It looks like the Obama administration has gone into full-court press mode to lay the groundwork for taking military action in Syria. The ostensible reason is the allegation that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, a charge that enables the US to preach sanctimoniously of the evil of such an action, conveniently ignoring the many times in the recent past when it was the US that used, or condoned the use, of chemical weapons against civilians on a massive scale.
Ever since president Obama warned that the use of chemical weapons would be a ‘red line’ that would draw retaliation, I felt that that it was inevitable that whatever group that wanted to get the US involved would be strongly tempted to use such weapons. It also makes sense for the Syrian government, which clearly would prefer the US to stay out of the conflict, to avoid providing any pretext for the US to act. Both those factors logically imply that if chemical weapons were in fact used (and even that basic fact has not been conclusively established), it is more likely to have been by the anti-government forces or agents provocateurs with their own agenda.
It is remarkable how the prelude to the invasion of Iraq is being played out again with Syria. We have the ominous warnings of dangerous weapons and the US government acting as if it is certain of the facts without providing any convincing evidence. We have the UN inspectors on the ground who, after some delay, have been allowed by the government to enter the site and investigate. We have the US saying that it is too late for inspections and that the UN inspectors should leave. (The one difference is that this time the UN has refused to leave.) We have a US public reluctant to get involved in yet another country’s internal conflicts. We have the US trying to get a UN resolution to attack Syria and then threatening to bypass the UN if it does not get its way. We have its NATO allies also beating the drums for war. We even have Bush’s poodle and war criminal Tony Blair showing his repulsive head and pushing for war again.
It is just like old times, with just some of the names and faces changed. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, and the rest of that earlier gang of war criminals must feel a sense of vindication and satisfaction that the model they followed has become the bipartisan standard.
So why is the US so eager to attack Syria? Who knows? Just as the reasons for the invasion of Iraq Iraq remain murky to this day and could be due to many factors, so might be the case for the current attack. One factor that should not be discounted is that war tends to be good public relations for a president, that shores up his domestic support when their polls are sinking. Justin Raimondo says that one reason may be an attempt by the Obama administration and its European allies to deflect attention away from the beating they are getting over the Snowden revelations.
Is that too cynical a view? Recall how Bill Clinton bombed a harmless and valuable pharmaceutical factory in Sudan in 1998, falsely claiming that it was a chemical weapons factory, when he was under siege over the Monica Lewinsky affair. History has shown that when it comes to the US government’s motives, you are more likely to be correct by being overly cynical than by giving them credit for acting honorably.
And so we have an irresistible opportunity for Barack Obama to bestride the world like Henry V, to show the world his awesome power that can pulverize anything he wishes to destroy.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
So brace ourselves for more shock-and-awe, more deaths, more war crimes, all in the name of the highest motives. It is ever thus.