Obama's Speech on Syria: Lies to Justify an Immoral War
by Larry Everest
On Saturday, August 31, President Barack Obama--in the words of the New York Times--"stunned the world" by giving a speech in which he promised to give the U.S. Congress time to weigh in before any attack on Syria would be launched. Congress returns to session on Monday, September 9.
U.S. moves to attack Syria are not driven by whether the reactionary regime in Syria used nerve gas against its own people. As Revolution wrote, "The rulers of the U.S. view atrocities and war crimes--real, or invented--through warped and twisted lens of 'how does this work for us.'" And Obama's speech and plan is not a move to accede to the "will of the people." The nature of a U.S. attack on Syria is defined by the needs of the U.S. empire. (For an important analysis of what is driving the U.S. to attack Syria, see "Only Worse Suffering and Horrors Can Result from a U.S. Attack on Syria.")
Obama's speech was a move to impose a very warped, distorted, and false framework on discussion and debate over a U.S. attack on Syria. It situated a U.S. attack within a big lie about the benevolent role the U.S. has played and is playing in the world today. A U.S. attack on Syria would be another war crime in the long annals of U.S. war crimes. And, such an attack has the potential to spin out of control in unpredictable ways. Obama's speech was aimed at manufacturing public opinion within the U.S. for the war, but also at hammering out unity within the U.S. ruling class for an assault on Syria. And it was aimed at forging some kind of coalition of other oppressive world powers. All in preparation for an attack on Syria that would greatly increase the suffering of people there and that could set off an unpredictable chain of events that could explode into a major conflict.
An Im-Moral Framework
Obama's speech proclaimed a version of modern world history that turned reality upside down. He said, "But we are the United States of America, and we cannot and must not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus. Out of the ashes of world war, we built an international order and enforced the rules that gave it meaning. And we did so because we believe that the rights of individuals to live in peace and dignity depends on the responsibilities of nations. We aren't perfect, but this nation more than any other has been willing to meet those responsibilities."
This is a shameless, lie-filled rewriting of the history of U.S. crimes around the world, including in the Middle East over the past 60-plus years--why they've taken these actions, what their nature and agenda really is, and about who are by far the greatest war criminals and mass murderers--including of children!--on the face of the earth, bar none.
Take one part of one dimension of the horrors inflicted by the U.S. on the world, the toll from some of the wars it instigated, fueled, or directly waged on Iraq and Iran alone--all for reasons of empire:
* 1972-1975, thousands of Iraqi Kurds were slaughtered and over 200,000 made refugees as a result of the U.S. encouraging them to rise against the Saddam Hussein regime, and then stabbing them in the back;
* 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war: the U.S. helped instigate and fuel this war by arming and aiding both sides: conservative estimates place the death toll at 367,000--262,000 Iranians and 105,000 Iraqis. An estimated 700,000 were injured or wounded on both sides, bringing the total casualty figure to over one million.
* 1991 Persian Gulf War--the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq: in 43 days over 100,000 Iraqi soldiers were slaughtered and an estimated 300,000 wounded.
* 2003-2011 the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, a war based on lies about weapons of mass destruction: a minimum of 150,000 Iraqis killed, but most likely between 600,000 and 1 million dead; 4.5 million driven from their homes (along with ongoing reactionary, sectarian slaughter).
And this is just in the Middle East! Look up the history of any country in Asia, Africa, or Latin America--or for that matter, the mass murder of civilians the U.S. perpetrated in Germany and Japan in World War 2. You'll find more made-in-U.S. massacres of civilians, pro-U.S. torture regimes, brutal exploitation, oppression, and environmental devastation.
Who Has Targeted Innocent Civilians Over and Over?