Attacking Syria has been the talk in Washington for years, all the way back to Bush II’s infamous "Axis of Evil" speech. The current (un)civil war started back in March 2011, out of the failed attempt to topple the government through another "Arab Spring" revolution, organized by the American Empire. As in Libya, the response to failure was escalation into an armed rebellion.
The Empire had openly intervened in the Libyan war within a month. Libya was close to NATO bases in Italy, and had no allies, yet it still took six months of fighting to murder Col. Gadhafi and depose his government. Furthermore, the war’s "legality" was based on the flimsy pretext of UNSCR 1973, authorizing a no-fly zone, which was then creatively reinterpreted as a blank check for "regime change."
Once Libya was thought secured – erroneously, as it turned out – the Eye of the Empire turned towards Damascus. Several times over the past two years, a play was made to intervene in Syria. Time and again, it was walked back. Now, however, a pretext has been invoked, and the Obama White House has declared its willingness to ignore the UN and overwhelming popular opposition, and attack anyway.
There is still some room for voices of reason to prevail, but odds are we are in for yet another Evil Little War.
The notion of "humanitarian" intervention is commonly dated back to the 1990s, when Bill Clinton and Tony Blair concocted a "doctrine" called R2P – responsibility to protect – as a way to intervene in affairs of other countries by force. Using the precedent established in Bosnia, Clinton and Blair attacked what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, supposedly to "stop a genocide" (that their propaganda invented) in the Serbian province of Kosovo.
If this sounds even remotely familiar, that is because it closely resembles a pretext Hitler used – alleged violation of "human rights" of ethnic Germans – to annex Austria and the Sudetenland in 1938, invade Poland in 1939, and attack Yugoslavia in 1941.
Selling a "humanitarian" war to the general public requires a pretext. A ghastly atrocity works best. In Bosnia, three bombings around a Sarajevo marketplace – in 1992, 1994 and 1995 – each served to escalate international involvement, culminating in an open NATO intervention.
For Kosovo, Clinton and Blair had Racak: a village where OSCE observers – led by NATO military intelligence officers – declared the Yugoslav forces had "massacred civilians." In reality, Racak had been a battle between police and the KLA, a terrorist organization seeking to separate Kosovo from Serbia and make it into an Albanian state.
The pretext chosen for attacking Syria is that the government had used chemical weapons against civilians in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta. Empire’s entire case rests on claims by the rebels and some YouTube videos. Numerous analysts and experts point out that Ghouta has all the hallmarks of a false flag operation – plans for which were discovered earlier this year.
A Long-Planned Campaign
Leaked documents reveal that a plan to attack Syria was developed back in 2011. The Empire and its rebel clients have been looking for ways to create a pretext for intervention ever since.
Ghouta is just the latest in a series of manufactured incidents. Back in the summer of 2011, Western media hyped the hear-rending dispatches from Amina Arraf, a "gay girl in Damascus" – who turned out to be a sock-puppet. The actual writer, an American living in Scotland, defended the fraud by claiming he "raised awareness" and that "Amina’s" writing was "fiction but true."
At one point, Turkey seemed eager to lead the war effort, so Ankara claimed that Syrian forces had shelled its border towns. War seemed imminent when a Turkish F-4 was shot down in June 2012. Since then, however, Turkey has become busy with other problems.
The rebels then tried to provide a pretext of their own, arguing multiple massacres. As each got exposed as a fraud, the war drums would fall silent – for a while. The rebels’ jihadist proclivities and video footage of cannibalism did little to bolster their cause. So the Empire stepped in, clearly spelling out that a trigger for intervention would be a major chemical attack.
One was alleged in June this year, but the drive to intervention foundered on the shoal of facts once again. The incident in Ghouta happened just as the government was winning the war, and precisely when the UN inspection team was visiting. To believe this was providential coincidence makes absolutely no sense. Yet that is what the mainstream media would have everyone believe – as well as that the Syrian government is murdering its own civilians en masse, and that the rebels are noble – if jihadist – fighters for freedom, democracy and tolerance. Except when it comes to Christians, of course.
There is nothing "humanitarian" about war. Ever. Any war, no matter how noble the cause, involves killing people. The way the Empire sells it to the general public – already fed a garbage diet of celebrity scandals and gutter gossip – is that precision munitions bloodlessly eliminate "evildoers" with no loss of innocent (or American) lives.
To believe this, one must also believe in the miraculous transubstantiation of anyone killed by Imperial ordnance into an "enemy combatant." In reality, far from being bloodless, interventions result in mass death of civilians supposedly being "helped"– which the Empire, supposedly so concerned about their well-being, doesn’t even bother to count.
"Humanitarian" interventionism has little or nothing to do with people supposedly being "rescued", but everything to do with creating and maintaining the image of Empire as the heroic rescuer. This sort of global white-knighting is pure narcissism.
The Balkans Pattern
Time and again, the mainstream media have compared Syria to Kosovo. Some interventionists have even drawn parallels with Bosnia – such as Michael Ignatieff. The Washington Post recently ran a plea for intervention by the Bosnian (Muslim) FM and his Turkish colleague, recycling the myths of the Bosnian War.
It is no accident that the 1999 attack on Yugoslavia – illegal, illegitimate and unjust – is being invoked as a precedent for further Imperial action. Even the critics of attacking Syria – such as Leon Hadar – operate under the mistaken assumption that the Balkans interventions were a success. This is simply not true, though it may seem otherwise to those willing to ignore inconvenient facts.
Because the myths about the Balkan interventions have been left unchallenged, they are repeatedly used to justify new wars – as Diana Johnstone puts it, "justify the unjustifiable" – Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011, Mali earlier this year, and now Syria.
Few remember, due to the fog of propaganda, that NATO’s pretext for attacking in 1999 was to impose the "Rambouillet agreement" – a deliberately unacceptable ultimatum misrepresented as a peace treaty. When Belgrade defied expectations of a quick surrender, new pretexts were conjured: allegations of mass murder, forced expulsion, mass rape, concentration camps, genocide, etc. Ultimately, it came down to continuing the war for the sake of NATO’s "credibility": the Alliance had no choice but to intervene, or it would appear foolish.
But as one blogger commenting on the Syria situation put it bluntly, "if your hand can be forced, what power do you have"?
There is another component to the Syria situation to consider. The Syrian rebels – financed, armed and trained by the Empire – have acknowledged links to Al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization designated as the primary enemy of the United States in the "war" declared in September 2001. Giving any sort of aid to Al-Qaeda is an act of treason.
Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk wondered the other day if Obama knew he was helping Al-Qaeda. There is no good answer to this. If the Emperor knows, he is guilty of treason. But if he doesn’t know, then he is manifestly unfit for office.
Far from bolstering Obama’s legacy, a Syrian War may finish it off.
Despite the massive media blitz, the drumbeat for war on Syria missed a step this Thursday, when the UK House of Commons voted against the war, and left British interventionists fumbling at their failure to back the Empire.
There is still hope that the rush to madness might be avoided. If the Emperor wants to actually earn his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, he should listen to the words of a blogger that sounds more sensible drunk than all his advisors do sober:
"I don’t know what to do about Syria. But I know what not to do, which is set a bunch of 20 year old kids on fire."