I used to have a best friend, recently in his eighties. I’m not allowed to talk to him any longer because I voted for Trump. That’s the law from his wife. Anyway, just before I was cut off, I asked this great man if he could summarize all the wisdom of his life in one sentence. He looked at me with a smile and said, “Peace is good.”
With that, a few words about Mr. Trump’s getting us into the war in Syria in a big way:
First of all, the happiest people on the planet right now must be the leaders of Islamic State. Just as they were being squeezed east and west by Syria and Russia on one end and Iraq and the U.S. on the other, we land a haymaker on the Syrians and basically take their air force out of the picture.
Now, obviously, Bashar Assad is very bad guy and deserves punishment. But isn’t there a way to punish him that doesn’t directly benefit the worst terrorists on earth, Islamic State?
Closely related, we have no idea of who the people fighting in Syria are. It’s not like we were sending aid to Winston Churchill’s Britain against Hitler. Some of the people fighting against Assad are Hitler. Some aren’t, but how can Mr. Trump tell from Mar-A-Lago who we are helping and who are maybe even worse than Assad?
Third, yes, it is horrible that civilians were killed in a gas attack by Assad. Just terrible. But how is it different from them being killed by high explosives or bullets? Why is there such a huge difference?
Fourth, when, in the whole history of warfare, was any nation at war stopped by aerial bombing, with the exception of nuclear bombing of Japan? Germany and the UK absorbed immense bombing and it only made them angry enough to keep fighting. Millions of pounds of explosives were dropped on both countries. They weren’t even slowed down for years. Why will a one-day attack be different this time?
Fifth, getting into a war is easy. I saw our involvement in Vietnam begin almost exactly this way more than fifty years ago. We thought a few bombs and the enemy would run away. It doesn’t work that way at all. Getting in is madly easy. Getting out is madness.
Sixth, roughly eighty innocent people were killed in Syria’s sarin attack. Very sad. But roughly that many get killed in gang warfare every month or less in Chicago. I don’t see the Army seizing guns from gang members there. Three times that many are killed every single day in America in abortion mills. I don’t see us using cruise missiles against Planned Parenthood. Syria is a quagmire. I hate to say it, but Mr. Obama had it right for us to stay out. Bombing will only suck us into an endless swamp.
If we want to bomb someone, let’s try North Korea, which poses an existential threat to the USA and the whole world. Maybe that was the hidden message of the bombing of Syria: North Korea, you’re next. But Mr. Trump, if you’re so tough, we don’t need hidden messages. Let’s just go for the one that makes all of the difference: North Korea, where our life is at stake. Syria is a terrifying swamp of trouble. Let’s stay out. My ex-pal was right: “Peace is good.”