FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria

by

shutterstock_232674157

Poor ISIS. Try as they might, the men in black still can’t out-terrorize their enemies or, more pointedly, even their patrons. For the past three years, decapitations have served as the money shots for ISIS’s theater of cruelty. Then on New Year’s Day the Saudis upstaged ISIS by audaciously chopping off the heads of 47 men, including a prominent Shia cleric.

This act of brazen butchery is made all the more horrific by virtue of the fact that the Saudi head-slicers recently landed a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, largely at the insistence of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who personally vouched for the petro-autocracy’s acute sensitivity to matters of civil liberties and the humane treatment of prisoners. Then again the drone-troika of Britain, France and the U.S. also enjoy seats on the council, so perhaps the Saudis have earned their slot after all.

With his peculiar fondness for porcine heads, Cameron is probably the Kingdom’s most un-kosher ally, but he is far from Saudi Arabia’s only political cheerleader. Showing a stunning lack of judgment, Comandante Bernie Sanders says his Syrian strategy relies on the Saudis taking the lead in the fight against ISIS. “They’ve got to get their hands dirty,” Sanders inveighed to Wolf Blitzer on CNN. “They’ve got to get their troops on the ground. They’ve got to win that war with our support. We cannot be leading the effort.”

Apparently Sanders skipped the briefing on how ISIS’s apocalyptic ideology has been fueled by fire-breathing Wahhabi preachers financed by the Saudi royal family. The red senator also seems ignorant of the fact that ISIS functions as shock troops for the House of Saud in its proxy war against Iran, now raging in Yemen and Iraq, as well as Syria. You’d think that Bernie would be getting better advice from his friends in Israeli intelligence.

Sanders’ policy on Syria is naïve to the point of doltishness. But Hillary’s Syrian war plan—shared by most of her Republican rivals—borders on the pathological. Having not missed a minute of sleep haunted by the corpses of Libya, Mrs. Clinton is now stumping for the dismantling of Syria, using the carefully cultivated domestic anxiety over ISIS as the pretext. The cornerstone of Hillary’s rogue scheme is the imposition of a no fly zone over that embattled country.

Sounds like a relatively benign plan, right? But wait. ISIS doesn’t have an air force. They don’t even a have drone. Russia, of course, is flying daily sorties in Syrian air space, at the invitation of the Syrian government, such as it is, and some kind of confrontation would be inevitable. Still, Hillary doesn’t flinch. She has zealously vowed to shoot down any Russian plane that violated her unilateral ban.

Yet NATO’s latest recruit, Turkey, jumped the gun. Erdogan’s trigger-happy generals didn’t wait for any such fanciful legalisms and downed a Russian jet for momentarily breaching (perhaps) Turkish airspace. Then Turkamen fighters gleefully trained their machine-guns on the plane’s pilots as they slowly parachuted toward the desert. Vladimir Putin fulminated boisterously to his domestic audience, but prudently declined to retaliate against the Turks, perhaps intuiting that it would snap a tripwire for a full-frontal confrontation with NATO.

Everyone has been consulted about the future of Syria, except the Syrians themselves. Why? Because simply, Syrians don’t matter. They are quite beside the point. Thanks to fresh reporting by Seymour Hersh, we now know that the subtext for Obama administration’s Syrian strategy, dating back to Clinton’s tenure at the State Department, has been largely geared toward ensnaring Russian in the Levantine quagmire. This is chaos theory marketed as foreign policy.

The rubble of modern Syria has become a multi-national bombing range, a kill zone of neo-Cold War contention. Each new act of domestic terrorism, from Paris to San Bernardino, has been used to rationalize more airstrikes on Syria, even though the killers in both slaughters seemed mainly to be attempting to impress the terror network, which is like blaming Jodie Foster for inspiring John Hinkley’s wild fusillade at Reagan and his entourage.

Even Putin, that prickly hero to some precincts of the anti-imperialist Left, has upped the ante by threatening to launch a nuclear strike against ISIS in response to the bombing of a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai, even though there’s no direct evidence that the bomb was planted by the mad men of Daesh. Not to be outdone, Ted Cruz, the natural-born Canadian, has vowed to make the sands of Raqqa glow, despite the fact that few Americans could point to Raqqa on a map or explain why this city of a quarter-million people should be incinerated in retribution for the murderous rampage by the Bonnie and Clyde of San Berdoo.

The war on terror has exploded in the face of the West, with spreading mayhem across the Middle East and unraveling conditions on the home front. One chilling measure of the savage toll from 14 years of war is the rate of military suicides in the US, which now total more than 4000 since the first cruise missiles struck Afghanistan. There is a desperate motive to externalize the blame for this bleak situation, to target a scapegoat. The rancid resumes of ISIS and the despotic Assad regime make Syria a convenient landscape for more imperial bloodletting. There’s not even the faintest flicker of an anti-war movement left to impede their shameful enterprise.

In this comedy of terrors, the apex predators are the familiar ones circling overhead, waiting to blow Syria apart and plunder its bones.

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution. He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter  @JSCCounterPunch

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
Rob Seimetz
Measuring Manhoods
Edward Curtin
Sorry, You’re Not Invited
Vern Loomis
Winning the Lottery is a State of Mind
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mary V. Dearborn’s “Ernest Hemingway”
David Yearsley
The Ethos of Mayfest
May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail