When we find ourselves getting into similar situations over and over we have two basic types of response. We often start thinking of the world as the kind of place that generates such situations. Occasionally, though, we find a moment to lift our gazes and see our lives as a story we’re telling as we go along. In those moments we can notice patterns in our lives that seem related to us as much as to the universe, and start to wonder whether anything we’re doing might contribute to generating those repetitive situations.
If only the same self-consciousness could be brought to nation-states! Here in the US our leaders continue to follow the pattern Chomsky described: you can’t reach a position of power in the US government without believing that the United States is unique in history in acting purely from altruistic motives. And it looks like Obama is about to do it again in Syria. Here’s some questions that occur to an amateur observing from the sidelines, which I would hope have been considered.
Ultimately, as with all things political, cui bono? Who in Syria, the United States, and around the world would benefit from military action? If the US claims to be acting on moral grounds despite being unable to generate a case under international law, then those moral grounds should, it seems to me, be clear and unassailable.