Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

September 10, 2013

Lion and the Lamb: The story behind the Syrian headlines

CROSSVILLE — In the midst of all the reports and pictures of chemical warfare in Syria and the push for going to war against Syria, the background part of the story has been missing.

For a number of years the U.S. has been worried about protecting its access to the vast oil and gas resources in the Middle East region. According to retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans for a "Long War" to attack and destroy the governments in seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. One of the unmentioned contexts of this plan was our strong support for Israel which has been receiving billions of dollars each year in military aid and has been serving as our empire's main outpost in a hostile region.

One of our strategies for this long war has been to exploit the fault lines between the various Muslim and jihadist groups, turning them against each other and dissipating their energy on internal conflicts. Our efforts to do this have included covert action, information operations, unconventional warfare, and support for indigenous security forces. Pipeline geopolitics has also introduced a factor of competition and contention into the Middle Eastern political scene.

In Syria an even more sinister disruptive factor has entered the mix: climate change. Between 2006 and 2011 drought has devastated that country. In some areas farming has ceased, causing farmers to flee to the cities and towns where jobs and food are already scarce. Between two and three million of Syria's ten million rural inhabitants have now been reduced to extreme poverty and riots have broken out around the country. The government has failed to help them and has been cracking down on protesters as subversives, attempting to quell them with military force. Money and weapons from Muslim "freedom fighters" outside Syria have been pouring into the country to add fuel to a growing civil war.

This brings us to the sarin gas attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21 that killed over 400 people. The U.S. administration has been using this event to help build support for war against Syria to remove, or at least punish, its president, Bashar Assad, as the one who supposedly ordered this attack. Various correspondents not in our corporate media, however, are reporting a different scenario: that Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence chief, had supplied some al-Qaida rebels of the Jabhat al-Nusra group in Syria with chemical weapons that were subsequently misused. In the way of offering some correlating information, an Istanbul newspaper on May 30 reported that Turkish police had apprehended al-Nusra rebels with sarin gas that they had planned to use in an attack on Adana.

Our government's response to this Syrian crisis has been described as a "hammer-and-nail" approach. If you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail; if you're a military leader, everything looks like it needs a military solution. A growing percentage of Americans, however, have come to realize that Syria's bloody civil war can be solved only by political means, not by the application of military force. As General Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted in a letter to Rep. Eliot Engel (NY) in late August, U.S. military action risks killing more people and has a low probability of effectively deterring the future use of chemical weapons.

Sarah van Gelder, co-founder and executive editor of Yes! Magazine, has shared an interesting suggestion: "Instead of launching an assault on Syria, the United States could lead a 'coalition of the willing' in rebuilding the tattered foundation of international law. This would lay the groundwork for peace, not only in Syria, but in all the lawless regions of the world. And it could do so without adding to civilian casualties, further destabilizing the Middle East, breaking the budget of the United States, and requiring yet more sacrifices by those who serve in the armed forces."  Another one of her suggestions: providing humanitarian aid desperately needed by the millions of displaced people.

What are some other ideas that would help promote peace rather than war in this critical moment? 

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

  • Tidbits: Make the best of your road trip

    I didn’t care for road trips when I was young. It was so confining to have to sit in the back seat, staring out the window for hour after hour, hayfield after hayfield. And when you’re a kid, time doesn’t pass like it does when you get a little older. Just the trip from Jamestown, TN, to Crossville, roughly 30 miles, felt like an eternity!

    July 14, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Biased climate agenda will cost trillions

    For anyone who has been educated in the history of science and scientific method, this whole issue of “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” is an embarrassing and painful exercise.

    July 14, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014