The United States and France appear ready to attack Syria. If that happens, Iran says it is ready to attack Israel. And Israel has atomic weapons. Bob Rae wrote this week that:
A couple of years ago I had the chance to meet Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres, Israel’s prime minister and president, respectively, in separate meetings. The subject was Iran. For Mr. Netanyahu, the issue was clear: Iran is arming itself with a nuclear capacity, and the rest of the world had to be prepared to “act.” For Mr. Peres, the conversation went in a different direction. We know Iran is up to no good. But, if we bomb Iran, what happens the next day? What are the consequences?
As the drumbeat for a response to what seems to be a clear violation of the 1925 ban on chemical weapons grows louder, no one seems to be asking, "What happens on the day after?" Rae wrote:
There’s always time for “consequential thinking.” The world wanted an international constabulary after the end of the Second World War but we were unable to make it happen. Real politics intervened. There is a crying need for a continuing, thoughtful, effective response to the terrible loss of life in Syria, most of it at the hands of its own government. But let us not make the mistake of assuming that missiles alone will resolve the crisis or even assuage our consciences. And don’t make the mistake of being ambushed by our own rhetoric. Killing civilians by bombing them with aircraft is also a crime.
You would think that after Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, we would be thinking about consequences. Surely our historical memory goes back that far. But going to war clouds the mind. Even thinking about it has that effect.
First and foremost, we need to remember what Harry Patch -- the last surviving veteran of World War I -- said before his death in 2009: "War," he said, "is organised murder, and nothing else."
Private Patch should remind us that there are no simple answers to the crisis in Syria.
This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.