Who still remembers how Colin Powell, the then-Secretary of State and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, displayed some aluminum tubes before the invasion of Iraq to prove that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons? (Later he would complain that the intelligence agencies and the media had used him badly, exploited him and caused him to present lies to the whole world).
And who still wants to remember that the American army killed hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians there and produced devastation and chaos that continue to claim large numbers of victims to this very day?
And who remembers that the US invaded Afghanistan and there too is still murdering civilians. Recently a shocking book was published detailing how US soldiers flattened a village with a thousand residents.
And who still wants to be reminded of all the US invasions and its interventions in countries all over the world allegedly for the sake of “democracy”? In a book called Why do people hate America?*about a hundred countries where the US has carried out interventions are listed.
The list includes the following: Congo, Lebanon, Panama, Guatemala, Cambodia, Haiti, Sudan, Indonesia, Grenada, the Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia, Somalia, Nicaragua, Chile, Laos, El Salvador, and many more. Of course the US invaded all those countries of in the name of morality, freedom and democracy. In some of those countries they changed the regime and installed dictators more to their liking. In others they helped to suppress popular uprisings against local dictators. Thus it was in Puerto Rico and the Philippines, in Chile, Laos, Indonesia (about a million victims), Guatemala, Cambodia (nearly two million were killed) and Angola. In Chile they overthrew the elected president Salvador Allende and installed General Augusto Pinochet. In Cuba they tried to subvert the revolution, overthrow Castro and restore the regime of Fulgencio Batista.
After all that, another attack on Syria is really no big deal. But to call for moral intervention in Syria after all that, as Kerry and Obama are doing, beggars belief. Apparently if the stupid locals don’t understand that it’s being done for their own good, well then, that’s their problem.
The North Americans, it would seem, have an expansionist gene – a gene for bringing freedom and democracy that sends them scurrying to all corners of the world, to go to countries with or without an invitation. Even today they have about 800 bases all over the world. But let us be clear at the outset: the wave of conquests and expansion is the inheritance of the upper classes – those who send people to war, not those who are sent to war. The “simple people” of the US have nearly always opposed intervention in other countries, and they still do today. Americans, like all normal people, aspire to peace and quiet and so they oppose intervention in Syria today. Thousands of young men fled from conscription in the Vietnam War, and many more joined angry demonstrations against the continuation of that war, thereby saving something of the honour of the US that had been stained by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. The latter even withdrew his candidacy for re-election due to that war.
And who doesn’t want to forget the war in Vietnam (like Secretary of State Kerry, who in his long speech yesterday dealt with moral US invasions, but took care not to mention it, even though he participated in it and was one of the leaders of the antiwar Winter Soldier Investigation among Vietnam veterans).
Millions of soldiers and civilians were killed in Vietnam. Many atrocities were committed there, such as the My Lai massacre, in which US soldiers murdered about 500 helpless civilians. But that war has entered history, at least to those who are still willing to remember it, for the use of napalm on a massive scale. Napalm is much worse than the weapon of gas. It burns and asphyxiates at the same time. It burns with great heat everything that it touches. But it does not only burn, it also emits carbon monoxide, which in many cases kills its victims even before they are burned. Not only did napalm kill thousands of human beings, but it simply scorched the earth. The houses, the roads, the forests. In short, they converted Vietnam into a vast wasteland.
Even if the words Kerry uttered about murder with gas in Syria were true, even if only a little bit, (and there is still no clear evidence of what was done there and by whom), you must be a person without shame and without honesty, and especially without morality to say those words with the record of Vietnam breathing down your neck and down the neck of US imperialism.
And who really is interested in being reminded that the US supported the Iraqis who used gas in the war against Iran. The US apparently has a hierarchy of gases. Our gases and those of our friends are good gases. And the bad gases are those of our opponents, our enemies, such as the alleged Syrian gas. Of course Kerry or Obama did not mention that episode in their speeches about gas in Syria.
And none of that prevents the US from planning for another war in Syria. They have apparently learned from Ben Gurion who scornfully dismissed the United Nations as “Um-Shmum”.  Suddenly they have discovered that the UN Security Council is of no consequence. They will not wait for the UN experts, because only the US experts count. It is not convenient for them to publish even the summary of those who write that “there is no doubt that the Syrian government is responsible for gas warfare, but it is impossible to prove that Assad personally gave the order.”
And the British intelligence service too has found that there is a “high probability” that the Syrian government was responsible for the gas attack. Before the discussion in the House of Commons they published a judicial opinion that justifies military intervention, even if the Security Council does not authorize it. But – what are you going to do? - none of that helped the British government, which failed to secure backing for its plans in the House of Commons. Now members of the US Congress are also being asked to hold a debate before going to war. And from all this we learn that the “leaders of the Free World”, fighters for democracy worldwide, are not to scrupulous to resort to deceptive ruses in order to attain their sacred goal of war. But – alas! – public opinion in their own countries also opposes war in Syria. The leaders of the “Axis of Evil” – Russia and China – are more trusted in the world and the UN.
Maybe the leaders of the “Free World” can take comfort in the fact that Israel supports them. Here the newspaper headlines scream that “The whole world is waiting for US intervention”.
But Ari Shavit has outdone them all in sucking up to the West, or more precisely, the US (Haaretz 29 August 2013). Like all any demagogue worthy of the name, he is quick to evoke the Holocaust. He compares the victims of gas in Syria to the six million Jews killed by the Nazis, no less. Our diligent correspondent knows this, because that’s what the Americans say. Unhesitatingly he calls for an immediate attack: the US, as a moral superpower cannot but act against the mass murderer in Damascus. He also explains to us that global law and order are in danger, and so the US, as the the superpower responsible for global order must act. Hard to say which is more absurd, the flattery or the stupidity and the nonsense. The US, which does all it can to circumvent the UN, which acts against the will even of its own citizens and its loyal allies – is responsible for maintaining global order. It is hard to find such words even in the US press, and especially the moderate liberal press. If I can be forgiven for using an un-parliamentary expression, it looks like our diligent correspondent has gotten a swollen head.
The US has a clear interest in Syria. Syria is one of the loci of resistance to US hegemony in the Middle East. As such it is a clear target for the US imperialist aspirations in the region. The US has been weakened in recent years in the past few years. Twenty years ago the US would have done to Syria what it did to Iraq, for example. But times have changed, and the US is no longer omnipotent here, so it must settle for saying that this time the war will be short and will end quickly. And that is a sign of weakness. So far it also looks like the pretext for intervention that they settled on, the trigger they were seeking, that is, the use of gas, has not worked so well. Not only because it is not at all clear who used gas, but it is also hard to see the logic in using gas when its use is likely to lead to military intervention by the US and maybe also by its allies as well, so it certainly would not be in the interest of the Syrian government to do it.
The world has changed and so has the Middle East. These developments are not in a straight line, but there is no doubt that the general direction is towards the peoples’ aspiration to independence and freedom and resistance to imperialist intervention. No intervention in Syria will stop this trend. On the other hand, intervention in Syria will be a another mark of shame (Afghanistan, Iraq, Guatemala, the drone war, spying on citizens and well as active assistance to continuation of the Israeli Occupation) on President Obama’s second term.
* Ziauddin Sardar & Merryl Wyn Davies, Icon Books Ltd., 2003.