War With Syria (4): A Naive Act of War

DSC_0169I’m not quite sure what the United States plans to do has ever been done before without serious repercussions. I know I’m not suppose to think like this, but sometimes I like to look for historical precedents to figure out what something planned might turn into. I don’t seem to be able to put my finger on anything that quite resembles what we are about to do.

Let me first start by saying what we plan to do is an act of war. The laws of the United States, U.S. Code, 18 USC 2331 states: “the term “act of war” means any act occurring in the course of — (B) armed conflict, whether or not war has been declared, between two or more nations . . . ” So we must be aware that our bombing of Syria with cruise missiles is an act of war against Syria.

In thinking back, one analogous act that springs to mind happened in December 7, 1941, the day that lives in infamy. The predecessor to missiles, air planes, were used by the Japanese to attack us at Pearl Harbor. Well we know what the result of that was.

Senator Kerry anxiously advocating war made a facile attempt to link Syria’s action with that date by saying yesterday our failure to attack “would live in infamy.” You can always tell the validity of a planned action by the rhetoric surrounding it. The more outlandish and inflammatory, the less justifiable it is.

We did attack Iraq and Afghanistan with cruise missiles but that was to weaken the enemy forces like we used to do with battle ships or other navy guns prior to our going in with our ground forces. We are told that this time that’s not our intent.

We hear the euphemism that is much abhorred by me of “boots on the ground” which covers up the idea of young American men and women being put at risk. We’ve been assured that we will not endanger American lives with our act of war. I wonder if the Japan assured its people of the same thing prior to Pearl Harbor.

As one day is placed on the next we see that our war act is no longer being done to punish Assad for the use of chemical weapons but is being done to benefit the rebels by degrading Assad’s ability to fight. Not only that, the mission creep now includes forcing Assad to the bargaining table where he is expected to engage in a “negotiated transition” where Bashar Assad bargains his away his right to be president of Syria, an unlikely goal if ever I heard one especially given his Russian and Iranian sponsors.

The only precedence I see for what we now intend is President Clinton’s August 20, 1998 cruise missile attack on Sudan and Afghanistan, two nations of limited military ability and no backers. A former CIA station chief in Sudan Milt Beardon said of those strikes: “Last August 20, we struck with missiles two Islamic states–one totally failed state, Afghanistan, and a nearly [failed state], the Sudan. My reaction is, ‘Dear God, what do they know? What is this about?'” 

Neither Sudan nor Afghanistan immediately responded to our attacks. They simply couldn’t. They had no allies nor did they have any military capability to do so.

Yet we should have learned from our 1998 attack on Afghanistan. A 2008 report from the National Security Archives notes“in retrospect, the August 20 retaliatory cruise missile strikes may have caused long-term political harm to U.S. national security and counterterrorism interests.” It also noted: “the military action may have sharpened Afghan animosity towards Washington” and that “If Kandahar could have retaliated with similar strikes against Washington, it would have.

Three years and three weeks after that attack men trained in Afghanistan by the person who was our target would come back at us. That was on 9/11.

Once the president launches this September attack, I hope Syria understands that it is supposed to take it like a good sport and not do anything to reciprocate. Judging from the secretary of state’s argument, the attack is predicated on the idea that the Syrians must accept that we Americans have the right to kill them and we, and our friends, are to suffer no consequences.

The sentiment of those backing this act seems to be that we will go to war against Syria, bomb it and there will be no blow back even though there is no real precedent to support that belief. As we’ve seen the impoverished nation of Afghanistan wanted to strike back at Washington just because we launched missiles against an Al Qaeda training base in its country. Imagine the reaction of the Syrian government.

It seems to me the American belief that it can go about willy-nilly bombing countries and killing others without incurring any adverse consequences makes as much sense as Deputy National Security Advisor Tony  Blinken’s statement that Obama plans to bomb Assad to chase him to the negotiation table where he will give up his power.



5 replies on “War With Syria (4): A Naive Act of War”

  1. Matt, brilliant analysis. Firefly, I agree. There are other ways, besides bombing and killing.
    (2) In Kosovo, we trumped up “mass graves”, SUPPORTED THE KLA a terrorist/narcotic-drug-trafficking group, and began bombing Serbia (rhymes with Syria); we hit limited “military” structures: bridges, power plants, television/radio stations (we called them command and control facilities), the Chinese Embassy (a stray missile we said); and we knocked out power for water supplies and hospitals (newborns died in neonatal wards when power was cut off; when bridges were destroyed ambulances couldn’t bring people to E.R. rooms;) we kept on bombing for 90 days. The Serbs won’t forget. Our bombs caused Kosovo people to flee their villages, as bombing always does (viz Vietnam); our Media propaganda machines blamed the Serbs; the Serb army did clear out a few villages hunting for KLA terrorists, which was the same tactic we used in Vietnam; “We destroyed the village in order to save it from the Vietcong” one US general infamously said. (3) We have used chemical weapons, Napalm, on the Japanese in WWII and Vietnamese in 1960s-70s, and “Agent Orange” in Vietnam. We used “cluster bombs” against the Serbs; we still have cluster bombs and napalm and limited nukes as far as I know, but our weapons don’t kill or harm children, we are told. The Media and Government lied to us. We showed every photo of a killed Kosovo (whether KLA fighter or not) and showed no photos of killed Serb children, burned Serb churches, nor the “ethnic cleansing” of Serbs (in fact, the Serbs were the #1 victims of ethnic cleansing throughout the Balkan Wars circa 1990s (1989-1995) and our Media lied about this, too.)
    (4) the number one beneficiary of bombing Syria is the FEDs: Big Government gets Bigger at home and abroad; the number 2 beneficiary is the Media (more people turn into news during bombing); number 3 is our enemies The Terrorists-Al Queda Affiliates inside the Rebels.
    (5) A brief history: The CIA-type loafers on the ground incite Rebels to revolt; the REbels are losing and represent only a small fraction of Syrians; the Media shows pictures of Rebels dying: no loyal Syrians die; The President says give all aid to the REbels short of military aid; the Rebels are still losing; the U.S. Military starts training rebels in Turkey; Rebels still losing; the CIA uses a rebel-friendly traitorous Syrian general to unleash chemical weapons; Rebels still losing; the President orders massive shipments of weapons to the Rebels; Finally, the CIA-types incite a massive Chemical Attack which only benefits the REBELS and the President will now kow-tow to the CIA types and do what was done in Kosovo and Libya: Kill!!!! Until the CIA-guys, the REBELS, take control. And no one, no one can predict the consequences of that!!!
    (7) Where is Cindy Sheehan and the peace activists?
    (8) I recall a couple of guys from Savin Hill and a handful of others (followed by a handful of undercover FBI-types) protesting in Copley Square and Cambridge the bombing in Kosovo-Serbia in 1995 (1995 I recall): eventually 80% of the American people demanded that U.S. bombing of the SERBS stop and it did; today no peace protesters but 80% of American people, right wing and left wing, oppose Waging War against Syria: HOLD YOUR BREATH TO FIND OUT TO HOW MUCH THE FEDS HEED THE WILL OF “WE THE PEOPLE”!!!

    1. William:

      1. Thanks but it is ongoing and fluid.

      2. Because the Serbs never acted against our attack on them we feel enabled to war on other nations without consequences.

      3. Perhaps some should look at this article to get an idea of what we are planning. http://deoxy.org/wc/wc-myth.htm

      4. Two main beneficiaries of the attack will be Obama who will prove he’s a man of his word and that the Peace Prize does not mean you don’t go to war to bring about a peace; and the people of Washington DC who are over 2/3rds in favor of the war so that its economy keeps boomging.

      5. I tend to lean toward the idea Assad used the gas; however, I don’t think it demands we go to war over it.

      6. Napoleon went to Moscow. I don’t think NATO plans to go there. The media always leans in favor of war, it emboldens the desk bound newspaper editors. One columnist killed in Iraq was Michael Kelly a brilliant writer. I don’t suppose many will be killed during the initial stages of this war.

      7. Cindy Sheehan has gone on a cruise with Russ Lindbaugh. They are participating in a seminar being held by Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. The peace activists lost all credibility during the Iraq war when a large percentage of them remained silent. That same group remains silent now, but even if they spoke up they are too old to make a difference. You may remember the peace days of the mid to late 1960s, an article noted: “The most conspicuous challenge came from two groups: upper-middle-class youth (especially college students) and the urban poor.” http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1979/2/79.02.03.x.html Those groups grew out of the Civil Rights movements. The only person in the country who has a national holiday named after him lit the spark that set off the peace movement on April 4, 1967. http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/MLKapr67.html

      8. Yes, expect the FBI to consider anyone who protests anything America does as some kind of subversive. By the time the war kicks off with the rockets red glare and bombs bursting over Damascus 70% of Americans will be cheering.

  2. To My Beloved People of the World,

    Do you think we do not want you to have lives worth living?
    We do.

    Do you think that we don’t want your sons to have lives worth living past the age of 25, 26, 27 or beyond?
    We do.

    Your sons have the beauty of potential that our own sons have.
    Your sons live here.
    I know them.

    We want the world to prosper.
    We have lost our wealth.
    We are struggling.
    Work together.


    1. Firefly:

      You directed it to the people of the world. It should be directed to Americans at this time.

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