Syria, R2P and Keeping Us Safe
I have just notified my congress persons here in New York by email from rootsaction.org that I do not support the president’s wish to strike Syria. Of course the White House has made it clear that it does not consider the decision of congress binding. So much for the will of the people. And remember, when Obama strikes, and he seems determined to do so, it will be in our name even though the White House has made it clear that our voices and will are irrelevant.
What we can expect in the coming days is a full court propaganda blitz to ‘educate the American people’ on why such a strike is necessary. I have watched more MSM in the last few days than usual, and they are primed and ready to do the president’s bidding. I must say, even I was surprised at the obvert war mongering being presented as ‘news’.
The president has made it clear that, in his view, his primary responsibility is to ‘protect the American people’ (rather than the constitution as in the oath of office). Thus we can expect to be told repeatedly by various ‘terrorism experts’ (ie., ideologues from think tanks) that allowing Assad to go unpunished undermines our safety, security and potentially our way of life. Assad, despite the fact that he has not attacked us or even threatened to attack us, is a grave threat.
This is nonsense. The people who actually have studied the effects of our actions in the War on Terror have concluded repeatedly that they lead to less not more security. Of course one does not have to be an expert to see this. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq are now chock full of people who would like to do us harm. Of course, for the MIC, this is a feature, not a bug. Finally, literally any reasonably informed person can see that the possible unintended consequences of such a strike range from really bad to disastrous to catastrophic – at least for us.
We will also hear so-called moral arguments for intervention – based on the so called r2p [The Responsibility to Protect]. First of all note that for a moral argument to have any force the one making that argument must be morally consistent. Our government fails this requirement spectacularly. As Obama was assuming office Israel attacked the completely helpless people of Gaza mercilessly over a period of a week. Not only did we cover for them at the UN as always but insisted that Israel had the ‘right to defend itself’. Consider Susan Rice and Samantha Powers, warriors for r2p and humanitarian intervention. Rice has mentioned the inordinate amount of time she spent ‘protecting Israel’ from censure for their criminal treatment of the Palestinians, and Powers has pledged to do the same. These kinds of examples can be multiplied almost endlessly.
We can also ask whether r2p is the right of any country – would we recognize the right of Russia or China to intervene Israel or Egypt on the basis of this principle. After all moral laws are supposed to hold universally. Clearly not. No, only what people like Blair or Kerry refer to as the ‘international community’ are permitted to determine when humanitarian intervention is justified. And who, you may ask, is the international community? The western powers.
R2P is simply neoliberal imperialism for those with delicate sensibilities, and a trojan horse for ignoring sovereignty and recognized international law.
That the White House is willing to risk so much to maintain ‘credibility’ is insupportable on either grounds of security or law and morality. I would submit that the breakup of Syria and the resulting chaos are part of Western and Israeli strategic planning (PNAC) and the benefits from that standpoint outweigh the risks.
Photo by Neon Tommy under Creative Commons license