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Syria: Of Smoke Screens and Chemical Attacks

Syria: Of Smoke Screens and Chemical Attacks

By Dennis Loo (8/28/13)

Those of us who with our memory functions intact can be forgiven if we have an eerie feeling of deja vu when our government starts ramping up justifications for war by citing the use of "weapons of mass destruction." In the case of Syria, it's chemical warfare. Chemical weapons, of course, are banned by international law for good reason: they are a heinous weapon and completely indiscriminatory, killing or harming combatants and non-combatant children, women and men alike. Obama says that he cannot wait to hear back from the UN weapons inspectors who are already in Syria about just who is responsible for chemical weapons and if chemical weapons have actually been used at all and that he must begin bombing beginning on Thursday. Sen. John McCain joins the chorus with Obama for another Kosovo. (Right there one should pause for reflection when McCain and Obama agree. It's not that they couldn't theoretically both agree on something good, it's just something that should make you look a little more closely before jumping on the bandwagon.)

Listen carefully to what Obama said:

Obama told CNN in an interview broadcast on Friday the United States is working with the United Nations to gather information on the alleged attack, but noted that preliminary signs point to a "big event of grave concern."

"It is very troublesome," he said. "That starts getting to some core national interests that the United States has, both in terms of us making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies, our bases in the region."

When I was young I used to not think carefully about what my government was saying when it referred to "U.S. interests" in some other far-flung part of the globe. I just took it at face value that the U.S. had "interests" in some other far away land and that this justified U.S. troops, U.S. bases, and U.S. warmaking in those places. I learned, however, eventually to ask certain questions such as, in this case, what are these "core national interests" Obama says the U.S. has in Syria and the region?  Why is the world's leading owner of WMD and the only one to ever use that most dreaded one, nuclear weapons, on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, on the millions of civilians living there, the one who should be enforcing the non-proliferation of WMD? Why is killing civilians in Syria in bombing raids, as he is readying to do, "protect[ing] our allies" and why are our bases (over 800 of them world-wide) all over the place?

The U.S. is already intervening in Syria, backing the rebels with paramilitary aid and equipment (among these rebels are prominently Islamic fundamentalists) against the Assad regime because the Assad regime is tied to Russia and Iran. This is not a humanitarian mission. This is realpolitik and people who can see things clearly and are not deluded by smoke screens should oppose this escalation of violence under the guise of humanitarianism.

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