Attack on Syria illegal; Civil War ploy for US aggression
Last Tuesday, the Syrian government was accused of using chemical weapons against its own citizens, leading the self-proclaimed anti-interventionist Donald Trump to fire 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase, infuriating some world leaders while pleasing others.
At first glance, it’s easy to understand this move on Trump’s part. It’s easy to cast off Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a dictator and it’s easy to support the “moderate rebels” in the ongoing Syrian Civil War, but the truth is rarely so simple. I argue that Syria should be kept out of the U.S.’ reach, including the “rebels” America so virulently supports.
First and foremost, the U.S. airstrike was completely illegal. Both Syria and the U.S. are members of the United Nations (both have been since its inception). Therefore, both countries must abide by the Charter of the United Nations. According to Article 2, section 4 of the Charter, “(a)ll Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” Thus, the act of aggression committed by member nation U.S. against fellow member Syria is illegal and a direct attack on Syria’s sovereignty.
Second, though there’s video evidence of a chemical weapons attack, the organization doing the investigation (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW]) has not concluded that the Syrian government is responsible, though we’re being told by every news outlet in the game that it is.
A similar occurrence happened in 2013 after the use of chemical weapons in Ghouta, Syria. Immediately following the incident, Assad was blamed and the media’s “dictator” narrative was pushed to the utmost extent. However, after investigation, it was determined that rebel forces, not government powers were responsible for the attack. It was too late, however. The original calls for “humanitarian effort” in Syria had already been made; the situation was thus exploited.
Also, being that Assad is in the midst of peace talks under the UN, why would he give orders to chemically attack his own citizens? The claims do not add up. The point is this: The accusations of chemical weapon use by the Syrian government have been used both in the past and now to provide “atrocity propaganda” so as to justify U.S. aggression toward the Middle East, which we’ve seen before in the form of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) accusations in Iraq in 2003 and claims of civilian murder by Qaddafi in Libya a few years ago. Both of these past examples wound up in massive death tolls, prolonged atrocities and destabilization of sovereign countries.
Another notable similarity of the examples is the use of “dictator.” This is crucial; every country in conflict with the U.S. in recent history has shared this attribute — everyone we don’t like is a “dictator.” This would be incredibly easy to buy if not for the U.S.’ flagrant support of actual military dictators in the past (Batista in pre-revolutionary Cuba, both Duvaliers in Haiti, and Pinochet in Chile, to name a few).
Finally, the U.S. and other NATO-friendly countries have been financially backing the rebels fighting the Syrian government. The issue is this: the “rebels” are by and large members of the al-Nusra Front, the literal Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. Being that Syria’s government is secular and progressive, the opposition by al-Qaeda and ISIS is to be expected. To the U.S. and other countries such as Saudi Arabia who also fund these “rebels,” their intent does not matter; all that matters is the harsh opposition to Assad and the Syrian government.
The U.S. and the rest of NATO have had Syria in their sights for years, and now that Assad has shown signs of triumph, claims of chemical weapon usage by the Syrian government have provided the perfect scapegoat for illegal U.S. aggression in the form of airstrikes – nothing new in U.S. foreign policy.
The U.S. must keep its hands off of Syria. Support for Assad is crucial in the fight against the U.S.’ vast history of imperial violence.