I write this on August 28, 2013, on the eve of a splendid little drone-storm in Syria; and I truly hope it stays little. And why this brand-new American intervention into the Middle East? Not to overthrow Assad, for America has no allies amongst the quarreling rebels. So if not to destroy the dictator, and not to side with Al Qaeda among the rebels, then to keep the civil war free of poison gas? All’s fair in war, except that particular weapon? It seems that is so; for President Obama called poison gas a ‘red line’. A threat? A bluff? A rookie move? In any case, one that’s been called. Someone used poison gas, maybe; if so then probably the dictator, but maybe troublemakers among the rebels; now what?
In a rational ‘now what’, the President would back off the saber-rattling; perhaps by consulting Congress, say, and hearing Congress say ‘no’. It worked for Cameron in Great Britain, why not here? Pity about the Syrians, but our drones won’t help them. Nor will sanctions; they hurt the people more than the tyrant. Nor will aid to the rebels; which ones? And as for criminal charges in international court; first send Cheney to the Hague. As long as nation-states have self-rule, then there’s not much nation-states can do about tyranny in other nation-states. Maybe aid to refugees, and beaming in news by radio and internet.
A global empire might attempt to enforce norms, but will inevitably violate them. A global republic might rule justly, but how to get from here to there?
In a rational ‘now what’, the President would follow the Constitution and thus keep the nation out of trouble. But we can’t have that. Not that we shouldn’t; we just can’t. Rationality assumes 1) that the Constitution is a live letter, and 2) that the American military-industrial complex is in the business of winning wars, as opposed to forever waging them.
In the real-world ‘now what’, it looks like this might be a truly W-style go-alone imperial Presidential hobbyist war. A few days of drone strikes on pre-announced targets; what could possibly go wrong?
Really what we are witnessing is not policy, nor even politics; it is a tic, pure and simple; a mechanical reflex; an automatic ritual of human sacrifice.
And a sacrifice to what purpose? To restore credibility, if you please! For the President called poison a red line, and it’s been crossed! So he either passes some red lines of his own, or do something other than what he said; and of the two, O the horror of the second! For that would mean that his utterances and actions were inconsistent! Has ever such a thing ever happened before?
Well… yes. Political backing down and selling out are not a noble thing, but often a necessary thing. Of course it’s hypocritical. In particular, poison gas, which Saddam Hussein used against the Kurds, with the Americans knowing.
If credibility is the mission, then what is credibility? What but consistency? – for the inconsistent is the incredible. The credible is that which has plausible deniability; or in other words, is not provably false.
But ‘not provably false’ is a dangerous quest, due to Goedel’s Second Incompleteness Theorem. This metamathematical theorem states that any arithmetical logic system that can prove its own consistency is not in fact consistent! Or in other words; for a system to remain consistent, then it cannot prove its own consistency. This is due to the existence of undecidable statements; a kind of irreducible doubt inherent in proof itself. This inherent uncertainty is inconsistent with plausible deniability.
Since credibility equals consistency, then Goedel’s Second Incompleteness Theorem applies, and a credible system can never prove its own credibility. Any proofs offered will create a credibility gap. Credibility self-discredits.
To declare oneself credible makes one incredible. Credibility is jinxed!
I therefore predict the failure of Operation Restore Credibility.
Update, on the 30th; Obama will go to Congress for approval. In other words he’s backing down. He says he won’t mind waiting because a strike a month from now will be as effective as a strike now. Yes, as in zero equals zero. Maybe we’ll get the strikes delayed in Friedman units.