Trending Topics:

Outrage over non-accountability for Iraq disaster fuels opposition to Syrian intervention

Israel/Palestine
on 10 Comments

I believe that the Syrian question has a strong and important domestic political dimension: defeating and isolating the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists, at last effecting some accountability for the Iraq disaster. Patrick Cockburn in the Independent makes the same calculation:

What is curious about the past week is the extent to which so many, especially the media and the British Government, misjudged the continuing rawness of the wounds inflicted by the Iraq war. I was in Baghdad for much of the conflict but I was always struck on returning to Britain by the lasting sense of outrage over the decision to go to war expressed even by the most conservative and non-political.

Cockburn warns that in a limited intervention, we will only get mixed up in a spreading regional war with Iran:

In one crucial respect Assad is in a stronger position than Slobodan Milosovic in Serbia, Saddam Hussein in Iraq or Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. These three leaders were internationally isolated, while Assad has powerful and committed foreign allies. Russia is standing firmly by Assad as it reasserts its status as a great power after 20 years of retreats and humiliations that culminated in the Libyan war of 2011….

Even more committed to the Syrian regime’s survival are Iran and the Shia paramilitary movement Hezbollah in Lebanon. Both are highly conscious that the attempt to overthrow their long-term ally in Damascus is aimed at weakening them, and they are determined to repulse the threat. It makes sense for them to want to fight while Assad is still in power and not wait until he has been displaced by a hostile Sunni regime.

Cockburn offers a helpful rundown of sectarian rivalries, and the extent to which “US forces attacking the government in Damascus are in de facto alliance with al-Qa’ida.”

Then he presents this analysis of peace negotiations, and the inevitable involvement of Iran, which would have to be recognized as a regional power. Again, an assault on neoconservatism:

could peace come by negotiation? Here America and Britain’s stance has been hypocritical, publicly supporting peace talks while offering only surrender terms to the Assad government at a time when it controls most of Syria. This was largely the result of a miscalculation by world leaders in 2011-12 whereby they underestimated the staying power of the Assad government. Its collapse was gleefully predicted, a role for Assad in Syria’s political transition ruled out, while Iran, an important player, was to be excluded. A peace conference so out of keeping with the real balance of power is not going to stop any wars. But bringing Iran in would undermine the US, European and Israeli effort to isolate it over its development of nuclear power. The US would effectively have to recognise Tehran as a regional power, which would infuriate the Israelis and the Gulf monarchies.

Even then, peace would not come easily, if at all. The best interim solution could be a UN-monitored ceasefire as briefly occurred under the Kofi Annan plan in 2012.

 

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

10 Responses

  1. MRW
    MRW
    September 1, 2013, 1:35 pm

    Phil,

    I think you and Cockburn are correct about the festering anger of accountability, which, of course, is emphasized at every turn with the Obama bleatings about Assad and Kerry’s self-serving horseshit about chemical weapons. Falluja, anyone? Operations Cast Lead? Iraqi DU throughout the 90s?

    But there is one other dimension that cements the region. Hafar Al-Assad. Bashar’s father. He may have been a tough and ruthless ruler from our perspective, but he was tough for Syria, wouldn’t brook religious insurgencies within, yet protected the different religious groups inside Syria with the full force of the military, and he was a geopolitical genius, according to what US Foreign Service officials told me in Tangier the summer of 1979. He gave the Russians a naval base at Tartus on the Syrian Mediterranean coast in the early 70s. He wisely backed the Iranian revolution in 1979, making Syria an important ally now. Everyone had hoped and prayed that Bashar was going to be like his father when the going got rough two years ago but he wasn’t. Some analysts I’ve been reading in obscure places think that Bashar finally got his father’s backbone in dealing with the rebels just in the last 3/4 year. I used to know reams and reams about Hafar (hope that’s his first name, close enough). He was a fascinating leader that no one on this continent knows much about except to issue classic ignorant anti-him epithets. One foreign service guy told me back then it was as if Hafar were born after just having written Sun Tzu’s Art of War, he was that good at strategic thinking.

    • Taxi
      Taxi
      September 2, 2013, 12:30 pm

      Hafez al Assad, father of Bashar al Assad. (Assad in Arabic = Lion)

      MRW, your pal is correct re Hafez. If you ever get a chance, do read Patrick Seale’s ‘Asad of Syria: The Struggle For The Middle East’.

      But your pal is just ever so slightly off on Bashar. The first 15 months of the crisis in Syria, Bashar and his council were terrified of a sudden and quick Nato intervention a-la Libya style. They endeavored to conduct their military operations against the foreign takfiri terrorists with as few civilian casualties as possible, so as to not attract NATO attention, even at the cost of losing thousands of soldiers and certain strategic cities to the rebels.

      At the time, drunk on their successes in Libya, Qatar, who was flooding in the most extreme takfiris into Syria (the cannibal types), turned the violence notch up even further, pouring more deadly weapons into Syria, and threatening a violent spillover sectarian war against Lebanon. It was then, and only then, that Russia finally stepped in and said ‘enough already’. They met with Bashar, they gave him assurances of diplomatic protection and military support, and also gave him the green light to go full-throttle and fight the takfiris – which the Syrian army has been doing ever since.

      All the more reason why it is an absurd suggestion to say that Bashar is responsible for the chemical attack. He’d spent 15 months taking hits from takfiris and losing territory so as to avoid a NATO intervention. Why would he invite an attack by NATO & USA armed forces by using a ‘limited’ Sarin attack on civilians, when he’s on a mega winning streak on the battlfield?

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      September 2, 2013, 2:22 pm

      Jimmy Carter knew Hafez al-Assad. And made many favorable comments about him.

      • Taxi
        Taxi
        September 3, 2013, 11:28 am

        Hafez al Asad was a vegetarian.

  2. David Doppler
    David Doppler
    September 1, 2013, 2:52 pm

    “I believe that the Syrian question has a strong and important domestic political dimension: defeating and isolating the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists, at last effecting some accountability for the Iraq disaster.”

    This is astute, and this “domestic political dimension” you reference is actually “multi-dimensional.” There are the usual Neocon cabal – the unapologetic architects of Iraq and the global war on terror who deserve to be in prison for their deceit, yet are here today to tell us why it is essential to leap into Syria, albeit on the side of Al Queda! Just trust us, we have ideas!

    But then there are also the journalists and media types who left their profession to become propaganda organs for the Neocons during the Bush Administration, and remain there, despite the falling out of favor with the public of both the Neocons and their elected stooges, continuing to give voice to the now “old-time religion” of Neocon war-drum beating. Anonymous sources supposedly telling us the President’s thinking, when it is really the Neocon/Neolib plan being spoon-fed to the President, including through the media, to corner the President, leaving him no face-saving way to back down.

    And don’t forget the AIPAC-pervaded political power infra-structure built up over decades to give reliable leverage to AIPAC’s direction, enacting whatever it wants, infiltrating every important office of government with a loyal cadre of ambitious servants, doing their duty, expecting their careers to be advanced in exchange, living out the deal made for them when they first got into politics.

    When the President re-launched his peace initiative, I felt part of his obsequiousness to the Bully Netanyahu was a kind of Judo Master move, using his opponent’s strength and power to throw him, giving Netanyahu more and more rope with which to hang himself. Never confronting the bully, but allowing the bully to punch himself out, Rope-a-Dope style. Now his surprise move yesterday – okay, I’m convinced, but now the Congress and the people also need to be convinced – has laid out another several weeks during which the War Party must pull out all of its stops, if it is to prevail, and he can, without ever confronting them, make them perform in the strong light of day, let them speak directly to a hostile public, let AIPAC’s reliable power infrastructure operate in the strong sunlight of a full-on war debate, to see how long it survives that kind of exposure. Obama turns his inherent weakness to work, gutting out the vitality of his political enemies, while never even disagreeing with them. Weakness is his greatest strength.

  3. seafoid
    seafoid
    September 1, 2013, 3:35 pm

    “It makes sense for them to want to fight while Assad is still in power and not wait until he has been displaced by a hostile Sunni regime”.

    The Alawis are entitled to fight as well. Look at what happened to the Sunnis in Syria and the Gadhafi supporters in Libya.

  4. gingershot
    gingershot
    September 1, 2013, 4:29 pm

    ‘… but I was always struck on returning to Britain by the lasting sense of outrage over the decision to go to war expressed even by the most conservative and non-political’

    The US was suckered into the war in Iraq by the Neocons and Israel – but the British were suckered into it by the Neocons, Israel, AND Tony Blair

    Maybe it was the triple-suckering that really sticks in their craw

    That Feith and other Neocons escaped prosecution is what enables them to continue their game on Iran and Syria, and the US

  5. James Canning
    James Canning
    September 1, 2013, 6:29 pm

    I don’t think Russia was “humiliated” by the unwise decision of France, Britain and the US to attack Libya. Russia and China quite rightly said the UNSC resolutions were improperly stretched far beyond their intended meaning.

    Bravo, regarding the many in UK and US who are still “raw” about the deceit that set up the idiotic invasion of Iraq in 2003.

  6. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    September 1, 2013, 7:20 pm

    RE: “I believe that the Syrian question has a strong and important domestic political dimension: defeating and isolating the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists, at last effecting some accountability for the Iraq disaster.” ~ Weiss

    TAKE ACTION! ! ! TAKE ACTION! ! ! TAKE ACTION! ! !

    ● FROM RootsAction.org:
    To email Obama, your senators and representative, expressing opposition to an attack on Syria, click HERE.

    ● FROM ROBERT NAIMAN:
    If you think Congress should debate and vote before any war with Syria, you can join 25,000 people at MoveOn in telling Congress by clicking HERE

  7. Citizen
    Citizen
    September 2, 2013, 10:50 am

    I’ve noticed that in the sequence of polls taken over a syria strike, the numbers have been going up favoring a strike.

Leave a Reply