Both top brass and regular servicemembers express opposition to US involvement
The military revolt against the Obama administration’s plan to launch a potentially disastrous attack on Syria is gathering pace, with both top brass and regular servicemembers expressing their vehement opposition to the United States becoming entangled in the conflict.
The backlash began to spread on social media yesterday with numerous members of the military posting photos of themselves holding up signs stating that they would refuse to fight on the same side as Al-Qaeda in Syria. The photos went viral, with one post alone generating over 16,000 shares on Facebook.
Others have posted their photos on Twitter alongside the hashtag #IdidntJoin.
As the Obama administration prepares to present a draft resolution to lawmakers that is by no means “limited” in its scope and would in fact grease the skids for an open ended war, John Kerry and other State Department officials have signaled that Obama will simply ignore Congress if they vote no and launch the assault anyway.
This will do little to reassure a growing number of influential figures in the US military who are becoming increasingly recalcitrant about the United States becoming embroiled in yet another war in the Middle East.
The Washington Post reports that, “The Obama administration’s plan to launch a military strike against Syria is being received with serious reservations by many in the U.S. military, which is coping with the scars of two lengthy wars and a rapidly contracting budget, according to current and former officers.”
Republican Congressman Justin Amash also took to Twitter to state, “I’ve been hearing a lot from members of our Armed Forces. The message I consistently hear: Please vote no on military action against Syria.” Amash’s statement was followed by a series of tweets from military veterans who also expressed their opposition to the attack.
Business Insider’s Paul Szoldra also spoke to “sources who are either veterans or currently on active duty in the military,” and asked them if they supported military escalation in Syria.
“Most have responded with a resounding no,” writes Szoldra.
He quotes an active duty First Class Sergeant who states, “We are stretched thin, tired, and broke,” adding that the United States “(does not) need to be World Police.”
“Our involvement in Syria is so dangerous on so many levels, and the 21st century American vet is more keen to this than anybody. It boggles my mind that we are being ignored,” adds former Cpl. Jack Mandaville, a Marine Corps infantry veteran with 3 deployments to Iraq.
Not only are military personnel going public with their concerns, Politico reported that leaks of attack plans are also, “emanating from a Pentagon bureaucracy less enthusiastic about the prospect of an attack than, say, the State Department, National Security Council or Obama himself,” unauthorized disclosures that have the White House “peeved”.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Electronic Army hacked the official US Marines website and left an astounding message calling on US soldiers to join the Syrian Army in fighting Al-Qaeda (click for enlargement).
The full text of the message reads:
“This is a message written by your brothers in the Syrian Army, who have been fighting al-Qaida for the last 3 years. We understand your patriotism and love for your country so please understand our love for ours. Obama is a traitor who wants to put your lives in danger to rescue al- Qaida insurgents.
Marines, please take a look at what your comrades think about Obama’s alliance with al-Qaida against Syria. Your officer in charge probably has no qualms about sending you to die against soldiers just like you, fighting a vile common enemy. The Syrian army should be your ally not your enemy.
Refuse your orders and concentrate on the real reason every soldier joins their military, to defend their homeland. You’re more than welcome to fight alongside our army rather than against it.
Your brothers, the Syrian army soldiers. A message delivered by the SEA.”
View a selection of US servicemembers expressing their opposition to the attack on Syria via the #IdidntJoin meme on Twitter below.
#IdidntJoin goes viral
Paul Joseph Watson
September 2, 2013
A deluge of duty military personnel as well as many veterans are taking to Twitter to express their opposition to the Obama administration’s plan to launch an attack on Syria.
— Evan Klocinski (@EvanKlocinski) September 2, 2013
After numerous US servicemembers posted photos of themselves holding up signs on Twitter refusing to fight on the side of Al-Qaeda in Syria, the meme developed into several different hashtag trends, including #IdidntJoin and #VetsOnSyria.
Congressman Justin Amash, a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s build-up to war, has been inundated with tweets from active duty military members and veterans in anticipation of a House vote on authorization of military action which is set to take place next week.
As we reported earlier, opposition to an attack on Syria is by no means only reserved to regular servicemembers. Numerous top brass have also gone public to express their concerns and Pentagon officials are even leaking information in a desperate bid to derail the path to war.
Many members of Congress have expressed dissatisfaction at the evidence presented to them by the administration in behind closed door meetings.
In a related development, the French government released an intelligence report today which alleged “massive use of chemical agents” by the Syrian government last month. The report was “based… in part on dozens of videos culled by French intelligence services.” In other words, this damning “intelligence” report relies primarily on YouTube videos of the attack, which offer no clues whatsoever to who the culprits even were.
President Bashar Al-Assad also warned today that potential western military intervention in Syria could spark a “regional war,” adding that “chaos and extremism will spread” if Obama green lights an attack which he has signaled will take place no matter which way Congress votes.
Read a selection of tweets received by Congressman Amash from current and former members of the military below.
— Jake (@JLtheSnake) September 2, 2013
@repjustinamash I didn’t join the Air Force to fight for al-Qaida in Syria. Please do your best.
— Derek Reynolds (@theonederek) September 1, 2013
We don’t belong in Syria. Desert Storm vet here. Support Our Troops! #VetsonSyria
— Beamster (@The_Beamster) September 2, 2013
— Joe DeBose (@DeBose13) September 2, 2013
— Jake (@JLtheSnake) September 2, 2013
— Jordan Dodson (@jrd4life) September 2, 2013
@repjustinamash This Iraq veteran is against action in Syria. Stop asking Americans to die in other countries’ wars.
— Patrick Philpot (@PatPhilpot) September 2, 2013
— Kyle McCasey (@KyleMcCasey) September 2, 2013
— CT (@CollinTeee) September 2, 2013
@repjustinamash as a retired Marine Officer I’m asking you to vote no to Syrian strike
— tommy jay (@grapplintommy) September 1, 2013
— Justin Elias (@J_C_Elias) September 1, 2013
— Rich Mooney (@Rich_Mooney78) September 1, 2013
— Jonni Womack (@JonniWomack) September 1, 2013
— Hanza girl (@hanzagirl) September 1, 2013
@repjustinamash Add my voice to the “Amash coalition.” 7.5 years as a Naval officer. Vote no on Syrian intervention. Thank you!
— Travis Thornton (@travton) September 1, 2013
This article was posted: Monday, September 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm
Sept 2, 2013
After President Obama said the United States “should” strike Syria during a Saturday speech in the Rose Garden, Republican Justin Amash (R-Mich.) took to Twitter to dispute that claim with comments from those who would likely carry out that order.
“I’ve been hearing a lot from members of our Armed Forces,” Amash tweeted. “The message I consistently hear: Please vote no on military action against Syria.”
Amash has been retweeting those thoughts for more than a day. But as a possible attack on Syria looms, there is much more to share than just what can be said in 140 characters.
I’ve reached out to my own sources who are either veterans or currently on active duty in the military, and asked them to share their thoughts on whether we should, or should not, intervene in the two-year-old Syrian civil war. Most have responded with a resounding no.
The general theme of most emails bring up personal experiences in Iraq or Afghanistan, the lack of a clear objective or end state in striking Syria, and the very muddled line between anti-government rebels and al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists.
While President Obama has repeatedly said there would be no “boots on the ground,” many remain fearful that limited strikes could have consequences that lead to further action.
Here are two emails I received, and I am reprinting them here in full, only lightly edited for clarity.
From an active-duty soldier, rank of Sergeant First Class:
I have to say I am fairly conflicted about Syria. My logic is generally fighting itself and my personal feelings towards taking action.
Part of me says that we need to take a stand against chemical weapons. President Obama announced that using chemicals weapons was the line, and Assad crossed it. The fact that even the French President has called for “proportional and firm action” says something. I’m not sure how the UN can stand by while Syria kills 1300 citizens, including women and children. The line was drawn, and Assad crossed it.
But does the U.S. always have to be the one to deliver consequences? We are stretched thin, tired, and broke. My personal feeling is no.
I’m more inclined to be ok with our involvement if we’re talking about actions by the Air Force and the Navy. We are too tired to put boots on the ground. But as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal tech, I know what would go into disarmament of chemical weapons.
And that’s just not a job I want anything to do with. And I don’t want my Soldiers doing it.
Not only is the process long and exhausting, it’s dangerous in different ways than we have been dealing with.
My gut is telling me that we don’t need to be World Police. And if we don’t have the UN for back up, it’s just too much for us to take on. We still haven’t finished Afghanistan; I just don’t see how we can take on another war, or even military actions that don’t affect us.
I can’t stand to sit by and watch innocent lives be taken in such a horrible manner, but we can’t really do this alone.
But if we don’t do something, who will? How many more innocent people have to die before anyone else will take action?
From former Cpl. Jack Mandaville, a Marine Corps infantry veteran with 3 deployments to Iraq:
In mid-March of 2003, I was a 19-year-old Private First Class waiting to cross the border into Iraq. I was aware that there was a significant portion of veterans (mostly Vietnam-era) back home who were fundamentally opposed to the invasion of Iraq. Like the majority of my peers and superiors, I didn’t really care nor did I give it much thought. We just wanted our war.
A little over 10 years later, the majority of individuals in my generation have recognised the Iraq folly for what it was. I’m still proud of my service, as are my buds, but we understand that Iraq was completely unnecessary and cost way too much money and, more importantly, American lives.
We witnessed our politicians and countrymen send us to war on a surge of emotion and quickly forget about us for nearly a decade. We had the training and capabilities to deal with Iraq, but were set up for failure by timid members of Congress and the Executive branch who futilely attempted to conduct a PC war.
The worst part about this Syria debacle, among many things, is how closely it resembles Iraq. Those Vietnam veterans who warned us about disastrous results in Iraq were doing so based off their experience in a war that, contrary to popular belief, was vastly different from our war and was separated by at least two decades.
Many veterans of Iraq are still in their twenties and have a firsthand understanding of Arab political issues. The complicated things we faced with Syria’s next door neighbours is freshly ingrained in our memories. How quickly the American people and our political leaders forget.
Our involvement in Syria is so dangerous on so many levels, and the 21st century American vet is more keen to this than anybody. It boggles my mind that we are being ignored.
My anger over this issue has actually made me seriously comment on our foreign policy for the first time since 2006 when I was honorably discharged after three stints in Iraq and subsequently watched it continue for nearly another six years.
I’m sickened that we’re putting ourselves in a position for another prolonged war where the American people will quickly forget about the people fighting it.
Are you a military veteran? Send me an email with your thoughts on possible military action in Syria (anonymity protected if preferred) — firstname.lastname@example.org
US Military Vets Question Wisdom of Attack Against Syria
|Andrei AKULOV | 05.09.2013 | 00:00|
Americans with military background, many of them gone through thick and thin to know the first thing about overseas military adventures, question the wisdom of the «limited strike» against Syria planned by President Obama’s administration. They are expressing doubts that the military operation could help the beleaguered and splintered Syrian opposition, which includes a very strong radical Islamist element doomed to be hostile to the US, or lessen concerns that hardline rebels may not support America if they do seize control of the country. Along with the support expressed by Congress majority and minority leaders, there is also a growing concern about what the planned action would lead the country to. The United States has sad experience of overseas involvement sapping the country’s resources and increasing its colossal state debt while paying dearly with American lives as well as causing heavy civilian death toll in the countries attacked to boost anti-US sentiments growing worldwide.
As the Washington Post reports on August 29, the Obama administration’s plan to launch a military strike against Syria is being received with serious reservations by many in the U.S. military, according to interviews with more than a dozen military officers ranging from captains to a four-star general. Some question the use of military force as a punitive measure and suggest that the White House lacks a coherent strategy. They say the action is to set the stage for Damascus to fall to fundamentalist rebels, while the military objective of strikes on Assad’s military targets is at best ambiguous. «There’s a broad naiveté in the political class about America’s obligations in foreign policy issues, and scary simplicity about the effects that employing American military power can achieve», said retired Lt. Gen. Gregory S. Newbold, who served as director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the run-up to the Iraq war. Marine Lt. Col. Gordon Miller, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, warned this week of «potentially devastating consequences, including a fresh round of chemical weapons attacks and a military response by Israel.» According to him, if President Bashar al-Assad were to absorb the strikes, the US «would be compelled to escalate the assault on Syria to achieve the original objectives». The Washington Post’s August 29 article called Military Officers Have Deep Doubts About Impact, Wisdom of a US Strike on Syria says the military fear that the strike could «distract the Pentagon in the midst of a vexing mission: its exit from Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are still being killed regularly». A young Army officer who is wrapping up a year-long tour there said soldiers were surprised to learn about the looming strike, calling the prospect «very dangerous». Republican Congressman Justin Amash also used Twitter to state, «I’ve been hearing a lot from members of our Armed Forces. The message I consistently hear: Please vote no on military action against Syria». The Amash’s statement was followed by a series of tweets from military veterans who also expressed their opposition to the attack. Business Insider’s Paul Szoldra spoke to «sources who are either veterans or currently on active duty in the military», and asked them if they supported military escalation in Syria. «Most have responded with a resounding no», writes Szoldra. He quotes an active duty First Class Sergeant who states, «We are stretched thin, tired, and broke», adding that the United States «does not need to be World Police». «Our involvement in Syria is so dangerous on so many levels, and the 21st century American vet is more keen to this than anybody. It boggles my mind that we are being ignored», adds former Cpl. Jack Mandaville, a Marine Corps infantry veteran with 3 deployments to Iraq.
Not only are military personnel going public with their concerns, Politico reported that leaks of attack plans are also, «emanating from a Pentagon bureaucracy less enthusiastic about the prospect of an attack than, say, the State Department, National Security Council or Obama himself, «unauthorized disclosures that have the White House «peeved».
Retired United States Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, who headed «Operation Desert Fox» – a series of air strikes against Iraq in December 1998 – agrees with Christopher Hill, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and special envoy to Kosovo (1996-1999), saying a U.S. military strike on Syria will not be seen only as an attack on President Bashar al-Assad. «This will be taken in the region that you are attacking Alawites, Shia, Christians», he said. «The tribal, ethnic and religious sects here are so divided, that once you do something — regardless of intention — you have in effect taken a side». Zinni and Hill say that this time the United States is unable able to put together at least some international coalition in advance of planned strikes.
General James Mattis, the recently retired head of the U.S. Central Command, said last month at a security conference that the United States has «no moral obligation to do the impossible» in Syria. «If Americans take ownership of this, this is going to be a full-throated, very, very serious war». He knows what he says, the General has overseen planning for a range of U.S. military responses in Syria.
The potential consequences of a U.S. strike include a retaliatory attack by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which supports Assad, on Israel, as well as cyber-attacks on U.S. targets and infrastructure, U.S. military officials said.
«What is the political end we’re trying to achieve?» one retired senior officer involved in Middle East operational planning asked. «I don’t know what it is. We say it’s not regime change. If it’s punishment, there are other ways to punish».
Ann Wright is a former United States Army Colonel and retired U.S. State Department official known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She points out that Secretary of State John Kerry has pronounced that the UN inspectors «can’t tell us anything that we don’t already know.» President Obama says that any U.S. attack on the Assad government will be as punishment, not regime change. The strike will be «limited»—but tell that to the civilians who inevitably die when military attacks take place. The Colonel notes that President Bush didn’t know or didn’t care about the probable consequences of their decision to invade and occupy Iraq. The result is hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and over 4,000 Americans dead, millions of Iraqis and Americans wounded physically and psychologically, many young men of the region now experienced in warfare and for hire moving from Iraq to Libya to Syria and the Iraqi «democratic» government unable to control the sectarian violence that now is killing hundreds each week.
The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity group put 17 signatures of armed forces and other law enforcement agencies veterans in a letter calling on General Dempsey to resign in an act of protest against the would-be military action, «As seasoned intelligence and military professionals solemnly sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, we have long been aware that – from private to general – it is one’s duty not to obey an illegal order. If such were given, the honorable thing would be to resign, rather than be complicit».
One of the more vocal critics is the top military officer, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned in great detail about the risks and pitfalls of U.S. military intervention in Syria «Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid». «As we weigh our options, we should be able to conclude with some confidence that use of force will move us toward the intended outcome», Dempsey wrote last month in a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee. The General said this month in an interview with ABC News that his experience in Iraq has influenced the approach to Syria and the «Greater Middle East». «It has branded in me the idea that the use of military power must be part of an overall strategic solution that includes international partners and a whole of government and that simply the application of force rarely produces – and, in fact, maybe never produces – the outcome that we seek», he said.
* * *
Considering the problem of use of force there are principles to stick to formulated by former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger (Defense Secretary in 1981-1987 under Republican Ronald Reagan administration) but often referred to as doctrine named after Colin Powell.
The “Powell Doctrine” is a journalist-created term, named after General Colin Powell in the run-up to the 1990-1991 Gulf War. It is based in large part on the Weinberger Doctrine, devised by Caspar Weinberger, former Secretary of Defense and Powell’s former boss. The doctrine emphasizes U.S. national security interests, availability of a clear attainable objective, a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement, assessment of risks and costs, exhaustion of non-violent policy means, thorough consideration of the consequences and genuine international support.
The US implemented it in the UN Security Council-approved Gulf war. As soon as the unachievable missions were set before the US military, like «building democracy», for instance, the US failed one time after another in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Military victory easily achieved, the US has failed to win peace being impotent in front of resistance that had no unified command center and was rather of sporadic nature with the mission to fight foreign troops on national soils. This time around the mission is not to topple the Syrian government. It’s all about chemical weapons. President Obama warns in advance it is of limited nature, and then what would make the perpetrators stop? And if it is a provocation staged by rebels as it has been a proven case at least once? The probability the crime was committed by anti-Assad rebels is high having in mind it has happened before.
It has always been like that. The US started a small (limited) war planned to end up in the blink of an eye. It normally was a pipe dream becoming protracted and costly adventure as raw awakening came. If the first strike against Syria brings about no result (and it is actually doomed to be this way), then Obama will have to willy-nilly order another «limited» (but this time not that «limited») action under the wave of harsh criticism. Then the chain reaction will get the US mired in the quagmire of drawn-out and costly military conflict it says it has no intention to be dragged into. It will take away many lives to end up in political deadlock – another war without strictly defined goals and senseless in each and every way. None of the problems posed by Syria conflict will be solved as a result of military action. And that is the way Washington embarks on the road to another Vietnam, a folly-like self-destruction making suffer the very same American people whose interests President Obama has solemnly vowed to serve…