30 May 2013

Syria and some lessons from the past

Listening to the latest reports about Russia sending in missiles to Syria and the response from the American public prompted me to write this short essay.

There's this country out there and it's brutally trying to suppress a rebel movement within its borders. Everyone knows it's just a puppet for a greater power. This power behind it is supplying it with weapons and other aid while thousands of civilians are being killed. The world is outraged and wants intervention. This must stop.

So it is with Syria and its Iranian and Russian backers. They don't want American influence to grow in the region and they don't want to lose an ally. As far as they're concerned the United States has no business intervening and should leave Syria alone. If the people take up arms then they should expect their state to meet it with violence. They're rebels, traitors, and puppets that deserve to die.

But actually I was talking about South Vietnam and the American power behind it. They didn't want Russian and Chinese influence to grow in the region and they didn't want to lose an ally. As far as they're concerned the Communists have no business intervening and should leave South Vietnam alone. If the people take up arms then they should expect their state to meet it with violence. They're rebels, traitors, and puppets that deserve to die.

Patriotism won't allow people to look at questions as they are. In fact it won't even allow them to see the past as it really was.

All I can say is what the United States did in Vietnam was ten or twenty times worse than what has happened thus far in Syria. Did the Viet Cong and NVA forces fighting Diem and the other American puppets like it when the United States sent military aid and advisors? Of course not. And they sure didn't like it when Johnson sent combat troops in.

And of course it all grew more complicated and spread into Laos and Cambodia. And then as a result of these interventions and extensions of war even more terrible things happened. Other puppet and proxy governments were toppled and the war took on a life of its own. And even long after the Americans forgot about it...it went on. The Americans were pulling away from the roof of the embassy in 1975 but that wasn't the end.

The Khmer Rouge took over only to be defeated by Communist Vietnam in 1979. The Vietnamese set up a puppet government and tried to bring stability. Instead this led to a brief invasion by China. All this merely demonstrated the Americans had not understood the politics of the region or the nature of Southeast Asian Communism. They were all fighting each other. This was nationalism not international communism. China and Vietnam are historic enemies. Ho Chi Minh and Mao for all their talk of Marx were still leaders of Vietnam and China. Some things don't change.

Then the Americans just to spite the Vietnamese supported the Khmer Rouge throughout the 1980's as they continued to wage guerilla war from the jungles.

And yet...so many are eager to dive into another complicated conflict that will only spread war and instability? How many will die at the hands of men who treat the world and human life like the cheap plastic pawns of dollar store chess set?

Why is this happening in Syria? As usual it's complicated. You have to peel back layers of history and it's hard to know when to stop and who to blame. Everyone is to blame...even the rebels fighting Assad. I hope the Christian Right remembers this when they take up arms against the state. It's only a matter of time. They won't remember the lesson. In fact spiritually they are unable to learn it. War always unleashes a whirlwind and many innocents will suffer and die as a result. There is no glory or honour in it. Churches can worship the flag and ancestors, they can make their warriors into messianic demi-gods, but it doesn't change the fact that war is just institutional murder and today it's on an industrial scale.

The United States has no moral authority to condemn Syria. The crimes of Assad as bad and heinous as they are pale in comparison. Chemical Weapons? Weapons of Mass Destruction? The United States has used more than any other country in the world. How quickly we forget Agent Orange, Napalm, Phosphorus, Landmines, Depleted Uranium and the Atomic Bomb, let alone the terror campaigns waged across the world, the death squads, assassinations and so much more.

This doesn't excuse Syria but let's quit playing games. While we live in our American Dream millions have died a nightmare. Don't be fooled by the evil lies of American politicians who speak of morality and being on the right side of history...or red lines being crossed. The world knows what the United States is but they don't have to like it. All the posturing is for the American public. Russia's motives are no better but they don't want their ally to lose do they? Just like the United States wouldn't.

Sending in Surface to Air Missiles (SAM) means the demons of the sky, the fighter jets and bombers of the American war machine won't be able to kill with impunity. The United States arms rebels and other nations all the time. They can dish out the violence but they can't take the criticism in return. Russia, Iran and Syria are evil nations led by evil people. I won't argue that, but I will strenuously argue against anyone that asserts Obama or McCain possess some kind of moral high ground. They are guilty of the same things...both are butchers in their own right. This isn't about good v. evil. This is Assyria fighting Babylon. This is Rome fighting Carthage. We're in a state of moral compromise if we forget that.

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