I used to love to read comic books. The story lines were simple, the action was amusing and the good guy always won in the end. I remember when they brought Batman and Robin to the TV screen with much the same approach. We all loved it for the same reasons. We have often created cartoon-like characters to amuse ourselves, even when the real life characters were anything but amusing. Take for example the TV show Hogan’s Heroes. The German commandant and the German sergeant were always laughable in their actions and reactions. Yet, while amusing to watch, the real life equivalents were not at all amusing to thousands of GIs held in German prison camps. Our lives are filled with many serious challenges and humor certainly helps to alleviate some of the stress so inherent in todays fast-paced and information-overloaded existence. Yet, we must be careful not to confuse the truth-lite, filled with caricatures and simplicity, with the whole truth, filled with real people and real consequences . Remember, George Bush, Dick Cheney and their merry band of truth-lite purveyors told us that after our invasion of Iraq we would be welcomed as “liberators” and the war would be over in short order. Comic books fade and turn to dust. Truth is what we have to live with for decades and sometimes generations.
The President is being straight with us. He is not feeding us truth-lite when he describes the brutality of ISIS. They are the real deal. They are true-believing fanatics whose’ tactics are filled with horror, violence and pain. Not a single statement from any quarter has disputed this. In fact, ISIS itself takes great pride in this reputation. It is not the truth about ISIS that I am disputing. It is rather the rationale for the US response to ISIS that I am questioning as well as the response itself. Are we bombing ISIS because we fear that they will attack the US, or are we bombing ISIS because we feel an obligation to lead the fight against evil in the world? Has the US again become Batman and Robin, fighting against all evildoers? I use the word again because of our last Bush-Cheney-lead comic book-like adventure in the Middle East. That was a case in which entering the battle was clearly easier than extracting ourselves from it. In fact, it is easy to make the case that we are still confronting evildoers in the Middle East because of the Bush-Cheney Middle East adventure. Our actions have consequences. What will be the consequences of our current Middle East adventures? Yet we have been spoon-fed the rational and the facts of our bombing campaign for the past several weeks. First we started bombing in Iraq to prevent the genocide of an ancient Christian sect at the hands of ISIS. Then we were bombing in Iraq to avoid allowing a major dam from falling into the hands of ISIS. Then we were bombing in Iraq to support the Kurdish troops in their fight against ISIS. Now we are bombing ISIS in Syria to attack them at their base. Please note that the difference between the rationales for our bombing ISIS in Iraq and our attack in Syria is the difference between defensive actions and offensive actions. It is like a series of comic books. Each rationale has a simple good versus evil plot with the loud BOOM,CRASH and BAM of the bombs dropping on the evildoers. We were even treated to a video presentation on Tuesday morning of the bombs being dropped on Syria.
The rationale for our engagement keeps shifting from one week to the next. We are told that Batman and Robin will be bringing in other fighters to join them in the battle against the evil ISIS. So far they have joined only at an altitude of 30,000 feet as they drop bombs. But we are told by all who are expert in these matters that bombs alone won’t do the trick. I am concerned about what the next comic book will depict in our effort to fight all evildoers.