Thursday, August 29, 2013

Are We Headed Into World War Three?

For the past few years, news of Syria and its civil war flitted in and out of the headlines.  Sometimes I read the news; sometimes I felt too depressed about the situation to read.  But this past month, the conflict went from an internal, civil war in one country to a potential global war, with Russia lining up on one side and the US lining up on the other.

As a fan of history, the situation reminds me of Europe before World War I.  We have groups of allies on separate sides of a conflict, each waiting for the other side to make a move.  Only now, the use of chemical weapons takes the role of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.  

Which makes me wonder - is this it?  Will we blindly ignore history and go in, guns blazing?  Russia already sent two warships to the Mediterranean Sea and Iran stated its intention to help out should the United States or the UN choose to retaliate against Syria with military force.

And I don't think we want the American military in Syria anyway.  Between 100,000 and 600,000 Iraqi civilians died when we invaded Iraq.  Almost 5,000 soldiers died in Iraqi, and over 3,000 soldiers died in Afghanistan - that means over 8,000 American soldier have died in that past 9 years.  This number doesn't include the wounded soldiers (over 50,000), the soldiers who snapped and committed suicide (hundreds every year), or the soldiers who now live with PTSD and will continue to live with it.  Forever.

Just this month, Army Staff Sergeant Bales got a life sentence for killing 16 Afghan civilians in March 2012.  I've heard people describe the man as a "cold-blooded killer", but his actions scream of a man who was pushed too much and snapped.  According to his testimony, Bales went out, killed people, ran out of ammunition, came back to the base, and told someone what he was doing.  Sane people try to hide what they are doing, if they know that they are doing something wrong.  Insane people don't feel the need to hide their actions.  In some states, that is the legal difference between sanity and insanity.

Bales represents a no-win situation - the people who died in that Afghan village deserve justice.  But Bales was not sane when he went on the massacre.  Yet he needs to be held accountable for his actions.  But who will hold accountable the federal government, who sent this man on four tours of duty in a combat zone?   Because I guarantee he would not have killed people if they didn't send him on the fourth tour of duty.

This brings me back to Syria.  How many lives are we willing to sacrifice, to condemn to death, to prove a political point?  How many lives are we willing to permanently handicap or destroy? Lives and deaths, mind you, of Americans, Syrians, Russians, Iranians, and any other country that gets involved.  

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