Syrians Are Still Dying

A year ago, prudent voices in this country, the US, were warning us of the sure high cost in American lives of any military intervention in Libya on the side of humanity and common decency. They even urged us to spare our “sons and daughters.” Today, the same voices, on the Left and in conventional libertarian circles, are issuing the same solemn warnings as the horrors increase in Syria while the civilized world stands obscenely aside.

Well, it’s not too early to compute the cost in American lives of last year’s successful intervention in Libya. Here is an easy way to remember it: As many Americans died over Libya as Japanese died from radiation exposure in and around Fukushima.

3/26/12  Someone pointed out to me recently that many people imgine that thousands died of radiation in and around the Fukushima nuclear plant. So, let me be obvious: No one, not a single person died because of radiation emitted by the Fukushima nuclear plant accident. And the number of American military who perished  in the intervention in Libya is also zero.

PS   I now know I have readers in the Middle East. I wish we would hear from them. Of course, I don’t know if it’s safe for them to comment on this blog. I don’t expect them to go to jail or worse just so they can express an opinion on my blog.

Addendum, March 26 2012. The massacre continues. If Assad prevails there will be no forgiveness. If anyone knows of a way to send money to the opposition, give it. I will publish it here. Yes, I know that the recipient might be Islamists who dream of blowing me up. It’s worth it anyway

About jacquesdelacroix

I am a sociologist, a short-story writer, and a blogger (Facts Matter and Notes On Liberty) in Santa Cruz, California.
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30 Responses to Syrians Are Still Dying

  1. “Humanity.” “Decency.” “Horrors.” “Civilized world.”

    I have heard these catchphrases enough. Imperialism is the bane of commercial republics. Fools and charlatans will always be willing to sacrifice other peoples money and sons, and always for benevolent and sophisticated reasons (like “democracy”).

    Aside from the demagogic keywords, this litle soap box is missing something. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps my memory needs jogging…

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Brandon: Attacking strawmen again! I did not say anything about “democracy.” I mentioned common decency. Is it more or less the same as “imperialism” ? Do you mean that humanity does not exist outside of an “imperialistic” project? If I put to flight a man who was assaulting an old lady, it must be because I am trying to dominate the old lady in some way? What exactly are you saying?

      • “Common decency” would require bombing a regime that is responsible for protecting the lives of all the minorities in Syria. Your idea of “common decency” would be to murder the very people who protect innocent people from being slaughtered by a majority.

        You just mentioned democracy in one of your recent posts (you’ll have to excuse me if I lump all of your weekly nonsense into one concise knockout blow; with all the tests and readings and girls that i have to attend to lately, I don’t have the time to give you the same thorough beatings that you are used to!). In it, you castigated libertarians for harboring skepticism about this system of governance. You’ll have to excuse us if we point out that Hitler and Mussolini were both elected to office. You’ll have to excuse us if we also point out that democracy has become a rallying cry for war, for the redistribution of wealth, and for the erosion of our civil liberties.

        This same democracy is also the one that will lead, if we slaughter one faction in Syria for the benefit of other factions, to the bloody persecutions of all the religious minorities in Syria. It is telling that you and other hawks are willing to line up on the side of Hamas (and hence Iran). This, you are doing, despite once writing this:

        The sad truth is that today, the world, including us, seems to have a choice between murderous violent jihadists and modernizing fascist regimes in Muslim countries. That’s a subject worth discussing. Libertarians don’t. Myself, I chose the fascists because they are not as willing to die to kill us. Also fascist systems sometimes become more representative.

        Now you would throw this perfectly good observation out the window in favor of supporting Hamas and Tehran at the expense of Syria’s religious minorities?

        By the way, both Libya and Iraq are still bloody messes. I don’t know where you get your numbers from, but I’d like to see some proof, because from what I’ve read, Libya is one of the best places to go in the world if you want to be kidnapped and tortured. Al-Maliki’s dictatorship speaks for itself, of course.

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        Brandon: Again, you are not serious. I did not advocate bombing the Syrian “regime.” I am not sure anyone more important than I did. According to your argument, if Hitler had taken the trouble to protect some “minority” his tanks should have been morally immune from air attack (maybe the Sorbs mentioned by Gunther Grass).

        And I make a note that you prefer the fascists. This sounds familiar. It’s the choice my generation of “progressives” made in the sixties and seventies. It gave us the Bath party in both Iraq and Syria and their mass graves; it gave us the lamented Mohammar; it gave us the endless tyranny in Cuba; it gave us a dozen obscene tyrannies in black Africa that took the trouble to call themselves: “People this….” and “people that….” It gave us a high degree of toleration of Soviet communism even as it was tottering. It gave us the era that seems to be coming to an end right now. This is all absurd. We need to have some values in common to be able to argue with each other.

  2. Terry Amburgey says:

    @Brandon. This is largely unresponsive to your comment but something you said strikes a nerve with me, willingness to sacrifice other peoples money and sons. Chicken Hawks infuriate me. I used to think that I wanted a constitutional amendment requiring that only people that had performed public service (military service or some other form of service for pascifists) could hold public office. Now I want that amendment to extend to the franchise. Libertarians and other conservatives blather on about rights but never about responsibilities. I still don’t care much for Senator McCain but he served his country and as commander-in-chief he wouldn’t order someone else to do anything he wasn’t willing to do. I like President Obama but the closest he’s ever come to public service was being a community organizer. He can send someone into harms way but wasn’t willing to do it himself.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Terry: Isn’t this an indirect argument in favor of a military draft? The republic must be paralyzed because there aren’t enough people with the experience to order what’s needed? Isn’t this a fortiori an argument in favor of a military draft for women lest your conditions bar them from any offices where they might have to order others into combat?

      For the record: I did almost two years in the navy of an allied country. Not my fault that I did not have the chance to fire a shot in anger. I tried. Ten years ago, I would have volunteered if there had been the smallest chance of being accepted in spite of my age. I inquired. No chance, not even to serve meals at a military mess in the Middle-East.

      The slogan about sending “other people’s sons” to die is historically stupid as well as dishonest. No one has had to do that since the end of the Vietnam war.

      • Serving in the French Navy shoulda taught you a lesson in how imperialism works: it destroys a nation from the inside and weakens them from outside harm.

        The French navy?! Haha!

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        I wish you had been there to explain! More silliness.

      • Terry Amburgey says:

        No, this is a direct argument in favor of a draft. It doesn’t have to be the military; if people want to spend time on civilian infrastructure or medical care or something else that’s fine. Yes women should also be required to perform public service; women in combat is fine with me. If you want to vote or hold office pay your dues. If you want to be a libertarian leech on society you can, you just can’t have any say in what the rest of us do or how we do it.

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        Dr Amb, :So, you are in favor of a draft with civilian and military variants. You are for temporary state slavery, right?

    • Terry:

      Libertarians and conservatives often blather on about rights because the “responsibilities” that liberals want to ensure that every man has are often in violation of rights.

  3. Terry:

    Not quiiiite.

    What we deny is letting liberals define responsibilities for us. This is, of course, because such practices have, in the past, led to episodes of mass starvation, mass murder, and mass theft of property.

    • Oh Terry! I spoke to soon! I just read this sparkling passage of yours:

      No, this is a direct argument in favor of a draft. It doesn’t have to be the military; if people want to spend time on civilian infrastructure or medical care or something else that’s fine. Yes women should also be required to perform public service; women in combat is fine with me. If you want to vote or hold office pay your dues. If you want to be a libertarian leech on society you can, you just can’t have any say in what the rest of us do or how we do it.

      So, uh, what exactly is the ultimate end of your great plan for society? Or are you just advocating something so short-sighted and trendy because you want us libertarians to feel better about ourselves?

      • Terry Amburgey says:

        My ultimate end is a society where only those willing to make some sacrifice for society are allowed to participate in it’s governance. I don’t need to enhance the self esteem of libertarians they seem to do that quite handily on their own.

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        Dr Amb. Why don’t you write an essay on this and have me post it here? I would be honored, (especially if you could master the third person singular possessive).

      • Terry:

        I don’t need to enhance the self esteem of libertarians they seem to do that quite handily on their own.

        Well naturally!

        My ultimate end is a society where only those willing to make some sacrifice for society are allowed to participate in it’s governance.

        Cool, but I am still a little leery. Would everybody have to fund the sacrifices of others, or is funding also optional?

  4. Dr. J,

    You are trying my near-unlimited patience. Here is why. You just said:

    Brandon: Again, you are not serious. I did not advocate bombing the Syrian “regime.” I am not sure anyone more important than I did

    .

    Really? You have never advocated bombing the Syrian regime? Because it seems to me you wrote, on February 27th of this year, the following:

    If we blew up twenty of Assad’s tanks from the air, we would change the balance of power against the dying fascist regime of the Baath part. (Saddam Hussein’s own old party.)

    That sounds like advocacy for bombing the Syrian regime. Maybe I’m just a partisan ass, though. Your argument just keeps getting better:

    According to your argument, if Hitler had taken the trouble to protect some “minority” his tanks should have been morally immune from air attack (maybe the Sorbs mentioned by Gunther Grass).

    I assume you meant Serbs not Sorbs. I can never be sure, though. Silly Europe and all of its pseudo minorities!

    Adolf Hitler did not take measures to protect minorities (unlike Assad). He also waged war on most of Europe and used all of the German state’s industrial might to do it (again, also unlike Assad). You, like the Leftists at my school, are very keen to bring up Hitler into any argument, but like those same Leftists, your arguments are often revealed to be fanciful, naive, and hypocritical.

    And I make a note that you prefer the fascists. This sounds familiar

    .

    If this sounds familiar it’s because YOU made the argument, not me. Jesus Christ! When somebody quotes you directly, it is best to not pretend like you didn’t actually write the words you wrote. Have some self-respect Doc!

    All of the tyrannies you list didn’t come from the the colonial apparatuses of Europe and the United States (including the educational establishments that taught the brand of socialism that was eventually adopted by most of the post-colonial world)?

    It is free trade, republican government, and individual liberty that have caused all of the horrors in the world today?

    I am arguing with somebody who tries to put his own words into somebody else’s mouth when it sounds bad. Such is the case when one stops to listen to the gospel-fueled idiot on his street corner soapbox…

  5. Terry Amburgey says:

    @ Jacques Yes I am in favor of a draft with civilian and military variants. Framing is important [which is why we have pro-life instead of anti-abortion]. I prefer the term public service. It’s not mandatory for everyone, just those that want the right to vote or hold public office. No penalty for burning your draft letter, but without your discharge documents no governance rights.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Dr Amb. Got it: You want to improve democracy by inserting a caste system into it.

      • Terry Amburgey says:

        I want to add an additional constraint to the existing caste system. As it stands my 17 year old daughter cannot vote, my sons who are older can. Permanent residents such as myself have to pay taxes but cannot vote in Canada because we’re not citizens. I assume the same is true in the US.
        Depending on where you live, being a convicted felons can cost to the right to vote permanently or for some period of time.

  6. jacquesdelacroix says:

    As I said, Brandon, I did not advocate bombing the Syrian “regime.” (I wouldn’t mind if someone did though.) I was thinking of a low-cost, low-risk operation to keep people like you in the US quiet. I wouldn’t do it in the name of democracy; I would do it in the name of common decency. Then, I would be happy to take my chances with the successor regime that may well include Islamists or be dominated by them.

    You are always reasoning form pismire to parliament.

    Dr Amb: I am happy with the old formulation: I am happy with the old formulation. I have rights because I am a human being. I don’t need to deserve them at all. Responsibilities are irrelevant to the issue of my possessing rights.

  7. Bruce says:

    Very interesting debate as always. I hope everyone takes the time to reflect from time to time on just how blessed we all are to be free. I see nothing wrong with imagining it would be good for everyone in the world to enjoy it.
    Just as an aside, during my career in the U.S. Navy I had the opportunity to participate in joint operations with the French Navy. I had the pleasure of spending some time on one of their ships underway. It was great. Very proud bunch of professionals.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Bruce: Plus, the French Navy serves wine with every meal!

      Thanks.

    • Q: why does the French Navy have glass-bottom boats?
      A: so that it can see the rest of its fleet!!!

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        That was an old third grade joke when I was young!

        Here is the bottom line: The little bayonet training in got in the French Navy boot camp was a lot more than nothing. It gives me the assurance I can always win arguments in the long run, against pacifists, for example!

  8. Terry Amburgey says:

    “Dr Amb. Why don’t you write an essay on this and have me post it here? I would be honored, (especially if you could master the third person singular possessive).”
    Doing so only provides the pleasure of arguing with you and your readers. I can do that now🙂 On the other hand spending time on writing another journal article on an obscure topic that captures the interest of very few people actually produces a miniscule increase in my compensation. Sure, it’s only a couple of extra cups of coffee per week but I like coffee.
    BTW, the third person singular possessive is just one of a myriad of problems I have writing.

  9. David says:

    Perhaps we ought to bomb the tanks for humanitarian reasons, as opposed to common decency, since common decency doesn’t seem to be very common. (Just like common sense.) Level the playing field so to speak. (Pun intended.) Give the people who are being massacred a fighting chance. And if the Syrian tanks keep getting vaporized, maybe the army will lose the backbone to continue the extermination.

    @Brandon, bombing the tanks isn’t the same as bombing the regime. One can make it clear that the point is to save lives, not necessarily topple the regime. People like Assad need reminders about their limits. Kind of like the school yard bully who gets picked up by the neck by a pissed off father. Make em wet their pants and maybe they’ll straighten up. Bullies don’t usually respond to detention (similar to economic sanctions) but they have been known to respond to getting the crap beaten/scared out of them (similar to getting your tanks blown up).. Systematic extermination isn’t morally permissible at all. If one thinks that it is ok to do it or to permit it to happen…that’s just despicable.

    Also an aside to Brandon, why on Earth would you want to deal with more than one woman at a time? One at a time is more than enough. Additionally, if you have to brag and posture about delivering beatings to a person, it probably didn’t happen. It’s often a sign of insecurity and a sense of inferiority. It isn’t befitting a rational discusssion. If you have to inflate your own sense of ego before making a point; the point is often weak, wrong or useless. Just saying that your points are often diminished; in my opinion, because of your continued posturing.

    • David:

      Just two things:

      bombing the tanks isn’t the same as bombing the regime. One can make it clear that the point is to save lives, not necessarily topple the regime.

      This sounds good but it would never be plausible in real life. Just ask the Kurds. Or the Serbs. Or the…

      why on Earth would you want to deal with more than one woman at a time?

      I don’t deal with women, I deal with college girls!

      As for my “insecurity”, I would only add that my witty sarcasm is added to the mix to keep conversation casual. Nobody likes to be lectured, after alllll…

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