The “Us” of this column’s title needs no explaining. The “Them,” however, does. We the American people are up against an entity far more sinister than the traditional, inchoate enemy – terrorism – around which we are instructed to unite in purpose.
The debate over whether to strafe Syria or to stay out of that country pits us against the military-congressional-industrial complex, whose interests run counter to ours.
And against the Executive.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, “Nearly six in 10 [of ‘us’] oppose missile strikes in light of the U.S. government’s determination that Syria used chemical weapons against its own people. Democrats and Republicans alike oppose strikes by double digit margins, and there is deep opposition among every political and demographic group in the survey. Political independents are among the most clearly opposed, with 66 percent saying they are against military action.”
Yet at the behest of Mr. Obama, who had drawn that red line in the sand – ran his mouth off and needed to save presidential face – Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey convened on Capitol Hill to argue against the wishes of Americans and for a “strategic” strike on Syria, a country that poses no imminent danger to “us.”
Offering near-meaningless opposition to the power of the president were our representatives in both Houses – Houses that, to paraphrase Edmund Burke, were “designed as a control for the people,” but have become a control “upon the people.” The latter failed to speak on behalf of the Great Unwashed – which is how they look upon us – delivering self-aggrandizing disquisitions instead.
How seriously do these dangerous war-gamers take “us”?
Sen. Ron Johnson, the Republican from Wisconsin, who, so far, has done the right thing in voting against the lobbing of Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, nevertheless told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that if his constituents came out against the strike, he would vote his conscience and merely consider their wishes.
How considerate of him! You elect a representative believing he’s aligned with certain principles, only to discover that so vast are the powers he’s been granted, that you cannot hope to sway him once he arrives on Mount Olympus. Johnson’s attitude also encapsulates the theatre of the absurd alluded to by Sen. Rand Paul, whereby, after the puppets in the Houses get to say their piece, the presidential veto puts paid to all delusions of a democratic decision-making process.
Prominent among a new breed of military man turned lawmaker to stalk the people’s House is Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger. A “veteran of the military” who still serves as a military pilot in the National Guard is how Kinzinger bills himself. War weary though he purports to be, Kinzinger is not. The verbally flatulent representative from Illinois loved it when his ilk flew sorties over the Old Stable Iraq and seeks a repeat performance over Syria. He appears to see no limits to the role the U.S. should play in rolling back evil around the world, out of “the goodness of our heart.” Yes, the constitutional principle Rep. Kinzinger invokes to justify war against the wishes and interests of the American people is “The Goodness of Our Heart” Clause.
But then, a “Global Force for Good” is how the Navy promises to fulfill “The Goodness of Our Heart” Clause of the U.S. Constitution, on its frightful, promotional website. You see, members of the U.S. military do not regard themselves as defenders of the realm – unless by “realm” one means empire. They’ve been brainwashed to be foot soldiers for the federal government, whenever, wherever.
Imagine what America’s Founding Fathers would think of a military that straddles the planet, having assumed the unauthorized role of a “global force for good.” Those sages opposed the idea of a standing army. They understood that “a standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.”
The magnificent Robert E. Lee, on the other hand, had it right. To this American hero, local was beautiful. Gen. Lee saw himself as a Virginian first. Rep. Kinzinger is a Syrian first.
Baseless too is the idea that someone who’s seen war will be especially judicious in sending others to war. John McCain had suffered in war and has not stopped advocating for it ever since. John Kerry voted to go into Iraq. Ditto Chuck Hagel. Both are veterans. Both are itching to “send a message” to Syria, despite Kerry’s earlier admission, in his “remarks on the alleged Syria chemical attack,” that Ban Ki-moon and assorted sources were clueless as to who was doing what in Syria.
“There is no clear indication that there is an imminent threat to the United States from Syria,” stressed Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan, pointing out that no other signatory to the convention against the use of chemical weapons has joined the U.S. in banging the tom-tom for war.
Indeed, a refrain repeated during this week’s hearing was that Assad’s alleged chemical-weapon use posed a threat to our troops. Only if they continue globetrotting!
What Duncan said next is especially poignant. Unlike Sen. Johnson, Duncan had consulted his constituents in South Carolina. Of the hundreds of emails his office had received, not one was in support of Uncle Sam killing more Syrians just because the factions in that country are killing one another. To a letter, Duncan’s South Carolinian bosses, down to the eighth-graders among them, told Duncan, “No! Don’t get involved in the civil war in Syria.”
Three minutes into his address to the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s hearing on Syria, Rep. Duncan made another pivotal point: An administration so eager to mire the U.S. in Syria had refused to galvanize the same resources to rescue four brave Americans who fought for their lives in Benghazi.
And here’s the rub. Here’s what American patriots must understand. The “estimable” men arguing for war in both Houses and before them are not on the people’s side. Never will be. For they do not accept that a just government’s duty is to its own citizens first.
Assuming for the sake of argument that lobbing long-range, air-to-surface missiles at Syria will enhance Syrian liberties – the Deciders stateside do not accept that distinguish we must between the right of the people the world over to be free and our obligation to free them.
We have a solemn [negative] duty not to violate the rights of foreigners everywhere to life, liberty and property. But we have no duty to uphold their rights. Why? Because the ostensible upholding of the negative rights of the world’s citizens involves compromising the negative liberties of Americans – our lives, our liberties and our livelihoods.
By this imperative, Kerry, Hagel, Dempsey, Kinzinger, the senior Republican flake from Arizona, the junior Jeff Flake from the same state, will never abide. This is why it is “us” against “them” on Syria and all else.