Thursday, September 5, 2013

09-05-13 Say No to War!

From the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter, Sept. 5, 2013
1. Protest Syria war in New Paltz.
2. Why oppose a new war?



4 to 6 p.m. On Main Street in front of the New Paltz Plaza. Bring signs. We can supply some.
Sponsored by The Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter, Mid-Hudson WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend), Mid-Hudson ANSWER.

By Jack A. Smith, editor, Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter

Despite the Obama Administration’s statement that there is “irrefutable” evidence that the Bashar Assad government in Damascus ordered the chemical gas attack in Syria last month, no direct proof of this allegation has been revealed. Why doesn’t President Obama present his proof to the United Nations, better yet to the UN Security Council?

Why in fact does the president casually inform the American people that he is “comfortable” about bypassing the UN when he launches a war against a country that presents no threat to the United States? This means that any attack by the U.S. on Syria will be judged by international law, to which the U.S. is a party, as an unjust, illegal war crime. If it didn’t bother George W. Bush why would it matter to Barack Obama? The same goes for the Bush-Obama surveillance state.

The White House won’t go to the Security Council for two reasons.

The main one is that Russia and China both oppose American plans to toss a match into the tinderbox of the Syrian conflict that could ignite a fire throughout the region and they both will veto support for Obama’s impending attack. The U.S. is demonizing Russia in particular for thwarting administration ambitions in Syria. Moscow and Damascus have been close allies for decades, and Russia genuinely believes the U.S. objective is regime change, not democracy. Washington’s wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya fall into that category, and this one does, too.

Second, recalling the lies told to the UN by the Bush Administration, the world body is likely to probe quite deeply into the suspect evidence Washington offers. It would also seek to clarify the actual number of casualties from the recent attack (the death count ranges from 350 to Secretary of State Kerry’s total of 1,400).

Most of the American people oppose Washington’s plan to attack a seventh Muslim country since 2001. Nearly the entire U.S. antiwar movement has taken a stand for peace. They remember the lies that led to many years of unending war. The ANSWER Coalition is once again the leading force for peace, as it was during the Bush years, having already mounted nationwide demonstrations in various cities and it will stage a major protest in the nation’s capital Sept. 7.

In a statement Sept. 5, ANSWER national coordinator Brian Becker declared: “Obama, Kerry and the mass media are working overtime to conjure up the image of ‘inevitability’ in order to demoralize and paralyze the antiwar opposition that clearly represents the sentiment of the vast majority of the people in the United States.

“We reject the concept of the inevitability of this attack. All power does not rest in the hands of the war makers. The people oppose this next war. We must organize and organize and organize. Right now there are deep divisions within the summits of the political and economic establishment about the reckless act of aggression being planned against a country in the heart of the Middle East. Such opposition is not based on principle but rather fear that once the war starts it is impossible to know what regional and possibly global chaos could follow. Under such political circumstances, a mass opposition can have a decisive impact even inside the centers of world imperialism.”

In our view, gas was used — a hideous crime — but there is considerable room for doubt regarding the guilty party. A serious, independent investigation is called for, but Washington will have none of it. An important sector of world public opinion is not convinced that President Assad or any top government officials gave the order. It could have been a dissident military faction acting on its own to disgrace Assad, or a put up job by al-Qaeda-affiliated elements within the opposition to provoke the U.S. into launching an attack. Even Kerry acknowledged that some 20% of the opposition aligns with al Qaeda, and this is probably an underestimate.

Our own doubts are based on a couple of obvious assumptions. First, Assad is not illogical. He fully understood that if he ordered a gas attack it would cross Obama’s “red line,” leading anywhere from an increase in U.S. support for the rebels to massive retaliation. Why would he, in effect, toss it all away by approving the use of militarily unnecessary poison gas knowing it could trigger his defeat?

Precisely why Obama has decided to bomb Syria at this point is not entirely clear, but two possible reasons come to mind:

1. He fears being regarded as weak politically at home and that the U.S. will be seen as a “helpless giant” abroad if he does not act violently after implying he would do so if an arbitrary “red line” was crossed. Supposedly, Iran, Russia and other countries thereafter would just thumb their noses in mockery. This is absurd, given Washington’s military might.

2. He was propelled to take action because Syrian government forces were winning. Kerry suggested that opposition forces are getting stronger, but that was a lie. The government army has been advancing for months, despite the flow of jihadists from around the world joining the rebel ranks. Any U.S. attack will help the opposition. With the tide turning significantly in its favor, why would the Syrian government intentionally take the one action that would provide the U.S. with a “justification” for inflicting damage on its military?

Ironically, Obama fears the actions of the Assad government far less than he fears what would happen if the jihadist faction in the rebel army he supports ultimately get their hands on Syria’s storehouse of chemical weapons. That explains Obama’s recent statement about the danger to America from Syria’s weapons.  He decided to be obscure in order to keep Assad as the target, but he really meant that the danger is not from Assad but al-Qaeda affiliates in the opposition forces.

The Obama Administration has supported the rebels from the beginning, along with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and some other Sunni Muslim countries against the Alawite government of Assad. The Alawites are a branch of Shia Islam. The main reason is to weaken Iran, the real target. Two regional countries are close to Shia Iran — Shia Iraq and Alawite Syria.

If Syria falls, Iran will lose a key ally, and jihadist forces will then turn on Iraq. They already are largely responsible for the virtually daily bomb attacks in Iraq. Obama thinks he can eventually replace Assad with a moderate leader of a unified opposition, but the jihadist  “20%” are not playing along. They want more power and have demonstrated little concern for democracy or tolerance toward other sects and religions.

Washington war hawks, within and without the administration, have been calling for the U.S. to go to war against Syria for a year. They are anxious to weaken Iran. It has nothing to do with overturning a Syrian “dictatorship.” Some of America’s closest allies have been dictatorships.

Obama has decided to join the hawks, though he was never a dove after he took power. The White House says ground forces won’t enter Syria, just missiles and bombers. But at his press conference Kerry suggested “boots on the ground” cannot be ruled out entirely.

At this stage Obama’s effort to round up a “coalition of the willing” is faltering. Key allies are not going along. The Pope vocally opposes an attack. Over a dozen years of needless Bush-Obama wars has depleted the willingness of a number of countries to bend the knee to Washington’s endless penchant for military conflict.

Obama evidently had no intention to consult with Congress, which was on vacation when the martial decision was made. But intense political and public criticism induced him to do so. His minions in Congress and the White House have since been twisting every arm in sight to get a majority of Congress behind his war. He will then declare, in one way or another  “it is the will of the American people that has made this decision to punish a despicable regime that uses poison gas on its own people.”

Instead of a war, the nations of the world — acting through the UN — should encourage both sides in Syria to observe a cease fire and enter into negotiations to end the mayhem. In the past the Assad government indicated it would take part in talks. Russia also said it would support talks. Unfortunately, the faction-ridden opposition has previously spurned efforts to join talks. But if the U.S., Russia and other influential countries and organizations joined together in honestly calling for a cease-fire and talks, it may work this time.

A war can still be stopped. But all this is happening in a matter of weeks. Time is extremely short and while the majority of Americans want peace, most seem unaware of the facts and all too prone to being influenced by the pro-war media and Congress members of both parties. It will take a mighty effort by the antiwar forces to stop this war. If Obama attacks, join “day after” protests in New Paltz and  elsewhere.
* For an assortment of critical Syria articles posted Aug. 30 go to:
* For a broad analysis of the Syrian struggle, including its important geopolitical ramifications, see: