An Interview with Douglas Valentine


American author Douglas Valentine says that the United States does not abide by any of its international obligations and its calls for war against Syria violate the international law and the UN Charter.

“The US has threatened about 50 nations with military attack. Warmongers on the Left and Right claim this right on the basis that America is an “exceptional” nation. That means the US has an exception to all laws. It is the policeman of the world and policemen don’t obey laws; they enforce them on others,” said Douglas Valentine in an exclusive interview with the Fars News Agency.

Douglas Valentine is an American author of four books of historical non-fiction, one novel, and one books of poems. He is best known for his investigations of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Drug Enforcement Administration.  He is currently editing an anthology of international poems titled “With Our Eyes Wide Open: Poems of the New American Century” which will be released in March 2014.

Valentine comments on different political issues, including the Middle East current affairs. His political articles appear on several online and print publications, including the Counterpunch. What follows is the text of FNA’s interview with Mr. Valentine on the ongoing crisis in Syria and the US war threats against it.

Q: The US war rhetoric on Syria looms large these days, and despite the agreement between the United States and Russia to bring Syria’s chemical weapons under the UN safeguards, some extremist neo-cons in the US Congress and administration are continuing to call for a military strike against Syria. Why does the United States persist on its hawkish policies? Hasn’t it learned a lesson from its previous military adventures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya?

A: America’s greatest strength is its vast military forces and intelligence services. This is what makes America the dominant world power. Americans identify with and celebrate their military prowess, their many wars, and war dead. The extremist neo-cons are the group most associated with this ethic in America. They see themselves as the guardians of America’s prestige. Their inclination is to always call for military action, in high hopes of accommodating their financial backers in the US arms industry.

It is more complex than that, of course. There are also the dynamics of American culture to consider – the sense many Americans have that they are “exceptional” and destined to rule a world that is hostile to the “American Way.” For many years even the so-called Left believed America was in a life and death struggle with the Soviet Union, and that this battle was fought in the Third World. Average Americans believed they were fighting “totalitarian” communism, but the country’s elite was suppressing the nationalism and independent economic policies of emerging states.

With the demise of the Soviet Union and the rise of the “fundamentalists,” America’s ruling elite has been able to redirect the energies of the American people toward Muslim nations – all of which are characterized as inferior and hostile.

The warmongers will never learn their lesson. Only the will of the American people prevents the rich political elite from seeking a military solution.

As President Putin said in his Op-Ed for The New York Times, America’s elite increasingly relies on brute force to get what it wants. What it wants is to assert its power and to be seen to exercise control over the other nations of the world. It must also accommodate its financial backers in the powerful Israeli Lobby and arms industry. Much of the so-called Left is as dedicated to these ends as the neo-cons are, as the achievement of these ends validates their sense of superiority and enables them to prosper.

Seen from this perspective, the wars in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, and other places, are going just fine. America has destroyed any progress those nations made in education, healthcare, infrastructure – like water treatment and electricity, mail, courts. By degrading the general standards of living for people in perceived “hostile” nations, America’s ruling elite empowers itself, while claiming that it has ensured the security and prestige of the American people. Sometimes it is even able to convince the American people that its criminal actions are “humanitarian” and designed to liberate the people in nations it destroys.

Q: In recent days, and especially after the United States discarded its plans for attacking Syria following its agreement with Russia, more attention has been paid to the role of Iran in resolving the crisis in Syria and bringing to an end the almost 3-year civil war in the Arab country. The United States has so far refused to accept that Iran should be included in the comprehensive international talks about Syria, but a number of American newspapers and TV channels are suggesting that Iran needs to be part of the talks for finding a solution to the Syrian dilemma. What’s your viewpoint about the role Iran can play in ending the violence and unrest in Syria?

I do not believe the US has discarded it plans to destabilize Syria and oust Assad.

Having said that, I am unaware of the plans and strategies of Iran’s ruling elite. I assume here are conflicting forces in determining those plans and strategies. It is my understanding that Iran publicly backs Assad, as does Russia, and that Iran seeks to help Assad defeat the rebels, many of whom are foreign mercenaries. I assume Iran will impose its will on the situation in Syria to whatever extent it can, whether through direct negotiations, indirect negotiations, or in the absence of negotiations.

I doubt, however, the US is willing to negotiate an end to the crisis. America does not recognize Syria’s sovereignty, and has violated that sovereignty for years through covert action and its support for the mercenary armies attacking Syria.

Iran is a regional, strategic player, and ought to be officially involved in negotiations around Syria. But if history is any indicator, the US is an unreliable negotiating partner. I suppose some Americans would accept Iranian participation in negotiations about the fate of Syria, but only if the deal left Syria in the same sort of hell the Palestinians are in. As part of such a non-binding deal, the US would agree not to bomb Iran – if Iran agreed, say, to the partition of Syria. Such a deal would not deter ongoing covert actions against Iran, and would only delay further aggression against Iran until the next provocation gives the US another “green light” to attack Iran in one way or another. The US elites do not consider Iran to be a nation. It was a US colony from 1953 to 1979 and the US regime still thinks it is a colony. They US won’t negotiate honestly with a colony, so what purpose would negotiations serve?

Q: There have been extensive reports indicating that Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan and Qatar were involved in supplying chemical weapons and illicit materials to the rebels in Damascus and other Syrian cities. With such weapons, the rebels would be able to destabilize Syria and sponsor insecurity and unrest there. Why don’t the international organizations take action to stop them and their dangerous actions?

A: By “international organizations,” I assume you mean the UN and Human Rights Watch. I’m not sure why these organizations adhere to the American “line’ that Assad forces are responsible, when even American pundits like Rush Limbaugh have accused Obama of staging the chemical attacks as a provocation. The simple answer, I suppose, is that the CIA has suborned top officials in these organizations. We know the NSA spies on everyone, and the NSA passes information to the CIA. Perhaps these officials have been bribed or blackmailed. There is certainly enough corruption to go around. Others may align with the US for ideological reasons. There is certainly no objectivity, or even a pretense of objectivity.

The World Court and ICC don’t do anything against the US, probably for the same reasons.

Q: According to the French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, there are currently 110 French terrorists fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. This means that half of the European combatants taking part in the civil war in Syria come from France. Some commentators suggest that France is looking for ways to regain its colonial dominance over Syria, and that is why President Francois Hollande is continually pushing for a war against Syria. What’s your viewpoint on that?

A: Again, if history is any indicator, that is certainly a possibility. A century ago, France persuaded the Czar to mobilize against Germany after Germany had finally reached an agreement with Russia. It was this action, taken with the tacit consent of the British government that ultimately triggered the Great War.

I believe France’s elite are financially and ideologically aligned with the US and UK elites, against socialism worldwide, and of course sovereign nationalism in other nations. They are the major colonial powers. Of course France wants its colonies and prestige back. It has never given up control of the Algerian army. The UK was the primary fighter in Libya. Hollande is a socialist when he runs for office, but governs like an imperialist.

Q: According to the UN Charter and the General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy, to which the United States is a signatory, the unilateral use of military force, or threatening to use force against a sovereign nation is illegal and a violation of international law. However, the United States has repeatedly threatened Syria with a military strike in the recent weeks, and no international organization has raised its voice to protest the US calls for war. What do you think in this regard?

A: The US has threatened about 50 nations with military attack. Warmongers on the Left and Right claim this right on the basis that America is an “exceptional” nation. That means the US has an exception to all laws. It is the policeman of the world and policemen don’t obey laws; they enforce them on others.

There is nothing anyone can do about it. The US regime has a monopoly on force. Sovereignty is the key issue from the standpoint of international organizations and international law. But it is impossible for the UN to acknowledge that America engages in aggression within the meaning of the act because 1) the USA can intimidate enough members and 2) the long history of UN intervention, going back to Korea and the Congo, has always been a denial of the affected country’s sovereignty in the face of outside attack.

Q: If you look at what many former US officials and intelligence executives say, you’ll find that many of them are opposed to a US military strike against Syria. They argue that the United States does not have the legal or political authority to disarm Syria if it possesses chemical weapons, and it’s not Washington’s business to do the tasks of an international policeman. Do you agree?

A: What does it matter what I think, or what the laws say? If it wishes, the United States can rain death and destruction down on Syria, simply through its air and naval power. It can do to Syria what was done to Libya. It can do what Israel did in 2009 in Gaza.

Yes, the US regime has no legal authority to do anything in Syria. In fact, it is already violating international law by giving weapons to the so-called rebels. But members of the US military and the CIA will do what they are told to do. Very few ever take a principled stand and resign rather than obey an illegal order. They are war slaves and they know it. They do what their masters tell them to do. I do not trust anything former military or intelligence officers say – even when I agree with them – because they tend to couch subtle deceptions in their statements.

Q: Some analysts and critics of the US foreign policy say that it’s adopting a hypocritical attitude toward the concept of terrorism by supporting and arming the Al-Qaeda mercenaries fighting in Syria, while it has launched its project of War on Terror with the purported aim of dismantling the same Al-Qaeda which the United States considers a threat to global peace. Why is the United States behaving in such an insincere manner?

A: The “war on terror” is a monumental fraud. As recently reported in RT, Obama waived America’s own anti-terrorism provisions to arm its mercenaries in Syria, a process which the CIA has been managing for over a year already, the way it manages the international trade in illicit drugs. Reagan called CIA-backed terrorists in Nicaragua “Freedom Fighters.” It just goes on and on.

Al Qaeda provides America with a pretext to intervene in every nation in the world, and to wage preemptive wars, as promulgated on 20 September 2002, in the “National Security Strategy of the United States.”

Al Qaeda also provides mercenaries to topple governments the US does not like.

The US has really never been “against” al Qaeda. The CIA created al Qaeda in Afghanistan as a force against the Russians, and has used factions of al Qaeda to fight in Chechnya, Kosovo, Bosnia, and other places. The US has created a colonial army of mercenaries much like that the British created with their Nepalese Gurkhas. The US mercenaries are from all over the Muslim world. They are fighting in Africa right now. This is the US proxy army worldwide, trained by Special Forces under CIA control.

Ultimately, the term al-Qaeda is an empty category used to describe whatever narrative the USG has to explain to its population and those of its allies. Orwell described the phenomenon very well: 1984 is full of war reporting whereby the allied and enemies are constantly changing from day to day even. The terms friend and foe ceased to have any recognizable meaning for those watching the TV screen.

Q: Iran and Russia say that diplomacy is the best way to deal with the crisis in Syria and eradicate extremism and fanaticism in the Arab country, but the United States hasn’t so far allowed diplomacy and dialogue to work. Why is it insisting on a military solution to the crisis in Syria while a negotiated solution through a comprehensive national dialogue can solve all the problems?

A: The US does not negotiate unless a preponderance of force compels it to do so. Consider the events at the US Embassy in Tehran in 1980.

Perhaps the American war against Syria, and its contingency plans to attack Iran are part of a larger strategy to weaken and encircle Iran, then Russia? Perhaps the US is insisting on a military solution because it believes with some justification that Iran and Russia will ultimately sacrifice Syria to avoid war with the US.

What if the goal of the American elite is to make Syria look like Libya and Iraq? To smash it into ethnic and religious lines, and to fuel fighting between these groups for many years; only time will tell.

This interview originally appeared on Farsnews.

Kourosh Ziabari is an independent journalist from Iran.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC