September 10, 2013 Rawlinsview–New York
Below are excerpts followed by a link to the complete text of Republican Senator Paul’s Fox News televised rebuttal to Obama’s September’ 10 speech on Syria. Paul is often identified as a “Libertarian” though he is a fervent opponent of abortion rights and at times blocks with socially conservative elements in the US congress. His speech is noteworthy for acknowledging the impact of mass anti-war sentiment amongst working people that has directly affected political developments in this current drive toward war.
“But one thing is for certain, the chance for diplomacy would not have occurred without strong voices against an immediate bombing campaign. If we had simply gone to war last week or the week before, as many advocated, we wouldn’t be looking at a possible solution today.
The voices of those in Congress and the overwhelming number of Americans who stood up and said “slow down” allowed this possible solution to take shape.”
At the same time one sees in this speech the ongoing progress amongst the political representatives of both bourgeois parties in the US towards support for intervention in Syria. For the most part the congressional conversation is a tactical one. Few if any in congress question US imperialism’s right to intervene in the political and military affairs of foreign countries. Paul though a subtle politician is not differentiated in this.
The Reagan Doctrine grew out of his experience in the Middle East. Reagan’s defense secretary spelled out a systematic approach to our involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts. First, the American people must be supportive – overwhelmingly supportive – but most importantly our mission must be to win.
“Most importantly our mission must be to win” so the question as it relates to Obama’s policy in Syria is whether the US has an adequate military plan to decisively affect conditions. In many ways this puts pressure on Obama to escalate rather than pull back from his military commitment.
If our enemies wish to know if America will defend herself, let them look no farther than our response to 9/11. When attacked, we responded with overwhelming force and with the military objective of complete victory over our attackers.
This statement ignores the fact that the Bush Administration turned much of its focus on Iraq following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon despite there being no legitimate connection between the Iraqui regime of Saddam Hussein and the September 11 attack.
It should also be noted that the Reagan Administration suffered a significant scandal when it became public knowledge that, despite substantial popular opposition and a ban enforced by the US congress, the executive branch under Reagan continued to fund a mercenary force opposed to the Nicaraguan revolution and the Sandinista regime. Known as the Iran Contra Affair the scandal involved the illegal trafficking of narcotics and weapons in order to raise funds for the reactionary rebel force. Also under the Reagan administration and with the now famous direct support of Democratic congressperson Charlie Wilson, but without the knowledge of the majority of US citizens, massive covert support was provided to the “Mujihadeen” forces in Afghanistan in opposition to the Socialist government and then Soviet backing for that regime. The Mujihadeen trained armed and supported by the US intelligence apparatus eventually developed into the Taliban who were of course later overthrown by another US intervention. Mr. Paul’s channeling of President Reagan is deeply misleading as US bolstering and advisement of anti-Assad fighters in Syria has exacerbated the civil war there and to some extent mirrors US strategy in Afghanistan in the late 1980’s.
“Twelve years after we were attacked by Al Qaeda, 12 years after 3,000 Americans were killed by Al Qaeda, President Obama now asks us to be allies with Al Qaeda.”
But the most disingenuous aspect of Senator Paul’s speech relates to his characterization of the civil war in Syria and the anti-Islamic prejudice that he evinces.
“Americans by a large majority want nothing to do with the Syrian civil war. We fail to see a national security interest in a war between a leader who gasses his own citizens and Islamic rebels who are killing Christians.”
It is generally estimated that approximately one third of the forces fighting against the Assad government are Jihadi-islamists of some or another form. Even amongst these groups there are differences of allegiance and degree of sectarian zeal. Of these half or slightly more than half about 15 to 20 percent of the total are affiliated directly or indirectly with Al Qaeda. Note that Paul does not use the term Islamist but “Islamic” which describes the vast majority of all people living in Syria. The armed opposition to Assad is heterogeneous and has its initial roots in a popular uprising and against the sectarian structure of power that existed in Syria under both Bahar al Assad and his father. Notably the oppressed Kurdish minority in Syria has taken advantage of the weakening of the Assad regime to organize and further their struggle for national autonomy. At present much of the tactical and financial support for opponents of the Assad Regime is provided by members of the Gulf Cooperation Council dominated by Saudi Arabia who in turn is the largest recipient of US military support and hardware in the world. US imperial intervention in Syria began almost immediately following the uprising there and has served to usurp the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people and to fuel the bloody sectarian conflict and proxy war that we now know as the Syrian Civil War.
Senator Paul’s easy dismissal of the Syrian people as Al Qaeda and “Islamic” portends indifference to the extraordinary suffering which has taken place in Syria, ignores the plight of millions of refugees and passes over the implication of longstanding US imperial policy in the crisis that now exists.
The working class and its political allies have no interest in bombing Syria or fanning the civil war but we do have a human interest in the social consequences of the war.
Further excerpts from Senator Paul’s speech are below the full speech may be read or viewed at Fox News by following this link.
Discussion Point: What are the interests of the working class in the Syrian Proxy War? Make Comments Below.
Just about any bad outcome you can imagine is made more likely by U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war
The President maintains that he still has the power to initiate war. This is untrue. The Constitution gave the power to declare war to Congress. James Madison wrote that the “Constitution supposes, what history demonstrates, that the executive is the branch most prone to war. Therefore the Constitution, with studied care, vested the power to declare war in the legislature.”
This is no small question. I see the vote on whether to go to war in very personal terms. I will not vote to send my son, your son, or anyone’s daughter to war unless a compelling American interest is present. I am not convinced that we have a compelling interest in the Syrian civil war.
May God help us make the wise decision here and avoid an unnecessary war.