Military Intervention in Syria is the Wrong Answer

Robert Reich

We’re about to go into Syria. I can’t tell you at this point how, but the U.S. is readying an offensive. We’re rounding up allies, as we did before we went into Iraq. The White House is preparing the American people, as another White House did before Iraq. But doesn’t this at least deserve a real debate? The silence in America is deafening. Didn’t we learn anything from Iraq? Or, for that matter, from Vietnam?
I’m as appalled as anyone by the Syrian regime and its use of chemical weapons on its own people. But what exactly do we expect to achieve by entering this fray? And at what cost — to us, to the Syrian people, to the tinderbox of the Middle East?

Normally I don’t venture into foreign policy, but foreign and domestic policy aren’t easily separated. At a time when almost one in four American children is in poverty, when the middle class is struggling to make ends meet, when inequality is widening, and we’re dis-investing in infrastructure and education, can we really afford what this initiative could easily mushroom into? We have seen the power of the military-industrial-congressional complex to get its way, to get the dollars it wants, and to sway public opinion in the direction that will be most profitable to it. At the very least, we deserve a full and frank discussion of what the Obama Administration is about to get us into. – Robert Reich on Facebook

I think it says somewhere in an important federal document Congress has the power to declare war. The constitutional scholar currently occupying the White House should know this. While President Obama could pull a Bush and pretend moving into Syria is covered under the broad authorization given to President Bush for his War on Terror, I think most Americans will not accept this conclusion.

Conservative memories are even more selective than average people, when it comes to the subject of the actions of their leaders. Conservatives and their leadership have been foursquare in favor of every military adventure the US has embarked upon; with the exception of every military adventure initiated by a sitting Democratic president. At least, this is the way it has been since Jimmy Carter authorized the rescue operation in Iran that ended in disaster

Americans never were in harm’s way militarily in Libya, the military action that the world just came out of. I heard more neocons whining about Obama’s cowardly allowing the French to lead the fight in Libya, as if France didn’t have stakes in seeing the unrest in North Africa settled. As if all of Europe didn’t have higher stakes in the Arab Spring not devolving into chaos than the US did. Obama wisely refused to put Americans into harm’s way in that conflict. Conservatives wanted Obama to do more in Libya. They wanted him to do more right up until the #Benghazi attack, when they suddenly decided it was bad to have Americans in harm’s way and how did Obama allow this to happen?

I floated the question of impeachment when President Obama first announced intentions to intervene in Libya. When he then allowed France to use our facilities to intervene in Libya under UN sanction, I still wasn’t happy about it, but with American servicemen out of harm’s way, it was a moot point. we were not at war, the EU was, using NATO resources that they help pay for. I cared not one bit when Gaddafi got what was coming to him. Like Bush I’s buddy Saddam Hussein, I was unmoved by his suffering at the hands of his people. Dictators sign up for being torn limb from limb by their own people when they become dictators in the first place. I don’t shed tears for dead dictators.

IF Obama goes into Syria with our forces and doesn’t consult Congress, it’s likely an impeachable act. The vast majority of Americans have found their antiwar sentiments again; they are war weary now. Liberals put Obama into office with the understanding he was going to end the wars Bush started. Liberals and antiwar types mistakenly believed this could be done instantly after Obama was elected, and then punished him for not achieving the impossible by not going to the polls in support of a Democratic legislature in 2010.

The limited strikes they are discussing, designed to degrade the Syrian government’s ability to use chemical weapons (if it’s such a big deal, where were the voices of dissent when Bush I coordinated with Saddam to use them on Iranian forces?) will be essentially no different than the hundreds of drone strikes we’ve conducted in countries we aren’t at war with. The lines of what is or isn’t war are blurred, but even Jefferson himself did not consult Congress before sending the navy to Tripoli to deal with the pirates, and they invaded Libya. Congress should be given the chance to weigh in, but only the military and intelligence forces know whether actions in Syria can be conducted without starting a wider war on one hand, or are necessary to prevent further casualties including possible American casualties, on the other.

The blanket allowance that the President could pursue a war on terror was used to go into Afghanistan and then congress confirmed that that SAME allowance would apply to Iraq. W (Bush II) followed the exact same course that Obama will be forced to pursue, eventually. First assert that actions are covered, and then punting to Congress for confirmation, which they will give. W was going into Iraq anyway, because he demonstrably manufactured excuses to go. The same can not be said of President Obama.

In any case, the vast majority of Americans (as polls show) would be opposed to the move to open a wider war in Syria. Most of those people are demonstrably liberal. I invite you, dear reader, to join them.

Modified Facebook status and associated comments.

#Benghazi, The Original Dumpster Fire

I said I really have nothing else to add to this when I posted this image on Facebook, but then I got pushback from a friend on it. Not just any friend, but someone I’ve shared dinner and drinks with, a real life (RL) friend. Yes, I actually have a life that isn’t on the ‘net. He didn’t like that I put up a meme that he didn’t agree with, and then didn’t add my two cents worth to top it off. I didn’t make him feel better for my having posted an image that he disagreed with.

There’s no point in embroidering on a concise thought, which is what the pictured meme image represents. Concise thinking on a specific subject. Either the snippet or image speaks for itself (and if I pass it on, it does for me) or it fails to pass the ‘concise’ test. If I’m expected to write a ten page essay on every subject that comes across my wall that I agree with, I would wear my fingers down typing and would very shortly following have no friends.

Obama is bringing all the heat on himself with his usual lack of transparency.

my RL friend

When I repost an image or a quote, it is not passing on “talking points” in my estimation; unless you are going to chalk up all political action to being transparent efforts to control the conversation on any given subject, from some central office somewhere that sets an agenda. If anything, using the phrase ‘lack of transparency’ marks someone as a FOX news watcher, someone absorbing ‘talking points’. I’ve never heard that phrase uttered in relation to Obama in any real sense outside of Republicans claiming that amongst the various other crazy characterizations like “socialist”, etc.

Obama is as transparent as any other president has been. He is as centrist as every president who served before him has been. His centrist nature is why liberals don’t like him very much.

I’m loathe to accept the accusation that I am “taking a side” (especially on the subject at hand) It’s pretty cut and dried what is or isn’t legal, in a general sense. I will say Obama has committed crimes. It’s a near impossibility for a modern sitting President to not do so, considering just how far outside the Constitutional parameters our current government is. The fact is, and I’ve said this since Obama took office, that his performance as President has been exceptional in comparison to the last three Presidents; better than all of them combined, in my estimation.

Which is why the bullshit thrown up over Benghazi rings even more false than most of the accusations thrown at the man. It was trumped up from the beginning, and the likeliest reason for his silence is because Benghazi was a secret CIA location and he cannot speak about it. Something that the leadership in the House and Senate would know he has to be silent about, so they know they can whale away on him over it, and not fear retaliation. A CIA rendition site, something that the Republican leadership would actually be in favor of were he a Republican president, thereby making it hypocrisy.

If anything Obama is too passive, too willing to compromise, domestically. He’s too close to being right of center as is to be able to make anything other than a step to the left a betrayal of his own base. And yet he steps to the right time and time again, and is rewarded for that with even more vitriol from his political opponents on the right.

Lack of transparency? How about the three times Bush was warned that attacks were planned using domestic airliners, but got left out of the 911 report? The WMD that they never admitted was a complete shell game? The torture that they still won’t admit was torture? There was never an accounting that matches what the President has been put through over the one embassy attack he had to deal with. How many hearings were held dealing with the multiple embassy attacks on Bushes watch? Why aren’t they all serving long jail sentences, as they should be?

…Well I guess we can blame that last one on Obama. I’d put him in jail right next to the others, but they get to go first. I resent the casting of #Benghazi as if there are multiple truths, as if there are two versions of fact. As if the deaths of thousands of people amounts to nothing more than another sports event with a contested outcome. As if the Iraq war (not 9/11) W’s real crime, in any way, shape or form resembles a single embassy attack on Obama’s watch.

Specifically I resent the insinuation that I am so lax in my thinking as to use Fahrenheit 9/11 as a reference for news and fact. There is a detailed timeline before and after the events of 9-11 in Deadly Decisions: How False Knowledge Sank the Titanic, Blew Up the Shuttle, and Led America into War, a book I’ve recommended countless times already, outlining the number of times that the President, his staff, and congress were advised that there were credible threats to the US, including attacks from the air using our own aircraft. They ignored all of them, and it was stated at the time that it would take an event similar to what happened on 9-11 to wake them up to the threat.

What I am suggesting by sharing the image is that this outpouring of rage at Obama over #Benghazi is nothing more than another FOX-lead,conservative-backed hatchet job on the President. That if suspicions are born out, what we will discover was that there was a secret CIA black site there, and that CIA bungled the security. That the pretense that one man can juggle all the information concerning the running of a beast the size of the federal government is itself a fantasy.

The outrage is false, because the motivation is false. It started with the conservatives hypocritically opposing the President first on doing nothing while the Libyan revolution (and the Arab spring) started, then opposing his move to protect the civilians there, then opposing the move to let NATO handle it and remove ourselves from control of the situation (as if we could control it) and when the embassy attack occurred, the conservatives pounced on that horse and rode it to town, convinced they finally had the vehicle to take Obama down. False, from beginning to end.

My willingness to see Obama imprisoned (mentioned above) relates directly to his negligence of duty to the laws of the US which he pledged to uphold and defend; his failure to prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes, his failure to prosecute Wall Street for their frauds and money laundering, his failure to end the Bush era war crimes and in fact increase the level of criminality by using the military under the guidance of the CIA to attack citizens within nations that we are not at war with.

Real crimes, in other words, not make believe incidents fabricated in the minds of Conservative/Republican leaders who simply want their power back so that they can continue to do what Obama is doing now. Do what he’s doing and do more of it to boot. That is the true falsity and hypocrisy of #Benghazi. And I’m almost ashamed to call someone who falls for this kind of crap a friend.

An argument I had on Facebook during the #Benghazi dumpster fire reposted to the blog. 
BTW, GOP House Intel Committee Report – No Obama Benghazi Wrongdoing

Iranian offered settlement with the United States in 2003

Anyone still in doubt that President Bush is engaged in warmongering, should pay attention to the following:

In May 2003 the Iranian goverment faxed the United States government a proposal to discuss a comprehensive settlement. Prompt action on this offer could have brought peace between our two countries, and done much to stablize the entire region.

How did our government react?

It snubbed the offer.To learn more about this, and other opportunities for negotiated settlements, we recomend that you buy the current issue of “Esquire” magazine (November 2007, with Charlize Theron on the cover). Read the article “Briefing: Our Impending War with Iran” by John H. Richardson. 

DownsizeDC Dispatch, The text of the fax from Tehran

Four years ago, Iran offered to engage in talks with the US in an attempt to end the mounting hostilities. Apparently there is no profit in peace.

Here’s the text of the fax:

Text of Iranian offer for a comprehensive settlement, May 2003:
Iranian Aims: The U.S. accepts a dialogue “in mutual respect” and agrees that Iran puts the following aims on the agenda:
Halt in US hostile behavior and rectification of status of Iran in the US: interference in internal or external relations, “axis of evil,” terrorism list
Abolishment of all sanctions: commercial sanctions, frozen assets, judgments (FSIA), impediments in international trade and financial institutions
Iraq: democratic and fully representative government in Iraq, support of Iranian claims for Iraqi reparations, respect for Iranian national interests in Iraq and religious links to Najaf/Karbal
Full access to peaceful technology, biotechnology, and chemical technology.
Recognition of Iran’s legitimate security interests in the region with according defense capacity.
Terrorism: pursuit of anti-Iranian terrorists, above all MKO (People’s Mujahedin of Iran) and support for repatriation of their members in Iraq, decisive action against anti-Iranian terrorists, above all MKO and affiliated organizations in the US
US Aims: Iran accepts a dialogue “in mutual respect” and agrees that the US puts the following aims on the agenda.
WMD: full transparency for security that there are no Iranian endeavors to develop or possess WMD, full cooperation with IAEA based on Iranian adoption of all relevant instruments (93+2) and all further IAEA protocols
Terrorism: decisive action against any terrorists (above all Al Qaida) on Iranian territory, full cooperation and exchange of all relevant information.
Iraq: coordination of Iranian influence for activity supporting stabilization and the establishment of democratic institutions and a non-religious government.
Middle East: 1) Stop any material support to Palestinian opposition groups (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.) from Iranian territory, pressure on these organizations to stop violent action against civilians within borders of 1967. 2) Action on Hezbollah to become a mere political organization within Lebanon 3) Acceptance of the Arab League Beirut declaration (Saudi initiative, two-state approach)
-END-


Bear in mind this is an initial offer, the start of negotiations. Negotiations that the Bush administration chose not to pursue. It’s been my opinion (pretty much since 1991, but not confirmed until 2003) that Iraq was simply the beachhead for the eventual pacification of the entire Middle East.

…I really do hate being right.


Another post that is a favorite of bots. Replaced post with more than 1800 hits on it just to see what happens. I may have to alter the link for this one as well.

9-11 Truth & Pyromaniacs in the Reichstag

Stepping back from the previous posts on the subject of 9-11 (well, other than the rebuild ’em post, that is. The effort to get the twin towers rebuilt may or may not be going anywhere, but it remains the right thing to do) The latest alert from Downsize DC says it all:

Here is the truth, with a little “t,” about 9-11: It was a day of massive government failure. No one in government, and no institution of the government, was held accountable, or paid any price, for this failure. The federal government, and the people who run it, were actually rewarded for their failure on 9-11, instead of being held accountable.

…And most importantly:

It makes zero sense that the Bush administration would have been capable of such a massive crime, but incapable, a few months later, of planting WMD’s in Iraq. On this basis alone, most of the 9-11 conspiracy theories are non-starters.

read more | digg story

Which sums up the argument against the popular conspiracy theories quite nicely, while at the same time pointing out the governments possible/probable duplicity in allowing the attacks to occur in the first place.

Day of Deceit outlines, in various forms, how the Pearl Harbor attacks were allowed to occur despite several warning signs that should have been evident; and that the attacks were even desired and encouraged, leaving the pacific fleet out as bait for the attacks, while FDR and the Naval department put it’s 8 point plan into action, luring the Japanese into committing the aggression so that we could enter the war with public support. Whether or not you buy into all of the claims in the book, these hard facts are beyond dispute.

Why then is it so hard to believe that something similar occurred on 9-11?

Which brings me to the film that I should have promoted when I instead blogged on the subject of Loose Change.

9-11 Press for Truth. I have yet to see the entire film, but if the trailer is truly an example of the film’s content, then it’s something I want to see, and most Americans need to see.

read more | digg story

This subject dovetails nicely with the latest offering from Dan Carlin. If Pearl Harbor lead the way for our entry into WWII, then 9-11 leads directly to Bush granting himself near dictatorial powers in the event of an emergency, as was discussed in Dan Carlin’s podcast.

From WorldnetDaily:

President Bush, without so much as issuing a press statement, on May 9 signed a directive that granted near dictatorial powers to the office of the president in the event of a national emergency declared by the president.
The “National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive,” with the dual designation of NSPD-51, as a National Security Presidential Directive, and HSPD-20, as a Homeland Security Presidential Directive, establishes under the office of president a new National Continuity Coordinator.
That job, as the document describes, is to make plans for “National Essential Functions” of all federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, as well as private sector organizations to continue functioning under the president’s directives in the event of a national emergency.

The directive loosely defines “catastrophic emergency” as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.”


Which means the sitting president can declare an emergency pretty much anytime he wants.

Don’t hold your breath, because this isn’t the end of the problem. The next terrorist attack is just around the corner (all the pundits agree on this fact) and the next terrorist attack will most likely result in the end of the US as we know it, although imperial Washington may continue stumbling along for quite some time afterwards.

At what point does freedom cease to exist? How long can we continue to insist that we are a ‘free people’, when every day some other limitation on our freedoms is established by a government that only “wants to keep us safe”?

Time to fall back on that other Franklin quote about Security and Freedom. I’m sure you’ve heard it.


I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects.  If you didn’t come here from this post, you probably should go check that one out before drawing any conclusions. Resisting the urge to press delete on this entire post. The stupidity.  It hurts.