No flame FB war and the lens of history pointed at Syria
It finally happened; they finally did it … somebody on Facebook asked a thought provoking question about a current event – what should be done in Syria or not be done by the United States – and the result was about 50 posts back and forth between about 20 people stating intelligent opinions on the mire that is Syria.
The original poster Molly McWilliams Wikins ( http://makeitworkmolly.com/ ), a writer and student of history, asked her friends a question that always pops up during these tense times like the current hullaballo in Syria: “So, I get the reluctance to act in Syria- I do. And I’m torn. I have to ask, as a student of history and a journalist, what would have happened had we intervened in Europe sooner than 1941? What if we hadn’t at all? I know the threat to the USA is not the same. But the threat to basic human rights seems similar.”
I have come to the age where the what if and the should have and the could have retro look at history annoys me, but her question was to the point – and some of the replies bellow it were interests- and it started my own brain wheels turning about it. I responded:
“I just have my doubts as to where the chemical weapons actually came from and who used them.
But on World War II … We really could not have intervened in Europe before 1941, although we had pretty much put US resources at the disposal of the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. Our military was just not up to the task. We really just got slaughtered the first 18 months of the war in North Africa and across the Pacific. Along with this, President Franklin Roosevelt did not enjoy the place in history he has now in 1941. Half the nation hated him and most of Congress was out to hang a socialist label on his policies. Pearl Harbor WAS the unifying event.
As for human rights, we did not intervene when Pol Pot was slaughtering millions across Cambodia in the late 70s – pretty much because Americans were tired of South East Asian conflict. We did not intervene for at least a decade, and not directly at all, when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on his own people, either. It took an invasion of Kuwait and ANOTHER decade to dislodge Saddam. The list goes on.“
That got a few likes, a couple of “here heres” and people discussed a few more points about Syria. There was a small spat between a woman who has a son in the Army, and a man who does not think his opinions should be bound up in the ideals of others patriotism. There was even a half hearted apology between the two of them, within the thread, and the discussion kept moving on.
You rarely see this kind of civility online. I have watched much simpler discussions, tax policy, social spending on hungry people, Katy Perry degenerate into knife wars and simian-like locker room fights over the years across other sites.
A combat flight simulator argument, in 1992, on Prodigy of all places ,started a gang war during a Las Vegas flight simulator convention a year later that I was part of. It may have helped to kick of the second Bosnia bombing campaign, too, but that is just conjecture on my part.
I posted another thought or two on how I think the dilly dallying of late on whatever we do to Syria will not achieve a thing:
“It is mostly academic now. Assad, or whomever is controlling Assad’s military, has moved whatever assets they have somewhere that it will be increasingly hard for us to strike. Even though the US, and our allies, can watch almost anything, anywhere (in the visual and other spectrums) and know when and where they are moved. Right now, the most important weapons Assad has are either over the desert in Jordan – a nation we will not attack – or carefully deployed near heavily populated areas OR near facilities that are deemed untouchable because they are owned by powerful people who do not want to pay $100 million to rebuild.
The Russians have placed missile frigates and heavily armed destroyers up and down the small sea area or battlespace where the US Navy can place its missile frigates, boats, aircraft carriers and submarines. Any aircraft fly near or over Russian ships and their positions are relayed to Syria’s very capable air defense system. So, human piloted aircraft are at extreme risk.
Cruise missiles are very accurate but have large warheads. These are used to take out large facilities and can kill civilians in urban areas.
Our drones can be used, but they have to have proper targeting information, and the Army has to have forward operating bases to use them – they could be in place in Southern Turkey and there may be UK and US special forces in Syria to do the targeting work (may … they are there). The Air Force uses UAVs but no where near the numbers the Army does.
There are US Army UAV munitions – ViperStrike – that are so accurate and pack such a punch that they can puncture floors of a building destroy what is in the basement and not crack windows on parked cars on the street. Again, there has to be bases to fly these from, and that depends on how much Cyprus or Turkey want to get involved.
The fear I have is our ships and our Russian “friends” ships being so close in such tight space off the coast of Syria. The Med is a big place, but turning and flying and being shot at makes it very small for pilots and aircrews. The US and Russia do not need their war boats so close in such a heated environment.
I saw a map of theUS/UK/French and Russian deployed naval forces from a UK news site, and the scale is not accurate in the least – the Mediterranean is huge – and it gave me pause and a sick feeling I have not felt since 1991, and the fall of the Soviet Union.“
A couple of other people post a few comments and then I see that a person has asked me to answer the original question. He complimented me on the post above, but I don’t think he had scrolled up and saw the first response, which was “The US could not have intervened in Europe, because it was not able to.”
Now, I could have just shot something back at this gentleman and said something like “start at the beginning” or “scroll up” and insulted him. I see this all the time on other sites and FB posts from say CBS News or The Atlantic Monthly or even People Magazine (not really I don’t look at People … most of the time).
However, I thought this gives me a chance to think a little more and write about some other things. I did:
“We did not intervene early in the formation of the Nazi party or the build up of fascist forces around the globe because we could not. We did not retaliate against the invasion of Poland, or the surge of Japan, because we could not. Our military was not capable and the US people were indifferent.
Germany was mostly united. Syria is not. Even before Poland and France, Nazi Germany had central and consolidated strength in central and eastern parts of Europe and had sidelined Stalin’s USSR.
The United States had no “allies” to speak of in the late 1930s. The partnerships we had with the UK and the USSR were under the table, highly secret sorts of alliances that Franklin Roosevelt, and other like minded leaders and businessmen, forged in the darkness out of fear of public backlash. Those secrets stayed hidden for decades after the war ended, too. All the help we gave England and the Soviets was unofficial, and even the Lend-Lease Act to send some old ships to them was a whopper of a hard deal.
Remember, Americans who volunteered to help England had to do so by going to Canada. They became Canadian citizens, with dual citizenship, just to volunteer to fight for the UK.
I realize people like to look at things in the lens of what if, but I think if the United States had somehow assassinated Hitler say in 1935, then his pack of insane dogs – Himmler, Goebbels and Goering, probably would have made things worse. They may have embraced Wernher von Braun and his rocket team earlier and mated it with a German atomic bomb. Anything may have happened.
The fact is that this nation was less of one mind and one whole in the late 1930s than it is now. People rarely looked at things from a global perspective. There was no United Nations then, just the ineffective League of Nations that had less of a goal than our current day UN.
As to Syria, the correlation I see with Assad that is the closest to World War II is probably December 1944 or January 1945. He will fling a bulge of forces, expend himself and then hole up in Damascus awaiting Hezbollah and al Qaeda, or whomever is behind the warring rebel factions, to march in and kill him, much like Hitler in his bunker lying to himself that the Russians would never make it to Berlin.
There is more of a comparison between T.E. Lawrence entering Damascus in October 1918, and the subsequent internal Arab tribal spats with Syria today than there is with Hitler and Germany.
It is a very thought provoking question, and I love to read this entire thread of Molly McWilliams Wilkins, but to me, there is no “what if” possible. The United States could not have intervened militarily in 1939, nor did it have the resolve, or even the infrastructure (remember the Office of Strategic Forces and all its commando assassins was a World War II creation) to assassinate Hitler. We were so poor in this area, that we begged for information from American businessmen abroad and got most of our State Department information from The New York Times.
So my answer is this: America could not have “taken out” Hitler, if its leaders were a mind to. As to Syria, the weight of time will get Assad, and soon. He is no Hitler.”
All of the above is to say this – if almost 20 people from divergent backgrounds, beliefs and the like can discuss things without yelling “my daddy can beat up your daddy,” then there is hope for Syria.
Or maybe there is hope for Americans on Facebook.