While thinking about Syria it may be valuable to keep in mind something Chomsky regularly and wisely suggests: that the realization of a just and eventually peaceful world certainly requires our sustained commitment to the fundamental moral principle of universality, which simply means that we hold ourselves to the same set of standards that we expect of others. Then it would be complete hypocrisy to consider ourselves civilized were we to claim an act wrong for others but not for us.
On August 26, 2013 US Secretary of State Kerry said, referring to Syria, “The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children, and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity.”
Yet Kerry should know the U.S. has failed to renounce both its direct use of and complicity in the use of chemical weapons to indiscriminately kill thousands—possibly millions—in Vietnam, the Iran-Iraq war, the 2003 Iraq Invasion and 2008-9 in Gaza. The hypocrisy of our own government’s barbaric sale, tolerance and use of internationally outlawed weapons lends no credibility to its current claim that Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons is its real motive for attacking that nation.
Every act of state terrorism needs its pretext. Why did Bush, Cheney and Blair really pursue the 2003 Iraq Invasion so urgently? They could not allow the UN Inspectors to complete their work, for they knew there were no WMD (as the Downing St. Memo and other classified information releases later revealed). They were going to take Iraq and didn't want to lose their humanitarian cover for what was simply raw aggression—the worst of war crimes. The result was a seven-fold increase in terror, according to analyses by US terrorism experts. Another path was possible. Had the US taken the criminal justice approach of seeking evidence and then prosecution via the International Criminal Court in accord with its pledges under international treaty it would have had the support and cooperation of virtually the entire world, extremely sympathetic at the time.
So why is the Obama administration pursuing its pending attack on Syria so vigorously that it cannot await the UN inspectors’ findings? Kerry said that it was now too late for the U.N. inspection team to find adequate evidence (not so, say both UN inspectors and the Scientific American), as the U.S. seem to be rushing to strike before the U.N. inspection team files its report. Is it because they are very committed to gaining control of Syria and don't want to lose their humanitarian cover for what will be another act of aggression? Again another path is possible, the same criminal justice path that was forsaken in 2001.
The result of aggression against Syria will predictably be an x-fold increase in the risk of terror; increased hatred of the US; and more tax dollars sucked away from domestic spending by the demonic destructive suction tube, which since 2001 has sucked nearly $1.5 Trillion into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—more than three times what it would cost to deploy an elegant mix of efficiency and renewables to completely phase out coal, oil and nuclear by 2050, while growing the US economy more than 150%, and reducing our carbon footprint by about 80%.
It could get much worse: both Iran and Russia have pledged to help Syria in case of a foreign military intervention.
But these concerns are not nearly as high a priority for US planners as strategic control of regional oil, gas and pipeline routes. As Zbigniew Brzezinski, cold warrior and advisor to several US presidents, said just after the invasion of Iraq: “control over the Middle East gives [the US] critical leverage on the European and Asian economies.”
An honest look at the historical record will get us much closer to the truth than the current unsubstantiated proclamations of the Obama administration.
That the U.S. has been seeking to violently destabilize both Syria and Iraq for years has been increasingly reported, even in mainstream media. In March of 2007, Journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in the New Yorker that the U.S. had already, guided by then Vice President Cheney, “…taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria” which included bolstering militant extremist groups “sympathetic to Al Qaeda.” A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told Hersh, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support” for the Syrian National Salvation Front, a coalition of opposition groups.
Just two month earlier, then vice president Cheney had warned “of a nuclear-armed Iran, astride the world’s supply of oil,” stating that the Saudis, Israelis, Jordanians and “the entire region” were worried about the threat Iran represents. Cheney failed to clarify that he was not referring to the people of the region but to their unrepresentative governments. Western and other polls have regularly shown that the peoples of the Arab World feel threatened much more by the U.S and Israel than by Iran; strongly support Iran’s right to enrich Uranium for peaceful uses; and while they prefer a nuclear-weapons-free-zone in the Middle East, they would feel safer with Iranian possession of nuclear weapons as that would be more stabilizing than the current one-sided possession of them by Israel—one of only three nuclear nations refusing to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Cheney made it clear: strategic control of oil, gas and pipelines. Recall the British and U.S. destruction of Mossadegh’s extremely popular democratic government in 1953 in order to seize control of Iranian oil; or the violent U.S. overthrow of Arbenz’s popular democratic government in Guatemala in 1954 to restore United Fruit’s seizure of all the good land; or the replacement of Allende’s popular government with Pinochet’s murderous dictatorship in 1963 to insure AT&T’s copper profits in Chile, among other things; or the protection of tin, tungsten and other interests in Vietnam; etc. The historical record is clear that strategic control of resources for the benefit of “a loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires,” those merchant and manufacturers who, as Adam Smith said roughly 150 years ago, are the principal architects of policy and make certain that their own interests are "most peculiarly attended to" regardless of the effects on their own populations, much less others. Back then Smith called them the Vile Masters, today they’ve been called the 1%.
The record reveals that popular self-determination has been the real enemy of U.S. Foreign Policy since well before WWII. US Marine General Smedley Butler, twice awarded the Medal of Honor, recalled how in the first two decades of the 20th century he “helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in…. helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street.” Wealth yielded by land, minerals, technology and labor must accrue to the loose affiliation, regardless of the impact on the general population.
Nowhere is the strategic control of wealth more critical today than in the oil and gas-rich Middle East.
Carla Del Ponte, of the UN commission investigating alleged chemical weapon attacks in Syria, said there were “strong, concrete suspicions, but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels had carried out last April’s attack near Aleppo; and that UN investigators “had [as yet] seen no evidence of the Syrian army using chemical weapons.” She also suggested there was evidence that last April’s chemical weapons came via (or from) US ally Turkey.
Also, there is no evidence that the latest attack in Ghouta on August 21 was carried out by the Syrian government, only claims. One indicator that it may again be a rebel source is that just recently Turkish law-enforcement officers arrested 12 members of the western backed, al-Qaeda associated, Jabhat al-Nusrah forpossession of 2 kg of Sarin.
Another US-backed ally may be involved. Former FBI language specialist Sibel Edmonds posted this short video report of an investigation alleging that Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar (aka Bandar Bush, former Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington), supplied the chemical weapons to Al-Qaeda associated rebels who used them in Ghouta on August 21. While we must await the evidence, is it plausible, even likely, that we are witnessing another false flag operation? On August 28, 2013 an article in oilprice.com explored the possibility of a US connection.
The historical record is rather consistent: false flag and other deceitful pretexts may be more rule than exception, suggesting we should be very alert to the possibility. The CIA conducted false flag operations in Iran, Guatemala, Chile, etc; LBJ lied about an unprovoked attack in the Tonkin Gulf to get congressional authorization and public support for dramatic escalation in Vietnam; Nixon and Kissinger secretly carried out the illegal war crime of carpet bombing Cambodia and Laos; Reagan, Abrams, et al. lied about the U.S. role in genocide in Guatemala; George H. W. Bush lied about babies torn from incubators in Kuwait to engender support for Desert Storm and a decade of sanctions which killed half a million Iraqi children; George W. Bush, Cheney and Tony Blair fabricated evidence of non-existent WMD to terrify their peoples into support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, etc. etc.
Tragically, the people of Syria and the region are in the center of proxy wars among a complex mix of several nation states (See the Corbett Report for a videodiscussion of this larger context).
Nations, like corporations, are power systems for which the fundamental moral principle of universality does not apply. Their behind-the-pretext actions don’t reflect any care about what happens to the people who live there. Fomenting ethnic conflict; partitioning Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and eventually Iran into smaller ethnic fragments, impoverished and pitted against each other, their wealth-producing resources controlled by others, will only escalate hatred and violence across the world.
In an age when humans have achieved the technical capacity to swiftly deploy a global infrastructure of inanimate machines performing physical work via ecologically sustainable processes to adequately feed, house, protect, inform and free all humans to self-direct their own inquiries, associations and life initiatives; our current situation under threatening clouds of nuclear doom, climate disaster, and rouge nations in service of the vile masters often seems absurd. It is an extremely dangerous moment for our species.
Only the peoples of nations can enforce adherence to this moral principle that all people matter. And while the US is no more or less amoral than most other nation states, its scale of impact is so great that we citizens within bear a special responsibility to understand the situation and redirect our corporations and government toward stewardship of all humans and our planetary home.
Gandhi once said, that the while it is accurate to say God is Truth it is more accurate to say Truth is God. It has always been true that there will be no peace without justice and no justice without truth. But in today’s world of nuclear winter, climate turbulence and rogue nations there will be no survival either.