Over the past three weeks, the Obama administration has been advocating for military action against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, accusing them of using chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, with a result of roughly 1,400 deaths. Let us examine some of the propaganda being used by President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry, and others in the administration to push for war, as well as the truth of the matter.
Claim: Chemical weapons have been used by the Assad regime.
Truth: It is clear that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, but the culpability of the Assad regime is not proven. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has said that members of Congress are being given intelligence briefings without any evidence to support administration claims that Assad ordered the use of chemical weapons. Also, Syrian rebels have reported that the chemical incident on Aug. 21 was the result of an accident caused by al-Nusra Front members mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.
Claim: Chemical weapons have killed 1,429 civilians, 426 of whom were children.
Truth: No independent assessment agrees with such a high casualty figure. Most put the number of casualties in the range of 400. Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) reported a casualty figure of 355.
Claim: Not using chemical weapons has been an international standard since World War I.
Truth: Chemical weapons have been used in many instances since that time. The U.S. military, for example, sprayed roughly 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and similar chemicals in Vietnam, causing roughly 400,000 deaths and over 1 million injuries and birth defects. In Iraq, U.S. troops used white phosphorus against insurgents, an incendiary chemical which sticks to human skin, causing serious burns and potential death. But of course, rules are not for those who do the bidding of the rulers.
Claim: Doing nothing in Syria will damage the credibility of the United States in international affairs, as well as embolden other rogue governments.
Truth: The correct response to one mistake is never to commit another mistake. The argument that doing nothing in Syria will embolden the governments of Iran, North Korea, or others is an example of the slippery slope fallacy. The future is unknown and unknowable, regardless of what Obama decides to do.
Claim: The American people have trusted Congress and the Obama administration with responsibility for their security.
Truth: This implies that the American people have the option not to trust the federal government with responsibility for providing the service of military defense. This would mean that there are competing defense agencies from which Americans may purchase protection, and that the U.S. military is funded through voluntary means. None of this is the case; the American people are coerced into supporting the government and its monopoly on military defense.