Last night, president Trump approved the bombing of targets inside Syria “in retaliation for the regime of Bashar Assad using nerve agents to attack his own people.” This chemical attack was an unspeakable atrocity, resulting in at least 72 civilian deaths. Who can argue with the U.S. military’s response?
But wait! Was there actual evidence that the Syrian government was responsible for this attack? Or are we just supposed to blindly swallow government pronouncements like we did when our military invaded Iraq in 2003 based on fabricated intelligence?
After the devastating sarin nerve gas attack in August of 2013 near Damascus, then-president Obama immediately placed blame on Bashar al-Assad. But, as Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh observed, the facts on the ground should have produced skepticism. In fact, it seemed more likely that the attack was carried out by a rebel group such as al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate.
So, what does the mainstream news media have to say? As was the case with Iraq, the New York Times is playing the crucial role of a free press in a democratic society; namely, operating as a subservient mouthpiece for government propaganda.
I’m not saying Assad couldn’t have done it; I’m just saying we shouldn’t take the statements of government officials as gospel, especially considering its impressive record of lying to the American public (not to mention Trump himself lied at least 560 times during his presidential campaign alone).
It is certainly possible that Assad is responsible for this gruesome crime. But when was the last time the U.S. war machine intervened in a foreign conflict for actual humanitarian purposes? And when was the last time a U.S. military intervention improved the situation? Again, let’s remember the slogan for the occupation of Iraq: “I spent trillions of dollars and killed hundreds of thousands of people, and all I got was this lousy ISIS.”
Although the attention span of the average American can only be measured in nanoseconds, historical context is sometimes valuable. For instance, Saddam Hussien killed at least 3,200 people in a chemical weapons attack against Iran in 1988, yet remained a U.S. ally until he invaded Kuwait without permission from the American Empire. The U.S. was aware of this plan in advance, yet helped a brother out anyway. In fact, Iraq had been using chemical weapons since 1980. Yeah, Saddam Hussein was totally our bro. Don’t you remember that famous meeting between Saddam and Rummy?
Since the 1950s, the U.S. has spent billions of dollars and incalculable additional resources installing and supporting dozens of brutal dictatorships, terrorist organizations, and death squads across the globe. One of its first success stories was Iran. In 1953, the CIA coordinated with British intelligence to overthrow Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically elected prime minister. You see, Mosaddegh, supported by a majority of Iranians, had this wacky idea that their society should benefit from the oil that was located beneath their feet. So they nationalized the oil industry, kicking out the blood-sucking British corporation now known as BP. Naughty, naughty. After the coup, Iran returned to its old-school monarchy days with the reinstatement of the Shah, who presided over 26 years of ruthless despotism.
This is one of many cases that illustrates the U.S. government’s deep and long-standing hostility toward the prospects of actual democracy around the world. When the Iranian people were finally sick of this Western-imposed dictatorship and decided to have a revolution in 1979, we said “not cool,” and hollered at our boy Saddam.
What else? Hell, we’ve unconditionally supported Saudi Arabia since the 1930s! This is a theocratic monarchy recognized as having one of the worst human rights records in the world, and known as the hub for proliferating the Wahhabi ideology behind terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaeda. And they’re currently bombing Yemen back to the Stone Age with billions of dollars worth of U.S. weapons, creating a humanitarian crisis rivaling that of Syria.
Are we really expected to believe that the most massive military empire in human history gives a flying fuck about 72 Syrian civilians being killed in a chemical weapons attack? An empire that, by the way, has killed an estimated 1.3 million people (mostly civilians) just since the “War on Terror” was declared. Give me a break. It may be too early to pin-point the exact geo-strategic motivations for U.S. intervention in Syria, but if nothing else, this aggression will generate enormous profits for the junkies in the war industry, help maintain U.S. global dominance, and turn our population, once again, into a herd of flag-sucking nationalists.
Instead, let’s think critically, rationally, and learn from our collective mistakes. Let’s approach foreign policy cautiously, repudiating the knee-jerk reactions of white saviors and world police. After all, nothing promotes fascism like a good old-fashioned war. In short, let’s avoid giving Trump more power than he already has.