In the next days and weeks, as we wait to see whether diplomatic negotiations begun at the behest of Russia can help to moderate the crisis in Syria, we should remember a couple of things:
(1) The use of force, as well as the threat of the use of force, is forbidden by international law. But we don’t even think of that when Obama talks about his “red lines,” because, as Noam Chomsky said on “Democracy Now” yesterday, the United States is a rogue state that doesn’t think it has to follow international law. We can become inured to that, given the media’s acceptance of it, but we shouldn’t. The only other state that behaves this way, with impunity at least, is US ally Israel. Notice that our government isn’t calling for Israel to give up or allow inspections of its chemical and/or nuclear weapons or offering to do the same itself.
(2) Bashar Assad is by no means my hero, but I had to agree with him when he said recently that Obama can draw all the red lines he wants, but he doesn’t have the authority to draw them for other countries. Nor have any other Syrians asked for missiles to be lobbed their way.
(3) The United States is historically the biggest user of chemical weapons (Agent Orange in Vietnam and white phosphorus and depleted uranium in Iraq, all of which are still causing illness and birth defects). Not to mention nuclear weapons — which the US is the only country ever to have used. We have neither the moral high ground, nor the right to dictate to and threaten force against other countries. Only the UN has that right.
P.S. Don’t believe Kerry and Obama when they deny that the US is seeking regime change in Syria. The CIA has been sending arms to Syrian rebel troops, which include al Qaeda fighters, for weeks. Hawks in the US government (and Obama is one, just as much as Bush ever was) has been plotting the downfall of Syria and Iran since the year 2000. Iraq, still torn by sectarian conflict thanks to its destabilization by the US invasion and occupation, was on that list, too, of course. And its sectarian battles — Sunni vs Shia — have intensified the same in Syria (that’s largely what the civil war is all about), Lebanon, and elsewhere. It’s not about morality or saving little children from harm — it’s strictly geopolitics, a game of big power interests that’s tearing the Middle East apart.