• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Tilting Towards Syria

The recent escalation of tensions in Syria with the alleged use of chemical weapons against the civilian population is a cause of concern for the international community.  These attacks allegedly took place in the east and south-west of Damascus on Wednesday, purportedly killing hundreds.  There is, of course, one problem.  Both sides claim the other did it.  Syrian state television has been quick off the mark in suggesting evidence of rebel activity using chemical reserves.  Ditto the rebels, who see their great Satan incarnate in the form of Assad.

The war in Syria has become a battleground as much for Syrian factions split between Sunni and Shia as between various countries who see an interest in either overthrowing the regime of Assad, or finding a replacement more amenable to the “West”.  This has been the tragic lot of countries who find themselves on historical highways, routes where armies of various beliefs and faiths have traversed.  Their sovereignty tends to be at the mercy of movement and intervention.

The conflict now has numerous names in what is becoming a line dance of murderous calculation.  Russia and Iran, with their specific naval and military interests, provide the regime with support.  Qatar and Saudi Arabia have made no secret of their backing of anti-Assad forces.  One form of Sunni fundamentalism finds itself in a tussle with what amounts to secular despotism and Shia-backed fanaticism.

The argument for regime change, given that the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Australia, is much stranger than it seems.  The al-Nusra Brigade, a mortal enemy of Assad, has been deemed a terrorist organisation on the books of those who would prefer to deal with more palatable opponents of Assad. It is not the only one.  Weapons supplied for the Syrian opposition have wound their way to so called “illegal” groups, rather than moderate elements.  An armed solution would be a catastrophic one.

The Australian case is a pressing one, because it suggests that a military intervention against the Assad regime might be imminent.  A way of gauging imminent intervention by the United States is to watch how rapidly their allies jump to attention. It might come in the form of a certain remark by the British foreign secretary William Hague, who is already convinced that chemical weapons were, in fact, used. Or it might come in the form of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s jerky response in returning to Canberra for security briefings on the subject.

The signs are those of war, though Rudd, so far, has suggested that the UN weapons inspectors will need to ascertain what happened on the ground.  Other countries have also suggested that this is the wise course of action.  The longer this investigation is delayed, the less likely evidence will be found.

An empirical approach is required as to whether chemical weapons were used, and by whom.  It was precisely that which proved conspicuously absent when it came to finding “evidence” of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. War is undesirable; war by fraud, even more so.

The history of interventions in such countries as Afghanistan and Iraq show the dangers of bloody and destabilising adventurism.  Australian commitments to such adventures, often at the expense of international law, have proven costly and extensive.  The global refugee problem is due, in no small part, to such incursions.

The sanctity of Parliament has been overridden by executive fiat at various stages of Australian history.  To a large extent, this is the condition of the Westminster system: an executive which stems from Parliament itself tends to rush matters through without much regard of the public and its representatives.  This, sadly, has assumed the air of bipartisan support.  It is a feature of politics that must change.

In the final analysis, there are few humanitarian solutions to humanitarian crisis, certainly at the end of the gun.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and is running with Julian Assange for the Australian Senate in Victoria. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

 

 

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

May 22, 2019
T.J. Coles
Vicious Cycle: The Pentagon Creates Tech Giants and Then Buys their Services
Thomas Knapp
A US War on Iran Would be Evil, Stupid, and Self-Damaging
Johnny Hazard
Down in Juárez
Mark Ashwill
Albright & Powell to Speak at Major International Education Conference: What Were They Thinking?
Binoy Kampmark
The Victory of Small Visions: Morrison Retains Power in Australia
Laura Flanders
Can It Happen Here?
Dean Baker
The Money in the Trump/Kushner Middle East Peace Plan
Manuel Perez-Rocha – Jen Moore
How Mining Companies Use Excessive Legal Powers to Gamble with Latin American Lives
George Ochenski
Playing Politics With Coal Plants
Ted Rall
Why Joe Biden is the Least Electable Democrat
May 21, 2019
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Locked in a Cold War Time Warp
Roger Harris
Venezuela: Amnesty International in Service of Empire
Patrick Cockburn
Trump is Making the Same Mistakes in the Middle East the US Always Makes
Robert Hunziker
Custer’s Last Stand Meets Global Warming
Lance Olsen
Renewable Energy: the Switch From Drill, Baby, Drill to Mine, Baby, Mine
Dean Baker
Ady Barkan, the Fed and the Liberal Funder Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
Maduro Gives Trump a Lesson in Ethics and Morality
Jan Oberg
Trump’s Iran Trap
David D’Amato
What is Anarchism?
Nicky Reid
Trump’s War In Venezuela Could Be Che’s Revenge
Elliot Sperber
Springtime in New York
May 20, 2019
Richard Greeman
The Yellow Vests of France: Six Months of Struggle
Manuel García, Jr.
Abortion: White Panic Over Demographic Dilution?
Robert Fisk
From the Middle East to Northern Ireland, Western States are All Too Happy to Avoid Culpability for War Crimes
Tom Clifford
From the Gulf of Tonkin to the Persian Gulf
Chandra Muzaffar
Targeting Iran
Valerie Reynoso
The Violent History of the Venezuelan Opposition
Howard Lisnoff
They’re Just About Ready to Destroy Roe v. Wade
Eileen Appelbaum
Private Equity is a Driving Force Behind Devious Surprise Billings
Binoy Kampmark
Bob Hawke: Misunderstood in Memoriam
J.P. Linstroth
End of an era for ETA?: May Basque Peace Continue
Weekend Edition
May 17, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Trump and the Middle East: a Long Record of Personal Failure
Joan Roelofs
“Get Your Endangered Species Off My Bombing Range!”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Slouching Towards Tehran
Paul Street
It’s Even More Terrible Than You Thought
Rob Urie
Grabby Joe and the Problem of Environmental Decline
Ajamu Baraka
2020 Elections: It’s Militarism and the Military Budget Stupid!
Andrew Levine
Springtime for Biden and Democrats
Richard Moser
The Interlocking Crises: War and Climate Chaos
Ron Jacobs
Uncle Sam Needs Our Help Again?
Eric Draitser
Elizabeth Warren Was Smart to Tell FOX to Go to Hell
Peter Bolton
The Washington Post’s “Cartel of the Suns” Theory is the Latest Desperate Excuse for Why the Coup Attempt in Venezuela has Failed
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Analysis of Undecideds Suggests Biden’s Support May be Exaggerated
Peter Lackowski
Eyewitness in Venezuela: a 14-year Perspective
Karl Grossman
Can Jerry Nadler Take Down Trump?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail