Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
When it comes to making the case for bombing Syria, the US military, government, and mainstream media have taken the moral high ground, where they probably have a house or condo. In justifying launching a possible attack against Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry accused the Assad regime of crossing a red line and committing a “moral obscenity” by using chemical weapons which have resulted in “the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders.” Though the killing of civilians by any means is a sin regardless of how they are killed, if chemical weapons delineate a red line, then it has been crossed before.
On top of the conventional weaponry that was used to kill hundred of thousands of innocent civilians during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States used depleted uranium, which has lead to a massive surge in birth defects among a generation of Iraqis and Afghanis. NATO air forces also used depleted uranium munitions during the bombing of Serbia in 1999. As part of its chemical warfare program in the Vietnam War, the United States sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange – an herbicide manufactured by Dow Chemicals and Monsanto – across Vietnam which resulted in deaths of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, as well as in birth defects in half a million children. Days before John Kerry made the moral obscenity remark, the CIA declassified documents which revealed that in 1988 the United States provided Saddam Hussein with satellite images of Iranian military positions, knowing full well that Iraq would attack the Iranians by using chemical weapons such as sarin gas – a nerve agent similar to that which the U.S now accuses Syria of having used. (On the topic of recently disclosed CIA files, earlier this month the CIA formally acknowledged its involvement in ousting the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, sixty years ago.)
The U.S is no stranger to chemical warfare. With a defense budget that exceeds that of the next ten countries combined, and with a military that has intervened aggressively in more countries than any other military in modern history, the United States has manufactured, sold, and used chemical weapons to kill innocent civilians on numerous occasions. If the U.S government truly cared about red lines, and if the military were to apply the moral obscenity principle to its own use of force, then it may very well have to go ahead and start bombing itself.
As the death toll in Syria exceeds 100,000, and has the number of Syrian refugee children alone tops 1,000,000, a civil war and humanitarian crisis is underway there. In response to this, the United States will launch a cruise missile attack into Syria, killing innocent men, women, and children who are alive today and have done nothing to deserve being killed. The rationalization for the bombing of Syria will be akin to that used in justifying the destruction of Ben Tre: that it was necessary to bomb the village to save it. Many Syrians will likely be left caught-up in a violent internecine conflict and struggle for power which will take place after the U.S is done bombing their country.
The victims of a bombing campaign are not limited to the Syrian forces and people – who are mainly poor, of brown complexion, and Muslim – but also extend beyond them to indirectly and abstractly include the American people and residents of the industrialized world. The act of bombing a country is an act of war. As with Libya in 2011 (or, to a lesser extent, as with the drone strikes that target suspected terrorists in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen) the bombing of Syria will be conducted by the Obama Administration without a Congressional Declaration of War, which is a violation of the U.S Constitution and an affront the precepts of democracy. The justification for the attack on Syria will be based on the use of manipulated or doctored information and twisted logic that undermines transparency and truthful communication between the government and the people while serving to mask the ulterior motives and impetus for the bombing. The bombing will reinforce the precedence of a preemptive strike which is a reckless and foolhardy doctrine that will come back to haunt us when a less popular, more trigger-happy person is elected President in the future. Along with the inner, moral turmoil that comes with the understanding that our tax dollars will be used subsidize the bombing of people whom we do not know, taxpayers will also bear the financial impact of yet another war they will be deceived into believing was waged for a just cause. A cruise missile costs roughly 1.5 millions dollars, and upon impact it releases a toxic payload into the environment. War is resource-intensive, requiring the movement of ships, military vehicles, and weapons, as well as the destruction of infrastructure, the rebuilding damaged areas, and the burning of fossil fuels. Additionally, current conflicts are portrayed by mainstream media in a fashion which glorifies acts of violence while simultaneously concealing the physical horrors visited upon the victims of war, thereby desensitizing the public as to the true nature of war and armed conflict, and dehumanizing us all.
There is also no certainty as to how a war will unfold or end, thus the possibility exists that one war, one day, may lead to World War III, or the detonation of a nuclear bomb, or both. Because any conflict could spiral out of control, and because nuclear weapons are so prolific and powerful, humanity must move toward peace as to reduce the chances of annihilating ourselves. There are already enough challenges threatening the survival of the human species; we could do without more flare-ups, wars, and destruction right now. In order to achieve a more harmonious balance amongst the members of the international community, it is important realize that our leaders are often full of shit. It’s hard to say if such a realization – even if it were to occur on a large scale and resulted in citizenry action –will translate into any significant change in the current arrangement of the political order and operations of the war machine in time to avert any major potential conflict or to achieve a more representative government in our society.
In conclusion, I would like to provide two examples of how our leaders are full of shit. The first pertains to another comment that John Kerry recently made in which he demonstrates his doublethink capabilities. In an interview with Pakistan’s Geo News on August 1st, Kerry was asked what he thought about the Egyptian military overthrowing elected president Morsi, who was in office for one year. Kerry stated, “The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descendance into chaos, into violence. And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgment, so far — so far — to run the country. There’s a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy."
The second example demonstrating how our leaders are full of shit involves what will happen today when President Obama takes the stage on the Lincoln Memorial to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, President Obama will speak of Dr. King’s legacy and contribution to the Civil Rights Movement. He will speak about the values of nonviolence and justice that Dr. King espoused, and how we still have much work to do in order to see that Dr. King’s dream is accomplished. President Obama will be speak of peace and reconciliation and love – for these are the values that Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for and died for – then President Obama will walk away and help facilitate the bombing of Syria.