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By Stephen Browne
Steve Browne is an award-winning reporter and columnist who entered journalism by accident while living and working in Eastern Europe from 1991 to 2004. He is the author of two books for English students: \x34Word Pictures: English as it is REALLY ...
Rants and Raves
Steve Browne is an award-winning reporter and columnist who entered journalism by accident while living and working in Eastern Europe from 1991 to 2004. He is the author of two books for English students: Word Pictures: English as it is REALLY Used, published in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Novosibirsk, Russia, and English Linguistic Humor: Puns, Play on Words, Spoonerisms, and Shaggy Dog Stories. In 1997 he was elected an Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights. He is currently living in his native Midwest, which he considers the most interesting foreign country I have ever lived in.
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By Stephen W. Browne
Aug. 26, 2013 11:17 a.m.

Hang on to your hats, here we go round again.
President Obama has asked the military to “prepare options for all contingencies” in Syria, according to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
The immediate cause was compelling evidence a lot of civilians, estimates differ so widely I’m just going to say “a lot,” were killed by poison gas attacks recently in Syria’s civil war.
The gas presumably came from the nonexistent stockpiles Saddam Hussein didn’t have when George “Bush lied thousands died” Bush invaded Iraq.
I’m going to pause for a moment and crow bitterly. I think U.S. forces discovered evidence of chemical weapons in Iraq during the first week of the invasion and CNN showed them for all the world to see.
Coalition forces found an underground storage facility in the desert full of 55 gallon drums. A week later Al Jazeera triumphantly announced they were insecticides.
I noted that insecticides are in fact the chemical precursors of some nasty nerve agents. That’s what the Aum Shinrikyo cult used to make sarin gas for the Tokyo subway attacks in 1995.
I haven’t been able to get anyone of importance to acknowledge this in 10 years.
So now there’s a humanitarian disaster in Syria, and we’re on the verge of rushing in to “fix” it like we fixed Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. Because our president’s bluff has been called once too many times and he’s got to show the world he’s got a pair after all.
I just wish that before we spent another trillion dollars or so we’d pause and ask a few questions first.
Starting with, what’s in it for us?
As in, does Syria have any significant amount of oil for example?
Iraq does – and we wound up not getting much of it anyway. So much for “No blood for oil.”
Will we significantly hurt Al-Queda?
They’re talking about intervening on the side of Al-Queda for God’s sake!
So all that aside, chaos in the Middle East is bad for our interests because…?
But people are dying!
Sure are, a lot more than died when Syria was merely ruled by a ruthless but sane tyrant.
OK, I’ll stop sugar coating this and get to the point.
The Middle East is a basket case as far as civilization goes. Wars and revolutions are going to break out regular as clockwork for a long time to come. People will be killing each other over reasons incomprehensible to us, and whatever happens they’re going to blame it all on 1) America, 2) the Jews.
The only solution we could impose is one we’re not even willing to talk about – empire.
As in occupy the place, establish an imperial civil service, and hold it with a corps of professional soldiers like the French Foreign Legion composed of tough, smart, and ruthless men we don’t like very much at home, because they’re going to die a lot. Do it for two generations minimum. To pay for it, levy taxes on the population.
You didn’t want to hear that, did you? Nobody does.
We all know imperialism is always and forever a Bad Thing of course. So how many former possessions of the British Empire have a higher standard of living now? How many have more security of person and property? How many are freer?
Some to be sure – but how many?
And now the British Empire is no more, is the world a safer place?
America does not do empire, in spite of all the cant about “American imperialism.” Which is in some ways a pity, because our few historical experiments with it in the Philippines and various Pacific islands shows we’re rather good at it when we put our minds to it.
But if we’re not willing to go that route, I’d say stay the heck out of crummy situations where we have no compelling national interest. Half measures are expensive for us and don’t do them any favors in the long run.
Note: This is my weekly op-ed.

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