Thursday, June 27, 2013

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Why Obama is Declaring War on Syria

Franklin Lamb writing from Beirut, keeping a readership informed of the conflict in Syria. This piece initially featured on Counterpunch in its Weekend Edition 14-16th June, 2013


The End of Syria as We Know It?

The short answer is Iran and Hezbollah according to Congressional sources::

The Syrian army’s victory at al-Qusayr was more than the administration could accept given that town’s strategic position in the region. Its capture by the Assad forces has essentially added Syria to Iran’s list of victories starting with Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, as well as its growing influence in the Gulf.

Other sources are asserting that Obama actually did not want to invoke direct military aid the rebels fighting to topple the Assad government or even to make use of American military power in Syria for several reasons. Among these are the lack of American public support for yet another American war in the Middle East, the fact that there appears to be no acceptable alternative to the Assad government on the horizon, the position of the US intelligence community and the State Department and Pentagon that intervention in Syria would potentially turn out very badly for the US and gut what’s left of its influence in the region. It short, that the US getting involved in Syria could turn out even worse than Iraq, by intensifying a regional sectarian war without any positive outcome in sight.

Obama was apparently serious earlier about a negotiated diplomatic settlement pre-Qusayr and there were even some positives signs coming from Damascus, Moscow, and even Tehran John Kerry claimed. But that has changed partly because Russia and the US have both hardened their demands. Consequently, the Obama administration has now essentially thrown in the towel on the diplomatic track. This observer was advised by more than one Congressional staffer that Obama’s team has concluded that the Assad government was not getting their message or taking them seriously and that Assad’s recent military  gains and rising popular support  meant that a serious Geneva II initiative was not going to happen.

In addition, Obama has been weakened recently by domestic politics and a number of distractions and potential scandals not least of which is the disclosures regarding the massive NSA privacy invasion. In addition, the war lobby led by Senators McClain and Lindsay Graham is still pounding their drums and claim that Obama would be in violation of his oath of office and by jeopardizing the national security interest of the United States by allowing Iran to essentially own Syria once Assad quells the uprising.

Both Senators welcomed the chemical weapons assessment.  For months they have been saying that Obama has not been doing enough to help the rebels. “U.S. credibility is on the line,” they said in a joint statement this week. 'Now is not the time to merely take the next incremental step. Now is the time for more decisive actions,' they said, such as using long-range missiles to degrade Assad’s air power and missile capabilities. Another neo-con, Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) said the opposition forces risk defeat without heavier weapons, but he also warned that may not be enough. 'U.S. should move swiftly to shift the balance on the ground in Syria by considering grounding the Syrian air force with stand-off weapons and protecting a safe zone in northern Syria with Patriot missiles in Turkey,' Casey said.

According to some analysts, Obama could alternatively authorize the arming and training of the Syrian opposition in Jordan without a no-fly zone. That appears unlikely according to this observers Washington interlocutors because the Pentagon wants to end the Syrian crisis by summers end, the observer was advised:

rather than working long term with a motley bunch of jihadists who we could never trust or rely on. The administration has come to the conclusion apparently that if they are in for a penny they are in for a pound, meaning would not allow Iran to control Syria and Hezbollah to pocket Lebanon.

Secretary of State Kerry had meetings with more than two dozen military specialists on 5/13/13. The Washington Post is reporting that Kerry believes supplying the rebels with weapons might be too little and too late to actually flip the balance on the Syrian ground and this calls 'for a military strike to paralyze Al-Assad’s military capacities.' A Pentagon source reported that  the USA, France, and Britain are considering a decisive decision to reverse the current Assad momentum and quickly construct one in favor of the rebels” within a time period not exceeding the end of this summer.

Shortly after the meetings began, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia quickly returned to Saudi Arabia from his palace at Casa Blanca, Morocco after receiving a call from his intelligence chief, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan. Bander reportedly had a representative at the White House during the meetings with President Obama’s team. King Abdullah was reportedly advised by Kerry to be prepared for a rapid expansion of the growing regional conflict.

What happens between now and the end of summer is likely to be catastrophic for the Syrian public and perhaps Lebanon.  The “chemical weapons-red line” is not taken seriously on Capitol Hill for the reason that the same “inclusive evidence” of months ago is the same that is suddenly being cited to justify what may become essentially an all-out war against the Syrian government and anyone who gets in the way.  Hand wringing over the loss of 125 lives due to chemical weapons, whoever did use them, pales in comparison to the more 50,000 additional lives that will be lost in the coming months, a figure that  Pentagon planners and the White House have “budgeted” as the price of toppling the Assad government.

'We are going to see a rapid escalation of the conflict', a staffer on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee emailed this observer:

The president has made a decision to give whatever humanitarian aid, as well as political and diplomatic support to the opposition that in necessary. Additionally direct support to the (Supreme Military Council), will be provided and that includes military support.

The staffer quoted the words of Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes to the media on 5/13/13 to the same effect.

A part of this “humanitarian assistance” the US is going to established in the coming weeks a “limited", humanitarian no-fly zone, that will begin along several  miles of the Jordanian and Turkish borders in certain military areas into Syrian territory, and would be set up  and presented as a limited bid  to train and equip rebel forces and protect refugees. But in reality, as we saw in Libya a Syrian no fly zone would very likely include all of Syria.

Libya’s no-fly zones made plain that there is no such thing as a “limited zone”.  Put briefly, a “no-fly zone” means essentially a declaration of all-out war.  Once the US and its allies start a no fly zone they will expand it and intensify it as they take countless other military actions to protect its zones until the Syrian government falls. 'It’s breathtaking to contemplate how this in going to end and how Iran and Russia will respond,' one source concluded.

The White House is trying to assuage the few in Congress as well as a majority of the American public that it can be a limited American involved and that the no-fly zone would not require the destruction of Syrian antiaircraft batteries.  This is more nonsense.  During the no-fly zone I witnessed from Libya in the summer of 2011 the US backed it up with all manner of refueling, electronic jamming, special-ops on the ground and by mid-July a kid peddling his bike was not safe. Over the 192 days of patrolling the Libyan no-fly zones, NATO countries flew 24,682 sorties including 9,204 bomb strike sorties. NATO claimed it never missed its target but that was also not true. Hundreds of civilians were killed in Libya  by no-fly zone attack aircraft  that either missed their targets and emptied their bomb bays before returning to base  while conducting approximately 48 bombing strikes per day using a variety of bombs and missiles, including more than 350 cruise Tomahawks.

At a Congressional hearing in 2011, then US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates got it right when he explained which discussing Libya:

a no-fly zone begins with an attack to destroy all the air defenses … and then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down. But that’s the way it starts.

According to the accounts published in American media, Obama could alternatively authorize the arming and training of the Syrian opposition in Jordan without a no-fly zone. That appears unlikely because the Pentagon wants to end the Syrian crisis by summers end, the observer was advised:

rather than working long term with a motley bunch of jihadists who we could never trust or rely on. The administration has come to the conclusion apparently that if they are in for a penny they are in for a pound.

In response to a question from this observer about how he thought event might unfold in this region over the coming months, a very insightful long-term congressional aid replied:

Well Franklin, maybe someone will pull a rabbit out of the hat to stop the push for war. But frankly I doubt it.  From where I sit I’d wager that Syria as we have known it may soon be no more. And perhaps some other countries in the region also.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and Lebanon and can be reached c/o fplamb@gmail.com

24 comments :

sean bres said...

Seems pretty clear that like Hezbollah's defeat of Israel in 2006 the World Order has suffered another reverse in Syria. If this situation post Al-Quasar is left unchecked Free Satan's Army will be routed and annihilated. American interests in this war will have suffered a devastating defeat.

Frankly I find the idea that Iran will "own" Syria as preposterous. While there are many domestic issues I don't agree with in Iran one thing we can tell is that it's foreign policy actions - and certainly when compared to the British and US - are benign. Look at how it exported manufacturing technology to Venezuela for example without any quid pro quo or charge. The truth is the Iranian regime is a revolutionary regime and a sister of the international revolution - and that's the real problem, that's why it has to go. Syria of course is a staging post. Like many revolutions it is far from complete and there are inherent problems but it contains a revolutionary dynamic nonetheless. It is not there to "own" Syria but to help the Syrian people. Take a look at Dr. Ahmadinejad's submission to the UN on how that organisation should be restructured and its aims re-oriented. The complete opposite of what we're led to believe and a withering attack on what the US and its allies are doing all around the globe. Therefore, like Qaddafi before him, he's been painted as a mad psychotic to be stopped by any means before he becomes too powerful.

The truth is both men advocated a better way for this world. Yes there were serious problems to do with how they treated opponents within their own system but its perceivable that this was to preserve the revolution from the countering effects of foreign influence. So it's because of the position they've taken within the international system, a position that opposes the corporate power of the US and its template for the world economy, that they have been singled out for elimination.

America has been behind the situation in Syria from the start - with their erstwhile lackeys the British in tow naturally. They hoped the Libyan example could be replayed all over again - where they armed and paid mercenary terrorists to do their dirty work - but they didn't count on the strength of Assad. Let's hope he pushes on and settles this. Let's hope he stabilises his country and goes on to reclaim the occupied Syrian Golan - one of the key strategic reasons America wants Syria contained. With a third of Israel's fresh-water supply being sourced here wouldn't it be great if the racist, Zionist regime literally choked on the victory of the Syrian people.

Long live Hezbollah! Long Live Dr. Ahmadinejad! Long Live Syria! Long live Bashar Al-Assad!

AM said...

Sean,

while the comment seems fine about US foreign policy, to even give these regimes the 'long live' support seems to me to trivialise the misery and suffering that they have inflicted on their own people.

I wish to see them toppled by democratic forces from within, not by the Western elites.

I don't think we should abandon the people there who have suffered at the hands of the Syrian regime or the Iranian one. Your analysis resonates of Cold War politics where the excesses were either justified or mitigated on the grounds that some revolution was being protected. I want to see long life extended to their radical democratic opponents not to the regimes.

As an Iranian communist seaid on Sunday in Dublin let the regime stalwarts go back to the 12th Century if they wish: the people have a right to go forward.

marty said...

This reads like the start of a true horror story, deaths in the hundreds of thousands like confetti to the wind,the bastards who manufacture these weapons of mass destruction like cruise missiles must be rubbing their hands in gleeful anticipation,recession what recession!

sean bres said...

I have no problem with supporting democratic reform that benefits the people anywhere in the world, that includes Syria and Iran. If we actually look at these regimes though, like that of Qaddafi, they are a lot closer to real democracy than what we're accustomed to so maybe we should take the plank from our own eye before taking the splinter out of another's - that's not directed against you Mackers in case you pick me up wrong but against society here in general. There are dictatorial elements to the Cuban and Venezuelan revolutions also but I have no problem in wishing them a long life.

The Baathist system is one of the most misunderstood in the West but it remains revolutionary and in a beneficial sense none-the-less. Would I prefer the imposition of so-called democracy in Syria even should it lead to the collapse into the murderous, sectarian anarchy associated with the Libyan and Iraqi examples? No, I prefer to recognise the legitimacy of the system while yes of course supporting those who hope to reform and make that system more democratic and progressive. And I wish for them victory in this terrible war that's been wrongfully imposed on them - just as it was imposed on Iraq and on Libya and on Iran should Syria fall. Iraq under the ruthless, monstrous dictator Hussein was still infinitely more preferable to the situation that exists in that country today.

Saddam's regime was a dictatorship yes, it killed many thousands of people, waged an aggressive war on its neighbour Iran, committed atrocities against the Kurds. But most people in Iraq led at the very least a semi-normal life, there was electricity, there was food-distribution, children were able to go to school without being kidnapped, there was state welfare, a high quality public education system, likewise health, people's daily lives were not so deadly as they are now thanks to the invasion where all of the above has vanished. None of this is to justify Saddam's crimes but to demonstrate how a great and historic civilisation has been brought to its knees by the barbaric, brutal US/British occupation - in the name of democracy. How can we honestly say progress has been made here? What about the tortured of Abu Ghraib and other secret American prisons, where men were forced to rape men and women were raped by dogs? The brutality of these places surpassed anything done in Saddam's torture chambers. When we see where Iraq has travelled following on from 13 years of sanctions and following this brutal occupation we have to ask what is the future for Iraq, what has this bloody carnage achieved? How are we better of for what has happened? How can anything positive be said to have come from this? And why would we ever want to see this happen again, which is what will happen in Syria if the US succeeds in its plans.

The elimination of Hussein and his regime did not change the world, it merely helped maintain the status quo where imperialism and empire are the order of the day, where people bow down and suffer to the profit-margins of the elite. In contrast the fall of the Shah in 1979 had the opposite effect and delivered progress for the Iranian people, yes of course progress that certainly remains incomplete in an imperfect revolution but a revolution still preferable to what goes on elsewhere in that region.

I for one stand fundamentally against a repeat of what is the greatest crime of modern times, a human catastrophe being systematically played out all over again away from prying eyes in Libya - where our brothers are being massacred in a lawless, barbarous society that stands where once was the progressive, revolutionary regime of our comrade Colonel Muammar Qaddafi. So I unashamedly say long live Bashar Al-Assad. That near-on 80 percent of the Syrian people are now behind the regime, which has promised reform upon the defeat of the US agenda and restitution of constitutional protections, demonstrates that this is the democratic will of the Syrian people themselves

itsjustmacker said...

Military overthrows Morsi

AM said...

sean bres has left a new comment on your post "Why Obama is Declaring War
on Syria":

Sean Bres,

I wish no dictatorship a long life. My sympathy is with the Cuban writers jailed, repressed and censored not the regime doing that to them.

Dictatorships are always self defeating and merely reproduce the gaps they were supposed to get rid of. What is the real democracy you refer to if these regimes brutalise the people they govern? How Iran treats women and gays and promotes theocracy is the antithesis of democracy. The opposition in Syria is packed with theocrats and thugs but that does not make the regime any less murderous.

The Baathist system too closely resembles fascism for my liking. Could we really describe the regime under Saddam as progressive? It was a brutal dictatorship. The problem is that the US decided to get rid of their former CIA agent who ran the place but not because they favoured progressive politics.

Would I prefer the imposition of so-called democracy in Syria even should it lead to the collapse into the murderous, sectarian anarchy associated with the Libyan and Iraqi examples?

But this is often said by the whites about black rule and they point to the crime rate in South Africa to support their view. As Foucault titled one of his books ‘Society must be defended’ and order is a crucial societal glue but who benefits from the specific for order may take?

Iraq under the ruthless, monstrous dictator Hussein was still infinitely more preferable to the situation that exists in that country today.

True as that may be it imposes upon us the dilemma of choosing between bastards. It then follows that we accept the regime that kills 5 million Jews because it is more progressive than the one that kills 6 million. And when we move it to Ireland we put up with the PSNI because they don’t torture like the RUC did.

I don’t think anybody here is claiming progress is being made in Iraq because of the US invasion. Nor has anyone hoped for US success. I hope they fail as I hope the regime they are trying to collapse fails also. But the Hillaire Belloc phrase come to mind ‘keep a-hold of Nurse For fear of finding something worse’ Arguably if that approach was our guideline the Soviets could just have surrendered in June 41 and lived more miserable but ordered lives than was on offer from 41 to the end of 44.

I doubt if Abu Ghraib or the other torture centres as despicable as they are come close to what went on in the torture chambers of Saddam. But I don’t want to choose between a US torturer or an Iraqi one – I don’t want any torturers. All pigs of the same sow as far as I am concerned.

There is a relativism here that I am not at all comfortable with. Yet the absolutism implicit in attacking your position also disturbs me. I have never quite worked out an answer that I find satisfactory. Sometimes I veer towards the type of logic you express but I am even quicker resiled from it.

But there is no chance of me giving a long live endorsement to murderous dictators like Bashar Al-Assad or Videla. Politically and emotionally I find it repellent. The latter died in jail for his crimes against humanity. Bashar Al-Assad deserves no better.

sean bres said...

The revolutions in any of the countries we've mentioned, however abhorrent some of the actions perpetrated by those concerned in the period since may be (which I don't dispute), can hardly be described as reproducing the gaps they were supposed to get rid of. The opposite is true and the situation has been improved for the vast majority of people. In Libya for example, despite ranking among the very poorest countries in the world in 1951, by the time of the NATO invasion the people enjoyed the highest standard of living in Africa, superseding even that enjoyed in Russia, Brazil and the Saudi Kingdom. A country where homes were considered a human right, electricity was free to use for everyone, literacy increased from 5 percent at the time of the revolution to 83 percent at the time of the invasion thanks to high quality and free education, a country where if the people could not access the healthcare they needed despite the existence of an integrated, well-funded and high quality healthcare system the government funded access to it abroad. All loans were interest free, use of land, equipment, livestock and seeds were provided to farmers free of charge, petrol cost the equivalent of 7p a litre. None of this would likely have been possible if the old order - the imperialist order - had persisted. That to me is progress and progress made despite huge efforts to damage the revolutionary process by the same imperial power that savaged Guatemala and Chile and the Philippines and Vietnam.

I don't dispute there are huge inconsistencies in the revolutionary process. But when it comes to what's going on in Syria at the moment and the real battle that's being waged I have no problem in taking the side of Al-Assad and his regime. It's not about the PSNI being less violent than their predecessor, it's about a battle for the soul of humanity, it's about are we going to be able to pursue the type of independent development you crave or be enslaved by the neo-liberal agenda the world order has set out for us all and is currently engaged in a ferocious battle of wills with the Assad regime as we speak in order to help bring about - for the Syrian state it's about life and death itself

sean bres said...

By the same token I've no problem with the gist of what you say

AM said...

Sean,

regimes worldwide seek to legitimise themselves. And often they do it through a redistribution which raises many boats but maintains the levels of repression and disempowerment that existed to begin with. East Germany pulled figures out like this all the time in a bid to mask the massive repression that held the regime in place. Every repressive state does it. And they also repress the critique from within that society so that their narrative cannot be challenged.

Resisting the neoliberal agenda is often used a source of mobilisation when in fact the mobilisers (much like nationalists worldwide) use it as an attempt to externalise the enemy and prevent it from being seen within.

Talking of the revolutionary process holds no appeal for me. I long subscribed to Orwell on revolutionaries before I read his very specific comment on them - 9 out of ten are social climbers with bombs. I refuse to describe myself as a revolutionary, find myself in opposition to them seeing little difference between their totalitarianism and that of the right.

To share your position I would need to support war criminals who have committed crimes against humanity. That would run against the grain of everything I am about and what I have written about over the years.

These people need to be overthrown not supported. For me it is a serious contradiction to claim a radical position yet support those who are war criminals. We can't at the same time raise battle cries about the soul of humanity while supporting those who inflict crimes against humanity. Statistical masking does nothing to negate that.

sean bres said...

My basic position is that the US and the British have no business interfering in these countries and that they do not do so for benign or humanitarian purposes but for selfish, strategic, imperial ones that are designed to perpetuate a world economic order that runs contrary to everything I believe in and represents a fundamental attack on my understanding of freedom. I choose the survival of Assad, Hezbollah and Iran - however imperfect those regimes admittedly may be - ahead of that. That's the real point I make.

The British and the Americans have absolutely no right to be there and are even more violent, even more repressive than those they are attacking - in fact there's no comparison. One and a half million dead in Iraq bears testament to that, to say nothing of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam. For sure they are repressive regimes that we are talking about - as are all regimes by their very nature, just as all regimes are based to some degree or other on violence. That's not to excuse violence or repression whether part of a revolutionary process or not.

The point about Qaddafi was not to mask anything but to demonstrate that there had indeed been huge social progress in Libya under his watch when it seemed there was a suggestion otherwise. The fact that he enjoyed massive support from his own people, even after the disgraceful, murderous actions of agent provocateurs (just as was done in Syria since) to discredit him, suggests that he couldn't have been the monster some paint him out to be. As for the crimes of Assad a lot of his reputation results from the actions of his brutal father who preceded him as President.

At the end of the day as I indicated I agree with the broad scope of what you say - I also would like to see the triumph of all the concepts you mentioned. But if you seriously believe what's going on in Syria is "an attempt to externalise the enemy and prevent it from being seen within" then I simply can't agree. Syria is a sovereign state, is under attack, it is wrong, the people support the government in its efforts to neutralise the manufactured terrorist insurgency and I support the Syrian people in their endeavours. In no way do I support or make any excuse for war crime or anything of that nature but neither will I sit on the fence. For sure I would gladly see the Syrian people achieve democracy if that is what they choose for themselves but that's not what's going on in Syria.

Syria is about much more than Bashar al-Assad and that's why I made mention of the "soul of humanity". Are we as a society going to allow for the naked, barbaric and quite simply unjustifiable violence of the powerful to dictate the path of future development - is this the type of thing we are going to blindly tolerate bar the few dissidents in our ranks capable of seeing past the picture presented to us by the media? Or are we going to strive for a better way? That's what I see at stake here. Are we going to allow for the normalisation of the savage violence perpetrated in Iraq, Libya and now Syria as though it were somehow the accepted norm, or are we going to challenge it? That's what's going on in Syria and Assad is only a bit-part player in the ultimate scheme of things. If the defeat of this project means the survival of the Assad regime then I say long live Syria! Long live Bashar al-Assad! God help us all if the US gets its way because perpetual war is fast becoming the order of the day and where will it end... It will end in yet more Iraq's, yet more Libya's, yet more Syria's - and all while society talks of deposing tyrannical, brutal dictators in the name of humanity

AM said...

Sean Bres,

But who is under any illusions about the US? The same argument of context that you make is often made in defence of the foreign policy of war criminals like Henry Kissinger. It’s a given that they should not intervene towards their own end. But they should have been compelled by their own people acting out of a sense of international solidarity to intervene in Rwanda when they didn’t want to and failed to because their interests were not compatible with what would have been a humanitarian strike against Hutu Power fascism and genocide.

International solidarity in principle must require humanitarian intervention to protect people from their despotic rulers. The problem is this never seems to happen. There is always some power play.

I choose the survival of Assad, Hezbollah and Iran.

For once I agree with the wry Kissinger witticism: pity they both can’t lose (the US and Iran/Syria). You seem to endorse these regimes. I imagine the ‘slogan’ should be calling for their overthrow, rather than long life for them no matter how less toxic we find them as compared against some other poisonous entity. How can we object to the crimes of Thatcher in Ireland while endorsing war criminals like Bashar al-Assad.

There was huge social progress under Stalin but it hardly lessens the indictment of his regime. Hitler brought the same to Germany before he destroyed it. Radicals cannot take refuge behind social progress and use it to excuse those who helped introduce it when while doing so they used wanton criminality and repression to impose their power.

When we reduce massive social unrest to the time honoured accusation of agent provocateurs, people stop listening. Herman tried it in the Serbian conflict without either success or credibility. Few enjoyed more support internally than Théoneste Bagosora but it didn’t make him any less a monster.

AM said...

(Continued)

Supporting the Syrian people against external military intervention is fine but they should also be supported against the murderous president of Syria. I could understand if you wished long life to the people of Syria, but you wnet further and wished it to a war criminal who has brutalised many Syrian people who simply cannot be called agent provocateurs. The bogeyman syndrome invariably conceals more than it reveals.

In no way do I support or make any excuse for war crime or anything of that nature but neither will I sit on the fence.

But you wish them long life rather than long life imprisonment. You would hardly be sitting on the fence in calling for US expulsion and accountability while at the same time calling for Bashar al-Assad to be hauled into court. Because the danger is that in seeking to avoid sitting on the fence you can end up sitting on the ringfence that protects a brutal dictator from the effects of justice.

There are serious internal problems in Syria caused by internal Syrian state repression that need addressed. These problems have been taken advantage of by the Western powers for their own ends. But to suggest that within that bubbling cauldron of unrest there is no strong democratic energy is to do what these brutal regimes rely on for their own longevity – create an external enemy. Had the West not have existed Bashar al-Assad would have invented it.

The choice appears simple, people have human rights that we either defend or ignore. Downplaying the role of rights abusing tyrants because they are local in favour of highlighting the role of rights abusing non-local tyrannies is in my view a very skewed approach which ends up legitimising the dangerous concept that that it is okay to abuse rights if we can cite some sort of social progress in the course of doing it.

Dissidents do us a service in exposing the role of neoliberalism and Western Powers but a disservice when they buy into, cover up or downplay war crimes and crimes against humanity. Monbiot back in 2011 addressed this point quite well. His closing line is pretty instructive if not damning of some dissidents.

The dissidents within Serbia who told the world about these crimes against humanity provided a much more valuable function in terms of dissent than Western dissident intellectuals pretending it didn't happen.

sean bres said...

There's simply no comparison between Henry Kissinger and Bashar al-Assad but see what happens if the US is successful at bringing about regime change. First of all the Syrian people will suffer on a massive scale, disproportionate to anything that's went before - As in Iraq and in Libya. It will dwarf anything that's went before in that country and then some but it will be nothing new for the country that spawned the psychopath you compared me to. The entire Syrian society will likely collapse and descend into a bloodbath spreading into neighbouring Lebanon. This can't be ignored and has nothing to do with the lesser of two evils. That such massive death and destruction would be the price of weakening a strategic opponent does not matter to the mad-men who are running this world. They don't care if they create another Iraq - which they will - so long as Israel's position is better secured and of course that of the world order itself. They don't care if they set fire to the entire Middle East - it's called divide and conquer, the oldest trick in the imperialist manuscript. Human lives do not come into their racist thinking. And the trajectory of their unconscionable violence will continue. But sure as long as it doesn't make the six o'clock news ultimately it will matter little to those who plan such things.

The choice is not between the US agenda and the democracy you speak of - if it were I would choose that. It's between the plans of the world order and a sovereign state that is but the latest to suffer this sort of attack. I won't take the handy way out and say I support neither because what's at stake here is much more than you and I arguing the fine points of democracy. I'm not in the business of propping up dictators or war criminals but do not want to see my brothers and sisters put through the wringer, to see them endure the type of horrifying consequences suffered by the people of such places as Baghdad, Tikrit and Fallujah, all real people who have suffered pain and loss of such magnitude we couldn't even begin to imagine or to properly empathise because we've never experienced anything even remotely like it. In this context I have no problem in hoping to see Assad victorious and given that he's promised many long overdue reforms and the establishment of constitutional protections for the people this would without doubt be the best option for Syria and the region. There's no question of that. If the price of that is that Bashar al-Assad does not end up in a prison cell then I choose that over the orgy of atrocity after atrocity that will no doubt follow the end of the regime as Syria descends into anarchic, sectarian-fuelled, murderous chaos.

In Syria we're talking about millions of lives to begin with but we're also talking about the world heading even further in the wrong direction and worse again that wrong direction becoming the accepted norm. There is no current option to select what you've argued for, this is a now a zero-sum game. If the US achieves its aims a terrifying future lies in store for the people of that country. If you have to choose between another Iraq and the devastating consequences this will entail for all of Syrian society or the continuation of Assad in power then what do you choose? Because that's the only choice here as far as I can see

AM said...

Sean Bres,

Unfortunately there is a very real comparison between Henry Kissinger and Bashar al-Assad. Both are serial war criminals culpable for crimes against humanity. The difference lies in degree not in kind. The same sort of arguments made by yourself on behalf of Bashar al-Assad – mitigation through the alibi of context - have all too often been made on behalf of Kissinger. It took investigative journalists like Seymour Hersh and Christopher Hitchens to leave Kissinger apologists without a leg to stand on.

I fail to see who or what you are addressing when you talk of the US and its actions. It strikes me as either superfluous or immaterial to the issue at hand. We are in total agreement on the wrongs of US foreign policy. Where we disagree is on the approach to be taken in respect of a serial war criminal like Bashar al-Assad. Should he be given plaudits as you suggest or a life sentence as I suggest?

What psychopath have you been compared to?

I'm not in the business of propping up dictators or war criminals but do not want to see my brothers and sisters put through the wringer, to see them endure the type of horrifying consequences suffered by the people of such places as Baghdad, Tikrit and Fallujah, all real people who have suffered pain and loss of such magnitude we couldn't even begin to imagine or to properly empathise because we've never experienced anything even remotely like it.

Which is what you get when you have people like Bashar al-Assad running regimes. They need to be stopped, curbed, whatever. We don’t need the US doing it because it doesn’t do it. It just installs a different Bashar al-Assad.

And you would support him on the basis of a promise? Surely part of the reason behind your dissent and your scepticism is that the promises of people like him mean nothing. Radicals treat with scorn the promises of murderous megalomaniacs. There is no more reason to believe him than to believe Kissinger about his ventures. In fact there was a strange honesty to Kissinger (in the midst if an abundance of lying) in that he admitted to not allowing for morality to enter statecraft particularly in the ‘realism’ approach that he took to foreign policy and global affairs.

Your logic takes you to the terminus of supporting the lesser of the evils. Maybe that is realpolitik and there are circumstances in which it is the choice we will all take: we would much rather put up with the rapist who rapes our daughter then frees her than the rapist who rapes then murders her. But we should never have to ethically endorse either of them or wish one well because he only rapes rather than murders. The old rule of Marxist investigation is hard to challenge: state what is. Bashar al-Assad is a tyrant. How could he be sort of okay and Videla or Pinochet sort of scummy? Do we just break it down to the reason they choose to inflict crimes against humanity?

The choice is simple – defend the rights of all your brothers as you call them, not just some of them. And defend them against those who abuse them not just against some abusers.

The world is a complex place, the problems of which are beyond easy solution. Studying global/international politics at university level might not have taught me anything that I managed to retain or enabled me to analyse the problems of humanity any better than the next person but it certainly dispelled any beliefs I had about it all being a matter of the platitudes I was used to venting.

frankie said...

Why Obama is declaring war on Syria

To try and weaken Russian influence in the region...Fcuk all to do with helping the 'rebels' ..The same people a few miles east are called terrorists by west..And also to make millions from selling arms.

The End of Syria as We Know It?

Again no, Putain wont let it happen. It would weaken his hand when Iran kicks off. I'm waiting for Team America to cock things up worse than they actually are...

(JMO)

sean bres said...

Roll on the Project for a New American Century. Unless the Assad regime wins the ongoing war then Syria will be laid to waste and all you speak of will be irrelevant, drowned in the blood of the very people who's rights we would both defend. Logic takes us to the terminus that we'll have no worry about arguing about such things as what is right for the people of Syria and what we should and shouldn't support in their name. Because Syria as we know it will no longer exist and in its place will stand a failed political entity incapable of stemming the savagely violent social breakdown we have witnessed in Iraq and Libya where ordinary people will live an unimaginable existence. I get what you're saying, as I said I go along with the gist of it.

Assad has already acknowledged that change will have to come when all this is over so let's hope that's how it ends up. The people will leave him with no choice when the time comes - if it comes. Because this could very easily end in a total nightmare for the people of Syria, a situation that eclipses anything they have seen so far. And who will care for our brothers and sisters? Who will really care? We will not endure their suffering, we will not experience their pain.

The world as you say is a complex place, the situation in Syria certainly demonstrates the various angles to the power play going on in front of our very eyes. But that the people of Syria themselves are now putting whatever grievances they had towards the regime aside in what is for them a life and death struggle tells me what the priority is here. If and when they rise for more and better forms of freedom when all is said and done of course we will back them to the hilt. In the meantime, like the Syrian people themselves, I see no option but to hope that Assad does not fall and to wish success for his regime in its fight against this unjustifiable intervention

AM said...

Sean Bres,

a rhetorical flourish does not an analysis make!

The armed dimension to the Syrian conflict started according to Fisk writing two years back because the murderous regime tiortured to death a 13 year old child and the people of his town revolted in arms. Not agent provocateurs or US imperialism: a simple response to state repression. The US have used it but so too has everyone one else trying to shape the politics of the region to their own end, few caring about the Syrian people.

How the Western media or the regime media report what goes in needs to be judged against what the people on the ground are saying and who the regime badly wants censored.

The people of Syria have been battered into submission by the war crimes inflicted on them initially by the regime and then by both sides. I doubt very much there is serious support for anything other than an end to the violence that is gripping the place. One form of violence against people has emerged on top over another form of violence.

Assad should be overthrown at some point and tried for war crimes. He should not be bid long life.

sean bres said...

And I hope Syria will be the burial ground for the murderous imperial ambition of the US/UK led so-called 'New World Order' before they inflict even more carnage, even more bloodshed, even more wanton chaos and destruction on the rest of humanity. Because that's where this is headed. I hear what you say about the internal problems to regimes such as the Syrian one and the Iranian but they are not predator nations like those directed by the likes of Kissinger, that's why I said there is no comparison. Death to the wanton imperial murder campaign of the predator nations, may the people of Syria lay them in their coffin - for all our sakes

AM said...

Sean Bres,

They are predator regimes who prey on their on their own people. And like the nature of predators they will prey where they can. Just as the USSR despite its hostility to the US was a predator nation Syria and Iran would be no different. It is what predators do in a world where they forever try to expand their influence. Syria preyed on Lebanon in the not too distant past. In a world of thieves, as the Czech proverb goes, the big thieves hang the little thieves. Power and ability not ethics or a love of humanity differentiates the US from the Syrian and Iranian regimes. And that is why they resemble Kissinger so much. He had the power to do what they would do had they got it.

Let’s not waste radical time differentiating between war criminals, or, more perilously, creating typologies of war criminals where there are progressive war criminals and reactionary war criminals. On any human rights grid there are more points of comparison than difference between war criminals and/or tyrnats: Pinochet/Assad, Videla/Ahmadinejad.

One of the great demarcation lines in this world runs along the border between humanity and those that commit crimes against humanity. To be on the side of humanity cannot place you in the same camp as those who inflict crimes against humanity.

A world order carved up between the war criminals is not a world we want our children to grow up in. We should oppose them all and desist from making any allownace for those who commit crimes against humanity.

sean bres said...

Let the US tear away then and see where it ends, I for one don't think it will be in any way of benefit to the Syrian people. In fact it's my strong belief it will bring about not only the destruction of Syrian society but that of many others as the neo-con consensus that now exists across all sectors of US foreign policy pursues the radical restructuring of North Africa and the Middle East to help secure full spectrum dominance in the global era. Wishy-washy sounding shite but still reality and a reality that grows more dangerous for all mankind with each passing day. Nuclear annihilation and anthropogenic collapse may sound like unrealistic concepts but in a world gone mad who knows. How many more Iraq's will it take?

Just in terms of Henry Kissinger, there's no-one gloating at the killing in Syria more than the former US Secretary of State - he who serves the institution known as the Jewish State of Israel. This is fantasy made flesh for Kissinger and his ilk as the enemies of Israel are paralysed by internal Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict rendering them incapable of building on the 2006 victory of the Lebanese armed resistance that chased the supposedly mighty armies of Israel across the border with nothing more than AK47 rifles and mortar-fire. Imagine what a powerful better-armed adversary might do. That's what's really going on. Best to keep those dirty Arabs divided.

I feel it's worth remembering that the Syrian regime and the Syrian people played a very important role throughout history to protect and secure those who sought refuge from the crimes and atrocities committed by those who now cry for "humanitarian intervention" and their associates. Among such refugees were over a million Iraqi's who fled the US/British invasion, over half a million displaced Palestinians, tens of thousands of Kurds, Armenians, Chechens and Caucasians - all received, protected and accepted in the Syrian society where they felt at home more than in their original homes they were forced to flee.

No-one here, least of all the people of Syria or the Middle East, wants a world carved up between war criminals, an absurd suggestion. Yet history remains the single-most determining factor in the struggle for social progress and uplift, a history that is not of ours or their making. Assad for all his faults is a product of the colonial history of his country, how could it be any other way? We must remember the causes behind the violence and the violent regimes that exist in this part of the world. The Syrian people have reached the point in their history they are now at but the real question is will they even have a history in the not too distant future, will they exist in any meaningful sense at all? Not if the US agenda succeeds. We seen what they done to Chile, we seen what they done to the Philippines. Only this will be far worse - this will be another Iraq.

If wishing success for Assad and his regime is what it takes to prevent the annihilation of the Syrian society, its culture, its history then I wish it full success and I have no shame whatsoever in saying so, nor do I see myself as on the side of a war criminal. I'm on the side of the people of Syria. Unfortunately for the people of Syria there is no option to be on the side of humanity as you say, to place themselves in a camp separate to the man you charge with inflicting crimes against humanity. Call it realpolitik, to quote Kissinger, call it what you want, I call it the only sane choice those poor people have and the growing support for Bashar al-Assad bears testament to that. The Syrian people cannot choose to sit on the fence, their basic survival depends on it

AM said...

Sean Bres,

in my view a world of Jesuitical fantasy but if it's where you want to be there isn't much I can do to persuade you to the contrary. Hardly something to fall out with you over or censor you!

sean bres said...

A world of Jesuitical fantasy it may well be but it's the world we live in nonetheless. I'll fall out with no man, least of all yourself, without good reason and this debate hardly qualifies as such. If we can't discuss something we don't fully agree on or interpret the same way then what hope? So we'll agree to disagree though I don't think we necessarily disagree on a lot here when all's said and done

Alec said...
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Alec said...
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