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From One Crime to Another

Empire, Hypocrisy and Deflection

by MISSY BEATTIE

According to Barack Obama, the use of chemical weapons is an act that must be punished. If the USA fails to smite the Assad regime, we could lose our moral authority, our street cred, our interests in a region vital to our supremacy. And there you have it—the necessity for those words that conclude the speeches: God bless the United States of America.

I began this article on Monday, after seeing a few of the videos the White House was thumbs-upping to manipulate Congress, justifying whatever a “limited” strike on Syria means. The images of sarin-gassed children and adults, writhing in agony, and close ups of the victims’ eyes are graphic, chilling. The scene of shrouded cadavers is special effect-ed gruesomely with an opaque-like iciness reminiscent of Jeffrey Dahmer’s freezer.

As you watch this one, you’ll hear that the video was “compiled” by the CIA, at the request of Sen. Diane Feinstein. Beware the CIA’s involvement. Beware Feinstein’s. Be especially wary when the two are coupled.

Continuing this self-torture, I read quotes from those elected to represent our voices. Then I saw the deal—the possibility of an arrangement—suggested by John Kerry that Assad could avoid US military action if he’d cede control of his chemical program to the international community. And suddenly there seemed to be a face-saving step away from escalation. Seemed.

I left to have dinner with Laura and Erma. While driving, I listened to the radio and heard Susan Rice promote military action as she talked about the horror of seeing those dead children, so difficult, because she has children. No mention of the children her boss has killed with white phosphorous, depleted uranium, drones.

Later, at home, I reread those quotes I mentioned. Here are some appetizers from the hypocrisy potluck:

I don’t like the use of force, but . . . ~Rep. Nancy Pelosi

I believe stopping weapons of mass destruction is a pillar of our national security. ~Rep. Nancy Pelosi

We have to make sure tyrants do not think they can do that with impunity, I think war should be obsolete. I don’t think it is a reasonable way to resolve conflict. I think we should eliminate it as a possibility. But we haven’t yet. ~Rep. Nancy Pelosi

We have to have the courage on the basis of what we know, on the basis of our values. ~Rep. Nancy Pelosi

We’re not going to war. We will be able to hold Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort, in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war. That is exactly what we are talking about doing; an unbelievably small, limited kind of effort. ~John Kerry

I have shown great restraint, I think, over the last two years, despite the heartbreak that’s happened there. But what I have said is that the ban on chemical weapon use is something that is of U.S. national interest. It protects our troops, so that they don’t have to wear gas masks whenever they’re in theater, the weapons by definition are indiscriminate and don’t differentiate between somebody in uniform and a child. ~Obama

And when we see images of 400-plus children being slaughtered without a mark on their body through these weapons, I think it is important for the international community and the United States to stand up and say, ‘This cannot happen.’ ~Obama

By Tuesday, I had whiplash. Needed to tighten my safety belt. Wise decision I realized when I opened my laptop and watched the BBC’s broadcast of Obama’s speech.

There’s this: “The United States military doesn’t do pinpricks.”

After all that talk about “limited,” “narrow,” and “unbelievably small.”

Then this:

It is beyond our means to right every wrong, but when with modest [my emphasis] effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death . . . I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different.

So, if the military doesn’t do pinpricks what exactly is a modest effort?

And Obama’s earlier words, the “images of 400-plus children being slaughtered without a mark on their body . . .” would imply that this is worse than cremains from drone slaughter, worse than visible signs of slaughter, blood and blown apart bodies, melted flesh, the slaughter from US WMD.

It’s Wednesday and I’m wondering what the days ahead will bring. There’s no doubt the Empire plans to “degrade” Assad’s capabilities as part of its broad geopolitical objective for the Middle East. But the duplicity and nationalistic rhetoric also have been a huge deflection—from Edward Snowden’s bombshells, including the latest—that the NSA shares data about US citizens with Israel. The contrived swerve from one crime to another may be the purpose of what we’ve just witnessed this past week.

But wait, there’s more—a statement from Benjamin Netanyahu who says that Syria must be stripped of chemical weapons and that “the world must make sure that whoever uses weapons of mass destruction pays a price for it.”

Indeed.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com.