Why has this country adopted the role of world cop, embraced it, allowed it to define who and what we are as a collective?
Iraq. Afghanistan. Libya. Egypt. Syria.
We invaded Iraq under falsehoods about WMD. We invaded Afghanistan because of Al-qaeda, we struck Libya with drones, we gave arms to some rebel groups in who knows what far flung corners of the world. For decades, we have installed dictators in difficult countries – and then deposed them. And here we are, contemplating military action against Syria.
Let’s be clear. Syria allegedly has unleashed chemical weapons against its own people, a heinous, despicable act. When you see these photos of dead children, bloodless corpses, your heart breaks. But Syria has not attacked the U.S. or any other country. It has attacked its own people, the act of mad men. Why should we attack Syria in any form? News pundits who support a strike talk about how the “credibility” of the U.S. must be upheld. But what does that mean? How does that uphold our credibility? A strike against Syria in any form only hurts Syrian civilians, the poor who can’t afford to flee Damascus or the country.
Assad must be punished: that’s another popular argument. And following that line of thought, then why haven’t we bombed every other country in the Middle East that has done something heinous? Of the 19 hijackers on 9-11, 15 were supposedly Saudi nationals. But we didn’t bomb Saudi Arabia. In fact, it was never an option. The Saudis have too much oil.
According to an interview that General Wesley Clark did with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, oil is at the heart of it all. “The truth is about the Middle East,” says Westmoreland, “had there been no oil, it would be like Africa. Nobody is threatening to intervene in Africa. The problem is the opposite.”
Westmoreland claims that as far back as October 2001, when we had already invaded Afghanistan, the plan was to go to war with seven countries in five years – Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.
Fortunately, the U.K. parliament voted against intervention in Syria, despite Prime Minister Cameron’s impassioned argument for doing otherwise. It’s a start in the right direction, but now the U.S. may go the route alone. Regardless of the real reason for doing this – credibility, the protection of oil interests or something else – the bottom line is that a strike to “punish” a maniac will undoubtedly backfire.
Remember how Donald Rumsfeld said we would be greeted with open arms by the Iraquis for liberating them? Remember the posed photo ops of supposed Iraquis pulling down the statue of Hussein? Remember all the embedded journalists in Iraq who supposedly brought us news from the front lines? Really?
I am still moved when I hear Obama speak – as he did during the 50th anniversary of MLK’s I have a Dream speech. But now that we’re into his second term as president, I am not so easily seduced by what he says. Words are cheap. Where’s the change? Granted, he is up against an intractable Congress. But c’mon, he’s the head honcho, the top dude, and can issue executive orders that even the Supreme Court can’t knock down.
Some progressives who voted for Obama regret that vote. Yet, in 2008, the other choice was McCain/Palin. McCain is gung-ho for a strike on Syria and would probably have invaded Libya with boots on the ground and invaded anyone else who was ripe for the taking. And if he had died in office, we would have President Palin, who can see Russia from her front porch, wink-wink.
In 2012, the other choice was Romney of the 47 percent, a man who has probably never hard boiled an egg or done his own laundry. A guy with slick gray hair and a great smile whose one great accomplishment occurred as governor of Massachusetts, when he implemented the health care model upon which ObamaCare is founded.
For me, Obama was the logical choice in both elections. And yet, he’s actually contemplating a strike on Syria. To what end? For what purpose? To punish Assad or to take him out? To protect our oil interests, to protect Israel, or to make the point that the U.S. military can take on anyone, anywhere, even maniacs with chemical weapons?
Just one surgical strike may embroil us in yet another war. Millions of Syrians will die, be maimed, and become displaced. China, who owns us, won’t be happy. Russia, who gave Snowden a haven, will be pissed. Why can’t Obama, whose idealism he sold to the American public, just say no? No to more war, no to perpetual war, no to oil interests, no to our supposed credibility, no, no, no?
Let’s turn a page here, President Obama. Become the agent of change that you ran on. Say no to more war, to the oil barons, to the special interests, to the endless stream of lobbyists, to the corporations. Become the dream that MLK dreamed, for which Nelson Mandela spent decades in prison. Fulfill the promises you made. The people who ushered you into office are tired of waiting.