In Vietnam we invented the Gulf of Tonkin attack to justify invasion. In Iraq, it was the absurd "weapons of mass destruction" ploy. And even in World War II, we were rallied to fight fascism while the dominant motive was protecting international capital from German expansion into the now-defunct British and French empires. At the time, German and American corporations such as I. G. Farben and Standard Oil were conspiring with each other so as not to lose ground regardless of the winner. So what's behind the phony moral stance against Syria's President Assad?
Through the Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916), England and France carved up the old Ottoman Empire into new "nations" for themselves after World War I. Since then, the Mideast policy of the developed West has been the same: support the surrogate governments that cooperate in the exploitation of oil resources at the expense of the mass of people.
But deprived people cannot be forever subdued. Today, the Middle East is in the throes of massive class struggle, first heralded as the "Arab Spring" and stretching from Iran to North Africa. On one side are the minority Sunni Muslims who have commandeered the wealth; on the other, the poorer Shia majority who have suffered the greatest exploitation. Shia supporters run from Shiite Iran to Assad's Syrian government to Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese organization that practically runs the country and has been declared a "terrorist" group by the U.S.. Sunnis have the support of the Saudi Arabian princes and Qatar, who are arming the Sunni-led insurrection in Syria and who are favored by the U.S. as long-time client states.
By eliminating the Sunni leader, Saddam Hussein, in Iraq, the Bush invasion did no more than unleash a civil war between the formerly repressed Shiites, now in power, and the deposed Sunnis. The Sunnis in northern Iraq, along with the Kurds, are also fighting for the Syrian Sunni insurgents.
It is into this maelstrom that President Obama would plunge the U.S. by bombing Syria, not acknowledging that the 90-year-old policy of Western exploitation of the Middle East is rapidly reaching its dead end. Because they don't know what the outcome of the Mideast struggle will be, the Western nations are hard put to pick and support the faction that will cooperate with them. We see this confusion with Egypt where the U.S. supported the democratic election of President Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate. But because the U.S. didn't like his subsequent anti-Western stance, it has tacitly and hypocritically supported the coup and the subsequent military dictatorship with its tight business connections to the West. However distasteful many Middle-Eastern cultural mores are to the Western mind, it is clear that the people must be left to develop as they will - however brutally and chaotically - since these forces can no longer be repressed or controlled by the West. The bottom line is, don't fall for the "morality" motive. There is not one now, nor was there ever one, when it comes to war.
Andrew Torre resides in Landgrove.