Wednesday, August 21, 2013

OK, Let's Get Off The Fence About This....

Today the news is full of horrified reports about how perfectly innocent citizens in Syria -- and as they inevitably pointed out, !!!SOME OF THEM ARE CHILDREN!!! -- have been writhing, gagging and dying in the streets, the apparent victims of chemical warfare at the hands of PARTIES UNKNOWN.

Um, OK, that's pretty untoward.  BUT THERE IS A WAR GOING ON THERE.  I just wanted to point that out. 

What strikes me about this reporting is that just a few weeks ago, the news people were wringing their hands about how untoward it is to use more surgically-precise methods on undesirables.  You know, like drone strikes, or siccing Seal Team Six on somebody a government wants dead. 

(Let's be real: we're talking about MY government.) 

I think it's pretty economical, in terms of lives lost, if you can direct a drone strike at just the person you want, and maybe the guys he has over for lunch.  It does give me a nasty twinge when I hear that they've done it to an American citizen like Anwar al-Awlaki.  They didn't exactly give him a trial by a jury of his peers.  But when I remember that he was instrumental in convincing Major Hasan -- a psychiatrist -- to open fire on a waiting room full of patients waiting to see their doctors, hey, the twinge feels better pretty quickly. 

I agree chemical weapons are terribly indiscriminate, and they kill anyone within range.  !!!EVEN CHILDREN!!!  But I'm just not sure that the horrified response is that justifiable.  The original horrified response to the first use of chemical weapons -- during the Great War -- was primarily about the fact that it was so gosh-darned UNSPORTING.  The SPORTING way to kill the enemy in that war was to have them fix bayonets and walk in a straight line across No Man's Land, into the hail of machine-gun fire, while bravely singing a war ditty.  Or maybe the national anthem; either way was fine, honestly.  But GAS?  DAMN, YOU, JERRY, THAT ISN'T CRICKET!

Can't we just be real for a minute and admit that human nature involves a constant jockeying, rung-climbing, elbowing and eye-gouging for position in the social rank, USUALLY OVER ISSUES TOO STUPID TO MENTION?  War is just the extreme version of that.  As soon as you throw a grenade or gas a pet shop full of puppies, it's official:  YOU'RE AN ASSHOLE.  Does it really matter whether you blew the puppies up or gassed them?  I think it's a fair question.


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