It’s interesting to watch the mainstream media air reruns of the same show. The justifications for war against Syria reached fever pitch this week on the same grounds they had a month ago. Then, ABC News, as did much of the press, opened with the headline ‘The White House now confirming Syria's president has in fact used chemical weapons to kill.’ That’s an interesting use of the word ‘confirming’, the statement is about as ‘confirmed’ as Colin Powel’s speech to the United Nations in 2003 was. That’s the level of ‘confirmation’ it has. Chemical weapons were indisputably used - then and now - but the question is who used them. No one knows. Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss TV regarding last month’s chemical attack there were ‘strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof’ the chemical weapons were used by the rebels. With the current attacks David Cameron admitted to the Houses of Parliament ‘there is no 100% certainty about who is responsible’. So what is required is evidence to be presented before decisions are made. That’s how a rational mind works. But that’s too much of a requirement. Hans Blix, the weapons inspector George Bush kicked out of Iraq before he could finish inspecting, frustrated with the gung-ho approach of David Cameron and Barack Obama wrote, ‘the Russians and Chinese have said they want "fair and professional inspections" in Syria. The Iranians have also agreed…the Iranians have suffered most in the world from the use of chemical weapons in their war with Iraq during Saddam's time’. David Cameron retorted he would still bomb Syria on ‘humanitarian’ grounds with or without UNSC approval, but was forced by MP’s to wait for the UN to publish a report.
What’s more interesting is what were relegated from the press to specialist journals and op-eds buried deep within news websites at the same time the press is ratcheting up for a war with Syria. CIA documents describing the extent Ronald Reagan helped Saddam Hussein gas Iranians during the Iran-Iraq War were released, with Foreign Policy describing them as ‘tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched…even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted. ’ It always is for the powerless. What was also hidden deep inside news-websites was a July 2013 report from the House of Parliament Committee on Arms and Export Controls which found Britain had sold £12billion worth of chemicals (used to manufacture chemical weapons) to Syria, Saudi Arabia, China and even has licenses to sell them to Iran. Another story garnered slightly more fringe coverage; the United Sates sold Saudi Arabia, which is cracking down on pro democracy reformers in Bahrain, $634 million worth of cluster bombs, which are banned by 83 nations. Those were non-stories for the press; we’re the good guys and indoctrination needs to be total.
Morality, evidence and hypocrisy aside, should we attack Syria? First of all the military architect of the plan to attack doesn’t think it would work. Chris Harmer, a senior Navy analyst at the institute for the Study of War, wrote the proposal for airstrikes on Syria to begin with, and doubts their effectiveness. ‘I never took my analysis of a cruise missile strike to be advocacy even though some people took it as that…if we start picking off chemical weapons targets in Syria… he’s (Assad’s) going to start dispersing them… you’re too late to the fight.’ But the repercussions would only then begin. The former Syrian foreign minister stated if attacked ‘we will defend ourselves’, as would any state; probably using Russian anti-ship missiles (nicknamed ‘ship killers’) with a distance capable of reaching Western Naval ships positioned in the eastern Mediterranean. Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran, Syria’s strategic ally, warned ‘the region is like a gunpowder store and the future cannot be predicted’. A member of the Syrian Ba'ath national council, Halef al-Muftah, said Damascus would view Israel as behind any aggression and it will ‘come under fire should Syria be attacked by the United States.’ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov even had to make clear an attack wouldn’t trigger a war between Russia and NATO, effectively a third world war. So an attack is folly according to the architect of the plan, would drag in Israel and Iran, with Russia (sick of seeing itself encircled) explicitly stating it wouldn’t immediately trigger a third world war, probably.
So what are the remaining arguments for attacking Syria? For the world’s agenda setter, the New York Times, ‘Presidents should not make a habit of drawing red lines in public, but if they do, they had best follow through.’ So Obama might be embarrassed if he doesn’t attack Syria over a statement he accidently made, or risk the consequences of attacking. Hmm. Tough one.
The United States is a democracy (so I’m told), so what do the people think? Do the American people favor war? First we need to get some context. In March of 2003, 62% of Americans favored a war with Iraq. By December 2006 that figure had fallen to 26%. In 1965 on the eve of rapid escalation, 61% of Americans approved going to war with Vietnam, by 1971 only 28% of Americans still agreed with the decision to go to war. How many Americans favor attacking Syria right now? Nine percent. It would be the war with the least popular sanction in modern American history without comparison. Obama would outdo George Bush and Richard Nixon three fold. Not bad for a Nobel peace-prize winner.
So why are we really encouraging the gulf dictatorships to send in arms and watch Syria rip apart? With the Bush debacle in 2003, Iran became the most powerful nation in the region. By implementing democracy (against it’s initial plans) in Iraq, Bush and his gang of neo-cons created a Shiite arch stretching across Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, which gives Iran leverage (if attacked) over Israel through Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and control of Iraq. Independence will not be tolerated. The plans to destroy this arch date back at least to 2005, with the New Yorker then reporting ‘The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.’ Helping bolster Al Qaeda sympathizers? America? Who would have thought? (But remember to point to verses of the Quran after each development). Now those extremists are fighting alongside people who were genuinely oppressed and gunned down by the Syrian dictatorship during the initial protests, both now trying to topple the regime; the only way out is a negotiated settlement with Syria, Iran and Russia, and forcing the gulf-states to stop sending in arms. But that won’t happen. All the muscle flexing is Obama not losing face for a statement he made by accident. The Hezbollah-Syrian quagmire is just too beneficial for the West, in the greater scheme of things it paves the way for the Super Bowl: The Iran War. Iran is four times the geographic size of Iraq with a population three times larger, which is religiously homogenous and loyal to the state. When the Iran war happens it’s going to be the biggest pile of human corpses since WW2. I said ‘when’ because it is coming, but that’s another article. Syria has to be dealt with first.