Alas For Team Obama, Words Mean Things
I see that some readers are calling foul on my griping about the president’s spinning his “red line” comment of 2012. Nope, sorry — in that 2012 press conference, he very clearly and unmistakably was not talking about any kind of red line in the international community. He was speaking about what the US government would consider a red line that, when crossed, would trigger a US military response. Don’t believe me? Watch the clip.
He foolishly drew a red line in the sand last year, and now his personal credibility is on the line. Lawyerly evasion ain’t going to cut it. We don’t have any business going to war to save the president’s credibility. Ask the international community what it thinks about launching a war on Syria. Some of them are happy to hold our coat, but that’s about as far as it goes.
Words, alas, mean things. Here’s Steve Chapman, refusing to be bamboozled by Secretary Of State John Kerry, who denies that the US is planning to launch a war on Syria (“limited military action” is the Secretary of State’s term of art):
I’m never surprised or particularly offended when politicians lie, but I do draw a line at having my intelligence insulted. When you send naval destroyers off the coast of a country, launch cruise missiles and drones at targets inside the country, destroy facilities and kill people, you are making war. To pretend otherwise suggests bottomless cynicism or an obstinate refusal to confront reality.
You only have to ask how we would respond if we were on the receiving end to see how dishonest the secretary of state was being. Suppose Syrian ships appeared off the East Coast and proceeded to fire rockets that blew up government buildings or military installations, and people, inside the United States? We would certainly consider Syria to be at war with us.
True. The meaning of “is” remains “is,” no matter what a Democratic lawyer in the White House says.
We have so degraded the seriousness of armed conflict against other regimes and countries that we no longer regard massive bombing campaigns, destruction of other people’s infrastructure, and deaths of civilians and enemy soldiers as somehow “not war”. And it is this very logic that enables this war machine to present itself ludicrously as “defense”. The war in Syria has nothing whatsoever to do with the territorial integrity of the US. We are emphatically under no threat at all. Which is why this elective war – without UN support – is so deeply corrosive of this country’s democracy.