He May Be Bad, But Is He Mad?

The title (referring to Assad) is the question George Galloway MP asked in the House of Commons when he shredded Prime Minister David Cameron.  In a first for a modern Prime Minister on an issue of military intervention, Cameron lost the vote, and therefore the British will not be participating in any military action against Syria.  It leaves the U.S. without its staunchest ally and almost alone because Germany has already decided to forego the military option.

Mr. Obama has decided to buttress his decision with Congressional authorization — presumably to share in the blame if things go wrong, which is not an unlikely event given recent precedents:  Iraq and Libya are in chaos.  Libya has no effective government and gave us Mali.  Iran has the most influence with the Iraqi government…

The other day, Sarah Palin tweeted, “Syrians are bombing Syrians and we are going to help them.  And they call me stupid.”  She has a point.  There was a gas attack in March on Khan al-Assal.  Following investigations, the Swiss prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who was a member of the UN Independent Commission of Enquiry on Syria, pointed to “strong, concrete suspicions” of rebel culpability, nothing indicating government involvement.  Thus, even if the present incident shows the government is to blame — and logic defies this — which side should be bombed if both are guilty?  Who would have thought Sarah Palin would be scoring points off Obama … and with humor.

To believe the “undeniable evidence” which the British MP’s kicked aside, one has to believe a series of improbabilities.  Why would Assad invite UN inspectors and then use a chemical weapon 10 km from their hotel?  Why would he use a weapon that gains him little militarily yet brings the opprobrium of the whole world?  In Galloway’s words, “He may be bad but is he mad?”

Who gains from this bombing?  Certainly not Assad who faces the risk of having his air force destroyed.

Do we really want to be on the same side as the senior commander who slit open a soldier’s chest and ate his heart?  Then, so proud of his ‘bravery’, he video taped himself and posted the footage on YouTube.  Others of his ilk have sawed off the heads of Christians including a Bishop using a serrated bread knife.  Presumably a sharp straight edge would be too quick.  Small wonder the minorities almost universally favor the Assad regime.

Why would Assad offer to have the UN inspectors investigate this latest incident immediately, and why did the U.S. so swiftly dismiss his offer?  When after a few days the inspectors did go to the site, why would Assad have snipers fire on them so their eventual visit was delayed further?  “He may be bad but is he mad?”  Logic catches up with a compass needle pointing so strongly in the opposite direction.

‘Remember the Maine’ before the Spanish-American War; the Lusitania carrying weapons despite Germany’s warning before WW I; The ‘Gulf of Tonkin’ before the Vietnam war; undeniable evidence of WMDs in Iraq; and now Syria … about to join an unrepentant tarnished history of varnished mendacity leading to the loss of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives and horrendous, unnecessary human suffering.

Truth would be refreshing, but it now comes at a huge cost.  Ask some recent purveyors.

Arshad M. Khan is a retired professor. He can be reached at: backfire@ofthisandthat.org. Read other articles by Arshad M..