Monday, September 9, 2013

Which Team Is Which?

Trey Smith

I just had two discussions with neighbors in my suburb of Philadelphia that offer both a hope that the Republican-run House may block President Obama’s war on Syria, and a warning that liberal Democrats could hand him the narrow majority he needs to claim Congressional backing for his war.

The first conversation was with a neighbor whose family is fundamentalist Christian. Each national or statewide election, they enthusiastically back, including with roadside signs on their property, the Republican candidate, including McCain/Palin and Romney/Ryan.

We are friends with this family. The parents are very much do-it-yourselfers, home-schooling their three kids with the help of a religious-based home-schooling association in the area that helps organize some group activities, cutting their own firewood, raising chickens, etc. The kids are all very smart and open-minded, though both boys are attending religious colleges. But while we all get along well and like each other, we never talk politics.

That is, until yesterday, when the mother and I got onto the issue of the looming war on Syria. “This is terrible,” she said. “I thought at least that Obama was against this kind of thing. Didn’t he say he thought the war on Iraq was wrong? What’s going on?”

She wants to know what the US has to do with a civil war in Syria, and how bombing and killing Syrians is going to make anything any better in that country, or this one. And she said she thinks there are more important things to spend money on in the US, noting the terrible condition of education in neighboring Philadelphia, where class size in elementary schools is now 37, “with no teachers’ aides,” and where the school district is bankrupt.

I found myself thinking this woman sounded like me, and we parted casting shared aspersions on both political parties, which we agreed are not responding to the public’s views.

Then it was lunch with a several liberal friends. We very quickly found ourselves discussing what looks to be the next in this country’s unending string of wars, which have been a national constant at least since Pearl Harbor--and for all of our lives.

I was expecting to have a four-man rant about the insanity of a bombing attack on Syria, but was stunned when one of the men at the table, a sweet retired guy who I’m sure wouldn’t harm a fly, and who spent his life in the health care field, said, “I hope we go in and bomb Syria, and I hope we ‘take out’ Assad and his wife.”

Shocked, I asked, “What about his kids?”

He said, “Kids too. Kill ‘em all!”

A second guy, also a mellow fellow who has been very opposed to the wars, wasn’t quite so bloodthirsty in his sentiments, but said he was for bombing Syria too. “We can’t allow a country to use poison gas,” he said.

When I pointed out that it is not at all clear that President Bashar al-Assad’s government and military was responsible for the gas attack in Damascus, and that the administration’s case for blaming Assad and for going to war is full of lies, half-truths and conjecture, with no verifiable facts to support it, he scoffed. After all the government’s lies about Iraq, and lies about Afghanistan, and after a more than a decade of two wars that accomplished nothing except to destroy two countries with a combined population of almost 50 million people, he refused to believe that we are being lied to yet again.

“We have to do something,” he said plaintively, clearly either unaware or unwilling to acknowledge that there’s something obscene about a nation that poisoned millions of Vietnamese with the defoliant Agent Orange, that has strewn depleted uranium all across the cities of Iraq, that uses child-shredding anti-personnel weapons all the time and sells them on the global arms market, refusing to sign onto a global ban, and that continues to use napalm, a prohibited weapon, by simply changing an ingredient so it can claim it is something else, trying to claim it has the moral authority to punish another nation for allegedly using poison gas.

Only the third member of this group of friends, a retired Philadelphia teacher, agreed with me that an attack on Syria was nuts and will just lead to another disaster and another destroyed country.
~ from Anti-War Conservatives and War-Monger Liberals by Dave Lindorff ~
Some astute readers surely will note that some of the anti-war conservatives have taken that position solely because it is the opposite of Obama's position. I am confident that is the case for many, but I am also confident that several conservatives are anti-war for other reasons. What really gets me are the war-monger liberals. What is liberal about choosing war over diplomacy?

As I have pointed out many times before, this situation serves to underscore how the Obama presidency has destroyed the foundations of the Democratic Party. On issue after issue, Democrats are advocating and defending what once were Republican positions only a generation ago. It is weird to think that Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan are to the left of today's Democratic Party! If one of them sprang back to life to run in the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary, he would lose for not being conservative enough.

That is truly mind blowing.

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