I know you mean well. I know you think you’ve found a bargain that nobody else noticed hidden in a back corner of the used car lot. Let me warn you: it’s a clunker. Here, I’ll list the defects. You can have your own mechanic check them out:
1. If you want to bomb a country every time an evil group murders people in a gruesome manner, you’ll have to bomb a lot of countries including our own. ISIS draws its strength in Iraq from resentment of the Iraqi government, which bombs its own cities using U.S. weapons, and which beheads people, albeit in grainier footage with lower production values. Allies in the region, including allies that support ISIS, including allies armed by the United States (some of which arms end up in the hands of ISIS), themselves behead people regularly. But is that worse than other types of killing? When President Barack Obama blew up a 16 year old American boy whom nobody had ever accused of so much as jaywalking, and blew up six other kids who were too close to him at the time, do you imagine his head remained on his body?
As with most drone strikes, that boy could have been arrested and questioned. Had he been, though, gruesome death would have remained a possibility. In April, the United States injected a man with chemicals that made him writhe in excruciating pain for 43 minutes and die. Last week in the United States a man facing a similar fate on death row was proven innocent and freed. The prosecutor who had put him there 30 years earlier showed zero remorse. Now I’m not proposing that we bomb North Carolina because I’m angry at that prosecutor. I’m not even angry at that prosecutor. I am suggesting that there are evil killers all over the place, some wearing Western suits and ties, some wearing military uniforms. Bombs, which mostly kill innocent people who had nothing to do with it, won’t help.
2. The bombs will mostly kill innocent people who had nothing to do with it, and will only make the crisis worse. Most people who die in wars are civilians by everyone’s definition. People still use words like “battlefield” as if wars were waged in a field the way a football game is played. They couldn’t play football on our streets and sidewalks because grandparents and baby strollers would end up tackled and crushed. Well, wars are waged on people’s streets and sidewalks, even when one side is only present in the sky above in the form of unmanned robot death planes. The slow-moving die first: the very old and the very young. And when anyone dies, according to top U.S. officials, more enemies are created in greater numbers. Thus, the operation is counterproductive on its own terms, making us less safe rather than safer. This is why President Obama is always saying “There is no military solution” just before proposing to use the military to seek a solution. When he proposes bombing Iraq for three more years, that number has no basis in military calculation whatsoever. I challenge you to find a general who says otherwise. It is a number almost certainly based on the U.S. election schedule, aimed at convincing us to accept a war without question until a date after the next presidential election. When Obama says he’s going to get a good government in place in Iraq this week and then make a speech, he’s delusional or enjoying toying with your gullibility, but he’s also pointing to the actual problem: a nation destroyed by 24 years of wars and sanctions and lacking a legitimate governing system.
3. Bombing is crazy, and bombing for three years is certifiable. Bombing strengthens ISIS. Three years is longer than most U.S. wars have taken from beginning to end. The U.S. Constitution, which did not foresee a permanent standing army, much less one permanently standing in most other nations on earth, did not permit — and does not permit — creating and funding one for a longer period than two years at a time (Article I. Section 8.). But of course nothing guarantees that the bombing will stop after three years and not go on for thirty more. And nothing guarantees that this war will involve only bombing. Already Obama has sent over 1,100 troops, and is promising to send some number less than 100,000. Read that twice please, slowly. Obama wants Congress to debate his war plans but not vote on them. Why not? Because Congress might be compelled by you and me to vote no, if not on this war then on the next one. Obama wants himself and all future presidents free to launch wars without Congress, exactly what he campaigned for office opposing.
“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” —Senator Barack Obama.
The U.S. “intelligence” agencies, by the way, deem ISIS no threat to the United States. Apart from trashing the Constitution and really the one thing its framers got right, President Obama is trashing the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact, laws that forbid war.
4. The fact that it’s Obama doesn’t make it OK. A majority of you supported attacking Afghanistan and within a couple of years a majority of you said Afghanistan should not have been attacked. Why not? Not because there weren’t evil people in Afghanistan, but because bombing the country made everything worse, not better. You kept telling pollsters it was a bad idea for over another decade, but the war rolled on, and still rolls on. Iraq is a similar story, although you were even faster to change your mind. And the occupation ended when President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki signed an agreement for three more years of that war, and then the three years ran out. At that point, President Obama tried to win approval from the Iraqi government to keep U.S. troops in Iraq longer, but with immunity for any crimes they might commit. Failing at that, Obama withdrew the troops. Having won that concession now, he’s sending them back in. Does the fact that it’s Obama doing it, rather than Bush, make it OK? Remember the massive protests when Bush proposed a war on Iraq? Obama just put the band back together in Wales, and you’re squealing with delight that he visited Stonehenge, or you’re busy coloring in your “I’m Ready for Hillary” posters.
The nation of Iraq was utterly destroyed last time. The place is in total chaos: violence, hatred, poverty, illness, desperation, fanaticism. Dumping gasoline on that fire is worse now than before, not better. And now we have NATO toying with a nuclear confrontation with Russia, drone wars generating violence and terrorism in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia, the U.S. Navy poking China in the eye with a stick, troops heading into a dozen new parts of Africa — How is starting a war this time better than last time, which you came to view as a mistake by 2004, elected a Congress to end in 2006, thought you were voting against again in 2008, and cheered for the eventual ending of in 2011? Observers have called this the most dangerous moment since World War II. Please don’t tell me you trust Obama, believed the fraudulent threat to Benghazi and are now unaware of the disaster he created in Libya, where France has just proposed yet another war to fix the damage of the last war. Please don’t tell me you believed the disproven claims of evidence that Assad used chemical weapons or Russia shot down an airplane. This is a government that lies about possible grounds for war and possible outcomes of war, just like its predecessors.
5. The enemy of your enemy is your other weapons customer. Public pressure was instrumental last year in halting proposed attacks on Syria, the plans for which involved massive death and destruction. But the White House and CIA went right ahead and armed and trained one side in that war, the ISIS side. ISIS now has weapons provided directly to it and indirectly to it by the United States, including those seized from the Iraqi government. ISIS has troops trained by the United States and “radicalized” (enraged) by the United States in its brutal prisons in Iraq, as well as troops previously in the Iraqi military who were thrown out of work in 2003 by the U.S. occupation. Last year, the evil to be confronted was Assad, at all costs. To your great credit you didn’t fall for it. Why not? Not because Assad doesn’t do evil things, but because you understood that more war would make things even worse.
Now you’re being told that Assad’s enemies must be attacked at all cost, and you’re falling for it, to your great discredit. With supposed surgical precision the “moderate” beheaders will be spared, in order to blow up only the “extremist” beheaders. Don’t believe it. Six months ago the great Satan was Iran. Now you’re on Iran’s side. Were you aware of that? You’re stirring up trouble to the ultimate benefit of only one group: the weapons makers. You think of the Middle East as a violent place, but 80% of the weapons come from the United States. Imagine how much less violent the Middle East could be if it only had 20% of the weapons. We’re not talking about stockpiles. These weapons get used.
6. There are other options. Try telling a four-year-old he has only two choices: eat the broccoli or eat the lima beans. He’ll throw another 18 alternatives at you in less than a minute, beginning with eating ice cream. Try telling a non-American adult about the current state of disaster in Iraq, and they’ll begin by opposing making it worse, and then start discussing a variety of steps to make it better, from humanitarian aid to diplomacy to disarmament to emergency U.N. police forces, etc. But tell a U.S. adult that Iraq must be bombed or we must do nothing other than sit back and revel in our evil state of ISIS-loving, and your befuddled manipulated subject will shout “Bomb em! Bomb em!” Why?
Last year we were told that we had to bomb Syria or love the poisoning of children with chemical weapons. We did not accept that those were the only two choices. Why not? Because we were thinking straight. We hadn’t been frightened into blind stupidity by high-quality videos of beheadings and threats that we might be next. Nobody thinks well when they’re scared. That’s why the government likes to scare you. That’s why your hearing all this nonsense about ISIS coming to your neighborhood. The more the U.S. keeps bombing people, the more some of those people will want to fight back. Did you ever wonder why nations that spend 2% what the U.S. does on its military feel so much safer than you do? Part of it is the reality that war generates enemies rather than removing them, but mostly it’s a culture of cowardice that we’re living in. Here are 15 things we could do about ISIS instead of bombing.
7. We don’t have time for this barbaric insanity. War is sucking our resources and energy and attention away from where they are needed, namely on a massive campaign to protect the climate of the earth. Imagine a proposal to dump untold trillions of dollars and every ounce of energy into that project! Would Congress step aside and allow it? It would benefit even your short-term economic interests, but would you permit it? Would you demand it? Would you join with me in insisting that we stop the wars and save the climate?Φ
David Swanson wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition. He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.