Obama's War on Syria: Dissent in the Ranks
by Stephen Lendman
On September 2, London's Daily Mail  headlined " 'I didn't join the Navy to fight for al Qaeda in a Syrian civil war': Picture of serviceman goes viral... but is it real?"
More on that below. The Pentagon goes all out to avoid dissent in the ranks. It surfaced in Vietnam.
Until 1967, order was well maintained. After Tet in late January/February 1968, things changed. Mutinies forced the Pentagon to disguise them with language like "combat refusal."
Soldiers disobeyed orders. Most were search and destroy missions. They were put in harms way. They faced formidable enemies. At times, entire companies defied commanders. As fear of punishment faded, incidents mushroomed. So did fragging.
It's committed when soldiers target a superior with intent to kill. Fragmentation grenades were used. As frustration and anger grew, so did fragging incidents. They became the price for being ordered in harm's way against enemies refusing to quit.
After Tet, 1,000 or more incidents occurred. Precise numbers aren't known. Pentagon officials stopped counting. They downplayed what happened.
They suppressed incidents best they could. Officers shot by their men were excluded. They were those listed as wounded or killed in action.
Army officials admitted they couldn't account for over 1,400 officer and noncom deaths. Perhaps as many as one-fourth occurred at the hands of subordinates.
America was at war with itself. Everyone was the enemy. Officers at times fragged troops they suspected of planning to target them.
Congressional hearings in 1973 estimated around 3% of officer and NCO deaths from fragging. Other methods included handguns, automatic rifles, booby traps, knives, and bare hands.
Years of war left morale, discipline and battle-worthiness perhaps lower than any time in US history. The longer America's wars continue, the closer a similar state approaches.
The combination of repeated deployments, combat stress, battle fatigue and permanent wars drives some combatants over the edge.
Afghanistan's another Vietnam. It's America's longest war. It's longer than WW I and II combined. It shows no signs of ending.
It could continue for another decade. It's not known if fragging occurs. If so, Pentagon officials want it suppressed.
America's heading for more war. Servicemen wonder when they'll all end. They bear the brunt of war's harshness.
The Washington Post  headlined "US military officers have deep doubts about impact, wisdom of a US strike on Syria," saying:
Many in America's military have "serious reservations." They're "coping with the scars of two lengthy wars." They're uneasy now.
According to "interviews with more than a dozen military officers ranging from captains to a four-star general," they've had enough.
They fear "potential unintended consequences of launching cruise missiles against Syria."
Retired Lt. General Gregory S. Newbold was Joint Chiefs of Staff operations director during the run-up to Bush's Iraq war.
"There's a broad naivete in the political class about America's obligations in foreign policy issues, and scary simplicity about the effects that employing American military power can achieve," he said.
Marine Lt. Colonel Gordon Miller warned about "potentially devastating consequences, including a fresh round of weapons attacks and a military response by Israel."
Military skepticism grows. Obama's rushing headlong into the breach. He's heading where angels fear to tread. He's mindless of potential fallout. Hindsight won't save thousands of lost lives.
The Daily Mail showed a photo of an unidentified heavily decorated US chief petty officer. He displayed a sign saying:
"I didn't join the Navy to fight for Al Qaeda in a Syrian civil war!"
Zero Hedge  reported it days earlier. It headlined "Unidentified Navy Officer Sums It Up," saying:
Whether or not he's real, he "sums up many of the perspectives" ahead of Obama's planned war on Syria.
For days, the image went viral. It did so on social media web sites. It indicates dissent in the ranks. It suggests servicemen know they're waging wars for the wrong reasons. They're being lied to.
It doesn't make things easier for Obama. On September 1, the Middle East Monitor headlined "British and American anti-war movements protest against military intervention in Syria."
Britain's Stop the War Coalition demonstrated in Central London Saturday. Thousands nationwide attended.
Stop the War chair, MP Jeremy Corbyn, thanked people for lobbying their members of parliament.
"We are a 'coalition of the willing' and to that end we'll keep active for peace, and to ensure that this proves to be a turning point in British Foreign Policy," he said.
It's not the end of the struggle, he warned. "There still exists the danger of renewed conflict as the interests of the military, arms dealers and others remain ever present and very powerful."
Anti-war protesters demonstrated across America. They turned out in Washington, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, and other US cities.
Turks protested against their government's involvement. So did Palestinians, Germans, Greeks, Jordanians, and Venezuelans.
Voice of Russia  headlined " 'Obomba, don't drone Syria:' anti-war protests held around the world."
On September 2, Russia Today headlined " 'I did not join for this:' US military men speak out against Syria strike," saying:
Rep. Justin Amash (R. MI) twitted about US servicemen against Obama attacking Syria. He said he heard from "a lot of members of our Armed Forces."
Their message is consistent. "Please vote no on military action against Syria."
Mr. King messaged him saying: "13 year USAF vet here. Thanks for actually appreciating our constitution! Vote no to actions in Syria!"
George said: Former Army Ranger. 2 tours in Iraq. 1 tour in Afghanistan. Please vote no on military action in Syria."
Matt Drennan messaged: Navy vet here. 9 years. I know you will vote no. Thank you!"
I number of pictures showed men in military uniforms displaying anti-war signs. One said:
"I did not Join the military to get involved in other countries' Civil Wars. STAY OUT OF SYRIA."
A marines.com  message said:
"Message to the United States Marine corp:
Dear US Marines,
This is written by your brothers in the Syrian Army, who have been fighting Al Qaeda for the last 3 years.
We understand your patriotism and love for your country so please understand our love for ours.
Obama is a traitor who wants to put your lives in danger to rescue Al Qaeda insurgents.
Marines, please take a look at what your comrades think about Obama's alliance with Al Qaeda against Syria.
Your officer in charge probably has no qualms about sending you to die against soldiers just like you, fighting a vile common enemy.
The Syrian army should be your ally, not your enemy.
Refuse your orders and concentrate on the real reason every soldier joins their military, to defend their homeland.
You're more than welcome to fight alongside our army rather than against it.
Your brothers, the Syrian soldiers. A message delivered by the SEA (Syrian Electronic Army).
Five images were displayed. US servicemen held anti-Syrian war signs.
The New Yorker headlined "Syria's Other Army: How the Hackers Wage War."
SEA supports Syria's liberating struggle. It said: "Media is going down." It hacked The New York Times web site twice in August. It asked Twitter: "Are you ready?"
The New Yorker  called its attacks on major media and journalists "remarkably successful." It targeted Al Jazeera several times. Qatar's monarchy controls it.
It's part of Washington's coalition of the killing. It's fiercely anti-Assad.
SEA penetrated BBC Twitter accounts. It highjacked AP's. It defaced NPR's site.
It "commandeered the Twitter accounts of 60 Minutes and the Guardian."
"In May, it compromised the Twitter account of the Onion, tweeting vaguely Onion-ish headlines like 'UN's Ban Ki Moon condemns Syria for being struck by Israel: 'It was in the way of Jewish missiles' onion.com/104PKAs."
"That same month, it hacked the Financial Times's Web site and several associated Twitter accounts, as well as the account of E! News."
"Then it took over the Reuters Twitter feed. And earlier this month, it broke into Outbrain, a third-party service that recommends stories on news sites, allowing the SEA to vandalize the Web sites of Time, CNN, and the Washington Post 'in a single strike.' "
"And it redirected Post readers to one of its own sites."
Wars can be waged lots of ways. Online it's mostly immune from Obama's cruise missile diplomacy. If taken down, it can resurface. It can do it repeatedly.
It can message supporters worldwide. It can enlist new support. It can disrupt pro-war sites. It can fight on even terms.
It can be surprisingly successful. It can reach whatever audience it wishes. It can do so through social media.
"That's what ultimately makes this group so remarkable," said the New Yorker.
"(I)t has shifted the battleground from a single place to an infinite number of them, because it's battling for attention, not power - even if it can be hard to tell the difference."
Against long odds, Syria's struggle for survival continues. It's using all the tools at its disposal. It deserves worldwide support.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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