Notes From the Margins…

John Kerry’s Moral Compass

  • August 27, 2013
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The Imperium and its allies are preparing public opinion for their forthcoming bombing of Syria, and morality is the order of the day, as it must be, considering the very flimsy legal basis for this ‘intervention.’

So today we find John Kerry insisting that Syrian involvement in the Ghouta chemical weapons attack is ‘undeniable’, and delivering a stern lecture to anyone who has dared to suggest otherwise or criticized the West’s instrumentalisation of the attack as a casus belli.     According to Kerry:

‘Anyone who could claim that an attack of this staggering scale could be contrived or fabricated needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass.     What is before us today is real. And it is compelling.’

As one of those who has suggested that this attack might have been ‘contrived or fabricated’ I’m clearly in need of moral guidance, so I’m wondering who I should now turn to in search of it.     Should it be the al-Nusra front,   seven of whose members, according to the Turkish press in May, were arrested by police in Turkey’s Adana province in possession of sarin gas?

How about the ‘warlords with no interest in peace’, some of whom, according to Patrick Cockburn have forced 40,000 Syrian Kurds into Turkey over the last week, in what the United Nations has called ‘the biggest single refugee exodus of the war’?

No, I’m afraid I’ve drawn a blank there.     What about Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the head of the Saudi Arabian intelligence services, whose country has done so much to turn the Syrian rebellion into a civil war, and   who first informed Washington of the Ghouta attack last week, for reasons which no doubt have everything to do with Saudi concern for the Syrian people and not with its desire to rollback Iran?

Of course I could draw some inspiration from the United States government itself, whose military and intelligence officials, it has just been confirmed, once provided Saddam Hussein with satellite imagery, maps and intelligence that enabled him to attack Iran with sarin and mustard gas in four offensives during 1988.

Or more recently, before I begin searching my own conscience,   I could some lessons on exemplary moral conduct from the huge rise in cancer, miscarriages and birth defects in Fallujah and Basra, which local and international studies believe is connected to the use of depleted uranium weapons and the use of white phosphorus by American and British troops during another ‘moral’ war, whose tenth anniversary came and went this year without any acknowledgement of these events by the US government or mainstream media.

There was a time when Kerry might have had provided me with some inspiration,   when he was a witness at the 1971 Winter Soldier hearings on the Vietnam War.     In his Winter Soldier statement, Kerry powerfully evoked his experience as a Vietnam veteran, in which

‘We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers who hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum.

We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of orientals. We watched the US falsification of body counts, in fact the glorification of body counts…’

Kerry had no doubt who was ultimately responsible for these events. ‘Where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership? ‘ he thundered then, ‘ We are here to ask where are McNamara, Rostow, Bundy, Gilpatric, and so many others.’

He concluded that ‘they have left the real stuff of their reputations bleaching begin them in the sun in this country.’

Something similar could be said of Kerry, in his transformation from critic of imperial violence into a spokesman for it.   This is the man who only recently told the Palestinians ‘not to act adversely’ in response to the latest settlement expansion with which Israel began the current ‘peace talks.’

Now he wants to bomb another group of ‘orientals’ in order to make his boss look ‘credible.’     And until I hear anything to the contrary, I   must continue to insist that the West’s coming intervention has everything to do with regime change and nothing to do with protecting anyone,     and I don’t need the Secretary of State to tell me where my moral compass is when he clearly no longer has one of his own.


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1 Comment

  1. Nik

    27th Aug 2013 - 11:34 am

    I had to force myself to watch his speech yesterday. I simply dreaded exactly what I saw then in the end. We have reached a point where evidence, even if fabricated, isn’t even needed anymore. Kerry hinted at some further details on why the US think it was Assad, can’t wait for that, seeing that US investigators are all over the place in Ghouta… right?

    Well they are not of course, and those UN-investigators who are there are only tasked to say IF chem. weapons were used. How nice is that? Just connect the dots, right? Sarin was used, who’s got Sarin, Bashar does, rest my case kthxbye. Unf**********believeable.

    I also loved how he pointed towards the suspicious behavior which seems to try to hide something. And with trying to hide something such open and free countries as we are in the west, of course, are not familiar with at all. Seriously, Assad should take western armies and governments as an example when it comes to transparency and allowing investigations in combat zones.

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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