"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
— Martin Luther King, Jr.,
"As always, the war’s stated purpose — “a punitive strike against the Syrian government” — is just a cover story. The U.S. and its possible allies, France and Great Britain, all have an interest in regaining influence in Syria, which requires Assad’s collapse. But beyond the geopolitics, there are deeper and darker hidden motives for launching a bright new war. We, or at least our government and the economic interests it serves, are addicted to war. This addiction is the Washington consensus. Almost every politician who rises to prominence has to embrace this consensus."- Robert C. Koehler, 'Stopping A War Before It Starts', smirkingchimp.com today
The image this morning (on CBS's Early show) of rebels standing over butchered, headless bodies ought to be a last wake up call for Americans, i.e. who the hell might comprise a large portion of Assad's opposition. It also brought to mind the video images of a few months ago, when a rebel dug his paws into a downed Syrian regime defender, ripped out his heart, and ate part of it. Look, these oppositionists are not angels. (Assad sure as shit isn't either, but that's the point! It's an internal civil war between Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam!) Also we still don't know - despite even smarmy liberal bloviators - that this opposition or factions within it, didn't actually launch the gas attacks to drag the U.S. into the fray. It's not incomprehensible, and despite all Kerry's gum flapping he hasn't presented any forensic evidence showing the gas was industrially manufactured - as opposed to home made.
On Steve Koroacki's MSNBC program ('UP') Sunday, guest Hillary Mann Leverett, professor at American University, came out swinging and gave a wake up call to the mainly pro-attack zombies:
'What if Assad didn't order this? What if this wasn't a Syrian troop chemical attack. What if this was perpetrated by al Qaeda affiliated oppositionists. The consequences here for going into Syria are even more grave than Iraq. Because if we go into Syria and the al Qaeda groups get away with mass chemical warfare- and that's what happened - and we think they're going to stop there - that's the definition of insanity."
Prof. Leverett then pointed out that the Russians and Chinese didn't pull their people out of Syria like the U.S. but went to the last chemical weapons attack sites in March. What did they find? According to her:
"They did forensics on the ground themselves and found two striking things which have not been covered here in the press at home: One was that the rockets used to deliver those chemicals were home made rockets. Not military or industrially produced. The other thing they found is that the sarin was not military ordnance or industrially produced, it didn't include stabilizers. So maybe the Russians have a point."
Why haven't these been covered by the media at home? Maybe because they're as hot to trot for an attack as Obama and the M-I-C is! Maybe because they can't wait to televise another late night attack with flashes and noise that they seem to believe subs as a real life video game. But....the people on the ground won't be laughing or entertained.
Okay, let's cut the crap. Despite all the Neoliberal warmongering and pundit baloney and BS that this planned attack on Syria is a "punishment operation" - let me make clear for all remaining sentient citizens that it's an act of war and will be perceived as such by Syria and its allies. Hence, it will invite retaliation and likely massive retaliation! There is no soft soaping this - and what is ambiguated by an above-the- law Empire as "punishment" will be seen by the sentient and sensible global citizen as a pre-emptive, aggressive strike against a sovereign state - that hasn't killed one single American or demonstrably been proven to affect American interests.
It's not just me, a "rabid" die-hard liberal (actually socialist) saying this either! Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer of the Center for Advanced Defense Studies(appearing on MSNBC's 'The Cycle yesterday ) laid it on the line that NO , the U.S. isn't "following the world" (on any issuance of a "red line") to address any humanitarian concerns in Syria, it is pushing the world to follow its lead. But he added that this could have severe repercussions because no matter what we believe, our aggression and attacks will be regarded by the Syrians (as well as the Russians, Iran) as an act of war- inviting full retaliation which could assume myriad forms - from massive cyber attacks, knocking down power grids, to Iranian missile attacks on the U.S. fleet, to Russian bombing of U.S. destroyers in retaliation for any collateral damage.
Lt. Col. Shaffer also warned of the possibility of accidental killing of their technicians, who help maintain the Syrian air force. Think Putin wouldn't retaliate for killing Russian techs or other personnel? Think again!
And again, keep in mind the images of the radical jihadists we've already seen. Why are so damned many elites - who really don't have that much real skin in the game (other than egos) - convinced the jihadists are in the minority? And because of the assumption of jihadi minority status or having no part in the gas attacks, the U.S. can feel free to hurl cruise missiles into Syria. Could it be an inability to think? This is the hypothesis of the late Chalmers Johnson, in his book: Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic.
Johnson references Hanna Arendt's A Report on the Banality of Evil (p. 21) and the model of Adolf Eichmann as a "desk murderer" which also applied (according to Johnson) to George W. Bush. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld who "order remote controlled killing of the modern sort" including "the firing of cruise missiles from a warship at sea " or the "firing of a Hellfire missile from a Predator, unmanned aerial vehicle controlled by 'pilots' thousands of miles away". These cowards are also "desk murderers" and every bit the contributors to the banality of evil as Eichmann.
How do people, including leaders, become "desk murderers"? Johnson notes (p. 22):
"First, they lose the ability to think because, according to Arendt, 'thinking conditions men against evil doing'".
What she means is that before one commits an evil act, if he THINKS properly first, he will insert the act into a frame of exterior reference to forecast the effects on all those affected. Like a chess player, he will be able to see 6-10 moves ahead on how he can't advance a certain aggressive plan (i.e. taking the opponent's queen) without serious penalty. Hence, the thinker will see the adverse consequences his act will lead to, and back away from the precipice.
Let us bear in mind again, as I wrote before, many evil acts are committed with good intentions. The evil then inheres in improper thinking, which feeds the creation of false beliefs i.e. "We must be the world's guardians of international norms, law and morality and it's our right to punish all other nations if they act bad." And then leads to an apparent rationally justified evil act.
Johnson goes on (ibid.):
"Jerome Kohn adds, 'With some degree of confidence it may be said that the ability to think, which Eichmann lacked, is the precondition of judging, and that the refusal as well as the inability to judge- to imagine before your eyes the others whom your judgment represents and to whom it responds, invite evil to enter and infect the world'. To lack a personal conscience means 'never to start the soundless, solitary dialogue we call thinking."
What must the putative leader be wary of, whether military or political? According to Johnson (ibid.):
"Instantly and unthinkingly following orders, submission to clichés, stock phrases and adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct - which have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality. That is, against the claim on our thinking attention which all events and facts arouse by virtue of their existence."
Instead of going all around the G-20 in St Petersburg and trying to badger the assembled delegates into joining him in an act of evil folly, Obama needs to find a quiet room, and in his solitary being, think of what he is emotively planning to do: inflicting this long distance "limited punishment" on Syria. If he is still able to think and has not been overly preconditioned by conventional responses, mental artifacts and expected codes (or HIS OWN "red lines"), he will see what he thinks is a national "good" is not the answer.
Let us hope he follows this advice!
On a further note, it's been reported (e.g. at salon.com) this morning that Pope Francis has urged leaders of the Group of 20 to abandon the “futile pursuit” of a military solution in Syria and work instead for dialogue and negotiation to end the conflict. Obama, you paying attention?
See also: http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/robert-parry/51460/all-scrubbed-up-nowhere-to-show