By Robert Roth
Regardless of what you may think about the alleged chemical weapons incident in Syria, it’s illegal and immoral to invade a sovereign country in the absence of an attack on the United States or an authorizing United Nations Security Council resolution.
On top of that, in launching missiles at a Syrian air base, President Trump has attacked the very people who are fighting the terrorists of the Islamic State.
Although the Trump administration, warmongering politicians and the media have been blaring that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the chemical weapons incident, I have yet to see any persuasive evidence of that. At least two explanations are more plausible than blaming the Syrian government.
The most likely is that a government airstrike ruptured containers of chemicals that anti-government fighters were planning to use in some future attack. Or the opposition itself may have staged the incident to frame the government and elicit precisely the attack directed at Assad that has occurred. But the incident should be investigated like any other criminal act.
Regarding motive: Even if you think Assad is evil personified, the Syrian government would not use chemical weapons, especially on civilians, because doing so would predictably produce exactly the reaction we’re seeing. Moreover, the government has recently been winning the war, and just last week it looked as though the Trump administration was backing away from the U.S. effort to produce regime change in Syria.
However, the opposition would have no compunction about conducting such an attack, so as to undermine support for the Assad government. And it’s apparently happened before. Journalist Seymour Hersh and others have shown that the chemical weapons attack in 2013, although still blamed on Assad, was most likely conducted by terrorists using weapons supplied by Turkey, precisely to frame the government.
Apart from the question of motive, the reliability of the evidence thus far seen for blaming the government is questionable on several grounds. First, most mainstream media, including National Public Radio, have been passing along “reports” from correspondents based in Beirut. These correspondents might as well be “reporting” from New York or Eugene.
These reports are hearsay, based on the statements of third parties — all of them are all biased: anti-government fighters and their media, or the so-called “White Helmets” and other Western-funded nongovernmental organizations notorious for creating propaganda against the Assad government. Other “evidence,” such as the ghastly photos, has been produced by these same people.
Rather than applauding cruise missile strikes on the constitutionally elected Assad government, or deployment of yet more American troops to Syria, we should protest efforts to place yet more Americans in harm’s way, try to minimize the loss of Syrian lives and avoid inviting confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia. You can do this by asking Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden to cosponsor legislation to prevent deeper U.S. involvement in yet another war.
Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Barbara Lee, D-Calif., have introduced bills to stop arming terrorists in Syria and to prohibit further troop deployments there (House Resolutions 608 and 1473, respectively), and a companion bill to Gabbard’s has been introduced in the Senate by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul (S. 532). Provisions should now be added to prohibit attacks on Syria that don’t involve deployment of troops.
Do these suggestions make me an apologist for a brutal dictator who has spent the past six years killing his own people after responding to peaceful protests with repressive violence in 2011? Of course not, but the multiple lies that have accumulated over the six years of the war on Syria can’t be disproved here. However, I’ve researched these matters, and the results have recently been published inThe primer provides brief but documented background and analysis of all the arguments I’ve seen that are used to justify the illegal and immoral wars being waged against the Assad government and the Syrian people.
Tell President Trump you oppose any further attacks on Syria or sending any more American troops there, and ask him to withdraw those already deployed. And ask our federal legislators to support bills that would require those results.