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Friday, 13 April 2018 02:03

Drumbeats of War in Middle East Continue With Trump's Syria Saber Rattling

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Bashar al Assad2Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria. (Photo: watchsmart)

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Trump's threat to bomb Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack is not only terrifying, it also runs counter to international law. As anti-war activist and author David Swanson writes:

The problem is not that Trump wants to start a war before the inspectors can determine whether a war is merited. War cannot be merited. There is no such thing as mass murder getting justified by someone else committing murder with the wrong type of murder weapon. This is ludicrous nonsense....

Imagine if whenever 12 people were killed with a bomb or guns the “International Community” had to kill the nearest 20,000 people with poison gas. Why is the reverse so acceptable? It shouldn’t be. It isn’t legal or moral or decent or popular enough for the warmongers to let us have a public vote before they do it.

It's not to say that chemical weapons are not particularly heinous, but at least 400,000 civilians have been killed since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. The US has been involved in what has become a proxy war since then, arming, training and equipping rebel troops, and bombing and fighting ISIS.

Trump launched an attack of 59 Tomahawk missiles last year, also for an alleged chemical attack by Syrian military forces. The April 6, 2017, barrage aimed at an empty military airport was widely praised by the mass corporate media as a sign that the US was serious about getting rid of the Assad regime, which is backed by Russia and Iran.

Recently, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) ran an analysis of corporate media, including The Washington Post and The New York Times. The analysis concluded that these outlets have been beating the drums of war for more extensive US military action in Syria following the April 7, 2018, alleged chemical attack by the Syrian army on the Damascus suburb of Douma. FAIR lacerated these arguments for more war, offering this criticism of a New York Times editorial that raised the war cry:

The editorial opened by saying that the world had “grown numb to the slaughter of civilians in Syria” until it saw pictures from Douma. The cognitive dissonance is astounding: The paper notes the emotional potency of pictures of dead and wounded Syrians while saying that the US should ratchet up the war in Syria, a move that is guaranteed -- as we know from the results of US attacks on Iraq, Libya and Syria itself -- to produce victims who are just as dead and injured as the ones in the photos described.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, "the international community banned the use of chemical and biological weapons after World War I and reinforced the ban in 1972 and 1993 by prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and transfer of these weapons." There are few that would disagree with that ban. However, prolonging the grotesque death toll of war in response to their use in murky circumstances by parties that are presumed but not proven is equally deplorable.

Right now, Donald Trump is being besieged by ominous news in relation to leaked findings of the Special Counsel and other developments of his own making. His tempestuous personality may lure him into a wider Syrian war to gain the accolade of being a "wartime leader." As noted above, the corporate media, in general, lauds a president who uses military force in situations that lend themselves to the exercise of American empire.

Chemical warfare is deplorable. However, if the US targets Syria with a heavy retaliatory bombing, civilians will likely suffer.

Another recent article in FAIR had a headline that was to the point: "Media Erase US Role in Syria’s Misery, Call for US to Inflict More Misery." That includes the approximately 13 million Syrians who are displaced, about half outside their native country.

Be wary of an impulsive president thrashing about and a mass corporate media in awe of military might.