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Transcript of a Speech
Good afternoon, everybody. And a good afternoon it is, if you know what I mean! Let’s talk some smack!
Ten days ago, the world watched in horror as men, women and children were massacred in Syria in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century. How do I know this? Because I saw it on YouTube, just like you! Yesterday the United States presented a powerful case that the Syrian government was responsible for this attack on its own people. By “powerful,” I mean that we have no actual evidence, but a hailstorm of words should be enough to shut you up if you don’t believe me.
Our intelligence shows the Assad regime and its forces preparing to use chemical weapons, launching rockets in the highly populated suburbs of Damascus, and acknowledging that a chemical weapons attack took place. Our “intelligence” consists of overhearing a general telling another general, “Load up those missiles with sarin gas and fire them on the helpless women and children in the highly populated suburbs,” because that’s what generals do all the time. They never, ever know that our secret agents are listening. And because, well, because I said so.
And all of this corroborates what the world can plainly see — hospitals overflowing with victims; terrible images of the dead. All told, well over 1,000 people were murdered. Several hundred of them were children — young girls and boys gassed to death by their own government. Now, you may be wondering where I got that figure of “well over 1,000 people.” To tell you the truth, I haven’t the faintest idea. Some folks on the ground said it might have been a few hundred. I think that numbskull Kerry might have added the extra zero, and for once he’s done something useful.
This attack is an assault on human dignity, a subject on which I am an acknowledged expert – just ask “Chelsea” Manning (LOL). It also presents a serious danger to our national security. Again, I don’t really understand what that means, but as President, I never make a speech without mentioning “national security.” It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. And if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s making a mockery of two shams of international agreements and conventions. By the way, that thing about our knowing the Iraqis were using gas? Just ignore that, OK? It endangers our friends and our partners along Syria’s borders, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. As an aside, I would like to thank my speech writers for including those other countries, which we really could care less about, but we don’t want to seem too obvious. It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons, or their proliferation to terrorist groups who would do our people harm. You know it could. You just know it. It could be you, on the subway or at the airport. Of course, what I’m about to say could more likely lead to escalation, but you need not worry your pretty little head about that.
In a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted. What’s that you ask? Why this and why now? Well, for starters, there’s this little matter of a “red line” that I drew. Red lines, lines in the sand…. We always need some kind of line to make us sound like the principled moral arbiters that we’re not. And there’s nothing like a manufactured political crisis to give me cover to unleash the power. Yeah, baby! You want me on that wall! You need me on that wall!! [Recovers some semblance of dignity, straightens jacket.]
Now, after careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets. What do I mean by regime targets? That’s a matter for our creative-targeting department to figure out. We have no way of knowing what we’re hitting or why. It could be a hospital, a pharmaceutical plant, a wedding. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. This would not be an open-ended intervention. God damn, I love my speech writers! You see how they did that? They made it sound like we’re going to help a drug addict get off drugs, not rip a bunch of faceless people limb-from-limb. We would not put boots on the ground. Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope. So basically, it’s like what we’ve been doing everywhere else with drone strikes, only this time we’ll pull out the big boys, the cruise missiles. Oh, oh, oh, I’m getting hot. [Pauses for a deep breath.] But I’m confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behavior, and degrade their capacity to carry it out. Just kidding. I know it won’t do any of those things. I don’t even know what the heck “holding them accountable” means in this case. I know that some people want to hold my esteemed predecessor accountable for his war crimes, so I’ve made sure that will never happen. Heh heh.
Our military has positioned assets in the region. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has informed me that we are prepared to strike whenever we choose. Moreover, the Chairman has indicated to me that our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. And I’m prepared to give that order. Having all this power to myself gives me a great big hard on, just fyi.
But having made my decision as Commander-in-Chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I’m also mindful that I’m the President of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. Oldest and defunctest, in constitutional lawyer-speak. I’ve long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Note to speech writers: that’s a bit too cliché, don’t you think? And that’s why I’ve made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck! Those fuckers better not do what those British twits did. All right, calm down Barry. You know you’ve got those Dem war hawks on your side, and all those Neocon republicans.
Over the last several days, we’ve heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard. I absolutely agree. Because otherwise I can’t get those useless excuses for human beings to shut the fuck up. So this morning, I spoke with all four congressional leaders, aka clowns, and they’ve agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session.
In the coming days, my administration stands ready to provide every member with the information they need to understand what happened in Syria and why it has such profound implications for America’s national security. I’ll feed them the same horseshit I’m feeding you. And all of us should be accountable as we move forward, and that can only be accomplished with a vote. And if the vote doesn’t come out the way I want it? Fuck it, I say.
I’m confident in the case our government has made without waiting for U.N. inspectors. In fact, I’m relieved, because if they don’t find any evidence to back us up, I’m double-fucked. I’m comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that, so far, has been completely paralyzed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable. Frankly, I can’t stand that those obstructionist Russians and Chinese and their “evidence this” and “evidence that,” blah blah blah. We don’t need no stinkin’ evidence! As a consequence, many people have advised against taking this decision to Congress, — actually, I’m the one who wanted to steer clear of those sad sacks, no advice needed — and undoubtedly, they were impacted by what we saw happen in the United Kingdom this week when the Parliament of our closest ally failed to pass a resolution with a similar goal, even as the Prime Minister supported taking action. So let this be a warning to you Congressional morons, one last time. Don’t you dare go against me or I’ll drop a bomb on your house, too!
Yet, while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, and if you didn’t know that’s the way it is and has been for the last 50 years, you’re even a bigger dummy than I thought, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective. Because no one person – me – should have to be held accountable. We should have this debate, because the issues are too big for business as usual, and it will give those blowhards something to do. And this morning, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell agreed that this is the right thing to do for our democracy. “Blowhards, blowhards, tell me your answer true. I’m half crazy, having to deal with you….” [sung to “Daisy”].
A country faces few decisions as grave as using military force, even when that force is limited. Syria faces the pointy end of a cruise missile, limited be damned. I respect the views of those who call for caution, but not really, particularly as our country emerges from a time of war that I was elected in part to end. Mentioning that hopey-changey shit will help keep you from falling asleep. But if we really do want to turn away from taking appropriate action in the face of such an unspeakable outrage, then we must acknowledge the costs of doing nothing. And let me be especially clear on this point: I haven’t the slightest clue what doing nothing will cost. I know it won’t cost us any lives or money, but what do you think we have a military and rich-as-Croesus contractors for if not to spend money on them? Things might just blow over and kind of stay as the stalemate they are, but that would be way too boring. Or that ASS-ad might win this stupid war, and that would be a waste of all the money and political capital I’ve already spent already on propping up our Al Qaeda-affiliated pals. I won’t stand for that kind of thing!
Here’s my question for every member of Congress and every member of the global community: What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price? I really hope you can give me an answer, because I don’t have one. What’s the purpose of the international system that we’ve built if a prohibition on the use of chemical weapons that has been agreed to by the governments of 98 percent of the world’s people and approved overwhelmingly by the Congress of the United States is not enforced? And what would be the point of a system of international prohibitions and laws if we didn’t get to violate every single one of them whenever we feel like it, like aggressive, unprovoked military action, and not get to “enforce” the law on everyone else? I know the answer to that one: It would be no fun whatsoever. Being president would be one big bummer.
Make no mistake — this has implications beyond chemical warfare. For instance, it gives us the perfect excuse to bomb Iran, maybe even nuke’m, if our “intelligence” decides they are building their own nukes. If we won’t enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules? I don’t know about you, but it says to me that we can pretend to take international rules seriously and fool all the people all the time. To governments who would choose to build nuclear arms? Iran, you idiots, that means YOU! To terrorists who would spread biological weapons? To armies who carry out genocide? I have no idea what I’m talking about, but that doesn’t matter. I’m just trying to scare you. Boo!
We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us. I can raise my children, Sasha and Malia, that way, but only because they’re drugged half the time so they won’t realize what I’m really up to, which is planning to kill more children.
So just as I will take this case to Congress, I will also deliver this message to the world. While the U.N. investigation has some time to report on its findings, we will insist that an atrocity committed with chemical weapons is not simply investigated, it must be confronted. In other words, I’m not interested in the truth, just punishing people. Because you can’t handle the truth! Breathe, Barry, breathe.
I don’t expect every nation to agree with the decision we have made. And I could care less. Privately we’ve heard many expressions of support from our friends. But I will ask those who care about the writ of the international community to stand publicly behind our action. God love those speech writers: “writ.” Where do they come up with this shit? As for you, France, you chicken hawks, I better hear you say it. “Vous me voulez sur ce mur! Vous avez besoin de moi sur ce mur!!” Hey!! Which one of your knuckleheads programmed Google Translate into my speech! Biden!!!
And finally, let me say this to the American people: I know well that we are weary of war. We’ve ended one war in Iraq. We’re ending another in Afghanistan. And if you believe those whoppers, I’ve got a bridge for sale. And the American people have the good sense to know we cannot resolve the underlying conflict in Syria with our military. But we can sure as shit make some killing happen there, yee-haw! In that part of the world, there are ancient sectarian differences, and the hopes of the Arab Spring have unleashed forces of change that are going to take many years to resolve. And that’s why we’re not contemplating putting our troops in the middle of someone else’s war. That’s also why we’ll do our best to make things worse and worse.
Instead, we’ll continue to support the Syrian people through our pressure on the Assad regime, our commitment to the opposition, our care for the displaced, and our pursuit of a political resolution that achieves a government that respects the dignity of its people. First though, I want to kill just a few hundred or thousand of them to look like a big shot.
But we are the United States of America, the greatest purveyor of violence the world has ever seen, and we cannot and must not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus. Out of the ashes of world war, we built an international order and enforced the rules that gave it meaning. No, idiot, I’m not talking about the U.N. I’m talking about empire. When did you get to the party? And we did so because we believe that the rights of individuals to live in peace and dignity depends on the responsibilities of nations. And on depriving everyone else of peace and dignity. We aren’t perfect, oh, Lord oh Lord, that’s the understatement of the century, but this nation more than any other has been willing to meet those responsibilities.Because we like giving our killing machine something to keep it busy.
So to all members of Congress of both parties, I ask you to take this vote for our national security. I am looking forward to the debate. I’ll send Biden down there to shoot off his mouth. That shit is not for me. And for the last time, for anyone still listening to this drivel: shape up or ship out. And in doing so, I ask you, members of Congress, to consider that some things are more important than partisan differences or the politics of the moment. In other words, you’re either with me or with me. Or we’ll be visiting you in the middle of the night.
Ultimately, this is not about who occupies this office at any given time; it’s about who we are as a country. When the shit hits the fan, I’ll be nowhere to be found. I believe that the people’s representatives must be invested in what America does abroad, and now is the time to show the world that America keeps our commitments. We do what we say. And we lead with the belief that right makes might — not the other way around. Well, actually, the saying is “might makes right.” Note to speech writers: check on that. How about “might makes might” and “right makes right” and blah blah blah and blah blah blah and is this speech over already? OK, last bit.
We all know there are no easy options. If there were, I wouldn’t take them anyway. But I wasn’t elected to avoid hard decisions. I was elected to advance the belligerent objectives of empire. And neither were the members of the House and the Senate, in spite of what they may tell you and their infinite capacity to fool themselves. I’ve told you what I believe, if only in those moments that I’m stoned: that our security and our values demand that we cannot turn away from the massacre of countless civilians with chemical weapons. And our democracy is stronger when the President and the people’s representatives stand together. Either we all hang together, or we all hang separately, as Yogi Berra once said.
I’m ready to act in the face of this outrage. I’m outraged at my face in the act of readiness. I’m facing my act when I’m ready for outrage. I need a drink. Today I’m asking those mf’ers Congress to send a message to the world that we are ready to move forward together as one nation.
Thanks very much. Where’s that fucking drink?
Brian Halliday is a writer living on the East Coast.