The horrific suffering of the Syrian people must end. There are now nearly 2 million refugees who have fled Syria in an exodus whose scale has not been seen since the Rwanda genocide of 1994. Inside Syria, some 100,000 have died in their ongoing civil war, a recent 1,000 or so due to chemical weapons. The suffering must end. The United States government should have our full support in doing what it can to help ease or end the suffering. However, granting President Obama consent to wage war with Syria, even if you call that war an intervention, a limited strike with no boots on the ground, or simply a message, will not end the suffering in Syria, it will increase it significantly. Some possible outcomes after Obama knocks over the domino that is a U.S. missile strike in Syria were outlined in a recent article by Ann Wright, a 29 year US Army veteran and former US Diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. Col. Wright posited the following:
· Syrian anti-aircraft batteries will fire their rockets at incoming U.S. missiles.
· Syria might also launch rockets toward the U.S. ally in the region—Israel.
· Israel would launch bombing missions on Syria as it has three times in the past two years and perhaps take the opportunity to launch an attack on Syria’s strongest ally in the region Iran.
· Iran, a country with a population of 80 million and has the largest military in the region untouched by war in the past 25 years, might retaliate with missiles aimed toward Israel and toward nearby U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, Turkey, Bahrain and Qatar.
· Iran could block the Straits of Hormuz and impede the transport of oil out of the Persian Gulf.
If even a portion of that scenario happens, how long do you think it is before Obama seeks authorization for boots on the ground? As residents of the United States of America; the concept of mission creep is so pervasive in our lives that it becomes almost invisible. Something we accept or condone with yellow ribbons, America flags on sticks made in china, and platitudes like “support the troops who die fighting to protect our freedom” when we know full well that our freedom is not now, nor has it been under assault. U.S troops kill, fight and die for the enrichment of the global elite, and advancement of a global neoliberal agenda working in direct concert with the seemingly immutable momentum of the military industrial complex.
Once again, as Congress convenes on September 9th, the councils of government will be tasked with whether to spend our treasure, our weapons, and what tiny shred of ethical capital we have remaining in waging war on Syria. Obama’s case is clear, simple to understand, and contains an outrageous lie of omission.
In presenting to the people, Congress and the Global community the binary menu option of “stand by and do nothing” or “dive in and wage war”, President Obama has presented us with a loose-loose scenario. Ignored here are avenues of diplomacy that would pressure Russia and China to stop propping up Assad while offering in return the promise that our allies will stop supporting the rebels so that a cease-fire can be achieved and space be made for peace, as Mairead Maguire, a peace activist who recently returned from a peace delegation has said.
Also ignored on the wrong side of Obama’s red line the fact that we can seek prosecution of Assad under the chemical weapons protocol. As Kevin Zeese, Attorney General of the Green Shadow Cabinet and organizer at popular resistance writes:
“The most effective deterrent against the use of chemical weapons is not the mass bombing of Syria, an action that would be illegal under international law and counterproductive, but to use the international legal system that has been built since World War I and take legal action under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Members of the Security Council should immediately pass a resolution referring the issue of the use of chemical weapons in Syria to the International Criminal Court. This would be an approach working within the framework of the rule of law to enforce the ban on chemical weapons that all members of the Security Council would agree on and would strengthen the international regimen that bans chemical weapons, rather than weaken it.”
U.S. citizens, as they urge their members of congress to withhold their authority, vested in that body by the Constitution, to wage war, should be adamantly against such a war because it will increase suffering in Syria. Fears have justifiably been raised that a mission creep will set in, and that once a step is taken by a giant like the US military machine in one direction, reversal is impossible. That truth is borne out by the fact that self-interest in Syria is itself a mission creep dating back at least as far as the 1953 CIA lead coup in Iran. Our interest in access to and exploitation of the regions oil is a generations long mission creep, and it is a mission that we must abort.