It is sick and wrong for the US Empire to attack Syria. The simple argument for violence is that, “We are either for allowing chemical weapons or against allowing chemical weapons.” But the Empire was fine with it when one of our allies used chemical weapons, and even assisted him while he did so. That ally was Saddam Hussein, who years later became our target.
The turnaround is but one of many cases of “blowback” that plague our foreign policy operations. Entire books have been written on the massive negative effects when end-justifies-the-means thinking initiates violence. Some of these books are Blowback by Chalmbers Johnson, Friendly Fire by Julia Sweig, and Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner.
Actual CIA documents showing US knowledge of Hussein gassing his citizens, while he was our ally and getting assistance, were recently acquired by the Bangor Daily News. Viewing these documents will send a chill through your conscience:
See also The Spider’s Web, by Alan Friedman.
So, the simple argument above (we are either for allowing chemical weapons or not) degenerates into “we are against letting anyone use chemical weapons who is not our ally.” And so the noble facade of our assault on Syria falls away, revealing an ugly, Machiavellian root.
I guess someone might argue that this degenerate version of the argument is still enough to justify attacking Syria. Apart from sounding ludicrous, such an approach is patently flawed. Given all the previous blowback from numerous poorly thought-out US operations, it is more than likely that misery will befall innocent people, on a very large scale, through unintended consequences, if we attack Syria. Escalation is always a threat. In comes Russia, or maybe China or Iran. Remember that WWI started with a small rebel group assassinating an Arch Duke in a small country. The whole middle east is a tinder bed.
Another possible blowback from helping the rebels, which has been discussed in the media to some degree, is that the rebels are as bad or worse than Assad (President of Syria). Indeed some of the rebel groups have ties to Al Qaeda:
The US claims that Al Qaeda is the great terrorist enemy; but apparently that won’t stop us from strengthening Al Qaeda as we help the rebels by bombing the Syrian Army.
Adding another layer to this blowback mess: during the Soviet-Afghanistan invasion, we aided Islamic extremists, among whose ranks was Osama bin laden. Bin laden later used his skills against us, forming Al Qaeda itself (and successfully destroying the Twin Towers and hitting the Pentagon).
Apparently we have not learned from our previous failure at helping extremists. We are about to risk the empowerment of Al Qaeda and the creation of another bin laden.
Here is another very critical blowback problem: by attacking Syria the US will only worsen its international image, which is already absolutely horrible. The typical US citizen has no idea how tarnished and degraded--and, in fact, rotten--our reputation has become on a very wide scale across the globe. The US is seen as arrogant, greedy, corrupt, and willing to commit the most horrific atrocities.
As a quick example, look at the Iraq War: no one benefited except Dick Cheney’s Halliburton (Cheney, once CEO of Halliburton, was Vice President under George W. Bush. Note, also, that Bush’s father, a previous President, was also once head of the CIA), and also other wealthy segments of the military-industrial complex. Eisenhower warned us about the “military-industrial complex” long ago, but obviously we did not take heed.
The US Empire’s reputation of infamy and darkness has been a long time in the making. Maybe Sweig’s book, Friendly Fire, makes the best case. From the jacket cover:
In 1945, the U.S. ... presented itself as a paragon to inspire a less noble and divided world. Sixty years later, that perception had almost completely been reversed.
America had, in fact, quietly sowed the seeds of its own decline in the eyes of the world in its own backyard ... [In South America] we sponsored dictatorships, turned a blind eye to killing squads, and tolerated the subversion of democracy. Almost nobody knew, so it didn’t really matter, right?
Sweig goes on to obliterate the logic (if it can be called that) behind this facile question. We in the US need to own up to the sad fact: our empire has overturned democracies and replaced them with tyrannical monsters. The horror of this is starting to spread and grow in the world consciousness. For example, in The Brief Yet Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the National Book Award recently, author Junot Diaz shines a wicked light on the US’s chosen leader of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo, an utterly despicable man.
Yet Franklin D. Roosevelt said of Trujillo, “He may be a bastard, but he’s our bastard.”
What did Trujillo do:
Trujillo governed by corruption, nepotism, fear and violence - he banned all but his own political party, imprisoned opponents, bought and sold favours with American companies, and killed over 50,000 of his own people - as well as many as 30,000 Haitians massacred during an incursion into his neighbour's territory. But all through his rule, he was a favourite of America - providing Caribbean hospitality for his sponsors' richest citizens as well as a place for them to place their "offshore" investments beyond the reach and audit of any regular authorities. As revolution swept Central and South America in the 1950s, Trujillo and his family were seen as bulwarks of western interests.
Trujillo and the other monsters the US Empire put in power are not going away--not their impact on the global collective consciousness, anyway. Poets, writers and thinkers of all kinds are seeking justice for the horrors the US puppet dictators inflicted.
It does no good for the US to go into Syria. We will once again, and rightly so, be seen as arrogant, callous, cruel and willfully ignorant of the effects. No doubt huge corporations will benefit from military profits or secondary profits from the action--and that will work against our reputation. Badly.
We will also suffer other kinds of blowback, as mentioned above, such as the rebels someday becoming our enemies. Escalation could occur, resulting in massive conflict, even WWIII, which will be the end of everything we know.
There is also the matter, not of consequences, but of simple ethical principles. Honesty. Decency. Goodness. None of these are served by the US continuing its decades-long pattern of infernal deeds: the “Legacy of Ashes” as Tim Weiner puts it.
As I have written in this blog a couple times, at least, the US status as a solo superpower was very short-lived. We are already on the decline, sinking below China, after only about seventy years of supremacy. It is ultimately greed that shattered this country. It divided the people into haves and have nots, and let the haves bribe politicians. And, in the service of avarice, we embarked on foreign policy strategies that maximized the stock market and minimized virtue. In the very short term, greed allows huge plumes of power. But look at the results.
No on Syria. Enough.