The raging debate about the urgency of doing something foolish in Syria usually contains the words “surgical missile strike”. Supposedly intelligent men and women seem to think that lobbing a few missiles into Damascus will solve all the problems, because the current Syrian government will cower and capitulate. Things don’t work that way, despite weapons manufacturers’ advertising claims.
I visited Belgrade a few years after the Balkan War ended. Time had passed, peace had arrived, but economic growth had yet to come, so damaged buildings had not been repaired.Surgical bombing by the US military played no role in ending that conflict, but it did destroy a few buildings. I learned that surgical missile strikes can drop buildings, leaving structures on either side standing, albeit with broken windows and shaken residence. The former Yugoslavian Ministry of Defense building in Belgrade proved this.
Another lesson I learned during that trip to Belgrade is that missiles can be used to send a message. One missile landed on the Chinese Embassy, which the US Government claimed to have been a mistake caused by an old map. Only the gullible believe this. I am certain that the Chinese did not, but accepted the apology, obviously not wishing to make an international incident out of it. Unknown to most westerners, they had long supported the Yugoslavians as means of insinuating themselves into the Soviet sphere of influence. I do not know what message was sent, but damage was done to the building. The interesting point is that the Chinese Embassy sits alone on a plot of land outside Belgrade with no other buildings nearby. At the time, Yugoslavs chuckled at the incompetence of the United States.
The point is that missile strikes do more harm than good to people on the ground and are worthless in resolving the conflict. Unfortunately, the wrong people do not care and love to play with their toys.
Teddy Roosevelt allegedly recommended that the government “walk softly, but carry a big stick”. Current leaders prefer to talk a lot, blunder around the china shop, and wield a huge stick (which has grown is size and explosiveness since Teddy’s time).
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.