FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Need to Oppose All Foreign Intervention in Syria

Two bullshit talks at the UN, one from the leader of the “Free World”, the other from the head of the Russian Federation, and we now have more bombs falling on Syria while refugees continue to scramble across international borders in search of safety. The innocents be damned.

Russia’s latest involvement in the ever-worsening Syrian catastrophe — which has no doubt been fueled by the U.S. and its regional allies — is being embraced by much of the anti-imperialist Left as a direct confrontation to U.S. intentions in the region. If one is to buy Russia’s propaganda more than Western disinformation, we’d have to believe that Vladimir Putin’s invitation to drop bombs in Syria is solely meant to aid the Syrian Army against the growing threat of the Islamic State. That’s it. It’s a pseudo-peace mission. Get it? Indeed, the Syrian Army is in retreat in much of the country and any help they can get is being welcomed by President Bashar al-Assad, who only controls 20% of the country. Assad needs victories, and he needs them fast. Yet, there is most certainly other geopolitical issues at play that shouldn’t be ignored.

News is already traveling out of Syria that Russia’s outdated and inaccurate missiles aren’t only targeting IS, but also rebels associated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Many of these rag-tag fighters have received CIA training and U.S. military aid. The Obama administration has labeled FSA as the “moderates” fighting Assad. As such, some on the Left view FSA as pawns of the U.S., and therefore have few qualms with them being a target of Russian warplanes. It doesn’t matter where these rebels came from, what their motivations were for joining FSA or the fact they may have had revolutionary leanings at one point — if the U.S. is using them we may as well let the Russians kill ’em off. Certainly the weakened FSA has extremist elements who have fought along IS against Assad’s forces, but FSA is an umbrella organization made up of multiple groups, many of whom have different goals and quarreling leaderships. For example, not all would join the Kurds to fight IS, but some have. Still, Putin describes the whole of FSA as a bunch of cannibal terrorist hooligans.

Certainly we ought to oppose all U.S. actions in Syria, whether it’s backing the rebels or President Obama’s own bloody airstrikes, but pressing the U.S. to drop its support of the FSA, for example, is only hindered by the new Russian fighter planes swooping in. Additionally, it would be disingenuous to ignore the grievances certain rebels have with Assad’s regime, many of whom were taking up arms against the Syrian Army long before the U.S.’s assistance. In fact, some were even attempting to build a grassroots democracy that had much in common with the Kurdish experiment in Syria, but was smashed in its infancy through a combination of Assadist and jihadist terror. Does this mean FSA hasn’t also committed horrific, bloody war crimes? Certainly not, and that’s exactly why we ought to oppose all U.S. (read: Saudi/Mossad/CIA) meddling. But let’s not stop there.

While we are at it, we better not ignore that Assad has never really given a shit about the majority of the Syrian people (democracy farce aside). The list is long: whether it’s his brutal economic policies, his violent crackdown on dissidents, his use of cluster bombs, or that very serious accusation his military dropped cylinders of chlorine bombs on townships in Northern Syria. It seems to me that the pro-Russian element of the Left also wants us to forget about all those cases of Palestinians being tortured and killed in regime prisons in Damascus and elsewhere.

He may not be as ruthless as IS murderers, but if only half of this is true, Assad is still one mean motherfucker.

But alas, Assad is taking on rebels that are supported by the United States, so we may as well forget about how awful the guy is and embrace his efforts to keep control of his splintered country. We don’t want a situation like Libya, do we? Sorry to say, Russian bombs are only going to make matters worse and prolong the suffering of innocent Syrians caught in the crossfire. With or without Assad at the helm, Syria could well sink deeper than Libya has. Assad would like us to think the refugee crisis is solely the West’s fault. It’s only IS and those FSA thugs that are responsible — not the killer regime cops or the Syrian Army who are to blame as well. Russia’s involvement will make the situation better, not worse. Or, so Putin and many on the Left would have us to believe.

It’s all a myopic way to view the horrific situation. Imperialists and IS are bad. Assad and Russia, less bad. So let’s go with less bad. Where’s the principled opposition to war when you need it? Principled, meaning, opposition to all foreign interventions that come in the form of guns, bombs and money. Will those on the Left that support Russia’s campaign continue cheering if they begin to target anti-Assad, left-leaning Kurds in Rojava? What if Russia’s bombs kill innocent women and children? Reports are they already have, and there will likely be more as Russian officials claim their operations will escalate in the months ahead. Point is, backing Putin is a very slippery slope.

Are civilian deaths at the hands of the Russians somehow worth it in the effort to defeat the Americans, whose actual goal may have a lot to do with a proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline that could radically alter Europe’s energy supplies, diminishing Russia’s fossil fueled prowess in Europe? Assad, of course, opposes the mammoth pipeline project. Could this also be why Russia wants to keep Assad in power? Or are we to ignore the geopolitical situation and just back Russia’s bombings because IS is so damn evil, even if Russia takes out a few innocent Syrian kids along the way?

Those are a few of the questions we should be asking while we oppose all international military involvement in Syria as well as Assad’s murderous human rights violations. It’s time to demand the impossible. It’s time to demand the U.S. and Russia get out of Syria. If the anti-imperialist Left doesn’t do it, who will?

More articles by:

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book, co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

November 21, 2018
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Action Would Kill Imperialism
Kenneth Surin
Return to Denver: Clouds on the Horizon
Jonathan Cook
Netanyahu’s Ceasefire is Meant to Keep Gaza Imprisoned
John Steppling
Liar Liar
Bill Hackwell
Paradise Lost
Gary Leupp
“Maybe He Did, and Maybe He Didn’t:” Reflections on Morality in 2018
W. T. Whitney
Criminal Behavior: US May be Developing Biological Weapons
Zhivko Illeieff
How Media, Tech, and News Networks Normalize Trump’s Propaganda
NEVE GORDON - NICOLA PERUGINI
Migrant Caravan: Branding Migrants “Human Shields” Has a Deadly Motive
Wouter Hoenderdaal
Jordan Peterson’s Disturbing Views on Inequality
Dean Baker
Nicholas Kristof and the China Trade War
Colin Todhunter
Approaching Development: GMO Propaganda and Neoliberalism vs Localisation and Agroecology
November 20, 2018
John Davis
Geographies of Violence in Southern California
Anthony Pahnke
Abolishing ICE Means Defunding it
Maximilian Werner
Why (Mostly) Men Trophy Hunt: a Biocultural Explanation
Masturah Alatas
Undercutting Female Circumcision
Jack Rasmus
Global Oil Price Deflation 2018 and Beyond
Geoff Dutton
Why High Technology’s Double-Edged Sword is So Hard to Swallow
Binoy Kampmark
Charges Under Seal: US Prosecutors Get Busy With Julian Assange
Rev. William Alberts
America Fiddles While California Burns
Forrest Hylton, Aaron Tauss and Juan Felipe Duque Agudelo
Remaking the Common Good: the Crisis of Public Higher Education in Colombia
Patrick Cockburn
What Can We Learn From a Headmaster Who Refused to Allow His Students to Celebrate Armistice Day?
Clark T. Scott
Our Most Stalwart Company
Tom H. Hastings
Look to the Right for Corruption
Edward Hunt
With Nearly 400,000 Dead in South Sudan, Will the US Finally Change Its Policy?
Thomas Knapp
Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago
November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” Given Their Record in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail