It is a testament’s to the West’s declining role as masters of the globe that it is no nearer to helping bring an end to the Syrian conflict despite having all the means to do so. Let me be upfront about it: Bashir Assad needs to get the shit bombed out of him. Plain and simple. This is not Iraq, when a war was constructed from spurious evidence (the case of the invisible WMDs), dubious motives (oil), and hegemonic intentions (nation-building). The Syrian case involves a country with no strategic value to the West but whose regime has embarked on a war of indiscriminate annihilation against its own people with whatever weapons at its disposal, including what even the most deluded Assad-apologist moron knows is the case: chemical ones. If there was ever a case for an intervention, this is it, a case far stronger than even the intervention in Libya. Although time has yet to tell whether the campaign against Qaddafi was a resounding success, it did provide a framework for a type of intervention that could please hawks and doves alike: limited in scope and duration, no boots on the ground, a clear objective, and no permanent occupation plans so that the country could decide it’s own fate. No, nobody likes military interventions, but under the assumption that every so often one could be justified, this type of scenario seemed to fit the bill nicely.
Who needs global policemen?
Instead we have the West cowering under the fear of its own electorate, and later humbled diplomatically by the world’s true grand master of realpolitik. The first issue I can partly sympathize with: military interventions are costly, and with Western economies strained to the limit by their own self-created fiscal crisis it is understandable that electorates of both sides of the political spectrum might by be wary of yet another military campaign. But this argument was even stronger back in 2011 and yet they went for it anyway. What’s even less fathomable is how these very same electorates – particularly conservatives – insist on keeping military spending ring-fenced from budget cuts when there’s no will on their part to ever engage. In the port of Rosyth in the Firth of Forth (once the nerve center of British naval might), two 70,000 ton aircraft carriers are being built with a price tag of £6 billion. Why an island nation with delusions of middle-power grandeur in the post-Cold War era still thinks it needs this advanced weaponry is beyond me if it seemingly doesn’t plan on ever using it. Perhaps to defend the sprinkle of sheep farmers in that desolate rocky wasteland known as the Falklands halfway around the world while millions of Syrians get killed, maimed or are forced to flee their homes. Or perhaps it simply needs to prop up BAE Systems’ bottom line if the Saudis ever start refusing the company’s billon-dollar bribes.
The second issue is the sadder, more pathetic one. I can only picture the look of dismay on State Department and White House staffers when they realized the masterstroke Vladimir Putin pulled on them with his chemical weapons disposal plan. In the true spirit of a Mario Puzo mafioso, it was a deal the US could not refuse; a deal so cunning one can’t help admiring its brilliance at least briefly before accepting the cold hard fact that it condemns Syrians to a more prolonged slaughter. The Syrian government loved the plan, which in itself should have been the hint to anyone with half a functioning brain that it was completely worthless. And adding insult to injury was Assad’s conceited retort that it would take a year and one billion dollars to completely destroy his chemical arsenal, a bill the US (who else!) should be expected to pay. So this is what you get for trying to be Mr Nice US President. You get humbled playing the new Great Game (Middle East edition) by another brutal authoritarian. You are forced to see another year go by in which Assad moves ever closer to his goal of obliterating his own country. And you’ll possibly end up $1 billion poorer. But hey, at least you’re justifying your Nobel Prize!
Popping the blood-stained champagne
Pull out those corks, Assad-apologists, you helped avert yet another US imperialist adventure. You stopped Haliburton from taking over Syria’s massive oil reserves of 2.5 billion barrels. That, for the record, is just under well-known oil power Argentina’s and is ranked an envious 35th in the world (for comparison’s sake, it’s something like 1/60th of what Iraq had and 1/800th of the US’s own shale oil reserves). You gave peace a chance by demanding proof of use of chemical weapons before an attack was even considered, despite the fact that 99.9% of Syrians killed in the civil war have been killed by conventional weapons, by implication suggesting that death by AK-47, grenade, artillery shell, tank round, and aircraft rocket was perfectly acceptable. More so, this dubious argument under the banner of international legality was frivolous from the start since Syria had never signed any ban against the use of chemical weapons (the CWC) and was therefore legally free to use them, especially since it was doing so within its own borders. But in waiting for proof of use of chemical weapons (which the UN indeed confirmed), you gave time for Putin to outsmart your equally spineless leaders into further and possibly permanent inaction. Sure, Uncle Sam is no angel but I’ll take Obama any day over the monster that is Vladimir. A monster that has turned his once proud nation into a kleptocratic mafia state, that bombed and invaded a tiny hapless neighbor (Georgia) with utter disregard for civilian lives just a few years ago, and which most recently declared homosexuality illegal. Clearly a natural ally for you Chomsky-worshiping anti-imperialists!
Which leaves me with one conclusion: behind the calls for peace, behind the demands for a diplomatic solution is the ugly face of anti-Americanism at all costs and under all conditions. Not that they’ve deserved any love given their record. But you people don’t care about Syria. You just want the US to lose, even if for once in a blue moon the world would be a better place if it didn’t.
Congratulations, you won (at least for now).