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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/19/13

War Inc.

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On that morning of September 11th, 2001 many questions went through Americans' minds.  Who did this?  Why did they do this?  were some of the commons questions Americans asked.  Almost every American knew the U.S.A. would respond with force.  We thought our response would be powerful, it would be swift--it would be decisive.  We didn't think it would take years to hunt down Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attacks.  We didn't think we would also take out Saddam Hussein in Iraq.  We didn't think we would be engaged in military conflict in the Middle East for over a decade.  And we didn't think on the twelfth anniversary of this attack we would be debating about starting a third war in Syria.  Most Americans didn't think this, but some did.  Some foresaw that this one act of terror as the birth of War Incorporated.  The United States declared a War on Terror.  Not a war against a nation, a regime, but on a military tactic.  Any organization that employs "terrorism" was now our enemy. 

Such a vague term that can be applied by our own discretion.  With this declaration how could we ever find ourselves not involved in a conflict somewhere around the globe?  And now with Iraq wrapped up, and troops pulling out of Afghanistan we find ourselves having to get involved in Syria over the deaths of a thousand civilians.  President Obama has promised no troops on the ground, but once we get involved it will only take the death of one American soldier to give the military the option to renege on that pledge.  Getting involved is literally playing with fire.  We are told our involvement is for moral reasons, to support our allies, and to make the situation better.  These reasons are not justified by the facts. 

The truth is we are getting involved to keep the war machine going.  To keep War Incorporated in business.

On August 21th 2013, hundreds of Syrians civilians were killed by the means of the nerve gas Sarin.  It is alleged that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad used the gas in Ghouta, a Damascus Suburb, in opposition controlled neighborhoods.  It is not conclusive that Assad's regime was behind the attacks.  There is evidence out there to suggest that the rebels were behind the attack to draw western intervention as Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested.  I have no primary source information to accuse one group or the other, but let's say for the sake of argument that Assad was behind this attack.  That a president of a country has used chemical weapons against his people in the midst of his country's two-year civil war against his regime.  Even if that is true, that does not give the United States the moral standing to get involved.  We lost that right years ago.

The moral reason is that chemical weapons were used.  A phrase heard amongst the faction that justifies U.S. interaction is that chemical weapons do not discriminate between soldier and child.  That is true about chemical weapons.  That is also true about nuclear weapons.  We are the only country in the history of the world to use nuclear warfare on another nation.  Up to a quarter of a million people were killed in the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  I'm sure some children died in those attacks too.  But hey Japan attacked us first, and it was used to end World War II.  And we warned them.  Also the use of them wasn't illegal--because no one knew about the power of this weapon--so we are okay to use them, and to keep them in our arsenal.  But our indiscriminate killing of Asians did not end in 1945.  We dropped tons of napalm during the Vietnam War.  But chemical weapons were not banned internationally until 1997 by the United Nations, so when the U.S. used napalm it was legal then. 

So it was also moral, too?  No, it wasn't moral, but yes it was legal according to international law. 

Still using these deaths to get involved does not seem like a moral reason, but more of a technicality, when you consider that over 100,000 Syrians have died up to this point and we felt no motivation to get involved then.  Why were those deaths less valuable to us?  Why did we have no moral reason to get involved?  Making a case for military action after these 1000 deaths, but not the 100,000 before, is as moral as permitting 100 rapes, but against the last one because Rohypnol was used.  A chemical not being involved doesn't make the crime any less gruesome.  But still chemical weapons are illegal in the international stage.  It is an indiscriminate killer, and even though the U.S. used to use similar weapons, we have learned from our past and no longer use indiscriminate means of killing--unless of course you count our drone strikes. 

There are more than enough dead children out there, victims from our remote controlled drones we have used in our conflicts in the Middle East and still continue to use.  So where is our moral high ground that does not permit us to use unmanned drones?  We have used chemical weapons before, we sat by and let over 100,000 people die, and we currently use attack drones to bomb whoever is in the target's sight.  From the guerilla tactics we used in our War for Independence we have never taken the higher ground when it came to military tactics.  Why should we judge anyone else?

Aside from moral reasons what is another popular reason to get involved in a military conflict--to help out our allies.  Our number one ally--Great Britain--in their parliament voted against any military intervention in Syria on August 29th.  The United Nations has not yet even declared Assad responsible for the chemical attack.  Our borderline allies who would also be formidable enemies--Russia and China--do not want us to get involved and have warned us against it.  If we take action we will be going alone, and run the risk of retaliation from most likely Russia.  So what allies are we going to battle for, the Syrian Rebels?  The Syrian rebellion is not a centralized rebellion.  There are many factions fighting for control.  One of the most successful rebel force is Jabhat al-Nusra--a terrorist organization that is affiliated with Al Qaeda.  We are thinking about engaging in a war for the benefit of our sworn enemy Al Qaeda?  This is the equivalent of in 1944 attacking the Soviet Union for the benefit of the Nazi's in the midst of World War II.  Attacking Syria is not an action we are thinking of doing for the benefit of our allies.

So we really don't have a moral reason, or a reason to do it for our allies.  But what if we just want to make the situation better?  100,000 dead is a situation that could use improvement.  But what would actually come out of our influence in Syria?  If Assad falls out of power there is not a clear cut regime to replace him.  Our actions will manage to destabilize the region more so.  Also where ever we go and drop bombs we create new enemies.  Family members will be lost in our bombings and their loved ones who survived will want revenge--and they would run into the arms of Al Qaeda to get their vengeance.  Jabhat al-Nusra is not the largest, but it is one of the strongest forces fighting in Syria.  Is it hard to believe that once Assad is toppled more Al Qaeda aligned fighters would be making their way to Syria to help gain control?  Our actions could enable Al Qaeda--that is running out of gas--to acquire a new foot-hole for a base of operations in the Middle East, this time in Syria--a nation that shares its Southwestern border with Israel.  Our involvement in Syria cannot make this horrible situation any better.

So what can be our reason to want to get involved?  It is not for moral reasons, to help out any allies, or to make the situation better.  When all else fails, follow the money.  Since World War II, war machines--planes, tanks, ships--have become an established industry like cars and televisions.  We learned after Pearl Harbor we needed to have equipment always ready when necessary.  These machines were always in demand during the Cold War as we competed against the Soviet Union.  The flow chart of how these machines are funded is tax dollars - congress - defense contractors - military.  Congress distributes tax dollars to defense contractors to build these machines that are to be used by the military.  And so the Military Industrial Congressional Complex was formed, or as president Dwight D. Eisenhower shortened it in his farewell address--The Military Industrial Complex.

   " In the councils of government,   we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military--industrial complex. " --Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961.

Can we really deny this phenomena?  Is it still a conspiracy if a president admits its existence?  If this complex was established during Eisenhower's presidency, circa 1953-1961, let's compare our involvement in wars before and after its establishment:

   Revolutionary War: 1775-1883 

   War of 1812: 1812-1814

   Mexican-American War: 1846-1848

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Drew D'Amato is the author of the novels Social Studies and Bloodlines. He also has a masters degree in history, and has taught at the high school and college levels. When not writing he spends his time getting himself into trouble.
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