WASHINGTON, August 28, 2013 — The Nobel Peace Prize-winning presidency of Barack Obama has developed an unusual appetite for war. With new talk of red lines being crossed and “moral obscenities” in Syria, the Obama Administration seems poised to start another undeclared war on questionable constitutional and international grounds.
As an idealistic senator, Obama wrote in The Audacity of Hope that “When the world’s sole superpower willingly restrains its power and abides by internationally agreed upon standards of conduct, it sends a message that these are rules worth following, and robs terrorists and dictators of the argument that these rules are simply tools of American imperialism.”
In June, Secretary of State Kerry at a Principals Meeting called for U.S. airstrikes against Syria, only to be rebuffed by JCS Chairman Dempsey who argued against “precipitous military action in a civil war.” Other high level Obama advisers on other occasions had also reportedly resisted calls for hasty action in Syria, arguing that airstrikes would not be decisive and the U.S. would have legal difficulty justifying an intervention.
Yet in spite of Kerry’s new hawkish worldview, four decades earlier he infamously testified in military uniform before Congress against the war in Vietnam, warning of involvement in civil wars and adding further “I think there will be guerrilla wars and I think we must have a capability to fight those. And we may have to fight them somewhere based on legitimate threats, but we must learn, in this country, how to define those threats and that is what I would say to the question of world peace. I think it is bogus, totally artificial. There is no threat. The Communists are not about to take over our McDonald hamburger stands.”
Today, no Syrians of Assad’s regime are attempting power plays against U.S. burger restaurants, yet the anti-war Kerry that bemoaned “razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan” as a fallout of U.S. policy in Vietnam is party to beginning a new war in the volatile Middle East.
Just where has the anti-war left gone? Some liberals on social networks have argued that there is “no war to protest” (yet) in Syria, but in the past the anti-war Left could be dependably relied upon to resist even the hint of U.S. belligerence abroad.
The glaring inconsistencies of a left that says nothing about the continuing practice of extraordinary rendition, drone bombing of foreign countries and warrantless NSA surveillance of friend and foe alike under Obama raises questions about the sincerity of their idealism.
If Obama is waiting for a green light from the United Nations to attack Syria, he ought to read his own book and look to the existing international law. Chapter I, Article 2, Paragraph 7 of the U.N. Charter specifically codifies that “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter.”
In short, U.N. resolutions cannot be used as a license to bomb countries for internal civil conflict. If Obama respects international law, he should obey international law.
Is the mainstream left really concerned about social justice, progress for humanity and world peace? Or are they merely interested in protecting the failed, reactionary presidency of Barack Obama at all costs?
President Obama and Secretary Kerry should listen to the idealistic conscience of their younger, pre-executive personalities and stay out of Syria.
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