The Obama administration has already declared war on Syria, even if it isn’t “official” yet. Consider the facts, all of them acts of war: The U.S. now recognizes a group of Syrian exiles to be the official government of Syria; the U.S. is providing direct support for rebels attacking the government; the U.S. has coordinated with NATO to place advanced missile systems — and 400 U.S. troops — on Syria’s border with Turkey; Obama has drawn a “red line” that, if Syria crosses, would result in U.S. direct military intervention. If any other country made similar moves toward the U.S., there would be no question that war had been declared.
All the strategic steps that led to the Iraq war are being repeated. Obama has assembled a Bush-style international “coalition of the willing” of nations to topple the Syrian government; 130 countries have put their names on paper in support of toppling the Assad government.
In reality, however, the core of the group is the U.S./Europe NATO alliance and the Gulf monarchies. The rest of the “coalition” are economic and political satellites of these main groups, who would sign onto to any military adventure that the rich nations demanded of them, since otherwise the poorer nations would have their military, financial, or political aid frozen.
Europe’s increased lust for blood is a relatively new phenomenon; the European divisions that erupted during the Iraq war and then the Libyan invasion seem to have been smoothed over. Now even Germany aims to directly join the war efforts, intending to send missiles and troops to the Turkish border as well.
But NATO is still a U.S.-dominated military alliance. Any NATO military action is in reality a U.S. led effort, since the European armies are miniscule in comparison, and lack much of the technological sophistication of U.S. weaponry. The advanced Russian missile systems that Syria is equipped with demand a direct U.S. military role to neutralize.
Like Bush, Obama is using his coalition of the willing to distract from the fact that he is circumventing the UN, and thus bringing the post WWII system of international conflict resolution — already on life support — closer to death.
Also like Bush, Obama strategically exploited the UN to weaken Syria with sanctions, and when further UN action was not possible — because of the objections of China and Russia —Obama threw aside the UN and opted for NATO, a U.S./European military alliance built specifically as a deterrent to the now-defunct Soviet Union.
Again like Bush, Obama has crafted a false motive for war. Obama has stolen Bush’s “weapons of mass destruction” but substituted “the use of chemical weapons” as a bogeyman worthy of military intervention. Obama’s bogeyman is as false as Bush’s was. The New York Times reports:
“…the effect of that statement [that Syria was planning to use chemical weapons] was somewhat undercut when France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, asserted during a news conference that such reports were unconfirmed.”
This lack of confirmation hasn’t bothered the U.S. media, who remain content repeating as truth any report issued by U.S. intelligence, no matter the past lies that have cost countless deaths in Iraq and elsewhere.
Of course the U.S. government has zero legitimacy to hand pick a “replacement” government for Syria, since the U.S. is universally hated in the region after the destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and the ongoing drone wars against Pakistan and Yemen. No sane Syrian would invite the U.S. government to “liberate” their country.In fact, a coalition of Syrian opposition groups inside of Syria, the National Coordination Committee (NCC) — virtually ignored by the U.S. media — opposes military intervention, demanding the conflict be addressed through political means.A leader of the NCC is Hassan Abdul Azim, who correctly states:
“We refuse on principle any type of military foreign intervention because it threatens the freedom of our country.”Another prominent ongoing lie repeated by U.S. politicians and media is that the Syrian government is on the verge of collapse. This lie is effective in that it creates an urgency to “take action.” It also paints a picture of the conflict coming to an end that resonates well with Americans.The reality is that the Syrian western-backed rebels have staged daring high-profile attacks that have been largely repulsed by government counter-attacks. But in each instance the U.S. government has used these attacks as an excuse to ratchet up their support to the rebels and now to place U.S. missiles and troops on Syria’s border. Of course if the Syrian government does fall, Obama has absolutely no plan on how to “stabilize” the country, since the most effective rebel fighting force — the Al-Nusra Front — has been labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
Obama and his NATO and Gulf monarchy allies have created an extremely unstable situation in Syria. They have already torn the Syrian social fabric to shreds with their support of the rebels, but in so doing they’ve pushed many Syrians closer to supporting their government, who they see as a protector against the rebels that have used large scale ethnic-religious cleansing and other war crimes to subdue the population.
Thus, the Syrian government still retains a popular base, ensuring that the already bloody catastrophe will continue with no end in sight, especially since Obama has “regime change” as his goal and is encircling the country with missiles and U.S. and European troops. Iran and Russia will continue to bolster the Syrian government.Under these tense conditions a broader war can break out any moment. The U.S. can claim that the Syrian government is about to employ chemical weapons as an excuse to directly intervene. Or perhaps Turkey — a NATO member — will claim that Syria fired missiles into its territory, and thus Obama will act to “defend” its ally.When war “officially” breaks out, Iran might then increase its direct support for the Syrian government with troops —funneled through Iraq — giving the U.S. another excuse to “defend” itself, and pushing the conflict into Iran. Hezbollah in Lebanon or Israel may intervene too, since both have a direct interest in the outcome of the Syrian conflict. Any number of scenarios could play out that drag other nations into the war, including Russia, who is already supporting the Syrian government. Many of these scenarios have already begun on the proxy level and need only a shove to ensure they explode into a full-scale regional war.
A nation under attack creates a feeding frenzy logic from those countries looking to opportunistically exploit the situation. This proxy war in Syria is on the brink of a much larger disaster, with the potential to annihilate the Middle East through a new round of war and barbarism.
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org) He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org