Americans have become so accustomed to regime change as part of their federal governmental structure that most everyone has become quite blasé about the topic. A good example is Syria, which has now been pushed front and center into the consciousness of the American people. Everyone is railing about those Syrian refugees but no one asks an important question: Under what authority is the U.S. government trying to oust a foreign leader from power?
Let’s keep in mind something important about Syria: Neither the Syrian government nor the Syrian people have ever attacked the United States. There isn’t even any allegation that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, is preparing to launch WMDs at the United States, which was the allegation that U.S. officials used as the excuse to invade Iraq and achieve regime change there.
Several years ago the U.S. government decided to initiate one of its regime-change operations against Syria. The rationale? The rationale for wanting to remove Assad has really never been made clear. All that U.S. officials, from Barack Obama on down, have maintained is that Assad is a brutal dictator who must now leave office and be replaced by someone else.
But something doesn’t make sense here. Several years ago the George W. Bush regime and the Assad regime entering into a rendition-torture partnership by which the CIA shipped a Canadian citizen named Mahar Arar to Syria to have him tortured. The CIA was convinced that Arar was a terrorist but was reluctant to torture a confession out of him. So the CIA turned to its deep-state counterparts in Syria to get the confession. After a year of brutal torture, it was finally determined that Arar was an innocent man. The Syrians released him and he’s now back living in Canada.
So, why the urge to initiate a regime-change operation against the U.S. government’s former partner in the war on terrorism? It’s not as if Assad suddenly turned bad. The fact that he was bad was precisely the reason that U.S. officials partnered with him to secure to confession from Arar.
And it’s not as if the U.S. government is fundamentally opposed to brutal dictatorships. Look at Egypt, which is an absolutely perfect model for a military dictatorship. The U.S. government continues to flood the dictatorship with weaponry to help it secure its hold on power. It also embraces the Egyptian dictatorship’s position that anyone who tries to violently overthrow this tyrannical regime is a terrorist. And don’t forget: the Egypt regime has also served as one of the U.S. government’s rendition-torture partners, just like Syria.
Another important aspect to the regime-change issue is involves the U.S. Constitution. We have become so accustomed to violations of the Constitution on the part of the national-security establishment that it’s almost considered a joke to raise the Constitution in the context of operations by the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.
But when a nation is filled with permanent, ongoing chaos and crisis, it’s important to return to fundamentals in the attempt to set things right.
When the Constitution was proposed to the American people, they were not enthusiastic about it. For more than 10 years, they had been operating under the Articles of Confederation, which provided for a federal government with very weak powers. The thing that our ancestors feared was that the Constitution might bring into existence that all-powerful federal government, one that would take away their freedom in the name of keeping them safe from foreign enemies.
But people finally went along with the deal because they were assured that the only powers that this government would have would be those enumerated in the Constitution. If a power wasn’t enumerated, the government couldn’t exercise it.
One could scour the Constitution for hours looking for a grant of power to effect regime changes in foreign countries, but the search would be in vain. The Framers never granted any such power to the federal government.
That makes the U.S. government’s regime-change operation in Syria illegal under our form of law — the law of the Constitution, the law that is supposed to govern the actions of the federal government.
So, if it’s illegal, why is it occurring? It’s because long ago the federal judiciary, whose responsibility is to enforce the Constitution, abdicated its responsibility with respect to anything that the national-security establishment was doing to protect “national security.” The Court said that it lacked the competence and expertise to second-guess the Pentagon and the CIA went it came to the principle of “national security.”
There was actually a practical reason though: As the military and intelligence component of the federal government became the most powerful and influential part of the federal government, the judiciary knew that it lacked the power, as a practical matter, to enforce its judgements and orders against an enormous standing military establishment and an all-powerful intelligence force.
Like all the other regime-change operations over the years, the one in Syria is a horror story. It has turned the country into a cauldron of war, violence, murder, chaos, and crisis, causing millions of people to flee for their lives — and causing Americans to go into paroxysms of fear over the possibility that some of those refugees might want to retaliate for what the U.S. government has done to their country in the name of regime change.
And then, of course, we have the totalitarian powers that are now wielded by the U.S. government, which are justified as means to keep Americans “safe” from the anger, rage, and hatred produced by the regime-change operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Isn’t it time for Americans to engage in some serious soul-searching? Isn’t it time to ask some fundamental questions, such as: Why is the government engaged in regime-change operations? What good does it do? Where is the legal and moral authority for such operations? Don’t such operations make Americans less safe and less secure, especially at the hands of their own government as it increasingly wields dictatorial powers in the quest to keep Americans safe from the enemies the regime-change operations produce? Was it a good idea to adopt a national-security state? Has the time come to dismantle it rather than reform it?