalally) deliberative process,
doesn't get involved in "political decisions," though the need for
sound and complete intelligence is obviously crucial to such
decisions being sane.
We have a system, then, that is dominantly political. That was by
design, to put the "people" in charge, but the structure created
insitutions that do not actually represent the people in any way that
would reliably generate true deliberative process. What might have
done that from the original design was corrupted and changed, away
from true representation by trusted representatives, toward
structures that rely on political affiliation and collaboration to
the end of maintaining power.
>3. Iraq war, Saddam Hussein allegedly had weapons of massThe United States has been radically self-serving, in many ways. And
>destruction. He didn't,
>wasn't even trying to get them, and let in UN inspectors who
>concluded+said exactly that, but to no avail. (Hussein had earlier
>used poison gas though, and his poison gas was supplied to him by...
>the USA. Oh yeah, and Hussein also had been a former CIA employee.)
most Americans don't care, as long as the war and most killing is
*over there.* When our policies came home to roost in 2001, our
response was to blame *them.* Certainly there were some very hostile
and dangerous players out there, but originally their beef was not
with the United States. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, and we
had betrayed those elements in Iraq who were attempting to overthrow
him, we almost literally threw them under the bus, particularly the
Shi'a in the South, who had supported the U.S. in the first intervention.
Saddam Hussein, my sense is, wanted to create fear in his enemies, so
he encouraged the perception that he had weapons of mass destruction.
Yes, I followed this one closely, and the best intelligence was that
this was just a bluff. So what happened? Again, I see the problem as
structural. Congress heard testimony, publically and privately, about
the situation, and trusted what they were told. What other option did
they have? It's a no-win situation: the Administration collects the
intelligence and passes what they choose to pass on to Congress, and
Congress does not generally want to put too much pressure on the
President, our system almost requires that the President be trusted.
If the President is not trusted, that could mean that Congress does
not trust the American people. Can't have that, can we?
But we, the people, can make huge collective errors, and we depend on
leaders to prevent this. Or do we? Or do we only want to hear what we
want to hear? When a President tells us the truth, as Carter did, how
do we respond?
When Bush was re-elected in 2004, I saw it clearly: his supporters
knew that he was a liar -- or "incautious with the truth," perhaps --
but he was *their liar,* i.e., he wss telling them what they wanted
to hear, whereas the Other Guy was telling them something they didn't
like. Surely Our Liar will do the right thing, to keep our support, right?
It's really pretty stupid, but what options do we have?
We *have* options, but we don't believe that we do, so we might as
well not have them....
>--This would be a pretext, in itself. It's part of a build-up of
>And now what? Now, we are told we need to enter war with Syria because Assad
>killed 500-1300 of his own people in a poison gas massacre
>(suspected to be the gas "sarin"). Well, I agree there was a
>massacre, but as of today (27 Aug 2013) see no evidence whatever
>Assad was the attacker.
justification for the war. To me, the ultimate issue is how much
trust we place in those we select as leaders. We don't have a system
that selects for trustworthiness, it selects for appeal to some sort
of political vision.
It's an error to focus on the single incident. As before, there has
been a whole build-up to war that was much more the real cause.
Without knowing if I can trust the intelligence agencies, I cannot
know what is actually our best option for the welfare of the United
States or the world.
Invading Iraq may have been justified based on an error, but it was
not necessarily the wrong thing to do. Yet our subsequent behavior
made sure that it was a disaster in many ways.