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The Killing Fields


The subject of the war in Syria leaves me feeling fairly awful. No doubt, dear reader, your reaction is much the same. The reasons for this are myriad, from seeing the U.S. engage in yet another conflict -- seeing our troops deployed and stretched even further -- to the cynical cry of why it is almost always the Middle East countries that draw our indignation and justifications for war, when civilian slaughter and genocide occurs all over the world (unfortunately). It's just a bad situation all round.

One of the battle cries we've heard regarding Syria is how its government has (allegedly, but very likely) used chemical weapons against its people. This, of course, is horrendous. It is evil (an over-used word, but one that is appropriate in this context). The emotional, even rational, portion of myself would like to rain down a fury of righteously indignant hurt upon Bashar al-Assad and his cronies. But then, I stop and remember what the reality of military intervention almost always means.

As a nation, represented by our armed forces, we've been involved in two wars in the Middle East for over a decade. And, as a nation, we're tired of it and worn out. Goodness knows how our actual military personnel and their families -- you know, the ones who actually have to suffer through the conflicts -- feel about it. I, for one, am not eager to see our country turn around and become involved in yet another war. Call it isolationism, or being gun-shy. Call it what you will, but there you go.

Yet the drums of war beat on.

I am old enough to remember the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91, and then-President George H.W. Bush talking about Saddam Hussein's officers throwing babies from incubators. Terrible stuff. Then, in our post-911 fearful state, there was Colin Powell going to the U.N. to assure everyone that Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. Scary stuff. So, of course, both times, we went to war. Now, years later, John Kerry is telling us that Syria is using chemical weapons on its own people, and so we have to act.

To further complicate matters, I'm going to ask something. It's a sincere question, too, not meant to be flippant or out-of-line. The question is: Why is killing -- murdering -- people with chemical weapons so much worse than with traditional weaponry (you know, bullets that shred the body, sharp instruments that can decapitate, bombs that blow a human being apart, whether they be men, women, or children)? Honestly, and you can call me crazy here, but it all sounds pretty fucking horrific.

So, yeah, it would appear that 'chemical weapons' are going to be our new 'babies from incubators' and 'weapons of mass-destruction' justification for engaging in yet another Middle East campaign. Genocide? That doesn't seem to move us quite so much. And while I have enough respect for our current president to believe that he doesn't take these decisions lightly (not sure about Congress), I still find it regrettable.

Well, that's an understatement.


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