Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 3, 2013

An American Autumn

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on September 3, 2013

Here are a few excerpts from President Obama’s ten minute speech about Syria on Saturday:

“Our intelligence shows the Assad regime and its forces preparing to use chemical weapons, launching rockets in the highly populated suburbs of Damascus, and acknowledging that a chemical weapons attack took place. And all of this corroborates what the world can plainly see — hospitals overflowing with victims; terrible images of the dead. All told, well over 1,000 people were murdered. Several hundred of them were children — young girls and boys gassed to death by their own government.

“This attack … presents a serious danger to our national security. It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. It endangers our friends and our partners along Syria’s borders, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons, or their proliferation to terrorist groups who would do our people harm.

“In a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted….. I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets.

“But having made my decision as Commander-in-Chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I’m also mindful that I’m the President of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. I’ve long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. … I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress…..

“Here’s my question for every member of Congress and every member of the global community: What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price? ….

“Make no mistake — this has implications beyond chemical warfare. If we won’t enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules? To governments who would choose to build nuclear arms? To terrorist who would spread biological weapons? To armies who carry out genocide?


President Obama will not use direct military action in Syria “in the face of an explicit congressional rejection of his request for authorization to use force,” Philip Bobbitt writes in an essay posted Monday on ForeignPolicy.com

Bobbitt concludes his analysis by suggesting Obama is acknowledging the argument at the heart of Bobbitt’s indispensable 2008 book, Terror and Consent.

“[W]e must recognize that the 21st-century wars against terror are still fundamentally wars, so far as the rule of law. These wars will be waged in three domains: the campaigns against global, networked terrorists like al Qaeda and their associated allies; the attempt to prevent, and where that is not possible, to mitigate the effects of civilian catastrophes, including genocide, ethnic cleansing, and the mass killing of citizens by their own states; and the struggle to preclude the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction for the purpose of compellance rather than deterrence.”

These three aims of the “Wars Against Terror” — preventing terrorism, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and protecting civilians from natural and manmade catastrophes – have to be pursued in relation to each other. “[P]rogress in in any one [domain] often means a worsening situation in the other two. Managing this relationship will be the chief security problem for … the U.S. … in [the] struggle against terror.” (Both quotes from Terror and Consent, 3-4).

So here we are again.

“I know well that we are weary of war,” a President trapped by 21st century domestic and international conflicts, tells the American people, but

“We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us….”  “[W]e are the United States of America, and we cannot and must not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus. … “I’ve told you what I believe, that our security and our values demand that we cannot turn away from the massacre of countless civilians with chemical weapons. And our democracy is stronger when the President and the people’s representatives stand together.”

What will the president and the people’s representatives do about this?

Is there a small glimmer of hope here? Hope, that maybe the factionalized belligerents of America politics can talk – authentically – about what action is in the national interest? And then decide something? And abide by that decision?

If that possibility can be nurtured and nourished – whatever the outcome –  in the case of the chemical attack in Syria, can the same spirit and effort be directed toward other factionalized issues with perhaps more immediate relevance to the long term security of the nation – like the budget, and debt, and health care, and education, and the border, and immigration?

I was driving south on Interstate 5 Monday. Leaves along the Oregon road are turning yellow already, and dropping to the ground. It’s September again.

I remembered a line from Herman Hesse:

That is the way leaves fall around a tree in autumn, a tree unaware of the rain running down its sides, of the sun or the frost, and of life gradually retreating inward. The tree does not die. It waits.

Maybe we’ve waited long enough.

“Dare to be naïve,” Buckminster Fuller challenged.

“Let’s decide this thing together,” an American president challenged.

Maybe our American Spring will be in autumn.



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Comment by William R. Cumming

September 3, 2013 @ 2:24 am

Unilateral violence against others by the American government should come to an end. Why? Because the attraction of doing so overwhelms other kinds of actions. Why not beef up the foreign service, knowledge of foreign languages and cultures and others first so that we understand the dynamics of what is occurring.

Going to Congress and the UN for Resolutions of the Use of Force should be the last step not the first. This shows a bankrupt FP by the USA to me.

Comment by Michael Mealer

September 3, 2013 @ 10:12 am

When two equal evils are fighting, does striking one with a non-fatal blow really un-do the evil that has happened or stop the evil that is to come? Despite the intention for inflicting the injury such action without a positive outcome makes the intervention futile and gives each enemy a new single target to exploit or battle. (Kind of like fighting gangs in Chicago)

Will the outcome define the nation’s conscience and values or further define the dysfunction of the opportunistic domestic power struggle? I believe unless the nation has real skin in the game, either economically or politically- the domestic power struggle will trump any altruistic national decision for intervention. The political gain to either side from the present discourse has to be measured. Does standing behind the president provide long term political gain for the opposition? Probably not. Does opposing him incur any genuine shame for letting Assad do what he did? Not likely. The act is done, the civil war continues. The action did not terminate of the conflict and further deter the people’s will to revolt. At best maybe we can make a schoolyard agreement-“if they step over the line one more time, then we can agree to gang up on the bully.”

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 3, 2013 @ 11:11 am

LL should note that the civil war in Syria is supported in its continuation by all the “Great Powers”! Apparently all are benefiting from the strife.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 3, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

Can anyone provide a link as to what is expectation as to USA use of force as to the future? Deterrence of use of weapons? Toppling of leadership? I have seen no real discussion of what US drone strikes and cruise missile strikes are likely to accomplish!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

September 4, 2013 @ 4:55 am

Syria is a No go for our nation – Tehran is the real challenge and who pulls the strings and these wanna be statesmen in government, haven’t a clue. Germany is filling the void of a weakened USA and it will be Germany who addresses Tehran, not America! We have no clue….an administration who knows only to promote divisiveness and close the White House doors only to select rappers and talk of civil rights and slavery issues of the past!

Folks, we are in the 21st century and while many of us will never forget the “Benghazi Massacre” and the willing roles in blatant lies shoulder to shoulder of Barry Obama and Ms. Hillary, we have real challenges and truly incompetence from top down….oh have we fallen so…next time you vote, vote for competency no matter the color of one’s skin for this half white man has been nothing but a Chicago city street slicker and nothing more in utter disregard to our now tattered Constitution and the ideals of a Judeo-Christian America all forsaken….

Islam and Christianity led by the clerics and the priests have always raised sword towards one another throughout history and wile the common man seeks to work and strive to provide to family and to nurture children, this ongoing religious war proves nothing beneficial and burning churches or mosques are only buildings, no one can take from another their respective beliefs and no one should impose themselves on one another. Respect towards another is called for and time to be learned….yet, tragically, the battle between Islam and Christianity will continue and Germany and the ever powerful Vatican as well as Islamic leaders will continue while we here on “Main Street USA” pray for all mankind!

God Bless America!


Christopher Tingus
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645 USA

*as far as the clamor of the President’s shoes on his desk, get a Life for you don’t really think Barry Obama has any respect for our nation’s history and those who have sat in the oval office before him…he could give a damn! Open the White House Doors Now for our Kids Deserve Better – and as far as Putin and Kraft’s ring, the “KGB Putinites” will take whatever they can take and let’s move on to strengthening our borders, establish a real immigration law and appropriately monitoring of everyone and their visas and citizenship. How can others possibly take US seriously when we do not even enforce present established laws and we have an AG who is nothing but a puppet of this disgraceful administration which You voted twice into office!

Comment by Street Cop

September 4, 2013 @ 9:34 am

Kobayashi Maru!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

September 8, 2013 @ 7:43 am


NO! …Given the inattentiveness to We here on “Main Street USA” – Groucho conveys best our emphatic – NO – when it comes to engaging military ops in Syria of any kind – NO!

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