The war drums continue to beat as the United State prepares to attack Syria. It is highly unlikely that the actions that the American war machine has set into motion can be turned back. Regardless of whether we have International support for waging war against Syria, the United States is determined to use war to topple the Assad regime. If there is one thing that the United States does well it is regime change. All we have to do is look at Iraq and Afghanistan to see how well we play the regime change game. (A game we have played my entire life)
It is estimated that one hundred thousand people have been killed during Syria’s civil war. Up to this point, the United States has sat back and done nothing. But now, an imaginary red line has been crossed, chemical weapons have been used, and President Obama and the hawks on Capitol Hill think the United States must intervene in Syria. We are being told it is the moral thing to do.
The moral thing to do? Do our leaders ever stop and listen to themselves talk? There is nothing moral about war. Whether we put boots on the ground or pummel Syria with Tomahawk missiles, there will be widespread carnage and death. Innocents will be killed and there is nothing moral about what military leaders call “collateral damage.” It is likely any bombing of Syria will result in more casualties than the chemical attack caused. President Obama speaks of proportion…yet he fails to consider that the results of our attack on Syria will be disproportionate when compared to the number of people killed by the chemical attack.
Our leaders tell us we are fighting terrorism wherever it may be found. We are fighting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq, yet in Syria, the rebels fighting the Assad regime are being supported by groups of Al Qaeda fighters. Simply put, we are supporting in Syria the very people we are trying to kill in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As debate grows over the extremism of some armed factions battling to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, an incendiary illustration on the Facebook page of one such group leaves little doubt where its leaders envision the uprising ending – with masked Islamic fighters marching through Washington, D.C., as the U.S. Capitol burns in the background.
The image is one of eight photos posted on the official Facebook page of the “Al-Aqsa Islamic Brigades,” (link is dead) a small armed Sunni rebel faction fighting with the Free Syrian Army, the main umbrella military organization of the opposition forces. Two other photos posted on the group’s page feature the widely recognized black flag of the al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist group, which operates freely in Syria.
Evan Kohlmann, a senior partner with the security firm Flashpoint Intelligence and an NBC consultant on terrorism, who discovered the image on Facebook and provided it to NBC News’ investigative unit, said Al-Aqsa has not been designated as a terrorist group by the United States. But he noted that it fights alongside another Free Syrian Army force, the Tawhid Brigade, that has been linked to Jabhat al-Nusra, one of two rebel factions labeled terrorist groups by the U.S. government.
“As a group that claims affiliation to the generally pro-Western Free Syrian Army, it is difficult to reconcile the fact that it has plastered such a lurid anti-American image as the banner on its own official Facebook page,” Kohlmann said. “It raises the unfortunate but inescapable fact that not every group within the Free Syrian Army is closely aligned with U.S. interests in the region.”
Such murky alliances and rivalries within the Free Syrian Army help explain the skepticism that greeted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday when he told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that “bad guys” – Islamic extremists – constitute “maybe 15 to 25 percent” of the opposition forces…
Such irony, but then we shouldn’t be surprised. Thirty plus years ago we said nothing, and perhaps even helped, Iraq when it used chemical weapons against Iran. The United States itself used chemical weapons against the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. We continue to hold a large cache of chemical weapons. Yet, we are a moral people, or so we try to tell ourselves.
The United States is a nation built not only on the blood of its citizens but also on the blood of countless civilians and combatants across the globe. Since the Revolutionary War, we have waged war across the globe. We have bloody hands if anyone dares to check, but we can’t be bothered to look at our hands because our show will be on TV soon. The American people willingly choose to turn a blind eye when it comes to the immoral acts done in their name. We have the luxury of doing this because we have never fought a foreign power on our own soil. Better to fight them over there rather than fight them here. After all, the shop ‘til you drop season is coming, and we Americans can’t be bothered with carnage and death in Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Just git er done but don’t bother us with the details.
The United States continues to expand its presence throughout the globe. We have some sort of military or CIA presence in most of the countries of the world. We are busy expanding our military footprint in Africa, and here at home the various security agencies are routinely spying on the American people. Whistleblowers that dare expose these things are considered traitors. Yet, it seems that the American people are oblivious to what is being done in their name here at home and in most countries in the world.
There is nothing moral about the actions of the United States. We are not a good, peace-loving people. We are consumers that live what is called the American Way of Life and we are quite willing to let the government kill people so we can maintain this way of life. Our thirst for oil will continue to drive the American war machine, and we should expect more war as oil becomes scarcer.
Thomas Merton taught me years ago that war never brings peace. It may bring a cessation of hostilities for a time, but war begets war, and until we realize this we will continue to wage murderous violent wars like the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and soon to be Syria. Fifty years ago, Thomas Merton said we were at the precipice of nuclear war and that every day such a war does not happens brings us one day closer to when it will. Merton was quite pessimistic about the prospect of peace and nothing in the years since his death has shown that the United States is interested in peace. We are a warring, bloody nation, drunk on power, and like the Roman civilization, it will be our arrogance and hubris that will someday bring us to our knees.
Attacking Syria is a mistake that will only bring carnage, death, and upheaval. As President Obama and John Kerry, like President Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld before them, try to spin the “facts” on why the United States MUST wage war against Syria, I want them to know I no longer think they are capable of telling the American people the truth. Whatever action we take will not be about the Syrian people. It will be, just like it always is, all about us. There is something in Syria our government wants, and we are willing to kill to get it. Is there any other way to understand this? We stood idly by while civil war slaughtered people in Rwanda and Sudan. Evidently, they had nothing we needed.
These days, I am grateful that I live in the United States. However, I have long since stopped being a proud American.