Before I tell you about the award and the winner, there is (of course) a back story:
It begins in WWII, when American Jews were angry with FDR for not bombing the railroad tracks to the concentration camps. Let’s be honest, in 1945, no one really liked Jews. And the war was not to save Jews, but to stop a tyrant’s domination of a continent.
Before that war, there was the annihilation of Armenians at the hands of Turks. No one said anything.
And before that, so many atrocities dating to the Crusades and earlier.
And, a thousand years of slavery.
And, then, so much that it is impossible to list.
And, the the brutality of colonialism.
And then, the United States used Napalm against civilians in Vietnam. CHEMICAL WEAPONS. Our use inspired the international treaty against using such heinous weapons.
Fast forward to the atrocities in Africa.
And the mess in the former Yugoslavia. President Clinton ordered the bombings of the bridges leading to those death camps.
And then President George H. W. Bush who took a moral and geopolitical stand against Iraq and its use of chemical warfare against its neighbors. GHWB showed American willingness to smack down an ally who commits atrocities with weapons that we sold to it.
And then there was the Shrub, the little Bush, who didn’t find chemical weapons in Iraq (those reviled WMDs), because they had been transported to Syria. But we destroyed that country anyway.
And no one called George W. Bush an amateur or a waffler or a liar or a cheat. And he led us into a war with no strategery (his word) for the way out, let alone a reason to go in.
And, atrocities occur every day, all over the world, in every corner. Most particularly against the children, women and the enfeebled — those who have the least power in society.
So, here we are with Syria, under a credible threat of force from the United States, telling the world that it has chemical weapons and agreeing to disarm. And Russia is taking the lead, as Syria’s ally, to make sure that America doesn’t bomb Syria. Pretty good outcome so far — an admission that eluded GWB, an effort to dismantle Syria’s WMDs, as the US armed forces are on stand-by if anyone doesn’t deliver on promises made. Others are doing the work because a bombing mission would shake Russia’s influence and bring down Russia’s ally in the region.
Not a bad outcome for “amateur” President Obama. But no one gives him credit [this is for another blog]
And yet, all I hear from the pundits is: how the President faring politically and whether it will affect his domestic agenda, and how there is no reason for us to stop the use of chemical weapons against civilians.
Ok, this is not about a president. This is about children. It is not about politics. It is about whether or not, to use a “quaint” analogy, to bomb railroad tracks to death camps.
I don’t know the right answer. I don’t think there is one.
But this I know:
If you thought that FDR should have bombed the tracks leading to Auschwitz and you don’t support saving children from lethal gas, you have lost your moral authority;
if you ever thought that Napalm was one of the most heinous acts against humanity, sit down and shut up because you have lost your moral argument;
if you wanted George W. Bush to go into Iraq, G-d help you because you have no moral judgment and should “self-deport”;
if you are a “Progressive” in today’s politics, you have no backbone, and if you are a GOP hawk, you are just saying no because Obama is president, so you wouldn’t know a backbone if your doctor showed it to you on an xray;
if you say that there is misery and brutality the world over and why are we not protecting civilians in Africa, you have an excellent point;
if you don’t care about Syrian children and civilians (or Afghanis, or Kurds or African tribes), I ask, (paraphrasing the great Rabbi Hillel) if you are only for yourself, who are you?
if you say that there are too many risks to this action, when we have soldiers the world over, I ask (against paraphrasing the great Rabbi Hillel) if not now, then when?
And so, the Full of Shit (FOS) award goes to . . . . all of us, from the UN to Geneva to Oslo, from Wall Street to Main Street to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, from MSNBC to CNN to FOX, from me to you. I don’t know what the right answer is, but I know we are asking all the wrong questions.
The right questions take guts and require that we talk about who we are and what we are willing to sacrifice (in lives and taxes) to do all the things we say we ought to do, until the moment comes for action.
May G-d bless the children of Syria, the children of all countries and, please, let them no longer be the fodder of war, the currency of politics, and the blind spot of the world.
Please watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmux0xmrXUU