We will be greeted as liberators.

So twelve years ago some terrorists flew airplanes into buildings and everyone held hands and said they would never forget.  Guess what?  We forgot.

Yeah, we remember what it looked like on the television when they kept replaying it.  But is that what people meant when they said they’d never forget?  What was it that they didn’t want to forget?  That people were nice to each other after something bad happens?  OK.  How about remembering that a government that we trusted in the midst of that tragedy lied to us about why we were going to war in the first place?  Do you remember when this happened?  Do you remember when the war started and the news had pictures of the WMD on the border ready to greet our troops?  Do you remember being told that the war would pay for itself?  Do you remember being told that we would be greeted as liberators?

That war lasted seven years, cost over a trillion1 dollars, and resulted in somewhere between 100,000 and over a million casualties, depending on the source.  And it wouldn’t have happened if our government hadn’t lied to us.  Maybe they had to lie to themselves first.  If the tiny shreds of evidence used to justify this war could be proven forgeries after the fact by way of a simple Google search, if there were documented statements of incredulity within our own government about this purchase of uranium being a possibility, if everyone knew that there was a regulatory board in place to make sure none of that uranium got into the wrong hands2…if all of this happened, maybe the people in charge wanted to go to war with Iraq more than they wanted to do right by all the people who had placed their trust in it.

Do you remember the president who sent us into that war was so bad that the next president got the first ever ironic Nobel Peace Prize3?  And instead of delivering the previous administration over to Geneva for their crimes, he went ahead and kept doing the same things they were, and has now passed Yassir Arafat for number of civilians killed by a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

And now they want to try the same thing in Syria.  I can’t pretend to understand everything about international politics, but I think I understand enough to make an analogy to playground politics.  Getting in a fight with Iraq was like getting in a fight with the kid that nobody liked.  The reason Saddam Hussein was so obstinate about inspections before that war started was because he knew that if the inspectors reported no problems that he would immediately be invaded by all of his neighbors.  He basically had to choose between fighting everyone in the Middle East and fighting the U.S.A.  He picked us.  Maybe he just had fond memories of when we gave him all those WMD twenty years prior, or maybe he thought he stood a better chance against us than he did against them.  Getting in a fight with Syria is like picking on the punter for the football team.  He might look small compared to the rest of the team, but the rest of the team is going to come for you, or at the very least come for your girlfriend.

It’s not that I think chemical weapons are a good thing, but what are we going to do to make it better?  There are things like the UN already around that are supposed to take care of this sort of thing.  They might seem impotent to us on occasion, but they’ve got a much better track record than we do.  Can you really say that Iraq is a better place for anyone now than it was fifteen years ago?  If not, then what did that war accomplish?  As atrocious as the war crimes in the former Yugoslavia were, the outcome of that conflict mediated by an international coalition looks decidedly better than the outcome of any of our cowboy outings of late.  And wherever genocide has occurred in our lifetime_ whether it was in Bosnia, Rwanda, or Cambodia_ if you go back far enough in history you will always find the roots of the conflicts between different people groups were either established or further agitated by an outside force of greater power than the groups in question.    It used to be called empirialism or colonialism.  Now we call it liberation.  The results are the same.  We can’t ship democracy overseas on a bomb.  In fact, bombing people not only makes them not like you very much, but it also stirs up new dictators to fight over power in the resulting turmoil.

If something as obviously bad as the atrocities in Bosnia is going on in Syria at the moment, a true international coalition will emerge to do something about it.  It’s quite possible that might even happen over the next few days.  If this ends up being the U.S. and a bunch of countries that let us borrow their names to keep us happy, then we’ll see worse problems in Syria than what we’ve seen in Iraq over the past ten years.  If it means asking Putin to fix this problem, that has got to be worth more than more dead bodies.  Right?

1-      You have no concept of how big this number is.

2-      And guess which country regulated it?  I’ll give you a hint, they are well known for their fries

3-      I can’t take the credit for this.  Pretty sure I heard it somewhere, just don’t remember where…

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