Seems to Me I’ve Heard That Song Before

The title of this essay is that of a song I remember from bygone days. Frank Sinatra used to sing it. Listening to Barack Obama and John Kerry give their rationale for attacking Syria, gave me an ear worm – the song keeps running around in my brain and I’m sick of hearing it.

The US’s 43rd president, may his name be forgotten, justified attacking Iraq by saying Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was likely to give them to Al Qaeda to use on us Americans. His secretary of state carried the president’s water to the UN and around the world. England provided ammunition in the form of a memo on Saddam’s attempts to obtain yellow cake uranium from Niger. None of this was true.

Now we have the 44th president saying that the Assad administration in Syria used sarin gas (now described as nerve gas, while the UN inspectors do their thing) on civilians and must therefore be punished. His secretary of state warns that if Assad has nerve gas Al Qaeda can get it and use it to attack us Americans.

Seems to me I’ve heard that song before.

This president assures us he’s mindful of the lies that preceded the attack on Iraq, and I believe him, because instead of blaming Assad categorically, he avoids outright lies by saying, as he did today, “It’s quite likely….” and “We’re pretty certain.”


Since when does the US attack a sovereign nation that has neither harmed us nor threatened to do so on the basis of “quite likely” and “pretty certain?”

In what way is killing innocents with nerve gas any worse than killing them with bombs and drones?

What is the argument against waiting for the report of UN inspectors before deciding what to do?

What if we attack and then find out we were wrong when the UN reports?  That the Al Qaeda contingent within the Syrian rebels did it, as some claim? That we can’t even know for certain who did it?

In the aftermath of the 9/11/01 attacks we learned that the US “intelligence” community had warning a month earlier of a planned attack on US soil but failed to “connect the dots.”

In the aftermath of the 8/21/13 nerve gas attack in Syria we learn from the Associated Press that

One of the key pieces of intelligence that Secretary of State John Kerry later used to link the attack to the Syrian government — intercepts of communications telling Syrian military units to prepare for the strikes — was in the hands of U.S. intelligence agencies but had not yet been “processed,” according to senior U.S. officials.

In other words, the US “intelligence” agencies failed to “connect the dots.”

Seems to me I’ve heard that song before.

In 2003 we were told that the attack on Iraq would evoke “shock and awe,” overthrow Saddam Hussein, and bring peace and democracy to the country in little time.

Now we’re told the purpose of a strike on unspecified targets in Syria is to punish the Assad regime, that it will all be over quickly, that no US forces will be deployed to fight in Syria, and that there will be no adverse affects resulting from the attack.

Seems to me I’ve heard that song before.


Who among us is sufficiently clairvoyant to be able to say such an attack will have no consequences — retaliation from Syria, Iran, or Russia, for example, on US installations abroad?

When this “limited” action metastasizes, as it surely will (see our history in Vietnam and Iraq) how will the US pay for it? Will we see more children deprived of Head Start? More families deprived of fuel assistance this winter? A successful effort on the part of the ultra right in Congress to end the SNAP program? Cuts in Medicare and Social Security?

If Congress votes not to intervene in Syria’s civil war, will the president go ahead anyway and authorize the attack? If he does, shall we establish once and for all, by considering impeachment, whether the Constitution reserves the right to declare war to the Congress, and whether an undeclared war is war nonetheless?

Had enough? Ready to do something to head off this blatant violation of international law?

The ABC news political unit has put together a “whip count” of Congress members showing how they intend to vote at present. The count will change in the next few days. ABC promises to update it. The vote won’t happen before Wednesday – the president plans a major speech on Tuesday – so there’s time to make your thoughts known.

Here’s where things stand at this writing, according to ABC:

  • Sure or likely to vote against attacking Syria: 217
  • Sure or likely to vote to attack Syria: 43
  • Undecided or unknown: 172

Needed to vote the resolution to attack up or down: 218

Your path is clear. If you want to prevent another Middle East war, look at ABC’s tally, find where your congress member stands and get in touch.

Don’t ignore those Democrats listed as being opposed. The pressure on them is likely to be horrendous. Make the case to those listed as likely to oppose, undecided, and unknown. Contact your own representative only. Contacts outside your congressional district are useless.

I don’t feel good about hoping the president will lose on this vote; I know that some who will vote against his proposal will do so only because they want him to fail in everything. But foreign policy should not be a partisan matter and I want him to lose by an impressive majority, not because he’s who he is, but because he’s wrong about this. And then I want him to obey the will of the people, as expressed by their representatives.

To find your congress member’s contact information, to phone or send email, go to

and enter your ZIP code. Then find your rep’s phone number or the “contact me” e-mail link. E-mail is probably best, especially over the weekend. I’m guessing voice mail boxes will be full by now.

You know you should let your voice be heard. Don’t put it off. Do it now.

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