“TERROR MONSTERS IN THE CROSSHAIRS!”
That sounds like a ludicrous 1950s Hollywood B-movie, and I can almost see the lurid poster, with its determined hero clenching his jaw, the buxom starlet lifting her hands in fear, and the hideous, outsized monster menacing the planet. But this is not a poster.
It is the splashy New York Daily News headline announcing US air strikes against Islamic State in Syria.
Naturally, this attack is a violation not just of common sense and experience, but of international law. President Obama ‘s morning-after speech did not apparently even invoke any vague notion of an imminent threat, although the Daily News did.
Actions have consequences
Accurately reading the future in tea leaves is difficult, but reading the future in the billowing smoke of cruise missile strikes in a Muslim country is much easier.
Like Americans, and everyone else, Muslims intent on revenge do not dissipate much of their angry energy on asking whether the attack they want revenge for was in fact revenge for something their own side did, or how far back a string of revenge attacks might go.
Many Americans probably think that the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks were utterly unconnected with anything that went before. But both attacks were stages in long and much discussed international conflicts. Nihil ex nihilo.
The bombings will continue until you stop hating us
The Daily News reported that “An ISIS fighter vowed the terrorist group — which is responsible for savagely beheading three Western hostages on camera — would avenge the Syrian strikes. ‘These attacks will be answered,’ he said while blaming Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, for “letting” the strikes happen.”
If a reporter under deadline had to make up a post-attack Islamic State quotation that rang true, this would be it.
Doubtless some Syrians who lost family members will look back on today’s attacks as the first event in their own new militancy, ignoring antecedent events, as the source of their own thirst for revenge. Don’t try to mellow them out with talk of 9/11.
Why governments need historians
If elected officials had a tenth as many historical advisors as they have political advisors, they would blunder less frequently. Sossaman’s Law: Those who know history are condemned to watch others repeat it.
The recognized, loathsome, government of Syria did not authorize attacks on its people and territory by anyone other than itself.
A White House security advisor said that President al-Assad was given “no advance warning on the timing or targets of specific strikes,” according to The New York Times. But you can bet that Syria was told to keep its aircraft up on blocks for a particular period, that any airborne Syrian warplanes would be considered a threat to American operations.
Syria has been intimated by circumstances into not publicly objecting: Syria will not attack our aircraft because they are otherwise really busy, they hope to exploit our obsession with Islamic State for their own purposes, and they have no interest in angering the American public enough to pressure Washington into attacking the al-Assad regime.
That Terror Monster headline
Unlike Newsmax readers, worldly New Yorkers probably know that bold headlines deliver more newspaper sales than news. Years ago a Daily News front page shouted “BLOOD BATH AT SHEA,” but rather than a crazed gunman going amok at a packed stadium, the bloodbath was the firing of a manager and two coaches.
Worldly or not, New Yorkers and the rest of us are being whipped up into war fever. The question we should be asking ourselves, in Congress and in homes, is whether expanding air attacks makes us safer or more vulnerable. I believe those attacks make us more vulnerable.