I have been fretting all week over what has been going on in Washington, D.C., where the administration is trying to convince Congress to okay the bombing of Syria to teach President Bashar Assad that using weapons of mass destruction (in this case, alleged sarin gas) in the deadly civil war that has been raging for a couple of years is a crime.
Like many Americans, I am weary of war, and have been for many years, which is one reason I moved to Costa Rica. Other expats, friends of mine and I have been emailing our concerns and opinions to one another. So far no one has said “Good idea.” One friend, however, is concerned about the morality of not acting.
The debacle in Iraq and the long pain of Afghanistan are still fresh in many people’s minds, and they are comparing this situation with those two.
I see it more in terms of Vietnam. The history is long, beginning even before the Eisenhower Administration (and curiously, France was involved with the Vietnamese, just as they have been with the Syrians). But we started with “advisers” and then a response to a questionable attack. And soon we were involved in one of the most vicious long-lasting civil wars in history. The domino theory figured large then, and a new domino theory postulated by Sens. McCain and Graham, both of whom remember well the Vietnam war, is being articulated about Syria and the surrounding countries. Only this time, it is not the Commies who will take over, it is a variety of terrorists, and Hezbollah, and the threatened countries are those of the Middle East.
CNN has been covering this debate and discussion nonstop all week and then on Wednesday night, in a stroke of programming genius, CNN followed a grueling day of discussions on Syria, with the re-run of an hour long documentary on the raid on the compound of the Branch Davidian Christians and their leader, David Koresh in Waco, Texas. This happened 20 years ago. And it made me think how prophetic.
It all started when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms suspected that David Koresh and his followers were turning automatic rifles into machine guns (the first WMD’s, if you will) before reselling them. The FBI got involved when they learned that Koresh was having sex with underage girls.
The government’s armed troops attempted to deliver arrest and search warrants to Koresh. Everything escalated, probably due to the fact that both sides had weapons and the rest, we know, is history. After 61 days of a standoff,
negotiations and a raid, four agents died and 76 Branch Davidians were killed, including 21 children. Whether the children died as the result of collateral damage, friendly fire, or the fire that engulfed the compound, is unclear, but for them dead was dead. They will never grow up. Afterwards, Janet Reno, the attorney general, said, “It was all a terrible mistake. We were trying to save the children.” The negotiators claim that they could have saved more people had they been allowed to continue their conversations with Koresh.
In today’s world of muddled morality and ever more powerful armaments, it is difficult to say how to respond to acts of aggression. Humanity has long forgotten Christ’s advice to turn the other cheek, the meek have yet to inherit almost anything, and the caution to beware of judging lest you be judged is irrelevant since the victors write history and command the airwaves.
Meanwhile in our own little world of Central American, President Ortega of Nicaragua has decided he would like to re-annex Guanacaste, no matter that the people, a long time ago chose to be part of Costa Rica. I would like to suggest to President Laura Chinchilla that she declare a day of laughter.
People can gather in town squares and even in barrios and laugh and laugh at the silliness. Unfortunately, there are some events that cannot be laughed away.