Both opposition to and support of Barack Obama’s proposal to bomb Syria have been focusing on a chemical weapons attack that killed some 1400 people while pushing to the background a civil war that has killed 100,000. The spiraling situation in Syria and the growing callousness of the discourse around it, in the West and elsewhere is long on what should not be done but tragically bereft of what should be done. I try to change that in my piece this week in Souciant.
President Obama argues that we should trust him that the massive internet and phone surveillance the US government undertakes is done only for the strongest security reasons and as minimally as possible. With no evidence to support his contention, we’re simply supposed to take his word for it. Should we? I explore in Souciant.
In the final installment of my series marking 45 years since the 1967 War and the beginning of the occupation, I look at the huge role that war played in the development of the “special relationship” between the US and Israel. The relationship has obviously been a disaster for the cause of peace and for the Palestinians, but has it really been good for Israel and the US?
In the 21st century, Congress has demonstrated both incompetence in handling its limited responsibility in foreign policy, and how disastrous it is when it oversteps its bounds and tries to get more involved in foreign affairs than it should.
Outside of those working actively in foreign policy, it still seems like Americans have not grasped the magnitude of the
foolish decisions to go into Afghanistan and Iraq. But, for reasons that did not include a clear and sober calculation of American security or even geo-political interests, Bush, Cheney, and their neo-conservative cohorts did, in fact, put us back into a Vietnam-like quagmire.
But this one is worse. Vietnam was predicated on the “domino theory,” which dictated that the fall of a country in Southeast Asia of relatively minor importance would set off a chain reaction and lead to more crucial countries falling to Communism. Once the theory was discarded, it was possible, even if not so simple, to extricate ourselves from the war.
That’s not the case in either Afghanistan or Iraq, particularly the latter. Iraq, a major oil producer, could easily fall under the control or influence of foreign powers, including Iran, which would significantly affect the global economy and the global balance of power. Afghanistan has always been a center of instability, but the American intervention has embroiled Pakistan more deeply in the conflicts there, and the threat of Afghani issues destabilizing Pakistan, a nuclear power, is very real. In both cases, these are merely singular examples among many other serious concerns.
No, America cannot just up and leave the Middle East as it did Southeast Asia. America also has very little to gain from staying, but must do so to avoid the consequences of leaving. That’s where the Neoconservatives have left the US. Making such clearly foolish mistakes in when and where to go to war is precisely why (among other reasons) Congress is the only body authorized to declare war. Continue reading