Gerald Warner: America and the Syria debate

‘THIS is something that the United States as a country needs to do.” Those words from John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, epitomised the fatal disconnection between politicians and electorates that is gradually fuelling a revolution in the political system of the western world.

President Barack Obama. Picture: AP

“This” was the bombing of Syria, with the deaths and destabilisation that action would entail.

That irresponsible, murderous act of war had just been sold to Boehner and his colleagues in the GOP leadership by President Pantywaist, the dysfunctional occupant of the Oval Office. One can imagine the reaction of genuine American conservatives, watching Boehner and his lieutenant Eric Cantor emerging from a meeting with their new best friends, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, having been sold – in demotic American terms – this crock. Rumour has it that the Brooklyn Bridge and some promising watermelon mines in Uruguay now repose within the GOP leadership’s real estate portfolio. What unites pseudo-conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic is their eagerness to oblige their leftist opponents and to disoblige their natural supporters.

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It is not as if there is a scintilla of political advantage to be gained by the Republican leadership making itself complicit in Obama’s proposed war crime. Last week a Washington Post/ABC News poll showed 60 per cent of Americans opposed to a missile strike on Syria, including 54 per cent of Democrats. There is a congruency between the situations in Britain and America. In both countries a strong majority of the population is opposed to military intervention in Syria. In Britain, by some exceptional planetary alignment, Parliament broke with precedent and voted in accordance with public opinion. That phenomenon embarrassed Barack Obama into dusting down that forgotten document, the US Constitution, and consulting Congress before attacking Syria, while emphasising he would not be bound by the outcome.

The Republican turkeys joyously embraced this opportunity to vote for an early Thanksgiving. John McCain, the leading hawk, went on the stump to sell the dodgy product he had bought from the White House to constituents. It was not a successful marketing exercise. In Phoenix, Arizona he was confronted by a real live Syrian, a woman named Jumana Hadeed, who told him: “I have a cousin who is 18 years old, just was killed ten days ago by the so-called rebels and al-Qaeda, and they’re not Syrian. They’re coming to Syria from all over the world to fight this.” McCain’s bellicose campaign met with rejection from the public.

What is it that impels a US administration to arm-twist Congress this week, on the 12th anniversary of 9/11, to authorise it to engage in air strikes to assist al-Qaeda, with the added agenda of sending arms to the now largely jihadist Syrian insurgency? Last week al-Qaeda attacked the Syrian Christian village of Maaloula, one of just three surviving places where Aramaic, the language of Christ, is still spoken. The terrorists were supported by their “Free Syrian Army” collaborators and, after destroying a Marian shrine, had started forcible conversions to Islam when they were driven out by government forces. Are we expected to believe that Americans, still largely Christian outside the pagan, anti-Christian Beltway, want their armed forces to assist the elimination of their co-religionists in Syria?

Patently, for a variety of reasons, the majority does not. Yet, as in Britain, the government is trying to overrule the majority will – for what purpose? To export “democracy” to the Middle East. The real reason is that a loudmouth president who is a geopolitical illiterate babbled incontinently about “red lines”, thus breaking the key rule of international diplomacy. Now it is the Republicans who have crossed a red line with their supporters. They will pay dearly for it. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell is heavily threatened by his Republican primary challenger Matt Bevin who opposes intervention. In the House, anti-intervention Republicans such as Justin Amash, Thomas Massie and Scott Rigell are leading the opposition.

Senator Rand Paul, the toast of the Tea Party, is loving it: this Vichy collaboration by Boehner and Co with Obama puts the GOP leadership squarely in his sights. The Tea Party, which we were told was burned out because Mitt Romney, a classic pseudo-conservative, failed to win the White House (go figure), is mobilising millions of voters against Syrian intervention. This could be the showdown that produces a conservative Republican presidential candidate in 2016. Now Russia has pledged to stand by its Syrian ally in the event of war. At the G20, democracy was further advanced by the spectacle of David Cameron lobbying for war, despite Parliament voting against it. Dave should stay out of the way: nobody likes treading on roadkill. That is what all pseudo-conservatives will soon become. «

Twitter: @GeraldWarner1