Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Targeting Syria

By Reginald Johnson

 It’s a like bad movie that keeps coming back.

 The first time you saw it, you said, ‘I never want to see this again.’

 But it keeps getting shown because, unfortunately, it’s on the news. You don’t want to watch it, but you’re forced to. And every time, you get the same sick feeling.

 The movie is actually part of a long-running series that might be called “America Makes War on a Bad Country.”

The latest installment is now playing. It’s called “America Makes War on Bad Syria.”

 It is probably number 20 in the movie series involving different nations. Or is it 30, or 40? I’ve lost count.

 In a script similar to the other shows, America says it doesn’t like Syria because its leader, Bashar al-Assad, is bad to his people. His regime has committed human rights violations. Locking up dissenters and allowing torture in his prisons. Indeed, there is independent verification to support this claim.

 Now America --- because its own human rights record is so good (talk to Pakistani or Afghan villagers following bombing attacks, or men waterboarded in U.S. prisons, they’ll tell you) --- feels so strongly about bringing freedom to the Syrian people, that it’s begun an urgent campaign to get rid of the Assad government.

 Through other countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the U.S. is supplying weapons to the rebels in Syria. CIA personnel have been sent to Turkey to train the insurgents, according to the New York Times.

 This indirect, war-by-proxy against a sovereign nation is illegal under international law, because it’s not sanctioned by the UN, and the U.S. has not been attacked by Syria. But who cares about international law? The U.S.A has done this so many time before, hardly anyone blinks an eye.

 Led by their constitutional lawyer and now President, Barack Obama, America is still trying to get some sort of resolution through the UN to authorize a wider military action against Bad Syria, but things are a bit slow because Russia and China, allies of Syria, keep balking.

 While the UN stalls, the U.S. has turned to Old Faithful --- NATO--- to get more pledges of support. Yes, just as Britain and France helped out with the humanitarian bombing campaign against Libya last year, these loyal allies from the days of the Cold War, plus Turkey, have come to the rescue again. Like the U.S., they care deeply about human rights and have the records to prove it --- just ask the Irish and Indians about Britain, or the Algerians about France, or the Kurds or Armenians about Turkey, and they will all sing praises.

 As noted, the freedom-loving monarchy of Saudi Arabia, along with Qatar, have also joined in this noble effort.

 Just call this the “Coalition of the Benevolent to Help Syria!”

 In another echo from previous movies in the series, friendly media outlets in the U.S. have joined in the campaign to justify action against this year’s bad country. CNN has helped by running screaming reports every night, showing footage from opposition cell phone videos showing alleged Syrian government massacres. No real effort has been made to obtain a government response to the claims of indiscriminate violence.

 The movie on Syria is still in progress, and we don’t know for sure how it will end. But there’s a good chance that Assad will suffer the same fate as Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi did last year --- lying in a roadside ditch with an American bullet in his head.


 OK, let’s turn on the lights, turn off the propaganda that passes for news and take a critical look at the situation in Syria.

 The conflict there has nothing to do with human rights or alleged atrocities by the Assad regime. It has everything to do with a geopolitical power struggle over who controls the oil-rich region of the Middle East.

 Syria is allied with Iran, which sits on the world’s third-largest supply of oil. Through the insurgency it is supporting, the U.S. aims to topple the Assad regime in Syria, get a more friendly group in power, and isolate Iran, which the U.S. has been at odds with for sometime. From the springboard in Syria, the U.S. can more easily bring down the government in Iran, either through constant pressure tactics or direct military action.

 Then the U.S. will have primacy in the Middle East and control over the flow of oil --- the most critical resource in the world, a resource which is getting more scarce by the year.

 This is the game plan.

 But it is game plan fraught with risk.

 Russia and China, which covet oil just as much as we do, are not going to sit idly by while the Americans take control over so much of the planet’s most vital resource.

 That’s why the two countries are resisting strong action on Syria at the UN, and why Russia has been arming Syria.

 It would be potentially catastrophic if the U.S. and its NATO partners unilaterally take military action against Syria.

 Undoubtedly, the U.S. will continue to try to get some sort of UN resolution condemning Syria for human rights abuses together with a provision for limited intervention. That will provide cover for an open, Libya-style attack.

 The Security Council is due to meet Wednesday to discuss Syria, and new allegations of civilian killings by Syrian government forces.

 People need to stand up and speak out about American duplicity in Syria.

 The American press has to do a better job of investigating the truth about allegations of mass killings and brutality by the Syrian government and be more questioning about America’s motives in connection with Syria.

 It is well known and absolutely true that the Syrian regime for a number of years has been committing human rights abuses against its citizens. Assad, like Gaddafi, is a despotic leader. The UN Human Rights Council last fall condemned Syria for a number of abuses. Many Syrian citizens have legitimate grievances against the government.

 It’s also true that the Syrian government military has sometimes been brutal in its effort to quell the rebellion.

 But opposition forces have been guilty of brutality against innocent people as well in a civil conflict which is pitting different sectarian groups against one another.

 Reports of “massacres” by government forces have been exaggerated. In May there were accusations of a slaughter of 100 people by the government in the village of Houla. The opposition group, the U.S. backed Free Syrian Army, repudiated a UN truce plan on the grounds that the government had used the ceasefire to carry out the attack.

 But according to an analysis on Syria in the World Socialist Web Site, the leading German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, reported that “multiple eyewitness accounts of the killings in Houla reported that the massacre was actually carried out by FSA fighters who had targeted minority Shiites, Alawites and Christians who had refused to join the Sunni-based opposition.”

 The German story got no attention in the U.S. press.

 In conclusion, Americans do need to speak about human rights abuses wherever they occur, whether at the hands of our government or at the hands of another. But we cannot allow our government to manipulate democratic uprisings in various countries and pretend we are siding with a certain group to achieve a more humane condition for people, when in fact the goal is far different.

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