I mostly wanted to say we haven’t forgotten about the blog – I’ve been doing research for future posts – but in the meantime I’ll share some links on Syria that I saved over the past few weeks. (H/t Zero Hedge for many of the pointers.)
In a world I thought I’d never see, most Americans and much of Congress seem to agree with Ron Paul’s foreign policy advice, at least on the question of a military strike against Syria:
- The latest Wall Street Journal poll shows only 33% support for a strike.
- The congressional math shows a likely Obama defeat in the House, while as of this writing the Senate is also leaning slightly towards a “no.”
- More detailed survey responses from Gallup reveal that the main reason cited by people who oppose a strike is that it’s “none of our business,” while those who support a strike are aiming to prevent chemical attacks “from happening again.”
- Jeffrey Sachs explains the problems with regime change policies in Syria and elsewhere, arguing that “the United States – and other governments in the Middle East and Europe – share responsibility for turning Syria into a killing field.”
- David Stockman anticipates Obama being forced to stand down in a typically insightful and provocative article on our ruling class, this time covering “the American Imperium – five decades of incessant meddling, bullying and subversion around the globe which has added precious little to national security, but left America fiscally exhausted and morally diminished.”
- Robert Howse and Ruti Teitel challenge the administration’s justification for military action from an international law perspective.
- The ugly history of chemical warfare, from Germany’s World War I attacks in Belgium to the present day.
- More on chemical weapons: 10 chemical and WMD attacks in the past 70 years, including a few that the U.S. either perpetrated or turned a blind eye toward.
- 35 civil wars of the last century and the role played by the U.S., if any.
- 10 U.S. military interventions in the past 30 years, from Grenada to Libya.
- 10 war-triggering events of the past two and a half centuries that were suspected or proven to be “false flags.”
- Bloomberg covers Al-Qaeda’s growing dominance within the rebel groups.
- The New York Times reports on their brutality and infighting (this is the PG version – there are of course more disturbing accounts and videos circulating the web).
- And even the military admits that there are “no moderate rebel groups now ready to fill any power vacuum.”
Quotes and excerpts
- Michael Krieger shares this 2007 exchange between Barack Obama and Charlie Savage:
Savage: In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)
Obama: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
- Brahma Chellaney channels Colin Powell’s 1991 guidelines for military intervention in this apt conclusion to an essay published on Project Syndicate this morning (with my bolding):
…The Powell doctrine stipulates that the US should use military force only when a vital national-security interest is at stake; the strategic objective is clear and attainable; the benefits are likely to outweigh the costs; adverse consequences can be limited; broad international and domestic support has been obtained; and a plausible exit strategy is in place.
Given the US record since the doctrine was formulated, another criterion should be added: the main beneficiaries of military intervention are not America’s mortal enemies.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower famously warns about the military-industrial complex in his 1961 presidential farewell address (I couldn’t leave this one out):
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this complication endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
- And finally getting back to Ron Paul, in last week’s column Paul excerpted this description of the Roman Empire’s military exploits from Joseph Schumpeter’s 1918 The Sociology of Imperialism:
There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome’s allies; and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive an interest – why, then it was the national honour that had been insulted.
And he concluded:
Sadly, this sounds like a summary of Obama’s speech over the weekend. We are rapidly headed for the same collapse as the Roman Empire if we continue down the president’s war path. What we desperately need is an overwhelming Congressional rejection of the president’s war authorization. Even a favorable vote, however, cannot change the fact that this is a self-destructive and immoral policy.