.

Give us your tired...

According to some, the United States should lead or at a minimum participate in an international military coalition against the Assad government in Syria, or on behalf of the rebels fighting that government, or both, for humanitarian reasons. Many of the same people believe the United States should intervene militarily in Syria regardless of what any other country does, and for the same humanitarian end.

I think it's fair to say that regardless of the mission, or the means used to accomplish it, a whole lot of innocent Syrian men, women, and children are going to die if the United States government employs any measure of its military power against the Syrian government. 

Those who push for a humanitarian mission to Syria would no doubt argue that innocent people are already dying.

The difference is that it's not our government killing them -- not yet, at least. And no terrorist, to my knowledge, has ever stated that he was mad at our government because it didn't do enough for people in the Middle East.

Many people over there are quite mad, however, that our government topples governments and props up repressive and murderous regimes; drops bombs on their cities, particularly their water and sanitation infrastructure, leading to hundreds of thousands of innocent deaths; imposes economic sanctions that punish millions; keeps lots of soldiers in their country, terrorizes and incinerates people with Drone attacksshoots people in their homes and streets -- those sorts of things. Seems to me those people could use a break from our government's "help".

Nor are Americans responsible by default to care for the world's downtrodden and oppressed; just because there's a crisis somewhere doesn't mean our government is morally bound to intervene, on anyone's behalf.

In fact, the Framers of our government cautioned against foreign entanglements, warning that among other things they lead to debt and an over-powerful chief executive -- issues of concern to a few people today.

The authority to wage war was vested in the Congress, not the President, so that it "would not be in the power of a single man" but rather in the "legislature at large", as James Wilson of Pennsylvania put it, to make so momentous and potentially calamitous a decision. It was a highly regarded opinion at the time that war was dangerous to liberty and stability.

What they knew then is still true today: War should be used only as a last resort and when absolutely necessary to defend the rights of US citizens and residents from foreign attack.

A potential solution to humanitarian crises was offered by John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States (1825 - 1829). In an 1821 Independence Day speech, targeted specifically at those calling for American intervention on behalf of revolutionary movements in South America, he said the United States "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy", lest our government "become the dictatress of the world." He praised our country for having "respected the independence of other nations, while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when the conflict has been for principles to which she clings."

Rather, he urged that "Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be" -- but not invasions, or air strikes, or even aid to opposition groups that can turn out to be worse than the government opposed:

"She will recommend the general cause, by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example."

In other words, instead of interfering in foreign affairs it was America's destiny to stand as a shining beacon of freedom and justice in the world. However flawed that worked out in practice, there is no doubt that millions of people, from every hell hole on earth, have left everything behind in their home country to start a new life in this country because they thought it was true. And it was, for a whole lot of them.

In that spirit, I have a counter offer to those who would drop bombs in the name of humanitarianism. (Actually my wife came up with this idea, so blame her. I'm just writing it down):

Amass a fleet of private boats and sail to the Mediterranean under a flag of peace. Stop twelve miles off the coast of Syria -- still in international waters -- and offer comfort to anyone who can reach you. (People regularly float five times that distance on improvised rafts to get from Cuba to Florida.) Return these refugees to the United States, where they can seek the protection of the United States of America and begin to build a better life for themselves here.

I'll be the first to sing your praises; I'd even consider going on such a trip myself. That would truly be a Peace Prize-worthy moment. It's hard to imagine a greater act of kindness and charity.

Who would stop this -- or any other mass movement of its kind to save people from a humanitarian crisis? Perhaps the same government that you believe can best help people by bombing their country?


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Proud Conservative September 10, 2013 at 04:45 PM
We don't need any more benefit seeking refugees steaming into this country. Charity begins at home. We have plenty of honest, industrious people in this country who are genuinely in need of help. They deserve the help they need before we even consider opening the borders and bringing in anyone and everyone who claims political refugee stratus.
Stephen D. Clark September 10, 2013 at 08:23 PM
If our government wasn't threatening the use of force with the full weight of America's foreign policy history behind it as credibility, then the Russians would not be pushing Assad to the bargaining table now.
Scott McPherson September 11, 2013 at 01:38 PM
Interesting: the day before the anniversary of the largest mass murder in American history we find Mr. Clark applauding mass murder for the sake of "credibility".
Stephen D. Clark September 11, 2013 at 05:54 PM
I notice that you don't address the point, Mr. McPherson, and instead seek to distract from it with a personal attack. If that's the way you want it to be between you and me, then, fine, have it your way. ***************************************************** When you can't quote me saying any such thing and can't show how I'm doing anything like that, I get to say you lie.
Scott McPherson September 11, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Mr. Clark, you can say what you like about me. But when you state, "If our government wasn't threatening FORCE WITH THE FULL WEIGHT OF AMERICA'S FOREIGN POLICY HISTORY BEHIND IT AS CREDIBILITY..." [capitals for emphasis], as a comment on, and in the context of, THIS particular blog post, titled "Give us your tired", in which I referenced many acts of mass violence, including homicide, by our government, against foreign people, in their cities, streets, and homes; intentional military strikes against crucial infrastructure, including water and sewage services, and the imposition of economic sanctions, both of which, at minimum, have contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children in Iraq; toppling of governments and the arming and supporting of murderous regimes there and elsewhere, regimes that have been responsible for the deaths of many thousands of their own people -- when you do not question these facts but rather celebrate that such a "history" brings our government "credibility" when threatening the use of "force", you have no right to whine, "But I didn't mean that!" The credibility you describe is that of a violent street thug, run riot across the Middle East.
Scott McPherson September 11, 2013 at 06:30 PM
I hate to point it out to you, but I never -- not once -- said you said ANYTHING. Facts do seem to trip you up a bit. I said you were "applauding" mass murder as a means to credibility. And I think I explained how quite adequately.
Stephen D. Clark September 11, 2013 at 06:56 PM
It is not an "applause of mass murder" to write that the history of America's foreign policy gives the president credibility when he uses the threat of force to influence other state actors. To say that I'm "applauding" mass murder is reading into my statements things that aren't there. ****************************************************** I made an assertion. You did not see fit to address the logic of the assertion. Instead you attempted to portray me as evil.
Scott McPherson September 11, 2013 at 06:59 PM
I made an assertion too. You might not like that assertion, but I supported it with quite a lengthy explanation.
Stephen D. Clark September 11, 2013 at 07:03 PM
You asserted that I applaud mass murder. You lie.
Scott McPherson September 11, 2013 at 07:08 PM
I asserted that you applaud mass murder. I stand by that assertion. You wrote, "the history of America's foreign policy gives the president credibility when he uses the threat of force to influence other state actors." Which history were YOU talking about? The part where no one gets hurt ever? Which one is that exactly? Or the part where presidents send planes and bombs and drones and missiles and soldiers to foreign countries to kill people who have never done anything to us?
Scott McPherson September 11, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Final note -- a further fact that seems to have tripped you up: The definition of assertion is, to "state a fact OR BELIEF confidently and forcefully." I made an assertion and I backed it up with LOTS of reasons why. This cannot logically be a lie. Sorry. But thanks for playing!
Stephen D. Clark September 11, 2013 at 07:28 PM
You have taken such liberties with your interpretation that you have made yourself a liar - if you weren't one already. You've painted yourself into a corner, and now you're stuck there. ****************************************************** It is in no way a value statement to say that the history of American foreign policy gives any American president credibility when he threatens the use of force. That's a simple fact. One doesn't have to worship every aspect of it for it to be more or less true. ****************************************************** So to say that a statement of fact is an appreciation of mass murder is an exaggeration amounting to a lie. ****************************************************** And guess what? My larger point, which you completely neglect to address because it's inconvenient for your political preferences, is that it's working. (That's why you want to turn it into an attack on me.) Russia is pushing Assad to the negotiating table because of the American threat of force. Oh, boo-hoo, Scott! Obama might not be stuck with egg on his face. ****************************************************** That simple fact is by no means an endorsement of the Invasion of Grenada, the CIA's overthrow of Arbenz or the Indian Removal Act of 1830. By making such equations, you've sacrificed your credibility as a reasonable person.
Scott McPherson September 11, 2013 at 10:11 PM
"You have taken such liberties with your interpretation that you have made yourself a liar". With which interpretation have I taken such liberties? Please be specific, and use five words or less: "[I]f you weren't [a liar] already." If you have evidence to support that assertion, please provide it here:
Scott McPherson September 11, 2013 at 10:38 PM
"It is in no way a value statement to say that the history of American foreign policy gives any American president credibility when he threatens the use of force." I don't think I agree with you, and here's why: To say that the history of destruction and loss of life wrought in that part of the world alone, specifically in the six decades since the Second World War, by American presidents wielding military power (I think it's safe to say that that is what you too mean by "force" in this context), lends credibility to our chief executive, is to state that our chief executives over that period of time have been acting in a credible way -- a way worthy of our trust and support. ("Credibility: the quality of being trusted and believed in." ) Which ones exactly?
Scott McPherson September 11, 2013 at 10:45 PM
"My larger point, which you completely neglect to address because it's inconvenient for your political preferences, is that it's working." Wow, that was easy! Glad we got that whole Syria thing worked out. Move along. "Oh, boo-hoo, Scott! Obama might not be stuck with egg on his face." You've caught me! Unless it gets egg on Obama's face, I just don't want to know!
Stephen D. Clark September 11, 2013 at 11:09 PM
The credibility of a threat, Scott, means the shades of possibility into likelihood that the threat will be acted upon. That's all it means. ****************************************************** It's very simple. American history is rife with examples of the United States using force to get its way. Part of American diplomacy is being able to conjure the notion that we might do it again. Any president we elect is someone who had better know how to use all the tools in his box. That's one of them. (Duh.) ****************************************************** You're avoiding the obvious because it galls you to admit that I'm right and that you jumped the shark by trying to portray me as the apologist for mass murder. Keep digging.
Scott McPherson September 11, 2013 at 11:37 PM
I'll repeat my questions in order: With which "interpretation" have I taken "such liberties" as to make myself a "liar"?
Scott McPherson September 11, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Do you have evidence to support the assertion that I may in some way "already" be a liar?
Stephen D. Clark September 11, 2013 at 11:44 PM
I wrote this: "If our government wasn't threatening the use of force with the full weight of America's foreign policy history behind it as credibility, then the Russians would not be pushing Assad to the bargaining table now." ****************************************************** When you call it "applauding mass murder," you're lying.
Scott McPherson September 12, 2013 at 12:05 AM
There seems to be some intellectual dishonesty here. You flippantly refer to innocent people's lives as the cost of "American diplomacy" because, hey, if our government kills enough people then it means by god what it says, like a mass murderer who has killed so many times that he's taken very seriously -- as if the people brutalized are just incidental, a means to some desired end, "tools" like warplanes and missiles, to make a point. Rather than condemn such brutality, you point to its alleged effectiveness ("It's working", you wrote; you don't see a value judgement in there?) as something so "simple", just a fact of "history" -- but without the intellectual honesty to admit your approval. Perhaps what's galling here is the possibility that I might be on to something.
Scott McPherson September 12, 2013 at 12:09 AM
We are now officially going around in circles. I'm getting off the ride.
Stephen D. Clark September 12, 2013 at 07:12 AM
You put words in my mouth that I never said and then you accuse me of intellectual dishonesty. That's rich. ******************************************************** It's one thing for you to say that my statement has implications beyond what I say, but it's another thing entirely for you to say what I mean by it when what you say I mean isn't actually present in my words. That's the lie. That's your intellectual dishonesty, not mine.
Patty Thetic September 12, 2013 at 09:29 AM
Could somebody change little Stevies nappy? He's crying and babbling again.
Stephen D. Clark September 12, 2013 at 05:41 PM
That's clever. No wonder you don't use your real name.

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