Imperial Democracy: The Bigger Question behind the Proposed Intervention in Syria

by Zac Wingerd

(editorial note: though the administration’s plan for a strike on Syria failed, the U.S. is still, through diplomatic channels, pushing for military consequences should Syria not follow through with chemical disarmament.)

This is not just about the Syria question, but about the pattern of deceit and imperialism that we as US citizens have had to endure and pay for with our taxes and our lives.  We must not live in a bubble surrounded by only likeminded friends and listening only to our flavor of partisan network news (CNN, FOX, etc.).  To be well informed means to consider not only what our government-influenced media is telling us, but also what Britain, Russia, China, the Middle East and other nations, whether allies or enemies, have to say about us and the situation of the world.  We need international friends to counterbalance what our government wants us to believe.  To be honest about the world requires a healthy skepticism.  If I am to improve myself as an individual, I must constantly evaluate myself as well as listen to the criticism of both my friends and foes.  The same applies to us as citizens of a nation.  We must figure out who we really are, not based on nostalgia, but on reality and that requires criticism and deconstruction.

Who ultimately benefits from US intervention in Syria?  The terrorists (al Qaeda, Al-Nursa Front, etc.) would reap the immediate reward advancing their cause to establish a Sharia law state with the persecution of religious minorities and women.  Of course our military industrial complex would benefit as the companies who supply the tools and accoutrements of death always have (read Major General Smedley Butler’s “War is a Racket”).

Who would suffer because of our intervention?  Initially innocent Syrian men, women, and children who will die simply so Obama and Kerry can “save face” by carrying out their threat.  Do not believe the propaganda about our precision weapons that will allow us only to strike the military, as we said the same thing about Iraq, and yet our air strikes killed far more Iraqi citizens than soldiers.  The next victims will be the US troops who signed up to defend our country, not to support extremist rebels in a Syrian civil war.  That aside, most troops will do their duty and fight as we will inevitably be pulled into a greater conflict.  Besides the soldiers who die in this needless action, those who live have to deal with the realities of seeing and causing the death of innocents.  Next victim will be the taxpayer whose money will not go to improve education or healthcare, but will be used to murder humans and support the very groups that have attacked us in the past and perhaps will use the same money and weapons to attack us in the future.  Assad is not a threat to the USA, but extreme Islamists are and it is they we currently support.

We must evaluate our empire.  At what point will our aggressiveness come back to haunt us as we have already experienced?  If we continue to go it alone sooner or later we will find ourselves devoid of allies and the combined efforts of other nations (think Russia, China, Iran, etc.) could humble us economically and/or militarily.  Let us not fall into the trap of the Romans who characterized their empire as eternal.  Our decadence and immoral actions weaken us and a decision must be made to acquiesce to federal tyranny or demand the rights of citizens to speak up for other people around the world who suffer because of our hubris.

In recent years we have become more dependent on the federal government for bailouts and welfare.  This dependence keeps Washington in a dominant position over the states and over individuals.  Instead of truly “fixing” the economy the federal government has only seized more power and punished those that dare to expose the abuses.  Sadly, as long as we are making it financially most of us ignore the abuses of our government.

Bush’s, and later Obama’s, policies allowed our empire to tyrannize its citizens, provoke needless wars, cost the US dearly in tax dollars, and support the deaths of US troops and citizens as well as innocents in the Middle East. My opinion is that we need to dismantle the empire and try to create a peace-loving republic. We can squabble about domestic issues, but if we do not get our foreign policy under control our problems at home will only continue as what we do abroad often comes back to bite us. End the empire and then we can try to reconfigure the republic.

We need to be critical of the assumptions the president has made about Syrians and the Syrian government.  The misinformation to justify his murder of innocents is sickening. Every time I hear him condemn Assad for murdering his own people I remember that our president has murdered innocent US citizens through the use of drones and has not answered for it. It is one thing to act as an immoral and selfish empire and quite another to propound that we are a “force for good” in the world.

We ought to note which of our congressional representatives have supported the lead of the president toward bloodshed and which have been willing to work for peace.  I believe their comments on this issue are telling and should be considered as we look for a 2016 presidential candidate.  Do we want to keep the Bush/Obama legacy of empire and intervention or build a republic where the federal government is balanced internally by stronger state governments and internationally by the United Nations?

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