War with Syria?

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Do you hear the beating of the drums of war?

On August 21, 2013, an alleged chemical weapons attack left scores of innocent Syrian civilians dead with no visible wounds.

The video footage of the aftermath of this attack swept the media, leading many in the west to suggest they should intervene militarily.

But, let’s wait a second.

Have we learned nothing from the Iraq War? Where, ten years ago the U.S. public was fed misleading tales of WMD’s and terror links by its own government to bulk up support to invade the sovereign nation of Iraq. All of those reasons given now proven false, the American public should be wary of expanding our military might into a conflict that is far from simply being black and white.

The government of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad has outlasted protests that have turned violent and devolved into a civil war. While the Free Syrian Army, and other associated rebel groups, have received tacit support from U.S. war-lovers Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, the rebels have also been linked to groups affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Just which side does the U.S. and the west throw their support behind, if anyone? Supporting Assad would mean flushing democratic ideals and human rights down the toilet – not to mention President Obama going back on his “red line” of chemical weapons use being a reason to intervene – and aligning with the rebels could make for strange bedfellows as the U.S. is waging a “war on terror” on associated Islamic fighting groups.

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Who launched these Aug. 21 chemical attacks? Newly-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani comtemplated it was actually committed by the rebels, which runs counter to Obama’s “proof” that these attacks were perpetrated by the Syrian government.

While Iran and the U.S. continue to bang the war drum, Britain seems to have learned their lesson from Iraq, as the U.K. Parliament is demanding Prime Minister David Cameron await the results of a United Nations inspection into the Syrian attack, refusing to write Cameron his “blank check” he desired to interfere in this civil war.

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Far from black and white, these shades of grey flickering with memories of lives lost and broken in Iraq remain fresh in too many people’s minds and hearts than to jump into another choppy pool of Middle East conflict, guns blazing with our eyes closed.

Political Proxemics

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Turning on cable news can be a trying experiment in tolerating overblown out-spoken arguments from both sides. “Higher taxes!?”, cries the right. “Cut spending!?”, shouts the left. It is a centuries-old political contest. But one area there should be no contention when it comes to government aid and public spending should be when natural disasters strike.

Commonly referred to as “acts of God”, with more and more evidence pointing to man-made climate change, natural disasters like hurricanes, floods and tornadoes do not pick and choose whom they strike, nor do they fall along only politically ideological lines. Weather events can displace anyone and destroy all homes when they hit, regardless of the bumper sticker on the jalopy by the curb.

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Last fall, Hurricane Sandy was a watershed moment in both waking up the Northeast to the coming reality of a changing climate, but also in showing unity between Republicans and Democrats as Republican Governor Chris Christie and President Barack Obama joined forces to revitalize the area, and in doing so, giving a successful example of state and federal governments working in tandem.

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More recently, the tornadoes that struck Oklahoma with devastating fashion brought in its aftermath a spirit of political cooperation, as Republican representative of a district effected, Tom Cole, had nothing but praise and open arms for President Obama‘s overtures of assistance and condolence.

Are we seeing a new political reality in America? Or is this a new version of a open space theory, which stated people who live often in close quarters and/or urban areas where they see and feel the effects of government spending in things like garbage collection, street upkeep, sanitation, etc., are far more likely to be pro-government or in favor of spending, because they can see the effects of their taxes.

The opposite would also hold true then, that people who are separated from others, who do not see the benefit the spending of their taxes brings, and do not bear witness to any state initiative and maybe have to travel a distance to access the Internet, would be less in favor of government and anti-spending.

It’s a natural disaster that brings us all closer, even if it is through the comfort of our living room while watching the news, the walls that separated us are crumbling, we are connecting, and just because we aren’t neighbors doesn’t mean we can’t see the benefit of lending help and a hand.