We at the Flyer are willing to acknowledge our share of the general human fallibility, but we do our best to tell the forest from the trees and to see both sides of them clearly. Call it clairvoyance or call it simple clear-headedness, but we are confident that we divined things correctly back in 2002, in the wake of 9/11, when then-President George W. Bush and his neo-con handlers first began beating the propaganda drums for a preemptive attack against Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
We said no to that prospect at the onset. We said it over and over during the run-up to war, and we never stopped saying it, even as that pointless catastrophe wore on, year after bloody and unproductive year.
Yes, Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, but he had been our man against the Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran. Neither he nor his country had anything to do with 9/11. His Baathist regime and al-Qeada were, in fact, bitter adversaries. Saddam was a secularist at a time when it was clear that Islamic jihadists should be our chief concern in the Middle East. We were convinced also that laying waste to Iraq, as we did, would upset the balance of power in favor of Iran. And finally, there was the contrived intelligence about "weapons of mass destruction" under development in Iraq.
How the neo-con brigade was able to sell that turkey to the American public (and Congress) using the emotional fallout from 9/11 and cooked "evidence" has been the subject of dozens of books. But the fact is, much of the country and much of the media bought it, and the result was that it nearly cooked and consumed us.
And Afghanistan? What are we possibly doing there that has any possible bearing on our original mission? In late 2001, we did manage to uproot the al-Qeada headquarters corps, which quickly moved in next door with our "ally" Pakistan.
Now, here we are again, with a different president, Barack Obama, telling us we need to go in and take some kind of undefined but decisive military action against the Assad regime in insurrection-plagued Syria. The evidence of Assad's chemical warfare so far presented by Secretary of State John Kerry looks as Botoxed and unconvincing as the secretary himself.
Granted: Assad, too, is an undisputed bad guy, as were Mubarak in Egypt and Gaddafi in Libya — both of whom, for better or for worse, belonged to an established order that we were accustomed to. Both were succeeded by unstable, putatively "democratic" governments that either condoned or allowed or failed to repress acts of terrorism against the Western world and their own people. However it was exploited by Republicans for political ends, Benghazi is still an object lesson.
So excuse us if we remain skeptical about the need for this newest conflict. We note with some satisfaction that key members of Tennessee's delegation in Congress, both Democratic and Republican, seem either disinclined or dubious regarding military action in Syria, and we are pleased that at least President Obama has had the good sense — and the constitutional regard — to refer the matter to Congress.
For ourselves, we say now, as we did in 2002 and thereafter — no. Just, no.