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I’m not afraid to say that I’m very pro-intervention in Syria. There are a variety of reasons for that, many of them rooted in reading and thinking about the war for not just the past few weeks, but for the past year. And wars in general for many years before.
I think the Obama White House looks incredibly inexperienced. But even worse is the Congress, who stays on VACATION until September 8, at which point they will come back and make a decision. I mean, imagine there was some sort of crisis at the place where you worked — I don’t know what it would be, but say, you entire fall shipment of goods was destroyed. Could you imagine if the entire staff was like, “Woah, totally huge deal, we’ll see you in a week though because we’re going to a BBQ on Nantucket?”
Now, I don’t know how the rules work with recalling Congress to work. But I do know that David Cameron called the British Parliament from vacation to make a decisive decision this past week about what action would be taken, and they decided to take no action at all. Which I think the world admires more than our current situation in the United States. It’s a clear message. “We are not interventionists. We will not get involved in conflicts around the world.”
Because there just isn’t enough being written right now about Syria, I’ve been watching some television. It’s shocking how little information you can get from watching television. By virtue of the medium, only very shallow arguments can be made in the time allotted to any of the “experts” arguing their case. It’s a real shame that people make decisions based on these arguments, because there is no nuance, and no space for articulating what is a very complicated, very historically rooted question. And that is what should be done in Syria.
I’ve read some really good articles in the past year, mostly in the New Yorker. Because let’s be honest, in our mainstream media, only the New Yorker still writes anything thoughtful.
The first is by Dexter Filkins. It is titled "What Should Obama Do About Syria?" and it lays out Obama’s options, as well as what is really going on in terms of factions on the ground. I’ve heard a lot bandied about on CNN and Meet the Press about Al Qaeda and the rebels, especially by “he who should shut up” Rand Paul, and what their presence will mean for “Christians” (barf). Read this instead of listening to all of that nonsense.
Then, read this article by Jon Lee Anderson about the Islamist takeover in Mali, and how the French intervened so that Al Qaeda didn’t take over the country. It offers a nuanced picture of what could happen when a country intervenes in an Islamic region with Al Qaeda factions without starting a war.
And FINALLY, read this sort of irrelevant and indecisive article by David Remnick about the refugee camps growing in the wake of the Syrian war. It doesn’t say much that will convince you about whether or not we should intervene, but it does show that a war doesn’t just stay within the boundaries of the nation that is fighting it, but rather bleeds out into the surrounding world. Especially in our world, which is no longer delineated by clear national boundaries. In fact, nations seem like a pretty outdated notion, in my opinion, unless you’re an island like Britain, which is not only literally an island, but also a complete sort of afterthought in terms of influence, and has been for many years.
Please someone come talk to me about Syria, I’m freaking people out by accosting them for their opinions in casual dinner conversation.
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