I Think They Think We’ve Gone to War

Just finished watching Duck Soup.

It’s a tragicomic ritual I’ve observed for decades now. Whenever our country gets into a new war-like situation, I get incensed and sorrowful and sullen. So I screen this Marx Brothers war parody from 1933 and while it doesn’t change anything it reminds me that war is crazy and that humankind is mad and bent on self-destruction. That ridiculousness and lunacy helps me maintain balance and a modicum of sanity in a society whose bloodthirstiness I cannot fathom.

Last night’s announcement that the U.S. will be arming Syrian rebels against their ignoble dictator is not, I realize, any sort of declaration of war. It’s not even necessarily an altogether bad thing, though my own absolutist pacifist nature does not really allow for such gradations and generalizations.

But the door has just been opened for further justifications and threats and power plays. It’s disheartening that even before President Obama announced that the Syrian government had crossed the “red line” and that U.S. intervention was now inevitable, some Republican senators had already leaked the plan and were saying it hadn’t gone far enough.

This is scary talk, on a subject that should be discussed much more carefully. The situation is also full of a lot of bad signals. A lot of international conflicts have conveniently served as distractions from domestic scandals in a presidential administration. The timing is too right for that right now.

Upstarts! Fredonia’s gone to war.

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