Obama’s underdog mistake

Obama fell for the oldest of self-deceiving narratives; support the little guy.

David against Goliath is an expression of one of the core narratives generated by our brains: we love the underdog. We have an instinct to see an individual or minority as good, and the established order as bad.

I reckon we love the narrative so much because it helps alleviate our guilt that we regularly comply with the establishment and majority.

It appears that even the US President is susceptible to the naive simplicity of that narrative.

He assumed that the Syrian rebels were good and the Government was bad. He assumed therefore that use of nerve gases was by the bad Government, not the rebels.

But Syria, and rebellion in general, is not an episode in the Star Wars saga. If you’re the rebel forces you need to win. Lose and you lose your life. Thus, you see your enemy as very bad. So, you do what it takes to win. If you’ve got access to nerve gas, you’ll use it.

Gas was used in the first World War. It was an option in the second. Even then, the Allied forces used all manner of other nasty weapons. How different is gas to carpet bombing of residential suburbs? How different is it to being burnt alive by incendiaries, or flame throwers?

It looks like nerve gas is being used by both sides in Syria. Welcome back to ugly reality Mr President.

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