By Daniel McAdams
The Obama administration is reportedly preparing to begin air strikes on Syrian territory without the consent of the Syrian government. The pretext is the rapidly expanding US war on ISIS, but in fact this is the long-desired US attack on Syria that was temporarily thwarted, reportedly by popular opposition last year (but more likely by US knowledge that its claims the Assad government was behind the chemical attacks at Ghouta had no basis in reality and would not stand up to even superficial scrutiny).
Though it makes for a compelling story, the idea that popular opposition to Obama's plans to attack Syria last year stopped the bombs seems more wishful thinking than reality. Consider how easy it has been these past two weeks to obliterate any opposition among the American people to the same US attack plan regurgitated almost exactly one year later.
A series of salacious stories about ISIS slaughtering a Yazidi minority that no one had even heard of mobilized US public opinion in favor of initial US strikes and even ground troops in Iraq. Never mind that the stories were hyped up and mostly false. Never mind that the US and its allies had armed and trained the individuals who now call themselves ISIS (now simply "IS") for a number of years. Another "babies thrown from incubators" story and even self-identified non-interventionists were screaming for bombing runs.
Then came the video released purporting to be the beheading of US freelance journalist (and former USAID contractor) James Foley. Though the video did not show an actual beheading, skeptics were nevertheless silenced by admonitions to not add to the family's grief by questioning the official US government line. The videos were feverishly removed from social media outlets before many had the chance to see that they did not show a beheading at all.
By the time the media started realizing that the video was a fake, public opinion had already been positioned in favor of taking ISIS out wherever they sought shelter.
Because the US-trained ISIS/IS also operates in Syria (where they are fighting for the US "regime change" objective), they now must be targeted by the US. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem reminded the US today that his government must be consulted before the US begins military action on Syrian soil. He was ignored by Washington. Washington began sending drones into Syrian territory.
We are now told that the only thing holding back US bombs on sovereign Syrian soil is concern that any attack would be perceived as a shift in US policy away from demands for "regime change" in Syria. In other words, the Obama administration does not want to be seen helping a Syrian government that has been battling what is now called IS for three years by also bombing IS in Syria.
Concerns that a US attack on Syria without permission would be a violation of international law, the UN charter, and would be a blatant act of aggression are not factored in to the US decision-making process. Nor is the fact that Congress is unlikely to be bothered to declare war or even pass an authorization for the use of force against Syria.
There is currently no active legislation that would permit the US president to make war on Syria.
The US is already violating Syrian territory by conducting aerial surveillance to determine targeting for planned air strikes. This violation of sovereignty is ignored by the same US government that condemned Russian delivery of food and water to those suffering in east Ukraine as a "flagrant violation" of Ukraine's sovereignty.
Food and water to desperate civilians is a flagrant violation of sovereignty, air strikes are not. This is US government logic, but there is virtually no opposition among opinion makers, the media, or politicians.
This month the US government admitted that there were more than 12,000 foreign fighters -- jihadists -- inside Syria seeking to overthrow the Syrian government. Perhaps unwittingly, this admission undermines the entire three year rationale for the US "regime change" policy in Syria. Recall that the "Assad must go" position of the US government was justified by claims that the Syrian people were engaging in a popular revolt to establish self-rule and democracy. This cannot be true if in fact this war had been waged by foreign jihadists.
War against Syria is perhaps days away. It will be an illegal war, without a UN resolution or permission from the Syrian government. Without Congress. Conducted by the peace president.
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