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Caveman Credibility and its Costs

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Sending a bunch of $3 million missiles into Syria to blow stuff up will kill a great many men, women, and children directly.  It will also kill a great many people indirectly, as violence escalates in response -- an established pattern recognized even by the war-promoting Washington Post.

Refugees are fleeing Syria in greater numbers as a result of the U.S. government's threat to send in missiles.  The refugees have all sorts of opinions of their government, but by many accounts they overwhelmingly oppose foreign missile strikes -- a position on which they agree with a large majority in the United States.

Not only is President Obama's proposal guaranteed to make things worse, but it risks making things dramatically worse, with threats of retaliation now coming from Syria, Iran, and Russia.  The U.S. media is already describing the proposed missile strikes as "retaliatory," even though the United States hasn't been attacked.  Imagine what the pressure will be in Washington to actually retaliate if violence leads, as it so often does, to more violence.  Imagine the enthusiasm for a broader war, in Washington and Jerusalem, if Iran retaliates.  Risking a major war, no matter how slim you think the chance is, ought to be done only for some incredibly important reason.

The White House doesn't have one.  President Obama's draft resolution for Congress reads, in part:

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"Whereas, the objective of the United States' use of military force in connection with this authorization should be to deter, disrupt, prevent, and degrade the potential for, future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction;

"Whereas, the conflict in Syria will only be resolved through a negotiated political settlement, and Congress calls on all parties to the conflict in Syria to participate urgently and constructively in the Geneva process;"

In other words, the missiles have nothing to do with ending the war.  The war will only end through peace negotiations.  All parties should "urgently" and "constructively" pursue that process.  And yet, here come the missiles!

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Missile strikes will enrage the Syrian government and encourage the opposition.  Both sides will fight more fiercely.  Both sides will be more seriously tempted to use any weapons in their arsenals.  Missiles will prolong and escalate the war. 

Steps toward ending the war could include: halting CIA and other military assistance; pressuring Russia and Iran, on one side, and Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states on the other, to stop arming the war; and bringing both sides to a peace conference in Geneva.  Is the United States urgently and constructively taking these steps?  Of course not. 

What about basic humanitarian aid?  The U.S. government is just not interested in providing it, not on anything remotely approaching the scale of the weaponry flowing into the war.

President Obama's stated objective is to deter the future use of chemical weapons.  But missiles may encourage that very thing by escalating the war.  There are other steps that could be used to reduce the future use of chemical weapons.  For one thing, the United States could stop using, developing, and stock-piling chemical weapons.  Most nations do not do so.  The White House and the U.S. media have begun saying that Syria holds the biggest chemical weapons supply "in the Middle East," rather than "in the world," as President Obama said last week.  The world-record-holder is the U.S. government.

The U.S. government has admitted to using white phosphorous and new types of napalm as weapons against Iraqis.  The best way to discourage that behavior is not to bomb Washington.

The U.S. government has used chemical weapons against "its own people" (always far more outrageous in the eyes of the U.S. media than killing someone else's people) from the military's assault on veterans in the Bonus Army to the FBI's assault on a religious cult in Waco, Texas. The best way to discourage this behavior is not to bomb Washington.

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The U.S. could also stop supporting the use of chemical weapons by certain nations, including Iraq's use of chemical weapons against Iranians.  The U.S. could sign onto and support the International Criminal Court.  And the U.S. could abandon its role as top weapons supplier to the world and leading war-maker on earth.  Less war means less use of all weapons, including various internationally sanctioned weapons that the United States both uses and exports, such as cluster bombs and depleted uranium.

Obama's intention to "disrupt," "prevent," and "degrade" can be taken seriously only at the risk of much higher casualties, as sending missiles into supplies of chemical weapons is extremely risky.

CREDIBILITY: LA COSA NOSTRA

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http://davidswanson.org
David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
 

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