Syria: Chemical Weapons – What Can the International Community Do?

The Syria conflict has gained renewed intensity after the al-Assad regimes announced its willingness to utilize its stockpile of chemical weapons if the international community were to militarily involve itself; thus ensuring that international activity in the region will not surpass mere sanctions and also suggests that the al-Assad regime may be feeling the pressure of the various opposition groups within Syria.

Despite the Confirmation of Biological Weapons, the International Community Still Can’t Do Anything

Though Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons has been an open secret for the past 4 decades, the Assad’s regime’s announcement is a direct confirmation that Syria does indeed have a chemical weapons arsenal at their disposal.  The announcement targeted the international community, stating that if any foreign intervention in Syria’s civil war would be met with the deployment of chemical weapons.  The weapons include mustard and sarin gases, as well as cyanide, and are capable of being deployed by aircraft, surface-to-air missiles and rockets.  The announcement has sparked renewed animosity towards the regime, as well as towards the eastern powers that still persist in supporting the Assad regime, such as Russia and China.  Though the announcement does spark another international dilemma to be confronted if the community were to begin renewed intervention-talks, it does not present any new looming threat for the opposition groups still fighting throughout the Syrian country.  As the perpetuating conflict in Aleppo demonstrates, the opposition groups are utilizing a hit-and-run, urban-guerrilla warfare against the security forces of the regime.  The chemical weapons are poorly suited for such close-quarters style combat; rather, these weapons are generally most effective against mass formations in open country.  This does pose a problem for neighboring anti-Assad countries, such as Turkey.  Turkey has remained a proponent of direct military involvement and has, in the past, deployed reinforcing troops along its borders and has run military-training exercises as a show of force.  So saying, the foreign powers that constitute the ‘Friends of Syria’ contact group are those most threatened by the weapons and it is for this reason that the recurring hopes for further foreign assistance to the people of Syria will most likely dwindle away again.  Nevertheless, Assad forces have killed more than 15,000 protesters in an attempt to repress what it has called a ‘foreign conspiracy’.  Thus the efforts of diplomacy, embodied by the UN’s Annan plan, have gone nowhere and the humanitarian catastrophe escalates.

“No chemical or biological weapons will every be used.  Unless Syria is exposed to external aggression.” – Jihad Madkissi, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman

Russia, a remaining ally for the Syrian dictator, has refused to budge on its stance against unilateral international action, but they have also warned Assad against using the chemical weapons.  Russia’s defense of Assad can be explained by merely pointing a finger at the current President, that being Putin.  The repression enforced in Russia during the first round of presidential elections represents elements of the Stalin-esque era, as well as the heavy-handedness supporting by Russia and represented by Assad in Syria.  Combined with the installment of loyal office-holders in the regime by Putin, the regidity of the country to liberalization is evident.  So saying, Syria also represents to Russia its last stronghold in the Middle East and is also part of a lucrative bilateral trade agreement, thus making Russia very reluctant to lose such an ally.  Many have stated that if Russia were to withdraw its veto on any and all UN measures, then the international community would be able to respond with force against Assad.  However, the complexities of involvement go beyond the mere reluctance of Russia and the American gun-ho attitude of invasion without knowledge, as in Iraq, cannot be the strategy taken.  If Russia were to continue maintaining strong ties to the Assad regime whilst the international community launched a Libyan-style intervention, the result would be a proxy struggle mired in a protracted civil war.  With great powers funding militias on both sides, entering a period of escalated violence, civilian casualties would dwarf the already high numbers currently.  The situation then would not resemble the relatively successful Libyan intervention, but more so that of the Lebanon civil war which resulted in over 150,000 deaths over decades long span.  So saying, an internationally involved military conflict would not provide the sought after government transition.  As of now the Obama Administration, despite hot-headed criticism from GOP Presidential candidate Romney, has taken the correct diplomatic path towards Russia.  The American government continues to try and persuade Russia, if not to join the Friends of Syria contact group, then at leas ease its objections to sanctions.  The recurring request comes after another recent UN resolution for sanctions was vetoed by both Russia and China.  Nevertheless, even without Russia, the current sanctions and embargoes will bankrupt the Syrian regime – just not as swiftly as desired.

“Our duty today as Syrians is to unify for one goal, and that is to make our country free and democratic.” – Manaf Tlass, Free Syrian Army Brigade General

As said before, much blame for a lack of direct action by the Western community, is directed as Russia.  If Russia were to remove its support for Assad and thus allow the international community an unhindered approach to do as it pleases, the situation in Syria as a whole still represents a variable that is nigh unconquerable.  The international community was able to involve itself in Libya because it was a large country with a small population, allowing the rebel forces there to capture a significant stronghold.  Syria is roughly one-tenth the size of Libya and it has 3 times as many people.  Moreover, the rebel forces in Syria have not been able to take control of any significant part of the country.  A majority of the Syrian population lives in or around Damascus and Aleppo, both of which remain under the regime’s general control.  The Syrian rebels have been able to launch sporadic attacks, but poor organization and a lack of unity has made expansion and coordination impossible.  Elements of al-Qaeda and other religious extremists are fighting with the rebels, as well as members of the country’s various minority groups – Christian, Druze and Kurdish groups.  This divided group stands under the umbrella name of the Syrian National Council, which faces a loyal Alawite hierarchy.  There has been no signs of high-level dissent, mainly due to the connection between the Alawite dictator and the fact that all key military and intelligence posts are held by Shi’ites as well.  There loyalists have remained supportive because they know that in a post-Assad Syria, they will likely be massacred.  The scenario was seen in Libya where Qaddafi loyalists were executed without trial.  Evidently, the Assad regime still remains military strong and thus an international-militaristic-coalition would not be the correct response to topple the regime.

“It would be morally far more satisfying to do something dramatic that would topple Assad tomorrow.  But starving his regime might prove the more effective strategy.” – Fareed Zakaria, Editor-at-Large of TIME Magazine

In retrospect, the international community must stand behind its current plan to constrict the Syrian regime financially, through a series of stricter embargoes and sanctions.  Though Russia and China remain allies to Bashar al-Assad, their support is not the key element in keeping the international community from entering into Syrian with guns blazing.  The reality is that the international community cannot, or at least should not, become militarily involved because of the uncertainty of the Syrian situation represented by a fractured opposition and because Assad does hold a key deterrence tool, that being a large arsenal of chemical and biological weapons.

 

Advertisements

America: Corporate Financed Campaigning – Citizens United

The corporate involvement in the political infrastructure of the American government has been made evident by the ruling behind Citizens United and the granted permission for special interest groups to finance politicians and thus replace the accountability they have to the American people.

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United Ruling has Undercut Political Accountability

The hyper-partisan nature of the political system has proliferated throughout the years, resulting in a decaying social atmosphere in which media propaganda deludes the masses into similar polarized spheres represented by the Tea Party and MoveOn.org.  This alienation has allowed for the public to fall victims to complacency and subservience, allowing for corporations and special interest groups to better consolidate their hold on the political agenda and decision-making process. The political system was instituted as a source for equal representation through which the peoples’ voice would be heard and adhered to.  Now, modern life is defined by the complicit public agreeing to a silent compact to keep up pretenses and allowing for the mega-donations of corporations to usurp all control.  The corporate takeover is not defined by a sudden rise of donations, financing and back-room deals; rather, the presence of corporate influence has been prevalent throughout the defining history of the American nation.  Nevertheless, the unbridled corporate and political greed has now been embodied by the 2010 Supreme Court decision on Citizens United which has now resulted in millions of dollars funding corrupt politicians favoring profit-seeking business interests.  The 2010 decision was followed by a report from the Center of Responsive Politics which showed that unidentifiable special interest groups financed pro-business Republicans with over $117 million, whilst Democrats were working with a budget of merely $13 million.  This disparity in spending overcame Democratic fundraising edge in 2010 among candidates and party committees, helping Republicans win a US House majority and increase their numbers in Senate.  Campaigns are no longer waged between publicly financed candidates and their political platforms.  They are no waged by shadowy attack groups posing as social welfare organizations.  With corporations being able to wield unlimited power and influence on the political system, politicians are now free from public accountability.  Thus, the ruling has resulted in targeted speech suppression, taking away the influence of the people and allowing politicians to have a corporate safeguard to protect them from a volatile public opinion.  So saying, the definition of democracy has been sold to corporations to be redefined as they seem fit. Evidently, the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission has now made election at every level of US government a sham proceeding.

“When there are secrets that we don’t know, then the ideal they pass as freedom in this country is fake.  When we are left with no right or no voice to choose, then we’re not living in a free and democratic state.” – Anti-Flag, “What You Don’t Know”

With a 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protects corporate and union funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections.  The decision marks a radical chance in the electoral procedures, turning federal elections into a new form of democracy ruled by the corporate state.  The working class voters are likely to find it nigh impossible to influence lawmakers in competition with mega-donations from giant groups.  As the people work and struggle under receding economic conditions, the corporations have been provided with a board protection plan through which they can ensure the perpetuation of a corporate-capitalist run state and ensure the perpetuation of their profits at the expense of the people.  Among the business interests whose free speech rights the Supreme Court established in the decision are CIGNA HealthCare, Massey Energy Company, Halliburton, Tokyo Electric Power Company and Saudi Aramco, among countless others.  CIGNA HealthCare refused to pay for a life saving treatment for 14 year old Nataline Mary Sarkisyan who had recurrent leukemia.  The survival rate for her, after a liver transplant, was 65% and yet CIGNA HealthCare stated that it did not cover services considered experimental, investigational, and/or unproven to be safe and/or effective for the patient.  Their rejection cam after doctors at the UCLA medical center, including the head of its transplant unit, wrote a letter state the procedure was neither experimental nor unproven and called upon CIGNA to urgently review its decision.  Sarkisyan’s family filed murder charges against its insurer but the case was thrown out by the US Supreme Court.  Massey Energy Co. is another enterprise responsible for the deaths of 29 mine-workers at the Upper Big Branch Mine in southern Virginia when basic safety concerns were set aside for profits.  The foreign group represented by Tokyo Power Company are those who were in charge of operating their General Electric designed nuclear reactors at Fukishima Daiichi despite warnings, according to Wikileaks, from the International Atomic Energy Commission of serious safety concerns.  The last company is Saudi Aramco, a state own national oil company of Saudi Arabia which stands watch over the heart of global capitalist pursuits.  Saudi Aramco was responsible for the deployment of military troops against an Arab Spring related uprising in Bahrain in an attempt to protect their privatization of the nation’s resources.

“Bred into silence by television sets, accepting lies from media so soon we will forget the lives that we spend as workers for the rich.   You work so much, there’s not time left to realize that you’re in a fucking ditch.” – Anti-Flag, “The Truth”

With the elections approaching and campaigning intensifying, the masses are victim to a blitzkrieg of images and ads propagated by broadcasts and biased media to skew their opinions and berate political opponents with criticisms and falsehoods.  Secret groups, labeled as social welfare organisations and unions, are given billions in mega-donations to run political attack ads to ensure the corporate-bought Washington hack is the victor.  Reinforcing the ideal that the elections have become a sham-proceeding, the Supreme Court’s decision has allowed for these corporations to essentially rig elections by permitting these groups to propagate ads that need not necessarily represent the truth.  The concept of biased media and proliferated lies is not uncommon, the masses are witness to lies and false-charges on every and any major news source.  Nevertheless, the ability for political attack ads to broadcast locally and nationally deceitful lies is clear evidence of the failure of democracy in the American system.  The purpose of information is to create an informed voting public, an educated electoral base of constituents, which is enshrined in America’s civic values and governing statues such as the Freedom of Information Act and federal and state campaign donor disclosure laws.  Yet, the Supreme Court’s decision has opened a flood-gate of corporate schemes that have laid waste to these pretenses and have allowed corporations to break the peoples’ minds with false ads and manipulate their votes and opinions.  Senator Mitch McConnell has led the fight for corporate funding in politics, illustrating his beliefs that informed democracy is actually anti-democratic, as disclosing these multi-million dollar mega-donations would be violating free speech rights.  His support has allowed for tax exempt groups such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the Chamber of Commerce to run supposed issue based attack ads without being subjected to the donor disclosure requirement by the Federal Elections Commission.  So saying, the Chamber of Commerce has become infamous with independent organizations such as PolitiFact and FactCheck.org that have investigated many of their supposed issue based attack ads, finding that a majority are ‘pants on fire’ and contain a plethora of falsehoods and inconsistencies.  The most notable example is in Florida where Connie Mack has spent $13 million to secure 3 weeks of television to propagate ads from the Chamber of Commerce that suggest current Democratic Senator Bill Nelson has aided President Obama in cutting $500 million from Medicare, a statement that was debunked by both PolitiFact and FactCheck.org.  The Supreme Court has accelerated the corporate takeover by giving them free reign of campaign finances and giving them access to media sources to proliferate any false ads that they desire.

“Just take a look around the world and you’ll find that nearly all mass media are owned and controlled by a handful of conservative capitalists.  We must devise and implement alternative methods of distributing our news, our information, our ideas.” – Anti-Flag, “Underground Network”

In retrospect, the decision by the Supreme Court not only marks a transitioning point in which corporations have become truly the sole source of power and influence in politics, but is also marks the general negligence for the public and the democratic values represented by the American statutes.  The Citizens United ruling has consolidated the capitalist hierarchy of the nation, allowing the rich 1% to influence and control the greedy politicians and buy hours of broadcasts.  Sponsoring public division, manipulating peoples’ opinions, and affirming a divided political arena, there exists no blockade to the corporations’ swarming takeover of all assets of the American infrastructure.

America: The All-Seeing ‘Big Brother’ – Government Surveillance

The iron fist of blood and empire has seized hold of the Stars and Stripes, raging a silent war against the democratic foundation of the nation’s people whose rights and liberties have been done away with and replaced with a repressive totalitarian order that, endorsed by the plutocracy, moves rapidly towards the enslavement of its own people.

The American Government’s Intelligence Community Parallels the Orwellian ‘Big Brother is Watching You”

Despite the constitutional protection and basic human rights that are supposedly guaranteed to the citizens of the American nation; there exists an overbearing hand that promises just reparation, but instead delivers a redefined notion of democracy through which the powers that be are able to monitor, seize and control the assets of the nation in order to repress and essentially enslave the people into a new form of complicit servitude.  Through the perpetuating false flag of terrorism, the war lobbies and corporate oligarchs have secured their hold on the government and undercut the power of the people over their government.  Without the tools given and cemented in the Constitution, such as government accountability and the right to protest, the American people stand as blind sheep as their sons and daughters are sent to foreign lands to fight a war for the ruling plutocracy.  As the soil of foreign lands are reaped for corporate profit, the government installs regime change to institute a new form of imperialism to secure a lasting relationship of foreign imposition and corruption.  The evidence is clear, but the American populous stands silent in fear of having the repressive eye of government enforcement turned domestically.  With the CIA, FBI, NSA and other government agencies becoming mercenaries for hire, the American populous has already fallen into the tyrannical regime that has been installed abroad.  The government has already superseded constitutional boundaries and has begun its assault on civil liberties to establish an empire of intelligence gathering and repressive prosecution.  The huddled masses have fallen complicit and complacent as re-education and prison camps are constructed in their suburbs, being occupied by civilians with familiar faces and familiar names.  With citizens being labelled as terrorists and conspiracists, the government has coalesced into a system run by the rule of martial law with no borders.  The rise of the totalitarian regime was not an over-night event; rather, the path has been secured by the evolving propaganda machine begun by Wilson and used by leaders like Nixon and Reagan to justify military build-up and crippling taxation.  Continuing under George W. Bush and Obama, the passing of the Patriot Act, the military contract to Halliburton’s subsidiary KBR to build domestic detention camps, Operation Falcon (I, II, and III), the creation of the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit, and the passing of the NDAA; the police state in the US was given a foundation through which the domestic populous was being reduced into a herd of subservient fodder for the corporate controlled machines.  So saying, this post focuses on the rise of corporate bought intelligence community being turned inwards and monitoring the actions of the domestic populous, thus embodying ‘Big Brother is Watching You’.

“He said don’t take this for the way it is.  You better watch out son, when you give in.  Before you know it, the friends you trust will have stabbed you in the back.” – Anti-Flag, “If You Wanna Steal (You Better Learn How to Lie)

The regime being instituted in America is democratic at face-value, leaving the separation of powers and popular elections; but these institutions fail to provide the values and principles of liberal democracy through which a government, for and by the people, is intended to represent.  Rather, the currency of the nation is currency, valuing capital and pursuit of such greed at the cost of the peoples’ liberties and rights.  Dissolving the notions of democracy for the purpose of plutocracy, the government has been mutated into an overbearing hand of control.  With control of all assets of the infrastructure, ‘Big Brother’ has empowered itself through various means of the law.  The argument being provided for the infringement of peoples’ lives and liberties is that of national security, the ambiguous and heterogeneous term whose definition relies on special interests groups.  The US Constitution provides the American people with certain protections and freedoms, of which the majority are being violated by the public’s complicit behavior to the government’s seizure of more power.  The premise of national security is to protect the interest of the nation, an interest intended to be reflected by the majority of the population and their representatives.  In the case of America, violating civil liberties to protect the nation is contradictory.  When a person’s rights are violated, it harms every person in the nation and thus the nation.  So saying, the argument betrays the reality that the federal powers are not interested in the protection of the people and the nation; rather, the federal powers are interested in profiteering at the expense of the people.  The Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court is an example of the system undermining the powers of the people and giving special interest groups and their lobbyists even more power in the government.  The decision not only undermines the influence of government accountability on government officials, but it reverses laws that limited the role of corporate money in federal elections, thus securing the plutocracy of narrow business leaders.  This decisions embodies the greater reality that corporations are able to fund and manipulate political decision-making in their favor, thus turning the government into their own omniscient tool to control and subdue the masses into their corporate-led herds.

“Join now!  Don’t wait!  Make death, your date!  Salute and fight!  Fight for the wealth of the few!  Wrapped in a flag and sold to you, sold as Freedom.  It’s up to you to see through the lies of those who’ve led us to endless world strife.” – Anti-Flag, “Sold As Freedom”

The interests of these corporate leaders is to profit at the expense of domestic and foreign peoples’, a means to be achieved through consolidating their power on the government by controlling and quieting the public.  The Freedom of Information Act has allowed the America’s Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to release documents that report that technology, such as cell phones, are used as surveillance tools to encroach on the public’s privacy.  The data, calls, phone numbers, photos and electronic locations, on a cell phone are being turned over to authorities without a warrant and the service providers profit from the sale.  Moreover, the citizens pay for the service and pay taxes to fund the local and federal departments who are being sold this information; thus, the public is investing in agencies dedicated to infringing on their privacy and enslaving them to a constant surveillance system.  The infringement of rights and liberties by the government for purposes of ensuring a complicit and silent public is also evident in the Patriot Act.  Initially passes under the Bush administration in response to 9/11, the Obama administration signed a 4-year extension of three of its key provisions: roving wiretaps, searches of business records and conducting surveillance on individual suspected of terrorist-related activities not linked to terrorist groups.  Evidently the provisions being perpetuated are clear illustrations of the government’s vagrant disregard for civil liberties and gives the federal government the ability to spy on any and all citizens under the ambiguous terms, “terrorist-related activities”.  Among the tools at the government’s behest are internet service providers and cable companies.  Both of which receive federal money to disclose all the information of their customers.  The name, address, local and long distance telephone billing records, bank account and credit card numbers are provided to the government by the companies, in return for tax payer dollars.  One program still continuing from its birth under Bush’s Patriot Act is Stellar Wind.  The program is intended to mine a large database of communications of American citizens, basing a NSA Data Center in Utah.  The purpose was to intercept, decipher, analyze and store vast swath’s of the world’s communications in the center, thus becoming the government’s property to do with as it sees fit.  In short, the NSA is building the country’s biggest spy center and the $2 billion facility in Utah is to be finished in 2013 and is being constructed by businesses with ties to the former Bush administration, thus demonstrating the profiteering stance of corporations in the intelligence takeover of the public arena.

“The phrase world leaders does not describe the heads of state.  Those few in power, work only for the corporate sake.  No action, no interest, no humanity at all.  As the corporate towers rise up, they watch the people fall.” – Anti-Flag, “No Borders, No Nations”

Though Bush personally oversaw the rise of government power in his counter-terrorism policies, the Obama administration has also revamped efforts to narrow in on domestic targets.  The recent media coverage of the ‘Kill List’ list has seized international attention and demonstrated the dissolution of habeas corpus for Americans considered a threat in foreign lands.  The President has launched an assassination campaign and has made the global arena a war zone, thus signifying that all those killed are war-time casualties and reducing the recorded number of civilian casualties.  Nevertheless, domestically the passing of the NDAA for 2012 marked the passing of Title X, Subtitle D, sub-sections 1021 and 1022 which allowed for the indefinite detention of American citizens without due process or warrant.  Many of the suspects arrested have been shipped to Guantanamo Bay, others have possibly been sent to detention and re-education camps built by Halliburton’s KBR under the Bush years.  The new marks a clear parallel to the edicts of totalitarian regimes elsewhere in the world.  The new law, violating basic human rights and constitutional liberties, allow government agencies to inherently spy on daily routines and activities of Americans and then possibly detain them in Guantanamo, a clearly inhumane prison camp.  The deceleration of the NDAA has also allowed for the writing of legislation, “FAA Re-authorization and Reform Act of 2012”.  The legislation would allow for the military’s drone program to establish itself in American skies.  Though not the militaristic nature of those involved in the assassination campaign of Obama’s ‘Kill List’, these micro-drones are used by the NSA to aid in the surveillance and monitoring programs within the US.

“Welcoming with open arms and open hearts, in the end they found their arms in shackles and their hearts town out.  This country named ‘America’ is built on graves.” – Anti-Flag, “Stars and Stripes”

In retrospect, the profiteering agenda of the plutocracy has been consolidated through the seizure of government away from the people and into the lining of their pocket books, maintaining a complicit and subdued public through an increasingly overbearing intelligence community.  Mirroring the Orwellian ‘Big Brother’, the policies of the government have seized assets of telephone companies, cable companies and use military technology to advance their surveillance and monitoring system through the American nation.  So saying, the American system has become a repressive hand of totalitarian control through which the narrow business interests of the ruling classes are able to prosper and advance their agenda through the infringement and violation of rights and liberties promised under the Constitution.