However, if chemical weapons attacks are in fact taking place within the borders of one country in the context of an uprising or civil war (or even a proxy war between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran), and if such attacks are an entirely (meaning full-story) legitimate, real, rational and sustainable justification for military intervention, then does this mean that if citizens rose up against the "Putin system" in Russia, and Russian "authorities" used a chemical weapon in a battle against Russian people, that the United States should then send cruise missiles into Russia?
This is not such a far-fetched scenario as it might at first seem. Uprisings frequently occur in many countries and many countries have ongoing civil wars, economic, political and sectarian conflicts seething beneath the surface.
What if the rulers of the single political party of China cracked down further on Hong Kong, leading to a pro-democracy uprising such as the one which occurred in Tiananmen Square, only this time around, the uprising couldn't be crushed with tanks, so "authorities" used poison gas on the demonstrators? If this were to happen, would the U.S. attack China? What about other countries?
We all know that some gas is more dangerous than others, but who decides which gas is "acceptable" or "not acceptable"? Is it acceptable to use tear gas on peaceful protesters? Is it acceptable to pepper spray peaceful protesters?
Such use of gas against peaceful protesters happens in the United States. In fact, as recently as 2011, a student who was sitting down, who represented no threat to any person or property, was pepper-sprayed in the face during a peaceful demonstration in California.
I am not suggesting this is exactly the same as the use of gas in countries embroiled in civil war, but we must recognize in war truth is the first casualty. If our experiences with the manipulation of "facts" in the lead up to the Iraq War has taught us anything, it is this: We cannot fully trust what the powers-that-be hiding behind the current corrupt State are claiming is true. We don't know everything that is happening and much that is happening (such as the true cost) is purposefully obscured, disguised and hidden from the American people. You can't believe everything in the news media, overly reliant on "information" coming from officialdom, a fiefdom which at the end of the day represents special interests, nor can you trust what any public official, no matter how earnest, legitimate and sincere he appears, claims. So-called "clear evidence," proof, facts and the full story of what is actually happening is very difficult, if not impossible, to come by for the average American, who is working day and night just to get by. I suggest to you that our current surveillance-police State is not truly governing and has squandered much of its authority and legitimacy. It's claim that it represents "We, the People" is in serious doubt. Moreover, we, as a nation, have growing internal problems that can lead to greater problems and chaos globally. These are very dangerous times.
We are shortchanging ourselves as Americans if we are not in the least concerned about the increasing manner in which widespread peaceful protests in America, particularly those following the so-called "Great Recession," protests of legitimate concerns and grievances, are now being increasingly crushed in a top-concentrated, heavy-handed and highly organized manner under the guise of "Homeland Security." Who exactly controls "Homeland Security"? In whose hands is this now-massive so-called "security" apparatus?
The last I checked, Americans in fact have the right (paid for with the blood of our fighting men and women) to peacefully protest. Remember that old saying, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." In fact, we soldiers, in good faith and youth, signed up to put our lives on the line because our government told us we would have the opportunity to defend "democracy," "rights" and "the Constitution." But over time, through our experiences with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, wars surrounded by enormous propaganda, lies, manipulation of facts, exploitation of events, fear-mongering and half-truths coming from the top down and from puppets in the highest offices in the land, more and more of us who put our lives on the line for what we believed was "We, the People," have come to question who we were really working for (who do you serve?) and who is actually in control of our country?
As a citizen and as a veteran, I am deeply concerned about the reality that the American people have virtually no voice and no say in when we, as a nation intervene, go to war or get involved in entanglements which have the very real potential of spreading into regional, or even global, war. We must ask what will happen if in response to a U.S. attack on Syria, Iran engages in military action, which could draw in Israel and potentially Russia or China? Is it truly wise to unnecessarily involve ourselves in centuries-old sectarian warfare, or to escalate or prolong such warfare through continuous intervention? At the very least our officials should give up on one-sided propaganda that insults the intelligence of the American people and stop insisting that warfare in the Middle East is about "democracy" or "saving people from chemical attacks," when the truth is that the instability in the Middle East is rooted in ongoing war over the world's oil reserves and who controls the global market.
I am also very concerned about the vast, ever-growing centralization of power in this country and the growing militarization of our civilian police forces. There is a reason why the civilian police force in a democracy or a Republic is supposed to be a separate, distinct and different force than the military forces, and I don't accept or support any use of pepper spray or any other gas against peaceful protesters who are doing no harm or threat to life or property. The official claim students or other protesters "must be immediately dispersed even if it means the use of gas" because they're blocking a path is ludicrous. We should consider that protest is legal, legitimate and necessary for us to have a healthy country, and it may do our country some good to slow down for a minute, question the status-quo and to think a little deeper about the underlying issues our nation must deal with.
(Note: As usual, these views and questions are my own. Although, I know I am not alone, I don't claim to speak for other veterans who have their own views, ideas and questions on these issues. I simply write, speak and question for myself in the hopes of encouraging others to do the same.)
Would it not be hypocritical of the U.S. to intervene in Syria and then not to intervene if similar events happen within the borders of one of our "allies" or "trading partners"? Who stands to gain from military intervention in Syria and who stands to lose more of what we've already lost?
In 1988, thousands of people were reported to have been killed and many others injured in a poison gas attack on Halabja, a Kurdish city in northern Iraq. This was during the Iran-Iraq War, and officialdom considered Saddam a U.S. "ally" at that time, a bulwark against Iran dominating the region, so nothing was done. It was not until the 1991 Gulf War after Saddam invaded Kuwait that Saddam went from "ally" to "enemy." However, the so-called "regime-change, nation-building, coalition" intervention in 2003 to topple Saddam under the preposterous "New American Century" thinking of the war architects who believed they could play God and re-create the entire Middle East as some kind of utopian "democratic paradise" that would forever serve our interests in fact led to the strengthening of Iran. Consider there is now a Shiite government in both Iran and Iraq, continued violence, corruption and instability in Iraq, as well as vast unrest from Egypt to Libya to Afghanistan and Pakistan, across the Middle East.
Are we (meaning the working people here in America) not now paying more and more of the full price and true costs of our interventions?
Is it prudent at this time to intervene (meaning drag ourselves into another ongoing war) yet again, at a time when we are already overburdened by the debt and costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? As of this writing, the outstanding public debt, according to the U.S. National Debt Clock, stands at $ 1 6 , 7 4 2 , 1 0 3 , 8 1 1 , 3 0 4 . 6 3. The clock breaks it down as follows: "The estimated population of the United States is 316,539,541 so each citizen's share of this debt is $52,891.03. The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $2.04 billion per day since September 30, 2012!" Who in reality will shoulder the true costs and burdens of this massive debt for generations to come? Who is pocketing all of the money, wealth and power and who is losing everything?
As we see clearly and obviously, intervention over the years has done nothing to stop warfare in the Middle East, but has only served to increasingly destabilize the region, while dragging America down, both economically and militarily, and dragging us (forcing us to return) into the region forever. Are we going the way of the Soviet Union, which collapsed shortly after its own fiasco invading/occupying Afghanistan?
On top of these issues, the growth of warfare in the Middle East, including the growth of global drone warfare, has in fact served to unduly empower the world's greatest terrorists, those corrupt profiteers at the top who are willing to sell their souls, and build a corrupt system (an artificial god) which forces others to do the same, and to sell out America, those profiting from the evil, destructive, out-of-control, unmanageable and unaccountable growth of the surveillance-police State here at home. These criminals/terrorists have hijacked our country and are literally burning the Constitution in order to make a quick buck off their next surveillance camera and drone. The surveillance-police State does nothing to bring about real, sustainable, long-lasting security for the American people, but does everything to empower the most corrupt, ruthless and wicked at the top who already possess far too much power and control over our nation and the world.
Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating impossible isolationism. I am actually advocating REAL (broader and more diffuse global) trade with all countries, just as I am advocating REAL trade here at home in terms of diffusion of power and the citizenry being able to own their own lives and own businesses. I am asking the basic question is it not time to end unofficial wars and sanctions which do not work (entrenching the powers at the top of the countries under sanctions and causing unnecessary suffering of the working poor of those countries), end this never-ending quick and unnecessary continuous interventionism that does not serve the interests of "We, the People," trade with all countries not actively engaged in invading other countries, bring down the price of oil, a global commodity, through liberalizing its trade on the global marketplace, pay our true costs and debts and do what is necessary to ensure stability in our own country, meaning creating a diffusion of power and equal opportunity here in the United States? There is an alternative, a far better, more rational and sustainable manner in which to increase the level of security of our nation.
Is it not arbitrary and hypocritical for the U.S. to allow some people in the world, such as Kurds, to be gassed, while it intervenes for others? Who gets to be the fortunate ones who receive "justice-seeking" intervention and who exactly decides this?
Are the military interventions we have undertaken over the past several decades truly rational and legitimate, or are they in reality, meaning in the overall context of world history, completely arbitrary, decided by the whims of whoever is in power at the time and what those in power can gain for themselves from such interventions? Continuous interventionism of this sort in reality makes the nation weaker, because it makes us not the nation that "walks softly but carries a big stick," but the nation that uses its stick to go into areas of the jungle that it has no business in, to bash anything that moves, thus breaking the stick off bit by bit until there is nothing left. In the real world, power is limited by Nature-Reality, will and resources; therefore, overuse/unnecessary use of power leads to the decline of power and less availability of power when truly needed.
I overheard someone I respect with military experience asking important questions, regarding military action in general, questions which I feel are important to share and important for our fellow citizens to consider:
- Is a vital national security interest threatened? (key word: vital)
- Do we have a clear attainable objective? (key word: attainable)
- Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed? (key word: costs)
- Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted? (key word: fully)
- Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement? (key word: endless)
- Have the consequences of our action been fully considered? (key word: consequences)
- Is the action supported by the American people? (key word: supported)
- Do we have genuine broad international support? (key word: genuine)
These are all very important questions that every American should be asking BEFORE supporting any use of military force. We should not forget fiascos such as "Blackhawk Down" in Somalia and fiascos (meaning the trillions of dollars lost and thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of other lives lost, uprooted, hungered and diseased of the fiascos of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars).
We must not forget that force in any form, like any action, has profound, long-lasting, multi-generational consequences, including unknown, unforeseen and unintended consequences, a reality which a relatively small group of Americans who have put their lives on the line know firsthand via our experiences in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are already paying a terrible price for past interventions, and to this day no one knows the full costs and consequences, nor what will happen tomorrow from the seeds we have sown over the past 10 years. Consider that at this moment a young boy who has lost his family to a drone attack is coming of age in Pakistan. Consider this young boy may one day become the next dictator of that nuclear-armed country. Do not be fooled by corrupt officials who constantly talk about "security" (security for whom exactly?) or so-called "precision weapons." Do not be fooled by those who serve hidden interests and who claim that these wars have no lasting, long-term costs. No matter what they claim out of both sides of their mouths, our corrupt politicians as well as the masters they serve (the vast majority of whom in fact NEVER served this country in battlefields overseas) have absolutely no knowledge of what will result from their quick, ill-thought and corrupt continuous interventionism.
I have a quite a few hard questions of my own which I have been asking since setting my boots on the ground, along with others among our fellow countrymen who put everything on the line, in Iraq in 2003. These are questions which have been burning holes in my mind ever since. I continue to think about these questions every day and to sort them out as best as I can as both a citizen and as a writer.
When it comes to military action abroad, I strongly urge my fellow citizens to ask the hardest questions you can think of. And then keep asking some more. It helps to turn off the television sets when fully considering these questions. As you ask these hard questions, talk to people whom you know, those who have truly earned your trust and, particularly, those veterans who have truly earned your level of rights on the battlefield. You may be asking much better and deeper questions than I am asking, so please share your thoughts and questions with me. Let's learn together.
It is my deepest hope that by asking questions and demanding answers that we, as Americans, can come together to bring about a government that is truly "of, by and for" "We, the People."
What is the true cost, in terms of time, energy, labor, lost opportunity costs and most important of all, blood, to the average citizen of military action which has the very real potential of leading to a far longer and deeper military engagement or, even a regional or new world war?
Will the sons and daughters of the aristocracy be the ones who are dying on the battlefield? Or will 99.9 percent of the people dying on the battlefield as a matter of fact be the sons and daughters of the working poor? What does this situation of unequal and unshared costs and burdens mean to all Americans and to the fate of our nation?
Should Americans support any military action that is taking place within the current vastly corrupt and sad state of affairs in America, in which the American people are now being constantly watched in a wholly unlawful, un-American, anti-Constitutional, and criminally EVIL assault/act of violence by the State, a corrupt "system" in which our nation's youth are being sold out into lifelong debt slavery to the big banking cartels, an uncivil "society" that has burned its social contract in which the vast majority of Americans who work for wages have virtually no representation by their "government"? Could it be possible that the rush by the powers that be at the top to intervene (this time) in Syria (and get "We, the People" to pay 100 percent of the true costs for it) might be tied in with a desire to distract the American people from the high crimes of constant surveillance, debt/wage slavery and worse?
(Note: Let us not forget who is responsible for the Great Recession, the corrupt bailouts (thefts) that bailed out the people at the top while leaving everyone else out on the streets and all manner of high crimes. While the corrupt crony phony baloney "system" continues (the big banking cartels larger and more consolidated than ever before), the numbers of jobs that pay living wages are extremely low, while the costs of living are extremely high. Huge numbers of working Americans are under-paid and under-employed, being forced to string together two and three jobs to survive.)
Who shoulders the greatest burden when so-called "sanctions" are thrown onto other nations in a supposedly "free global market" or when cruise missiles (who pockets extreme profits from their global use?) strike yet another country and yet again the price of oil spikes, meaning the price of gasoline, groceries and everything else increases, making the working poor ever poorer and less able to move forward in a society of increasing rigidity? (See "Syria Crisis Lifting Crude Oil Costs, Gas Prices to Follow, USA Today.)
Whose interests are being represented by the ever-increasing military-surveillance industrial and prison-pharmaceutical industrial complexes?
Who exactly calls the shots? What exactly gives anyone the right to call all of the shots, particularly those who never paid the true price or costs on the battlefield for our levels of freedom? Is it "We, the People" who call the shots, or is it a mere handful of a handful of the people who hold all the cards in the casino, ensuring the "house always wins"? Who exactly is hiding behind the Pied Piper who continues to manufacture warfare and lead the people into yet another unnecessary "military intervention"?
Is it truly a "free market"? But why is it so difficult for the average American to own their own business? Why is our so-called "tax system" thousands of pages, costing the economy billions and dragging down the nation into another level of hell?
Are "free elections" in this country real, or is it merely an illusion, a so-called "choice" between Coke and Pepsi? If "elections" are real, then why does nothing fundamentally change in reality? Why does the nation appear to be on the false and wicked trajectory of only one agenda, the agenda of those with already far too much concentrated power? Why does nothing fundamental change, no matter who is elected?
Have you, the average citizen, not noticed that no matter who is elected, military intervention of choice and wars of choice continue, under every justification under the sun, while the surveillance-police State continues to increase relentlessly?
If "elections" are real, then why do the modern day plantation owners and human farmers who (according to most studies) own nearly 50 percent of the nation's wealth, including the vast military-surveillance/prison-pharmaceutical complexes, ever increase their scope, size and power, while the working people forever work themselves further into the poorhouse?
Why is the purported "free market" only for people who can already afford it, while everyone else is shut out and all of the true costs are thrown onto the backs of the working poor?
Which is the true war? Is it a war against "terrorism" abroad, as officialdom claims? Or is the real war the war against the vast global terrorism that millions here at home and billions across the Earth are terrorized under every day? What benefit is it to anyone for anyone to "conveniently forget" that wage and debt slavery, as well as a poor or low level of public education, is also a form of financial and economic terrorism?
Why do our nation's working poor suffer and shoulder all the true burdens and costs of each and every day in their daily battles to pay our rent, buy milk and food and support our families?
Why does our corrupt State appear to be hell-bent on undermining us while we are fighting overseas, so that we return home to a so-called "Great Recession" and no jobs that pay living wages, while the corrupt "system" undermines working people at home from before we are born until the day we die, making our lives ever harder?
What are the true, root causes of the so-called "war on terror"? Is the never-ending "war" against "terrorism" caused within and rooted in the Middle East, as officialdom claims, or is the real war, meaning its root causes, actually taking place right here in the United States?
Are the American people in fact being terrorized by a corrupt entity/mindset (call it lack of discipline over our own greed, hyper-consumption, infantilization of adults, too much dependency on/undue faith in the State or those controlling it, or wishful thinking) that is hiding out in the rear behind our blood soaked flag, along with his wicked servants, his puppets and Pied Pipers fooling the people by donning the mask of "democracy" and "freedom," while playing the sick propaganda songs of yet another foolish, corrupt and ill-thought "military intervention"?
What is the true role of any nation in the world? Or are "nations" no longer real? Is global oligarchy and global technologically/systemically enabled master-slavery far more powerful and far more real than any "nation," an ever-more powerful and ever growing global single "system"? Who owns this global "system"? Where will this global "system" lead us to? Why should any poor or working person, who gains nothing from it and who pays with our time, energy, labor and blood the true costs, support it?
Can or should any nation, or global system, no matter how "powerful," attempt to play the role of God in the world, including the clearly failed attempt to re-create the Middle East in our image?
Why does this failed and insane attempt to play God in the Middle East continue? Is it truly to fight "terrorism" or to "save people" from chemical attacks, as heinous as those attacks are? Or does it have everything to do with who has the power to control the world's wealth, including its oil wealth?
Isn't the real war the war about who gets enough power to be the Earth's greatest terrorist this time around? Is humanity indeed following in the footsteps of World War I and World War II, a direct path to self-destruction, or is there some way that humanity can one day evolve beyond the current primitive master-slave construct? Is there a way in which a human being can live as a truly free consciousness on the face of the Earth, as neither a master, nor a slave?
(Note: Share this post! This is the continuation of a series of essays by author and Iraq War veteran Theodore Webb concerning questions about security and the true nature of the State. For a full description of the colossal dangers of the surveillance-police State, a full and thorough rebuttal of fear, a deconstruction of the claim that "handing over all our rights will make us 'secure,'" then read my novel, "The STARLING Connection.")