"The truth is that neither British nor American imperialism was or is idealistic. It has always been driven by economic or strategic interests."
—Charley Reese (1937-2013)
(Swans - September 9, 2013) MR. OBAMA has delayed or postponed the retaliatory shelling of Syria under the guise that he wanted to get the sentiment and approval of Congress on this latest military adventure. He does not need it according to the administration's lawyers. Most of the much heralded but insignificant international community opposes this latest military intervention. But the international community was set out by the U.S. for strategic and commercial supremacy only, or perhaps according to the vision of American so-called wise men. The moment one or more members of the UN Security Council oppose a resolution put on the table by the U.S. or one of its proxies, the resolution is simply ignored or removed from the table. When push comes to shove the U.S. can take care on their own of whoever the deviant government and the latest Hitler are, though having a small coalition of the willing does help for the propaganda that conditions hoi polloi (the masses). Even so, when is the last time a US administration has followed the polls in foreign affairs? In the latest feuilleton of the good hats taking on the bad ones, Syria is accused of having used Chemical of Mass Destruction (CMD), sarin, against its own people. The U.S. "believes" that it is "undeniable" that the Syrian government, under its president al-Assad, was responsible for this monstrosity. The US assured the world that they had the proof but could not divulge it for matters of national security. According to American sources, over 1,400 people had perished. The Brits counted over 300 and the French 280. Assad had crossed the red line. The international community could not let this barbaric act go unpunished. Obama dispatched five navy ships and told them to get prepared to inflict pinpoint damages to the Syrian regime, but not too much and certainly no boots on the ground. Mr. Obama wanted to enforce the 2005 doctrine known as "R2P" (Responsibility to Protect [civilians]) that liberal internationalists like Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and others embrace.
IN THE U.S. THE CHOICE TO BOMB SYRIA was not well received by the American people and a substantial number of elected representatives to Congress asked for a vote on the issue, reminding the president and his administration that according to the Constitution only Congress has the right and responsibility to declare (and finance) war. Suddenly the administration found itself on the defensive. At the United Nations the vast majority of its members opposed this unilateral decision, all keeping in mind what happened in Iraq in 2003. No UN resolution could be presented to the Security Council because both Russia and China let it be known they would veto such resolution. This situation was fully known to Obama and was not a particular setback. It had the advantage to relegate the NSA spying scandal and the repeated violations of the 4th Amendment to the backburners. In fact, the U.S. has a long history of going to war without the authorization of the UN Security Council or the US Congress. Panama, Kosovo, Iraq War II, Libya, come to mind. Look at this October 2001 Swans article or the excellent October 2000 compilation by Zoltan Grossman, A Century of U.S. Military Interventions on Swans.
REGARDING CHEMICAL WEAPONS, readers have heard of napalm, Agent Orange, white phosphorous, Depleted Uranium (DU)... Two excellent pieces have been published on CounterPunch, "A Short History of Bio-Chemical Weapons", by Zoltan Grossman (September 2013) and "Germ War: the US Record" by Jeffrey St. Clair (September 2013). Both are worthy of readers' time to get an awareness of US involvement in wars and the use of chemical weapons. When you read the two articles you'll learn that the U.S. is also quite capable of gassing its own people, with a propensity for minorities. Unlike Syria, these facts are proven, which does not mean that gas has not been used in Syria, but we still do not know who the perpetrators were. Time will tell. Time is not on Syria's side.
SOMETHING THAT MOST OF US, SPECTATORS, are missing is the timing of the decision to teach Assad a lesson. Suddenly, in the wake of August 21, we were told it was time for Assad to cease or desist. Our navy ships, instruments of rightfulness, would send a potent message. As in Libya, the issue (at the beginning) was not about regime change, it was about human rights and democracy and freedom, and the usual litany. Remember that the UN Security Council gave its green light to impose a no-fly zone over Benghazi because the Western Powers believed Gaddafi was ready to commit crimes against humanity, possibly even genocide. So R2P turned into regime change, which was not authorized by the UN and infuriated China and Russia. There was no return address. Anyone trying to be prudent about those lamentable events was deemed an extremist or worse. You'll notice, if you take the time to follow what's going on there, that Libya is disintegrating in the mix of sectarian violence, their oil production and exports drastically down, people leaving the country as fast they can afford. Iraq is going down the drain faster and faster (read the reports from the UN). Tunisia is slowly being taken over by Islamists. Egypt was being overwhelmed by the Muslim Brotherhood until the Army took over rather violently but little comment came from our elite press. Some of the Islamists have moved to Syria to pursue their democratic Jihad. The U.S., through Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, are funding the "rebels" -- Reagan used to call them Freedom Fighters -- those "friendly" guys behind 9/11.
SO, WHAT ABOUT AUGUST 21, AND THE CHEMICAL ATTACK -- why did it make Obama react? It looked like a sudden resolve. The "tyrant" had crossed the red line. Time to teach him a lesson. The snag with this narrative is that the decision to take out Bashar al-Assad had been taken long before. How long, I do not know, but I surmise it was under the George W. Bush administration when his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, kept repeating that the US policy to support authoritarian governments in the region had failed. It was now the policy of the U.S. to support democracy and moderate Islamists. Mr. Obama and his team followed suit. So the question became when Assad goes, not how we accommodate him, as we had done for years. First Tunisia, then Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, then Lebanon, Jordan, Algeria, Kuwait, Morocco -- don't forget Sudan, Mali, Western Sahara...and I could go on for an entire paragraph. The arc of instability will have been conquered once again. The Brits, the Frenchies, the coalition of the willing do as they can when they play chess with Uncle Sam.
THE DECISION MUST HAVE BEEN TAKEN IN THE 2000s. Obama went with it and by 2011 we all knew the game was over. Assad would have to go, dead or alive. In June 2011 the British foreign secretary William Hague said that Bashar al-Assad was "losing legitimacy." Three weeks later, on July 11, Mrs. Clinton, the US State Department secretary, said: "President Assad is not indispensable and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power." She added, "From our perspective, he has lost legitimacy. Our goal is to see that the will of the Syrian people for a democratic transformation occurs." Within weeks the Syrian National Council, the political branch of the rebels (Free Syrian Army), was created in Turkey. The French foreign minister then said on November 23 that, "The Syrian National Council is the legitimate interlocutor with which we will continue to work," and the E.U. looked into a way to bring down Bashar al-Assad. Arms were delivered to the rebels from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- all US clients. It no longer was about human rights and negotiations between the rebels and the Syrian government. It turned out that like in Libya, it was purely and simply about regime change. It became even clearer when the Turkish president said that Assad had to go, and it became crystal clear when President Obama started to say the same thing: "He must go." It made one think of Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, and now Assad (I must have forgotten quite a few lost along the road...). When the U.S. has decided to have some foreign leader go, dead or alive, it's just a matter of time.
ONE POINT THAT CROSSES THIS FEEBLE MIND is how the level of credibility held by the United States around the world can be maintained in the age of the Internet (which may explain the implacable hunt for whistleblowers). As the country has become economically weaker over the last decades compared to the rest of the world, only the US military can keep power afloat. I wonder how long it will last.
. . . . .
C'est la vie...
And so it goes...
La vie, friends, is a cheap commodity, but worth maintaining when one can.the life line won't hurt you much, but it'll make a heck of a difference for Swans.
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