FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama’s Obscenities on Syria

by DAVE LINDORFF

In what NPR called “perhaps President Obama’s last best chance” to make his case for launching a war against Syria, the president tellingly didn’t make a single effort to present hard, compelling evidence to prove that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad had been behind the alleged Sarin Aug. 21 attack on residents of a suburb of Damascus.

Not one piece of evidence.

Instead, he continued the talking point of the past week, focussing on the admitted horror of seeing young children “writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor.”

Given that two thirds of Americans, according to polls, do not want the US to unilaterally attack Syria, and really do not want yet another war in the Middle East, it is truly amazing that the president didn’t try to make the case, at least, that Assad was the guilty party. He simply stated, as was done in the two-page propaganda article posted on the White House website, that “We know the Assad regime was responsible” for the gas attack.

Except that we don’t. As I have written (but as the corporate media have blacked out throughout this latest crisis), a group of 12 veteran intelligence officers has written to the president telling him that the intelligence does not point to Assad, but to the rebel forces as the source of the gas attack.

What Obama did instead was try to make a case that attacking Syria to punish the government for its unproven use of gas against its own people was a matter of US national security.

Here he pulled out an even more far-fetched version of the old “domino theory” than even Lyndon Johnson’s and John F. Kennedy’s crew came up with to justify the Vietnam War.

If the US didn’t act against Syria, the president intoned darkly, Assad might eventually feel confident enough to use poison gas against neighboring Turkey, Jordan or Israel. And “other tyrants” around the world, he went on, might decide, if the US didn’t respond in Syria, to stockpile poison gas weapons that might “over time” be used against American soldiers. Even worse, he warned, Iran might decide, if the US failed to bomb Syria for its alleged gas use, that it would be safe developing those nuclear weapons that the US insists Iran wants to build.

There is, in short, no limit to the horrors that could be visited on the world if the US isn’t ready to bomb the crap out of Syria, according to President Obama.

And just to close the deal regarding Syria’s existential threat to America, the president said that we needed to bomb Assad’s forces in order “to make our children safer in the long run.”

Talk about a stretch!

Oddly, he at another point belittled the idea of any threat posed by Syria, saying that “the Assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military.”

There was another striking omission in this address. The president initially declared gravely that Assad’s regime, in using poison gas weapons, had “violated the laws of war.”

And yet he surely knows, as a Constitutional scholar, that he himself has already violated a more serious law of war — Article 51 of the United Nations Charter — by threatening Syria, a country that he himself admits poses no imminent threat to the US, with attack — and not just verbally threatening, but by assembling an armada in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf ready at a moment’s notice to fire hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles into the country. Such a threat is termed a Crime Against Peace, and carries a maximum punishment of execution.

Apparently, to this president, as to presidents before him, other countries are bound by the Geneva Convention and by the United Nations Charter, on pain of unilateral attack by the US, but those rules to not apply to what he called this “exceptional” nation.

Obama made a slight reference to Russia’s peace bid, under which Syria has agreed to sign the chemical weapons convention (which Israel’s Knesset has yet to ratify, incidentally, and which the US itself has yet to comply with, as it still maintains significant stocks of poison gas and even smallpox virus), and to turn over his chemical weapons and manufacturing facilities to international control for eventual destruction. But he said only that he would ask Congress to postpone a vote on authorizing an attack on Syria, not that he would drop the idea.

In closing, the president claimed that the US had for seven decades has been the “anchor of international security” and he insisted that “the world’s a better place” because of that role.  It’s an appallingly ahistorical statement that the people of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, who lost upwards of three million civilians to American bombs, gas, napalm, anti-personnel bombs and bullets, the people of Iraq, who lost over a million civilians to US weapons, and who are still suffering massive birth defects from the depleted uranium that was callously spread across their land by US forces, and that the people of Afghanistan, whose country has been ripped apart by 12 years of US occupation and war, would certainly find repellant.

No, the world is decidedly not a better place because of America’s endless, unilateral and criminal wars and depredations, and Syria will fare no better following an American assault.

The real obscenity of this address was recalling at the end that the man giving it has somewhere on a wall in the White House a Nobel Peace Prize medal hanging.

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).

Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
Louisa Willcox
Park Service Finally Stands Up for Grizzlies and Us
Farzana Versey
Of Beyoncé, Trudeau and Culture Predators
Pete Dolack
Fanaticism and Fantasy Drive Purported TPP ‘Benefits’
Murray Dobbin
Canada and the TPP
Steve Horn
Army of Lobbyists Push LNG Exports, Methane Hydrates, Coal in Senate Energy Bill
Colin Todhunter
“Lies, Lies and More Lies” – GMOs, Poisoned Agriculture and Toxic Rants
Franklin Lamb
ISIS Erasing Our Cultural Heritage in Syria
David Mihalyfy
#realacademicbios Deserve Real Reform
Graham Peebles
Unjust and Dysfunctional: Asylum in the UK
Yves Engler
On Unions and Class Struggle
Alfredo Lopez
The ‘Bern’ and the Internet
Missy Comley Beattie
Super Propaganda
Ed Rampell
Great Caesar’s Ghost!: A Specter Haunts Hollywood in the Coen’s Anti-Anti-Commie Goofball Comedy
Cesar Chelala
The Public Health Impact of Domestic Violence
Ron Jacobs
Cold Weather Comforts of a Certain Sort
Charles Komanoff
On the Passing of the Jefferson Airplane
Charles R. Larson
Can One Survive the Holocaust?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail