FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Tilting Towards Syria

by BINOY KAMPMARK

The recent escalation of tensions in Syria with the alleged use of chemical weapons against the civilian population is a cause of concern for the international community.  These attacks allegedly took place in the east and south-west of Damascus on Wednesday, purportedly killing hundreds.  There is, of course, one problem.  Both sides claim the other did it.  Syrian state television has been quick off the mark in suggesting evidence of rebel activity using chemical reserves.  Ditto the rebels, who see their great Satan incarnate in the form of Assad.

The war in Syria has become a battleground as much for Syrian factions split between Sunni and Shia as between various countries who see an interest in either overthrowing the regime of Assad, or finding a replacement more amenable to the “West”.  This has been the tragic lot of countries who find themselves on historical highways, routes where armies of various beliefs and faiths have traversed.  Their sovereignty tends to be at the mercy of movement and intervention.

The conflict now has numerous names in what is becoming a line dance of murderous calculation.  Russia and Iran, with their specific naval and military interests, provide the regime with support.  Qatar and Saudi Arabia have made no secret of their backing of anti-Assad forces.  One form of Sunni fundamentalism finds itself in a tussle with what amounts to secular despotism and Shia-backed fanaticism.

The argument for regime change, given that the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Australia, is much stranger than it seems.  The al-Nusra Brigade, a mortal enemy of Assad, has been deemed a terrorist organisation on the books of those who would prefer to deal with more palatable opponents of Assad. It is not the only one.  Weapons supplied for the Syrian opposition have wound their way to so called “illegal” groups, rather than moderate elements.  An armed solution would be a catastrophic one.

The Australian case is a pressing one, because it suggests that a military intervention against the Assad regime might be imminent.  A way of gauging imminent intervention by the United States is to watch how rapidly their allies jump to attention. It might come in the form of a certain remark by the British foreign secretary William Hague, who is already convinced that chemical weapons were, in fact, used. Or it might come in the form of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s jerky response in returning to Canberra for security briefings on the subject.

The signs are those of war, though Rudd, so far, has suggested that the UN weapons inspectors will need to ascertain what happened on the ground.  Other countries have also suggested that this is the wise course of action.  The longer this investigation is delayed, the less likely evidence will be found.

An empirical approach is required as to whether chemical weapons were used, and by whom.  It was precisely that which proved conspicuously absent when it came to finding “evidence” of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. War is undesirable; war by fraud, even more so.

The history of interventions in such countries as Afghanistan and Iraq show the dangers of bloody and destabilising adventurism.  Australian commitments to such adventures, often at the expense of international law, have proven costly and extensive.  The global refugee problem is due, in no small part, to such incursions.

The sanctity of Parliament has been overridden by executive fiat at various stages of Australian history.  To a large extent, this is the condition of the Westminster system: an executive which stems from Parliament itself tends to rush matters through without much regard of the public and its representatives.  This, sadly, has assumed the air of bipartisan support.  It is a feature of politics that must change.

In the final analysis, there are few humanitarian solutions to humanitarian crisis, certainly at the end of the gun.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and is running with Julian Assange for the Australian Senate in Victoria. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

 

 

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
Nicolas J S Davies
Escalating U.S. Air Strikes Kill Hundreds of Civilians in Mosul, Iraq
Binoy Kampmark
Class, Football, and Blame: the Hillsborough Disaster Inquest
George Wuerthner
The Economic Value of Yellowstone National Park
Rivera Sun
Celebrating Mother Jones
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir and Postcolonialism
Mairead Maguire
Drop the Just War Theory
Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail