No further comment necessary…
Let us posit that the Syrian government did, in fact, order last week’s chemical attack that killed hundreds of Syrian citizens, including women, children and others who had not taken up arms against the Assad regime.
In Washington, the eagerness to initiate military action in order to punish Assad is now palpable. Before ordering any such action, President Obama should answer several questions. He should share those answers with the American people, before not after pulling the trigger.
First, why does this particular heinous act rise to the level of justifying a military response? More specifically, why did a similarly heinous act by the Egyptian army elicit from Washington only the mildest response? Just weeks ago, Egyptian security forces slaughtered hundreds of Egyptians whose “crime” was to protest a military coup that overthrew a legitimately elected president. Why the double standard?
Second, once U.S. military action against Syria begins, when will it end? What is the political objective? Wrapping the Assad regime on the knuckles is unlikely to persuade it to change its ways. That regime is engaged in a fight for survival. So what exactly does the United States intend to achieve and how much is President Obama willing to spend in lives and treasure to get there? War is a risky business. Is the president willing to commit U.S. forces to what could well become another protracted and costly struggle?
Third, what is the legal basis for military action? Neither Russia nor China is likely to agree to an attack on Syria, so authorization by the U.N. Security Council won’t be forthcoming. Will Obama ask Congress for the authority to act? Or will he, as so many of his recent predecessors have done, employ some dodge to circumvent the Constitution? With what justification?
|—||Questions for President Obama — Before He Pulls the Trigger on Syria | Andrew Bacevich| Perspectives, What Matters Today | BillMoyers.com|
I was on Democracy Now yesterday to discuss my new book Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam as well as the current Afghan War and Obama’s Vietnam veteran national security post nominees: Chuck Hagel and John Kerry. Video above or here, if you’d like to take a look.
It’s official, drones have become the essence of the American way of war. As Obama begins his second term, drone strikes are spiking 6 strikes in 8 days have left 35 dead.
Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room observes: “While the statistical sample is small, it’s starting to sound like the drone campaign over Pakistan is ticking back up after a recent decline… The U.S. launched 43 drone strikes in Pakistan in 2012, according to the tally kept by the New America Foundation, reflecting a two-year downward trend from 2010′s high of 122 strikes. The average time in between strikes last year was 7.7 days. But eight days into 2013, there have already been six deadly drone strikes, for reasons that remain unclear. It’s worth noting that senior Obama administration officials recently reversed their earlier rhetoric that the U.S. was on the verge of defeating al-Qaida and have returned to describing a protracted shadow campaign.”
(Read the full story here: 6 Strikes, 8 Days, 35 Dead: The U.S. Drone War in Pakistan Is Back | Danger Room | Wired.com)
Ideally, the 66,000 American troops would already be leaving, and all of them would be out as soon as safely possible; by our estimate, that would be the end of this year. The war that started after Sept. 11, 2001, would be over and securing the country would be up to Afghanistan’s 350,000-member security force, including the army and police, which the United States has spent $39 billion to train and equip over a decade.
But there is a conflict between the ideal and the political reality. Mr. Obama has yet to decide how fast he will withdraw the remaining troops, and the longer he delays, the more he enables military commanders who inevitably want to keep the maximum number of troops in Afghanistan for the maximum amount of time.
POLITICO reports that President Barack Obama has “settled on Chuck Hagel, a Republican and former U.S. senator from Nebraska, to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, with an announcement expected Monday.”
|—||Nick Turse from an introduction to the latest article, “Obama in Tehran?” by Asia Times’ reporter Pepe Escobar|
|—||From an open letter to President Obama by public intellectual Tom Engelhardt of The Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com|