Last week President Trump ordered the U.S. military to conduct strikes against sites in Syria that had been identified as possible locations for the production or storage of chemical weapons; the very weapons Syrian President Assad is accused of using in recent attacks upon his own people. Working in conjunction with the UK and France, these attacks were meant to send a message to President Assad; “Stop using chemical weapons or face the consequences.” I can almost hear the ghost of Ronald Reagan saying, “He counted on America being passive…he counted wrong.”
While I deplore the use of chemical weapons, I have a problem with the U.S. using its military to force it’s will or enforce some UN Resolution upon another country. Before I continue, I need to backstop that a bit with some personal information.
I served in the military, specifically the Air Force, for almost 14 years before choosing to separate and return to civilian life. At any time I could have been ordered into combat where my life would have been on the line for whatever reason our government felt it best to send US troops into harm’s way for. The thought of dying by gunfire didn’t frighten me nearly as much as the thought of being exposed to chemical or biological weapons.
I recall, as if it were yesterday, the annual training classes I had to attend on the proper use and maintenance of the gear designed to protect U.S. fighting men and women against chemical weapons attacks. I remember the training films which described the effects of chemical weapons on the human body, and I especially remember the discussions about how to use the Combo Pen in case you were exposed to them. I don’t know what worried me most; being exposed to some horrific nerve agent or stabbing myself in the thigh with that big assed needle to inject the atropine which would counter the effects of a nerve agent.
So yeah, whenever I hear of one country using chemical weapons against another, or of a government using chemical weapons against its own people, the recollection of my training and what chemical weapons can do to people still sends chills down my spine.
The international community has pretty much banned the use of chemical weapons in war, due to the horrific nature of them and the fact that they are indiscriminate in nature; meaning they do not discriminate between combatants and non-combatants; they kill everyone who are exposed to them.
Now you may question my patriotism on this, but I don’t think America has any high moral ground to stand upon when they go around accusing other countries of using weapons that are indiscriminate, or questionable in nature.
If I recall, isn’t America the only country in the world to have used nuclear weapons in a war? Now you can wave all the flags you want and praise how President Truman saved hundreds of thousands of lives by dropping the two Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but I would say that the use of those two bombs was pretty damned indiscriminate as to who they killed; not to mention the horrific after effects suffered by those exposed to the fallout created by those bombs.
Almost immediately after these bombs were dropped on Japan reports began coming out of the blast areas of radiation sickness suffered by people downwind of the attack sites. These reports were stifled by the government, with it telling the media that all reports of a scientific nature must first be approved by the War Department. That almost reminds me of the scene in the movie Good Morning Vietnam in which the twin army flunkies had to pre-approve every story Adrian Cronauer was allowed to report on to the troops.
But yeah, I’d say the use of nuclear weapons to end the war in the Pacific was pretty damned indiscriminate if you ask me. But it was not the only time the U.S. has engaged in indiscriminate bombing. How many of you remember Nixon’s bombing campaign against Cambodia?
We may remember Pol Pot’s merciless genocide against over a million of his own people, but what about the U.S.’s indiscriminate bombing of Cambodia; do you remember that? The justification for these bombings was the fact that the North Vietnamese Army and National Liberation Front, (The Viet Cong), were stationed in Cambodia and launching raids into Vietnam, and the only way to get them was to bomb them where they were hiding; which was Cambodia.
In his book Ending the Vietnam War, Henry Kissinger estimates that there were 50,000 Cambodian non-combatants killed by these bombing attacks. A survivor from one such attack reported, “Three F-111s bombed right center in my village, killing eleven of my family members. My father was wounded but survived. At that time there was not a single soldier in the village, or in the area around the village. 27 other villagers were also killed. They had run into a ditch to hide and then two bombs fell right into it.”
This indiscriminate bombing, where bomb runs were based upon supposed intelligence provided to the military, lasted from 1965 to 1973, and although Kissinger says that only 50,000 were killed, while other estimates places the number at around 150,.000. That fact remains that the US dropped almost as much ordinance on Cambodia as it did upon the forces of Japan during the entirety of World War II; almost half a million tons of explosives. I suppose a bit of collateral damage is to be expected when you drop that many bombs on a country. Still, that seems pretty indiscriminate to me, not to mention that neither Vietnam nor Cambodia had ever attacked the United States.
But I’m not quite done yet. What about the bombing of the city of Dresden, Germany during World War II. Dresden was targeted based upon its supposed infrastructure which was providing materials for the German war effort; yet some claim that the attacks were not proportionate to the significance of the targets. Yet the attacks happened, and they were horrific and indiscriminate as to who was killed.
The bombing of Dresden was a two-stage attack in which both incendiary and high explosive bombs were to be dropped upon the city. A survivor from that fateful day writes, “As the incendiaries fell, the phosphorus clung to the bodies of those below, turning them into human torches. The screaming of those who were being burned alive was added to the cries of those not yet hit. There was no need for flares to lead the second wave of bombers to their target, as the whole city had become a gigantic torch. It must have been visible to the pilots from a hundred miles away. Dresden had no defences, no anti-aircraft guns, no searchlights, nothing.”
But that was not all, the joint force bombers dropped heavy explosives designed to blow off roofs and doors which created air flow to fuel the fires caused by the incendiary bombs. The city was turned into one raging inferno where the oxygen was sucked out of the air and people either suffocated or were burnt to a crisp.
And that’s just what our country has done in times of war against other countries. People don’t remember the radiation testing upon American servicemen or the Tuskegee Experiments where poor blacks were monitored as syphilis ravaged their bodies; even though treatment was available to cure the disease. There was the use of Agent Orange during Vietnam, which affected not only the Vietnamese, but the U.S. troops who were exposed to it. And let us not forget that after World War II, under the program Operation Paperclip, the U.S. allowed war criminals to come to America just because they had knowledge our government wished to exploit.
Oh yeah, the U.S. has got all the high moral ground it needs to condemn other nations of committing atrocities against humanity. (That was sarcasm by the way) I suppose it also doesn’t matter that many of these so-called enemies we fight are monsters of our own creation either. The U.S. has this uncanny ability to go in to a country and stir things up so that later they can claim that the groups that arise out of the ashes are our enemies and we need to go in and defeat them to preserve democracy.
Do you think Al Qaeda would have been a problem had not the U.S. supported Bin Laden and the other Mujahedeen freedom fighters in their fight to expel the Soviet Union from Afghanistan? Then there is the photo of Senator John McCain standing alongside freedom fighters in Syria who have been identified as members of ISIS. Let us not forget the mess we had to clean up in Panama after Manuel Noriega, another useful U.S. stooge got out of hand.
The U.S. just can’t seem to stop going into other countries and creating situations that later turn around and bite us in the ass. After all, didn’t we provide intelligence data to Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran regarding Iranian troop movements; fully knowing that he intended to use Sarin gas against the Iranians? But that’s okay, we got rid of Saddam too, and left a power vacuum in Iraq that has left the entire country unstable and open to groups like ISIS to come in and create more problems for us.
Either those who establish U.S. Foreign Policy are stupid or they want a constant stream of enemies we can fight to justify a bloated defense budget and the creation of all these agencies to protect us from the monsters they create; although I haven’t decided which is more accurate a statement.
I wonder, would Russia or China have been justified in lobbing a few missiles at Washington D.C. when they allowed the experimentation upon U.S. servicemen to determine the effects of radiation or chemical weapons? Would they have been justified in teaching our government a lesson in the consequences of human rights violations after Waco and Ruby Ridge?
Someone made similar comments on Facebook the other day and another person responded by saying that the attack upon Waco was justified because there were confirmed reports of rape by David Koresh upon the women in the Branch Davidian Compound. Oh, so we go in with an attack that kills all the women and children because David Koresh may or may not have been guilty of rape? Is that how the justice system works in America today?
And what about Ruby Ridge and the shooting of unarmed Vicki Weaver by FBI sniper Lon Horiouchi; does that not count as a human rights violation? Or is the taking of a woman’s life who is unarmed and holding an infant just the cost one must pay when they stand up against our government these days?
Listen, I’m all for our government using diplomacy, and even trade sanctions or embargos upon another country to prevent them from committing human rights violations like the ones Syria is accused of committing; but I have a healthy and active sense of skepticism when it comes to our government’s reasons for doing things like what Trump just did. I believe there is ALWAYS an ulterior motive for the things our government does in regards to its enforcing of its foreign policy upon other nations.
I mean, if the U.S. were so concerned with human rights violations why haven’t we launched a few cruise missiles into Darfur and Rwanda? In Darfur close to half a million people have been slaughtered in a calculated act of genocide by government sponsored rebels in the Western Sudan. Then in Rwanda the Hutu, armed mostly with machetes, began actively slaughtering the ethnic Tutsi’s. Estimates place the number of Tutsis killed at around 800,000. It was only when Tutsi’s from neighboring countries came to the defense of the Rwandan Tutsis that the genocide came to an end; but not one cruise missile was sent into Rwanda to halt these violations of human rights. But I guess being hacked to pieces by machete isn’t as horrific a death as being gassed; therefore it doesn’t justify our government getting involved. But then why did the U.S. get involved in the ethnic cleansing which occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
On top of all this, I reckon the constitutionality of a president ordering a military strike on another sovereign nation without a formal declaration of war by Congress shouldn’t bother people in the slightest. After all our military has been actively engaged in one conflict or another for the past 60 years–all without declarations of war by Congress–so what’s a few cruise missiles lobbed into Syria compared to putting boots on the ground in a full scale attack?
I suppose it shouldn’t also matter that when Barack Obama was president then civilian Donald Trump Tweeted, “The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!” (August 30, 2013, in regards to the Obama administration considering attacking Syria) After all, aren’t hypocrisy and double standards the great American pastimes these days?
Yet the Constitution does clearly state that it is the power of Congress to declare war, not the power of the President; and I’d say lobbing a few dozen cruise missiles into another country was a pretty hostile act and, should someone have done something similar to us, we would have considered it an act of war and retaliated accordingly. But that’s right, we can do things like that and get away with it because we’re the good guys and they’re the bad guys who are committing human rights violations.
People seem to have forgotten that whatever power held by our government was given them by the people, and that the various branches cannot transfer any of their power to another branch without the Constitution first being amended to authorize such a transfer of power. I’ve mentioned this before, but it needs repeating since people don’t seem to understand this simple legal principle; there is a legal maxim which, translated from its Latin origin, states, “a delegated power cannot be further delegated.”
Therefore, if we the people delegated the power to declare war to Congress, (and I’d say the launching of a couple dozen missiles into another country constituted an act of war), then Congress cannot just up and allow the President to unilaterally order such a strike by the military without their approval.
Besides, our Founders believed that the best policy of the United States was to remain neutral in the intrigue and affairs of other nations; only acting militarily when the United States was attacked. They understood that in the world there would always be conflicts between nations, and the best policy of the United States was to avoid becoming entangled in these conflicts, if at all possible.
I know I have used this before, and I know it is rather long, but it bears repeating in light of current events. In an 1821 speech celebrating America’s independence from England the Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, gave a speech in which he said:
America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. The frontlet on her brows would no longer beam with the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence; but in its stead would soon be substituted an imperial diadem, flashing in false and tarnished lustre the murky radiance of dominion and power. She might become the dictatress of the world; she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit. . . . Her glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace. This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice.
But why should we let the words of a bunch of guys who have been dead for centuries bother us or guide us in what it means to be patriotic or in establishing our foreign policy? After all, they only fought for this country’s independence and then established a system of government designed to secure our rights; what the hell did they do that was so important that we should heed their words? After all, aren’t we smarter than they were?
Yeah, go ahead and keep believing that; see what happens…