Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
This artwork by M. Ryder relates to the U.S.'s untenable position on Syrian unrest.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Iraq and Afghanistan continue to teach painful lessons about the false allure of regime change. Now President Obama is talking about facilitating a “transition” in Syria, which sounds like regime change to me.
The strategic goals of this ill-conceived venture are murky at best, and our congressional representatives will soon vote on authorization of military force. Here are a few reasons the U.S. should avoid military involvement in Syria’s civil war:
1. There is no National Intelligence Estimate indicating how certain we are that chemical weapons were used, or if they were used, who used them. If used, did the weapons come from the Syrian government or rebels or rebel infiltrators into Syria’s army? And if they did come from Syrian government forces, how far up the chain of command did the order originate? Historical perspective is useful here. In the 2002 NIE upon which the force authorization against Iraq was based, members of the congressional intelligence committees who took caveats from intelligence professionals seriously voted against the authorization. Here we are more than 10 years later with a request for authorization, but without an NIE.
2. There is no United Nations’ inspection report yet. The Obama administration claimed a U.N. inspection couldn’t start soon enough, delayed its own request for an inspection until three days after the purported attack, blamed Syria for the delay and said that evidence was likely destroyed during the delay. Then the administration turned around and said it found evidence of chemical weapons in tissue samples. Whatever the U.N. finds, the administration, so eager for war, couldn’t resist jumping the gun prior to a more trustworthy U.N. report.
3. The legality of war against Syria depends not just on U.S. congressional approval, but also on U.N. approval unless there is a direct threat to the U.S. It doesn’t wash to accuse Syria of violating a ban on chemical weapons in its civil war while the U.S. is poised to commit a more egregious violation of international law by entering a civil war to attack a state that presents no threat to the U.S. Indeed, a U.S. attack on Syria will inevitably kill innocents, will be a war crime since Syria is not threatening to attack the U.S. and will likely foment exactly the threat that is falsely claimed today.
4. Look at the timing. In recent months, al-Qaida and its Islamic extremist allies have been losing. Why would the Assad regime unnecessarily tempt a U.S. attack by using chemical weapons? The temptation is rather on the other side eager to get the U.S. involved.
5. The administration claims it has intelligence that proved the Syrian regime was planning an attack. If true, how shameful the U.S. didn’t warn the rebels and blow the whistle publicly on the regime’s supposed plans in an effort to stop them.
6. The world is acutely aware of the U.S.’s high hypocrisy as it talks so piously about Syria’s purported use of chemical weapons. The U.S. refuses to sign on to the landmine treaty, used Agent Orange to the max in Vietnam, causing harm that continues to this day, and illegally used phosphorus weapons in Iraq. It has refused to criticize Israel’s illegal use of phosphorus and flechette munitions in Gaza (where 1,400 people were wiped out in a matter of weeks, equivalent to 30,000 Syrians on a per capita basis). And the U.S. facilitated Iraq’s use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war.
7. Last but not least, Obama foolishly painted himself into a corner with his red-line warning and now wants to avoid the credibility crisis he himself has created.
The complex and chaotic Middle East situation calls for diplomacy that reduces conflict and tension in an unstable region. Instead, we see the fake “coercive” diplomacy, beloved by the U.S.’s national security apparatus, that stokes the flames of hatred against us and sets the stage for the slaughter of more innocents. Memories of failure in Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq are painful reminders that a knee-jerk reliance on military force is foolish and self-defeating.
The administration is engaged in nothing better than a base attempt to hustle Congress and the public with dishonest fear-mongering based on outlandish claims that the U.S. is being threatened by Syria. An ugly and unrealistic faith in violence and bullying should not be rewarded by congressional authorization to use force in Syria’s civil war.
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