|Posted by Don Stitt on September 6, 2013 at 11:00 AM|
Unless you have been sequestered in a bomb shelter deep in the bowels of the ancient world, you are probably aware that Syria’s dictator Assad has a full-fledged revolution on his hands. His nation is divided between the Sunni majority, revolutionary activists, and militant Islamist factions that are all trying to assume control. And it is claimed that he has been using Sarin gas on his citizens in efforts to remain in power. Sound familiar?
But unlike the run-up to the invasion of Iraq eleven years ago, there is striking evidence that these claims are actually true about Mr. Assad. This is not some cock-and-bull story involving yellow cake uranium that will allow a war profiteer the opportunity to pump $139B into the company for whom he had previously served as CEO; most people agree that this actually happened, and that a red line has been crossed.
What red line is that, you ask? Well, it seems that nerve gas was first unleashed during WWI, and in 1925, there was an accord in Geneva where the world’s military powers agreed that using chemical weapons should be prevented, as doing so was not effective warfare, and only ruined the lives of innocent civilians. (And if the idea of world leaders agreeing on what constitutes acceptable warfare strikes you as ironic, we are probably on the same page.)
So for nearly ninety years, the world community at large has agreed that gas attacks are unacceptable, especially when used by a dictator to reign in his own populace. And while Saddam Hussein does seem to have used this method on his own people, it was some years before the flimsy excuses that were put forth to justify invading his country and taking him out.
So why do I keep comparing the proposed military strike by the US on Syria’s chemical weapons factory with the invasion of Iraq if they aren’t similar, you ask? Simple. Because our invasion of a sovereign nation in the Arab bloc on the basis of falsified intelligence, to justify the murder of a quarter of a million innocent civilians, (not to mention the 6,000 casualties among our allied troops,) has permanently damaged the credibility of the United States with the Arab people of that region.
And therein lies the problem. Well, one of them, at least.
There is also the matter of the outcome of such a strike. Most knowledgeable people involved in the upper levels of the discussions agree that such a strike will not really have any lasting or positive effect with regard to reining in the abuses being enacted by the dictator in question. And it certainly will not remove him from power, which the Pentagon claims they have no interest in doing, anyway.
Our political and military leaders claim there will be no escalation from a limited strike on a military target to a boots-on-the-ground invasion, even though they concede they cannot effect meaningful change without such an invasion. The general consensus seems to be that Assad’s use of chemical weaponry on his own people cannot go unpunished because of the aforementioned Geneva accord, and because a violation of internationally accepted ideas of what is “appropriate warfare” flies in the face of what the world community can and will accept.
No one was upset when Assad killed tens of thousands of his own people with bullets or mortars. That comes under the heading of “acceptable.” But the use of chemical weapons crosses an imaginary line in the sand. (Which also seems to harken back to eleven years earlier.)
And while the United Kingdom has resolved not to join us in such a strike this time, (as they are still smarting from the humiliating discovery that everything they were told about the invasion of Iraq was a bald-faced lie,) our president and our secretary of state have concluded that we must act.
That the United Nations is discouraging such a strike is no more of a deterrent at present than it was eleven years ago, either. The people at the top levels of our government feel they have to show the world that the United States is not to be trifled with, because they are the only remaining super-power. (This is a flawed notion, in my opinion, as I think it is hard to look like a superpower when you are $9 Trillion in the hole. I submit to you that if there is a superpower remaining in the world, it is the one that we owe all that money to, China.)
In addition to which many Muslim people view the United States with contempt for reasons other than that of the Iraq invasion. We are referred to as The Big Satan, (in conjunction with Israel, which is called Little Satan.)
But ours is not the only government that thinks dropping bombs on innocent civilians in the name of protecting innocent civilians is a good idea. One of the nations that agrees with this ideology is Israel. And I think that speaks for itself. Certainly during the Jewish High Holy Days.
But wait, we have other nations who support us, too! There’s France, the nation that we demeaned for a lack of support during the ill-considered Iraq invasion. I guess that if they support our action, we can stop referring to a favorite side dish as “Freedom Fries.”
And in fairness, we also have diplomatic support from Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, who probably have more American dollars in their respective treasury at the moment than we do. So no one can accuse us of acting unilaterally here; we have formed a coalition of the Yes Men.
Fortunately, our current president was a professor of Constitutional Law, and he does not want to go ahead with such a strike unless he has the support of Congress. The very same Congress that has blocked every initiative he has put forward, regarding such things as Veterans’ Benefits, the Jobs Bill, Unemployment Coverage, Economic Stimulus, Marriage Equality, Women’s Reproductive Rights, and The Affordable Healthcare Act, (which they are still trying to repeal, despite the fact that the Supreme Court has upheld it.)
One would think that the GOP controlled Congress would seize upon this as another opportunity to embarrass the president and weaken his power. And while it remains unclear whether the Congress-at-large will support a strike, it was surprising to learn that the committee overseeing such things has voted (narrowly) to support this action.
Well then, if we have other countries that support us, and we seem to have our elected officials in rare agreement over such an action, what could possibly go wrong, you ask?
Oh, nothing much. Although I couldn’t help noticing that Russia is positioning warships in proximity to those that are maneuvering into place in the Mediterranean for the strike, and that they are allies with Syria’s dictator. And that Syria buys their weapons. And that Russia’s leader seems to still cling to the Cold War mentality that we are and always will be their enemy, even though there is no more Soviet Union.
Oh, yes. I forgot to mention that Iran, which has hated us since about 1953, when we put another dictator into place in their country, and which has demonstrated increasing animosity toward us since their revolution in the late 70s, has promised a retaliatory strike against Israel if we strike Syria.
And that Israel has promised to “respond with force” against Iran if they do. (Have I mentioned the fact that Israel isn’t the most popular kid on the block in that part of the world?)
Even Syria’s leader has called The Middle East a powder keg ready to blow up at any moment, and this remark was unrelated to the proposed military action against them. The Kurds, Shia and Sunnis all hate each other, the area is rife with terrorists, and there only seems to be one thing that most of them agree on: Bombing Israel sounds like a wonderful idea in any given circumstance.
And, of course, Iran has been working toward nuclear capability in recent years, and may already have it. And Israel has nuclear weapons. And we don’t really know what other nations have, except for North Korea, which seems to have nukes, and a crazy despot in charge looking for an excuse to bomb Los Angeles. (Unless Dennis Rodman is there, in which case all bets are off.)
My word count tells me that I have just composed one thousand four hundred and twenty five words in an attempt to explain this circumstance to you, so I shall attempt to be brief in my summarization of my opinion in this matter, an opinion which I will happily admit has little value whatsoever aside from, perhaps, amusement and entertainment.
If dropping bombs on Syrians in the name of protecting Syrians could easily lead to a global nuclear conflict, I submit to you that this is not the best idea to come down the pike since the hula hoop. Especially if all parties agree it won’t significantly change anything other than sending a strong message to a despot who has already ignored reason and compassion in his desperate attempt to retain his position.
Unlike the blatant, self-serving lies of the Cheney...I mean Bush... administration, intelligence supports the conclusions the president and secretary of state have drawn this time. And I agree that someone should do something to stop Assad, if such a thing should prove to actually be a possibility.
So I say we rent our warships to Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and at least make some money off the rental. If they prove to be hesitant to strike another Arab country, let them pay the French to man the ships and push the buttons.
And let us not give the Kurds, Sunnis and Shia any more reason to hate us than they already have.
Pass the Freedom Fries, please.