While there is a lot going on, this week our primary focus is on stopping the war with Syria. In the last paragraph we provide links to other active issues in the resistance movement – there is a lot going on!
A few days ago it looked like the US would already be bombing Syria by now, but enough hurdles have been put in front of the Obama administration and the UK that war has not yet started. People are organizing to stop the mad dash to another unnecessary war that will have unpredictable and dangerous repercussions. Here is a list of protests planned this weekend to stop the war.
War on Syria is not popular with Americans. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll found that only nine percent of Americans support it which makes a war on Syria even less popular than Congress. There has been consistent propaganda for war on all the networks for months now, but the people are not buying it.
The corporate media is showing itself as a propaganda tool for the security state with its coverage of Syria. (Americans today are more aware of the long history of collusion between government and media.) The media rarely asks obvious questions about why Assad would use chemical weapons while UN inspectors were in the country or what advantage the use of such chemical weapons would have. On CNN’s new “Crossfire,” commentator Van Jones, supposedly from the left, agreed with S. E. Cupp, from the right, and urged support for Obama’s plans to go to war and even described the 1953 coup of Mohammed Mossadegh as one that removed a dictator – when the CIA-led coup in fact ended Iran’s move toward secular democracy.
The media failed to report that in fact there are lots of gaps in U.S. intelligence including who ordered the use of chemical weapons and where those chemical weapons are now. Associated Press is reporting that President Obama provided no evidence to support the administration’s claim that the chemical weapons came from Assad. In addition, people who turn off the corporate media and think about the situation realize that the claim that Assad used chemical weapons makes no sense from Assad’s point of view. He has been defeating the rebel forces. Why would he take an action that would give the US an excuse to enter the war?
In fact Assad provided access to UN inspectors within a day of being asked and, along with many, urged the US and UK to wait for the results of their investigation. Gareth Porter indicates that the US tried to derail the UN investigation and wanted to attack quickly before the results of their examination. Further, Syria has now asked the UN to investigate three new chemical attacks that it claims were made by US-allied rebel forces. Syria’s claims gain further legitimacy when it is remembered that the last time the US accused Assad of using chemical weapons, the UN investigators pointed their finger at the rebels, not Assad.
Americans have been lied into wars so often that many are skeptical of administration claims. In fact some dare to ask the terrible question: is the US drive for immediate war on Syria an effort to cover up a war crime by US-allied rebels?
Protests against the war are already beginning in the US and around the world. In London, hundreds hastily gathered to protest outside of the Prime Minister’s residence, and this Saturday the protests are expected to grow to thousands. On Thursday, David Cameron lost a vote in Parliament on military intervention in Syria.
Popular Resistance joined multiple peace groups in calling for protests across the nation. Emergency protests are planned for this Saturday. People are organizing on Facebook. Search for “No War With Syria [insert city]” or start your own page to get involved.
Domestic and international law on war is quite clear. In fact, both President Obama and Vice President Biden are on record – prior to holding their current offices – stating the law clearly. When he was running for president, Obama told the Boston Globe: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
Vice President Biden, in a 2007 campaign event in Iowa, went further, not only stating clearly that the president does not have unilateral power to conduct military attacks but threatening impeachment of President Bush if he did so. In the last two days, two letters signed by a total of 163 Members of Congress have been sent to Obama urging the White House to seek congressional approval before taking military action. One letter, organized by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) with 116 signers, including 18 Democrats, states and a second letter authored by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has 53 Democratic Party signers.
The Green Shadow Cabinet of the United States also called on President Obama to seek congressional approval before going to war, noting that under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the US Constitution, it is the Congress that determines whether the United States goes to war. They also note that “If President Obama launches an attack without prior explicit authorization by Congress, he will have committed an offense worthy of impeachment.”
If Obama attacks Syria he will be putting gasoline on a fire already burning out of control. Syria has the ability to defend itself and attack US military vessels. Iran and Russia have already indicated they will be drawn into the conflict. Threats of retaliation are already being made and troop movements are occurring. Russia is moving two additional naval ships, a missile cruiser and a large anti-submarine vessel, into the Mediterranean to strengthen its presence in case of a US attack. Russia and Saudi Arabia have exchanged threats over Syria. Iran, Syria and Hezbollah have threatened to retaliate against Israel and other US allies in the Middle East in the event of a US attack on Syria.
Obama could be starting a much larger war than he realizes and doing so without congressional or UN approval. Why would Obama take this tremendous risk? Shamus Cooke puts forward some important reasons: first, the rebels are winning and weakening Assad [ CORRECTION: Assad is winning and weakening the rebels], several days of bombing will boost their efforts. Second, Obama will look weak if he fails to respond to the alleged crossing of his so-called “red line” without response. The US keeps its power through projecting strength and scaring other countries to keep them in line. Third, this is more than a battle against Syria, it is also a battle against Iran and Hezbollah as well as Russia, and Obama does not want them to become stronger. Finally, the US is losing ground in the rapidly changing Middle East and an attack on Syria would remind the region that the US Empire is not going away.
A full congressional debate as well as a debate in the UN Security Council will bring out some of the faults of the reasoning behind war with Syria; as well as escalate doubts about whether Assad is guilty of ordering a chemical weapon attack.
Beyond these reasons to oppose the war, US Labor Fight Back puts out others: “At a time when 27 million U.S. workers are unemployed or underemployed and severe cuts in social programs are being implemented under the sequestration, the Obama administration is focused instead on finalizing plans to unleash a bombing attack on Syria.” We agree with their demand: “Money for Jobs and Education, Not for Wars and Occupations! Hands Off Syria!” There are plenty of reasons to oppose this war and many allies who oppose it. While the Obama administration seems to be moving quickly, there is still time to stop this war.
There are lots of activities taking place on a wide range of issues across the nation and the globe. On PopularResistance.org we cover as much of this vibrant movement for change as we can. Just look back over the last few pages of stories on the site to see what is going on in the movement. Here are some quick highlights beyond all the action around Syria:
- Efforts to stop hydrofracking are continuing with nearly 1,000 protesters greeting Obama in NY, royalty in the UK is being exposed as fracking profiteers, the connection between fracking and earthquakes is resulting in litigation and a report on how fracking may already be in retreat.
- Multiple critical reports on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington including from Yvette Carnell of Your Black World, Cornell West on Black Agenda Report TV, peace activist Joe Lombardo, Food Not Bombs urging us to take direct action to realize The Dream and David Zirin describing how out of step the speakers were with the crowd who came to the march.
- Labor actions including Occupy Labor Day, nationwide fast food strikes, learning from Jobs With Justice on how to reach out beyond unions, wage theft of legal and illegal immigrants, migrant farm workers battling for dignity, a victory against Peabody/Patriot Coal and progress for WalMart workers who keep fighting for their rights even after they are fired.
- Challenges to oil and tar sands including polar bears redecorating a Shell refinery to stop arctic drilling, Greenpeace crashing Shell’s Formula One event, the dangers of tar sands sludge, solidarity with tar sands activists facing felonies in Michigan and how climate change is the cause of forest fires throughout the west.
- Reports on efforts to restore the Fourth Amendment and the Snowden leaks including the NSA spying on the UN, Obama’s dishonesty, his rubber stamp “review” of NSA spying, and what is really needed as well as the attack on the media shown by the detention of David Miranda and a new law proposed by Sen. Feinstein that only protects corporate journalists.
- Continued battles against militarism including closing Guantanamo, stopping drones, stopping the Navy Base on Jeju Island, releasing an American held prisoner in Iraq and protesting the war machine this October 7 in New York.
- How the Obama administration is terrorizing medial cannabis dispensaries and is not “yet” willing to change the medical marijuana laws but the Department of Justice will not challenge the legalization laws in Colorado and Washington.
- We’re also not forgetting the prison hunger strikers against solitary confinement in California as well as an upcoming nationwide day of protest for Marissa Alexander sentenced 20 years for firing a warning shot against an abusive husband.
- People are fighting for their schools. We were inspired by this speech by a nine year old in Chicago and this action by people in Philadelphia, students organizing around the nation; and people seeing through Obama’s rhetoric and inadequate plans for colleges; and here’s one chart that shows misplaced US priorities.
- And, ongoing coverage of the worldwide global summer of protests including the revolution in Egypt and how the people can end military rule as well as other actions around the world like the indigenous in Honduras reclaiming their land and nationwide protests in Colombia against “free trade.”
We also continue to cover Chelsea Manning. Her abhorrent 35 year sentence has us continuing to work for her release and for her to get the hormone therapy she needs. This week Tunisian activists let Chelsea know that her efforts made a giant difference in ending a dictator’s rule and spurring the Arab Spring. We recognize Manning put her life on the line for a better world, and will not forget her.
All of these issues are connected. They are all part of a corrupt economy and dysfunctional government that puts profits ahead of people and the planet. Be planning for actions this fall around the issue that connects them all – the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Jim Hightower calls a “corporate coup d’etat against us.” Sign up at www.FlushTheTPP.org to join the campaign to stop this corporate domination over every aspect of our lives.