Apparently the United States killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi yesterday. US Special Forces allegedly killed the ISIS leader during a raid on a stronghold in Idlib.
The debate about whether or not Baghdadi was killed by US Special Forces, killed himself with a suicide vest, is still alive or died years ago has raged all day.
From a domestic point of view, the purpose of the attack is fairly obvious: Donald Trump has an election coming up, and potential Presidents like nothing more than being seen to be tough. That means taking out some “bad guys”.
Of course, none of that matters.
It doesn’t matter what happened, it doesn’t matter why it happened and it doesn’t matter whether who it (allegedly) happened to was real, or alive…or otherwise.
Because, as always, the problem is not the specifics. It’s the principle and the precedent.
Let’s just assume that – for the first time in its entire existence – the Pentagon is telling the exact truth about both its actions, and the motives for those actions.
Well, then this is still unacceptable.
The United States is publicly claiming the right to carry out military strikes on foreign soil for the purpose of conducting extra-judicial executions.
This is completely illegal.
Syria is a sovereign state. Whatever the motivation for the alleged raid, carrying it out without the cooperation or permission of the legitimate government of Syria was illegal.
al-Baghdadi was (is?) not a US citizen, or an enemy combatant, and has never been convicted of any crime, in any court, by anyone. Whether or not he is alive…he as a right to be alive under the UN Charter of Human Rights.
And we’re all forgetting that.
Just a few weeks ago Trump announced the US was “pulling out” of Syria. Well, we now know what we suspected at the time, that the announcement is meaningless. This “raid” is their way of saying “just kidding!”
ISIS will still be used as they have always been used: as an excuse for the United States to occupy, attack, destabilise and control the Middle East.
Lost in this hubbub about ISIS, and Hollywood theatricals about daring night-raids on enemy compounds, the United States marched soldiers into North-Eastern Syria to “protect” oil fields.
At the end of the day THAT is really what this was about. Not hurting ISIS, or fighting terrorism, or even making Donald look cool to Rust Belt patriots…it was about an Empire acting as they would, and us letting them. It was about narrative control
Don’t forget the famous quote from Karl Rove:
We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
When we argue about the specifics we let those in power control the conversation.
The US broke international law, and claim it as an achievement. They ignore borders and treaties and conventions on a whim, and we are so used to it we’re debating their motives and their effectiveness.
They proclaim loudly that they’re above the law. And, in letting them set that conversation, we agree with them. Even in our outrage.