NATO’s Assault on Syria: A Crime and a Mistake

Humanitarian imperialism at its finest

A NATO attack on Syria seems almost inevitable, inexorably taking us all to witness one more criminal madness. Officials, mainly in the United States, France and the United Kingdom have been beating the drums of war relentlessly and at a crescendo speed, working themselves up into an almost credible humanitarian warrior hysteria. Meanwhile their respective military bring more assets to the region and complete the preparations they started about eight months ago. One cannot help but remember the same sense of riding a runaway train that we collectively experienced in March 2003 before the “coalition of the willing” attacked Iraq. Ten years ago in Iraq, the pretext for war was Weapon of Mass Destruction; this time around it is the use of a chemical weapon, presumably sarin gas, which the West, without any proof, blames on Bashar al-Assad’s government. Once again, a senseless war is about to engulf the region, and it will be fought under humanitarian pretenses.

A short speech, delivered on August 27, 2013, by US Secretary of State John Kerry was a gem either in pure hypocrisy, deception and lie or psychotic delusion. “What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear. The killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable. And despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable,” said Kerry.

“Conscience… code of morality…. moral obscenity.” It takes a lot of nerve for a US Secretary of State to drape himself with such lofty notions. Is it moral to provide the Egyptian military junta $1.3 billion worth of weapons a year so they can kill their own people? Shouldn’t the world’s conscience be shocked by the climbing death toll in Iraq in a war that is supposed to be over? Where is the moral obscenity in having helped Saddam Hussein use a massive amount of chemical weapons on Iranians three decades ago or in having extensively used agent orange and napalm during your own morally obscene war in Vietnam, Mr. Kerry?

Iraq: The CIA-Saddam Hussein chemical weapon connection

In an article published in Foreign Policy, Shane Harris and Matthew M. Aid reveal that, during the Reagan administration, the US helped Saddam Hussein use chemical weapons, including sarin gas, against Iran in 1988. Central Intelligence Agency files prove that the US not only knew that Saddam Hussein was launching extensive chemical attacks, but also assisted Hussein with the strikes by giving him critical intelligence on the Iranian army’s positions. The CIA documents reveal how actively the Reagan administration helped Saddam. “In contrast to today’s wrenching debate over whether the US should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapon attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein’s widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people,” wrote Harris & Aid.

Shifting red lines and Tomahawk diplomacy

About a year ago, the Obama administration defined the “red line” for a US military intervention in Syria as being the use of chemical weapons. As early as December 2012, NATO’s drums of war were beating loudly enough to justify the installation of Patriot-missile batteries in Turkey. Despite paying lip service to Russia in its push for a political solution to the Syrian crisis, Washington was always pursuing a policy of regime change. From the start of the proxy war in Syria, the US backed the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) with extensive logistic assistance provided by the CIA to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan to bring hundreds of military cargo planes full of weapons to the rebels; however, once it became public that the most effective fighting forces against Assad, such as al-Nusra, were linked to al-Qaeda and appeared on the US terrorist list, the help provided by the CIA became a source of embarrassment for Washington.

Despite all the chest beating in Washington, London and Paris to push ahead with this so-called humanitarian war in Syria, some voices of caution are coming from the US Congress. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez of California, who sits on the House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee has said that: “Just shooting in some missiles isn’t really going to take care of the situation, and might aggravate the situation. You have Syria tied to Iran, and also Hezbollah. The whole area is already a difficult area as it is. For Americans to believe that just by shooting a few cruise missiles we have made our statement an away we go, it is just not the way that it will play out if it happens.” 

A few voices in the international community still push for a peaceful solution. Nobel Peace prize winner Mairead Maguire believes that a political resolution of the Syrian crisis can be achieved, short of what we suggested at News Junkie Post as a Balkanization of Syria. “Contrary to some foreign governments current policy of arming the rebels and pushing for military intervention, the people of Syria are calling out for peace and reconciliation and a political solution to the crisis which continues to be inflamed by outside forces with thousands of foreign fighters funded and supported by countries for their own political gains,” said Maguire. 

One hundred thousand people have already died in Syria. When the Tomahawk missiles start to fall in a less than precise fashion, the killing will become more widespread. Western powers are trying to convince their public that Syria needs to be taught a lesson. But NATO’s hasty military strike on Syria — if it is not prevented by a much tougher stand from Russia, backed by China — will have wide regional spillover and extremely negative international implications. It will further destabilized Lebanon and Iraq, which are both on the brink of civil and sectarian war. If Iran honors its alliance with Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah, the Islamic Republic could become directly involve in the conflict; this in return could become a pretext for Israel to attack Iran, triggering another large wave of justified anti-American and anti-Western sentiment throughout the Muslim world. 

There will be many more casualties than from the gas attack, and the images on television screens will be, once again, those of American bombs spreading mayhem and death in another Muslim country. How can anyone learn a lesson in conscience and “moral obscenity” by being bombed into oblivion? Such is the perversion of the humanitarian imperialism that threatens to enter its phase of Syrian folly and must be prevented at all costs. Considering that UK and France have become respectively the 51srt and 52nd states of the global empire, the only nations that can prevent the criminal stupidity of an attack on Syria are Russia and China. Time is running out for drawing a red line that cannot be crossed by NATO and Israel. Else, Iran will be next. 

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