War with Syria: 2003 (And the 1960s) Want their Talking Points Back
Non-medicated individuals, at this point, may be seeing a few eerie similarities between the current foreign policy of the US in Syria and Iraq, and policies from Iraq circa 2003 under a totally different political party – in fact if they’re old enough, they might remember that the US has gone down this road over and over again since the early 1950s, and especially in Vietnam circa the 60s and 70s.
The year is 2003: Saddam Hussein has been branded a rogue, renegade, state sponsor of terrorism, and harbor of terrorists the world over – obviously Uncle Sam had to remove this horrendous being from the world – after all he supposedly possessed enormous quantities of chemical weapons and had given aid to islamists (neither claim was ever true). In reality, this secular authoritarian figure had spent a great deal of time beating down islamist groups, preferring a secular regime in which he himself was a sort of deified figure, his face branded across the desert in monuments to his own egotism.
But wait folks, it’s history time – Saddam was once the best friend the US ever had because he opposed Iranian imperialism (those same Iranians whose government we had overthrown as well.) In fact, we liked Saddam so much that we helped him gas the Iranians a time or two.
The fact that Saddam was not involved in 9/11 has been well established – oddly the same Republicans calling for war had previously thought it a bad idea – notably Dick Cheney who, in the 1990s, referred to any strike on Saddam as a quagmire waiting to happen. This sudden reversal is now mirrored by Obama and Biden, who are clamoring for expanded war in Syria and Iraq, without any just cause- oddly, both liberals (Dennis Kucinich) and libertarians (Ron Paul) have broken away from their usual allies on certain social issues, both with the aim of condemning these acts in Syria.
That these same Bush era Republicans turned around and subsequently attacked Iraq without cause in 2003 went down in history as one of the largest US military blunders since the Tet Offensive; in fact the similarity with Vietnam didn’t end there, after all the Gulf of Tonkin incident that ushered in the wider Vietnam War was itself a lie concocted specifically to allow a war to begin. The possibility that future declassified documents will prove Osama Bin Laden was in Pakistan all along and the US knew it seems likely- in which case aging individuals currently part of the youth of the US will sigh and realize it was a dupe all along.
Enter Barack Obama in 2008 – a young, hip, “smart” leader, a new kind of politician, with some good dance moves and a pacifistic world view. Why continue waging needless offensive wars? His running mate, Joe Biden, even warned during the re-election campaign that Mitt Romney wanted to go to war with Syria… which is exactly what we’re doing as we speak. These two pacifists turned warhawks won reelection and almost immediately began making preparations to strike Assad – plans that fell through only when it became clear that the public was absolutely against the idea. Striking Assad, at the time, would have been political suicide for a president elected on the anti-war platform.
Sadly, we now find ourselves back at war in the region – as our foreign policy falls apart, and all some of us can do is draw similarities between Saddam and Assad, Obama and Bush, and wonder why it is that his remaining hardened fanbase refuses to protest this war like they did when the president was a Republican. Using ISIS as an excuse to violate the sovereignty of Syria, it appears as though Obama intends to “accidentally” hit Assads forces, giving yet another prelude to a ground invasion… just like the Gulf of Tonkin, or the declaration of Saddam as a sponsor of islamist terror cells. The American public, oddly, remains locked in a desperate form of partisan struggle, convinced that it’s “not really war” when we’re using drones to quite literally depopulate small villages in Yemen and Pakistan far from the cameras of journalists – just like in 2003 it was “justifiable” that we should expend enormous amounts of time, money, and manpower, when the mounting death toll proved beyond reasonable doubt that our policy in Iraq had at best made no difference and at worst (and in reality) made it far worse – ISIS would not even exist, if Saddam had remained in power, and by now a secularist junta could easily have toppled him – just like he toppled a secularist junta before taking power with his Ba’athist party.
Us domestic policy has also taken on a sour flavor – after all the surveillance state (that Obama also opposed as a candidate) is not only still in place but growing by the day – with military surplus headed to police departments and even schools nationwide, while the patriot act continues to stand, all while Obama oversees a massive NSA expansion that rivals McCarthy era black van stalking.
And all we can ask here, is why are the Democrats and their marginal backers – who were so deeply opposed to Bush era surveillance – now so on board with Obama’s surveillance? Why is this war acceptable, when all they could do a decade ago was protest and march? Where is their outrage now, that the president happens to have a (D) after his name? The answer is clear: distracted by wedge issues and continuously pounded by propaganda on every possible social media site, they’ve become docile and weak, accepting of programs they would absolutely have opposed (and did) when the president was a right wing white man. And the Republicans themselves, oddly agreeing with the Democrats here, are practically begging Obama to allow a ground invasion – something that didn’t work in 2003, won’t work now, and at best will kill a few militants while our own soldiers get ambushed and injured trying to save a nation that, truth be told, was never a real nation anyways, and was carved out by the British in the 1930s from a colonial mandate.