Obama's Planned Strike on Syria and the Problem of Blowback
By Dennis Loo (9/8/13)
Something to think about which does not seem to have entered the conversation sufficiently: suppose Obama does launch his cruise missiles against Syria to "punish" Assad? (Assad will no doubt be standing out in the open, along with his loyal troops, waving a pistol and daring the U.S. precision-guided missiles to hit him so that he can be properly punished!) What are the consequences in the long-run of the innocents these missiles kill and the anger and desire for revenge that attacks like this provoke?
As those who have been paying attention to the genesis of anti-state terrorism directed towards U.S. targets since the U.S. initially supported with weapons and other assistance, then pulled the rug out from under, anti-Soviet Jihadists like Osama Bin-Laden in Afghanistan, subsequently leading directly to the attack on the U.S.S. Cole by al-Qaeda and then a year later the 9/11 attacks: blowback is an all too real consequence of contemporary U.S. foreign policy. U.S. foreign policy created al-Qaeda. Cynical anti-Soviet manueverings led to al-Qaeda - "if the Muslim fundamentalists are anti-Soviet, then we'll fund them, who cares?!" - which led to 9/11 which led to the "War on Terror" which everyday produces more individuals and groups who want revenge for the injustices committed in the name of the WOT, and so on...
Military powers and especially empires like to think that because they are so military mighty that they can strike at their enemies (and collaterally others) and that their targets will fold up their tents and go home, properly chastized and humiliated when big brother teaches them a lesson they'll never forget. The trouble is, even if you were to accept the notion that killing innocents is acceptable, you can never kill enough people to stop at least some of those who remain who want to take vengeance against you for your unjust killings of their kith and kin.
But then, Realpolitik does not consider blowback. It figures that military might settles all complicated issues and that you can frighten people into submission through sheer force.
Empires by their nature don't "learn lessons." That is why Obama is re-enacting the Bush playbook (and before him, the Clinton, the Bush I, the Reagan, and the Carter playbooks). Empires can only do the awful things that they do because they rest upon and only exist because of massive exploitation and plunder. You can only end these horrors by ending the empire. Needless to say, you don't topple an empire by siding with those who want to go back to the Islamic Caliphate of the 7th-13th centuries. Examine who's most prominent among the Syrian rebels, what do you find? Muslim fundamentalists. Obama seeks to repeat the cycle that Bush so infamously unleashed in its full fury. Obama and his advisers keep saying that this "isn't Iraq." But of course, they're wrong.