Like Narcissus

Syrians have been killing each other recently, and the death toll may exceed 100,000 by some estimates. Yes, yes, this is horrible. A crime. Even, perhaps, because some few of those deaths were caused by chemical agents, a “crime against humanity.”

Well, at least this will give the International Criminal Court something to occupy its time over the next decade or so. Back here on planet Earth, the biggest response, at least here in America and in Britain, seems to be “meh.” Less kindly, I’ve heard (and had the unkind thought) that “the more they kill each other, the fewer there will be to try to kill us.”

In this case, the feckless Obama administration has done exactly the right thing: wring its hands like an old-time school marm about the inhumanity, and do…not one blessed thing. Proving, once again, that a stopped clock is going to be right twice a day.

While we now appear to be on the precipice of actually doing something, it is quite clear that whatever is contemplated won’t result in regime change in Syria, but would, in the words of our president, be “a shot across the bow.” In other words, it isn’t about affecting a change in regime, or defeating the regime in Syria. It’s about a message.

Which means it’s really all about us, about how we feel about Assad’s killing his own people. It’s about how we feel about our good and noble intentions. Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked, had this to say in summary:

Like Narcissus, the beaters of the drum for war on Assad are concerned only with their own image, their own reflection, and the question of whether they’ll be able to look at themselves in the mirror if they fail to Do Something.

That’s the ticket: Do Something. Make us feel better about ourselves. Send that futile shot across the bow, but make sure they know where it’s going to land, to ensure that no one gets hurt.

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