FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hypocrite in Chief

A hypocrite’s work is never done. Thus the need for our Nobel Prize bearing Commander in Chief to execute a needless and devastating war of aggression on a country preoccupied by its own civil war. He should pin that prize to his lapel when he announces his surgical strike on Syria. Let’s be clear: wars of aggression are, by the standards we set at the Nuremburg Nazi trials, the “supreme international crime.” Crimes for which Nazis were put to death. Anyone who pulls the trigger on a war of aggression is, by our own measure, a war criminal. But President Barack Obama needn’t worry about being isolated by his action—the annals of the American presidency are chock full of war criminals. He’ll have good company in the pantheon of imperial lore.

Of the numberless hypocrisies of the administration, this one is particularly crude. The White House claims to need to punish Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime for the unproven use of chemical weapons (sarin) in Ghouta. Not only does this atrocity, committed by unidentified actors in a civil, ethnic, sectarian, and proxy conflict within Syria, somehow make Syria a national security threat to the United States, but it also suggests we deplore the use of chemical weapons. Neither is remotely true. I think the former could be true if we do bomb Syria, as it may incite Syrians to plot against the empire that slaughtered its men, women and children. The latter cannot be true by virtue of the fact that chemical weapons are a primary element in our military arsenal, and have been repeatedly handed over to unreliable allies or deployed ourselves, against Vietnam most notably, but recently against Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.

The author of the August 21st attack has yet to be identified. Suspects include Syria, one of the rebel groups, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. The White House report offered plenty of unverified claims said to be drawn from “streams of intelligence.” Nobody outside the beltway bubble is convinced. We can, however, have “high confidence” in our assessment that the U.S. will use chemical weapons itself if it attacks Syria. At least three sources of American firepower potentially threaten to deposit a destructive payload of depleted uranium on Syrian society and soil should we attack. Destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean are likely to fire Tomahawk missiles, which have long been rumored to contain depleted uranium, either in their tip or wing. However, this has been disputed by the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW). At the very least, Naval combat crafts are equipped with anti-missile Gatling guns that use shells with tungsten or depleted uranium. This has been conceded by the military itself. Likewise, A-10 anti-tank aircraft are known to use depleted uranium bullets.

Depleted uranium, although not outlawed by the International Convention of Chemical Weapons (ICCW), are uranium wastes, the leftovers from the uranium that can be usefully enriched (as Iran is prudently, or feverishly, doing this very moment, depending of who you believe). According to Global Research, depleted uranium found its way into the American arsenal thanks to the fact that there are enormous amounts of it leftover from the enrichment process, and that it is cheap to produce. (There is something deeply ironic here, although I’m not sure just what.) But the primary feature of DU is its armor-piercing capability. Not only is it the heaviest of elements, DU bullets keep their shape on impact, thanks to their hideous “self-sharpening ability”, and the fact that they burst into flame on impact, generating radioactive dust. This naturally finds its way into the lungs of those nearby (who are perhaps lending “material support” to rebels, instantly nominating themselves for a double-tap drone strike should the DU not do its lethal work fast enough). Depleted uranium often produces radioactive poisoning, and potentially cancer, as former workers at a U.S. arms plant unhappily discovered. It is also likely to generate deformities in the DNA of the local birth population, as Fallujah has lately experienced. This cruel fate is often referred to by the lovely phrase, “mutagenic potential.”

In any case, we’ve left enough in the ground in Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere for some viable case studies. Naturally, the development of leukemia in 76% of mice injected with DU, a study conducted by our own Armed Forces Radiobiology Institute, has been yawningly ignored by the Pentagon, although there is some suggestion that the upper echelons of international power have suppressed the growing movement to ban depleted uranium. The courageous claimant here is former WHO scientist Keith Baverstock, who eloquently concluded that, “politics has poisoned the well from which democracy must drink.” The wells from which multitudes of Arabs must drink, too.

But DU is only the leading villain in an ensemble cast of malign characters. Alongside it one can observe the flesh-eating effects of white phosphorous ‘shake-n-bake’ bombs, napalm and “mark 77 firebombs,” a mix of kerosene and polystyrene similar to napalm, all used to great effect in Iraq. American-made cluster bombs are an Israeli favorite, such as when it wants to blow up unsuspecting Arab farmers in southern Lebanon. Yet there they sit, our leaders Obama and Kerry, the urbane sophist and his zombie accomplice, mirroring our nation in miniature: a country whose signal conflicts seemed to carry the mantle of liberty, against the British then the Nazis, but which has since devolved, to borrow anthropologist F.G. Bailey’s phrase, into “a babel of inconsistent moralities.”

Largely owing to our commitment to chemical weapons, internationalist efforts to ban WMDs in the Middle East have met with typical disinterest. U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 twists in the wind. Agreed to in 1991 to provide a legal umbrella for the U.S. attack on Iraq, it calls for a WMD-free zone in the Middle East and the banning of chemical and biological weapons. Naturally, the looming regional hegemon Israel is the obvious roadblock to the realization of this initiative. In a forgotten instance of considerable irony, Syria proposed the same concept to the Security Council with a draft resolution in 2003, but then U.N. ambassador John Negroponte noted that we might consider it, but then hysterically added—as if snapping to his senses—that this didn’t mean we would “adopt it, embrace it or endorse it in any way, shape or form.” In other words, best to shelve it with all the other useful ideas the U.S. has nixed since the founding of the U.N.

If you’re looking for a link between our degraded civil rights and our depleted uranium, look no further. There it is, in the White House report and its dearth of actual evidence. If only they had added an addendum with the dozens of YouTube videos that factor heavily in their portfolio of supposition. But what reason is there, truly, for yours or my indefinite detention, for the continuous invasion of our privacy, the usurpation of legislative power (the people’s tribune) by that of the executive (the ghost of monarchy), and the evisceration of the sovereignty of other nations like Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and soon Syria? Whether shot from ships or fired from jets, depleted uranium bullets and shells will strike innocent targets with the same fact-less impunity with which our rights are denied. We live in a counterfactual epoch, where the shrill presence of conjecture disguises the voluminous absence of evidence. Hypocrites lie, victims die.

Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry. He lives and works in New York City and can be reached at jasonhirthler@gmail.com.

More articles by:

Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry and author of The Sins of Empire: Unmasking American Imperialism. He lives in New York City and can be reached at jasonhirthler@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Justin Anderson
Don’t Count the Left Out Just Yet
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail