Or, also known as: “What Would George (McGovern) Do?”
“Politics is the entertainment division of the military industrial complex.” – Frank Zappa
Since a couple of days before the vote in the British Parliament on Syria a week ago, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on Twitter – actually, that’s an understatement – reading articles on the situation, getting the latest updates, putting my own voice out there in opposition to any military intervention by the U.S.
To whatever extent any private citizen(s) can influence and/or prevent their government from doing something monumentally stupid and catastrophic… well, you gotta try… right? Usually those in charge don’t listen to us, the masses, ’cause “what the fuck do we know, we’re just the masses” and they go ahead and do what they’re going to do anyway – what they were going to do in the first place – but to be silent on it means you give your consent and approval to those in charge.
But, the thing is, there are a LOT of people speaking out about this… in OPPOSITION to any military action. From yesterday:
First of all, there have been some excellent articles written about the situation in Syria and the Syrian Civil War. This may be one of the best. From The Atlantic and William R. Polk. It’s long but definitely worth the read, and if you’re in contact with your Senators or Congressmen, it wouldn’t hurt to pass this along to them either, ahead of the full vote in Congress this week:
Secondly, if you’ve been getting your news from the mainstream media – once again – you would think that U.S. military intervention was a done deal. Headlines about how John Boehner supports a military strike, McCain, Hillary and Nancy Pelosi all support it – rah, rah, rah. These are the “celebrities” of the political world. The ordinary citizen knows their names and if you see those names in the headlines as getting behind the President’s plan for action, well, that must be a good thing… maybe you should too. It’s called manufacturing consent. Noam Chomsky wrote a book about it, here.
This model worked well in the run-up to our invasion of and subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan… but it’s not working this time around. Different set of circumstances you might say… absolutely. Yes… and then again, no.
Why is it that the first option – especially of late – that we, the U.S., turn to in these crisis situations is the military option? Whatever happened to diplomacy or mediation according to international safeguards/protocols first? Because if ever there were a situation that called for international consensus on a way to proceed, it’s this one. If Assad actually used chemical weapons – and because of many conflicting reports, no one can say with 100% certainty that he did – then you condemn him as a war criminal. You get a consensus BEFORE anyone acts.
Instead, what we get here in this country – and I couldn’t believe this was actually a headline in the New York Times the other day so I went and found it for myself – is this:
WHAT. THE. HELL. The absolute pure insanity of this… “Even If It Is Illegal.” Yes, I realize it’s an Op-Ed and it’s on the Opinion Pages but still, this is completely reprehensible and irresponsible “journalism.” Seriously, what kind of nation has the U.S. become? Oh, “go ahead and do it, even if it is WRONG (i.e. illegal).” Read: even if it puts more lives at risk, which it will. Ugh. FAIL.
Oops, sorry – I should have said, what kind of government has the U.S. government become? Put the blaming question where it belongs… Because over 90% of the people here oppose this, because we know it’s WRONG.
The problem with doing anything militarily here is that it is extremely likely that it will touch off something far worse… like World War III. The ‘limited strike’ concept that Obama has proposed will not remain limited. The [lack of] brain trust here seems to think of a ‘limited strike’ as the equivalent of a controlled burn in a forested area. The idea is that you burn the underbrush and other forest debris in a controlled way to avoid larger forest fires in the near future.
Have you ever seen a controlled burn? Have you ever seen one go wrong? Because the problem with controlled burns is that conditions have to be exactly ‘right’ or you create the out-of-control forest fire you were trying to avoid (i.e., you would never do a controlled burn on a day when the temperature is over 100 degrees, single-digit percent humidity, and you have wind gusts of 50 mph, which is probably still less dangerous than going into a civil war in the Middle East). Put another way, it’s the proverbial tinderbox.
Use the available diplomatic options first – there are remedies and appropriate punitive measures through the International Criminal Court and the UN Security Council.
Personally, I think any kind of military action here from the U.S. right now provokes the beginnings of WW III. WHO WANTS THIS? Undoubtedly, there are some people out there who do because the price of their defense stock will go way up… or their oil stocks will go way up because you can be sure that a barrel of oil will spike in price probably somewhere around the $150 mark. What happens to our economy when oil goes that high… it shuts down.
The risks are just too great. Instead, you just hear talk about “the moral high ground,” that we must act because Assad used chemical weapons. Bullshit – they don’t know for sure that he did and they have no moral high ground to stand on because you don’t bomb – excuse, limited strike – a country into peace – you only create further suffering, loss of life, refugees and ruins.
So far, there has been a vote of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ahead of the full vote in Congress this coming week. Here is a link showing the 7 Democrats and 3 Republicans who voted on Wednesday to essentially start World War III:
(In a related article, those who voted in favor of a military strike received more campaign financing than those who didn’t): http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/09/syria-war-authorization-money/
The most important thing that anyone can do right now is to meditate/pray for peace, for peace, calm, and sanity to prevail here and also for the wise discernment of those who are going to be voting on this. They should not be fooled by the term ‘limited strike’ nor should they give their blind allegiance along party lines.
It is imperative to call and/or write your representatives before the vote. Add your voice – here are a few links:
Vigils for Syria on Monday, 9/9, in your area…
http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ How to contact/call Congress…
It’s Saturday and Pope Francis is going to be leading a mass prayer vigil tonight for peace (probably going on right now in the Vatican) and has also declared this a day of prayer and fasting for peace. There was also this little item of news from a couple of days ago in the NY Times: http://projects.nytimes.com/live-dashboard/syria#sha=1cb756e19
From this morning, another good Op-Ed by Graham J. Noble which suggests what’s really behind this now: http://guardianlv.com/2013/09/us-military-action-in-syria-now-obamas-personal-crusade/ -“…the issue has become Obama’s personal crusade and that he is determined to lead America into another Middle Eastern tinderbox as a matter of personal pride.”
‘Tinderbox’ – there’s that word again.
And at the end: “That is the danger America faces; it is a nation ruled by a man who is willing to drag it into a war – and, possibly, a global war – in order to satisfy his ego…” which is the worst possible reason for taking action and is just unimaginably and unconscionably foolhardy.
It’s had that kind of feel all along, but especially yesterday on Twitter when posts supporting Obama’s position began to take on a more desperate, emotionally manipulative tone, including a report of another chemical/gas attack in a Damascus suburb which was dropped quickly when it was proved to be false.
Which is why to whatever extent we can, we must prevent this from happening.
To answer the initial question, what would George McGovern do, I have no doubt that the quintessential anti-war, liberal Democrat would VOTE NO. NO ATTACK. NO WAR. Current day Democrats – the supposed “anti-war party” – what the hell has happened to you? You need to listen to the people and do the same.