In his Farewell Address George Washington urged the American people to take advantage of their isolated position in the world, and avoid attachments and entanglements in foreign affairs which he argued have little or nothing to do with the interests of America.

By and large Americans followed the advice of the Father of Our Country into the 20th Century. There were forays into international warfare involving U.S. efforts to create an American Empire as the borders of the nation expanded Westward eventually taking in Alaska, Hawaii, and the Philippines along with a smattering of scattered islands in the Atlantic and Pacific.

World War I was our first gigantic foreign adventure and from the American point of view it ended with a broken Europe, a great loss of life and spent resources, a short lived economic boom followed by the Great Depression, and the rise of Communism. A return to the concept of Fortress America resulted.

In the 1940’s, it took an attack on Pearl Harbor to force us into another foreign war despite the demonstrated danger that Hitler represented to the entire Atlantic Community.

After WWII, the glow of victory, the threat of the USSR and careful management of the post war transition by U.S. leaders kept the nation engaged. Since that time the history of U.S. military engagement has been a checkered affair. Vietnam represents the worst of them and the Gulf War the best.

In the last 12 years the experience has been almost entirely negative.

Had there been a long, public debate about Libya, the public reaction would have been the same as it is with Syria now.

Of course, the war that Americans are really angry about is a GOP creation made possible with Democratic and Public support. Afghanistan was justifiable at its start but was then turned into a neo-con effort to nation build and create an Arabian Israel. Iraq was never justifiable and another neo-con dream turned nightmare.

This is not about Obama per se. Nor is it really about Syria and poison gas. It is about the legacy of two misbegotten wars. It is about the American public questioning what good will ANY ACTION by the U.S. do in situations like this? It is about what other nations are NOT doing? It is about why our resources are so easily offered and spent by those unwilling to offer theirs. That debate is a good one to have.

And it is about the lies that governments have told in the past and the fear of lies they may be telling now. It is also about the lies being told by those who oppose the action being sought because their only real concern is in making political points attack the President.

For them, their opposition comes down to…a sinister dis-ease:


Obama Derangement Syndrome
1) The acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the statements — nay — the very existence of Barack Obama. Those with Obama Derangement Syndrome would rather stick with failure than even consider supporting any policy of program of his.2) The state of paranoia in which people fear President Obama so much, they stop thinking logically and stop using common sense. Usually a direct result of watching too much Fox News and/or listening to Rush Limbaugh and/or reading World Net Daily. 3) When a person believes every single policy decision that Obama makes is apart sinister conspiracy to weaken or destroy America and possibly the world. For example: “Obama will confiscate guns, bring the Muslim brotherhood to power in America, Take all his orders from Putin, declare war on Israel, become a permanent dictator, maybe even become the anti Christ and set up a one world government…”


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Some people like to believe that this is some sort of “moral issue”.
It is not.
It is a practical issue. “what is to be done?” is the question. That question means that you employ the principle of calculated risk.

Every crime stands on its’ own. What was done – or not done – in the past means very little. What we have is the here and the now. What we are faced with is a civil war in which chemical weapons have used used on civilians.
What is the US going to do about it?


Good write up here, Murph. The only thing I would disagree on is that the Gulf War was justified. With all we know about the Military Industrial Complex and the Bush’s favoritism toward awarding them contracts, over paying our soldiers better wages for the same work is reason enough to suspect the motives of either Bush administration. The fact they used a Kuwaiti Ambassador’s daughter to further their cause is despicable.

Her story was initially corroborated by Amnesty International[1] and testimony from evacuees. Following the liberation of Kuwait, reporters were given access to the country and found the story of stolen incubators unsubstantiated. However, they did find that a number of people, including babies, died when nurses and doctors fled the country.

In 1992, it was revealed that Nayirah’s last name was al-Ṣabaḥ (Arabic: نيره الصباح‎) and that she was the daughter of Saud bin Nasir Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. Furthermore, it was revealed that her testimony was organized as part of the Citizens for a Free Kuwait public relations campaign which was run by Hill & Knowlton for the Kuwaiti government. Following this, al-Sabah’s testimony has largely come to be regarded as wartime propaganda.


hey murph…great post….To refresh your memory….I was suspended from HPSupport…you know where you go when you go to ” contact me …..not the boards…I can no longer contact them regarding abusive posters…or anything else…when I log in I’m told my account is suspended…..Tried emailing Eric at hpsupport but can’t tell if they are even getting my emails…..of course no explanation…….



American Isolationism Now! AI used to sound like a slur, but lets not confuse it with xenophobia. I support the president but not in this new march to war. Remember when they claimed Iraq would be a six month exercise? I want our military to defend our country. Let the rest of the world take care of itself.


I don’t judge PBO’s actions by Bush’s. I judge by his own. Libya was precisely what he said. The issue for me is whether it would engender more harm than good, but it is not about judging the present from another perspective under a different administration.


jj, I do oppose a military attack on Syria but I am not for isolationism. There are a lot of powerful forces out there constantly trying to exploit other nations and populations that would eventually bring disaster to our doorstep.

Afghanistan was the perfect example. We stayed unengaged as the Taliban took over and sheltered and supported the growth of Al Qaeda. Doing nothing ended up allowing a global terrorist network to be built and cause mass deaths of Americans and economic and social upheaval.

We need to stay involved throughout the world IMO though we need a 21st Century approach to our involvement that changes from military force being the primary tool to political, economic and global approaches.


Murph, well written and right on target!

It is very much about the distrust Americans now have post-Iraq towards their government when it wants to march them to war. It’s also about the need for evolution.

In the past, when we were upset at another country’s military actions, we attacked them. That’s the old, primitive way of thinking that was over-exploited and destroyed by Bush so in this era, a more evolved approach is required to be credible and acceptable to Americans.

Sometimes violence is the only answer but too often it is the first choice resorted to. And just because retaliation isn’t military, it doesn’t mean it can’t be effective…even more effective.

So eschewing the knee-jerk response of military action doesn’t mean America needs to retreat into an isolationist mentality. We don’t have to be violent to be effective in dealing with terrible people and their acts around the world. It’s not a Zero Sum game, moral involvement in what happens in our world doesn’t require that we use our military to act against others.

I think it’s probable that there is going to be more horror wreaked upon innocent Syrians by Assad as he does whatever it takes to hold onto power. We do have a responsibility to lead the world to do what it can to stop Assad and we shouldn’t bail on that because we can’t use our military (or again have a mistaken idea that a conflict can be instantly solved by bombing the shit out of a country).

We need to stay engaged in the world and do what’s right…including not joining the bad guys in killing innocent people.



I have yet to hear anyone offer an alternative to military action. Do we turn a blind eye on gassing people? What good was signing the Geneva Protocol if we and other countries are not going to stand by our word? I doubt that Congress will approve military action. We have progressives agreeing Putin that it wasn’t Assad but rebels. We have Congresspersons like Grayson thinking the whole affair is funny and fundraising off it. You have Rangel pretty much saying WTF it’s Muslims killing Muslims.


Sabreen, I have heard of other efforts being recommended so I don’t agree that it’s either military action or doing nothing.

We’ve been very successful in hammering Iran through diplomatic and economic sanctions, we haven’t had to bomb them to hurt and punish them for their pursuit of nuclear weapons.

We can do the same with Syria. Two other approaches I’ve heard proposed are pursuing a war crimes trial with the ICJ/World Court and having the UN and/or other nations present Syria with a choice of signing onto the chemical weapons ban or face severe economic and political consequences.

Can anyone guarantee that after the US would launch a missile attack on Syria, that Assad wouldn’t use chemical weapons again? And if we need to stand up to Syria this time, how much bigger of a military campaign would we have to launch then? And if it continues, where does it end? And if Assad is defeated, Al Qaeda may take over the leadership and control of the nation, what then?

It’s so complicated to me, Sabreen. I am outraged by the mass murders Assad has committed but I wonder if the answer is for the US to also kill innocent Syrians in a bombing campaign. Sometimes violence is the only sensible response to violence, especially in cases of self-defense, sometimes an eye for an eye can leave the whole world blind.


Putin will veto any resolution from the UN. As the President said today, the UN is paralyzed. Haven’t we tried diplomacy? Sanctions hurt innocent people. They are the ones who suffer most. I don’t know what sanctions have been enacted to date. I’ll have to research. Innocent are being hurt right now. Are you sure that innocents will be hurt in a surgical strike?

BTW, if President Obama had gone to Congress re Libya nothing would have been done.

Here’s a link about sanctions against Syria:


Sabreen and Ad, why, if Assad is the guilty guy can’t the CIA get him and save thousands of lives? Why do so many people have to die because he is a despot?
A missal or 200 will have collateral damage. that damage will be in the form of lives.

If Assad is indeed so bad kill him. Why wait?


Sabreen, Russia will veto any proposal for a UN military attack against Syria for its use of chemical weapons but the proposition I was describing was one that demands Syria become a signatory to a chemical weapons ban. Russia is a signatory on that and if they want to stand up to insist that Syria should have the right to use chemical weapons, they should be forced to do so publicly and that could lead to the world, outside of the UN structure, coming together to stop Assad.

Even Pres. Obama and John Kerry have said that they won’t be striking the chemical weapons storage and manufacturing sites due to the danger to Syrians that would pose so though they may destroy some missiles that could deliver them, Assad will still have all of his chemical weapons after any US attack. So if a US attack doesn’t actually stop the use of chemical weapons, at best, delaying it and if Assad is hell bent on using them, will it be worth it if any Syrians killed by the US as collateral damage?

Here’s a quote I found from the Senate hearing on Syria and projected collateral damage:

But Dempsey was clearly there to answer relatively technical questions. He answered a question about the risks of collateral damage — he told the committee he had been charged to choose weapons and targets in such combinations that the risk of collateral damage was “low”.

As for what “low” means, your guess is as good as mine but being that Syria announced it would be copying Saddam in using human shields, freeing political prisoners from jails and placing them at military sites the US is targeting, I think it’s unavoidable that there will be innocent Syrians killed.

And if one missile or more in a massive campaign goes off target, it could be really bad.

I am angry at what is happening in Syria too, I wish that the US could use its power to end it right now but such a limited military strike admittedly won’t rid Syria of chemical weapons and could just pour more gasoline on the fire.

If we do go in, I think we need to do so along with the rest of the world or what results could be greater mass murders. If the rest of the world won’t act unless Assad commits greater atrocities, I don’t see how we can act without any support of legal sanction.


Well done, Murph. For all those reasons, the American public is strongly opposed to any American military action in Syria – a very expected response to the past disastrous middle east actions you described. The British Parliament debate and decision not to join with the US in any action also reinforced the opposition here in the US.

I too wonder what a military strike would accomplish other than taking out some of the weaponry that delivered the serin gas – but then what? As we know, the Syrian opposition consists of many groups, all with their own brand of religion and grievances to say the least. Ideally, punishment should arise from the UN – and that is the travesty – that the Security Council has been neutralized by the unanimous vote requirement. To condemn use of chemical weapons is good but a dictator who violated international norms does not pay attention to shaming. Quite the conundrum…


I don’t know if the “American public” is against military action. I have seen polls that indicate a majority are opposed to it, but also almost as many are unsure. Republicans are against this action, because President Obama is for it. The very elected Republicans that denigrated President Obama for not doing enough about Syria are now opposed to doing anything. They are merely playing politics. As far as the media is concerned, damn near every elected person they put in front of the camera is opposed. This is happening especially on MSNBC, where you have Rachel Maddow agreeing with Putin; Ed Schultz, Chris Hayes and Chris Matthews calling it a “war” every other second. Too many people don’t pay attention. So they hear “war” and they may think “boots on the ground”. The media is not offering any balance. These pundits are also making the false equivalency between this action and Iraq. This does not help people make a sound judgment. I don’t have a problem with people being of the opinion that military action should not be taken. But at least give the people the truth and I’m not hearing that from the media.