By Jay Kirell
America as nation is an ever-evolving Frankenstein’s monster of different cultures, ideologies and attitudes that manages to peacefully coexist while constantly disagreeing about nearly every step in its development.
America as a superpower, however, is a different sort of monster. A monster born of technology, geography, and influence. It’s superpower status the one notion calcified into the thinking of the most right wing conservative and the most left wing liberal.
When one aspect of the monster meets the other, you get situations like our reaction to Syria.
Right now in Syria tens of thousands of civilians have died, with a growing chorus in the world community for action to stop the violence of the Assad regime. Alleged chemical weapons use – the supposed red line President Obama spoke about months ago – has triggered an escalation in movement. Britain, France and many NATO allies are formulating plans for a response.
And at last check less than 10% of Americans support getting involved.
To me that points to two things:
1. Obama as Commander In Chief has had the predictable effect of making his political opponents jump to the opposite side of the fence on an issue. People who would normally be first in line to defend any military action anywhere are suddenly becoming thoughtful non-interventionists as long as you-know-who is barking the orders.
2. When not having Fox News Chicken-hawks act as cheerleaders for you, it’s really hard to sell military action to the American people. Back before the war in Iraq started and George W. Bush was using Fox News as his war propaganda vehicle, 37% of the public supported invading the country even if the the US had to go invade alone. A few months later 79% of Americans felt war in Iraq was justified.
I’m not going to ask where that 79% is now, because that’s just foolish. Support for the war dropped soon after it started. Iraq had initial support that was a mile wide, but inch deep.
That original 37%, however, was the core of the support. Those are the folks who never saw a country the US couldn’t invade. Those are Fox News’ core audience.
Where are those 37% now? Because you know if they can support intervention in Iraq based on the theory Saddam could use weapons of mass destruction, then by all rights they should be in the streets screaming about Syria’s Assad actually using them. Fox News should be wall-to-wall coverage of dead Syrian babies and side-by-side photos of Assad, Saddam and Hitler.
Instead, Fox News and that 37% is silent, wherever they are.
Maybe some of the 9% that supports intervention now is comprised of folks who supported the Iraq invasion. Certainly Senators like John McCain have been consistent in their support of military intervention. McCain, no matter if you agree or disagree with him, is one of the most consistent advocates for American intervention in the world. Having been a war hero and a POW, he earned the right to be that assertive in his beliefs.
But the familiar voices from a decade ago seem not to be standing alongside of the Arizona Senator. The drumbeat for military action is softer, quieter. Fittingly, his longtime friend and colleague, Secretary of State John Kerry, seems to be the only other official sufficiently outraged by what’s going on Syria. With those two weary war veterans leading the way, the seriousness of the issue is magnified while the hyperbole is diminished.
The screech of the chicken-hawks, it seems, has been silenced.
Maybe because they don’t believe intervention is justified?
Maybe the anti-Obama, pro-Iraq chicken-hawks are staying silent on Syria to make sure he gets no credit on leading the world to enforce the ban on chemical weapons?
Either way, the screech has been silenced…which is an accomplishment worth crowing about.