Saturday, August 31, 2013

No Simple Answers

The United States and France appear ready to attack Syria. If that happens, Iran says it is ready to attack Israel. And Israel has atomic weapons. Bob Rae wrote this week that:

A couple of years ago I had the chance to meet Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres, Israel’s prime minister and president, respectively, in separate meetings. The subject was Iran. For Mr. Netanyahu, the issue was clear: Iran is arming itself with a nuclear capacity, and the rest of the world had to be prepared to “act.” For Mr. Peres, the conversation went in a different direction. We know Iran is up to no good. But, if we bomb Iran, what happens the next day? What are the consequences?

As the drumbeat for a response to what seems to be a clear violation of the 1925 ban on chemical weapons grows louder, no one seems to be asking, "What happens on the day after?" Rae wrote:

There’s always time for “consequential thinking.” The world wanted an international constabulary after the end of the Second World War but we were unable to make it happen. Real politics intervened. There is a crying need for a continuing, thoughtful, effective response to the terrible loss of life in Syria, most of it at the hands of its own government. But let us not make the mistake of assuming that missiles alone will resolve the crisis or even assuage our consciences. And don’t make the mistake of being ambushed by our own rhetoric. Killing civilians by bombing them with aircraft is also a crime.

You would think that after Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, we would be thinking about consequences. Surely our historical memory goes back that far. But going to war clouds the mind. Even thinking about it has that effect.

First and foremost, we need to remember what Harry Patch -- the last surviving veteran of World War I -- said before his death in 2009: "War," he said, "is organised murder, and nothing else."

Private Patch should remind us that there are no simple answers to the crisis in Syria.

This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.


Anonymous said...

"Killing civilians by bombing them with aircraft is also a crime."

I agree with Bob. Killing humans is a crime. Whether it be in Tokyo, Berlin, London, Gaza, Hiroshima, Stalingrad, Hanoi, Baghdad, or any other place that has been bombed by humans, it is always a crime.

Why don't we just stop bombing other people?

Owen Gray said...

An excellent question, Anon. Apparently, it's alright to bomb people -- as long as the people aren't us.

Anonymous said...

Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all, And thus the Native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o'er, with the pale cast of Thought

Owen Gray said...

Except, Anon, that "the pale cast of Thought" often leads to Wisdom.

Lorne said...

Solutions to complex situations require complex thought, Owen, something most of the world's leaders are either sadly deficient in or unwilling to engage in.

Owen Gray said...

Barbara Tuchman reminded us how easy it is to slide into war, Lorne. God forbid that we should once again live through The Guns of August.

Anonymous said...

"..."the pale cast of Thought" often leads to Wisdom."

Alas, Owen, it rarely does.

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, Anon, unfortunately.