Glass-house America

That old saying about people in glass houses not throwing stones obviously isn’t known to the American political elite. Turning its baleful gaze on Syria, the USA is busy rattling its sabers. Syria is in particular trouble for possessing WMDs. I suppose we should be grateful that, this time, America is, at least, turning its attention towards a country that does actually seem to possess them (although, it is peculiar that it has taken them so long – ahem!). Given that Syria has, so far, threatened only to unleash its arsenal if attacked by an outside aggressor, the USA’s loudmouthed interventionism serves only to undermine what little moral stance it could claim.

The USA has been no keener than Syria to sign-up to international bans on chemical and biological weapons. The USA amongst the largest such arsenals on the planet. The USA has made use of chemical weapons in warfare. The USA has illegally tested biological, chemical and radiological weapons on its own civilians. The USA is the only country to have detonated nuclear weapons in anger. When it comes to WMDs, Syria looks positively saint-like when stood next to America.

Then, we come to Syria’s escalating civil war. As difficult as it is to discover just who is doing what to whom and whether any of the atrocities placed at the Assad regime’s door can be justified, the simple facts are that America has no right to condemn them. The USA’s behaviour down the years – illegal wars, illegal territorial seizures, the abuse of its own citizens, its treatment of citizens in other countries it has interfered in, torture – make Syria’s behaviour – restricted to its own borders and people – look almost civilised. If America can drop bombs on wedding parties in other countries in the name of targetting terrorism, then it can hardly accuse Syria of wrongdoing when it attacks its own citizens on the exact same grounds.

Whether intervention in Syria is justified on moral grounds or not, and it is impossible to be certain what is really happening, America isn’t the country to do it. In fact, none of the major powers and wannabe powers today have the moral standing, all being as evil and corrupt as each other. Whether it would be possible to a coalition of less tarnished states to take a leading role in the UN and guide a more ethical approach to international relations, I cannot say, but it is the only moral alternative to doing nothing. At the moment, any intervention in Syria or elsewhere will just be about hypocrites attempting to further their own aims, not about building a better world.

Perhaps we should update the saying to “People in glass houses shouldn’t possess WMDs”?


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