Let’s face some hard facts about the vicious conflict in Syria.
If the US directly attacks Syria, the real cause will not be the recent chemical attacks. What are 300 or so dead in a 2-year old war fuelled by the western powers that has so far killed over 100,000?
Chemical weapons are horrible. So are bullets, shells, bombs, cluster bombs, fuel-air explosive, white phosphorus, and napalm. All wars are crime writ large.
We don’t yet know if the recent chemical massacre in Damascus was a real chemical attack using Sarin nerve gas, a rebel provocation, an industrial accident, or an attack by rogue Syrian army units? After Iraq, we can’t trust western intelligence and so-called evidence.
This is not even the main issue at hand though it makes an excellent pretext for outside powers to intervene.
The Syrian conflict is a proxy war being waged against Iran by the United States, conservative Arab oil producers, and three former Mideast colonial powers, Britain, France and Turkey who are seeking to restore their domination in the region. Israel, hoping to isolate Hezbollah and cement its annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights, cheers from the sidelines. Syria and Hezbollah are Iran’s only Arab friends.
The US and allies ignited the anti-Assad uprising two years ago, using the underground Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and imported jihadis. But Assad’s forces, with some limited help from Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, held on and are now beating the US-backed rebels.
As a result, the Obama administration is now leaning towards direct US military intervention to stave off defeat of its proxies by neutralizing Assad’s air force, armor and artillery. As for Syria’s chemical weapons, they were developed as a counter to Israel large nuclear and chemical arsenal.
Back in 1990, I was in Baghdad covering the lead-up to the first US war against Iraq. I found four British scientific technicians who told me – and showed documents – that they had been sent by Her Majesty’s government to help Iraq’s biowarfare programs.
The four scientists were stationed at Salman Pak laboratories to manufacture four types of germ weapons for Iraq for use against Iran, including anthrax and q-fever. The feeder stocks for the germ weapons came from a US lab in Maryland; their export was ok’d by Washington. I repeatedly reported on this grim discovery.
During the long, bloody Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), the US, Britain, Italy and Germany exported chemical weapons plants and raw material to Iraq that produced Sarin nerve gas and burning mustard gas. Many thousands of Iranian soldiers were killed, horribly burned or blinded by these western-supplied weapons.
So a little less western moral outrage, please, particularly from the Brits whose own sainted Winston Churchill authorized the use of poison gas against rebellious Iraqi and Afghan tribesmen.
Let’s also recall how North Vietnam was drenched with the toxic Agent Orange, how the resisting Iraq city of Falluja was showered by white phosphorous, how Iraq was permanently contaminated by radioactive depleted uranium. These foul weapons also kill babies.
At least many Americans seem to have learned caution from the campaign of neocon lies that led them into the 2003 Iraq invasion, one of the biggest disasters and shames in US history. Even some usually bellicose Republicans are urging the Nobel Peace prize winner in the White House and his entourage of bloodthirsty liberals to slow his rush to war and consult Congress.
More tellingly, Gen. Colin Powell, who disgraced himself before the world by parroting the Bush administration’s lies about Iraq now also urges caution over Syria.
Powell is right. The US has lost its last two “crusades” in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US has no strategic interests in Syria beyond an obsession to overthrow Iran’s disobedient government.
Washington’s Syrian misadventure threatens to put the US on a very perilous collision course with Russia, Syria’s close ally. So far, Russia has sought a diplomatic solution, but it’s most unwise to push tough Vladimir Putin too hard. Syria is as close to Russia as northern Mexico is to the United States.
Courting even the remote threat of a possible nuclear confrontation with Russia just to overthrow President Assad, a former US ally, is the height of irresponsibility.
Mr. Margolis is a Member of RPI's Academic Board.
Flickr/ Neon Tommy