acta non verba
‘Actions not Words’
Here are a few words which I would like to review from “General Patton”.
You are here today for three reasons. First, because you are here to defend your homes and your loved ones. Second, you are here for your own self-respect, third, because you would not want to be anywhere else.
We shouldn’t want to fight but when there are no other options available to us, then the option must be chosen with absolute ferocity. No half measures win wars. Our history as a nation should point that fact out with absolute clarity. Personally, my experience and perhaps wisdom over the accumulated years has taught me, walking away from a fight doesn’t lose respect for myself. If others lose respect for me, that is their problem. Sometimes it takes more for a brave and resourceful man or woman to remove or reduce false pride and negotiate where possible. The alternatives can be terrible for all parties involved.
I want to apply those life lessons to the recent events and the speech Barack Obama gave last night with regard to Syria. There has been a large volume of criticism levied at him during the events leading up to and including last night. To be fair, he was put in a position by world events which no one could envy. Let’s back up to some of the events and speech which give us pivotal moments to examine. Syria has been involved in a civil war. There have been chemical weapons used to kill civilian population within Syria. Critical evidence regarding the specifics of who used those weapons and why the decision to use them, hasn’t been answered.
Up to this point, President Obama has displayed the type of leadership which suggest his priorities are on domestic social programs including the Health Care Reform Act. He set forth and carried out an agenda to withdraw the military from Iraq and is working through that process in Afghanistan. There may still be some opposition to that but I believe history will show these were correct decisions.
President Obama has made a few stumbling statements along the way and therefore opens himself up to more criticism, both here and abroad. When he first said, “We have been very clear to the Assad regime but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is; we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus; that would change my equation.”
A year afterward he said, The world and the U.S. Congress were the ones who drew a red line in the sand. This began to sound more like the candidate President many Americans have learned to love or hate domestically. In the U.S. Obama has been able to act as though he were Muhammad Ali, rope-a-doping the Republicans who tried to work with or oppose him. Now however, he was on the world stage and the world media doesn’t guard his mis-steps or ambiguous speech designed to keep himself from being the one responsible for any mishaps in leadership.
He began his first term, first by blaming George Bush for the mess of the economy and then going to other nations with hat in hand acting as though he now was an attorney representing his client, suggesting the failures of the previous leaders in the U.S. to participate fairly in some sort of poorly defined way with the rest of the world, was finished. He was there before them to verbally make amends and suggest, ‘there’s a new sheriff in town.’
One thing world leaders understand is power, both foreign and domestic. Russia is no stranger to this, neither are the countries in the middle east. When it comes time to project an image, they’re not going to come out and say, ‘we apologize for gassing and killing our citizens and we apologize for not working with the U.S. more closely.’ That’s not going to happen and this is an early serious mistake which Obama faces now that he’s trying to convince others of his sincerity.
To recap, rule#1 – Support your nation in front of other countries. It may play well for a sound bite or two on evening news, but others will mistrust you when you aren’t a strong supporter of your own country. Look at the group dynamics of a sports team. A poor coach might say, ‘we didn’t play well because of a past coach or two. We’ll play better now even though I know our team sorta sucked in the past.‘ That doesn’t work well to promote your international image.
We might as well discuss rule# 2 in leadership.
Don’t equivocate on an important decision. Again, you look weak. The world knows the U.S. is a super power, that’s why they aren’t launching missiles at us now. Believe me, if we weren’t a serious threat, some group or nation would take us over and rape the land of its resources and use the people for its own self-aggrandizement. If you doubt me, look at how the rest of the world works. Confusion and terror reign in absence of direction and lack of authority supported by the power to knock down any emerging problem.
President Obama announced in 2012 any nation using chemical weapons would face consequences. A year later after chemical weapons killed over 200 people, Obama first announced this can’t stand, we won’t let it stand but first let me confer with Congress. While this was going on, the Secretary of State announces, any actions we take are going to be small, tiny, short, hardly noticed as more than a blip. What kind of message was that? You previously stated how horrific the use of chemical weapons are, then you announce, if we do anything, it’s only going to be a prick. Wow, that’ll teach them a lesson they won’t soon forget!
Last night the President made a speech which brought him back to a point before his speech on August 20, 2012 about crossing lines. He made a big point about the nature of the atrocity committed, the line was crossed no matter who drew it and now I think we should negotiate with Syria. Talk about a ‘head fake’. If you don’t have whiplash by now then you haven’t been following too closely.
Let’s go back to my first thoughts about war. War is terrible and should be avoided. Once you declare one is necessary, get it done with maximum effect! Disclosing you intend to really keep it contained, don’t want to anger the world community, just a prick, you’ve lost the debate and likely the support. Even though other countries have signed agreements suggesting they are opposed to the use of WMD’s, including chemical and nuclear devices but are unwilling to back you to enforce the rule. Once you suggest this is the line, don’t cross it, you might face a situation like this where you have to decide to put up or shut up. Backing down can be a good thing individually and even as a group but there’s a way to ensure the decision doesn’t appear to be one of weakness, more as a deliberate thoughtful decision.
When you decide to do battle, it can’t be necessarily be tiny even though you might privately want to keep it that way. Regan said it this way “We win and they lose. What do you think of that?”
I would like to suggest a time-tested and culturally survivable means test on deciding to go to war. Once these principles are understood, whether you’re religious or not, they will work to gain support in the cause of war.
A just war doctrine defined by St. Augustine (354-430 AD) gives certain conditions for the legitimate exercise of force, all of which must be met:
- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
- there must be serious prospects of success;
- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition
John Kennedy summarized the rights of humanity thusly:
“The rights of man come not from the generosities of the State but from the hand of God.”
- Obama’s Best Speech since Oslo (NewsMax Christopher Ruddy)
- Obama’s Syria Speech Too Little Leadership, Too Late (usnews.com)
- Obama Muddles Through on Syria (usnews.com)
- Obama: American Principles and Security ‘At Stake’ in Syria (nationalreview.com)
- Obama Pleads His Case: ‘I Believe We Should Act’ (abcnews.go.com)
- Cheer Up, Obama. Israel Is Happy With Your Syria Plan. (world.time.com)
- Obama pleads his case on Syria: ‘I believe we should act’ (whas11.com)