It’s a trying time for the warmongers. A deluge of national polls reveal a public decidedly against war with Syria. Congress is listening, and the authorization for military action faces opposed majorities in both houses. Obama’s progressive base is mostly against his idea to bomb. So are many liberals and most leftists. Even the president’s wife and Nancy Pelosi’s grandson don’t want war, according to these politicians pushing for one. Conservatives, too, overwhelmingly oppose attacking Assad’s regime. The Tea Party types want nothing to do with the war. The right’s talking heads mostly lashed out against the idea, for mostly very good reasons. Almost every media organ with any outsider credibility at all thinks the idea is crazy and incoherent.
The proposal never passed the smell test. The administration has offered to punish Assad’s murderous government without toppling him. It admitted that his rebel enemies counted among themselves radical Islamists and al Qaeda affiliates, and so conceded that overthrowing the regime could spell trouble. So instead of a war to destroy the state, Obama’s team suggested only hurting it a little—to send a clear message, and help the rebels, including the worst of the bunch, but only a bit. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has compared inaction with capitulating to Hitler, promised that the U.S. strikes would be “unbelievably small.”
Just looking at a map of the Middle East, we see how dangerous the idea of war with Syria is. Military action could have prompted retaliation from Assad, perhaps against Israel, or reprisals from his allies in Iran or Russia. Hitting Assad just a little could easily provoke more aggression, which would then likely elicit another violent response from the U.S. government. Before we know it, a “limited” strike with no ground forces could spiral into a regional bloodbath.
The widespread understanding of how terrible an idea this is inspires all of us who love peace and oppose U.S. imperialism. Americans are tired after more than a decade of war and its broken promises.
And we see the remaining War Party—a near perfect proxy for the foreign policy establishment. The Republican leadership and perennial interventionists John McCain and Lindsay Graham have thrown their lot in with the president’s plan, at times even urging a more aggressive action, echoing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s campaign pitch for escalated U.S. intervention in the country. The Democratic leadership, too, has of course backed its co-partisan commander-in-chief. It has attempted to stamp out loud dissent among its party’s ranks, sending a message to the Congressional Black Caucus to shut up while Obama pushes for war.
The administration and leaders from both parties want war, along with the military-industrial-complex and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, both of which have planned a large-scale lobbying effort to whip up support for bombing. The editors at National Review and other neocons of course want war—they’ve wanted war with Syria for ten years now. But aside from these tired and raspy establishment voices, the War Party has few in its choir.