07 September, 2013

What gives the US government the right to police the world ?

(Pic courtesy : 2012patriot.wordpress.com via Google)

President Obama is besides himself over the Assad regime using chemical weapons on the people in Syria.  It is commendable, if one looks at it from the point of view of one human to another.  What is happening in Syria is absolutely deplorable and undoubtedly appalling. 

Yet, when I saw a red-faced David Cameron last week on the evening news channel, accepting and acceding to the wishes of the people of the United Kingdom in not sending in troops to Syria and when one sees Obama pushing for military intervention, the one question that automatically arises in my mind is this “Does the US have a right to police the world ?”.  This question becomes even more pertinent when one sees the domino effect taking place in such situations as well.  Military intervention, as has been seen in the past, starts with the US deciding to send in their troops and then many other countries  follow suit. 

Like I said earlier, the use of chemical weapons against civilians is shocking and unacceptable.  Israel claims that Syria has been using chemical weapons and yet again, most of their theories are unsubstantiated.  Brings me to another pertinent question here – (since the US and Israel are hopping around on a moral high ground here, deploring Syria’s use of chemical weapons and using that as a base for military intervention) – Is this the first time chemical weapons are being used ?  Before you get me wrong here, let me say at the very outset that I, for one, am just as appalled at these weapons having been used and my heart goes out too, to the civilians who have been at the receiving end.  But if one thinks back, did the US not use Napalm in Vietnam ?  Did they not end up killing the civilians there with these ?  Did Israel not use White Phosphorus on the Palestinian territories ?  When these countries do something like this, which body in the world dares stand up and question their actions ?  When these very countries have done something like this, on what basis are they taking a moral high ground now ?

One might be tempted to say that the US using Napalm in Vietnam was because it was war.  In this case, they are inclined to intervene because of the civilian casualties and deaths.  But then again, if that is the logic, why did they wait so long ?  Yet again, if civilian deaths are the issue, how about countries like North Korea where civilians are always in danger of being put to death, depending on the whims and fancies of their dictators ? 

Talking of civilian deaths, how about the damage inflicted and the civilian deaths caused by the US drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan ?  How do they justify those ?  Fact remains, however unpalatable it may be, that they don’t need to.  They simply have never had to justify their own actions.  Who or which body is the Govt of the USA answerable to or accountable to, in the world of today ?  Heady feeling that must be, for sure !

The US has been browbeating many countries over human rights issues.  There have been instances where they’ve threatened some countries with sanctions over human rights issues.  How about the US government, the US army violating human rights ?  Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib were classic examples.  Yet again, fact remains that the US does not have to answer to a higher body.  Simply put, there never has been a requirement of accountability for their actions.

If it is out of sheer concern for human lives that the US government wishes to intervene in Syria, why did they not do so in Rwanda ?  It was during President Clinton’s administration that Rwanda was engulfed by genocide.  Hutu death squads were said to have murdered an estimated 800000 Tutsis .  The US government did nothing other than to bury the information in an effort to justify its inaction.  Perversely enough, one is forced, at this point, to ask if the inaction was simply because Rwanda was just a small Central African country with no strategic value or mineral wealth. 

Iraq was invaded by the US forces and sad truth is, no one knows exactly why that happened.  The only good that probably came of the US invasion of Iraq was the elimination of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.  The US government under George W. Bush then, claimed that the war was aimed at destroying weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  No weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.  The US government then claimed that they wanted to destroy the Al Qaeda base in Iraq.  News reports later suggested that Al Qaeda had not existed in Iraq up until the US invasion.  The war, the US government said, was aimed at turning Iraq into a model of democracy but what it did in reality was lead that nation from tyranny to total anarchy.

Going by the above premise, if one is to assume that the US government has a heart of gold and that they plan to invade Syria based on nothing other than humanitarian considerations, yet another question, a rather pertinent one, raises its head.  Hypothetically speaking, if the US forces were to invade Syria and topple President Assad’s regime, where does Syria go from there on ?   As of today, no one has an answer to that question.

If the US government is really interested in intervening in Syria on humanitarian grounds, if the people of Syria are truly their prime concern, why not work with Russia, China, the other nations who have voiced their opinions clearly in working towards bringing all parties concerned to the negotiation table ?  The US government, on the other hand, is being stubborn on this front, like it has been in many instances in the past.  First present a set of conditions that they know the other country will refuse to negotiate on and then go ahead with a military invasion on the basis of non-compliance or non-acceptance.

That’s precisely what they did in Iraq too and the whole world knows what happened after.  Unfortunately, the US government does not seem to have taken home any lessons from the Iraq fiasco.  

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