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Striking Syria

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This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Yet another “upgrade” of the warning levels on Fukushima.  “Dirty” water is still seeping into the ground and pouring into the sea.   Is anyone paying attention?

It turns out that Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) doesn’t know much about what to do when a catastrophe hits its nuclear plants and doesn’t do much with what it does know.  Ditto the Japanese government – with the addition that they don’t know what to do with TEPCO.   If there was ever a private/public (corrupt) partnership from hell this is it.

Upgrade the warning level on Syria, too.  It seems we’re back in the “WMD’s in Iraq” Twilight Zone programming where proof is beside the point and the existence of WMD’s, this time the use of chemical weapons, is the convenient trigger for military intervention .  With over one hundred thousand dead and millions of refugees why is it time for the US, with the UK as our favorite junior partner and now France as the junior, junior partner, to strike Syria?  Is it because the “opposition” is fragmented and losing its bid to topple the Syrian regime?

The Arab League, that bulwark of ethical propriety with its own Israel/Palestine strategic land swapping propensity, has come out against this latest intervention threat. The United Nations, a similar bulwark of ethical propriety, is balking. The Obama administration is left to cobble together a principled platform to cover its obvious political angles.  Which, as it turns out, aren’t that obvious.

Since it isn’t the humanitarian cause we are worried about, what are our political reasons for intervening now?  The suffering is worse but it has been horrendous.  Why now?

Then there’s Secretary of State John Kerry calling the chemical weapons attack a “moral obscenity.” With Kerry in general, you can either laugh or cry – his economic adventures, peace plans and attempts to explain away the NSA scandal in foreign countries are even more torturous to watch than they are to read.  Whether Kerry doesn’t know what is going on or how he and US policies are perceived is the question of questions.

Whatever it is, it’s doubtful that a man of his stature could be more out of touch with reality than he is but there you have it.  We’re stuck with Kerry for the remainder of the Obama administration.  But, then, we are stuck with Obama as well.

Syria is being carved up, eaten away and pummeled.  The Syrian people deserve stability and peace so the dead can be buried and the refugees can return home to rebuild what is left of their lives.  Do the allied powers contemplating striking Syria truly believe that this new phase of war will bring that possibility closer?

The language of moral obscenity should be restricted to those whose nations they represent have never committed such acts when they have power and wouldn’t commit them if they did.  If any nation retains authority on the moral obscenity watch let us know.  The world is eagerly waiting the news.

Politics should be argued on the political battlefield.  Let President Obama say politically why he wants to act now.  He should state it politically, bare knuckles, without any moral flourish.  Then we can agree or not.

What we can be certain of is that the Syrian people are in for more suffering and will have no say in Obama’s decision or with any of the players in this war of wars.  And the issue remains:  Can America strike without contributing to the moral obscenity it condemns?

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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36 Responses

  1. just
    just on August 28, 2013, 9:58 am

    “Can America strike without contributing to the moral obscenity it condemns?”

    No we can’t. We should not “strike”. Can someone tell me what happens when we “strike” chemical weapons depots? How many will be killed from our aggression and bombardment? Will we be at fault? How many chemical weapons and WMDs have we and our allies deployed? Why are we relying on Israeli “intelligence”???

    “The bulk of evidence proving the Assad regime’s deployment of chemical weapons – which would provide legal grounds essential to justify any western military action – has been provided by Israeli military intelligence, the German magazine Focus has reported.”

    Thanks Prof.

    • seafoid
      seafoid on August 28, 2013, 10:21 am

      “provided by Israeli military intelligence”

      This time the warmongering links to Israel are much more open.

      • jon s
        jon s on August 30, 2013, 11:45 am

        It’s difficult to believe that Israel, even given the present government, is interested in an American strike on Syria. Makes no sense at all.

      • Ellen
        Ellen on August 30, 2013, 12:01 pm

        jon s. Syria is a proxy for Iran. Israel (and the Saudis) has been wanting to cripple Iran for many years. It makes all the sense in the world. It has just taken a long time for Israel to line up their ducks and get their puppet country (the USA) to go do it.

      • annie
        annie on August 30, 2013, 12:04 pm

        it makes a lot of sense from an altered demented perspective. if you observe what they do, not what they say (or what you think is good for israel or in their best interest) it makes perfect sense. think about what israel did when the US invaded iraq (planted hundreds of thousands of settlers on palestinian land while the US public’s eyes and media were glued on shock n awe) and then think about all those housing permits and fanatical politicians ready to annex the WB.

        also, it’s always been on the neocon agenda to redraw the ME map, breaking up syria, iraq etc into smaller enclaves. the whole birthpangs of the ME cannot happen without syria being involved. and the new axis of evil which includes lebanon, the fear mongering over iran. so it’s iran, assad and hezbollah. yes, from a demented expansionist war mongering perspective, of course israel wants the US to bomb syria. and if you do not believe me read the weekly standard. they are all pressuring the US to do it. considering that, the chem weapons attack creates the perfect pretext to go it, it actually works to facilitate that end goal. coincidence probably, no doubt…and definitely not an original idea:

        It’s difficult to believe that Israel.. is interested in an American strike on Syria. Makes no sense at all.

        interestingly, i find it difficult to believe you think it makes no sense at all. all one has to do it read the press. it’s all spelled out in the weekly standard how israel’s stanchest radical supporters are pushing for war.

      • American
        American on August 30, 2013, 12:11 pm

        jon s says:
        August 30, 2013 at 11:45 am

        It’s difficult to believe that Israel, even given the present government, is interested in an American strike on Syria. Makes no sense at all.>>>>>>

        Not really. The Isr -Zionist are still commited to their “Clean Break” plan imo—-Iraq-Syria-Iran. Taking out those countries–because– they are Not Allied with Saud, the US’s other girlfriend in the ME, was the first part of the plan cause Saud wouldnt object. Now if they were all zapped out of commission that would leave Saud & Israel to ‘share’ the ME rule or eventually Saud vr. Israel when their interest collide and who knows who would win that one—but probably Saud if Isr was crazy enough to think the world would chose them over oil.
        I feel sure in the Isr mind they would lke to see Syria attacked and Assad fall–and what do they care if radicals end up in charge?—–that would just be the final phase reasoning in pushing the US to then destroy the ‘terrier country’ of Syria completely.

      • yrn
        yrn on August 30, 2013, 12:21 pm


        Read Taxi Analysis, she has much more experience then you in Political knowledge.
        So read a learn

        “The spoiled israelis are themselves scared and don’t want it anymore. ”

        So you see, Israel dose not have any interest in pushing for war.

        Read and get some Knowledge.

      • James Canning
        James Canning on August 30, 2013, 2:01 pm

        Did the neocons conspire to set up the illegal invasion of Iraq in order to block the 2002 Saudi peace plan?

      • jon s
        jon s on August 31, 2013, 3:09 am

        I think you’re wrong:
        -A strike on Syria may lead to the collapse of the Assad regime. There’s a high probability that the alternative will be worse, from Israel’s perspective.
        -A strike on Syria may lead to “retaliation” against Israel, dragging us into a conflict in which we’re not involved, costing casualties and sending the economy down the tubes.
        -If Iran is the Main Event, Syria is a distraction.

        That said, it’s not like I like the idea of the Assad regime getting away with it’s horrific crimes. I would like to see some way to protect the Syrian people. I just don’t see a strike like the one being contemplated as the answer.

  2. seafoid
    seafoid on August 28, 2013, 10:19 am

    “Then there’s Secretary of State John Kerry calling the chemical weapons attack a “moral obscenity.””

    No chance of white phosphorous or depleted uranium joining the list of obscene weapons

    Google images “defects of depleted uranium” to see the impact of the latter.

    But they are only fired in defence of freedom™.

    • James Canning
      James Canning on August 28, 2013, 7:38 pm

      @seafoid – – Yes, did we hear much from John Kerry about Israel’s illegal use of white phosphorous etc against civilians?

  3. AlGhorear
    AlGhorear on August 28, 2013, 10:24 am

    Didn’t Israel also pass along some of the bogus intelligence about WMDs in Iraq?

    The Obama Administrations claims the intervention in Syria is to protect civilians, but if the US and it’s fellow rogue states attack Syria, they will no doubt end up killing far more civilians than the CW attack in Syria last week and pollute the country with depleted uranium, a gift that keeps on killing. Furthermore, the destruction to Syria’s infrastructure will cause even more suffering and death.

    • seafoid
      seafoid on August 28, 2013, 11:01 am

      This war makes perfect sense in the logic of monopoly capitalism

      “Hence, why wars are so hugely useful for dealing with economic depressions. They permanently and effectively destroy capacity. Not just the surplus capacity that plagues the system, but core capacity, which serves a genuine economic need. Indeed, it’s the need for the capacity to be reinstalled that in many ways justifies a return on investment again”

  4. dbroncos
    dbroncos on August 28, 2013, 10:56 am

    Obama’s red lines and ultimatums. Syria now, next stop Iran. The peace prize winner sinks lower and lower.

    • Donald
      Donald on August 28, 2013, 12:55 pm

      “Syria now, next stop Iran.”

      A commenter at Open Zion (not a front page poster, but one of my fellow peons in the comment thread) suggested that if Obama bombs Syria it’s really about Iran and as you say, those red lines Obama drew, one about chemical weapons in Syria and one about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. The theory is that Obama has to bomb Syria for his threats to be taken seriously regarding Iran–the question is whether Obama is more interested in placating Israel or really does want to pressure Iran. Could be both, of course. His analysis of Obama’s motives seemed plausible to me.

      The dead civilians are irrelevant and for that matter, knowing for sure who did it is irrelevant. The posturing is always the important thing with politicians.

  5. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby on August 28, 2013, 11:24 am

    The obama policy on syria is corrupt, obama fighting with al qaeda against syria, still Syria doesnt pose any threat to the US, what it is about is obama fighting for israel to fight Iran which doesnt pose any threat either to the US.

    Thats why all americans pose the question “why attack syria?”

  6. Walid
    Walid on August 28, 2013, 11:53 am

    Russia and China walked out of UNSC meeting. Does it mean there’s no veto?

    • Taxi
      Taxi on August 29, 2013, 2:38 am

      Russia and China walked out cuz it’s clear it’s all just a waste of their time. There will be TWO vetos against a UN authored military strike on Syria: a Russian and a Chinese veto.

  7. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw on August 28, 2013, 12:10 pm

    Everyone seems to be getting cold feet on the planned military action, the Labour party are insisting Cameron get the approval of the UNSC, Saudi Arabia and the other GCC countries have declined to offer public endorsements to any such attack urging instead for it to be sanctioned by the UNSC, in the Saudi case they are right to get cold feet they know a shock and awe attack or even a retaliation by Syria and the inevitable escalation means that Iran may be dragged in, then their crowns will sit uneasily on their heads.

  8. just
    just on August 28, 2013, 6:41 pm

    “Brzezinski: US Military Intervention in Syria “Wrong”

    “It seems to me that the problem in the Syrian case is part of a larger dilemma regarding the upheaval in the Middle-East. The solution to that upheaval cannot be based entirely on military power nor should it be dependent almost exclusively on the western powers,” Brzezinski said in an interview with the Gernam DW.

    “I am struck how eager Great Britain and France appear to be in favor of military action. And I am also mindful of the fact that both of these two powers are former imperialist, colonialist powers in that region,” said Zbigniew, who served as National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981 and is regarded as one of the preeminent US foreign policy scholars, Al-Alam reported.”

  9. James Canning
    James Canning on August 28, 2013, 7:36 pm

    The US should be backing Russia’s call for a Syrian peace conference, with no preconditions, and with Iran in attendance.

  10. American
    American on August 28, 2013, 8:09 pm

    Vatican Blasts Possible Armed Intervention in Syria

    World | August 27, 2013, Tuesday
    The Vatican’s official daily has strongly criticized global powers for getting ready for a possible military action against Syria.
    The daily stresses that the UN investigation into an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus is still ongoing.

    “The tones are becoming ever more drastic and the action being taken by the United Nations appears subjected to a sort of crossfire. Various international actors appear no longer to consider the investigation a determining factor… and what commitment there was to a negotiated settlement “appears to be dying out,” the Tuesday publication points out.

    Last week, the Vatican’s permanent observer at the UN in Geneva, Monsignor Silvano Tomasi, voiced doubt the Syrian regime was responsible for the reported use of chemical weapons in Damascus’ suburbs.
    The Vatican firmly opposes any form of armed intervention, grounding its opinion on the mayhem triggered by the war staged by the USA to topple Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003′[‘…>>>>>

    Maybe the new Pope should set up call system where his 1.3 billion catholics can call the WH and congress. AIPAC and Israel actually have a phone system that their supporters can use from anywhere in the world…they dial a toll free number and get ‘patched thru’ to the WH comment line or congress.
    End all war would be a good objective for this Pope to put his church and billions members to..

  11. Taxi
    Taxi on August 29, 2013, 2:39 am
  12. mcohen
    mcohen on August 29, 2013, 6:12 am

    seafoid says:
    August 28, 2013 at 10:21 am
    This time the warmongering links to Israel are much more open.

    a farmers prophecy for you my friend

    3 companions,will bring 7 falling stars,7 years of peace ,weapons laid down.

  13. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw on August 29, 2013, 6:26 am

    “We do not believe that the regime can continue to hide behind the fact that the Russians will block any meaningful actions by the Security Council,” Harf warned. “The Security Council is an important venue…but we cannot be held up in responding by Russia’s continued intransigence.” So say the US State Department, echo’s of Tony Blair’s contempt of the UNSC and the veto system before the Iraq war when he said ” “If there was a veto applied by one of the countries, or by countries that I thought were applying the veto unreasonably, then in those circumstances I would.” So much for International law, I am beginning to think that the post world war 2 arrangements in particular the veto system, have broken down and we are in a world were might is right.

    • James Canning
      James Canning on August 30, 2013, 2:03 pm

      Yes, crucial element in setting of illegal US invasion of Iraq was Tony Blair’s foolish encouragement to G W Bush to ignore his commitment to obtain a UNSC resolution (o0r further resolution).

  14. bilal a
    bilal a on August 29, 2013, 8:28 am

    LiveLeak Two phone calls affirm the use of chemical weapons in Homs by Syrian Rebels with Saudi financing Link

    Russian media reports on Syrian Rebles use of CW, Sarin

    Forieng Policy on Israeli use of Islamists insid Iraq

    Iraq breaks up al Qaeda chemical weapons cell

    current, ex mossad working with saudi intell

    An email dated May 2, 2007, states the Mossad is using Cyprus as a “primary transit hub … to assist the Saudi intelligence services with intelligence collection and advice on Iran”. The Saudis are apparently dealing with both the jihadists and the Israelis because they fear that “the U.S. does not have a handle on either.” Several Mossad officers, both past and present, are allegedly “making a bundle” from selling the Saudis security equipment, intelligence and consultation.

  15. just
    just on August 29, 2013, 9:42 am

    Just from the World ME page headlines in the Wapo– Tammy Duckworth, German citizens, Egypt’s foreign minister, Russia, Lebanon, Poland, Iran are all against bombing Syria.

    Looks like the US, Britain, France and Israel are alone in their idiocy.

    • amigo
      amigo on August 30, 2013, 7:45 am

      “Looks like the US, Britain, France and Israel are alone in their idiocy.”

      “Looks like the US, France and Israel are alone in their idiocy.”

      Is France next so we will be left with the real axis of evil.

      • Walid
        Walid on August 30, 2013, 9:52 am

        “Is France next so we will be left with the real axis of evil.”

        Don’t be too hasty to kick France off the team, amigo, it still has an illustrious history in Algeria and is currently cooking up some dubious brew in Mali. Its dust is still to settle over its involvement in Libya not that long ago and the very first international gathering of vultures that included Zionist VIP’s over Syria was convened in Paris a couple of years back by BHL to which Hollande had sent a note of solidarity.

  16. piotr
    piotr on August 29, 2013, 12:30 pm

    “provided by Israeli intelligence”

    We read that “all intelligence agencies thought that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction”. Since then, polling pre-schoolers seems as reliable as polling “intelligence agencies”. One problem with intelligence agencies is that misinforming is part of their duties and expertise. Forgery is part of what they do for living, even if results are occasionally hilariously inept, like the document about Saddam Hussein’s purchase of yellow cake (processed uranium ore) from Niger. Not recognizing inept forgeries and clumsy black flag operations, however obvious, is also part of what intelligence agencies do for living, as well as recognizing the agenda of their governments. And you do not have these problems with preschoolers.

    • James Canning
      James Canning on August 29, 2013, 1:37 pm

      @piotr – – CIA had significant intel Iraq had destroyed all its WMD after the Gulf War. This intel of course was suppressed.

      • piotr
        piotr on August 30, 2013, 10:03 am

        This is what I am saying. CIA serves to provide the innermost government with information and to mislead everybody else. “We the people” want agencies that operate outside the law and against the law. But the hope is that our leaders know and mean well…

  17. Taxi
    Taxi on August 29, 2013, 4:02 pm

    There’s a crisis re Syria going on in the WH right now.

    They know it’s more than Bush-stupid to go through with the threat. They really don’t want to do it. The spoiled israelis are themselves scared and don’t want it anymore. But the pampered saudis are still pushing for it, because they’re sh*t scared too.

    How can Obama get out of this most embarrassing exposure of diminishing empire, how to save face at home and across the globe?

    Make nice and smile much in front of cameras and tell everyone that we are the patient, intelligent, law abiding and moral ones, so therefore we will let the (slow) UN train lead the charge. We will keep our guns firmly pointed at Syria though cuz we’re hardasses, but we will not fire a single shot because we’re a humanitarian nation and we follow international law.

    …. And we all lived unhappily ever after.

  18. Taxi
    Taxi on August 30, 2013, 1:26 am

    “Jumping the Shark in Syria” – William Boardman.

  19. Ludwig
    Ludwig on August 30, 2013, 12:35 pm

    What a nonsensical and incoherent article. A slathering mishmash of words.

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