Saturday May 11, 2013

Most of us like chocolate. I particularly like dark chocolate.

There was a time I couldn’t get enough of it. Then I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. Yes, I still eat dark chocolate, but not nearly as much as I used to.

Those of you who are chocolate fans know what I’m talking about. Dang, is it good. Sweet and delicious. If you have one piece you just have to have another; and another, and Š well you get the picture.

We’re human beings. We understand cravings.

However, suppose you don’t like chocolate.

I was in a conversation with a state representative in Montpelier this past week and we were standing in front of a wonderful display of chocolates sponsored by none other than Manchester’s own Mother Myrick’s Confectionary Co. and Lake Champlain Chocolates. The temptation was overwhelming. I couldn’t help but notice that my friend didn’t seem to be at all interested in the display of succulent treats.

"Aren’t you having one?" I asked.

"I don’t care for chocolate," he replied.

I was stunned.

Imagine not liking chocolate. I trembled at the thought.

***

On the front page of one of this week’s newspapers the headlines read, "Damascus Shakes; Israel Responsible." My first thought was here we go. Just when it appeared as though we were winding down from not one, but two wars -- the second one from which our troops have not yet returned -- we are now on the brink of a third war; this time with Syria.


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Why we think this is a good idea is baffling. Syria is involved in civil war as a result of its government overreacting to an uprising of disenchanted citizens; an Arab Spring, if you will. Instead of working to find some common ground with those disenchanted with his government, Syria’s president, Bashir Assad, tried to squash the revolt with a heavy hand. Since the uprising began over a year ago it’s been reported that nearly 70,000 people have died. Get your head around that, folks. That’s a lot of dead people.

Last week we learned that it appears as though the Syrian government may have used chemical weapons on their own people. This is from the Huffington Post: "The U.S. has long believed that Syria was stockpiling chemical weapons. Intelligence reports indicate that it has sarin and the nerve agent tabun along with traditional chemicals like mustard gas and hydrogen cyanide.

A 2011 CIA report said Syria was also developing the potent nerve agent VX, which could render a city uninhabitable for days."

About a year ago President Obama drew a line in the sand saying that we would act should Syria ever use chemical weapons. Well, it’s always a good idea to not draw a line in the sand for fear that you may have to either move the line, cross the line or take action. We may have been placed in a place where we either act or look weak and retreat.

This is not a good place in which to be, but here we are.

One can only imagine what’s going through the mind of former Vice President Dick Cheney. He must be about to explode with joy and excitement. You may recall that it was this vice president, who went all out in support of going to war with Iraq. He went to great lengths to ignore intelligence and to scare the people of this country half to death over Saddam Hussein’s ability to attack us with weapons of mass destruction that he, Hussein, never had.

That was not a good time for America, but it was a swell time for Halliburton; the company for which Mr. Cheney once served as CEO. It was Halliburton that made approximately $40 billion off the Iraq War; much from no-bid contracts. There was an additional $100 billion that went to nine other companies who seem to exist to profit from war.

For most of us war is not a good thing. Our kids die. Our government loses billions of dollars that we end up having to borrow from China. Wars add to our national debt that our friends like Paul Ryan, Lindsey Graham, et.al, all cry that we must get under control.

Maybe they’re right, but while these barking dogs are howling in the night, there are those out there who are rubbing their collective hands together with heightened anticipation that maybe, just maybe, we can run off to another war. President Obama has worked hard to get us out of Iraq and now out of Afghanistan, but then what? How can companies like Halliburton hope to bilk taxpayers out of more money if they don’t have the cloak of war to hide behind?

The timing is perfect. Our kids are on their way home and hopefully will only be here long enough to say hello to their friends and family before being shipped off to Syria; the next moneymaker.

It’s rather like chocolate. It’s so very hard to eat one small piece when there’s an entire plate full to be devoured, but in the end it might just kill you.

Bob Stannard is a Banner columnist.