Without a doubt, the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq will be remembered as shameful and devastating events in our nation’s history. One would have hoped that the worldwide criticism of the U.S. for entering these wars would prevent the same mistakes from happening again. However, that is clearly not the case, as the U.S. government prepares for aggression against Syria.
There are similarities in President Barack Obama’s decision to go to war with Syria, and former President George W. Bush’s excuse for invading Iraq in 2003.
First, the fact is that the American government violated international law when it invaded Iraq, because while Congress voted in favor of the invasion, the United Nation’s Security Council never did.
In the case of Syria, even if Congress does authorize U.S. military intervention, and we hope that doesn’t happen, it would still violate international law, because approval from the U.N Security Council is needed for any member state to go to war against another country. Up until now, the U.S. is unable to get the approval of the Security Council, because of the Russian and Chinese veto.
International law allows nations to go to war with other nations in the case of self-defense. Syria has not posed any physical threat, nor did it attack the U.S.; therefore military action taken against it will be a clear violation of international law.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon suggested Tuesday that any American intervention in Syria would be illegal under international law with absent approval from the U.N. Security Council.
“The use of force is lawful only when in exercise of self-defense,” Ban said during a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York, “or when the Security Council approves such action.”
The Obama Administration is pushing to take military action to defend its “credibility” in promising that it would carry out an attack if President Bashar Al Assad’s government crossed the ‘red line’ by using chemical weapons on its own people. However, no justification exists in international law that allows a U.N. member state to carry out such an attack for the sake of keeping its word!
Congress is elected by the people through a democratic process to uphold rules of law. It now could go against our core democratic values, once more, by breaking international law.
Bush invaded Iraq, destroyed its infrastructure, killed over one million people from its population and rendered it a failing state ten years later, based on fabricated lies of having weapons of mass destruction. Likewise, as President Obama attempts to push for war, he has presented evidence on the Syrian regime using chemical weapons against civilians, which is still being questioned for its credibility and authenticity.
An article published by the Washington Times on May 6 stated that a senior U.N. diplomat said Syrian rebels, whom the U.S. has been training and arming, not the Assad regime, used sarin nerve gas during an attack in Khan Alassal. The U.S. government has come under heavy scrutiny for not acknowledging this report.
The horrific wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that cost the U.S. trillions of dollars, have only added to our nation’s deficit, which right now is already over $16 trillion.
|U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry faces protesters against a military strike in Syria, as he arrives at a U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Syria on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 4, 2013. REUTERS|
Anti-war Congressman Rick Nolan (D-Minnesota) said military intervention in Syria would cost $500 million to launch, and $1 billion per week to maintain.
Over the last few years, communities across the country have struggled to come out of the 2008 global recession and financial crisis, and still today many Americans are dealing with its devastating effects.
We know all too well that Detroit, which just filed for bankruptcy, and whose residents are suffering every day, as a result of understaffing in the police and fire departments, in addition to lack of basic city services, could use that money. So, instead of using our resources to destroy Damascus, we ought to use them to save Detroit and get it out of bankruptcy.
Now, more than a decade after the invasion of Iraq, no weapons of mass destruction have been found, and the country is still experiencing terrorist attacks nearly every day. The invasion of Iraq made it a magnet for terrorism and violence, which have claimed the lives of countless Iraqis and American soldiers as well.
It is not only President Obama’s credibility that is on the line, but also the country’s image and, more importantly, its people and national interest. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have made people around the world despise and disrespect Americans.
Engaging in another immoral and unjustifiable war would only hurt our country further, especially in the Middle East
Public opinion should count
The American public’s opinion on going to war with Syria should be considered by every member of Congress who votes. After all, they were elected by the American people to act in their best interest. They ought to listen to the concerns of their constituents, who pay their salaries and put them in power.
The American people pay the most for these wars. They are the ones who lose their mothers, fathers, children, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers. Let’s not forget, they also pay with their hard earned money, through taxes that fund these wars.
Although there are some Americans, including Arabs, who do support the U.S in taking military action against Syria, the fact remains that a majority of Americans don’t.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, more than 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the U.S. should not intervene in Syria's civil war, while only 9 percent thought that Obama should act.
An ABC News poll shows there is little support for military action across the country, despite the growing support for it in Washington. It states that nearly six out of ten people oppose missile strikes, in light of the U.S. government’s determination.
The poll also shows that both Democrats and Republicans oppose strikes by double-digit margins. Political independents are among the most clearly opposed, with 66 percent saying they are against intervening in the crisis.
Who is standing with the U.S., outside of possibly France? The British parliament rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s argument for going to war with the U.S. and voted against the measure.
Russia, Iran and Hizbullah have made it clear that they would support Syria if military action were taken. The reaction from Syria and its allies over a U.S. attack is the most serious threat that intervening in the conflict would pose.
There has been speculation that such intervention would be responded to with strikes against Israel, which would create a regional war in the Middle East and lead to a global crisis.
Americans have also expressed fear that the Syrian crisis could spill into the U.S., as retaliation for military intervention could threaten our national security.
We should keep in mind the effects that military action would have on Muslim and Arab Americans as well. Since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, both communities have been the object of hate and discrimination, which only seems to increase over time.
Another war in an Arab and Muslim country would only add fuel to the flames of Islamophobia, as it would compel more Americans to continue to wrongfully blame these communities for the events unfolding abroad.
The media was criticized during the invasion of Iraq for not asking enough vigorous questions about it, and yet, once again, it is beating the drums of war for Washington by not reporting, or asking enough questions about what is really at stake.
Let us hope that the devastating chapters in our country’s history don’t repeat themselves. Of course, they wouldn’t have to, if we would just learn from our mistakes.
We say, no to war on Syria, please!
-Editorial by The Arab American News