After a recent chemical weapons attack reportedly carried out by the Syrian government, a U.S. attack seems imminent. A man named Eric Harroun has to be asking, “Are you f***ing kidding me?” His disillusionment isn’t related to the ridiculousness of the U.S. claiming that shooting missiles at the Syrian people is a way to defend them from brutal military tactics (notice the semi-truck-size hole in that theory). He isn’t antiwar or a Syrian government supporter (actually, he’s quite the opposite). No, Harroun is probably most bewildered because he sits in a Virginia jail cell at this very moment for supporting one of the very same factions that the U.S. government will be supporting with military action.
So along with the missiles, rest assured that the United States of America will be sure to deploy several payloads of their most renowned export: arbitrary, violent hypocrisy.
The Syrian Civil War has its roots in the Arab Spring revolts that began in late 2010 and 2011. President Bashar al-Assad’s government was an oppressive dictatorship under the guise of a democracy (having inherited the title from his father in a most undemocratic fashion) and the Syrian people took to the streets against it as the tide of Arab Spring rolled over them. But Bashar al-Assad had no intention of giving up power. When the protesters persisted, al-Assad brought down deadly opposition, ordering government troops to fire on the crowds. This quickly escalated into a full-blown civil war with large factions of the Syrian Army defecting to the side of the resistance and becoming the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Both sides, especially the rebels, consist of several different factions that seem to operate somewhat independently of one another but still have some solidarity. One of the rebel factions is Jabhat al-Nusra (the Nusra Front), which is allied with al Qaeda and reportedly with Iraq, even though the group denies this claim. The militant group is a product of the Syrian Civil War, having been established sometime in 2012, and has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and other countries. This is the group with which Eric Harroun fought, and that caused the United States to label him a terrorist.
Harroun started fighting with the FSA in January 2013. During one of three interviews Harroun gave at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, he claimed that he mistakenly left in a Nusra Front troop transport after the confusion of a joint raid on a Syrian Army camp by the group and his group of FSA fighters. He then began fighting with al-Nusra, even posting several pictures of him holding weapons (including a RPG) to Facebook as well as two videos: one of him threatening Bashar al-Assad surrounded by members of the Nusra Front and another of him and other rebels approaching wreckage of a Syrian helicopter they claimed to have shot down. He was arrested in March after returning to the U.S., and is charged with using a weapon outside the United States for his self-admitted use of an RPG during his military exploits in Syria.
Harroun’s father, Darryl, told a local news affiliate in Phoenix that his son was “passing information to the CIA” and that his son was “very patriotic.” If this is true, it makes a great deal of sense as to why the younger Harroun supposedly openly admitted to working with a terrorist organization and returned after only a few months. It also makes sense that the CIA and the U.S. would have no choice but to throw him under the bus after his online boasting. Whether Harroun was or was not working with the CIA in Syria will probably remain unknown, but there is a pretty good chance that there is an American intelligence presence in the country, especially since the U.S. has so fervently supported the rebels and is now even pushing for outright military intervention. America doesn’t go in blind and or offer support consisting only of kind words and a pat on the back.
Harroun’s court-appointed defense immediately made the point that his case is unique in that no one has ever been tried with a crime for performing military actions that are in line with U.S. policies. But incarcerating their citizens for doing something that they are soon to do and have supported for over two years (and may very well have supported on an individual basis) is just part of the U.S. hypocrisy machine.
The U.S. government has decided that military intervention is necessary due to claims of chemical warfare by the al-Assad regime on August 21 in the rebel-held Ghouta region of the country. As mentioned above, their solution is to shoot missiles. Both Canada and the United Kingdom (despite PM David Cameron’s best efforts to convince parliament) have decided not to support any military action in Syria. This is not some WWI-style conflict where the lines are clearly drawn and the side they want to bomb is separated from everyone else in a trench, this is urban warfare. Any missile strike will result in civilian death.
Though the attack was deadly, with widely varied reports of deaths from 322–1,729, it is not yet even confirmed that chemical weapons were used. It has also been suggested that the U.S.-backed rebels were the ones to use the weapons, something the U.S. adamantly denies. Vice President Biden has already stated matter-of-factly that chemical weapons were used. The U.S. wishes to circumvent the U.N. investigation into the attacks, which is a direct affront to al-Assad supporters and members of the Security Council China and Russia, and go ahead and attack the country. There have been reports of chemical weapons used in Syria as early as December 2012, so it seems quite arbitrary to make the determination to attack at this moment before the evidence has even come in. This seems like nothing but an excuse to go to war and give China and Russia a big “F.U.”
Syria has become a battleground for more than just the people of Syria. This has become a chessboard of sorts for the dominant countries of the world to play power games with one another. Because what’s the use of having all those weapons if you’re not going to use them, right? I’m sure Ike Eisenhower would have a theory as to why the major powers of the world have entered the war as well (see his “Beware the Military-Industrial Complex” farewell address).
The U.S. government (or any government or powerful organization for that matter) doesn’t make decisions based on morality. They make cold, calculated, emotionless maneuvers. Whatever their reason, it is assuredly not because it is “the right thing to do,” despite their constant assurances that this is their sole motivation. Governments are businesses that deal in power; and business is good.
So despite the atrociousness of using chemical weapons on civilians (which I remind you again has yet to be substantiated), despite the United States’ claims of looking out for the welfare of the Syrian people (by shooting missiles at them), despite the perceived need to flex their muscles at China and Russia, if the U.S. attacks Syria, innocent people will die. It also has the possibility to start a horrible chain reaction of retaliation. Iran has already stated that they will bomb Israel, who has already attacked Syria, if the U.S. attacks, two more countries chomping at the bit to wage war.
This Syria situation has already become a symbolic war as well as an actual war, but with actual bodies. If there is an answer to how this horrid situation should be solved, it certainly is not for the U.S. to become any more involved than they already are unless it involves endorsing a peace negotiation. The ultimate U.S. hypocrisy is condemning other nations for using brutal violence, even chemical weapons. The government never seems to remember anything violent and horrific in their past — how very convenient. Maybe they should take a step back and remember their stated reasons for arresting Eric Harroun, because as hypocritical as that was, maybe going into other countries and killing people just isn’t the way to go.