Ellison on Syria
“Pearl Harbor was not an act of war. It was just a limited air strike with no boots on the ground.” -- From Diana Johnstone
Congressman Keith Ellison held a “listening session” Friday, Sept. 6, at Masjid An-Nur Mosque in North Minneapolis. The invitation was sent to “Friends.” There were about 60 people there, almost evenly split between members of the Peace Movement who opposed U.S. intervention and members of the Syrian-American community who supported it. Members of the Peace Movement only heard about it at the last moment from a member of Vets for Peace who happened to get an invitation. Although the meeting was confrontational and statements were passionate on both sides, the session was generally polite and respectful.
Ellison began with a statement saying how he had opposed the Iraq war, but it was the responsibility of a government to protect its civilian population. He was asked what proof the U.S. had that Assad had used sarin poison gas against its people. Ellison said he couldn’t release the documents, and it’s sad “there is no trust today.” Papa John Kolstad said that Congressman Grayson had said the Obama Administration had deliberately mischaracterized documents from the Syrian military. He said Obama is playing bluff poker with our lives and the lives of the Syrian people: “Obama says he’s got five aces and we lose, and he can’t show you his cards.”
Although Ellison called for limited strikes against military targets, at one point he seemed to support regime change against the family that has ruled Syria for four or five decades, otherwise, “Who will stop him? Assad has killed tens of thousands of his people, now he’s using sarin gas. There’s a practical question of what we can and should do.”
Bruce Nestor from the Lawyer’s Guild asked how Ellison could support a violation of international law by attacking Syria?
Brad Knickerbocker, in “Chemical attacks in Syria: Where’s the proof Assad was responsible?” (Christian Science Monitor), quotes former CIA analyst Ray McGovern: “We are unaware of any reliable evidence that a Syrian military rocket capable of carrying a chemical agent was fired into the area. In fact, we are aware of no reliable physical evidence to support the claim that this was a result of a strike by a Syrian military unit with expertise in chemical weapons.
“There is a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East— mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters—providing a strong circumstantial case that the Aug. 21 chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters.” McGovern wrote on documentary filmmaker Michael Moore’s website, “The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the United States into the war.”
Colleen Rowley has written, “The part they lie about is when they say it has to be Assad using sarin because he is the only with stockpiles. The Japanese terrorist group used sarin in their subways and U.N. official Carla De Ponte already opined the rebels used it back in May. Evidence does exist that the rebels had it.”
Diana Johnstone, writing from Paris, says: “The supposed proof that Assad is responsible for the attacks boils down to saying that the Syrian government has the most chem-weapons and the best delivery systems, so it must have been them. That is not serious.
“What would be the miltary reason for such an attack, the strategic motive? The U.S. doesn’t even try to answer that key question, it just plays on the childish notion that Assad is evil and therefore does evil things. No further motive is required. Just keep saying that ‘dictators like to kill their own people,’ and the big lie turns into a commonplace. There is absolutely no conceivable reason for the Assad government to kill hundreds of children.
“Is there any reason for the rebels to do so? Well, there might be; that is, if they can pin the crime on the Assad regime and get the United States to use the atrocity to enter the war and win it for them. A ‘false flag’ operation. Very much of the world believes in this hypothesis.
“There is a third possibility, which may be the most likely: an accident. The rebels were fooling around with chemical weapons they had received from Saudi Arabia, and something went dreadfully wrong. A credible journalist has reported this, ignored by the mainstream. Or a government missile fired into a rebel area accidentally struck chemical weapons that nobody knew were there. All such possibilities need to be investigated thoroughly.
“And in any case, nobody has appointed the United States to go in and ‘punish’ Syria, for whatever was done.
“Besides, everyone knows that the punishment will extend into regime change and/or a wider and wider war.
“Another point I want to stress is the danger of being sentimentally blackmailed by Syrian exiles who plead for intervention. Nice polite Minnesota people may find it rude to say ‘No.’ But for one thing, it is obvious that the Syrians who plead for U.S. intervention do not represent all Syrians. Here in Europe, which is closer to Syria, there are Syrians both for and against the Assad regime, and as time goes on, rather more for the regime than against it. Often the countries that exiles select for emigration says something about their political choices.
“But the main point is this: There are very many countries in the world where you could find some group of people who hate their government, and may dream of having U.S. military power come in and get rid of it and put themselves in power.
Examples where this worked were the Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Islamists in the Libyan city of Benghazi. Their success encourages other disgruntled minorities to hope that by telling their sad, sad story to Americans they can get US military intervention to fight their war for them. Such exiles are always very eloquent in their complaints and their desire to enjoy the American way of life back in their country of origin. They may be honest or dishonest, but their dreams are not reality, and they are above all not our reality.
“It is important to keep in mind that every colonial empire was built on ‘coming to the aid’ of some faction which was opposed to their own government. The British could never have conquered a place like India had there not been feuding princes, who were desperate enough to call in the British on their side. Even Hitler invaded countries to ‘save’ some minority, usually but not always German. When a nation has such overwhelming military power as the United States, and exhibits readiness to use it, potential rebels can be expected to be crowding to get in line to be ‘saved’ from their ‘dictators.’
“This is imperialism, on both sides. It does not lead to ‘liberation’ but to a change in domination, which will lead to more rebellions, more destruction, more chaos.
One must have the courage to say, ‘Sorry, no, you must fight your own fight. By peaceful means, preferably.’ ”