By Jim Kavanagh
Source: The Polemecist
“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation”
— candidate Barack Obama, December, 2007
The United States has decided to allow airstrikes to defend Syrian rebels trained by the U.S. military from any attackers, even if the enemies hail from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, U.S. officials said on Sunday.
— “U.S. to defend Syrian rebels with airpower, including from Assad,” Reuters, August 3, 2105
The United States just went to war with Syria. With the confirmation today that American planes will shoot down Syrian planes attacking USDA-approved “rebels,” the United States is now overtly engaged in another criminal attack on a sovereign country that poses no conceivable, let alone actual or imminent, threat to the nation. This is an act of war.
Please don’t try any not-really-war “no-fly zone” or “safe zone” bullshit. As the Commander of NATO says, a no-fly zone is “quite frankly an act of war and it is not a trivial matter….[I]t’s basically to start a war with that country because you are going to have to go in and kinetically take out their air defense capability.” Or as Shamus Cooke puts it: “In a war zone an area is made ‘safe’ by destroying anything in it or around that appears threatening.” Inevitably, “U.S. and Turkish fighter jets will engage with Syrian aircraft, broadening and deepening the war until the intended aim of regime change has been accomplished.”1
Does anybody doubt that this is exactly what’s intended? Perhaps Obama will soothe the discomfort of his purportedly peace-loving progressive fans with some assurance like: “broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.” He’ll be lying, as he was four years ago when he said that about Libya.
As an aggressive, unprovoked war, this is totally illegal under international law, and all the political and military authorities undertaking it are war criminals, who would be prosecuted as such, if there were an international legal regime that had not already been undermined by the United States.
As an act of war, to be constitutional, it also demands a congressional act of war, and, at the very least, congressional authorization under the War Powers Act. Will Obama ask for this? Will any Democratic or Republican congresscritter demand it? Is the Pope a Hindu?
Would it make any difference? Don’t forget that Obama completely ignored the War Powers Act, the Constitution, Congress, and his own Attorney General and legal advisers,2 and went right ahead with a war on Libya, under the theory that, if we pretend no American troops are on the ground (everybody knows there were, and must be3), it isn’t really a war or “hostilities” at all. So, I guess if the Chinese Air Force starts shooting down American planes in American airspace in defense of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s assault on the White House, China wouldn’t really be engaging in an act of war.
Please don’t complain that the last sentence makes no sense. The U.S. is now officially acting as al-Qaeda’s air force, trying to force a regime change that everybody knows will result in turning Syria into another jihadi playground, Libya 2.0. This makes sense?
Obama is, in fact, now building on the imperial executive arrogance he demonstrated in the Libyan intervention — as Bruce Ackerman said, “betraying the electoral majorities who twice voted him into office on his promise to end Bush-era abuses of executive authority…and the Constitution he swore to uphold,” and asserting the president’s unilateral authority to make war. Per Ackerman: “Nothing attempted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, remotely compares in imperial hubris.”4
It’s impossible to overstate the danger in these executive war-making prerogatives that Obama has now normalized — with the irresponsible connivance of his sometimes-progressive groupies, who pretend not to know where this leads: “I don’t believe at this stage, therefore, if I’m president that we need to have a war powers approval or special authorization for military force. The president has that capacity now,” said Mitt Romney in 2012, and every Republican thereafter.5
It’s also quite clear now, that the War on ISIS is a sham, that ISIS was always just a pretext to get the American military directly involved in attacking the Syrian army and destroying the coherence of the Syrian state. Jihadi horror-show “ISIS” replaced the WMD horror-show “chemical weapons” pretext that Putin so adroitly took off the table in 2013, removing the excuse for the war on Syria Obama was itching to launch then (and earning the lasting enmity of the deep-state neocon cabal). If the U.S. and Turkey wanted to defeat ISIS, they would, besides not sending ISIS arms and fighters, be coordinating their actions with, and not against, the forces who have been most effectively fighting it: the Syrian Arab Army, the Kurds, Iran, and Hezbollah.
Turns out that ISIS and the U.S. have the same enemies. Go figure. Must be some kind of bizarre accident. Doesn’t mean a thing. The U.S. is now even supporting Turkey’s attacks on the Kurds, who have recently won some major victories against ISIS — which is why (Can’t let those Kurds get too uppity.) the Turks are attacking the Kurds! But really, we’re attacking all of ISIS’s worst enemies in order to defeat ISIS. That the American media pretend there is some credibility to this story reveals… well, at least their utter credulity.
By the way, did you know there’s now a “good Al-Qaeda”? The Wild Ones in the picture above. (They just look like the “bad Al-Qaeda.”) They’re the jihadis our Air Force will be fighting for defending. As Daniel Lazare points out: “After years of hemming and hawing, the Obama administration has finally come clean about its goals in Syria. In the battle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, it is siding with Al Qaeda.” And that’s A-OK with the Serious People in Washington: “[R]ather than protesting what is in fact a joint U.S.-Al Qaeda assault, the Beltway crowd is either maintaining a discreet silence or loudly hailing Al Nusra’s advance as ‘the best thing that could happen in a Middle East in crisis.’” Al-Nusra is the official affiliate of Al-Qaeda in Syria. As Lazare says: “It is as if 9/11 never happened.” Kiss and make up. New fish to fry, don’t you know.6
The best thing that could happen. You read that right.
As anyone with one eye and half a brain can reckon, the primary goal in creating a “safe zone” is to make a safe redoubt from which al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, ISIS, the Army of Conquest, and all 60 of the U.S.-vetted “moderate” rebels – all jihadi brothers-in-arms against Syrian secular nationalism – can launch their attacks to overthrow the government of Syria.
Really. A total of 60, at $9 million per.7 I can’t make this stuff up.
Syria is now under explicit attack by the armed forces of two states – the U.S. and its NATO ally Turkey (sanctioned by NATO) – along with a panoply of jihadi proxy armies supported by at least two other states – Saudi Arabia and Israel (Oh, yes!8). The Syrian state and its allies, Iran and Russia, have the right to respond, and any military response of theirs will be legitimate self-defense. Turkish soldiers, and American pilots (and any Special Ops soldiers, who will be on the ground) have no right to be in Syria trying to impose regime change by deadly force. The Syrian Army, on the other hand, has every right to stop them with deadly force, and every right to strike back at the American military apparatus, everywhere.
So please, do not pretend to be shocked, shocked, if Syria and its allies fight back, inflicting American casualties. Don’t pose as the morally superior victim when Americans are killed by the people they are attacking. And don’t be preaching about how everyone has to support our troops in a criminal, unconstitutional, aggressive attack on a country that has not threatened ours in any way. Every casualty of this war, however big it gets, is the ethico-political responsibility of the attacking party – US. The first responsibility of every American is not to “support our troops,” but to stop this war. Right now. Before it gets worse.
Three years ago, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff and another Johnny-come-late (just after he could have made a difference) to the honesty and responsibility party, exhibited either his precognitive powers or the fact that everybody in the deep-state-know has known for a long time what plans were in motion:
I could paint you a scenario where we start a NATO no-fly zone over Syria, and wind up, in a year or two, with a general regional war, and then, within a year or two of that, possibly lots of big players fighting each other, first through surrogates, and then their own troops…I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Russians … begin to sell their most sophisticated air defense missiles to Syria. Then they’re going to start shooting down NATO airplanes; not one or two, but lots of them.9
Yup, because Iran and/or Russia may come to Syria’s defense, as they have every right to do, there is a real danger of this quickly developing into a wider regional war. And this, of course, is something that at least one of the parties targeting Syria would welcome. As I’ve said many times before, those who think all this makes no sense need to understand that there are those for whom it does.10 Israel would love to have the United States and NATO involved in conflict in the region, and would greatly prefer having ISIS/al-Nusra/Army of Conquest/good-or-bad-al-Qaeda misrule Syria, because, as the Association of Arab-American University Graduates said over thirty years ago, commenting on the Yinon plan: “the Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israel’s satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation.”
A plan? Yes, there is a plan, and it’s being followed. It’s getting hard not to notice. In an essay this week, Roger Van Zwanenberg, founder of Zed Press, comes around to noticing. He asks: “So why do the great powers continue with these policies?” He continues: “My question is whether the cock-up theory is really sufficient to explain the chaos that we are witnessing and whether our foreign policies really are conducted by idiots?” And he goes on the notice the Yinon plan, and “how close Israel is to the USA. There is no equal to these nations’ fraternal relations in the world. There is no doubt that American policy toward the Middle East and Israel’s policy in the region are powerfully coordinated.”11
No, the neocons driving American foreign policy are not idiots (although some of the more public frontmen may be), any more than Lawrence Wilkerson or the Arab-American University Graduates are precogs. They all just understand the plan.
Really, who wants a war with Syria? After Iraq and Libya, who wants this? Who thinks it’s a good idea, and for what reasons? Who wants years of conflict between the Caliph, al-Nusra, and the Army of Conquest over the spoils of Damascus and Aleppo? Who wants another five thousand well-trained, victorious jihadis marching off to take down Lebanon and Jordan, and another ten thousand migrants storming the Greek islands and the Chunnel? Did I miss the tens of thousands of people in the streets of America clamoring for it, and for all the benefits it will bring them? (Although I was in the streets with millions of people throughout the world trying to stop a war in 2003, and being ignored.) Or did I just not see – what was not invisible, but was never highlighted, and required some effort at peeking behind the curtain – those inside the foreign policy apparatus of the United States and its special allies arguing and preparing for this, and refusing to give up on it, tirelessly conjuring up pretext after pretext, and pack of lies after pack of lies, until they got what they wanted? These are not rhetorical questions. Because this – the United States going to war on Syria – is not happening by accident. It is only happening because somebody does want it, for some reasons. Go figure.
Really. Think about it.
Any self-identified “liberal” or “progressive” American who spent (and may still spend) their political energy attacking Bush, et. al., for that crazy war in Iraq, and who goes along with this war for a second – who does not recognize, and immediately and energetically denounce it for the criminal and dangerous adventure that it is, and its authors, from Obama on down, for the dangerous criminals they are – is a political hypocrite. Any politician or presidential candidate who does not immediately and energetically denounce it certainly has no right to pretend to be progressive.
Let’s see what Bernie does and what his followers say. A $15 minimum wage and imperialist chaos? We’ll have to go along with that, ‘cause we can’t bother raising the troublesome questions about militarism, exceptionalism, and what constellation of forces is devastating the Middle East?
Hillary? You’re kidding.
Those who wanted a war with Syria in 2013 have finally gotten what they wanted. It will be a dangerous diversion, at least, for the United States, and a certain disaster for the people of the Middle East. And nobody will stop it.
Let’s talk about Donald Trump some more.
2 Glenn Greenwald. The illegal war in Libya – Salon.com; Charlie Savage, 2 Top Lawyers Lost to Obama in Libya War Policy Debate – The New York Times
3 “The administration promised not to send ground troops into Libya, but Obama secretly authorized covert action by CIA paramilitary officers to aid the rebels.”
4 Bruce Ackerman, Obama’s Betrayal of the Constitution – The New York Times
5 Conor Friedersdorf, How Obama Ignored Congress, and Misled America, on War in Libya – The Atlantic
7 Pentagon Recruits 60 “Moderate” Syrian Rebels, Pays $9 Million to Train Each One | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization; In Syria: $36 million to train 60 opposition fighters? – LA Times
8 Israel acknowledges it is helping Syrian rebel fighters | The Times of Israel, Turkey and Israel Are Directly Supporting ISIS and Al Qaeda Terrorists In Syria Washington’s Blog [update on 8/6/2015]
9 Thomas Hedges, War Power Abuse Makes Iran Conflict More Likely – Truthdig
11 Middle East chaos: Cock-up or conspiracy? | Middle East Eye
Other Links [update on 8/6/2015]
Tony Cartalucci, US To Begin Invasion of Syria | New Eastern Outlook
Mike Whitney, The Brookings Institute Plan to Liquidate Syria
James Petras, Erodoğan and Netanyahu Declare War