Monday, June 17, 2013

Bushama's Syrian Adventure

Rupert Murdoch's Australian mouthpiece, The Australian, has just given the editorial thumbs-up to Bushama's latest imperial adventure: The West must act on Syria: The use of chemical weapons cannot be tolerated (15/6/13).

In a nutshell, Rupert reckons that because Bashar al-Assad's (alleged) use of chemical weapons has crossed Obama's 'red line', he has no option but to get involved in Syria or risk being seen as a 'wuss' by Bill (pants down) Clinton and the Iranians.

As you'd expect, such an 'analysis' has all the sophistication of a man once referred to as 'the dirty digger'.

(Needless to say, the Fairfax press is reliably mute on the subject.*)

Those in search of an informed and insightful analysis of Bushama's latest intervention are advised to read Obama decision to arm Syrian rebels has nothing to do with alleged chemical weapons use by's John Glaser. Here it is in part:

"After 2 years of expressly opposing such a policy, the Obama administration has officially announced that it will begin to directly arm the Syrian rebels. The reason? They say it's because they have confirmed with 'high confidence' that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons - crossing Obama's 'red line'. This is very clearly not the reason for Obama's shift.

"First of all, to take this reason seriously, one has to suspend judgement on a number of issues. You'd need to ignore the fact that the last time claims of chemical weapons use cropped up, the Obama administration explicitly denied their validity. 'We found no credible evidence to corroborate or to confirm that chemical weapons were used,' said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in January. You also need to ignore the leaked revelations from United Nations official Carla Del Ponte last month that it was the rebels, not the regime, who used sarin gas. The UN independent commission of inquiry on Syria 'has not yet seen evidence of government forces having used chemical weapons,' Reuters reported Del Ponte as saying. And finally, to believe that the administration decided to escalate the war in Syria because of 'high confidence' that the Assad regime used chemical weapons, you need to be in the habit of believing official government claims without any evidence attached to them. This strategy has worked out well for us in the past.

"Alas, the administration's stated reason for deciding to directly arm the Syrian rebels simply lacks credibility. So why the sudden shift in policy?

"Another baffling aspect of this announcement is the fact that direct arming of the rebels won't include 'decisive' aid. That is, the Obama administration will be sending small arms to the rebels, stopping short of the anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry desired by the rebels. Obama knows this will not tip the balance in favour of the rebels. It will merely prolong the stalemate. And here we have a possible answer to the Obama administration's decision. It has nothing to do with any alleged use of chemical weapons. The aim is apparently to keep the Syrian war going, for some key strategic reasons.

"Back in April, Thanassis Cambanis argued that one reason the Obama administration hasn't directly intervened militarily in Syria is that the long, drawn-out conflict hurts America's geopolitical competitors: 'The war is also becoming a sinkhole for America's enemies. Iran and Hezbollah, the region's most persistent irritants to the United States and Israel, have tied up considerable resources and manpower propping up Assad's regime and establishing new militias. Russia remains a key guarantor of the government, costing Russia support throughout the rest of the Arab world. Gulf monarchies, which tend to be troublesome American allies have invested small fortunes on the rebel side, sending weapons and establishing exile political organizations. The more the Syrian war sucks up the attention and resources of its entire neighborhood, the greater America's relative influence in the Middle East.'

"The ongoing conflict in Syria isn't perceived in Washington as harming US interests, but - according to Cambanis - it is seen as draining the resources and influence of Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia. This is valuable to US strategists at a time when the relative balance of US power is seen as waning."  (, 14/6/13)

I would only add that the last country on earth to be pointing the finger on the subject of chemical weapons use is the one that showered Vietnam with agent orange and drenched Iraq in depleted uranium.

Oh, and where have we heard this 'red line' mantra before? And the obsession with Iran, that's strictly American, right?

PS: "The United States, working with Britain, France and Israel, was able to compile evidence that Syrian officials had planned and executed a string of chemical weapons attacks in Aleppo, Damascus and two other cities." (US is said to plan to send weapons to Syrian rebels, Mazzetti, Gordon & Landler, New York Times, 13/6/13)

[*This is probably just as well. See my 17/7/12 post Undergraduate Editorialising at the Herald.]


Anonymous said...

The real reason behind the war in Syria is the Oded Yinon plan of remodeling the Middle East. Israel never renounced its implementation.

MERC said...

Too busy implementing it. As Mearsheimer & Walt put it: "Our argument is... that Israeli policy toward Damascus, whatever it be, largely determines US policy toward Syria, not the other way around." ('The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy', p 271)