FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Marching Toward Syria and Beyond

by BEN SCHREINER

With Syria firmly in the cross hairs, Washington’s war cries are nearing a crescendo.

Playing the tried and true chemical weapons card—played each time the U.S. has moved to publicly deepen its level of intervention into the Syrian crisis—U.S. strikes are now reportedly a matter of when, not if.  Accordingly, the propaganda machine revs up.

With an American public clearly opposed to another war in the Middle East, Washington and the “respectable” press have trotted out two canards to justify their brazen aggression.  The first being that the heinous use of chemical weapons (which we are asked to believe were used by the Syrian government, despite a dearth of evidence provided), requires a moral obligation to intervene.  A moral obligation, we are told, so strong as to trump international law.

As Secretary of State John Kerry stated, “The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders, by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity.”

But such lecturing on the immoral use of chemical weapons from any U.S. official is, to say the least, quite rich.  After all, the U.S. has left a trail of misery from Vietnam to Iraq in the wake of its own chemical attacks.  All but the most daft and sheltered American ought to easily see through such clear cynicism.

Failing a mere moral obligation, then, the second canard rolled out by the elite to gin up war fever is that the U.S. has no choice but to strike, lest it risk its credibility and, in turn, its global supremacy.

As the Washington Post’s David Ignatius argues:

Using military power to maintain a nation’s credibility may sound like an antiquated idea, but it’s all too relevant in the real world we inhabit. It has become obvious in recent weeks that President Obama, whose restrained and realistic foreign policy I generally admire, needs to demonstrate that there are consequences for crossing a U.S. “red line.” Otherwise, the coherence of the global system begins to dissolve.

In other words, the U.S. must continually demonstrate its insatiable appetite for war—its imperial madness—lest we face global anarchy.  And as for Obama, all that remains in order to save face is the cruise missile.  And the man must save face no matter the “collateral damage.”

This, too, is ridiculous on its face.  As Stephen Walt writes, “If being willing to use force was the litmus test of a president’s credibility, Obama is in no danger whatsoever. Or has everyone just forgotten about his decision to escalate in Afghanistan, the bombing of Libya, and all those drone strikes?”

Evidently everyone has forgotten the U.S. training and arming of Syrian rebels, as well.

So then, propaganda aside, why is the U.S. really gearing up for war against Syria?

See Damascus, Think Tehran and Beyond

Ever since Jimmy Carter declared Middle East oil to be a “vital national interest” of the United States, the U.S. military has laid perpetual siege to the region. Yet, the one state American planners have always coveted—and once held in their vice—continues to slip the imperial trap.  And for this defiance, Iran has become an obsession of U.S. planners.  Thus when it comes to U.S. strategic thinking on Syria, it’s really all about how to best to weaken Iran.

Indeed, as Anthony Cordesman of the influential Center for Strategic and International Studies writes:

If Bashar al-Assad wins or survives in ways that give him control over most of Syria [which failing Western intervention, looks more and more likely], Iran will have a massive new degree of influence over Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon in a polarized Middle East divided between Sunni and Shi’ite and steadily driving minorities into exile. This will present serious new risks for an Israel that will never again be able to count on a passive Assad. It will weaken Jordan and Turkey and, most importantly, give Iran far more influence in the Gulf.

Likewise, Richard Hass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, argued on the PBS Newshour that a strike against Syria is necessary “not simply to discourage them [the Syrian government] from using chemical weapons again, but to send a message to Iran.”

(One wonders if the message received on Tehran’s end will be that nuclear weapons provide the only immunization from U.S. attack.)

Of course, Syria has long been about Iran—not only for the U.S.  As Efraim Halevy, former director of the Israeli Mossad, crowed back in early 2012, the Syrian crisis “created an opportunity to defuse the Iranian threat.”  Knock off Tehran’s main Arab ally, the notion goes, and it won’t be long before the Mullahs are brought to their knees.  And failing that, destroying the Syrian state and any value it can offer as an ally to Iran will do just fine.

And that is the essence of the current debate within the U.S. ruling class over Syria: should the U.S. go all the way and push for “regime change” (as the neocons demand), or should the U.S. seek to merely weaken a strengthening Assad and prolong the bloodletting?  Till now, Obama has remained content with seeking to prolong the war, much to the chagrin of the hardened interventionists.

But as the U.S. economy remains mired in a state of prolonged stagnation, Obama, tasked by the ruling class to slow U.S. decline, is increasingly nudged toward the last remaining hope for maintaining U.S. global supremacy: military aggression.  And thus to the strategic Middle East it is again.

As Cordesman comments on U.S. interests in the region compelling intervention into Syria:

BP estimates that Iraq and [Iran] together have nearly 20 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, and the Middle East has over 48 percent.

This is why the new U.S. strategy announced in early 2012 gave the same priority to the Middle East as it did to Asia. The control of these reserves and the secure flow of oil exports impacts directly on our strategic position, on every aspect of our economy, and on every job in America.

Syria, we see, is but a stepping stone for fulfilling Washington’s imperial dream of global full spectrum dominance.  It’s a vital piece in the geopolitical game aimed at forcibly seizing control of global energy supplies (including those in Iran) necessary in the planned encirclement of both Russia and China.  No U.S. war on Syria will thus be limited to a mere “shot across the bow,” not while eyes remain cast towards Tehran and well beyond.  For if coming to fruition, such a war threatens to metastasize into far wider and far more dangerous conflagration, threatening to draw in both Iran and a nuclear-armed Russia into direct conflict with the U.S.

The question thus becomes, how much longer will the world, let alone the American people, countenance such reckless U.S. aggression?  For left unchecked, the U.S. shall continue its bloody export of barbarism.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer living in Oregon.  He may be reached via his website or at bnschreiner@gmail.com.

Ben Schreiner is the author of A People’s Dictionary to the ‘Exceptional Nation’.  He may be reached at bnschreiner@gmail.com or via his blog.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 24, 2017
Paul Street
Beyond Neoliberal Identity Politics
Daniel Read
Powder Keg: Manchester Terror Attack Could Lead to Yet Another Resurgence in Nationalist Hate
Robert Fisk
When Peace is a Commodity: Trump in the Middle East
Kenneth Surin
The UK’s Epochal Election
Jeff Berg
Lessons From a Modern Greek Tragedy
Steve Cooper
A Concrete Agenda for Progressives
Michael McKinley
Australia-as-Concierge: the Need for a Change of Occupation
William Hawes
Where Are Your Minds? An Open Letter to Thomas de Maiziere and the CDU
Steve Early
“Corporate Free” Candidates Move Up
Fariborz Saremi
Presidential Elections in Iran and the Outcomes
Dan Bacher
The Dark Heart of California’s Water Politics
Alessandra Bajec
Never Ending Injustice for Pinar Selek
Rob Seimetz
Death By Demigod
Jesse Jackson
Venezuela Needs Helping Hand, Not a Hammer Blow 
Binoy Kampmark
Return to Realpolitik: Trump in Saudi Arabia
Vern Loomis
The NRA: the Dragon in Our Midst
May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
L. Ali Khan
I’m a Human and I’m a Cartoon
May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail