Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:53 am 
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OBAMA ON PBS NEWS HOUR, AUG. 29, 2013

The US's real reason for attacking Syria now

America is poised to bomb Syria, though for now, the UK isn't supporting it. Once again Obama is out-Bushing Bush, and getting away more easily with the US's imperial tactics. As many have pointed out, the heinous chemical weapon massacre of several hundred Syrians is a pretext of choice. This is clear because many thousands have already died in Syria's civil war and nothing was done to stop it. What's different now is that after a period of the rebel forces having the upper hand, Bashar al-Asad's, the government's, side in Syria has regained strength. The US doesn't want this. Washington declares it's not after "regime change" with the planned attacks, which is perhaps true of this particular strategic moment. But Obama has said it's time for al-Asad to go. And why does the US want this outcome? Because Syria is the only Arab ally of Iran, the neighbor Israel wants to wipe out. So, Israel wants to get rid of Iran, Iran is supported by and supports Syria, therefore the Syrian regime must go. It's breathtaking how stupid this hidden, yet obvious, set of motives and plan of action are. Yet as usual it's trumpeted from all parts of the US government, and the mainstream American media blindly repeat the claims.

Contrived, cynical pretext

It's different this time from 2003, or course, but there are also clear parallels. Notably, the US government is poised to act regardless of the facts, because there isn't any decisive proof that the chemical attack came from Bashar's government side. Obama even made Bush's cynical claim that Syria's chemical weapons are a possible threat to the US, adding fear-mongering to pretended moral outrage, both of which are contrived.

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ROBERT FISK OF THE INDEPENDENT

Of course the issue at hand is hard to think about clearly. How can we look idly by when people are cruelly slaughtered using illegal weapons? But this is exactly what we have done before. First of all, the US has used chemical weapons. It used Agent Orange widely in Vietnam, causing enormous and ongoing suffering on both sides; US soldiers too are the victims. It used depleted Uranium in Iraq, causing an explosion of deformed babies we don't hear much about. Second, America has looked the other way when similar but worse crimes were committed in the not-so-distant but apparently forgotten past. Saddam Hussein used gas against the Kurds in 1988. That was fine, and was a much larger massacre than the current Syrian one. Iraq also used gas on the Iranian army. Saddam was the US's ally then, so it went unpunished. All this points to the hundreds dead by chemical weapons, maybe at government hands, maybe not, as a cynical pretext for attacking Syria now. Robert Fisk of The Independent has made these points forcefully. He asks if Obama knows he is now fighting on Al-Qaida's side in Syria.

Ignoring more peaceful alternatives

Certainly the Syrian civil war is bringing on dire consequences. The refugee crisis is reportedly as bad as the Rwanda genocide, according to the UN. Up to 1.8 million Syrian refugees this year have registered in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. But why would US bombs -- and let's not pretend they'll be "surgical" -- make this situation better? As Phillis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies has pointed out recently, the US is ignoring the diplomatic solutions that might be pursued to bring about a cease-fire in Syria. That is what is needed. Why does the US ignore peaceful alternatives? Because they do not allow Washington as forceful a role in its imperial chess game. Warships armed with rockets in nearby waters are not an aspect of peace negotiations. Anything that brings more troops and weaponry, and, perchance, military bases, increases the US's regional domination.

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SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS

Rough times for the Arab Spring

The Arab Spring that began officially with Tunisia in December 2010 was an awakening from a long sleep under exploitative and totalitarian regimes. This is a remarkable, historic development that ultimately can only move forward. But these are rough times for the Arab Spring. The results of the uprisings in Tunisia, Algeria, and Yemen have not been very happy at this point. The visibly worst current state of the Arab Spring is represented by the war in Syria and the decline in democracy in Egypt. The spirit of change had its moment of greatest hope and glory in Egypt's "Youth Revolution of 25 January 2011." Public demonstrations led to the dictator Hosni Mubarak's downfall. Sharif Abdel Kouddous, the hitherto ever-hopeful, and often inspiring young English-language Egyptian reporter for Democracy Now wrote recently in The Nation about how deeply challenged his hope has become. "'Despair is betrayal,' he said, "is the mantra that has echoed throughout Egypt during the many tough times over the past two and half years. Today, it is very hard not to feel like a traitor."

Complexities of the Egyptian situation led to the current violent, no-win state of chaos. The bottom line is that the "deep government" of the Egyptian military headed by the SCAF or Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and representing enormous economic power was never dislodged or weakened. Elections led somewhat by a fluke to the presidency of Mohammad Morsi, not the leading Muslim Brotherhood party's primary leader, and Morsi ruled like a dictator himself, ignoring the possibilities for democratic coalition and trying to embed his party everywhere in power. His outrageous conduct led to the most massive public demonstrations yet, and he was out, in a military coup, if you like, but one demanded by the masses. This time, the people, aided willy-nilly by the SCAF, overthrew an elected president -- who represented the country's largest and best-organized political party. This has led to constantly increasing polarization and also, worse yet, to more violent repression, a virtual pogrom, of the Islamists by the SCAF forces. And this goes on. It is hard to see how the military "deep government" can be ousted, but it must be, for parliamentary democracy to be achieved.

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HEAD OF SCAF, ABDEL FATTAH AL-SISSI

The UK, on the other hand, gave a demonstration of a real parliamentary democracy yesterday when Parliament, with the Prime Minister, David Cameron on hand, ceded to the will of the English public and a majority vote and promised, for now anyway, not to support America's plans to attack Syria. When do we ever see Congress listening to the American people and Obama listening to Congress, and standing in the same hall, in open and volatile discussion, with its members? These are ideas and practices not in play in the American empire, land of the free, home of the brave, where the suicide rate of its veterans who bear the brunt of the country's warlike policies, on the brink of a destructive new Middle Eastern adventure, is twice that of the ordinary citizen.

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┬ęChris Knipp. Blog: http://chrisknipp.blogspot.com/.


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