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Featured News National News Possible Consequences of a U.S. Military Attack on Syria
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 20:44

Possible Consequences of a U.S. Military Attack on Syria

Written by  Ann Wright | Common Dreams
Ann Wright is a former United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. Ann Wright is a former United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War.

Remembering the Marine Barracks destruction in Beirut, 1983

Its 4am and I can’t sleep, just like 10 years ago when President Bush was telling the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the United States must invade and occupy Iraq to rid humanity of these weapons. I didn’t believe President Bush ten years ago and I resigned as a U.S. diplomat.

Now a decade later, President Obama is telling the world that the use of chemical weapons in Syria by the Assad government must be answered by other weapons, even though the results of the UN inspection team have not been compiled—just as the Bush administration refused to wait for the UN report by the inspectors who had been looking for WMD in Iraq.

Secretary of State John Kerry pronounced that the UN inspectors “can’t tell us anything that we don’t already know.” President Obama says that any U.S. attack on the Assad government will be as punishment, not regime change. The strike will be “limited”—but tell that to the civilians who inevitably die when military attacks take place.

President Bush and his advisors either didn’t know or didn’t care about the probable consequences of their decision to invade and occupy Iraq:

  • Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and over 4,000 Americans dead;
     
  • Millions of Iraqis and Americans wounded physically and psychologically;
     
  • Legions of young men of the region now experienced in warfare and for hire moving from Iraq to Libya to Syria;
     
  • And the Iraqi “democratic” government unable to control the whirlwind of sectarian violence that now is killing hundreds each week.

(Although the U.S. invaded and occupied Afghanistan under a different rationale, I also want to acknowledge the Afghan citizens who have been killed or wounded in the U.S. war in Afghanistan.)

President Obama has not spelled out the possible consequences of a military attack on Syria, but U.S. military leaders are warning about the risks. In a letter to the Senate Armed Services committee, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey wrote last month said, “As we weigh our options, we should be able to conclude with some confidence that use of force will move us toward the intended outcome.” “Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid.”

General James Mattis, who retired recently as head of the U.S. Central Command, said last month at a security conference that the United States has “no moral obligation to do the impossible” in Syria. “If Americans take ownership of this, this is going to be a full-throated, very, very serious war.” 

Possible Consequences of A U.S. Military Attack on Syria

As U.S. warships gather off the shores of Lebanon to launch Tomahawk Cruise missiles at targets in Syria, we can make some educated guesses of what the “unintended consequences” could be:

  • Syrian anti-aircraft batteries will fire their rockets at incoming U.S. missiles.
     
  • Many Syrians on the ground will die and both the U.S. and Syrian governments will say the deaths are the fault of the other.
     
  • The U.S. Embassy in Damascus will be attacked and burned, as may other U.S. Embassies and businesses in the Middle East.
     
  • Syria might also launch rockets toward the U.S. ally in the region—Israel.
     
  • Israel would launch bombing missions on Syria as it has three times in the past two years and perhaps take the opportunity to launch an attack on Syria’s strongest ally in the region Iran.
     
  • Iran, a country with a population of 80 million and has the largest military in the region untouched by war in the past 25 years, might retaliate with missiles aimed toward Israel and toward nearby U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, Turkey, Bahrain and Qatar.
     
  • Iran could block the Straits of Hormuz and impede the transport of oil out of the Persian Gulf.

30 Years Ago, U.S. Warships Bombed Lebanon and the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut Was Blown Up in Retaliation

At this time of crisis, it is worth remembering another time, 30 years ago in October, 1983 when U.S. warships bombarded Lebanon, the country located next to Syria. Within weeks, the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by a massive truck bomb that killed 241 American servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers. The truck driver- suicide bomber was an Iranian national named Ismail Ascari whose truck contained explosives that were the equivalent of 21,000 pounds of TNT. Two minutes later a second suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives into the French military compound in Beirut killing 58 French paratroopers. France is the only country standing with the Obama administration on a military strike on Syria.

Earlier in the year, on April 18, 1983, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut had been blown up by another suicide driver with 900 pounds of explosives that killed 63 people, 17 Americans, mostly embassy and CIA staff members, several soldiers and one Marine, 34 Lebanese employees of the US Embassy and 12 Embassy visitors. It was the deadliest attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission up to that time, and marked the beginning of anti-U.S. attacks by Islamist groups.

The U.S. and French military were in Lebanon as a part of a Multi-National force after the PLO left Lebanon following the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. ostensibly to create a 40 km buffer zone between the PLO and Syrian forces in Lebanon and Israel. The Israeli invasion was tacitly approved by the U.S., and the U.S. provided overt military support to Israel in the form of arms and material.

Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty, the commander of the U.S. 24th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) deployed as peacekeepers in Beirut, said that the American and the French headquarters were targeted primarily because of "who we were and what we represented…It is noteworthy that the United States provided direct naval gunfire support [which fired a total of 360 5-inch rounds between 10:04 A.M. and 3:00 PM.] -- which I strongly opposed for a week -- to the Lebanese Army at a mountain village called Suq-al-Garb on September 19 and that the French conducted an air strike on September 23 in the Bekaa Valley. American support removed any lingering doubts of our neutrality, and I stated to my staff at the time that we were going to pay in blood for this decision.” 

Some of the circumstances around the incidents in Lebanon in 1983 and now thirty years later in Syria are familiar. U.S. intelligence agencies were aware of potential trouble but did not report the problems in sufficient time for actions to be taken. President Obama said that the U.S. had intercepted signals indicating the Syrian government was moving equipment into place for an attack, but the U.S. did not warn the Syrian government that the U.S. knew what was happening and did not warn civilians that a chemical attack was imminent.

Thirty years before, on September 26, 1983, "the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted an Iranian diplomatic communications message from the Iranian intelligence agency, the Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS)," to its ambassador, Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, in Damascus. The message directed the ambassador to "take spectacular action against the American Marines.” The intercepted message, dated September 26, was not passed to the Marines until a month later on October 26: three days after the bombing. 

Geraghty wrote 20 years later, “ The coordinated dual suicide attacks, supported, planned, organized, and financed by Iran and Syria using Shiite proxies, achieved their strategic goal: the withdrawal of the multinational force from Lebanon and a dramatic change in U.S. national policy. The synchronized attacks that morning killed 299 U.S. and French peacekeepers and wounded scores more. The cost to the Iranian/Syrian-supported operation was two suicide bombers dead.”

“What is the political end state we’re trying to achieve?” said a retired senior officer involved in Middle East operational planning who said his concerns are widely shared by active-duty military leaders. “I don’t know what it is. We say it’s not regime change. If it’s punishment, there are other ways to punish.” The former senior officer said that those who are expressing alarm at the risks inherent in the plan “are not being heard other than in a pro-forma manner.”

Letter from former U.S. government officials appealing to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dempsey not to obey an illegal order to attack Syria

As Obama administration lawyers in the Justice and State Departments frantically write classified legal opinions to provide legal protection for whatever action the President decides on, others are calling for military officers to look to their constitutional responsibilities.

On August 31, 2013, 13 former officials of the U.S. government, including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Dan Ellsberg, retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern and retired US Army Colonel Larry Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, wrote an open letter to General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, asking him to resign rather than follow an illegal order to attack Syria.

“We refer to your acknowledgment, in your letter of July 19 to Sen. Carl Levin on Syria, that a “decision to use force is not one that any of us takes lightly. It is no less than an act of war.” It appears that the President may order such an act of war without proper Congressional authorization.

As seasoned intelligence and military professionals solemnly sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, we have long been aware that – from private to general – it is one’s duty not to obey an illegal order. If such were given, the honorable thing would be to resign, rather than be complicit.”

Original article on Common Dreams

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    Obama's Afghanistan Speech: A Guide for the Perplexed

    President Obama’s dramatic speech from Afghanistan should be parsed as a careful election-year orchestration of his plan to “wind down” the war. It is no accident that the speech came during the first-year commemoration of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the event providing Obama the rationale for ending American combat while placing hawks and political rivals on the defensive.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 23:05 Read more...
  • End Student Debt!
    End Student Debt!

    The student loan crisis finally reached center stage in Washington after the House GOP budget called for letting interest rates double on government-subsidized loans (and for deep cuts in Pell grants and other student support). If it passes, students who borrow the maximum will end up paying as much as $1,000 a year in added interest.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 20:13 Read more...
  • Women: Occupy the Left
    Women: Occupy the Left

    Women’s rights have always been a bit of an add-on for the left. At this spring’s Left Forum, only fifteen of 440 panels touched on any feminist issue, broadly understood. New Left Review is famous, at least in my apartment, for its high testosterone content (despite being edited by a woman); ditto Verso, the left’s flagship publishing house, where women authors are as rare as Siberian tigers.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 20:06 Read more...
  • Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist
    Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist

    Desperate for new revenue, Ohio lawmakers introduced legislation last year that would make it easier to recover money from businesses that defraud the state. It was quickly flagged at the Washington headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a business-backed group that views such “false claims” laws as encouraging frivolous lawsuits. ALEC’s membership includes not only corporations, but nearly 2,000 state legislators across the country — including dozens who would vote on the Ohio bill.

    Written on Monday, 23 April 2012 19:50 Read more...
  • Meet the US media companies lobbying against transparency
    Meet the US media companies lobbying against transparency

    Corporate owners or sister companies of some of the biggest names in journalism against FCC order to post political ad data. News organizations cultivate a reputation for demanding transparency, whether by suing for access to government documents, dispatching camera crews to the doorsteps of recalcitrant politicians, or editorializing in favor of open government.

    Written on Sunday, 22 April 2012 15:31 Read more...
  • Former ALEC Supporters Now Find Connection Toxic
    Former ALEC Supporters Now Find Connection Toxic

    With thousands of consumers expressing their concerns about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to corporations across America, even former supporters of ALEC are feeling the heat, and some are rushing to distance themselves from the organization. YUM! Brands (owners of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut) became the 12th corporate member of ALEC to announce it is leaving the organization yesterday.

    Written on Friday, 20 April 2012 15:24 Read more...
  • A Cruel Ethos - Pay Upfront or Die
    A Cruel Ethos - Pay Upfront or Die

    Our acceptance of death for those who can’t afford medical care is unique among the advanced industrialized nations of the world. This ethos allows people who don’t have enough money or enough medical insurance to die everyday. We remain blind to the humanistic healthcare ethos of other nations, that result in greatly reduced costs and superior outcomes.

    Written on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 03:20 Read more...
  • Drug War Nightmare: How We Created a Massive Racial Caste System in America
    Drug War Nightmare: How We Created a Massive Racial Caste System in America

    The drug war has created a new Jim Crow system. Ever since Barack Obama lifted his right hand and took his oath of office, pledging to serve the United States as its 44th president, ordinary people and their leaders around the globe have been celebrating our nation’s “triumph over race.”  Obama’s election has been touted as the final nail in the coffin of Jim Crow, the bookend placed on the history of racial caste in America. 

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 19:15 Read more...
  • How ALEC Is Creating Florida-Style Messes in Other States
    How ALEC Is Creating Florida-Style Messes in Other States

    Wisconsin is a rod-and-gun state, with a hunting history that has fostered traditions of broad gun ownership and respect for the right to bear arms.

    So how did Wisconsin get saddled with a “Castle Doctrine” law that mirrors some of the worst aspects of the Florida legislation that's now at the center of the controversy over the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 17:42 Read more...
  • We Need More Heels Running Around Capitol Hill
    We Need More Heels Running Around Capitol Hill

    "[I]t will come, but I shall not see it ... It is inevitable. We can no more deny forever the right of self-government to one-half our people than we could keep the Negro forever in bondage. It will not be wrought by the same disrupting forces that freed the slave, but come it will, and I believe within a generation."

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 13:31 Read more...
  • The 1%’s Doctrine for the 99%
    The 1%’s Doctrine for the 99%

    Many on the American Right insist federal actions from the Civil War to recent banking regulations were encroachments on states’ rights and personal liberties, but underlying these claims – in the 1860s and today – is the greed of the richest 1 percent treating the 99 percent as chattel, writes Mark Ames.

    Written on Monday, 26 March 2012 21:21 Read more...
  • Congress Takes a Step or Two Forward, Two Steps Back
    Congress Takes a Step or Two Forward, Two Steps Back

    Watching some of the news coming from Capitol Hill this week, two old music videos started buzzing around in our heads. One was the classic “I’m Just a Bill,” from Schoolhouse Rock, in which a beleaguered piece of legislation sits outside on the marble steps hoping to someday become a law.

    Written on Monday, 26 March 2012 21:15 Read more...

PDA In Your State

Join "Countdown to Coverage" Share TPP with your Daily Newspaper

CWA devised a simple plan for which they were uniquely suited: drag TPP out of the shadows and into the light - one city at a time - using a medium they understand intimately: Daily Newspapers!

Two CWA members - Dave Felice in Denver, CO and Madelyn Elder in Portland, OR have started the ball rolling. We just need to keep up the momentum leading up to a big day of petition deliveries.

Button-ShareTPPWithNewspaper

Step 1 is to send an Op-Ed to your Daily Newspaper.

Sign the TPP Fast Track Petitions

MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track

Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority

MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab

 

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of