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The Futility of Asking Congress to Block the Next Gate
By Judy Bello
There are those who want to support emerging bills in Congress that would limit the administration's ability to put 'boots on the ground' and give Obama an authorization for the current air war with an expiration date. I very much disagree with this strategy and believe that even promoting it is counter productive. Sometimes, instead of supporting a new law that does not do the whole job, and which will cause the current 'status' to become 'quo' and to be taken for granted, we should encourage people to stand up and say 'no' 'no' 'no' to the whole initiative. We should be protesting in the streets about the current bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq, and talking to our Congressional representatives about that rather than giving them an opportunity to kick the can down the road. What negative authorization has ever been retired at the appointed hour? It's just a way of buying time.
What I am talking about is the usefulness of taking a 'moderate' position at time where only drastic measures will make any difference - it isn't useful. What I mean is that the way politicos implicitly frame the problem when they talk about Congressional positions backing Obama and related political logistics is buying and perpetuating a misleading story line. The entire perception of reality that this bombing campaign (dare I say 'War') is based on is a lie. The United States has been, either deliberately or through incompetence, supporting ISIS along with al Nusra (al Qaeda) and Ahrar al Sham and the Farooq Brigade (regressive, native Syrian extremists) for at least a couple of years. The weapons from Libya transported through Turkey and the money to pay the fighters coming from wealthy Saudi, Qatari, Emirati and Kuwaiti patrons have been combined with US training that does not (most likely cannot) discriminate between 'moderate rebel' and 'extremist jihadi'. And now Congress just voted to do more of it, despite the fact that our Air Force is aggressively attacking these same guys, and despite the massive media campaign in support of the military expedition, even the mainstream media has had to admit that there is no longer a 'moderate' opposition in Syria, if there ever was one.
It can't have been a big surprise when the ISIS rolled into Mosul and soon left with a very long caravan of shiny new unopened US weapons intended for the Iraqi military. It must have taken many hours for them to traverse the five or six hundred miles from Mosul to Raqqa. If we were going to bomb, the long and slow moving caravan with tanks and car carriers traveling through open desert from Iraq to Syria would have made a clean target. But instead, we are bombing the infrastructure of Syria, a country - not a regime and not Assad. We are bombing the resources of a community while we say our opponent is a group of fighters who, by happenstance, don't care a whit about the welfare of the people or the infrastructure and have the capability to disappear into the background when there is an attack. It is crazy! Those fanatical Saudi Clerics who lead the call to Jihad must be laughing their butts off! Those dumb Americans terrorizing the people from the air, destroying the infrastructure of the country so it will be impossible for anyone to govern and provide services, and then, soon enough, they'll tire of it - their authorization will expire - and the rubble will be left to . . . guess who? ISIS and al Nusra.
The United States has other resources for defeating ISIS and their Ilk besides bombing. The mighty USA ought to have the capability (through economic and social carrots and sticks) to deter our allies in the Middle East from arming ISIS and paying militants to fight the governments ISIS is attacking. We ought to have the capability to shut down ISIS' oil business. We did a pretty good job of wrecking Iran's economy. Why not target an upstate like ISIS? Yes, today or yesterday we bombed Syrian Oil Refineries. But you can bet we won't bomb the ones in Iraq and Kurdistan. What we need to do is get Turkey and our good friends the Kurds to stop selling ISIS' oil on the black market. I bet that if we promised the Kurds customers for their own oil in return for boycotting ISIS, things would change pretty quickly. Turkey is a different problem because there are a lot of ISIS fighters bunked there. But, they just might be ready for some assistance in clearing up that problem. The US war on Syria and Iraq will, if even temporarily successful, push an increasing number of ISIS fighters back into Turkey, which is surely a problem for Turkey.
We can use sanctions to make certain that ISIS can't get parts to maintain their oil wells and refineries and engineering support which they surely need to produce the oil. The wells started to function in 2013 after the EU lifted their sanctions on the Syrian oil wells. Instead of bombing refineries which are valuable to the people of Syria, we should be sanctioning ISIS oil business. So, we are not without resources for fighting ISIS if we forgo the bombing campaign. And it is time to do so before another country is completely laid to waste.
Look carefully at what we accomplished when we saved Libya from, from, well from law and order and fresh drinking water, from free medical care and free education. Boy are they free! And then there is Afghanistan - have we really helped the Afghan people over the last 13 years of war? Are they secure and rich and living in freedom in a secular democracy? Are they rid of the Taliban and the Warlords (still on our payroll)? Afghanistan had a secular socialist government that was modernizing the country and beginning to provide services when somebody (oh, that was us!) decided they were too chummy with our arch enemy the USSR, and trained death squads to 'provide the Soviet Union with their very own Vietnam'. And look where we are now.
So lets not to encourage people to buy into the big lie by trying to modify our response within it, but rather to shine a light on the truth. The truth is, the US bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria needs to end now, because in any ordered world, it is crazy and contradictory and destructive. People, including Congress, and I talk to my rep and her aides about this regularly, need to see past the lie so they can know what the right thing to do is, and so they can understand why it is the right, and the only thing to do that will make a difference. And by the way, I don't take full credit, but I (along with other activists) have been talking to our congressional rep about arming the militants for about a year - and she voted against the bill. We need to start driving towards the truth and not just setting up a fence in the distance.
I know many of us want to intercede with Congress where they are at, but sometimes you have to get outside the box; not just think outside the box, but operate outside the box, to see real change. And we very much need real change right now. Whoever is driving this initiative is setting up a third world war, and I don't even want to think about what that would mean. Talk about a 'race to the bottom', they are betting on "which will come first: economic collapse or global war?" And our guys choose global war! We need to start resisting the paradigm advanced by the powers that be and the lies in the mainstream media because these wars can have no good outcome for the people. . . and the people are us.