Americans may be reluctant to get involved in another Middle Eastern war, but the US political elite is not going to allow a foolish and fickle phenomenon like public opinion get in the way of another righteous intervention. After all, we are talking about foreign policy, national security and reasons of state here, and these are serious matters that require serious leaders, with wisdom, good judgment and insight, and a profound understanding of a dangerous and unstable world filled with threats everywhere and forever, and where the evil ones would engulf the earth were they not held in check by American military power.
Such leaders must know, as the rest of the world does, that America is the one ‘indispensable nation’ in these troubled times and that this indispensability is dependent on its credibility, and that for this credibility to be truly credible, it must be regularly demonstrated through periodic acts of exemplary violence.
As Michael Ledeen, the creepy little neocon and Contragate spook, once vulgarly observed: ‘Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.’
Fortunately, America is currently blessed with an abundance of politicians who understand the truth of this essential philosophy, men – and women – who know a crisis when they see one and have learned through deep and considered analysis and a knowledge of history that there is no crisis that a cruise missile strike can’t solve, and that there is no lie too big or too gross that can’t be told in order to bring one about.
Americans in search of answers to the Syrian crisis for example, can find them from men like John Boehner, Lindsey Graham, John McCain and John Kerry. Or women like Hilary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Susan Rice and Samantha Power. But most of all, they have the towering moral presence of President Barack Obama, the former community leader from Chicago who came to power on an anti-war platform offering Americans something called ‘hope’; the sonorous orator and Nobel Peace Prize winner turned war-junkie, who is now lying and stumbling towards with a breathtaking combination of manipulativeness, incoherence and deceit that almost begins to make his predecessor look as if he knew what he was doing.
Only last week Obama was about to bypass the UN and Congress and blast Syria on the basis of a cooked intelligence report on the chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, because the conscience of the world demanded action, according to his increasingly dazed and glassy-eyed looking Secretary of State. Such action, we were told, were going to be merely punitive and ‘deterrent’, a surgical slap on the wrist that would merely ‘degrade’ Syria’s ability to use chemical weapons, whatever that means, rather than take sides.
Then Obama suddenly decided to postpone the strikes and go to Congress after all. Does this mean that he remembered that quaint old-fashioned notion called the democratic process? Not exactly. Obama’s team keep insisting that the president doesn’t require authorisation from Congress in order to carry out military strikes on Syria, but the president is clearly nervous about the Democrats taking exclusive responsibility for the course he’s embarked on.
This is why Nancy Pelosi is backing Obama, and why the administration is courting Republican troglodytes like Boehner and McCain, who always want to shoot first and ask questions later, and seeking a rubber stamp from Congress about a decision that’s already been taken. Because it’s lonely at the top, and having stupidly painted himself into a corner and locked himself into a military response to the Syrian civil war that has no clear policy goals and few prospects of success, Obama wants consensus – or at least the appearance of it.
This pseudo-consultation also explains the slippage in the message. Courting the organized mob that the Republican Party has become means that you have to throw them some chunks of raw meat to chew on. So last week it was ‘no boots on the ground.’ Now Kerry has suggested that American troops might end up in Syria after all.
And now, who would have thought it, it also turns out that the ‘deterrent’ strikes won’t just ‘degrade’ Syria’s ability to use chemical weapons, but will be intended to have a ‘downstream’ impact on its conventional military capability – an objective that sounds a lot more like regime change and a direct intervention in the Syrian civil war.
And questions of conscience, humanitarianism and ‘saving lives’ are now slipping into the back story of a propaganda offensive that now portrays Syria as a threat to America’s national security. The freaking hell it is. Does Obama seriously anticipate a chemical weapons attack on New York?
No, but it’s always useful to tell Americans that this might happen and try to scare the fuck out of them, just as Bush and Co. once did when they suggested that Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda might get together and saturate the eastern seaboard with anthrax and botulism.
The ‘national security’ narrative also allows the president to reserve the right to take unilateral action just in case Congressmen actually listen to their constituencies. In 2007 Obama told the Boston Globe that he would only take unilateral military action in ‘instances of self-defense’, because ‘ 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.’
Presenting Syria as ‘an actual or imminent threat’ resolves that little conundrum, and adds one more lie to already febrile mix. But then, if you’ve already told so many, then one more isn’t going to make much difference, not when America’s credibility is at stake.