By Matthew Rothschild on August 26, 2013

We've seen this play before, and it doesn't end well. I'm talking about the seemingly imminent U.S. attack in the Middle East -- this time against Syria.

The war drums are banging loudly now, as the White House, with its handmaidens in the media, try to prepare an unwilling public to go along.

We're told, as we were told in Iraq and in Libya and Vietnam, for that matter, that the evidence is overwhelming.

The White House says there is "very little doubt" that Assad used chemical weapons.

But who knows? Colin Powell said there wasn't any doubt at all about Saddam Hussein, and look what happened there.

The only thing we know for sure is that there are no good guys in this civil war, with the brutal Assad dictatorship on one side and some equally brutal Al Qaeda types on the other.

We have no business in this civil war.

Obama instead should try to bring all sides to the peace table. But he's resisted that crucial effort at diplomacy, most recently because Assad's forces had gained too much ground, and the Obama Administration wanted to wait until Assad was weaker and had less leverage. That is a cold and cynical calculus that leads only to more bloodshed.

Obama is becoming more like George W. Bush by the day.

Bush scorned the United Nations, belittled the U.N. inspectors, and proceeded without Security Council approval, cobbling together a "coalition of the willing."

And Obama appears to be taking the same path. His Administration is already downplaying the value of a U.N. inspection, saying it's "too late to be credible." And Obama has reached out to Britain and France and Jordan and Saudi Arabia for cover.

So odds are that Obama, like Bush, is going to wage another war in the Middle East against international law, without U.N. approval, and perhaps without any Congressional authorization at all.

And the consequences of such lawlessness could be grave. Hezbollah, which is allied with Syria, could open fire on Israel.

Iran, also on Syria's side, could wreak havoc. And don't forget: Syria's chief ally is Russia. Does Obama really want a faceoff with Putin and his nuclear weapons?

Wars are much riskier and more unpredictable than presidents think. How many times do we have to learn that the hard way?

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story Bradley Manning's Unjust Sentence.

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.

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John Kerry used two weak arguments to justify President Obama’s war-making.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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