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

February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The “Great” Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail