On Saturday, hundreds of Americans, including many with Syrian and Middle Eastern roots, marched from the White House to Capitol Hill to protest US President Barack Obama’s push for a military strike on Syria. Amal Esmail, who moved to the USA seven years ago from Syria and recently became a US citizen, told RIA-Novosti just before she addressed the protesters outside the White House, “We’re here to say ‘no war’ because war is destruction, war is more blood, and we’re tired of war”. Esmail and around 500 other protesters, some of whom travelled to Washington from other parts of the East Coast, set off for the US Capitol just hours after Obama used his weekly address to the American people to plead his case for limited military action against Syria in response to what he called “the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century”.
Obama said, “We can’t ignore chemical weapons attacks like this one… even if they happen halfway around the world”, in reference to an alleged chemical weapons attack last month outside Damascus that Washington blames on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The USA claims that more than 1,400 civilians died in the 21 August attack, including 426 children. Obama is pushing for a punitive military strike against Syrian targets in response, a plan that hasn’t only sparked protests in the USA, but it’s also sharply divided Washington and Moscow. On Friday, President Vladimir Putin at the end of the G20 Summit in St Petersburg that he remains opposed to military intervention in the crisis without the support of the UN Security Council, and he repeated his belief that the apparent chemical weapons attacks in Syria were planned provocations.
Esmail and many of the other protesters in Washington on Saturday shared Putin’s doubts about who carried out the attacks. She said, “Do you think Assad is stupid enough to do this? I don’t”. She asked US citizens and the US government to “stop supporting this ‘opposition’ because they’re using your weapons to kill us”. The large Syrian flag that Salam Sunna carried as she marched through Washington fluttered gently in the almost windless air on the hot late summer’s day. Sunna, who’s from Jordan, a Syrian neighbour that’s taken in hundreds of thousands of the some 2 million refugees who’ve fled Syria, expressed scepticism at the US government’s justification for launching an attack on Syria. Sunna, whose first name means “peace”, said to RIA-Novosti as the protesters passed by the National Archives, “I think it’s all fabricated. I honestly don’t think Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. They just want to take us to war”.
As the march neared the Capitol, 8-year-old Eden Foley stopped for a drink of water. Foley was on her third march to protest proposed military action against Syria, but she told us that she’d never walked two miles (3.2 kilometres) before. Several smaller protests occurred in cities around the USA and on Capitol Hill since Obama announced last week that the USA would take military action against Syria. However, Saturday’s march in Washington and in a dozen other American cities… from Albuquerque NM to Youngstown OH… brought out larger numbers of demonstrators than previous protests. In Washington, the protesters chanted slogans against endless war and carried yellow signs urging Congress to vote against military strikes on Syria when it reconvenes next week.
Obama acknowledged in his weekly address that Americans are “weary after a decade of war, even as the war in Iraq has ended, and the war in Afghanistan is winding down”, and he repeated a pledge that there would be no American boots on the ground in Syria. Nevertheless, he continued, “We’re the USA. We can’t turn a blind eye to images like the ones we’ve seen out of Syria”. As the protestors turned the corner to go the Capitol, Syrian-American Nora Ismail, whose family comes from Aleppo and Damascus, cautioned that horrific as the pictures out of Syria might be, “Bombing Syria is certainly not the answer. Everyone says, ‘Oh, you’ve seen those photos of dead children, it’s so horrifying’, but I guarantee you that if we intervene in Syria, we’re going to have thousands more of those pictures”.
7 September 2013
Isn’t anyone thinking of the poor knackered soldiers’? They’ve been on deployment after deployment, due to the crank military doctrine of the USA. Since the Vietnam War, the US forces dropped conscription, not because it couldn’t work, but because it was politically “costly” if the establishment decided upon war. Such a system works only if military interventions are short time-wise and short on fighting. It appeared to work in Yugoslavia (yet, there are still occupation forces in Kosovo)… it certainly didn’t work in Iraq and Libya (although the Inside the Beltway spin doctors were busy made it look otherwise)… and it’s failing in Afghanistan, too.
The soldiers are wrung out and war-weary… that’s the long and the short of it. That doesn’t bother John Boehner, John Kerry, John McCain, and Barack Obama. Besides which, the till is empty due to Bush’s endless wars, his profligate tax giveaways to the Affluent Effluent, and to Republican opposition to serious taxation on corporations and the rich to pay down the debt. We have an economy that hasn’t recovered from Bush’s Meltdown… and all those who preached “Free Markets” mewled, “We’re too big to fail”.
The defence of the American heartland (and, indeed, of the entire Anglosphere) depends on control of the sea lanes… not on pointless land wars on the Eurasian mainland. All money spent on such conflicts is money thrown down the toilet… but it does enrich the Affluent Effluent! That doesn’t even take into account the most grievous cost of all… the American kids who die on blood-soaked foreign fields so the McMansion dwellers can play golf at the country club and pay their wetback nannies and gardeners. Richard Cheney, Willard Romney, and Paul Ryan all refused to serve… yet, all of them screamed for war. I think something’s wrong in that.
Do think hard on it… just because someone wraps themselves up in the flag and calls themselves a “patriot”, doesn’t mean that they are one. Ponder that…