"The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough—more than enough—of war and hate and oppression."- John F. Kennedy, June 10, 1963 (Speech at American University)
"Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone" - John 8:7
Is the U.S. "without sin" in the sense that it has any moral authority to "cast the first stone" in a unilateral attack on Syria? Hardly! The problem is most Americans are too forgetful of past hideous U.S. war crimes.
Yes, you heard that correctly! The exasperating thing about the U.S. to a citizen invested in its adherence to its own principles, is the recurring hypocrisy and double standards. Case in point is "the war on terror". While the Bushistas marked al Qaeda as the supremo terrorists in the world, they had no problem pardoning the perpetrators (or letting them off on less serious crimes) of the most horrific terror episode before 9/11: the bombing of Cubana Arlines Flight CU-455 off the coast of Barbados. This is personal to me, because I was there on Paradise Beach on Oct. 6, 1976 with my 5 nieces. I won't even begin to describe the blood and horrors we beheld but I warrant they far exceeded what any smarmy ass hate blogger claims he saw in the Army or Marines. In fact, I will bet he didn't see any blood at all as a cook and bottle washer. Wait! On second thought, they probably did see some blood after accidentally cutting a fat paw whle slicing tomatoes!
Anyway, last night on Chris Hayes' 'All In', Amy Goodman reminded memory -challenged Americans of our own violations of international norms over the years. She thereby showed that unless we have adhered impeccably to our own standards we have no business hectoring or lecturing other nations on right or wrong. And certainly not launching any unilateral attacks based on the presumption WE are the unsullied moral guardians, or police of the planet! She listed a number of examples, including:
- The use of napalm and Agent orange during the Vietnam war (itself an illegal operation based on LBJ exploiting a bogus attack which was itself provoked by the U.S.)
In the case of those two horrendous chemicals, and for those who don't know:
"napalm is a mixture of plastic polystyrene, hydrocarbon benzene, and gasoline.
This mixture creates a jelly-like substance that, when ignited, sticks to
practically anything and burns up to ten minutes. The effects of napalm on the
human body are unbearably painful and almost always cause death among its
victims. “Napalm is the most terrible pain you can ever imagine” said Kim Phúc,
a survivor from a napalm bombing. “Water boils at 212°F. Napalm generates
temperatures 1,500°F to 2,200°F.” Kim Phúc sustained third degree burns to
portions of her body. She was one of the only survivors of such extreme
The preceding is from the website: http://vietnamawbb.weebly.com/napalm-agent-orange.html
Is anyone in his or her right mind going to now claim - based on the above description- that napalm is less terrible than the nerve agents Kerry claims were used on a Syrian opposition enclave? If so, believe me, that's an argument you do not wish to get into!
What about Agent Orange? According to the same site:
"Agent Orange is a toxic chemical herbicide that was used from about 1965 – 1970
in the Vietnam War. It was one of the main mixtures used during Operation Ranch
Hand. Operation Ranch Hand was intended to deprive Vietnamese farmers and
guerilla fighters of clean food and water in hopes they would relocate to areas
more heavily controlled by the U.S. By the end of the operation over twenty
million gallons of herbicides and defoliants were sprayed over forests and
Agent Orange is fifty times more concentrated
than normal agricultural herbicides; this extreme intensity completely destroyed
all plants in the area. Agent Orange not only had devastating effects on
agriculture but also on people and animals. The Vietnam Red Cross recorded over
4.8 million deaths and 400,000 children born with birth defects due to exposure
to Agent Orange.
Agent Orange was
later determined to be in violation of the Geneva Contract".
The problem again, is too many Americans, including Presidents, are oblivious to our own bloody history in violating international norms and standards which, if they knew or took them to heart- would halt them from their own precipitous actions violating such norms.
Amy then referenced how the U.S. in the 1980s, not only dispatched nerve agents to Saddam (when he was still a useful pal) but actually helped him target Iranians - giving him the coordinates- during the bloody Iran-Iraq war.
Finally, Amy referenced the horrific use of white phosphorus in Fallujah, Iraq e.g.
Laughably, critics of the preceding as well as the film Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre , try to argue that white phosphorus is not considered a "chemical weapon" under the Chemical Weapons Convention but an incendiary weapon . Oh, OH, excuse the hell out of me! So then it's preferable to be burned alive than gassed? Give me a break! Again, we have irrational, baseless and skewed arguments that seek to analogously invoke the egregious ruse of "picking gnat shit out of pepper" (according to one famous quote by former congressman Hale Boggs, referring to the inconsistencies in the Warren Commission Report).
JFK warned in his June 10, 1963 speech at American University (See http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/BWC7I4C9QUmLG9J6I8oy8w.aspx ) that no kind of peace could be forced on the world using American weapons of war. Yet since his speech, the U.S. has progressively adopted the role of planetary cop and done just that, often invoking bogus "laws" or "war resolutions" to justify unilateral action outside the UN or even congress.
Among the key excerpts more Americans (and American Presidents!) need to take to heart:
"What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for their children—not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time."
"First examine our attitude towards peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable, that mankind is doomed, that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings."
We have no business, not with our sordid past of numerous violations of international norms, of launching any unilateral attacks on any country - no matter what the excuse or rationalization. Obama would do well to consider that before issuing the go ahead for an attack that may escalate to the point we may all regret it!