Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Thoughts on Syria

Recently, it has been in the news that Bashar al-Assad has been launching chemical weapons resulting in the deaths of 300 people, including Syrian rebels.. Apparently it is unclear as of now whether a bona fide chemical attack has taken place. Assad clearly denies that he used chemical weapons, but others say that there is very little doubt he did.

Many are advocating that America start intervening on behalf of the Syrian rebels and launch an attack on Syria in the name of freedom. However, others reject interventionism, even if it is completely verified that Assad did indeed use chemical weapons. They see it as the dictatorial power to punish a dictator, as Jacob Hornberger put it.

My opinion is that of the latter view, that we should not participate in any intervention in the name of "humanitarianism" and "freedom," no matter how cruel Assad may have been. My position is not because I love dictators, support inhuman actions, or that I am selfish and don't care for the freedom of others. In fact, I would love to see that the world is free from government coercion and paternalism, with states strictly limited to defending people's life, liberty and property (or abolition of states for the anarcho-capitalists out there). However, I don't support the threat of force on the part of the US government in bringing about this utopia. As the great radical Randolph Bourne said, "War is the health of the state." And considering the recent growth of big government in the form of the NSA surveillance situation, I see this whole thing as an attempt to increase government's size and scope. It seems as if this war is going to be the first to be based on a Youtube video, as Shamus Cooke notes.

Now, I will ask this question: If Assad knew that the US was going to launch a cruise missile attack if he used chemical weaponry, then why did he use them? Now some might argue that it is because of his evil nature that they would stoop to this low. However, one could also argue that Assad didn't use them, as he would not have invited UN inspectors into his country.

Also, even if Assad did use chemical weapons, that still wouldn't justify intervention in Syria, as that would be hypocritical on the part of America, which used nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (which didn't save lives, no matter what you're told by establishment historians).

Whether or not Assad used chemical weapons against his people, the US has no standing for intervention in Syria.

Sheldon Richman, vice president of The Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF), wisely notes:

U.S. airstrikes, intended to punish and deter Assad and degrade his military but not overthrow his regime, would deepen the U.S. investment in the Syrian civil war and increase the chances of further intervention. Obama’s previous intervention is what has brought us to this point. Instead of steering clear of this regional conflict, he declared that Assad must go; designated the use of chemical weapons as a 'red line' the crossing of which would bring a U.S. response; and armed and otherwise aided Assad’s opposition, which is dominated by al-Qaeda-style jihadists who have no good feelings toward America. Once an American president does these things, further steps are almost inevitable if for no other reason than that “American credibility” will be said to be at stake.

For example, take the Iraq War. It was promised that it would be finished in days, and yet it took several years before we got out of there, and even then, Obama wanted to keep the soldiers in there, despite the fact that Bush had laid out a plan for ending the Iraq War before he left office. And judging by the 2011 Libyan intervention, Sheldon Richman notes that "it would be doing so unconstitutionally, without congressional authorization. If history teaches us anything, it is that war is unpredictable. Even limited 'surgical' strikes can have unintended consequences (civilian deaths and American losses) and could elicit unanticipated responses, including from Syria’s allies Iran and Hezbollah."

Mark Thompson at Swampland (TIME's political blog) also notes this vital information: "Taking out Syria’s chemical-weapons stockpile isn’t easy – and is fraught with perils, including creating plumes of deadly vapors that could kill civilians downwind of such attacks.
That’s why Pentagon officials suggest that any U.S. and allied military strike against Syria will tilt toward military, and command and control, targets —including artillery and missile units that could be used to launch chemical weapons — instead of the bunkers believed to contain them.

Also, as Thompson goes on to note, we don't know where Assad has hid his chemical weapons, if he did use any.
John Glaser, editor of, notes in his brilliant piece on Syria that "these limited airstrikes against a selection of military targets might encourage Assad to act out with even more fury and indiscriminate violence, just as Clinton's initial bombing of Serbia caused Milosevic to dig in his heels before eventually giving up (most of the Serb atrocities against Kosovar Albanians occurred after the U.S. bombing)." 

He also goes to note that the attempted war "is not defensive war, since the Assad regime doesn't present even the remotest threat to America. It isn't a humanitarian war either, since U.S. airstrikes won't cripple the Assad regime's military capacity and may even get more civilians killed."

Nothing will change this fact, not even a congressional declaration of war

For some resources on Syria from a libertarian perspective (from authors both libertarian and non-libertarian), I would recommend these:

"Syria: The U.S. has learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan" by Tom Mullen, Washington Times Communities

"Dempsey's Syria letter raises questions about entire Mideast policy" by Tom Mullen, Washington Times Communities

"War with Syria and its Repercussions" by Shamus Cooke,

"Justifying the Unjustifiable: US Uses Past War Crimes to Legalize Future Ones" by Diana Johnstone, The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

"Obama's War of Choice on Syria Isn't Defensive or Humanitarian" by John Glaser, Huffington Post

"Neocon Hawks Take Flight Over Syria" by Jim Lobe,

"Syria: Another Western War Crime In the Making" by Paul Craig Roberts,

"US Bombing Syrian Chemical Weapons Will Kill Many Thousands" by Daniel McAdams, The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

"The Dictatorial Power to Punish a Dictator" by Jacob G. Hornberger, The Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF)

"US Has No Moral Standing to Condemn Assad" by Sheldon Richman, The Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF)

"An attack on Syria will only spread the war and killing" by Seamus Milne, The Guardian (UK)

"MPs and Syria: in the shadow of Iraq," an editorial by The Guardian (UK)

"Bombing Syria won't make the blindest bit of difference, Tony Blair" by Giles Fraser, The Guardian (UK)

"Transparent Hoax Can Lead to War" by Justin Raimondo,

"Why the Rush to War?" by Justin Raimondo,

"The Danger of Intervention Creep in Syria" by Daniel Larison, The American Conservative

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