Although many have contemplated the possible triggers to WWIII, it seems that it has been happening both before our very eyes, and out of sight for a long time now. The various conflicts, actions, and world shaping affairs- the stories from the front lines- have not been in the headlines for the most part as in previous (open) wars. Rather, they are buried, under reported, or go unmentioned by the typical media outlets who shape the opinions of the masses and, thus, escape the tangible thoughts for the average person. However, these events continue to play themselves out all over the world- with real consequences. As technology has improved, so has the ability for the U.S. government to assert its control over the affairs of other nation- increasingly with less reliance on troops being present. The current crisis, Syria, is but one battlefront in this war...
It should go without saying that I am in opposition to the U.S. government meddling in Syria in any way, much less an outright slaughter via missile strike as is being contemplated right now. Although the government is insisting that the correct course of action is "punishment" of the Assad regime, it is impossible to gain the moral high ground required to justify such a nanny mentality. For, even those who believe the claims 1 that the Syrian government is responsible for using chemical weapons to gas more than 1000 people to death cannot deny that the U.S. drone program has murdered at least three times as many people. Murder is murder- conventional, chemical, nuclear, from your immediate vicinity or from afar and out of sight- and the U.S. government has far too much blood on his hands to be taken seriously as humanitarians here (or for that matter, anywhere).
John Kerry has said, "This is not the time for armchair isolationism. This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter." Kerry's statement is absurd considering the U.S. government has engaged in covert training and supplying arms to the rebel opposition in Syria for months now- support that has likely resulted in far more deaths than would have otherwise occurred absent outside intervention. The use of the word "spectators" implies that you aren't already playing, and surely you are not already on a team!
Further, the rebel groups who are on the receiving end of such assistance are not "angels of men" with the only purest of intentions. The U.S. government can choose a side to be on, but it cannot fundamentally change the people engaging in the conflict. The rebel groups have committed some incredibly heinous acts themselves, and may well have used chemical weapons. Indeed, it seems U.S. policy is not to be "spectators to slaughter" but, rather, to encourage it.
The way the Syrian conflict has played out so far is perfectly in line with what John Perkins describes in his book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. We cannot be sure, as of yet, what was the true cause for intervention and how the initial stages of action played out (coercion and bribery), but the U.S. government has been engaged for months in actively supporting the overthrow of the Syrian government. We are now witnessing the final stage of the process- military action. Notably, this only occurs (according to Perkins) when all other options have been exhausted. It makes one wonder what Assad really did to upset the powers that be!
Therefore, what seems like a sudden escalation in Syria is, in actuality, a process that has been in play for a long time. Indeed, what Perkins describes in his book has been confirmed by the CIA recently when the agency released documents that- for the first time- publicly admitted the agencies role in the 1953 overthrow of Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. Most of the world is in one stage or another of the process, and it would behoove the average American to remember the rash of assassinations that occurred in the U.S. during the 1960s. Perhaps even the United States is not out of the range of the United States government! 2
The actions of the U.S. government have been so destructive, and so obviously designed to enrich or protect the well-connected 3 that it is amazing that this example could play itself out, time after time, without any meaningful change of course. However, in most cases, the contemporary "average American" has not been burdened with the effects of war costs to a great degree since WWII because the money is printed and costs are spread out over time. If the financial burden of war cannot be felt, the only connection possible for the average person is via a submissive media- a truly virtual experience.
Even war itself has become disconnected with contemporary use of drone aircraft, and in the skirmish at hand there are -so far- no calls for U.S. troops to set foot on Syrian soil. The "strike" is to be carried out by firing rockets from far away with the push of a button. This approach to the inevitable final stage of the process of force is what Dr. Robert Pape has called "off shore balancing." His strategy is designed to combat suicide terror by removing the foreign troops from the scene of the crime, preferring to obliterate from afar instead. 4 The anticipated approach to be taken by the U.S. government seems to follow Dr. Pape's advice, and removes the aggressor to a faraway location.
I submit that the threat or application of force to achieve a desired political outcome- regardless of proximity- is the very definition of terrorism, and to engage in such activity can only cause justifiable resentment and blow-back from those on the receiving end of such measures. Pape has proven this to be true in his research by revealing that suicide terrorists do not attack because of fanatical religious or social philosophy (as propagated often after 9/11). The fundamental cause, in fact, is resentment for outside attempts to control their society. 5 A great deal of peace would result if the most aggressive control freaks the world has ever known- the U.S. government- were to cease the policy of intervention immediately!
However, because these operations are occurring mostly without the knowledge of the general public (and even when revealed, are carefully massaged to represent an acts of justice and heroism), it is unlikely that a political sea change will occur to stop the interventionists from pursuing the domination they so desire. Indeed, the 20th century was characterized by the U.S. meddling in foreign affairs practically unabated for 55 years! If this empire will not be stopped politically, it will eventually come economically, as has been proven by all empires throughout history. It is only a matter of time...
1. Remember Iraq? Dennis Kucinich has raised some very interesting questions regarding Syria in this article.
2. The proper blame would reside in the various forces in control of the U.S. government...rest assured this does not mean you and I! See Murry Rothbard: Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy (Free PDF from Mises.org)
3. See #2
4. I discuss Dr. Pape's approach here.
5. See Dr. Robert Pape and his presentation, Dying to Win (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)
Dr. Pape contends that this control is manifested in physical presence. However, I maintain that even a virtual presence via threats and actions from the U.S to influence policy (terrorism) will not remove the fundamental antagonism to those who live where said control is attempted. Thus, his strategy cannot lead ultimately to peace.