The United States Should Stay Out of Syria

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Syria

No one can legitimately deny the brutality of the Assad regime in Syria. This is not atypical of many of the Middle Eastern states where ancient customs of absolute rule are slow to die. Some people, left and right, are calling for the United States to become involved in the Syrian conflict. This would be a mistake, even if it involves indirect help to the rebels.

The danger in any revolution, as George Orwell recognized in his book, Animal Farm, is that the end result of a revolution may be a government as repressive or even more repressive than the previous government. Are the Islamists who seem to be the majority of the rebels willing to set up a state that respects human rights? One would have to be naive to believe that. If the rebels win, Syria might get lucky and have a moderate Islamist government like the one in Turkey, if such governments can truly be called “moderate.” If the rebels are hard-line Islamists, then the state of the people in Syria may be worse than it would have been under Assad. One should be careful for what one wishes.

It is not in the national interest of the United States to become involved in the Syrian conflict. It may be in the national interests of Israel or Turkey to be involved, but the United States should allow the Syrians to fight their war and let the results be what they will be. Any military aid, or worse, sending special forces units (who may be there already–who knows?) or regular combat troops would be a disaster. The United States would gain little if anything and lose a great deal given the stress that the U.S. military is already under in Iraq and Afghanistan. Make no mistake about it, the “drawdowns” do not end U. S. military operations in those nations.

Corporations that make money off the welfare-warfare state will support intervening in Syria, but the unholy alliance between the United States government and large defense contractors helps the companies more than it helps the United States. Evangelical Christians, for all their good points, too often approach Middle Eastern politics thorugh the lens of a naive dispensationist premillenialist interpretation of the Book of Revelation. They strongly support American military intervention in the Middle East, believing that such is a part of prophecy being fulfilled.

Suppose the U.S. did get involved in Syria and a radical Islamist regime hostile to the United States was the result. The intervention would surely be said to cause more harm than good. War is a destructive force and often has unintended and bitter consequences that politicians do not invision from the safety of their air conditioned and heated offices. The United States should only go to war when the national interest is at stake. The claim of advocates of force that we would be fighting for human rights is a ruse since there are many countries with brutal dictators in which the United States does not intervene. The long tentacles of the Neoconservatives and war Democrats have slithered into the highest levels of U. S. foreign policy making. Congress needs to stand up to them and not fund unnecessary interventions into the internal battles of other countries. Both presidential candidates agree with the war party’s philosophy. That is unfortunate, for whatever the outcome of the November election, the United States will have a president who desires to continue the warfare/welfare state and its unnecessary interventions into disputes that are none of the United States’ business. If Israel or Turkey want to intervene in Syria–or Iran–that is their business. It is not our place to fight others’ battles for them.

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Libya: Another Foolish U.S. Intervention

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President George W. Bush and President-elect B...

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The neoconservatives, nation-building liberals, and a few pseudo-libertarians are whining about the opposition to another foolish U. S. and European intervention–against Qaddafi in Libya.  “We’re just trying to overthrow a cruel dictator,” or “We’re trying to save innocent people” are the excuses such individuals give for bringing the United States into another Middle Eastern conflict. The U. S. only removes dictators it finds inconvenient–it does not remove the authoritarian regimes in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia. The U. S. did not militarily intervene in Pinochet‘s Chile when he was in power murdering his people, nor in the semi-dictatorial China. The sheer hypocrisy of American policy is nauseating. Long-term, that is how those in the Middle East, even those who appear to support the U. S. intervention, will view the United States. The direct involvement of France, which sent fighter jets, will not help matters–the old North African colonial power strikes again. Despite claims of limited U. S. involvement, pressure will mount for further bombing and eventually for the introduction of U. S. ground troops. Hopefully Mr. Obama will at least fight that suggestion. He has followed the warmonger Hilary Clinton‘s advice too much already. Mr. Obama has become, in effect, George W. Bush II. Not only has he intervened in Libya, he has not brought back most of the troops in Iraq, and he has expanded U. S. intervention in Afghanistan. He has not renounced the use of torture in the treatment of prisoners held by the U. S., and he has not closed the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The United States has become a permanent warfare state–and wars cost not only lives on both sides, but also money. Although it may be a matter of time before U. S. national debt is so large that the U. S. imperium will collapse, much harm can occur in the meantime–and is occurring. It is long past time to stop the influence of warmongers on the left and on the right as well as the influence of the military-industrial complex on United States foreign policy.

War as Brutalizing

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Obama's Afghanistan War..S.F. Sentinel.com

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Justin Raimondo’s column (http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2010/10/07/support-the-troops/) reminds us that war is brutalizing. Although I think there are more U. S. troops who retain a moral sense than Raimondo believes, when human beings are put into a situation in which they are in combat constantly, are always watching their back for the next shot that could kill them, and in which they do not know whom to trust among the local population, no one should be surprised at the results.

This, however, does not morally justify the action of those U. S. troops who have done wrong. Their crimes are horrifying to anyone with the moral sense of a human being. Sadly, I would not be surprised if those people most likely to either soften the actions of these troops or, worse, justify them, will be otherwise traditional Christians. “Christian warmonger” is an oxymoron, and always has been, despite centuries of Christians who have failed in this area. In any case, I am appealing to natural law, the notion that brutalizing another human being is intrinsically wrong no matter what utilitarian result one might wish to gain from it. In the case Raimondo cites, the actions of the troops seem more sadistic than utilitarian. They clearly were evil.  Thank God for the one soldier who was willing to stand up for what was right despite facing the wrath of his peers. He is a moral hero.If only there were more.

Anti War Activism, Patriotism, and the Federal Government

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So the government has raided the homes of antiwar activists in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and North Carolina. Shades of the 1960s, anyone? During the Vietnam era, antiwar activists discovered the cost of questioning the military-industrial complex. Now I am not saying I think the 1960s anti war activists were saints. Some were losers such as member of the Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party. But they were correct in opposing a needless war. And it was wrong of the United States government to harass anti war groups simply because they opposed the war in Vietnam, a position they have every right to espouse and defend. The Constitution, after all, guarantees freedom of speech.

The Iraq War was based on lies, involved attacking a country that did not attack us, and resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries and an Iraqi government that is friendly to U.S.-hostile Iran. The Afghanistan War has done little to stop the Taliban, and successes against Al Qaeda have been due to a combination of good intelligence, effective use of drones, and small special forces units, rather than large scale military forces. The CIA’s original plan to use smaller units to hunt down terrorists was the correct idea, but the Bush Administration opted for all out war. Mr. Obama, albeit under intense pressure from the military establishment, opted to continue the war with an increase of troops. That will be a never-ending war, or at least it will continue until the U.S. is too bankrupt to support it. What is so anti-patriotic about opposing the war in Afghanistan? One can admit that the Taliban are evil in their treatment of women and in their cruelty in general without supporting a quagmire. Opposition to the war is not support of terrorism. Yet the United States government seems to think so, just as it did during the Vietnam era.

Paul Craig Roberts has argued that after these raids the United States is already a police state. I would not go that far yet, but they are a step in the wrong direction. So-called conservatives, instead of supporting wars and demonizing supporters of wars, ought to return to the traditional conservative view that the United States should focus on dealing with its own problems and not be involved in foreign wars. Such wars only increase the power and influence of the central government and are not good for the country. War is necessary only when it is clearly in the national interest of the United States. And opposition to war is just as patriotic, if not more so, than support of war. A true conservative will not support federal police forces entering homes because people oppose the position of the United States government–unless so-called conservatives would rather emulate Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. De facto, if conservatives support a police state that persecutes anti-war activists, they are implicitly supporting the tactics of every dictator in history. With “conservatives” like that around, true conservatives do not need liberal enemies–they have enough in their own camp.

The Neverending Warfare State

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President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Oval Office

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For anyone who believes that the so-called “withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq” means the end of the Iraq War for the United States or the end of American and Iraqi casualties, you can also believe I have terraformed the planet Mars. Mr. Obama has been a huge disappointment in foreign policy for anyone who opposes continual U. S. engagements in places it ought not to be. President Eisenhower, in his January 1961 Farewell Address, warned of the dangers of the growing power of “the military-industrial complex.” What many Americans don’t realize through the fog of war rhetoric is that many people profit from war. The defense industry profits. The workers in the defense industry benefit, for they keep their jobs. A small-time defense contractor told me once, “I love Republicans,” since Mr. Bush had pushed the United States into a needless and costly war in Iraq. But Democrats do no better, as Mr. Obama shows. In the end, they also yield to the forces of the military-industrial complex. It is dangerous for a country to have a large portion of its work force in both the armed forces and in the defense industry. This situation only pushes the United States into further military adventurism–a prospect it cannot afford. The short-term pain of a smaller standing army and a smaller defense industry will be outweighed by the long-term gains of a smaller budget deficit and a more diverse economy. In addition, the risk to freedom resulting from a nation have a large standing army would be reduced. Mr. Obama could keep his promise and withdraw all U. S. forces from Iraq. He could do better and withdraw all U. S. forces from Afghanistan, and South Korea. Closing European and Asian bases would be helpful as well. If a massive reduction in U. S. defense spending does not become reality soon, the U. S., like the old Soviet Union of the 1990s, will spend itself, if not into disappearing, into becoming a third world country (especially if China and Japan refuse to buy U. S. bonds to finance the deficit). War is a waste–of soldiers’ and civilians’ lives, health, and productivity. I say to my fellow conservatives: it is a conservative position to oppose the military-industrial complex–what, after all, is more big government than that alliance between the federal government and the defense industry? Where else is there such a concentration of power, power that conservatives claim they eschew? Conservatives, libertarians, and anti-war liberals should ban together in opposing the constant state of war in which the United States has fallen. I recommend that everyone take a look at http://www.antiwar.com and read the articles from an alliance of people from all sides of the political spectrum who desire the United States to withdraw from current wars and stay out of future ones.