Some perspective on the "Let's-tell-Syria-to-stop-what-they're-doing" debate
Some perspective on the"Let's-tell-Syria-to-stop-what-they're-doing" debate
Ok, so I'm an old fart, and this anecdote took place during our wonderful adventure in Vietnam.
Doesn't mean it isn't to the point.
Long time ago -- early 70's -- my pal Greg and I were having raw fish salad at Sam Wo's in San Francisco. This was something we did so often that the irascible waiter Edsel Ford Fung recognized us and knew we knew the rules. (You don't ask for water. You don't ask for a fork.) He yelled at people who didn't. ("You want water? Go jump in a lake!)
People at the next table were discussing the war and were incensed by the diabolical weapons being used, particularly the anti-personnel land mines. They found two of them especially pernicious -- the Bouncing Betty and the Glass fragmentation mine. When stepped on, the Bouncing Betty's charge caused it to fly up about a meter, or right about waist/chest height, and then explode. The glass fragmentation mine was as the name indicated one which sent out a handsome sufficiency of fragments of glass, rather than steel, meaning that the shrapnel wouldn't be easily seen by an X-ray.
My seat being backed up to theirs, I leaned back and smiled and said:
"It's really terrible stuff, isn't it? Wouldn't you rather use a knife?"
One of them said: "Are you insane?"
( Ahh, how innocent we all were in those days. No one would dare ask that question today. As unlikely as someone like Janet Leigh deciding to take an obviously psychologically troubled Army vet into her home upon meeting him on a train in The Manchurian Candidate.)
And I said: "ME? I'm not arguing about what's a Better or Worse way to kill people."
In Syria, Al-Assad has already killed more than 100,000 of his people in the past 2 years. (Some people actually will argue that it's not quite that many. To those people I can only say "Really? That makes a difference to you?") One can only try to stop oneself from wondering how many have been maimed. Really don't want to put that picture in your head.
The current ogre-in-chief Bashful Al-Assad succeeded his father, Halfass Al-Assad in 2000. Prior to that time, Halfass' claim to fame was pretty much limited to the fact that he had taken the art of torture to such heights as to make Nazi torturers turn in their graves in post-mortem envy.
We can only assume that Bashful, like so many sons of powerful mass-murdering fathers, is trying hard to prove to daddy that he's just as good, even better at the family trade.
But since Bashful already has more than 100,000 dead under his belt, most of them blown to bits if not crushed by falling buildings or shot by roving bands of sociopaths, and we didn't feel any need to get off our internationally supercilious asses before, then WHY THE FUCK SHOULD IT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE TO US IF HE KILLS 1500 MORE WITH NERVE GAS?
Or is it just because making bio-weapons like Sarin is simple and can be done with easily-obtained ingredients? And packed in a suitcase.
Another legacy from the Nazi's - the Nazi's made Sarin at Spandau and other locations -- and like the VW, it was something that could be assembled by a non-professional with very little instruction.
Four ingredients. 26 times as lethal as cyanide. And it only takes 1/100th of 1 mg per Kg of body mass to kill. (Simple math -- you can kill a 220 pound adult with 1 milligram of the stuff. One kilo will do 1000 adults.) Absorbs through the skin, easier to make than simple vitamins and the only adverse side effect, if you screw up, is that some people will survive.
It's odorless, colorless, and since it's dense and lingers close to the ground for weeks before dispersing, it's the Gift that keeps on killing. (Which may be why Bashful kept shelling the killing ground to try to disperse the gas before the inspectors could get there.)
And, oh, for Assad -- the bonus -- it also causes a very very painful death and so I would imagine it satisfies the sadistic imperative desired by a family which has -- as already mentioned -- only one traditional craft -- torture. (And oh, Bashful's 11-year-old son, Halfass II is the one doing all the Facebook threats and dares against the USA contemplating taking action against Syria.) Hmmm -- they say the TRUE genetic factors skip a generation. In this case, maybe Arab tradition to kill the monster's children while you're at it might make sense.
We, on the other hand, are trying hard to maintain our traditional superiority at warcraft, and after two wars in which our PR people have had to sort through the litter like Joyce's Little Red Hen to just find SOMETHING -- ANYTHING we did successfully in either Iraq or Afghanistan (not even mentioning Vietnam) we're still trying to prove we're the toughest guys in the world, when the fact is, we're not even the toughest guys on the block anymore.
So, with all this political push-and-shove, the "Bomb-'em-back-to-the-stone-age" rec room warriors demanding the President ask congress for permission. The "He's a dictator if he doesn't come to congress for approval" types screaming that the President is delaying because he's asking congress for approval (the congress which is still on vacation), I can only say this:
"Maybe I AM insane, but I'm not the one arguing about what's a better or worse way to kill people."
Maybe we might focus on finding something else to be good at, something other than our ability to bomb the crap out of people. Like making peace. Starting with ending our national pastime, which isn't baseball -- a lovely and noble game -- I refer to the national pastime of bickering, nattering, fixing blame, and the always reliable: "LOOK what YOU made me do."
Because it sure looks like we've lost our touch at war, and for that new incompetence, we can only give thanks.