By William Boardman: America's Empire Has No Clothes!
"All governments lie" I.F. Stone, American writer, c. 1967. Assume for a moment that I.F. Stone knew what he was talking about. Then consider the reality that there are at least 12 governments directly engaged in support of one of the sides in the Syrian civil war. These governments include the United States, Russia, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and Iran, as well as the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian rebels who should probably count as two or more "governments". If all governments lie, what are the chances of anyone figuring out the truth or even anything close to the truth about twelve governments? One might be just as well off using a dartboard or a Ouija board to sort through the levels of deceit in play. But Stone didn't just say "all governments lie," true as it may be. The full quote goes like this: All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out. In a Time of Torment: 1961-1967, p. 317. As we watch our public figures wrestle publicly with their "agonizing" decisions about American actions for or against Syria, it's increasingly hard to know who, if anyone, actually believes the words they speak. On August 20, 2012, President Obama told a news conference: We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my equation. We're monitoring that situation very carefully. We have put together a range of contingency plans. On September 4, 2013, the president told a news conference: First of all, I didn't set a red line. That wasn't a thing I just kinda made up. I didn't pluck it out of thin air. There's a reason for it. That's point number one. Pint number two: my credibility is not on the line. The international community's credibility is on the line, and America and Congress's credibility's on the line, because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important. The president could have said most of that in the first place in 2012. He could have framed the issue in terms of international treaties and the "international community: or at least the United Nations then. So why didn't he, since it was all just as true a year ago as it is now? The question is not whether Obama knows he's lying, but why is he lying? Well, it was also just as false in 2012. When the president says "we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important," he glosses over the reality that no government's response to the use of chemical weapons in recent decades has involved much moral outrage. (In 2001, the U.S. withdrew from the first round of the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention, effectively scuttling the international community's effort to control biological weapons. When Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran during their eight-year war (1980-1988), the "international community" was largely silent. The U.N. Security Council issued a statement that "chemical weapons had been used," but didn't say who used them and didn't suggest doing anything about it. The United States was the lone vote against this statement.