The main headlines this week have to do with the possibility that the United States will shoot cruise missiles at Syria, now that President Obama has decided he can’t let the use of poison gas go unpunished. Those aware of my preoccupation with the Middle East must be expecting me to say something about it, so here goes:
Just what does the president mean by “therapeutic bombing?” What is the difference between that and regular bombing? Moreover, it doesn’t look like we’re going to commit any ground troops, or even fighters and bombers. Warfare is an all-or-nothing deal; if you want to win, you throw in everything you’ve got. What I’ve seen so far looks too much like observance of the Liberal Rules of War. It also sounds like the campaign in Kosovo; although we won that with just air strikes, we found out later that we had done the Serbs dirty.
Speaking of making mistakes, so far the current administration has picked the wrong side in Iran, Egypt, Libya and Israel. Does anybody think Obama and company have improved their batting average? From what I can see, there are no good guys in Syria. The younger Assad isn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier, if you know what I mean, and if there is a head of state who needs killing, it’s him. On the other hand, any side Al Qaeda supports automatically becomes the greater of two evils. I say we sit this one out and let them kill each other. Then if we have to go in there later, we will only have one set of bad guys to deal with, and if they fight to the last man, so much the better. Anybody got some popcorn?
Finally, I am reminded of this story from the Old Testament, in 2 Kings 13:14-20:
14 Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Jehoash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, “O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!”
15 And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and some arrows.” So he took himself a bow and some arrows.
16 Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands.
17 And he said, “Open the east window”; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot”; and he shot. And he said, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them.”
18 Then he said, “Take the arrows”; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground”; so he struck three times, and stopped.
19 And the man of God was angry with him, and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.”
20 Then Elisha died, and they buried him.
Is Obama about to repeat the story, by striking Syria only halfheartedly?