After celebrating Labor Day by, what else, not laboring, I got in my Internet car and went to see what the right-wing is up to regarding the what-to-do-with-Syria debate.
I started with what is, to the detriment of the nation, a trend-setter in maniacal right-wing punditry, The Drudge Report. There, below the tailor-made-to-match-my-cookies (and obnoxiously large) video advertisements, I found this:
Then I turned to National Review Online, the Intertubes version of the once-reputable National Review magazine, founded by the once-reputable William F. Buckley. Here is a sampling of articles on the Syria debate from NRO:
From there I went to the neo-con’s Cyber Book of Prayer, The Weekly Standard, which when I visited on Monday night was dominated by attack-Assad-now intellectual (previously a big-time cheerleader for the disastrous attack-Iraq policy) William Kristol:
As only a quick look at these sites reveals, the American right is having a tough time deciding what to do with President Obama’s challenge to be commander-in-chief for a day. Righties don’t know whether their biggest guns should be aimed at the desperate Syrian thug Bashar al-Assad or the desperate American thug Barack Obama.
Here is how The New York Times described the isolationist-realist split in the GOP:
The Congressional vote on whether to strike Syria will offer the best insight yet on which wing of the Republican Party — the traditional hawks, or a growing bloc of noninterventionists — has the advantage in the fierce internal debates over foreign policy that have been taking place all year.
In other words, the two right wings battling it out over Syria are, as I have lately described them, the establishment extremists and the anti-establishment extremists. The one thing the two sides agree on, which helps define their extremism, is that Obama is to blame no matter what.
But what about those on the left? I beamed myself to The Huffington Post late Monday night and found this:
You can find a piece by Robert Creamer on the site (“A Progressive Perspective: Why Congress Should Approve the President’s Request to Punish the Use of Chemical Weapons”) that makes the standard case for enforcing the world’s—not Obama’s—red line on chemical warfare:
History will judge us harshly, if we stand by idly, and legitimate the use of chemical weapons — and weapons of mass destruction in general — by allowing their use in the view of the full world to go unpunished.
You can also find a piece featuring the views of uber-leftist Noam Chomsky (“Noam Chomsky: Syria Strike Would Be ‘War Crime'”) who, it seems to me, believes that nearly every American action abroad is criminal.
All of this, from the divisions on the right to the divisions on the left over what to do about Syria, demonstrates the utter preciousness of a free and democratic society. It also demonstrates that the upcoming vote in the House and Senate will be, or should be, a vote of conscience.
We have come to expect, because of the extremism of the Tea Party right, that those who don’t toe the ideological line of this or that group of conservative zealots will be punished in primary elections. This is generally what is wrong with the Republican Party at this moment in time, and I am sure the punishment strategy will be pursued relative to this vote, of conscience or lack thereof.
But let us hope that the left, those who are adamantly opposed to intervention in Syria, will not use this particular vote of conscience as a bludgeon to attack Democrats who disagree with them. There are good people and good arguments on both sides of this difficult issue (unlike, say, whether we should hurt American kids by cutting food stamps, health care funding, or teachers’ jobs).
Sanders said Saturday that the use of chemical weapons in Syria “is inhumane and a violation of international law,” but he added “at this point in time, I need to hear more from the president as to why he believes it is in the best interests of the United States to intervene in Syria’s bloody and complicated civil war.”
I also need to hear more. But I don’t want to hear liberals and progressives, utilizing the strong-arm tactics of the right, attacking Democrats as they, presumably, use their best judgment in deciding whether the United States, who, no matter what anyone says, is the ultimate enforcer of international norms, should strike the thuggish regime in Syria that dared to openly and defiantly use chemical weapons on innocents.
We are, or should be, better than that.