Saturday, October 31, 2015


More involvement in Syria

A headline in this morning's newspaper (October 31, 2015) reads that the United States (i.e., the President) has decided to get more involved in Syria than we have been.  This means more military support for the "good guys," otherwise known as the faction that we think we can influence if they take over the governing of Syria.  We are about to repeat the mistake that Lyndon Johnson made in Viet Nam - of becoming entangled in a civil war that we should have stayed out of.

I am reminded of the story about a particular fly or beetle that loves the nectar of a particular large and spectacular flower.  Another kind of plant grows a flower that looks like the nectar flower.  At least it looks enough like the real thing to fool the hungry insect.  Insects are cursed with poor vision and are inherently near-sighted just because of the nature of their eyes.  This particular bug sees the fake flower and dives into it to obtain the sweet nectar.  Of course there is no nectar.  The flower is an insect trap.  The bug is large enough and strong enough that it can eventually climb out of the flower.

What does it do next?  If it has any sense, it would fly away and look for a different flower, one that  has some nectar.  No, the bug not only has rather poor eyesight but also a very dim memory.  It looks at the flower, forgets that it has just struggled to escape from it, and dives back in, hoping to satisfy its thirst.  I don't know how many times the poor bug repeats this adventure.  I do know that the United States, i.e., President Obama, is acting just like this bug.  We've invaded or gotten involved in civil wars in Viet Nam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  In Viet Nam we eventually got out and now, after fifty years or so, we have good relations with a stable government in that country.  It is a government that would have come into being despite anything that we might have done to prevent it.  Our adventure in Viet Nam was a waste of time, money, and lives.  The value of our involvement was the lesson that we should have learned.  We didn't.  Later we repeated the adventure in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We are now struggling to disengage ourselves from those quagmires, and we propose to repeat the adventure in Syria.

Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  G. Santayana
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