Drawing Red Lines on Shifting Sands 134

In general I refrain from commenting on Syria, because the politics of that country are hugely complex and I simply do not know enough about it. If in the media in general people refrained from commenting on things they know they do not clearly understand, life would be easier for readers – except, of course, that most columnists don’t understand that they don’t understand.

The West is already heavily involved in Syria, giving large amounts of cash, and channelling weapons through the vicious despotisms of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, to opposition forces, some of which are Islamic jihadist, some representing different tribal or religious power factions.

This makes life very confusing – the kidnappers and killers of UN Peacekeepers on the Golan Heights are some of William Hague’s “Good guys”, which is why those stories are so quickly glossed over. The truth is, of course, that the whole fallacy of the Blair interventionist model is that there are “good guys” in these situations who ought to be put in power by our military force, our money and the blood of our soldiers. As I explain at length in The Catholic Orangemen of Togo, this “good guy” fallacy led to the British Army installing the most corrupt government on earth in Sierra Leone, and we have gone on to do precisely the same thing, installing incredibly corrupt and bad governments, in Kabul and Baghdad. Having, of course, bombed the infrastructure of Iraq back to the Middle Ages first, A great deal of fog still shrouds Libya, but I expect we will soon see clearly exactly the same thing there.

Doubtless if western intervention becomes more direct in Syria, we will there again achieve regime change and the brilliant achievement of installing a government even more corrupt than the Assad regime. Of course the political proponents of the policy don’t really care about good governance or corruption, or death in war or devastation of infrastructure. They want governments which are allied with them. The wars themselves serve the interests of the politicians’ paymasters in the arms industry, mercenary companies and logistics providers like Halliburton. The subsequent corrupt governments are supposed to be friendly to western commercial and financial interests.

The motives and mechanics of the interventionists are clear. We have seen it all before. But their own militaries have had enough of being embroiled in endless conflicts, and there are no quick win solutions in ultra complex Syria. The Israelis have been signalling very, very hard to the US that the Assad family are OK by them and the last thing that Israel wants is a genuine democracy in Syria, which might want the Golan Heights back.

Obama, Cameron et al have thus been reduced to financial and vicarious weapon supply to the anti-Assad forces, and limited numbers of special forces assisting with sabotage operations to no great purpose. Meantime, hundreds of thousands have been killed in the ongoing civil war.

There is a clue there; civil war. Nobody is attacking us, and here is a hard lesson for politicians. There are wars we should not join in. We should have a role, indeed, in urging peace and trying to deploy all the means of conflict resolution. But it is not for us to fund or arm any side in a civil war. It is not our business and we have no legal right to do so. Work for peace, yes. Fuel war, no.

Within all this, Obama’s foolish decision to make the Assad regime’s deployment of chemical weapons a red line makes matters worse. Of course chemical weapons should not be deployed. But I am not sure whether I would prefer to die with my guts spilling out after red hot metal ripped through my abdomen, or coughing my lungs out after inhaling chemicals. That hundreds of thousands can die one way, but hundreds dying the other way would be a cause of joining in the war, is not inherently logical to me.

I remain, I should say, very sceptical of evidence produced so far that chemical weapons have been deployed. Even if they had been used, given the consequences that might follow, one has to ask by whom. The cui bono would not point to Assad, quite the opposite.

I shall return to avoiding blogging about Syria. If I can’t blog about it because it is too complex and I don’t fully understand it, think how unwise you must be to imagine that bombing it or providing still more weapons will help.

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134 thoughts on “Drawing Red Lines on Shifting Sands

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  • doug scorgie

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)
    27 Apr, 2013 – 7:11 pm

    I say:

    “Should blogs not have moderators?”

    You say:

    “If they would stop you using expression like “Zionist cunts” (one of your recent ones), then the answer must be “yes”.

    So you are not a supporter of free speech if someone says something you don’t like.

    You are a typical right-wing dolt.

    жизнь хороша

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Scorgie (17h07) :

    The assertion by DoNnyDarko I responded to what not that Israel possessed chemical weapons but that Israel had used chemical weapons on Palestinians for years. Check his post at 17h01.

    If you’re also claiming that Israel has used chemical weapons against Palestinians for years, please give sources for that claim.

    If you’re not, what does your comment add to that discussion?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Scorgie (21h59) :

    Wrong again, Doug. I just believe that posters should be able to make their points without using the word “cunt”. Save that word for your talk with friends and family.

  • doug scorgie

    Abe Rene
    27 Apr, 2013 – 9:06 pm

    You say:

    “As I understand it, William Hague’s initial preference was to stay out, but the case for intervention grew with the increasing loss of life.”

    William Hague is a lier.

    The increasing loss of life Abe was the result of UK and US regime-change policy and the funding, arming and training of terrorists to effect that change.

    Then you say:

    “As for the ‘good guys’, I would say that it consists of those that oppose the Baath regime but are not Islamists.”

    Islamists are people of Muslim faith. Look it up in an encyclopaedia.

    So by your definition the ‘good guys’ are non-Muslim and, by extension, the ‘bad guys’ are Muslim.

    You then say:

    “However a revolution in a predominantly Muslim country is liable to be hijacked by Islamists for their own ends (as has happened in Iran and Egypt), making intervention tricky.”

    Making intervention tricky? Why should we be intervening in the first place?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Doug, although I agree with much of what you say in this post (10:34pm, 27.4.13) and earlier, Abe also made some good points, I ought to point out that ‘Islamist’ most certainly does not equate with ‘Muslim’. Although these terms – as Technicolour pointed out on a previous thread – are controversial and loaded, as commonly applied the term ‘Islamist’ connotes more with ‘Muslim Fundamentalist’ (so called) and in the case of Syria, Libya, etc. really would refer to the paramilitary Islamist groupings.

    In a nutshell, while all Islamists are Muslim, all Muslims are certianly not Islamists.

    There are also large Christian (and Druze) populations in Syria.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    And it is likely that as in Iraq, Egypt and elsewhere, the Christian Syrians are under grave threat from the Islamist paramilitaries which are being facilitated (either directly or indirectly) by the USA/UK et al. The Assad regime is also hellish, but it did protect minorities. I’m sure atrocities are being comitted on all sides, though. There are no good guys here. Only the ordinary people who are suffering and dying in this civil war, which is realy a proxy war b/w Saudi Arabia/UAE and Iran (and more broadly, NATO and Russia).

  • guano

    Assalamu ‘alaykum.

    ‘a proxy war b/w Saudi Arabia/UAE and Iran’ 100% yes. That is how the current violence is justified theologically by some Muslims. But I don’t believe these theoretical justifications.

    I think that really they see that this war is doing more damage to the US than to the Muslims. The US administration is beginning to suffer from Stalin-like delusions about its own citizens, induced by its own propaganda against Islam:

    The Muslim tail is wagging the US dog and getting quite a kick out of seeing it go giddy on adrenolin.

  • Herbie

    Absolutely, Dreoilin.

    His is a curiously comforting and alternative voice in these conformist times. It’s not that long ago that even 6 Pilgers provided quite an authentic voice in talking truth to power, and before him Peter Sissons, believe it or not.

    I remember challenging Alex on some nonsense he was talking on one of those cheap scrippy java webchats they used to have in earlier interwebby days, about the peace process and weapons etc. He was talking received cobblers and repeatedly refused to answer. In the end, he did reply and his answer was to lament the decline in standards of mainstream media journalism. Despite the fact he didn’t directly address the question I’d posed, I thought it a remarkably honest answer in the circumstances. It showed awareness.

    I suspect there are many more of them who’d prefer to do their job without interference from the powers that be.

  • doug scorgie

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)
    27 Apr, 2013 – 10:06 pm

    Israel has used chemical weapons [white phosphorous] on Gaza’s civilian population; an act which it does not deny. This use of chemical weapons, as you know, is illegal under international law and a war crime.

    Has Israel used chemical weapons against Palestinians for years? I’m not sure but:

    “United Nations organizations said yesterday that it will investigate complaints that Israel used depleted uranium projectiles in the course of the fighting in Gaza, causing health and environmental damage.”


    If Syria should be invaded by western powers for allegedly using chemical weapons why should the same western powers not invade Israel for its proven use of chemical weapons in its attacks on Gaza?

    Hypocrisy knows no bounds in right-wing pundits like you.

    Don’t let the truth get in the way of your political ideology.

  • Dreoilin

    “I suspect there are many more of them who’d prefer to do their job without interference from the powers that be.”

    That would be a mildly encouraging thought, Herbie.


    I meant to say that, 1) I posted the Bill Maher video when I saw Guano referring to ‘going giddy on adrenalin’. And 2) it includes a clip of the police firing on the boat in which young Tsarnaev was hiding, unarmed. Shocking.

  • Herbie

    Habbakuk asks:

    “If you’re also claiming that Israel has used chemical weapons against Palestinians for years, please give sources for that claim.”

    It doesn’t much matter how you kill them, starve them, eradicate their culture.

    The Israeli treatment of the Palestinians ought to invoke outrage.

    There simply is no defense to the crimes of the Israelis against the Palestinian people.


  • Herbie

    “That would be a mildly encouraging thought, Herbie.”

    I agree. Let’s not get too excited. Things are bad, and trending worse.

    But still, the history of humanity is that freedom pops out somewhere and at times everywhere, like a big leaking lump on the body politic.

    It simply isn’t possible to control the world as the neocons believe, other than temporarily.

    As they say in markets, everything returns to the mean.

  • Fedup

    Abe Rene:

    However a revolution in a predominantly Muslim country is liable to be hijacked by Islamists for their own ends (as has happened in Iran and Egypt), making intervention tricky.

    Should these places ought to have been taken over by the Creationists? Born again evangelists?

    The patent malady of cultural chauvinism evidently cannot entertain the simple fact that these countries’ populations are Muslim, and they aspire to run their affairs as per their religious imperatives. This does not make these “bad guys” but punters wishing to live their lives their own way, and not as per the edicts of foreign governments intent on interfering in the internal affairs of their countries.

    Suhayl Saadi:

    …. term ‘Islamist’ connotes more with ‘Muslim Fundamentalist’ (so called) and in the case of Syria, Libya, etc. really would refer to the paramilitary Islamist groupings.

    Fact that political Islam is derided and frowned upon by the Western establishment, has resulted in promotion of the “salafist movements” (mostly reactionary mercenaries of the Western SIS), that in turn has resulted in conflation of the political Islam and the mercenaries and branded as the “Islamist” movement.

    Further, given the geographic proximity of Iran, and Russia to Syria, and the patent PANC inspired wars of aggression imposed on the countries in mid east by the far off US.

    Fact that during the years of the Western sponsored attacks of Saddam on Iran, the only Arab country to stand by Iranians was Syria, has never crossed the minds of anyone whom now pontificates about Iran’s support for Syria. The same goes for the geopolitical implications of sealing off the Mediterranean basin to Russians, an effective first step in preparing the next leg of attacks; the attack on Russia. Is not any concern of the “analysts” on this blog.

    The simplistic approach of; the AM way or the highway seems to be the only brand of thought that is getting promoted along with suppression or discouragement of any other lines of thought.

    Syrians are not about to give up and let their country to be turned over to foreign governments. Although by now it should be obvious but to the blind, that the story does not end in Syria, because already Tunisia, and Egypt are on the treatment list and in the wings stacked to be plunged into the chaos of contrived “civil war”, the old nostrum of Philippines, is the kind of lesson that the unimaginative chicken hawks in US would gladly stick to.

  • karel (a conspiracy a day keeps idiocy away

    Halibabacus (in culo e vita)
    from your frantic verbal ejaculations, I infer that you must have taken a recent delivery of shekels from tel aviv. Rather than buying few more pressure cookers, please share some of that valuable currency with us and we will all turn into hasbara clowns.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    “The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.”(George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair, 1903-1950.)

    Interestingly it was a few months into the Iraq war when historian Matthew Jones unearthed 1957 plans between Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and President Dwight Eisenhower, endorsing: “a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion (of Syria) by Syria’s pro-western neighbours.”


    In the light of my own source(Dubai) and that of the Syrian government implying intervention by foreign forces [terrorists] one concludes some allusion to the original 1957 plan which stated in part:

    “Once a political decision has been reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, SIS (MI6) and other operatives will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main(sic)incidents within Syria, working through contacts with key individuals.”

    London and Washington had become increasingly concerned at Syria’s increasingly pro-Soviet, rather than pro-Western sympathies, signed off the top secret document. It was, wrote Macmillan in his diary, “a most formidable report.” A report which was, “withheld even from British Chiefs of Staff…”

    The Eisenhower-Macmillan plan was for funding of a “Free Syria Committee” (Free Syrian Army?) and “arming of political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities” (al-Qaeda?), within Syria.

    Oh! the irony Mrs Clinton – Oh! the gems of historical truth recovered, restored and reinstituted.

  • Tony0pmoc

    Can you please unban me. I like to read what Craig has to say, and to do so I have got to use a spoof email address…and I don’t like doing that.



  • Tony0pmoc

    I think the secret is to come over REALLY NORTHERN and thick…REALLY WORKING CLASS…

    and say, I can do that….

    They look at you as if you are a piece of shit….

    So then You Do Not Come Back After Having Your Elocution Lessons To Talk Posh and You Do Not Dress Posh…

    What was that job you wanted someone to do?


    I’ll Fuck Off Now, unless you Unban Me.

    I bet you don’t know how to, unless you let em all in…all these loonies who have been telling you how it really is since 9/11, and you just didn’t get it did you????

    We need to get beyond this stage – and go on to possible solutions and a free exchange of views…

    Or are you only slowly realising we are fucked?


  • NR

    @ lwtc247 27 Apr, 2013 – 4:55 pm
    “@ wikispooks/sabretache (27 Apr, 2013 – 1:22 pm)
    I find suggestions Russia and the US ruling establishments are somehow ‘linked’ in the Boston bombings intriguing,”

    Summary of a comment posted elsewhere:
    “Alleged Boston Bombers’ Uncle Ruslan Tsarni [Tsarnaev] was married with Samantha Ankara Fuller, daughter of this guy listed below. He served 20 years as an operations officer in the CIA.” http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wikiGraham_Fuller

    “Explains why Tamerlan was phoning his uncle Ruslan while the police was hunting them with guns and that he said ” uncle please excuse what my (mothers) family (suleimanov) has done…”


  • Frazer

    @Tony..the reason you got banned in the first place was the rambling rants that you posted whilst probably pissed..it was amusing for a time, but got rather boring and annoying..if you want to be unbanned, try commenting on the discussions here rather than the crap you posted above…

  • April Showers

    Lurching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa by Maximilian Forte

    In his Ceasefire review, Dan Glazebrook examines Maximilian Forte’s withering indictment of liberal humanitarianism and its collusion in imperialist designs on Africa, as seen in NATO’s Libya campaign of 2011.

    The media has gone very quiet on Libya of late; clearly, liberal imperialists don’t like to dwell on their crimes. This is not surprising. The modus operandi of the humanitarian imperialist is not one of informed reflection, but only permanent outrage against leaders of the global South; besides, in the topsy-turvy world of liberal interventionism, the “failure to act” is the only crime of which the West is capable.

    As Forte puts it, their moral code holds that “If we do not act, we should be held responsible for the actions of others. When we do act, we should never be held responsible for our own actions.” With Muammar Gaddafi dead, the hunt is on for a new hate figure on whom to spew venom (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, North Korean leader Kim Jong-eun); far more satisfying than actually evaluating our own role in the creation of human misery. This is the colonial mentality of the liberal lynch mob.

    For the governments that lead us into war, of course, it makes perfect sense that we do not stop to look back at the last invasion before impatiently demanding the next one – if we realized, for example, that the 1999 bombing of Serbia – the textbook “humanitarian intervention”- actually facilitated the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo it was supposedly designed to prevent, we might not be so ready to demand the same treatment for every other state that falls short of our illusory ideals.

    continued on Ceasefire Magazine

    The accompanying photo shows a man standing on the bombed remains of Sirte harbour which is very reminiscent of the bombed remains of Gaza’s port, airport, harbour, etc.

  • craig Post author

    Tony Opmoc

    I would happily unban you if I knew how. Are you quite sure you are physically banned? Normally when I tell people they are banned from commenting (which has happened about five times in six years) I am bluffing. In your case, I think everyone just wanted you to stop the massive double spaced maudlin musings on events of your life in the wee small hours. Might make an interesting book though. You would be welcome back if you can refrain on that score.

  • English Knight

    Oh no, not another 15 year Zen Koan – this time only for Habbabkyk !!

    “If no Chechnya 34 story hotel like structure comes down by fire in the next umpteen years, can 911 false flag enter the revered “NEVER AGAIN” holohoax territory?

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