Between the constant War As Viagra updates by the likes of Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham and the non-interventionist talk of the likes of Sen. Rand Paul (which make such a violent person appear to be pacifist. Do not fall for it) — both voiced as the only options by the dialog on national media — we see two vacillating positions in regards to international peacekeeping and particularly to Syria‘s current situation: Bomb it to hell or leave civilians up to their own devices.
Neither of these options are preferable for the Syrian people caught between Assad’s oppressive and violent regime and the rebels — which, as most rebel groups tend to be, can be as relentless as the ruling classes. We may also be aware that military intervention always kills more civilians (and, for some strange reason, hospitals and news agencies are among the first raided – ostensibly on accident) and that it puts the interfering power in a position to control the next ruling class of oppressors (as we’ve seen throughout Latin America, Iran, South Vietnam, etc).
But the possibility that neither the US’s two political parties nor their official stenographers have raised is to assist bringing Assad to the International Criminal Court at the Hague to be tried for war crimes. And why is that? Because we have no credibility when it comes to this route of peace and justice. The US, in fact, has little credibility when it comes to such things. Partially because of the racist and classist system of criminal justice that we have established in our own country which unduly and gravely punishes poor, Black, and Latino people. But also because we refuse to allow our own leaders and systems to be interrogated for the same crimes that we decry every other (politically, militarily, economically expedient) murderous regime for.
While White conservative American Christians were pushing to hunt down Joseph Kony for his war crimes — several years after Ugandans already had, thankyouverymuch — they were absolutely silent about, if not outright endorsing, George W Bush’s own crimes against humanity. These war crimes include, first, leading us to a deadly, regime-changing, imperialist war that cost us 800 billion dollars and is responsible for killing a million Iraqis (mostly civilians) in addition to displacing many more millions — on deliberately false charges. And second, breaking United States and international laws in torturing alleged terrorists (many of whom were themselves civilians). For this, he and all of his friends have been granted immunity.
What is deeply frustrating, however, is the fact that President Obama’s administration opened up the back door to keep Bush and others from his administration free from trials. In doing so, Obama kept up a dangerous precedent (most famously alluded to by former VP Dick Cheney) that US presidents should not be subject to international laws regarding wartime actions — whether sitting or retired.
In this, we break loose the idea that there can be peace through law. Instead, the first option that the US relies on now is the first option of all conquering, colonial empires: that only violence can quell violence. So, we protect innocent civilians by firebombing them?
Or, we can act without so much hubris and decide to participate in a substantial and cooperative manner with the international community in a way that may be more stabilizing for the common person — and that would prevent such atrocities.
But then it’ll be harder to place our little puppets all over the world and practice torture when it’s expedient.
Such a toss-up…
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