Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
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.