FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Intervening in Syria is a Crazy Idea

IF I were to follow the call of my heart, I would appeal to our government to send the Israeli army into Syria, drive the Assad gang from Damascus, turn the country over to the Syrian opposition or the UN, and go home.

That wouldn’t even be very difficult.

Damascus is just a few dozen kilometers from the positions of the Israeli army on the Golan Heights.

The Syrian army is busy fighting against their own people. If they turn around to fight against us, the insurgents would sweep into Damascus and finish the job themselves.

Either way, the monster would be gone.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

YES IT would, but, alas, it is an altogether crazy idea.

First of all, because the Syrian people, including the insurgents, probably hate us even more than they hate Bashar.

If Israeli soldiers crossed the border, the Syrians would unite behind their army and end the insurrection.

For the entire Arab world, Israel is the devil’s disciple. Even the Arab countries which, like Saudi Arabia, assist the Free Syrian Army would have to think twice. Israel’s support for any Arab group, progressive and patriotic as it may be, is the kiss of death.

For that reason, even verbal support would be fatal. Some people would like the Israeli government to call upon President Barack Obama and/or the UN to intervene. That would be misguided. It would help Bashar and his cronies to stigmatize the rebels as American agents and Zionist stooges.

So what can Israel do to help the suffering people next door?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Neither military intervention, nor diplomatic efforts, nor even a gesture of solidarity.

INSTEAD, WE should meditate on the reasons for our being in this deplorable situation.

There was a time when people in the Arab world did not like Israel, but believed what Israel said. Even when announcements of the Israeli army were disliked, they were believed. Those days are long gone.

If the Israeli army were to announce that it was entering Syria to rid it of its dictator, and would withdraw immediately after, people would laugh. Israel? Withdraw? Israel entered Lebanon in 1982 to “free an area up to 40 kilometers from the border of Palestinian terrorists”, and it took it 18 years to leave – and that only after losing an intensive guerilla war. Israel occupied the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967 and has shown no intention of ever leaving.

If Israel did anything about the Syrian situation – did anything at all – the whole world would ask itself: What are those Israelis up to now?  What are their devious designs?

Who could be so naïve as  to expect a country that has an Avigdor Lieberman as Foreign Minister and an Ehud Barak at Defense, not to mention a Binyamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister, to do anything altruistic?

So let’s forget about the whole idea.

YET HOW can I sit idly by while less than 300 kilometers from my home – closer than Eilat – awful things are happening?

This is not a question for an Israeli only. It is a question for every human being around the world.

Whether Israeli or Norwegian, Brazilian or Pakistani, we – citizens of this world – are sitting before our TV screens and looking with horror at the pictures coming out of Homs and asking ourselves with growing despair: Are we totally impotent? Is the world totally impotent?

70 years ago we accused the world of not lifting a finger when millions of Jews, Roma and others were killed by Einsatzgruppen and in the gas chambers. But that was in the middle of a terrible Word War, when the West and the Soviet Union were facing the ruthlessly efficient Nazi military machine, headed by one of history’s great tyrants.

Yet here we are today, facing a tin-pot dictator in a little country, who is slaughtering his own people, and still unable to stop it.

THIS GOES far beyond the terrible events in Syria.

The helplessness of the world community, euphemistically called “the family of nations”, to do anything in such a situation cries out to high heaven.

The simple truth is that at the beginning of the third millennium, in the age of economic globalization and the world-wide net of instant communication, the international political system is still lagging centuries behind.

After the terrible First World War, the League of Nations was created. But the hubris of the victors and their vengefulness against the vanquished caused them to set up a faulty structure that broke down at the first real test.

After the even more terrible Second World War, the victors tried to be much more realistic. But the structure they created – the United Nations Organization – has other faults. The Syrian crisis shows them up in the most glaring light.

The worst feature of the UN is the veto. It regularly condemns the organization to utter impotence.

It is vain to accuse Russia and China of unabashed cynicism. They are no different from other great powers. The US has used the veto far more times, especially to protect Israel. Russia and China serve their perceived short-term interests, and to hell with the victims. Ugly, disgusting, but commonplace. History is full of examples. The Munich agreement and the Hitler-Stalin pact spring readily to mind.

But does the ugly Russian veto against a toothless resolution in the Security Council really serve any real Russian interest? I think that Moscow should know better. Their arms sales to Syria are a minor consideration. So is the Russian naval base in Tarsis. It looks to me more like a conditioned reflex: If something is supported by the USA, it must be bad. After all, Ivan Petrovich Pavlov was a Russian.

Perhaps more important is the Russian and Chinese fear of setting yet another precedent for foreign intervention in internal affairs, such as mass slaughter, tyranny and mini-genocide.

But in the long run, it cannot be in the interest of Russia to barricade itself behind a wall of cynicism. A “decent respect for mankind”, as formulated by Thomas Jefferson seems much more modern than Stalin’s “How many divisions has the Pope?”

By the way, it would be good for Israel to abide by Jefferson’s rule, too.

BASHAR AL-ASSAD is teaching us that what is needed is a total overhaul of the UN charter. It must start with the veto.

The division of power it represents is ridiculously outdated. Why China and not India? Why France and not Germany?

But that is a minor point. The major point is that it is intolerable for one power, or even several, to block the will of mankind. Today, the UN is a veritable Vetostan.

If the veto cannot be done away altogether, as it should, a mechanism must be found to limit it in a sensible way. For example: a 75% majority in the General Assembly, or a unanimous vote of all the non-veto-wielding Security Council members, should be able to override a veto.

In such a case, the UN, under a new type of Secretary General, should be able to call upon the militaries of member states to put an end to crimes against humanity anywhere, making the intervention of organizations like NATO redundant.

No major forces are needed in Syria. Egyptian and Turkish troops, in combination with the Free Syrian Army, should be sufficient.

HAFEZ AL-ASSAD, the long-time Syrian dictator, anointed his son Bashar as his heir, after his elder son died in a crash.

The mild-looking eye-doctor was received with relief. He seemed the ideal modernizer, with progressive, perhaps even democratic ideas. Now he is proving that in all dictators there lurks a hidden monster.

“Assad” means “lion”. But Bashar is no lion. He is more like a hyena – an animal called in Yiddish “the laughing beast”. There is nothing here to laugh about.

His time is up.

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

 

 

 

YES IT would, but, alas, it is an altogether crazy idea.

 

First of all, because the Syrian people, including the insurgents, probably hate us even more than they hate Bashar.

 

If Israeli soldiers crossed the border, the Syrians would unite behind their army and end the insurrection.

 

For the entire Arab world, Israel is the devil’s disciple. Even the Arab countries which, like Saudi Arabia, assist the Free Syrian Army would have to think twice. Israel’s support for any Arab group, progressive and patriotic as it may be, is the kiss of death.

 

For that reason, even verbal support would be fatal. Some people would like the Israeli government to call upon President Barack Obama and/or the UN to intervene. That would be misguided. It would help Bashar and his cronies to stigmatize the rebels as American agents and Zionist stooges.

 

So what can Israel do to help the suffering people next door?

 

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

 

Neither military intervention, nor diplomatic efforts, nor even a gesture of solidarity.

 

 

INSTEAD, WE should meditate on the reasons for our being in this deplorable situation.

 

There was a time when people in the Arab world did not like Israel, but believed what Israel said. Even when announcements of the Israeli army were disliked, they were believed. Those days are long gone.

 

If the Israeli army were to announce that it was entering Syria to rid it of its dictator, and would withdraw immediately after, people would laugh. Israel? Withdraw? Israel entered Lebanon in 1982 to “free an area up to 40 kilometers from the border of Palestinian terrorists”, and it took it 18 years to leave – and that only after losing an intensive guerilla war. Israel occupied the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967 and has shown no intention of ever leaving.

 

If Israel did anything about the Syrian situation – did anything at all – the whole world would ask itself: What are those Israelis up to now?  What are their devious designs?

 

Who could be so naïve as  to expect a country that has an Avigdor Lieberman as Foreign Minister and an Ehud Barak at Defense, not to mention a Binyamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister, to do anything altruistic?

 

So let’s forget about the whole idea.

 

 

YET HOW can I sit idly by while less than 300 kilometers from my home – closer than Eilat – awful things are happening?

 

This is not a question for an Israeli only. It is a question for every human being around the world.

 

Whether Israeli or Norwegian, Brazilian or Pakistani, we – citizens of this world – are sitting before our TV screens and looking with horror at the pictures coming out of Homs and asking ourselves with growing despair: Are we totally impotent? Is the world totally impotent?

 

70 years ago we accused the world of not lifting a finger when millions of Jews, Roma and others were killed by Einsatzgruppen and in the gas chambers. But that was in the middle of a terrible Word War, when the West and the Soviet Union were facing the ruthlessly efficient Nazi military machine, headed by one of history’s great tyrants.

 

Yet here we are today, facing a tin-pot dictator in a little country, who is slaughtering his own people, and still unable to stop it.

 

 

THIS GOES far beyond the terrible events in Syria.

 

The helplessness of the world community, euphemistically called “the family of nations”, to do anything in such a situation cries out to high heaven.

 

The simple truth is that at the beginning of the third millennium, in the age of economic globalization and the world-wide net of instant communication, the international political system is still lagging centuries behind.

 

After the terrible First World War, the League of Nations was created. But the hubris of the victors and their vengefulness against the vanquished caused them to set up a faulty structure that broke down at the first real test.

 

After the even more terrible Second World War, the victors tried to be much more realistic. But the structure they created – the United Nations Organization – has other faults. The Syrian crisis shows them up in the most glaring light.

 

The worst feature of the UN is the veto. It regularly condemns the organization to utter impotence.

 

It is vain to accuse Russia and China of unabashed cynicism. They are no different from other great powers. The US has used the veto far more times, especially to protect Israel. Russia and China serve their perceived short-term interests, and to hell with the victims. Ugly, disgusting, but commonplace. History is full of examples. The Munich agreement and the Hitler-Stalin pact spring readily to mind.

 

But does the ugly Russian veto against a toothless resolution in the Security Council really serve any real Russian interest? I think that Moscow should know better. Their arms sales to Syria are a minor consideration. So is the Russian naval base in Tarsis. It looks to me more like a conditioned reflex: If something is supported by the USA, it must be bad. After all, Ivan Petrovich Pavlov was a Russian.

 

Perhaps more important is the Russian and Chinese fear of setting yet another precedent for foreign intervention in internal affairs, such as mass slaughter, tyranny and mini-genocide.

 

But in the long run, it cannot be in the interest of Russia to barricade itself behind a wall of cynicism. A “decent respect for mankind”, as formulated by Thomas Jefferson seems much more modern than Stalin’s “How many divisions has the Pope?”

 

By the way, it would be good for Israel to abide by Jefferson’s rule, too.

 

 

BASHAR AL-ASSAD is teaching us that what is needed is a total overhaul of the UN charter. It must start with the veto.

 

The division of power it represents is ridiculously outdated. Why China and not India? Why France and not Germany?

 

But that is a minor point. The major point is that it is intolerable for one power, or even several, to block the will of mankind. Today, the UN is a veritable Vetostan.

 

If the veto cannot be done away altogether, as it should, a mechanism must be found to limit it in a sensible way. For example: a 75% majority in the General Assembly, or a unanimous vote of all the non-veto-wielding Security Council members, should be able to override a veto.

 

In such a case, the UN, under a new type of Secretary General, should be able to call upon the militaries of member states to put an end to crimes against humanity anywhere, making the intervention of organizations like NATO redundant.

 

No major forces are needed in Syria. Egyptian and Turkish troops, in combination with the Free Syrian Army, should be sufficient.

 

 

HAFEZ AL-ASSAD, the long-time Syrian dictator, anointed his son Bashar as his heir, after his elder son died in a crash.

 

The mild-looking eye-doctor was received with relief. He seemed the ideal modernizer, with progressive, perhaps even democratic ideas. Now he is proving that in all dictators there lurks a hidden monster.

 

“Assad” means “lion”. But Bashar is no lion. He is more like a hyena – an animal called in Yiddish “the laughing beast”. There is nothing here to laugh about.

 

His time is up.

 

More articles by:

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail