U.S. Bombing of Syria Begins (and so do civilian casualties)

Claiming that the United States already has the legal authority under both U.S. and U.N. law, President Obama notified Congress that he has ordered  more airstrikes in Iraq and, for the first time, dropped bombs and fired missiles into Syria against ISIS and another terrorist group. We will have to wait for Congress to return to find out what our representatives, as a group, feel about Obama’s action.

The airstrike coalition includes the Arab nations of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Qatar, but the risks of expanding war in the Middle East are, as the Christian Science Monitor explains, quite significant. That ISIS and other Islamic terrorists may gain prestige and sympathy from some Syrians is a real possibility. And we have already seen that the airstrikes in Iraq so far seem to have done little in the way of disrupting ISIS.

Meanwhile, the heavy bombardment of parts of Syria has caused, The Guardian reports, claims of civilian casualties. 8 innocent people, including women and children, were killed by U.S. weaponry in the Syrian town of Kfar Dariyan. The U.S. has yet to comment on or confirm these “collateral damage” deaths. The reporter noted that

“during a 45-minute briefing by senior US officials for the media on Tuesday, no mention was made of possible civilian casualties and no reporters asked.”

 

No reporters asked? What, may I ask, are reporters for? Taking dictation?

Writing recently in The Nation, William Greider notes with displeasure how many of our journalists are now all gung-ho for the war effort:

“Our predicament is substantially obscured by the frightening enthusiasm for war among leading pundits. As Stephen F. Cohen has observed about the Ukraine–Russia crisis, the US media are simply not telling the truth about the failure of our post–Cold War policy. They demonize the opponent and never acknowledge the rational alternatives that exist. But how would we know this, if no one in authority will discuss it? America needs an antiwar movement of truth tellers to confront and shame the propagandists.”

Some American and other international antiwar truth tellers do exist but the problem is getting heard via the mainstream media, which often acts as if peace activists and journalists who dissent from the prevailing pro-war ideology simply do not exist.

This leaves alternative media, online and off, the responsibility of truth-telling. And American readers have the responsibility of seeking out alternative voices and weighing the evidence. Unlike some reporters, they need to ask critical questions and seek the truth.

Postscripts:

And the pundits sound off– a few are critical, reports the BBC.

Phyllis Bennis of IPS provides good reasons for why bombing in Syria was a bad decision:

“The U.S. bombs do not fall on “extremism,” they are falling on Raqqah, a 2,000 year-old Syrian city with a population of more than a quarter of a million people – men, women and children who had no say in the take-over of their city by ISIS.”

As for what Syrians are thinking about our military action, this gathering of some Syrian activist/intellectual voices via Dissent is illuminating.

Information on Syrian civilian casualties can be found at the independent Syrian Observatory for Human Rights website.

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