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Americans Oppose Criminal US Syrian Attack


f you needed more evidence that former president Jimmy Carter was correct [1] when he said, in response to reports of the massive National Security Agency spying program exposed by Edward Snowden, that that democracy no longer exists in the US, just look at Washington’s push to launch a new war against Syria. According to the latest Reuters poll [2], 60 percent of Americans, despite weeks of propaganda out of Washington, and cheerleading in the corporate media, oppose a US war in Syria. Only nine percent are in favor of the US launching an attack.

Does that matter? Clearly not. The aircraft carriers and cruise missile-armed submarines and surface ships have been moved into position. The corporate media quote unnamed government “sources” as saying that “only the timing of an attack” is in question, and suggesting that an attack could come as early as Thursday.

UN inspectors have just gone to the site of an alleged gas attack to see if such a thing actually happened, as charged by Syrian rebels. But is the US (which reportedly tried to scuttle the independent UN investigation into the alleged gas attack [3]) waiting to see whether there even was an attack, and to hear whether if there was one, it was the work of the Syrian government, or, as some have charged, of the rebels themselves? No. Rather, the Obama administration and the war-mongers in Congress are already declaring that the attack “certainly” occurred, and that it was the Syrian government’s doing. (Hey, if the US really wanted a justification for a war, and was “certain” Syrian troops were behind the poison gas attack, wouldn’t they have wanted UN investigators’ confirmation of the crime and the guilty party?)

The media are talking about an “intervention” in, not an invasion of Syria. CBS News reports [4] that President Obama has “ordered up” a legal justification to be used for attacking Syria, and says that “particular emphasis is being placed on alleged violations of the Geneva Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.”

Not mentioned is that there is a broader international law that flat-out bans the launching of a war by one nation against another, unless there is an “imminent” threat of attack against the attacking nation by the nation being attacked. Violating that law is called a “crime against peace” under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and under the terms of the UN Charter. The concept of a “crime against peace” was incorporated into the Nuremberg Charter, largely at the urging of the US, following World War II and the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, and was later incorporated into the UN Charter as Article 51. The US is a treaty signatory, which the Constitution says means it is as binding on the government as any law passed by Congress.

This law was declared to be jus cogens, meaning that it is superior to all other laws of war and therefore cannot be superceded by any other international or national law except of the same ranking. The Geneva Convention against the use of chemical weapons, for example, is a subordinate law, as are laws against other war crimes, against genocide, or against torture.

The government war-mongers in Washington, including the president and secretary of state, when they speak of finding, creating or digging up a legal justification for attacking Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons, ignore this reality. For their part, the corporate media don’t mention UN Charter Article 51, the Crime Against Peace, or the fact that it makes a joke out of any administration effort to justify an attack on Syria. (No wonder Obama just asked a federal court to block any effort to bring war crime charges against his predecessor, George W. Bush, and his consigliere, VP Dick Cheney. The man, trained as a constitutional scholar, is thinking ahead, hoping his successor will do the same for him.)

Legalities aside, any attack on Syria by the US and its puppet states in Europe, Britain and France, can only worsen a bad situation. Originally the plan was to arm the rebels. That was supposed to reduce the killing by allowing the rebels to defend their territory against Syrian government troops. Instead, arming the rebels, who as it turns out are a bloodthirsty lot themselves, has only made things worse by leading to more killing from their side, and to a prolongation of the already more than two-year-old internal Syrian conflict.

If the US and its puppet “allies” enter the fray directly, there is a strong likelihood that things could spiral out of control, with the war spreading beyond Syria’s borders. Iran has already warned that it could enter the fray in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Israel has already conducted bombing raids in Syria, and there are fears it has an itchy trigger finger on its low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, which if used in any expanded conflict would be a total disaster for the region and the world.

Roger Boyes, diplomatic editor of the London Times newspaper and a 35-year veteran foreign affairs journalist, is warning [5] that the Syrian conflict, if further inflamed by a US attack and more western intervention, could easily become the flash point for a region-wide war or worse.

“In August 1914 there was a lot of grouse shooting going on,” he says in reference to the events that sparked World War I. “In August 2013, politicians prefer to read doorstopper biographies in Tuscany and Cornwall. Yet the spreading Middle East crisis, its multiple flashpoints, is every bit as ominous as the prelude to war in 1914.”

Back to America, where the economy is still on a shaky footing with official unemployment still at 7.5% five years on into the Great Recession that began in 2008 (and actual unemployment, counting workers who have given up trying to find a job, and those who are working part time involuntarily, just to survive, is closer to 20%), and where the military is still engaged in another losing war in Afghanistan, while trying to maintain bases in some 1000 locations around the globe at a cost of some $1 trillion a year.

Americans are clearly fed up with war. Only three in 10 people think that the Afghanistan War was “worth it.” And the evidence is there daily that the invasion of Iraq in 2003, at a cost of perhaps as much as $3 trillion, and the slaughter of over 100,000 innocent civilians, not to mention the creation of millions of refugees, produced nothing but a failed state where massive, horrific sectarian bombings are a daily occurrence.

Not surprisingly, the American people don’t want yet another war, this time against Syria, which clearly poses no threat at all to the US.

Does that opposition matter?

No. The Obama administration and the war mongers of both parties who control Congress, not to mention the corporate arms industry and the corporate media are all gung-ho for a new war to replace the fading one in Afghanistan.

Ex-President Carter has it right: “The US has no functioning democracy.” Until Americans start putting wrenches into the gears of the war machine, it will continue to clank along on it’s grim, destructive and self-destructive path.

DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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