With much righteous indignation, President Obama is somberly indicating to the American people that he effectively has no choice — he must go to war, on his own initiative and employing what is effectively his private army, against Syria owing to the Syrian government’s purported use of chemical weapons against its own people.
Where have we heard that one before?
Come on! Why can’t Obama, like Bush before him, just be honest with people? This military attack is intended to do exactly what President Bush’s attack on Iraq was intended to accomplish: regime change.
Bush, like so many other conservative interventionists during the 1990s, wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein. But he was concerned that the American people might not support a war of aggression, a type of war that was labeled a war crime at Nuremberg. So, he just came up with a bogus excuse, one based on the prospect of mushroom clouds being unleashed on American cities by Saddam Hussein.
The stratagem worked. Americans said, “We must trust the president. He has access to information that we don’t have. He would never lie to us.”
And of course, the WMDs never materialized and, equally important, Bush did not apologize for his “mistake” or withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq after it became clear that there were no WMDs there. That’s because the true intention of the invasion was to replace Saddam Hussein with another pro-U.S. stooge. As everyone knows, once those scary WMDs failed to be found by Bush’s army, Bush seamlessly shifted to a new rationale for invading and occupying Iraq, one that held that the invasion was done out of new-found love for the Iraqi people and the U.S. government’s desire to bring them democracy.
What people tend to forget is that the U.S. Empire previously loved Saddam Hussein and, in fact, partnered with him during the 1980s. Take a look at this document that I prepared in 2003. Some of the links are now dead but many of them are still active. You’ll get the point: that it was the United States and its Western allies that furnished Iraq with those weapons of mass destruction in the first place.
That’s obviously not something many Americans know or want to know. They want to continue thinking of the U.S. national-security state (i.e., the vast military-industrial complex, the CIA, and the NSA) as a loving, benevolent parent who goes around the world loving and helping people and becoming morally indignant when tyrannical regimes purportedly commit crimes against their own citizenry and, of course, “keeping Americans safe” in the process.
Why did the U.S. Empire furnish Saddam Hussein with those WMDs? Because they wanted to help him kill people from Iran.
Why Iran? Because during the 1980s U.S. officials hated Iran, as much as they do now. That’s because the Iranian people had had the audacity to oust the U.S.-installed brutal dictator, the Shah of Iran, from power without the consent or approval of the U.S. national-security state apparatus, which had previously removed the democratically elected prime minister of the country and replaced him with the brutal tyranny of the Shah.
Now, take a look at this article that was published a few days ago: “CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran” by Shane Harris and Matthew M. Aid. It brings the whole sordid story of U.S. support of Saddam’s gas attacks up to date, bluntly stating in its opening paragraph:
The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen, Foreign Policy has learned.
Okay, interventionists might say, that was then and this is now. Back then, they would argue, it was necessary for the U.S. government to partner with a brutal dictator in order to help him combat America’s new official enemy, Iran (which had been an official friend when the Shah was in power). But today, it is necessary that the United States confront Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad because, interventionists would say, he’s another potential Hitler who is obviously bent on conquering the world, which was, of course, what they said about Saddam.
Well, except for one thing, which interventionists never want to talk about: The rendition-torture partnership that the U.S. national-security state entered into with Assad’s tyrannical regime!
Imagine that: the U.S. Empire selects the regime that it now says must be bombed to be one of the Empire’s premier rendition-torture partners! Let’s not forget, after all, that it was the U.S. national-security state that kidnapped Canadian citizen Mahar Arar and whisked him away to Syria — yes, Assad’s Syria! — in order to have him tortured into confessing that he was a terrorist.
How did the rendition-torture partnership between the U.S. Empire and Syria get established? We don’t know! The mainstream press has never demanded any answers, and U.S. officials have steadfastly remained mum about how the deal came into existence? Did the negotiations involve the CIA or the Pentagon? Was the deal put into writing? Did the agreement specify the type of torture that would be utilized? How long was the torture supposed to last? Did President Bush sign off on the deal?
We just don’t know. Since the matter involved the CIA, the Congress never conducted hearings into the matter, despite the fact that the Syrians ultimately freed Arar as an innocent man, after about a year of brutal torture. And certainly the Justice Department never secured the indictment of any U.S. official for kidnapping, as the Italian government did when CIA officials kidnapped a person in that country and whisked him away to Egypt’s tyrannical military dictatorship that also served as a premier rendition-torture partner for the Empire.
What we do know though is this: U.S. national-security state officials chose Assad’s tyrannical regime as one of its premier rendition-torture partners precisely owing to its extreme brutality.
Wouldn’t it be nice if U.S. officials just told people the truth and spared us all the self-righteous outrage and indignation about foreign dictators who have fallen out of favor with the U.S. Empire? Like Bush’s war on Iraq, Obama’s war on Syria is ultimately all about one thing: the ouster from power of an old friend, partner, and ally and his hopeful replacement by a pro-U.S. dictator whose military forces U.S. officials will quickly reconstitute and reinforce with U.S. weaponry and cash, all in the name of “national security,” the “war on terrorism,” and the need to maintain “order and stability.”
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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