How much do we really know about the alleged chemical attack in Syria? Almost nothing. Has anyone noticed?
'“… to punish President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected chemical attack…”
Do we all understand what is gravely wrong with this phrase? It is taken from the lead sentence of the Saturday New York Times story reporting that the U.S. and two European allies attacked Syrian targets in an air campaign the previous evening.
Anyone who needs help with my question suffers from overexposure to American media without resorting to available antidotes. Anyone who does not see the tragedy embedded in these words does not understand that we live amid a radical failure of leadership in the West and the collapse of public discourse into what is now limitless illogic to avoid the truth of this very circumstance.
Do not talk to me about speaking truth to power. Far too few have any right to this incessantly abused phrase.
To put the matter plainly: The U.S.–led assault on targets very close to Damascus on Friday came a few hours after international investigators arrived in Syria’s capital city to seek evidence supporting allegations of a chemical weapons attack last weekend. Bombs and missiles hit three targets a few hours before these investigators were to begin work in the Damascus suburb where the alleged use of chlorine gas occurred. This sequence of events requires no further comment.
We are now closer to a third world war than we have been at any time since the Cuban missile crisis, that interim in the autumn of 1962 when those of us then alive sat before our television sets in a state of wholly unfamiliar existential angst. Nerve-wracking, as one still vividly recalls. Castro and missiles then, the Assad government and chemical weapons now. It is remarkable how few of us seem to give a damn this time. I cannot get over this. It is as if the crisis in Syria unfolds in some distant universe and is of no concern to us. Or as if it is generally understood that it does not matter what ordinary citizens may think at this critical moment: We leave it now to sequestered elites to decide on questions of war and peace. But this is only one of the points worth making after a week that reprised the Cold War’s worst moment 56 years ago.'
Read more: Trump and allies approach World War III in Syria, on literally no evidence