WITH up to 50 per cent of ordinary Americans still opposed to possible American strikes on Syria, US servicemen have turned to social media to voice their objection.
As Congress debates the pros and cons of an attack – with a resolution expected perhaps as early as tomorrow – US service personnel have posted images of themselves holding signs which speak of their opposition to intervention.
The reason for their opposition goes back to the 10 point Syria explainer we ran last week. In that background summary of the civil war, we explained this isn’t a case of the brave, noble rebels versus the evil dictatorial regime.
That’s partly the case, but as we wrote it’s not the full picture.
While most members of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) are Syrian citizens who are genuinely aggrieved at the failure of the Syrian government to deliver long-promised reforms, they’ve been joined by rebel groups with affiliations to the terrorist group al-Qaida.
So in other words, if the US either strikes the Syrian government or arms the rebels – two options currently being debated in Congress – it will effectively be aiding and abetting the same terrorist group it has waged war against for at least a decade.
That’s why servicemen are a little hot under their collars. Not that you can see their collars or any other identifying features apart from their medals in the pictures they’ve been posting.
They say AL Qaeda, we say al-Qaida. Tomayto tomarto. Source: NewsComAu
The reason the servicemen are trying to stay anonymous is it could be considered treason for a serviceman or woman to speak out against their government’s military plans. As Article 88 of America’s Uniform Code of Military Justice states:
“Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”
The lack of support among certain members of the military reflects the fact this is a tricky issue which is not following the usual party divide.
Typically, Republicans are seen as more trigger-happy than the Democrats, as the actions of the Bush administration amply demonstrated. But in Congress overnight, many senior Republicans argued against the Syria intervention which Secretary of State John Kerry strongly supports.
Partly that reflects the Republicans’ tendency to oppose anything Barack Obama supports, but the rebels’ al-Qaida links also appear to be informing their viewpoint.
One Republican who strongly supports a strike is Senator John McCain, the man who unsuccessfully ran against Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. It has since emerged that Senator McCain was too busy playing poker on his phone to voice his views too loudly.