GLOBAL POWER AND JUSTICE August 28, 2013Posted by wmmbb in Human Rights, Middle East.
President Obama is currently weighing the option of whether to reign death on Syria by firing cruise missiles from ships off the Mediterranean coast.
He is expected give the order to go ahead. Now this decision will not be driven by the imperative of public opinion in the United States because less than 10% of people indicated by polling are in favor of that choice. The imperative apparently comes from the politics of power and violence.
The Foreign Policy Initiative reports that 66 former US Government officials and foreign policy experts have sent a letter to the President:
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has once again violated your red line, using chemical weapons to kill as many as 1,400 people in the suburbs of Damascus. You have said that large-scale use of chemical weapons in Syria would implicate “core national interests,” including “making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies [and] our bases in the region.” The world—including Iran, North Korea, and other potential aggressors who seek or possess weapons of mass of destruction—is now watching to see how you respond.
We urge you to respond decisively by imposing meaningful consequences on the Assad regime. At a minimum, the United States, along with willing allies and partners, should use standoff weapons and airpower to target the Syrian dictatorship’s military units that were involved in the recent large-scale use of chemical weapons. It should also provide vetted moderate elements of Syria’s armed opposition with the military support required to identify and strike regime units armed with chemical weapons.
Moreover, the United States and other willing nations should consider direct military strikes against the pillars of the Assad regime. The objectives should be not only to ensure that Assad’s chemical weapons no longer threaten America, our allies in the region or the Syrian people, but also to deter or destroy the Assad regime’s airpower and other conventional military means of committing atrocities against civilian non-combatants. At the same time, the United States should accelerate efforts to vet, train, and arm moderate elements of Syria’s armed opposition, with the goal of empowering them to prevail against both the Assad regime and the growing presence of Al Qaeda-affiliated and other extremist rebel factions in the country.
Left unanswered, the Assad regime’s mounting attacks with chemical weapons will show the world that America’s red lines are only empty threats. It is a dangerous and destabilizing message that will surely come to haunt us—one that will certainly embolden Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons capability despite your repeated warnings that doing so is unacceptable. It is therefore time for the United States to take meaningful and decisive actions to stem the Assad regime’s relentless aggression, and help shape and influence the foundations for the post-Assad Syria that you have said is inevitable.
Ammar Abdulhamid. Dr. Robert Kagan, Elliott Abrams,Lawrence F. Kaplan,Dr. Fouad Ajami,James Kirchick,Dr. Michael Auslin,Irina Krasovskaya,Gary Bauer,Dr. William Kristol,Paul Berman,Bernard-Henri Levy, Max Boot,Dr. Robert J. Lieber,Ellen Bork, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman,Ambassador L. Paul Bremer,Tod Lindberg, Matthew R. J. Brodsky, Dr. Thomas G. Mahnken, Dr. Eliot A. Cohen, Dr. Michael Makovsky, Senator Norm Coleman, Ann Marlowe, Ambassador William Courtney, Dr. Clifford D. May, Seth Cropsey, Dr. Alan Mendoza, James S. Denton, Dr. Joshua Muravchik, Paula A. DeSutter, Governor Tim Pawlenty, Larry Diamond Martin Peretz, Dr. Paula J. Dobriansky, Danielle Pletka, Thomas Donnelly Dr. David Pollock, Dr. Michael Doran, Arch Puddington, Mark Dubowitz, Karl Rove, Dr. Colin Dueck, Randy Scheunemann, Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt, Dan Senor, Ambassador Eric S. Edelman, Ambassador John Shattuck, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Lee Smith, Abe Greenwald, Henry D. Sokolski, Christopher J. Griffin, James Traub, John P. Hannah, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, Bruce Pitcairn Jackson, Michael Weiss, Ash Jain, Leon Wieseltier, Dr. Kenneth Jensen, Khawla Yusuf, Allison Johnson, Robert Zarate, Dr. Robert G. Joseph, Dr. Radwan Ziadeh.
Some of the signatories such as Karl Rove are more former government officials than foreign policy experts.
The key paragraph is the last one. It might be translated: If we are going to maintain our role as international hegemone, it is paramount that our word should prevail, and we must use violence, not simply threat power, if it is defied. As George Packer points out in his dialectic of the problem in The New Yorker, this is what is meant by maintaining credibility.
Al Jareeza reports that the opposition leaders in Syria have been told to expect air strikes within the next few days. Unlike in Libya, there is no international consensus:
The Syrian regime denies it was responsible for the attack.
A team of UN inspectors are in the country to collect evidence and speak to victims of the alleged attack near capital Damscus. The team cancelled plans to revisit the site on Tuesday over security fears, after their convoy came under sniper fire a day earlier.
Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary, on Tuesday repeated previous statements that US forces were now positioned to strike Assad should the US president, Barrack Obama, give the order.
He said there would “probably be pretty good evidence” that the Syrian regime was responsible for the chemical attack last week.
“We are prepared. We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take,” Hagel said in an interview with the BBC.
Meanwhile, Assad’s allies Russia and Iran issued fresh warnings against military intervention.
The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said on Tuesday that such an intervention without consulting the United Nations Security Council could have “catastrophic consequences” for the region.
Russia also expressed regret over a decision by the US to postpone talks on Syria scheduled in the Netherlands for Wednesday.
The US said the meeting had been postponed due to “ongoing consultations” over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.
Separately, Iran repeated its opposition to any US attack by saying that a military intervention will engulf the whole region.
“There will definitely be perilous consequences for the region,” Abbas Araqchi, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said.
It comes as a great surprise that imperial violence is apparently supported is approved by the Australian Government (?) and the Opposition, but this is not a matter of public policy in the election context, since it probably is supported by the two major parties. The question of British involvement will be debated in the House of Commons. Apparently, now it is accepted that military deployment is a matter for the President, without Congressional approval. It is be noted that military assets are already in place.
The Australian situation is even more extraordinary that the American in that there is an election underway, and this matter has not been opened to public discussion.
What would the Assad Government have to gain by using chemical weapons? If the situation was so desperate then it would be part due to the support of the opposition forces by the US. Given the crimes of empire – drone strikes, Guantanamo among others (including Collateral Damage) – who is the US President and power elite to be moral judges? Why have not measures been taken to stop the violence in Syria and achieve a negotiated solution with reconciliation? The evidence is currently being collected and assessed by the UN representatives.
The whole situation is disgraceful, and particularly the absence of a moral position from Australia. If the Syria Government had in fact used chemical weapons, what would be the proportionate and appropriate penalty? Firstly, it is necessary to establish the truth of matter, and identify those who are responsible. Suppose the attack was launched by those opposed to the Syrian dictatorship? Why should anyone in Syria, including those in the Syrian military be killed, because of this attack. What basis in either domestic, or international law, does the likely decision to murder Syrians have? Will such an attack remove the stocks of chemical weapons, and make their use less likely in the future? What are the long-term consequences of this action, not simply for the participants and the possibility of blowback, but for global society and human civilization as a whole?
There is a fundamental problem in global society due to inequality, injustice and institutional breakdown. The United Nations Organization has a Security Council that reflects the situation at the end of the Second World War, when Britain and France were still colonial empires, and now it is absurd. Corporate power undermines and over-rides public opinion in many of those nation states who describe themselves as democracies. The leaders and power elites of nation states are not subject to authority of law, and those that can, break the precepts of international law with impunity, without sanction or requirement to pay compensation. There is no better illustration of this state of affairs than the Invasion of Iraq.
I don’t know, but here is a presentation that suggests a contrary view to group think of the media, and the good allies:
- Andrew Bacevich, Questions for the President – Before he Pulls the Trigger on Syria (Moyes and Company)
- Glenn Greenwald, Obama on Presidential War Making Powers (Salon)
Q. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)
OBAMA: 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.
As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent.
- Military strikes against Syria ‘as early as the next few days’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Syria challenges U.S. to “produce the evidence” (cbsnews.com)
- Ira Chernus, The Questions Americans Can’t Ask About Egypt and Syria (Tikkun Daily)
- Mark DeVine, Syria, Iraq and Moral Obscenities, Large and Small (Al Jazeera)
- Patrick Cockburn, Only a Peace Conference, Not Airstrikes, Can Stop Further Bloodshed (Common Dreams)