FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

With Trump or Hillary, The Crisis in Syria Will Only Worsen

No-fly zones, American troops on the ground, thousands more dead–that’s the future of Syria if Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have their way. Either will surely make us miss Barack Obama’s subtle restraint, at least when it comes to how he’s handled the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad, our former ally in torture.

There’s been much rambling on the left about Vlad Putin’s challenge to US empire in Syria, and how he fended off the Yanks and preserved Syria’s Assad dictatorship. All of this, of course, is horse shit. Obama had ample opportunity to topple Assad in the early days of the Syrian uprising in 2011 had he wished to, but he refused to send troops in or raid Damascus. Instead he adopted a more hands-off approach, opting to have the CIA train some 10,000-20,000 rebels with the help of Saudi funds, which surely had little impact on the ground as the insurgency itself was at least ten times that large. In fact, aside from training small contingents of rebel forces, the CIA blocked MANPAD shipments to rebels that could have been used against Assad’s, and later Russia’s, murderous air bombardments. And for those that believe the US was solely responsible for orchestrating the uprising against Assad–I’ll just say you are dead wrong and should pick up a copy of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War for a solid primer about what was really taking place on the ground.

However, US involvement, in any way, was and is totally unjustifiable. As was Russia’s intervention, of course, despite the rather hollow rationale that Assad seeking Russia’s military aid was legal under international law. Assad’s so-called legitimacy was shattered the moment his armed forces began slaughtering his own people who had assembled in peaceful protest against their government’s oppressive neoliberal policies. You know why many in his military turned on him? It wasn’t because the CIA forced them to, it was because they couldn’t carry out orders to murder their fellow citizens any longer. But for me, Assad’s well-documented starving of Palestinians in a Syrian camp was the last straw. The guy is scum.

There’s been plenty of debate among self-righteous Western lefties about what qualifies as “imperialism” and how such definitions fit the Syrian narrative. Some tend to believe Russia’s actions in Syria don’t qualify because these well-intentioned folks adopt some antiquated neo-colonial Leninist ideology, while others believe the US ought to stop (if they could) Russia’s and Assad’s savage ways at any cost. But for those on the ground that are under assault from all sides, they could care less about our petty debates. Every foreign fucking bomb falling from their sky is imperialistic.

Hopefully most of us can agree that when it comes to the Middle East, the US has seldom been an honest broker. As a result, the US has little to no authority to dictate or attempt to steer the Syrian quagmire in one direction or another, nor do they have the right to. How anybody could plea for the US to intervene, or at the very least supply rebel groups with more weaponry, must be delusional. The US will only make matters worse for civilians on the ground, just as Russia did.

And for all of those who hailed Russian intervention? If those piles of dead kids weren’t enough for you to oppose Putin’s bombs, perhaps what Trump and Hillary are ready to do in response to Putin’s grandstanding may do the trick. If you think Hillary won’t seek NATO action against Russia or show Putin which country really has more military might, you haven’t been paying much attention to the Queen of Chaos lately. Where Obama held back from using military force in Syria, Trump and Hillary are ready to escalate the conflict under the guise of fighting the “War on ISIS”, which would likely create a whole new proxy war. Trump’s little bromance with Putin would be over in no time.

Early on Hillary pressed Obama to overthrow Assad and has more recently flip-flopped on whether or not she would seek boots on the ground in Syria. She has, however, stated that she supports a no-fly zone. For his part, Trump has called for 30,000 ground troops. It’s one big bloody mess, and will only worsen as foreign powers, be they Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, France or the United States, continue to believe that they can kill their way to peace–as if Syrian peace is really what they are after.

So what’s to be done? I have no doubt that the brave Syrian people can navigate their future much better than we can. The left should oppose all military intervention in Syria–be it Russian or American. ISIS, for that matter, will not be eliminated by missiles or foreign armies. It will only be defeated by people that live there–those protecting their family’s land, homes and communities. Let the locals destroy them from the bottom-up. They already have the resources and will to do so. As for Assad? His days are numbered no matter how long Putin’s pit bulls guard the gate. The resilience and tenacity of the rebellion has certainly shown us that much.

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.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 19, 2019
Matthew Stevenson
Requiem for a Lightweight: the Mayor Pete Factor
Kenneth Surin
In China Again
Stephen Cooper
Abolishing the Death Penalty Requires Morality
George Ochenski
The DNC Can’t Be Allowed to Ignore the Climate Crisis
John W. Whitehead
The Omnipresent Surveillance State
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
Guaidó’s Star Fades as His Envoys to Colombia Allegedly Commit Fraud With Humanitarian Funds for Venezuela
Dave Lindorff
What About Venezuela’s Hacked Power Grid?
Howard Lisnoff
Try Not to Look Away
Binoy Kampmark
Matters of Water: Dubious Approvals and the Adani Carmichael Mine
Karl Grossman
The Battle to Stop the Shoreham Nuclear Plant, Revisited
Kani Xulam
Farting in a Turkish Mosque
Dean Baker
New Manufacturing Jobs are Not Union Jobs
Elizabeth Keyes
“I Can’t Believe Alcohol Is Stronger Than Love”
June 18, 2019
John McMurtry
Koch-Oil Big Lies and Ecocide Writ Large in Canada
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Evidence About Iran is “Dodgy” at Best
Yoav Litvin
Catch 2020 – Trump’s Authoritarian Endgame
Thomas Knapp
Opposition Research: It’s Not Trump’s Fault That Politics is a “Dirty” Game
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
U.S. Sanctions: Economic Sabotage that is Deadly, Illegal and Ineffective
Gary Leupp
Marx and Walking Zen
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Color Revolution In Hong Kong: USA Vs. China
Howard Lisnoff
The False Prophets Cometh
Michael T. Klare
Bolton Wants to Fight Iran, But the Pentagon Has Its Sights on China
Steve Early
The Global Movement Against Gentrification
Dean Baker
The Wall Street Journal Doesn’t Like Rent Control
Tom Engelhardt
If Trump’s the Symptom, Then What’s the Disease?
June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
Louisa Willcox
Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery
Stephen Cooper
“Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)
Daniel Warner
Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle
Brian Cloughley
Trump Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail