“You will not see your brother's donkey or his ox fallen down by the way, and hide yourself from them; you will surely help him to lift them up again.” Deut 22:4
Americans are a compassionate people, and as a whole strive hard to protect and preserve the health, well being and good fortune of the animals unable to protect themselves. This care for four footed, feathered and finned friends many derive from the above verse.
How often have viewers chuckled at the end of a feature film, even if animated, when it is noted that no animals were harmed in the making of this movie? Americans take pride in works of the ASPCA and similar agencies. Many empathize strongly with pet protection groups that refuse to euthanize. Examples of concern for animals are replete in the American experience. Preventing harm to our dumb friends is ingrained among American ideals.
Equally part of the American psyche is care for the downtrodden. The Civil Rights Movement, efforts to protect migrant workers, strides to extend voting rights, the War on Poverty and many other initiatives are examples of the same verse understood poetically, its message applied to human victims.
Even more compelling is the extent to which the message of this verse has been extended to American foreign and military policy from the earliest years of the republic. When Jefferson sent the Marine Corps to fight the Barbary Pirates on the shores of Tripoli, it was to protect victims that were hapless against the pirates’ evil ways. While the motives may have not always been sincere or truly shaped by reality, American zeal to protect and preserve victims compelled our country to enter the Mexican American War and the Spanish American War, not to mention World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, both Gulf Wars, the War on Grenada, Bosnia, and numerous other examples of America acting as world policeman and protector, long before America was a superpower, when the United States was not wealthy, and at times when military acts were criticized by the population and rejected by powers at be at home and abroad. Still, America acted!
What has happened recently? Months ago, when Syrians were first felled by their own president, President Obama protested and began to step to the plate and swing away at the Syrian regime. Then he stopped and no further notices of American plans made it to the press. When recently yet another atrocity was witnessed, where the Obama administration argued that a line in the sand had been passed, and that the United States would not stand idly by, whether military action against Syria would be desirable by the American people or not, President Obama had lived up to expectations of American administrations dominated by Republicans, Democrats and a variety of other parties that no longer hold sway in American life. The president pledged that America would act, use its military power; and America would not sit and watch fallen victims suffer further.
Then he changed his mind. Forget precedent, popularity must be more important. After all, how can the president rely on a Congress more concerned with reelection and party discipline than with acting . If committee meetings are the perfect way to delay decisions, sending matters to Congress for approval is predictably worse.
Obama’s about face is at best embarrassing. At worst it signals to the whole world that words of America’s leaders mean nothing at all. American leaders will say one thing and do another. Lines in the sand may as well be drawn on an etch-a-sketch.
Is a war against Syria sought by any with a mind in their head? Not really. It is a dangerous corner of the world in which to become involved. Yet if this government does not act as promised against users of chemical weapons of mass destruction, what happens when supporters of this evil transport those armaments elsewhere, even to America’s own shores?
President Obama, help lift up this poor donkey. If you do not, might America be the next roadside sufferer?