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Secretary of State John Kerry: “There is no doubt that Saddam al-Assad has crossed the red line. … Sorry, did I just say ‘Saddam’?”
A US drone has just taken a photo of Mullah Omar riding on a motorcycle through the streets of Damascus.
So what do we have as the United States refuses to rule out an attack on Syria and keeps five warships loaded with missiles in the eastern Mediterranean?
* Only 9 percent of Americans support a US military intervention in Syria.
* Only 11% of the British supported a UK military intervention; this increased to 25% after the announcement of the alleged chemical attack.
* British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a parliamentary vote August 29 endorsing military action against Syria 285-272.
* 64% of the French people oppose an intervention by the French Army. 4 “Before acting we need proof,” said a French government spokesperson.
* Former and current high-ranking US military officers question the use of military force as a punitive measure and suggest that the White House lacks a coherent strategy. “If the administration is ambivalent about the wisdom of defeating or crippling the Syrian leader, possibly setting the stage for Damascus to fall to Islamic fundamentalist rebels, they say, the military objective of strikes on Assad’s military targets is at best ambiguous.”
* President Obama has no United Nations approval for intervention. (In February a massive bombing attack in Damascus left 100 dead and 250 wounded; in all likelihood the work of Islamic terrorists. The United States blocked a Russian resolution condemning the attack from moving through the UN Security Council)
* None of NATO’s 28 members has proposed an alliance with the United States in an attack against Syria. NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that he saw “no NATO role in an international reaction to the [Syrian] regime.”
* The Arab League has not publicly endorsed support of US military action in Syria; nor have key regional players Saudi Arabia and Qatar, concerned about a possible public backlash from open support for US intervention.
We don’t even know for sure that there was a real chemical attack. Where does that accusation come from? The United States? The al-Qaeda rebels? Or if there was such an attack, where is the evidence that the Syrian government was the perpetrator? The Assad regime has accused the rebels of the act, releasing a video showing a cave with alleged chemical-weapon equipment as well as claiming to have captured rebels possessing sarin gas. Whoever dispensed the poison gas – why, in this age of ubiquitous cameras, are there no photos of anyone wearing a gas mask? The UN inspection team was originally dispatched to Syria to investigate allegations of earlier chemical weapons use: two allegations made by the rebels and one by the government.
The United States insists that Syria refused to allow the UN investigators access to the site of the attack. However, the UN request was made Saturday, August 24; the Syrian government agreed the next day.
In rejecting allegations that Syria deployed poison gas, Russian officials have argued that the rebels had a clear motivation: to spur a Western-led attack on Syrian forces; while Assad had every reason to avoid any action that could spur international intervention at a time when his forces were winning the war and the rebels are increasingly losing world support because of their uncivilized and ultra-cruel behavior.
President George W. Bush misled the world on Iraq’s WMD, but Bush’s bogus case for war at least had details that could be checked, unlike what the Obama administration released August 29 on Syria’s alleged chemical attacks – no direct quotes, no photographic evidence, no named sources, nothing but “trust us,” points out Robert Parry, intrepid Washington journalist.
So, in light of all of the above, the path for Mr. Obama to take – as a rational, humane being – is of course clear. Is it not? N’est-ce pas? Nicht wahr? – Bombs Away!
Pretty discouraging it is. No, I actually find much to be rather encouraging. So many people seem to have really learned something from the Iraqi pile of lies and horror and from decades of other American interventions. Skepticism – good ol’ healthy skepticism – amongst the American, British and French people. It was stirring to watch the British Parliament in a debate of the kind rarely, if ever, seen in the 21st-century US Congress. And American military officers asking some of the right questions. The Arab League not supporting a US attack, surprising for an organization not enamored of the secular Syrian government. And NATO – even NATO! – refusing so far to blindly fall in line with the White House. When did that last happen? I thought it was against international law.
Secretary of State John Kerry said that if the United States did not respond to the use of chemical weapons the country would become an international “laughingstock”. Yes, that’s really what America and its people have to worry about – not that their country is viewed as a lawless, mass-murdering repeat offender. Other American officials have expressed concern that a lack of a US response might incite threats from Iran and North Korea.
Now that is indeed something to laugh at. It’s comforting to think that the world might be finally losing the stars in their eyes about US foreign policy partly because of countless ridiculous remarks such as these.
William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power . His latest book is: America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy. He can be reached at: BBlum6@aol.com