Last week, President Obama made the case that the U.S must carry out missile strikes against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria. Supposedly this would stop the brutal repression that Assad is carrying out against the Syrian people using chemical weapons. In fact, this has nothing to do with helping the Syrian people, and everything to do with the Obama administration’s goal of maintaining control in the Middle East.
Since the wave of revolts known as the Arab Spring began, the U.S. has used economic and military power to maintain control. In Egypt where the military has seized power and is killing hundreds of people in the streets, the U.S. continues to send $1.3 billion in military aid. In Libya the U.S. government and the European governments in N.A.T.O. carried out a bombing campaign against Moammar Ghaddafi’s forces. This military intervention cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives. But it assured that the U.S. would have a big hand in choosing the government that rules Libya.
The struggle in Syria began in 2011 with protests by ordinary Syrians who were tired of the corrupt and dictatorial ruling regime and wanted a change. But quickly, foreign influence and money appeared. What began as a revolt by the people has become a bloody power struggle by foreign powers. Assad’s regime is supported by Iran, Russia, and China. While the rebels are funded by Saudi Arabia and the other rich gulf states allied with the U.S. Both sides want to increase their control over Syria, and assure a greater influence in the Middle East.
Obama is trying to convince the population of the U.S. to go along with a missile strike in Syria. Based on what? Rumors that the government of Syria is using chemical weapons. Some say 300 people were killed, and some say 1,200. But so far there is no proof. The United Nations had a team of weapons inspectors in Syria, but after the Obama administration announced its military intentions, they were withdrawn. They have yet to announce the results of the tests that they were able to run.
We have seen this story play out before. In 2003, the U.S. government used rumors of so-called weapons of mass destruction to launch its invasion of Iraq. Is this story any different? Ten years later, the U.S. has another president and another country is the target, but we are being manipulated in the same way. The Obama administration wishes to carry out military violence excused by rumors.
Even if the claims of the administration are true, how can the U.S. judge other countries for using chemical weapons? In Iraq, in 2004, the U.S. used white phosphorus bombs, burning civilians alive. In 2009 Israel, a key U.S. ally, used white phosphorus bombs in Gaza, killing thousands of Palestinians. And recently published documents show that the C.I.A. helped the government of Saddam Hussein in Iraq use chemical weapons against Iran in 1988.
The fact is that every single war waged by the U.S. has been carried out in the name of humanitarian aid, but the real purpose is to extend control over the world. The U.S. went to war against Korea in 1950, and Vietnam in 1954, During the 1970s and 1980s, the U.S. government sent money and weapons to brutal death squads and dictatorships in Latin America. In each case, the U.S. government claimed that they were supporting democracy and liberty against the spread of the U.S.S.R.’s influence. The real goal was to maintain control of Asia and Latin America for U.S. corporations.
In 2001 the U.S. began the ongoing war in Afghanistan, devastating the country. And since the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq over a million Iraqis have died. In each case the U.S. government claimed to be fighting terrorism and aiding the people of Iraq and Afghanistan but the real goal was to secure the territory for U.S. oil companies.
In fact, in his speech to congress, Obama could not have been clearer about why the U.S. government should authorize military strikes in Syria. According to Obama, the U.S. needs to “protect our allies, our bases in the region.” For now, the decision to carry out military strikes has been delayed. Some politicians in Washington fear the political consequences of committing to a military action. But this may change at any moment.
If the U.S. government carries out a military strike, it will result in nothing but tragedy for the ordinary people of Syria. Only the Syrian people have a right to deal with their own struggle. We should say loud and clear that an attack on Syria has nothing to do with helping the Syrian people and should be stopped before it starts.