Against "Symbolic Killing" in Syria - and Everywhere Else.


In his must-read column about libertarian Republicans' response to intervention in Syria, Matt Welch notes William Kristol's blog post commending Weekly Standard readers to read University of Virginia professor James Ceaser's essay "To Authorize or Not to Authorize."

That piece appears in the conservative magazine First Things and argues, among other things, that conservatives and Republicans should approve action in Syria because

there is the important matter of the future – a future that may one day have a Republican in the presidency. The precedent of setting too low a threshold for blocking presidential initiative in foreign affairs is unwise.

Our guy may once again be in the White House and well, might want to bomb or invade some foreign land without the backing of the American people or its represenatives, so let it rip now, boys. Ceaser also channels Pontius Pilate and counsels Republicans that they "can sign on to the president's discretion to act without signing on to his actions." On such a grimly partisan calculation doth a supposedly humanitarian intervention hang. Being pro-war means never having to say you're sorry - or responsible.

As it happens, First Things' editor R.R. Reno has penned a counterpoint to Ceaser's analysis and it's one that, in my opinion, deserves to be read far more widely than Ceaser's.

Titled "Against Symbolic Killing," Reno argues

Claims that military action is necessary to deter future uses of chemical weapons are empty. This goal – and indeed any just outcome in Syria at this juncture – requires decisively defeating the Assad regime. Yet the Obama administration seems unwilling to say it's committed to achieving this goal. In fact, the administration seems unwilling to commit itself to any substantive, on-the-ground goal in Syria. Without a substantive goal, killing people there would be unjust, because purposeless. We would be killing them so that. . . . Try to complete that sentence. The best I can come up with is this: So that the world will know that the United States is serious about the fact that using chemical weapons is a bad thing.

Put simply: Just war-making requires clearly articulated and substantive goals. Launching cruise missiles or air strikes simply to "show resolve" or "send a message" cannot be justified. At the end of the day, these rationales authorize symbolic killing, which is fundamentally immoral.

Read the whole thing.

In defense of Obama, one unnamed U.S. official told the LA Times that the Nobel Peace Prize winner and his administration were using all of their smartness and cleverness to calculate a response that would be "just muscular enough not to be mocked" and " just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic."

This is where we're at, America, after a decade-plus of wars that were generally ill-conceived and definitely ill-prosecuted. Indeed, our long stay in Iraq - which would still be going full-steam if Obama's former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had gotten his wish - and our ongoing war in Afghanistan, and whatever the hell is happening in Libya is now being followed up by whimpers about how the only proper thing to do with a genocidal madman like Syria's Assad is to bomb him a little bit, but not too much. To prove a point that America will not abide the use of chemical weapons. Unless of course, you were Saddam Hussein and it was 1988, and using them helped what we considered our interests at the time.

NEXT: A.M. Links: Majority of Americans Oppose Syria Intervention, Ariel Castro Commits Suicide, Positive Pregnancy Tests on Sale at Craigslist

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  1. ...there is the important matter of the future ? a future that may one day have a Republican in the presidency.

    Be careful with that argument. A progressive my accidentally read it and realize it's the exact reason Democrats should set a high bar.

  2. This has definitely moved from tragedy to farce. I can't even take the debate seriously.

    1. In defense of Obama, one unnamed U.S. official told the LA Times that the Nobel Peace Prize winner and his administration were using all of their smartness and cleverness to calculate a response that would be "just muscular enough not to be mocked" and " just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic."

      Emphasis added. Farce, indeed.

      1. Yep, that's exactly how this is going to go, nothing could possibly go wrong, because these guys are soooo smart. I'm totally sold now. I wish someone could have explained it like that before so that I wouldn't have been so skeptical. Bombs away!

      2. "We're going for something between a stern scolding and a rolled up newspaper tap on the nose."

  3. I can't think of a more compelling reason to blow people in foreign lands to smithereens than helping our president look like a Big Man.

    1. i"just muscular enough not to be mocked"

      Indeed...Everything any of us needs to know about motivations is captured in these words. 'Just Say No the Use of Farce!'

      1. That's pretty good.

        Could be a new libertarian pledge.

  4. Launching cruise missiles or air strikes simply to "show resolve" or "send a message" cannot be justified.

    Or as Sarah Palin put it:

    "So we're bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria? And I'm the idiot?"

    You know, when Sarah Palin and Nancy Pelosi's five year old grandson start shredding your feeble arguments for war, it's time to call it a day.

    1. But Sarah Palin didn't go to Harvard. She doesn't have the credentials to be President. We couldn't let that idiot be VP. We had to put in people who had credentials and believed serious things like the Muslim Brotherhood are moderates and the Taliban can be reasoned with.

      1. Palin's big mistake was running with John McCain.

        1. Yes. And funny that people said that the danger of McCain winning was that he might die in office and make Palin President. Now, five years on and considering McCain's behavior since, the danger was he wouldn't have died in office.

    2. When bombing people, the type of bomb used is apparently the most important moral factor.

      1. Killing women and children is perfectly acceptable as long as it is done with explosives and bullets. I mean, that's how cops do it here at home, so what's wrong with foreigners doing it to their citizens?

        Now if you do it with chemicals... you've crossed a "red line."

        1. I think that the only way to settle this is for Obama to challenge Assad to a duel.

        2. Serious question: What would the reaction of "the World" (Obama) have been if Assad had used poison bullets?

          1. Poison? Like lead?

            1. "He has crossed a lead line!"

        3. I'm sure I can find a case where a perp died after getting maced or pepper sprayed. Cops are war criminals!

          1. Oh yeah. That's true. Seems like once a year someone chokes to death on their own snot after a cop sprays mace down their throat (and nothing else happens).

  5. Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood need air support! Quick! They're under fire!

    1. That does explain our Benghazi response.

    2. Those are secular moderates you speak of there, McCain and Snow Miser said so.

  6. If you want an outcome, then be willing to spend the blood and treasure to get it. There is no half way or easy intervention. You either do what we did in Iraq and Afghanistan and go in and rebuild a government you want or don't go in. The worst thing you can do is come in and bomb, destroy the government and then leave. That is what we did in Libya. And Libya is now a failed state hell overrun with militias and chaos. Funny how all of the same retards who spent the 00s calling George Bush a war monger and someone who loved to kill brown people because he was willing to do the right thing and try to rebuild the governments in Afghanistan and Iraq are now perfectly okay with Obama bombing Libya and now probably Syria into chaos and leaving the people there to their fate.

    Killing is okay for these people as long as there is no political cost to it and they can get it off the news after a few good photo ops. The results of that killing are pretty much irrelevant. If bombing Libra produced untold chaos and misery, well that is just too bad since Obama needed to do something and show the world how tough he was during the election and it is not like the people in Libya are worth dying for or anything. We can't have any US casualties.

  7. I have a news flash for these bomb for the good of humanity assholes. If a cause isn't worth dying for, it isn't worth killing for either. So anytime someone sells an intervention as not costing any American lives, they are just an asshole who wants to take other people's lives for their own political gain.

    1. Why do you hate American Soldiers?

      1. I love the idea of low casualties as much as anyone else. But if the operation is only worth doing on the contingency that you don't take any casualties, it is not worth doing.

        1. I agree with you.

          Note to self: Use less-subtle sarcasm.

          1. I got your sarcasm. I was just agreeing with you and noting that for those who didn't get it.

          2. No, ratchet the level up.

            I like seeing who is in the market for a new detector.

          3. Sarcasm and ridicule can easily be misunderstood in situations as absurd as the Obama/Kerry non-war on Syria.

    2. Any war is worth dying in, for our so called leaders. As long as it's not them or their own doing the dying, but some of the peasants and their children, then it's all good.

      1. Not true. Casualties cause political fall out. They don't give a shit about soldiers. But they do care about the political cost of losing them.

    3. If a cause isn't worth dying for, it isn't worth killing for either.

      What the fuck are you talking about?

      Seriously if a person broke into my house and was threatening me then my cause for killing that person was because killing him was worth more to me then dying for.

      They very premise of self defense is to kill so that you will not die.

      And that is always a cause that is worth it. and you are an idiot to think otherwise.

      1. Seriously if a person broke into my house and was threatening me then my cause for killing that person was because killing him was worth more to me then dying for.

        Except that in that case you are acting in self defense and the person left you no choice but to shoot him. At that point, you don't get to make the calculation since the choice is kill him or risk death yourself. Your example is about defending against invasion.

        That is not what we are doing here. We are talking about taking aggressive action. We are going into someone else's house to kill them for something. There, the calculation is totally different. If I see you harming your wife and go over with a gun to stop you, I better consider the harm you are doing to her worth risking my life to stop or I have no right to bring a gun and kill you. I shouldn't walk over to your house and shoot you because it is easy and I can. I better have a life and death reason.

        You are an idiot Corning. You post on here in smug ways without thinking about what you are saying or reading.

        1. I don't know about being smug.

          I was offended by your claim:

          "If a cause isn't worth dying for, it isn't worth killing for either."

          I think you are wrong on this regardless of the specific Syria context.

          We may just be arguing semantics but from my view you are putting the cart before the horse.

          There is also an example of capital punishment. I oppose capital punishment but only because i think the government can and is often is worth not killing murderers in order to prevent the mistake of killing an innocent.

          But hypothetically if we could have a perfect legal system i would have no problem with executions.

          Execution of capital offenders would also be killing without risk of dying.

          There is also the navy and air-force to think about. So we put in Army into war zones we are in just to be fair to the enemy if we are killing them with planes and ships? That just seems like a bad idea to me.

          Perhaps you mean "killing is not worth it unless we are at risk of dying."

          1. To take your example of execution. Suppose the person escapes from death row. Would you be willing to risk your life to capture them? Or if capturing them involved real danger would you say nah let them go or let someone else do it? If the person were convicted of jay walking or some victimless crime, you would say the latter. If the person were a real danger, you would, presuming you cared about protecting society from the danger, say yes, I will risk my life.

            If the answer is the former, then the person probably shouldn't have been on death row. That is my point. We sell these interventions on the premise they are easy. Well, if they are only worth doing if they are easy, they are not important enough to be killing people over.

  8. Can this guy get any more lame? It wasn't me!

    President Barack Obama said Wednesday the "red line" he previously spoke of regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria wasn't his own, but the world's. "I didn't set a red line. The world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98%" of the world's population "passed a treaty forbidding (chemical weapons) use, even when countries are engaged in war," Obama said in Sweden.

    1. "The world set a red line when governments representing 98%" of the world's population "passed a treaty"

      With all due respect, Sir, you may want to rethink this line of argumentation, since ~98% of the US population is against intervening in Syria.

    2. That speech, I didn't build that.

      This is a guy who has spent his whole life talking shit and conning stupid white liberals into thinking he was something he wasn't. Well, guess what, the rest of the world doesn't give shit that he is black and feels no obligation to ensure the first black President is successful. It must a real shock to him.

      1. Ok, then let's make a new amendment to the constitution that says any member of congress who votes for, or any president who signs onto an act of war and boots get on the ground, that each of them must either go themselves to the front lines, or send a younger member of their own family to the front lines.

        Let's see how many interventionists wars we have after that.

        1. Replied to wrong post, that was in reply to the post above...

        2. Some members of Congress had kids in Iraq. Most of the were Republicans. Your rule would put an end to the Democrats ever supporting any wars.

          I am not a believer in the idea that people who serve have some kind of special say in if we should go to war. So I would not apply your rule strictly. But that said, anyone who believes in the usefulness of military power, ought to serve in the military in some capacity when they are young enough to do so. It is a bit unseemly for people who were never willing to serve being so willing to send others to fight and die for whatever cause they think is noble.

          1. It's not as simple as serving in the military. They've got to accept you first. For example I from firsthand experience that they don't take people with a childhood history of asthma. Does that mean it would be unseemly for me to send others to fight? I didn't serve. I applied, but was turned away for something out of my control.

            1. A very good point. And goes really to the point that we don't want to have some kind of Heinlein society where serving in the military gives you special say about stuff. I hate that idea.

              1. You mean Starship Troopers where the only way to be a citizen is to serve in the military (and the military accepts everyone who applies)? I don't have much of a problem with that. I'm all for limiting who votes. Personally I don't think anyone who does not pay taxes should be allowed to vote. I'd also exclude anyone who earns their living from tax dollars.
                Those who rob Peter to pay Paul will always have the support of Paul. I say "Fuck you Paul. You can't vote. Only Peter can vote."

                1. I think you should have to pay taxes to vote. And I also think that if you work for the government you shouldn't be able to vote. I would give up my own franchise. Lets let the people who pay the bills and are not in a position to benefit personally, make the rules.

                  1. What about government contractors?

                    1. The problem is what is a "government contractor"? If you sell five percent of your sales to the government are you a contractor? It would be hard to figure that out. You would end up having to really get in people's business to figure out who was who. I don't think it would be worth it. Just ban public employees. That would do a lot of good and be easy to do.

                    2. What about retirees living off Social Security?

                    3. They pay taxes out of the SS and most of them have other income like savings and retirements that they pay taxes on. So, yes. If your end tax bill is greater than zero, you can vote.

                  2. And I also think that if you work for the government you shouldn't be able to vote.

                    Along those lines, in Startship Troopers, active military couldnt vote. It was only after you left service that you were able to vote.

                    Another way would be to make voting proportional to taxes paid. Want more votes, pay more in taxes.

                  3. I would also. It's worth noting that in ST veterans didn't get their franchise until after their service was over.

          2. I am not a believer in the idea that people who serve have some kind of special say in if we should go to war.

            No, Heinlein was right, as he was on so many things.

            A Congress filled with holders of the CIB would be a lot less eager to go to war then our current Congress.

            1. Not necessarily. Say what you want about McCain, but the guy both served and ended up suffering as much as any person ever has and still lived due to that service. That hasn't stopped him from supporting intervention.

              God love the CIB and everyone who has ever gotten on a plane to be shot at in anger. But that doesn't necessarily give you any special insight or wisdom. It can. But it doesn't have to. It affects people in lots of different ways.

            2. The voting citizens in ST were still willing to support wars. The bug war may not have been interventionist, but the earlier war with the skinnies was.

              1. The whole moral of ST was not that former soldiers were more virtuous or wiser somehow. It was just that they had demonstrated a basic level of civic virtue by putting themselves on the line - they couldn't vote for anything later that they hadn't lived through the possibility of doing themselves.

        3. I hate the argument that congressional children should be forced or otherwise expected to go to wars their parents support. They're their own people, not hostages or slaves.

          1. Maybe only slaves should be allowed to hold office.

            1. Maybe so, if the slavery is conditional and limited in scope. I have never thought of myself as anything other than a public servant, in the literal sense.

        4. I like the way the Spartans did it. They had 2 kings. Whenever they went to war, one stayed home and one served in the front rank of the phalanx.

          Might put things in perspective before going to war just for shits and grins. You also might get a better class of leader.

          1. The Spartans were real bastards both by our standards and (less so) by contemporary ones. But they had a lot to admire from afar.

      2. I had a Frenchman tell me, two years ago, Obama was considered right of center (though left of Bush). If Obama
        goes into Syria (figuratively, of course - he'd crap his pants if he ever came under fire like Hillary did) I wonder what Europe will think of him?

    3. This backpedaling is a good thing. Right now his ego is on the line. If he can convince himself that he has a way to save face that doesn't involve lobbing high explosives into another country then there's a good chance he will take that path.

  9. "you were Saddam Hussein and it was 1998"

    That happened in 1988. In 1998 we were symbolicly bombing Saddam to distract Americans from Presidential scandals.

    1. And gas was used a lot more than just on the Kurds. The Iranians turned the tide of the war by sending what amounted to human wave attacks against the Iraqis. The Iraqis were on the verge of losing until they broke out poison gas to blunt the Iranian human wave attacks. By 1988, the war was in a stalemate in one of the most idiotic phases of any war ever fought. Both sides completely gave up on maneuver or any tactic beyond frontal assault and digging in. They did things like buried tanks in the ground turning them into gun turrets. Saddam gassing the Kurds was only new in the sense that he was gassing civilians rather than the Iranian hoards.

  10. "My credibility is not on the line. The international community's credibility is on the line," Obama said at a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden. "And America and Congress's credibility is on the line."

    What a fucking moron. So, everybody's credibility is on the line except the one that opened their pie hole to begin with.

    1. He established his credibility a long time ago.

  11. Kerry must have whiplash, he started his career as a naval officer only to quickly realize he was on the wrong side, so he switched into "winter soldier" mode and launched his brilliant anti-war political brand.. Now he has reached the apex of said career and shamelessly hawks war for his feckless president.

    1. It only looks like spineless flipfloppery if you imagine the words coming out of Kerry's mouth to represent actual opinions held by him.

  12. The precedent of setting too low a threshold for blocking presidential initiative in foreign affairs is unwise.

    This is horrifying. Don't these morons realize the President is a man*? An American president is by definition and self-selection an all-too-fallible, egotistical, cunning, narcissistic, self aggrandizing despot. He should be hemmed in, hobbled and thwarted at every opportunity.

    These dumb motherfuckers have somehow or other decided the office of the presidency should be treated no differently than the fucking Papacy, as far as I can tell. Hint: the President is not the earthly representative of some higher power, or the embodiment of some ephemeral collective American Will. He is a venal, grasping, crook acting first and foremost in his own interest. He should be spat upon when he appears in public, and small children should flee in tears as if from a predatory beast.

    *Man, in this instance, is used in the sweeping, generic sense; nothing to do with Obama personally,or genetic sex.

    1. Politics ends at the waterline. That means that it is incumbent on the President to ensure he has public support for the shit he does. It doesn't not mean that the public is obligated to support everything dumb ass thing the President does.

    2. Treating a president as infallible is, of course, the first step to making him something other than a president.

      In Obama's case, I don't think it's anything associated with him or his personality but almost solely about identity politics. However, the precedent is being set for a future, more competent (and much more dangerous) demagogue.

      1. ^this^

        ...and history repeats itself...

  13. "We may not be directly imminently threatened by what's taking place in a Kosovo or a Syria or a Rawanda in the short-term but our long-term national security will be impacted in a profound way and our humanity's impacted in a profound way."

  14. It looks like the House may not approve this. Now it is one thing to not ask and do it. But asking, getting rejected, and then doing it anyway? If that is not an "illegal war" then no war can be illegal.

    And I would note that "conducting a secret war in Cambodia" was one of the planned article of impeachment for Nixon. The very same articles that a one Hillary Clinton had a hand in drafting in her role as an attorney to the Watergate Committee. So if Nixon was worthy of impeachment because he bombed Cambodia without asking Congress, his chocolate doppelganger is not if he bombs Syria after being told by Congress not to?

    1. You're talking principles here. Principles don't matter. All that matters is TEAM.

    2. Maximizing the absurdity: Obama asks, gets rejected, and does *not* do it. Enthralled masses demand repeal of Twenty-Second Amendment ....

      1. As usual, Obama has managed to put himself in a lose-lose situation. If Congress does it, he was forced to submit to their will and loses face. If they don't, he's publicly chastised. And if he uses force anyway after they say no, I think that might be enough to trigger some serious shit, maybe even an impeachment.

        1. If he bombs over Congress' rejection, I think all hell might break lose. This war would be very unpopular to start with. Public pressure would force Congress to do something about it. And I think some of the anti-war left is finally starting to get over their abused spouse syndrome.

          Nothing surprises me anymore. But, I don't see how he could bomb after being rejected by Congress and not suffer some dire consequences.

          1. And I think some of the anti-war left is finally starting to get over their abused spouse syndrome.

            Only some politicians and the media support this war.

            There is near zero public support for it. There were around 10k posts about this on HuffPo yesterday, and I couldn't find more than 1 or 2 posts that even remotely supports this.

            1. It is really funny. The one group of people who would be likely to support this and help the President out are national security Republicans. Normally, a President R or D gets a war resolution by appealing to and working with that group as a base and then picking off enough centrist Dems to get it through. But oh, President Light Worker has spent the last ten years calling them war mongers and slandering them at every opportunity. Amazingly, they are not coming out to help him here. They must all be racist or something.

              All of the lying Obama and his ilk did about Bush and Iraq is now coming home to roost.

          2. I think all hell might break lose.


            Obama will get one or two criticisms from the left wing media then after 6 months no one will ever talk about it again.

            If the media can hide Obama's roles in the Iraq war, the afgan war, Libya, Egypt, the endless economic depression then they can hide one little 400+ tomahawk missile strike.

            1. That is assuming that is all it is. And I suspect it won't be just that. This is a replay of the Gulf of Tonkin and Obama is playing Johnson. He thinks he can do a little bombing to show Assad he is serious. But that never works. What will happen is he will bomb and then Assad will ignore him and he will, just like Johnson, keep going back with more and more force until he is in a full scale war there.

              1. I am still thinking Obama is a little man who does not know what he is doing or why he is doing it.

                I believe he is being honest when says it will be symbolic attack that isn't symbolic and that it is a one time thing.

                I am open to the fact that I am wrong. I guess we will see.

                1. He probably thinks that. But that is only because he is too stupid and limited to see the obvious results of his actions. You watch, he will bomb and try to go home and end up bombing more.

        2. maybe even an impeachment

          You jest, right?

          1. Not if Congress says no and he attacks anyway. That's too much, even today, especially with a war that's pre-unpopular.

            Besides, that gives the GOP cover to basically destroy this administration, win or lose. Hard to get much done during an impeachment, and it'll be even harder for the media to whine that the impeachment isn't justified.

            Which is why he wouldn't do that. If he were determined to attack no matter what, he'd have been on somewhat safer ground doing it before going to Congress. As odd as that sounds.

            1. I don't think there is any chance that the house and senate do not pass this.

              There are enough war mongers in both chambers, and this will pass.

              1. To holdouts that don't want to pass this: "That's a nice committee seat you've got there. Be a shame if something happened to it."

                1. Boehner can only push that so far and still hold on to his job.

              2. Yes, that's the trillion dollar question. The other one is whether the widespread lack of support outside of DC would have any consequences. Probably not--nothing seems to stick anymore--but you never know.

            2. Boner support the attack.

              Hard to get an impeachment going when the opposition leadership support the very action that impeachment would be about.

              1. You can support the attack while still insisting the President go about it properly. Will the Speaker stand up for his branch if the occasion arises? Who knows.

              2. Hard to get an impeachment going when the opposition leadership support the very action that impeachment would be about.

                It isn't when the rank and file ignore the leadership, which is what they are about to do. And that leadership can be changed. If Obama ignores Congress and goes to war and Boehner defends him, Boehner won't be speaker very long.

        3. And if he uses force anyway after they say no, I think that might be enough to trigger some serious shit, maybe even an impeachment.

          The "harshly-worded letter" looms on the horizon.

    3. He should unquestionably be impeached if he attacks against Congressional orders. He won't be, of course.

    4. John, yes, both Hillary Clinton and William Weld were young staff attorneys on the Watergate Committee.

      How much input did Hillary and Bill Weld have in drafting the articles of impeachment or drafting memoranda regarding impeachment?

      I don't know the answer; I suspect that somebody has written about the topic, in detail.

      1. In fairness, she probably didn't draft it. But she certainly believed in the articles. I defy anyone to find one place in the last 40 years where Hillary ever said "you know some of those articles of impeachment against Nixon were just not fair or properly brought".

        1. You know damn well that no person could ever find such a statement because it just does not exist - even during the time her husband was being impeached.

          That tells you something about her, doesn't it?

          1. Her big contribution was a legal brief explaining why Nixon had no right to present a defense at the trial. No kidding. See Nixon's defense was going to be to point out how Johnson and Kennedy had done the very same things they were accusing him of and worse but not been impeached for it. So therefore the actions were not high crimes and misdemeanors. And the Dems certainly didn't want that. So they planned to deny him the right to defend himself. Funny how she didn't view it that way when her husband was being impeached.

            It really is a shame that Nixon didn't hang in there and make them have a trial. All of the skeletons would have come out of the closet. And that era would be remembered for the abuses of government rather than having it all being pinned on one guy.

  15. bah!!

    A republican president can get into any war he likes too as the Democrats will support him if only so they can withdraw that support 6 months later.

    There are people in the world who actually think Hilary and Kerry and most of the Democrat party did not support Bush's wars.

  16. It looks like the House may not approve this


    Sigh... one more time. The first black president CANNOT be impeached.

    Watch and see now, if you think that Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the IRS scandal, the NSA scandals were anything, wait until this guy is finished with his final 3 years, now that he is convinced beyond any reasonable doubt, that he can do absolutely anything, no matter how outrageous, and nothing else will happen.

    1. Like I've said before, you have to give these things time. Nixon, who was hated by most, took two years to bring down.


      National Review, and they certainly have a feel for what Republicans in the House are going to do as well anyone, describes the math for passage in the house as "exceedingly difficult".

      It may pass. But it is hardly a sure thing. And even if something does pass, it will almost certainly be very limited language that authorizes bombing for a defined period and no ground troops. What happens when Obama ignores that?

      1. Thanks for the link. Every source I've seen so far, it's not looking good, sounds like all the war boner GOP are jumping aboard quickly.

        1. But it sure is funny and somewhat sickening at the same time, to see Orange Man and War Piglosi all huggy and kissy. It's like Christie and Obama all over again.

          1. The R leadership are just love power and feel this obligation to support the President, any President no matter how vile, in everything he does overseas. The rest of the House caucus doesn't come from safe districts, isn't in the leadership and looks at things a bit differently. Boehner has less control over his caucus every day it seems.

  17. First Things is published by The Institute on Religion and Public Life, an interreligious, nonpartisan research and education institute whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society.

    Yep - religion. No matter how stupid your Leader is, no matter how corrupt, The Baby Geebuz says to Submit and Obey. The worse your Leader, the more you show the spirit of Submission and Obedience necessary to stay out of Hell. No fair pointing out how self-serving this teaching is on the part of Leadership.

    Republicans should support some version of the authorization of force resolution. They should do so even if they think that the President's policy will prove ineffective, do no good, waste money, or entail unforeseen risks; they should do so even if they think he has gotten the nation into this situation by blunders, fecklessness, arrogance, or naivet?; and they should so even if, and especially, if they have no confidence in his judgment.

    1. interreligious

      Baby Geebuz

      One of these things is not like the other....

      1. ...advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society...

        1. ???

          Interreligious implies multiple religions, so probably includes at least 1 (like Judaism) that doesnt worship Jesus.

          1. Interreligious implies multiple religions


  18. Maximizing the absurdity: Assad makes a public announcement that he will never again use chemical weapons and has the UN inspectors back to witness the destruction of his stockpile.

  19. I'm never going to understand the fetish for killing things overseas. Can anyone explain it to me?

    1. Killing at home still, fortunately, generates too many politically inexpedient pictures, unless you're killing Branch Davidians or something.

      1. The NSA is hard at work to get maybe half of us labeled as domestic terrorists, then the government can save some money by not having to send all that killing equipment half way around the world.

    2. "All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted."

      - Frank Herbert, Dune

      1. Perhaps candidates should be chosen by lottery.

        We could set it up like jury duty.

    3. Brown people in the US have easy access to lawyers.

      Brown people in a war torn third world counties don't.

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