I Question Your Patriotism
by Laurence M. Vance
I have been called a lot of things since I began writing about ten years ago on the folly of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the evils of the U.S. military, and the belligerence of U.S. foreign policy.
Many of the things I have been called I canít repeat because they are so vile and filthy. However, the negative e-mails have tapered off quite a bit over the years since these wars have turned out to be such debacles.
One charge that has been consistently leveled against me is that I am unpatriotic because I donít "support the troops" as they invade and occupy other countries and mete out death and destruction to "insurgents" and "terrorists." But who is really being unpatriotic? I think it is long past time that we question the patriotism of those who do "support the troops" in their foreign wars, occupations, interventions, and escapades.
Letís take the case of Syria.
For months now we have heard how the United States must "do something" and intervene in Syria to end the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad and stop the violence that has led to the deaths of 40,000 people since the outbreak of an anti-regime revolt last year. The familiar cry that dictator x might use chemical weapons on his own people is being resurrected to garner support for U.S. intervention.
The U.S. Senate, by a vote of 92-6, recently voted to "require a report on military activities to deny or significantly degrade the use of air power against civilian and opposition groups in Syria." This amendment (S.AMDT.3262) to the National Defense Authorization Act requires that
not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall, in consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, submit to the congressional defense committees a report identifying the limited military activities that could deny or significantly degrade the ability of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and forces loyal to him, to use air power against civilians and opposition groups in Syria. Its purpose is to "advance the goals of President Obama of stopping the killing of civilians in Syria and creating conditions for a transition to a democratic, pluralistic political system in Syria."
The U.S. military is sending Patriot air defense missiles and 400 U.S. troops to operate them at two batteries in "undisclosed locations" in Turkey as part of a NATO force meant to protect Turkish territory from potential Syrian missile attack.
The aircraft carrier the USS Eisenhower is reportedly off the coast of Syria along with the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group.
There are also reports that more than 3,000 U.S. military personnel have secretly returned to Iraq via Kuwait in response to the civil war in Syria that has spilled over into northern Iraq. The Pentagon is denying this report, which means it is probably true.
Never mind that the "evil dictatorship" of Assad was once supported by the United States.
Never mind that the CIA "renditioned" people to Syria to be tortured.
Never mind that the United States just concluded a disastrous war in Iraq and is still conducting another disastrous one in Afghanistan.
Never mind that some Syrian rebel groups have ties to al Qaeda.
Never mind that some Syrian rebels are foreign jihad mercenaries.
Never mind that some Syrian rebels have openly murdered Syrian Christians for not supporting the overthrow of the secular Syrian government.
Never mind that some Syrian rebels have committed acts of terrorism that have killed children.
Never mind that some Syrian rebel groups have tested their own chemical weapons.
Never mind that the United States and NATO developed their own chemical weapons years ago.
Never mind that George Washington Ė 230 years ago Ė warned against making "entangling alliances" such as NATO.
But even if all of these things are not true, even if President Assad is another Hitler, even if the rebels have the purest of motives, and even if the Assad regime is targeting civilians, executing POWs, raping women, killing children, torturing political opponents, using chemical weapons, instituting pogroms, engaged in ethnic cleansing, and committing genocide Ė the U. S. government has no authority whatsoever to intervene in any way. No U.S. soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, military advisor, CIA operative, contractor, or State Department employee has any business going anywhere near Syria. It is not the purpose of the U.S. government to be the policeman, security guard, mediator, or babysitter of the world.
What happens in Syria is the concern of Syrians and perhaps Syriaís immediate neighbors. Nothing that happens in Syria should be the concern of the United States.
Americans individually or collectively may despise the Assad regime, they may pray for the rebels, they may long for Assadís overthrow, they may sell weapons to the rebels, they may donate money to the rebels, they may go help the rebels fight against the Syrian government, they may undertake humanitarian relief efforts, they may marry Syrian widows, they may adopt Syrian orphans, they may employ Syrian refuges Ė they may even take the side of Assad against the rebels. But the U.S. government should do absolutely nothing.
How patriotic am I? Nothing that happens in Syria is worth one drop of blood from one American soldier or one dollar from one American taxpayer. Nothing and not one. Not a paper cut. Not a scrape. And not one red cent. I am so patriotic that I donít support U.S. troops getting within a thousand miles of Syria.
Since the U.S. military is nothing more than the personal attack force of the president, there is a chance that the president will order U.S. forces to intervene in Syria. If this happens, even most who oppose intervention will suddenly and vocally "support the troops" should Syria be their next military adventure.
But because the use of American troops should be limited to the defense of the United States, there should be no respect or support for any U. S. soldier who goes to fight in Syria. He didnít have to join the presidentís personal attack force. He can refuse to go and suffer the consequences or he can refuse to fight like soldiers did during the Christmas Truce of 1914.
To those Americans who think it will be "worth it" to "support the troops" as the United States expends blood and treasure in Syria: I question your patriotism.
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The Revolution that Wasn't, Rethinking the Good War, and The Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. His latest book is The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom. Visit his website.
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