To write this post I needed to violate my no politics rule which I instituted because it was making me angry to write about. While I may have written about political theory I have stayed away from current politics. It was an effort but my blood pressure has thanked me. This I thought was worth the mention.
There has been a lot in the media about the United States striking the Assad regime. Whilst not an expert on the Syrian situation, it does seem that reducing his capacity to attack his own people is a good thing. With that in mind I am not reflexively opposed to the action the US took in response to his recent chemical attack. I am though opposed to this emotive reasoning for warfare.
President Donald Trump’s reasoning for undergoing this action was that he was touched by the images of women and children dying from these chemical weapons. It is a good thing to have empathy for other something I thought he was incapable of. This should not be in itself the reason we should start a war.
What Donald Trump did was an act of war, attacking another sovereign nation without provocation. In this strict sense there was no threat to the United States or is citizens. Further more it has been condemned by the Russian’s, who are complicit in these murders but also a nation that is always at risk of going to war with the US.
This weekend I was working on my front yard, as I was going about this I was listening to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History episode The Destroyer of Worlds. It speaks about human civilisation since the introduction of the nuclear weapon to our arsenal. It also speaks to the geopolitical situation since the end of the second world war.
This episode was in and of itself incredibly interesting to give perspective to the human creature. To the way that we can harness pure destruction without much more thought than the conventional weapons. What struck me in relation to the current situation was the idea of proxy wars and of WWIII.
Proxy wars are conflicts where two nations who do not want to be seen to be at war support opposing sides of a conflict. An interesting example was the Chinese and US in the Korean war. The two sides were not at war, but were on opposite side. It is amazing how the human mind can so easily deal with these conflicting ideas.
It is interesting in the current case because the US and Russia are on opposing sides. Up until this point they both have also been against ISIS but one feels that before too long the focus will shift back to each other.
The idea that Syria would turn into a proxy war, similar to the Vietnam war, is terrifying in itself. To think that at the helm of the most powerful military force would be someone triggered to attack based on emotion is terrifying. The leap from conventional attack to nuclear should be something that is debated with some vigour, I don’t believe that Donald Trump has that ability. His words and actions have shown him to be ill reasoned and action seeking.
The other problem with the emotional response is that the Russians don’t seem to be as emotive in their decision-making. Their human rights violations should show this to be true. The other truth of the Russian’s is that in there approach they have been able to position themselves as a super power without the military might to back them up.
It is admirable in a sense that they are able to think so strategically, this is something that would be dangerous against an emotional response. Admirable in a purely clinical sense, their actions are monstrous. If a proxy war were to break out, I think the US would be at a complete disadvantage. A loss triggering who knows what, if Donald Trump’s ego is bruised how would he react?
There is also a fear that his emotive response would go into a conflict with North Korea. The US military moving warships into the region. Again this could be a proxy war.
Both these causes I think are valid to address, both the Syrian and North Korean regimes are criminal. That being said the risk we face is that by emotionally, and without though through strategy, going into conflict risking WWIII.
I know when most people say WWIII they do to exaggerate a point. The memories of WWII seem so far away that we have forgotten the atrocities. While in WWII it was clear that the Nazi’s were the bad guys, and that those who aligned would be painted with that brush. I am not sure how history would appreciate WWIII. At the moment the US seems to be the aggressor, it would be a complicated war and the most deadly in all of history.
WWIII is terrifying because of the potential use of nuclear bombs. If you want to understand the impact, look at the attacks on Japan and read some of the accounts. They strip you of nationality and opposition, it is purely horrific. No matter the reasoning for the bomb, the suffering of civilians is beyond reproach.
To put it in perspective, the current nuclear weapons are 1000 times more powerful than those used in WWII. That is a horror that is supernatural. That we could cause that destruction I feel pulls the human being outside of nature. Puts us on another horrible level.
Now to think that an emotional response could cause that is terrifying. No matter the side, or the reason I cannot rest easily knowing that The Destroyer of Worlds should be in the hands of someone incapable of self-regulation.
It also appears unlikely that there would be a diplomatic solution if war did start. The US ambassador to the UN, and diplomatically incompetent, Nikki Haley seems intent on pissing of the Russians. Her statements are provocative and like the rest of the Trump administration she seems to say what she wants rather than what she should.
What she is doing by using this rhetoric is attacking the Russians diplomatically and they will respond. Unlike administration Trump they are content with time, waiting till they can respond appropriately.
I hope Secretary of State Tillerson can use some of his Russian ties to improve relations. While you may disagree with the Russians it is dangerous to invalidate them on the world stage.
After what happened in Iraq I don’t think the US is best placed to be the enforcer of the middle east. They have lost a significant amount of good will when it comes to involving themselves in the region.
The last thing I’ll talk about when considering this emotive response, is that it is completely hypocritical. Donald Trump is upset enough to bomb Syria but not enough to take in those same children that are at risk not just of chemical attack, but conventional. Not to mention the mental anguish that they will be forced to endure.
Anybody with a basic knowledge of war knows that those subjected to war suffer more than physically. They suffer after the last bullet is shot. The attack on Assad is likely to cost the US about $60 million. Imagine what could be done by taking in at risk people and using this money to help them. That is life changing, the attack was an expensive message.
It seems that on the surface the attack was justified. To take out resources from the Assad regime. The problem is that it was temporary. The are flying from the base now and the Russian will continue to prop up Assad because it’s in their best interest.
The risk of this behaviour is world ending, without exaggeration. If the US and Russia go into a proxy war it is not unreasonable to think that this could go to all out war. Then your country will need to pick a side. While the Russian’s are dangerous the US seems to be the aggressor.
Lastly the emotive response ignores what could actually be done to help these people. Welcome them into your communities, help them to have a better life. I am proud of Australia, I realise just how lucky I am to have been born here. I want to share that with others, not bar them from it. I am proud and lucky, I think that’s a gift that the Syrians are in need of.