Re: Chemical weapons in Syria: I have no doubt they were used, but it isn’t clear who used them. Now that should be the kind of thing that can be supported with evidence. Our intelligence services should be able to identify who is responsible for using them and provide a wide range of evidence for that — undercover agents in the Syrian government, intercepted communications, and so forth.
But here’s the thing: Why would we believe them? Almost to the day that the allegations were made that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons outside Damascus, Foreign Policy magazine published a report that included declassified CIA documents that showed that our government had helped Saddam Hussein use chemical weapons against Iran in 1988 and had then launched a propaganda campaign to blame it on Iran (a mostly successful campaign, by the way). The Vietnam War was justified by LBJ by the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which was completely fabricated. So our government has a history of lying to justify going to war and a history of lying specifically about who is responsible for using chemical weapons. So even if it’s true that Assad used the chemical weapons, and even if the evidence actually did support that, we have absolutely no reason to believe them when they say they have that evidence.
For much the same reason, we have no reason to believe the government when it says it has to take military action in order to support democracy, liberty or human rights. Their track record of supporting brutal dictatorships and propping them up with weapons and our tax dollars has made it impossible to ever believe them when they say that. Every war is sold either as a moral crusade or a response to an imminent threat, but those excuses have turned out to be lies so many times that, just like the boy who cried “wolf,” there’s no reason why anyone should take them seriously.
And if you accept all of the above as true but think this time it wouldn’t happen because Obama’s different and wouldn’t do that, I have to seriously question your judgment and naivete.
Like Dispatches on Facebook: