The President of the United States addressed the nation Tuesday evening, in a bid to persuade the American people that the military action he is preparing without the approval of their elected representatives is just. Obama’s speech on Syria, however, was dishonest and delusional. It seems unlikely that the speech will change many minds on the issue of whether or not the US should take military action against the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; the somewhat brief appeal for war from this Nobel Peace Prize winner lacked emotion and came across almost as if it was little more than something that was delaying the President’s family dinner.
Obama has portrayed himself – and did so again in Tuesday’s remarks – as a man who brings people together and ends wars. The nation, however, is more politically, economically and racially divided than at any time in living memory. No war has been ended by this President; in Iraq, he merely sped up a withdrawal of troops that was agreed upon whilst his predecessor was in office.
War should never be taken lightly. To say that no war is just is simply wrong; there are times when a nation has no other choice, if it is to survive, but to take up arms in its own defense. There are also times when a nation must take up arms against its own leaders, in order to preserve individual freedoms and human rights. When one country takes military action against another, however, it should be done only to defeat a direct enemy, defeat that enemy totally and permanently and then end military operations. The US invasion of Iraq was a mistake and the invasion of Afghanistan was a failure; the bombing of Libya was an illegal act of war and intervention in a sovereign nation’s internal conflict. Now the United States is about to embark upon another military escapade in a country that poses no direct threat to it. Worse still, the US will be aiding the cause of a terror network which is directly at war with it and which is committed to its destruction.
The first dishonest – or delusional – statement from the President came within his opening remark; summarizing events in Syria to date, he said “In that time, America’s worked with allies to provide humanitarian support, to help the moderate opposition…” Clearly, there is nothing ‘moderate’ about the Syrian opposition; numerous accounts, and video clips, testify to the brutality of al-Nusra Front, aka al Qaeda, that is spearheading the fight against Assad’s forces; beheadings, mutilation and even cannibalism – perpetrated by rebel fighters – have all been documented. In fairness, it is only right to point out that, later in his remarks, the President did acknowledge the fact that “some” of the Syrian regime’s opponents are extremists. This is a distortion of the truth, however; the opposition movement’s political wing is driven by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and its military efforts are spearheaded by al Qaeda-affiliated militias.
Obama immediately went on to state that, on April 21 of this year, Assad’s government used nerve gas on his own people, killing over 1,000. However, United Nations (UN) investigators have concluded that this attack was likely carried out by the rebels and that they came across no indications that the Syrian army had used chemical weapons. The President went on to accuse the Syrian government – several times – of using chemical weapons, but also said “We’ll also give U.N. inspectors the opportunity to report their findings about what happened on August 21st.” Why would the US give the UN time to report their findings when, firstly, they have reported their findings and, secondly, when the President has already stated – as fact – that the Syrian regime is guilty of using chemical weapons?
Another point on which the President was mistaken – or deliberately attempting to re-write history – was on the status of the United States, as a political entity. It is widely believed that the Obama is a professor of constitutional law. This is actually not true, as he is not academically qualified to be a professor and was merely a lecturer on the subject. In Tuesday’s speech, he said “…but I’m also the president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.” On this point, as every young child who pays attention at school knows, he is quite wrong; The United States is a republic, which is fundamentally different from a democracy.
When one thinks back to the numerous reasons for which former President George W Bush was criticized for his decision to invade Iraq, one remembers the objection that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein did not represent a direct threat to the United States. This, of course, was correct – although it is also worth noting that Hussein was known, beyond dispute, to have used chemical weapons against his own people, despite the widely disseminated myth that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Obama, however, acknowledged two things that alone should be reasons enough for the US to remain disengaged from Syria: He admitted that the Assad regime was not a direct threat to the US: “…but the Assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military.” and he also offered his belief that there was no military resolution to the Syrian situation.
In summary, Obama delivered a brief, uninspiring and unconvincing case for US military intervention in Syria; a case liberally sprinkled with dishonest statements and a delusional world-view. He presented his appeal is if he were representing the nation and the international community but, in reality, he was attempting to recover some vestige of his own shattered credibility and also to justify his personal intention of tipping the Syrian balance of power in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamist allies.
An editorial by Graham J Noble