Virtue Signaling with Bombs

It would appear that we are moving toward getting involved with Syria. Images have emerged of a horrific chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians, including children. Multiple independent organizations are pointing the finger at Assad. And various Trump officials are making noise about attacking Syria in retaliation. So far, a number of politicians have indicated support for such an action, including Hillary Clinton and John McCain, even though it carries the danger of a conflict — by proxy or directly — with Russia.

I have long been wary of intervention in Syria. The reason is not because I am insensitive to the suffering of Syrian civilians or the house of horrors that is Assad. It’s because it’s not clear to me what the hell the goal would be. Sean Davis raised 14 questions that our leaders need to answer before they commit to military action — all good questions that no one has answered. The logic seems to be:

  1. What’s happening is awful.
  2. Let’s drop some bombs.

But what will that do? If we destroy his air force, does that simply drag the war out? If we remove Assad, do we just get more chaos for ISIS to move into? Is this virtue signaling with bombs?

I find myself agreeing with our friend Thrill:

My other thought is that one of the top five reasons I voted for Trump was that I thought he was less War Crazed of the two major candidates. You can argue with me all you like, but Clinton was creaming her pantsuit in anticipation of dragging us into more international conflicts. Trump convinced me that he wasn’t interested in any further needless military interventions and I’d prefer not to be proven wrong.

I’ve seen the images coming out of Syria. Yeah, it’s awful.

But it isn’t our war.

It isn’t our fault either. There’s nothing we stand to gain from it. It isn’t even within our ability to resolve. I’m not indifferent to human suffering, but I don’t support any war that doesn’t further the best interests of the United States. There’s no way I support Trump if he moves forward with military action against the Assad regime.

Something else to think about: why is Assad’s use of chemical weapons the red line here? Why is it so much more horrible than the bombs he’s been dropping on his people or years, bombs that have left many children dead or screaming in pain or maimed for life? Let’s say we eliminate all his chemical weapons — hey, remember when John Kerry said we’d gotten rid of them all? Will that ameliorate the suffering of Syria’s children? Will he not just drop more conventional bombs?

The more I turn this over, the more I think this is virtue signaling with bombs. Something horrible has happened and we want to show that we don’t like it. But that’s not enough for me. You’re going to need more than that for me to support committing blood and treasure to what looks like a massive dangerous quagmire.

Update: As I was writing this post, CNN announced that we have launched 50 tomahawk missiles against airfields in Syria. That was fast. And there was no approval from Congress.

Comments are closed.

  1. Hal_10000 *

     I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t have known this might happen.

    ABC reports that Russia was notified of the pending strike.  That’s a relief. Means someone in the Trump Admin is trying to avoid a war with Russia.

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  2. grady

    And there was no approval from Congress

    Bush was the last President to seek congressional approval for military action, even though we did not call that war either.  Can’t call it “kinetic military action”.  That title has been taken.  Who knows what Trump will call it.

    What was Assad’s play here?

    Good question.  Maybe in a few days the whole situation will make some sense.  Right now I just don’t understand.  Innocent people have been getting killed for a while.  Why does chemical weapons make it worse?  What other areas of the world is the US going to step into because someone is acting like an a$$*%^!?  What is the goal of the US?

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  3. CM

    Yes it’s a relief that Trump told Putin so that Putin could tell Asad so he could move equipment and evacuate before the $100m of missiles arrived, and so the same base could be used to launch strikes the next day. Genius. Voted in by geniuses, who actually thought giving Trump this sort of power was a good idea. I’m sorry that your country has become an international joke in such a short time.

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  4. richtaylor365

    Yeah, America sucks, which begs the question, how shitty must your life be that you spend all your free time on an American blog? If I thought you even remotely capable, some self reflection would be comedy gold.

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  5. Iconoclast

    I’m sorry that your country has become an international joke in such a short time.

    No you ain’t, you condescending prick.  Your bitch lost. get over it.

    Oops, my bad.  Obviously, getting over it is waaaay beyond your meager capabilities.

    We’re an “international joke” every damned time we have a GOP POTUS.   Every. Damned. Time.  Why should this be any different?

    And the only alternative was Hillary Utterly Corrupt Clinton, so spare me the “giving Trump this sort of power was a good idea” idiocy.  Giving that power to Utterly Corrupt would not have been any better, no matter how much your wet dreams tell you otherwise.

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  6. Iconoclast


    No, genius is when you draw a red line and then do absolutely nothing when your opponent crosses it.  That’s genius.


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  7. InsipiD

    ABC reports that Russia was notified of the pending strike.  That’s a relief. Means someone in the Trump Admin is trying to avoid a war with Russia.

    Wait, so are we talking about Trump being in cahoots with Russia, or provoking Russia?  I’m never sure.  Did he tell them about it when he does his weekly call asking for permission to be President?

    I’m sorry that your country has become an international joke in such a short time.

    International joke?  Here’s the joke: nobody even checks with you when anything is going on.  Like it or not, the world still looks to us as a policeman.  Like P.J. O’Rourke said, we’re a big, dumb, flatfoot Mick cop, and we make clueless mistakes sometimes.  It comes with the territory.  When you’re in this league, you don’t have the luxury of every decision having only “interesting” consequences like the sources of such ignorance here do.


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  8. CM

    As Thrill said elsewhere… the missile strike “benefits nobody but ISIS and AQ. It’s now harder for coalition aircraft to get in to bomb them or for Syrian aircraft to either. But hey, totally worth it to show what a pansy Obama was”.

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  9. Iconoclast


    Like I said before, we are always an “international joke” when we have a Republican President, especially among your kind.  Thing is, your kind have hit something of an all time low in terms of relevancy as of late.

    It’s funny, but I recall you criticizing us for “giving a pass’ to people who do bad things just because they are perceived to be on “our side”. Well, according to you, Assad in on “our side” against ISIS.  If we had done nothing against his use of chemical weapons against his own people, you would have been in a position to make the same accusation — we’re hypocrites for fighting ISIS while “giving a pass” to our “own side” when they use chemical weapons against women and children.

    Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.


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