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The unspoken assumption behind the U.S. war plans against Syria

By Brian Becker | Last updated: Sep 4, 2013 - 8:48:08 AM

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‘Lies the imperialists told us’

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Protesters rally against US military intervention in Syria at the US Army recruiting station in Times Square on July 10. The protesters, a mix of Syrian supporters of the Bashar al-Assad government and several small communist groups, demanded a halt to US aid to Syrian rebels and to Israeli bombings. Photo: Flickr/Michael Fleshman

The criminal attack being planned against Syria is based on lies. They are not hard to expose.

The Syrian government was given a formal request on Saturday, Aug. 24 to grant access to a United Nations team of inspectors to the town in the outskirts of Damascus to determine if chemical weapons had been used. The Syrian government granted permission the very next day, Sunday, Aug. 25.

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Obama administration officials then immediately declared that the inspections no longer mattered because the Syrian government had delayed UN weapons inspectors’ access to the site. In fact, top U.S. officials called UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon on Aug. 25 (when Syria agreed that the inspectors could visit) demanding that he cancel the UN weapons inspections because they “were pointless.” (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 26)

The claim against Syria is ludicrous. The Syrian government would not have an interest in using chemical weapons knowing that it would be the trigger for NATO military intervention. The government was winning the war. The foreign-backed armed rebel groups could only win the war if the U.S. and/or NATO intervened directly.

Every imperialist attack and every imperialist-inspired regime change strategy requires a pretext and a public rationale. There needs to be a noble cause to justify the aggression. Since it is the 21st century rather than the 19th century, the politicians of Western capitalism have to conceal and mask their predatory aims as they routinely bomb and kill people in the Middle East, Asia and Africa who resist allowing their lands and resources to fall under the domination of Western corporations, banks and business interests.

“Public opinion” required a humanitarian motive for the bombing of Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011 and Syria in 2013.

The greatest purveyors of violence in the world present themselves as the greatest purveyors of humanitarian interests in the world.

Syria is not threatening the United States nor is anyone in the Obama administration suggesting such a threat exists. Thus, the planned military strikes against Syria are a violation of the UN Charter and international law.

The UN Charter and self-defense

The Obama administration is playing a dangerous game, escalating a war that could have devastating regional and global consequences.

The United States and Syria are both members of the United Nations and signatories to the UN Charter.

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With the Syrian crisis uppermost on his agenda and back at UN headquarters in New York after cutting short an official visit to Austria, Secetary-General Ban Ki-moon continues to consult with world leaders by phone, as he prepares to be briefed over the weekend by the UN investigation mission on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten
The UN Charter makes it illegal for one member nation to attack another except in the case of self-defense.

The Obama administration’s calculations on why it can and should bomb Syria are not premised on the idea of “legality” but rather power and power alone. They believe that Syria is so small and vulnerable that it will not be able to defend itself or retaliate against U.S. targets.

But the UN’s Article 51, Chapter VII makes clear that Syria would have such rights in the event of an unprovoked armed attack: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”

Syria’s presumed inability to retaliate is the unspoken assumption of the U.S. war planners and their cheerleaders in the mass media. War made easy!

The potential implications of an unprovoked attack on Syria are not even mentioned. The Obama administration implicitly promises the American people that only Syrians will bleed in this new “war.” With this promise they hope that the people of the United States will not rise up against the government that commits war crimes in their name.

During the next days, people are going into the streets throughout the United States to say NO to another bombing campaign in the Middle East. Join and organize these demonstrations. The time to act is right now!

(Brian Becker is national coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition.)

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