With President Obama now seeking the assistance of perennial right-wing war hawk John McCain, war with Syria now seems inevitable. Obama’s stance on this issue is the latest blunder in a presidency that now clearly resembles George W. Bush’s more than that of any respectable progressive administration.
To his credit, Obama has partially redeemed himself by seeking congressional authorization before taking any action. This conforms with the 1973 War Powers Act, and helps to avoid cementing the dangerous precedent of unilateral presidential authority on war. Unfortunately, this route further normalizes interference in another country’s affairs without the support of the international community.
There is no denying the atrocities Assad has committed — he is an international pariah and is in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions. However (at the risk of sounding callous), if it isn’t a direct threat to the United States, then it isn’t the United States’ role to intervene. America is not the world’s Batman, responsible for solving other countries’ crises. After all, there are tons of human rights violations committed in dozens of countries. Why arbitrarily interfere in just one? Why not invade North Korea, Sudan, Somalia, China and Burma while we’re at it? And given the United States’ embrace of repressive countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, it is utterly ludicrous to masquerade as the standard-bearer of human dignity.
Furthermore, U.S. intervention in Syria should elicit cynicism in every individual born before 2003. Something about it just feels like it’s been completely decided upon by the interests who will benefit the most when the U.S. intervenes. This isn’t the Syrian people — regrettably, we will only exacerbate the situation if we meddle in their affairs, just like we did in Iraq. As history has shown time and time again, those mired in a bloody civil war are pretty much condemned to abject misery no matter what. So let’s not function on the premise that it’s the Syrian people who have the most to gain from U.S. interference, because it isn’t — it’s the same usual suspects. The military-industrial complex. Big oil. Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Chevron. They’re the ones who have the biggest stakes in seeing this invasion through. Everyone wants to be the next Haliburton or United Fruit.
Syria’s oil fields harbor only a modest 2.5 billion barrels, but this still represents a significant interest for big oil. Pipelines such as the Kirkuk-Banias hold the potential for great profit for big oil. The three-way quid pro quo here is rather obvious — the U.S. government attains a monopoly over this black gold in exchange for helping the Syrian rebels and then transfers this control to Exxon-Mobil (which didn’t get to be the world’s most profitable company by playing nice) in exchange for campaign donations. And perhaps more importantly, Syria plays a pivotal role in the geopolitics of Middle Eastern oil, meaning that far more is at stake than those 2.5 billion barrels.
The military-industrial complex is salivating at the prospect of yet another war, regardless of the cost in U.S. lives and treasure. After all, it should be well known by now that Secretary Kerry is a wholly owned subsidiary of the defense industry. A few months ago, he publicly facilitated and applauded a 2.1 billion dollar Omani deal with defense giant Raytheon — the same Raytheon which he previously held stock in and the same Raytheon that is now skyrocketing thanks to these talks of intervention.
Furthermore, I don’t understand the fascination with chemical weapons usage. They’ve been responsible for roughly 1.5% of the deaths. If civilians are being slaughtered, does it really matter how they’re being slaughtered? Why are chemical weapons suddenly the tipping point that magically makes this massacre unacceptable to this administration? The United States itself holds the world’s largest stockpile of chemical weapons and assisted Saddam Hussein in using them against the Iranian people in the 1980s! If the goal is to repudiate the usage of chemical weapons, then we can start by destroying our own instead of launching a crusade.
I highly doubt that Obama, McCain or any other politician actually cares about the Syrian people. They are instead shamefully exploiting this tragedy in order to further their own personal interests. McCain was a strong advocate of arming the rebels — the same rebels who pledged loyalty to Al-Qaeda and have decimated entire villages simply because the inhabitants were Christians. Many progressives like to portray John McCain as an imbecile for graduating fifth from the bottom of his Naval Academy class and selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate, but this simply isn’t a valid explanation for his position. He’s been around for awhile and he understands the concept of blowback, which would inevitably arise if we did arm the rebels. He simply does not care. Where was John McCain decrying human rights violations when the American-backed mujahideen in Afghanistan were committing war crimes left and right?
Just 9% of the American people support embroiling ourselves in yet another war — after all, we haven’t even gotten ourselves out of the quagmire that is Afghanistan yet, and the memories of Iraq are still fresh. We simply cannot afford another pointless war; the cost of U.S. treasure, lives and international reputation is simply too great. Instead, we should lead an international effort to freeze the assets of Assad and Syrian elites and impose strong economic sanctions. Then we should focus on what really matters — funding a jobs program and fighting for wage increases domestically. Because as Florida Congressman Alan Grayson stated, for most Americans, the situation in Syria wouldn’t even rank among their top 100 concerns.
It is still almost unfathomable to me that liberals continue to lionize the massive fraud that is Barack Obama — a man who rode a wave of rhetoric and hype all the way to the presidency over vastly more qualified progressives. If he does go through with this attack on Syria, then can we at least revoke his Nobel Peace Prize?