Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Friday, August 30, 2013
Reading Between the Red Lines
Of course, I think the whole notion that bombing people is a way to "send a message" is unspeakably obscene. If you want to "send a message,' you might try, you know, saying something. Sure, war-mongering assholes like to say that saying something means you are all talk and no results and no credibility, but war-mongering assholes say some version of that no matter what you do so it doesn't matter what you do or what they say (that becomes their problem and not yours the moment you stop taking them seriously), and anyway the history of the last few generations is a serial demonstration that no good results or real credibility actually follows when we do let the war-mongering assholes have their way anyway, just catastrophe and criminality and killer clownery. But setting aside all those initial disqualifications of the premises that drive this whole appalling discussion, I can't say that I even understand why taking the so-called "Red Line" seriously can only mean bombing Syria is what makes sense right now (apart from all the obvious ways war-mongering assholery doesn't make sense already, I mean). The problem isn't only that chemical weapons have been used, surely, but that before they can be used they have to exist to be used. Set aside the surreal weirdness of declaring Syria more a rogue regime because it has massacred its own citizens using chemical weapons despite the fact that it has also been massacring even more of its own citizens using other kinds of weapons. That aside, is it really more important even to those who do care about chemical weapons in particular that we punish a regime that dares to use them than that punishing them with bombs may mean that factions of rebels (many of them designated as terrorist by folks who usually care obsessively about such designations) can get their hands on these chemical weapons stores themselves? The idea that world censure is going to topple the Assad regime is looking like wish-fulfillment fantasizing, but no more so than the notion that any regime that supplants the Assad regime is going be better from the standpoint of America's legitimate security interests (even on the ugly imperializing terms of mainstream policymakers I personally disapprove) in the absence of the kinds of nation-building investments we simply can no longer afford in the US. I don't accept the premise of those who want to say that they are more aghast at human rights abuses than I am because they are willing to slaughter more civilians by remote control in the name of protesting those abuses than I am. I don't accept the premise that one takes the threat of chemical weapons more seriously by bombing and hence destabilizing even more a region where chemical weapons are stored that happens to be overrun by warring factions, many of them explicitly dedicated to the destruction of this country.