Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why we should oppose any attack on Syria

Desperate acts by unpopular regimes have the capacity to spiral out of control. And we’re not talking just talking about the Assad dictatorship in Syria but also the plans by the US and Britain to launch missile attacks on Damascus.

As they build their surveillance states at home, while driving down living conditions of the majority, president Obama and prime minister Cameron are gambling on a diversion which could well backfire.

Polls show the majority of Americans and British citizens opposed to military intervention in a brutal civil war. Iran and Russia are warning that attacks on Syria in response to alleged use of chemical weapons could further destabilise the region.

With Putin’s Russia and Iran heavily committed to backing the Assad regime, any action by the US backed by Britain, France and Germany will have unpredictable consequences. Madness indeed.

While there is talk of re-calling parliament to give military action a democratic veneer, the ConDem government has already indicated that it “has to reserve the right to act immediately”. To that end, the National Security Committee is meeting tomorrow.

The supposed reason is of course the “discovery” of chemical agents. While chemical weapons may well be used by the Syrian regime, how bombing Assad’s forces can really put an end to this is of course not stated. Just as in Iraq in 2001, UN weapons inspectors are still scrambling to investigate the nature and source of chemical weapons.

But US Secretary of State John Kerry claims that the evidence is “screaming at us” as he and the US military with the support of Cameron and Hague feverishly gather together their coalition of the willing.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Tony Blair has called on the West to “stop wringing its hands” and intervene against the Syrian government. “Peace envoy” (can there be a greater misnomer?) Blair has been hard at work touring super-yachts in the Mediterranean and private-jetting around St Tropez and Sardinia.

Blair – just like US secretary of state John Kerry - says that the new government in Egypt should be supported “in stabilising the country” by continuing to provide $1.3bn of US military aid. “Stabilising”? “Restoring democracy”? A strange word for the military regime’s murder of some 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Blair notoriously helped to launch the illegal UK-US attack on Iraq on the grounds that Saddam Hussein had secret “weapons of mass destruction”. That never-proven pretext turned out to be just that – a psychological operation to blur the issues and provide a “humanitarian” cover for a brutal war that caused hundreds of thousands civilian deaths.

Like the current pretext of chemical weapons, it was a blatant propaganda lie by the Blair, Bush and their allies to bring “democracy”, aka regime change through bombing and make Iraq “safe” for corporate exploitation. Never mind that more a decade later, Iraq has still not recovered from that war and is wracked by internal conflict.

It is well-known that the United States and Saudi Arabia have been supplying the anti-Assad forces in Syria with tanks and weaponry. But the imminent missile and drone attacks, backed up by military aircraft, will be crossing a major line.

So where is Her Majesty’s opposition on this vital question? Even less critical than the Conservatives’ own backbenchers, shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander says: "I'm not ruling out the possibility that Labour could support the government [even without a UN resolution, he made clear], but I'm certainly not prepared to write the government a blank cheque."

So that’s alright then. Just give Labour time and they will write that cheque.  

Obama-Cameron’s race to bomb Syria come what may has nothing to do with protecting the Syrian people, or even their distaste of chemical or weapons of mass destruction. After all, the US is the only country to have used atomic weapons on an undefended population and also defoliated large parts of Vietnam with chemicals, maiming hundreds of thousands of civilians in the process.

So arrange the following in any order you feel like: hypocrisy, double standards, neo-imperialism, military adventurism, warmongering, military-corporate complex. Then you’ll know why we should oppose attacks on Syria.

Corinna Lotz
A World to Win secretary

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