by Catherine Shakdam (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 46, No. 3, Sha'ban, 1438)
That the US would need such despicable creatures as ISIS to wage its proxy war in Syria exposes its weaknesses.
At the beginning of last month (April 4) the world woke up to the horror of what it was told was an act of savagery by the Syrian government against innocent civilians. The Western corporate media raised their pitchforks against Syrian President Bashar al-Asad and his alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhoun (Idlib province) to score a few points against America’s so-called “rebels.”
Immediately, the UK-based monitoring group known as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — a one-man gang operating from a store front in Coventry — “confirmed” that 20 children and 52 adults were killed in the chemical incident. Within hours of the news emerging, footage showing children and other civilians choking and in distress began circulating online, alleging that Damascus had ordered the strike to secure victory on the ground against its detractors.
While no party has denied that chemical agents are to blame for the deaths and injuries, the manner in which the incident took place and was carried out, has been a matter of deep contention. One could even posit that it has been the source of deep diplomatic tensions between Russia and the United States. Several media outlets and experts have warned that any further escalation in Syria could lead to a dangerous international military standoff.
And still the US had no qualms in ordering an air strike against a sovereign state, Syria, claiming it aimed to avenge an offense it could not yet prove but nonetheless felt compelled to carry out a mandate on life and death.
On April 14, 2017 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a chemical-weapons attack in Syria that provoked US missile strikes on the Middle Eastern country may have been orchestrated. “There’s growing evidence that this was staged,” Lavrov said at a Moscow news conference with his Iranian and Syrian counterparts on April 14. “Publications including in the US and the UK have highlighted many inconsistencies in the version of events in Syria’s Idlib province that was used to justify the American air strikes,” he said.
“Russia, Iran, and Syria want an independent investigation and those opposed to the call don’t have a clear conscience,” Lavrov added.
Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on April 12 that had demanded the Syrian government cooperate with an inquiry into the suspected “sarin gas” attack that killed dozens of people. Many experts have dismissed the sarin gas allegation pointing out that it is highly toxic and if people come in contact with it without wearing a mask and gloves, they would be immediately affected. None of the so-called rescue workers shown in videos wore any masks or gloves leading to speculation that even the rescue operation footage was fake. Swedish doctors have also rubbished the sarin gas story after analyzing the video footage presented on the internet.
“The US hasn’t shown evidence that al-Asad was responsible for the April 4 attack in Idlib,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on April 15 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where Russian President Vladmir Putin was attending a collective-defense meeting of former Soviet republics.
While it is likely politicians, state officials, and mainstream media will continue to push their propaganda, caring very little for facts, the world should know by now that for the neocons’ thirst for war, culpability matters very little. The real story lies with America’s decision to carry out a targeted strike against a Syrian military base when President Donald Trump could have gone “full metal-jacket” on Damascus.
If one looks back at the language used by Trump ahead of ordering the strike — the sheer violence of his message and grand declarations that too many “red lines” had been crossed and “too many innocent babies” had been slaughtered for Washington to stand idly by, most people anticipated a full US military assault on Syria.
We have also since learned that Trump’s daughter Ivanka, watching Fox News with her dad was moved to tears when she saw pictures of dead babies. Dad could not see his little girl cry so he had to do “something.” Very touching indeed but one can also hear echoes of George W. Bush attacking the Iraqi tyrant Saddam Husayn because “he tried to kill my dad!” Governance has been reduced to avenging the family’s injured pride!
Yet Trump’s outrage — and it was an outrage since his attack on Syria was illegal given that there was no evidence of the Syrian government’s complicity — turned out to be a one-off attack on a Syrian airbase in Homs. This is all the world’s policeman could muster.
Interestingly, it is what happened prior to America’s attack on Syria that is most telling of its inner battle, or should we call it America’s imperial implosion? Not so much the superpower it once claimed to be, or think itself to be, the US has lost a great deal of traction since its military adventures in Afghanistan back in 2001.
The one campaign to begin a litany of military follies, every new front since has brought the US empire closer to unraveling. Syria could be the one mistake to bring this dying dinosaur to its knees and with it those allies that have sought refuge behind its shadow.
To put it simply, America does not know how to win wars. It knows how to wage them and even hedge them to score geopolitical points but it has not mastered the art of winning wars yet. Given that the US has the ambition to forever expand its empire, such failure could prove too much of an obstacle to get over.
One may argue that America’s real problem is not so much winning wars but actually being able to sustain its military complex. In other words, America’s military ponzi scheme is truly over. Over-spent, over-stretched and most importantly over-estimated, Washington’s war machine is not as mighty as it would like everyone to believe or fear.
Trump’s inability to commit to his conveniently timed condemnation of President Bashar al-Asad of Syria only serves to expose America’s waning influence in the Muslim East, and beyond that, the international scene. Washington’s neocons may be throwing a tantrum right now and the fallout will likely be bloody, but we may want to consider that this thrashing about could be the prelude to a mighty fall from grace.
However much Washington’s hawks would like to force regime change in Syria, they cannot. The simple fact that the neocons feel the need to hide behind Da‘ish in Syria to implement their ambitions is a tell-tale sign of military impotency.
A recent opinion piece in the New York Times (April 12, 2017) calls for a “complete and total catastrophe” in Syria as columnist Thomas Friedman urges the US to use Da‘ish as a tool to “bleed” Syria, Russia, and Iran. “Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State in Syria? Of course, ISIS is detestable and needs to be eradicated. But is it really in our interest to be focusing solely on defeating ISIS in Syria right now?” asked Friedman.
A better question would be: why would the US even consider hiding behind a proxy — never mind a despicable group like Da‘ish — if it feels militarily capable of achieving its own agenda?