Please welcome Norma Brown, of Ooobie on Everything, who has agreed to join our merry band of Guest Saturday contributors. Today’s essay, originally published on September 5, 2013, is about President Obama’s insane push to drag the United States into another Middle East conflict.
Dying for Peace
by Norma Brown
I swore I wasn’t going to write another word on Syria for the time being. I was just going to keep an eagle eye on how the Republicans in Congress were behaving vis a vis Obama’s mad proposal to wage war on Syria. I was just going to make a list and check it twice. But the news surrounding this Great American Blunder is so bizarre and the ironies so intense that I have to comment.
Fox News website has a great picture of Obama and Putin. Obama is heading out of the picture frame with that characteristic pursed lips expression signaling that His Eminence has had his feathers ruffled. The pout is usually provoked by a question he doesn’t want to answer, or one that implies he is a liar or ignorant, or a suggestion he is not all he’s cracked up to be, or anything else that is irksome. Following behind him is a cheerful looking Vladimir Putin, chuckling to himself, who actually has a lot to be chipper about these days when it comes to the USA. My guess is he shook Obama’s hand, grinned and whispered to him: “Please, make my day — bomb Syria and put those boots on the ground!”
Remember when Jimmy Carter was in office and the Soviet Union was sending its highly limited quantity of sons to die in Afghanistan? We were so smug back then, boycotting the Olympics to show our moral dander was up and denying the Soviet Union the gas turbines for their oil industry. We watched with some degree of satisfaction as the Soviets were sucked deeper and deeper into that morass. But back then we had morals and a little smugness was in order when battling the Evil Empire. Of course, what good did our morality do us? We took Osama bin Laden under our wing to screw the USSR, hand-fed and nurtured him. Wow, was that ever a good decision.
I then read that Chuck Hagel, who has obviously been into the magic mushrooms, accused Russia of giving the chemical weapons used on August 21 in Syria to the Assad regime. There are two problems with Hagel’s charge. The first is that it assumes Putin is as stupid as Obama; what on earth would Russia get out of encouraging and enabling long-time ally Assad to provoke the Moral Conscience of the World into bombing? Unlike the US or Germany, Russia has not provoked a single war since the last Tsar shuffled off his mortal coils and it is unlikely they would choose to do so over Syria.
The other problem is that it blithely assumes that Assad’s people used the weapons. You will probably have noticed that, unlike the BBC, neither the USG nor the US media refer to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons asalleged, but instead follow Vladimir Lenin’s maxim that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth. Hence you will hear from every side that “Assad’s brutal use of chemical weapons against small children and old ladies” demands a military response. Well of course, if your objective is to get an excuse for bombing the hell out of Syria, you’re not going to admit that your claim is only an unproven allegation and not even a very convincing allegation at that. I’m going to give Meat-Head Hagel a break here and make an assumption of my own: he’s being fed the same disinformation from the same agencies as John Kerry (my face! my face! I can’t feel my face!). Neither of them has the native intelligence to sniff out cooked intel.
Then there is the insidious Senate draft resolution that was passed out of Committee with the help of John McCain, who had only the same day sworn he wouldn’t vote for it because it didn’t allow us to lay waste to Syria. But I think I know what changed his mind. In addition to giving the president three months to spend billions and billions of dollars we don’t have bombing Syria, the resolution has a clause that prohibits the use of military personnel for combat purposes — but leaves gaping loopholes that would allow us to invade Syria to “secure chemical weapons” or for other unnamed purposes that we don’t consider war-making. Anybody with at least several active brain cells will ask himself: you mean there won’t be any fighting if we send in troops to secure the chemical weapons? Old McCain knows better; it’s blood he wants, and he plans to keep pushing for it.
Another bit of news that ought to make us sit up and pay attention is Putin’s threat to give Syria S-300 missile shield defense systems (for which it has already delivered certain components) should the US attack. But that’s not an end to it. Russia also suggested these systems might be transferred to Iran, which had signed contracts for the weapons that Russia suspended in 2010 in response to Security Council resolutions. So now this confrontation that the US has been champing at the bit to start has gone from being the Big Bully against the much weaker Twerp, to being Big Bully against Twerp and Big Brother. That doesn’t even take into account the other bruiser in the neighborhood, Iran. Or China, which also sells Syria weapons.
I see that the Congressional Research Office has put on it’s green eyeshade and come up with a figure of 75000 US troops needed to “secure chemical weapons” in Syria. I think they need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how many soldiers we are going to have to march into the mouth of hell if they have to secure the chemical weapons, defeat Assad’s army, fend off Russian missiles and fight Hezbollah. I hope somebody has stepped up production of body bags in the US.
One last observation: John Kerry has sworn to the American public and to certain heroically skeptical members of Congress that Assad will definitely use chemical weapons against civilians again if they don’t let the Pentagon create mayhem in Syria. Hoo-hah. I would normally say, “how can you be so sure of that?” Except I am pretty sure how he can make such a hard-and-fast prediction. Because the same people who carried out the August attack no doubt have plenty of supplies to do it all over again. As I said before, if dozens of Syrians dead from chemical weapons doesn’t earn support for an American attack, then it will have to be a thousand. And if a thousand dead Syrians isn’t enough, I guess they will have to use the cw somewhere more heavily populated. Eventually, so the thinking might go, there is bound to be the desired reaction.
You know, when a government becomes so contemptuous of the people it supposedly serves that it can lie, spy and oppress them routinely, what hindrance is there to that same government using the same tactics against the world? Especially when they have big, bad military technology to hold over the world’s head as a threat.
I think we all know the answer to that one.
About the author
I graduated from Georgetown University in 1977 with a major in Russian language and a minor in Soviet politics. Two years later, after a stint at a Beltway Bandit analyzing Soviet military doctrine, I was accepted into the US Foreign Service as a political officer. In my 21 years with the diplomatic corps I served in some very interesting and sometimes inhospitable places: Leningrad, where I learned first-hand about the virtues of communism (none); the Nicaragua Desk, where I labored mightily to document the grave human rights abuses carried out by Sandinista forces and to support the contra cause; in post-Soviet Georgia, a wondrous place filled with semi-crazed, brilliant and funny people; and in Kosovo, the start of the current and ongoing rage for neo-interventionism and the partitioning of “enemy territory.” After leaving the State Department to spend a little time with my husband, we lived several years in Moscow and in Geneva. Retirement did not dampen my interest in politics, at home or abroad, and I have continued to write about the issues from time to time. I am also writing a three-part novel based loosely (there might be a fact or three in there) on my family saga from Spain to Puerto Rico to America.