Thursday, September 5, 2013


The official explanation for going to war with Syria is that a “red line” was crossed when the Syrian government authorized the use of chemical weapons.  The chemical weapons incident in Syria occurred on August 21, 2013. The official explanation is dubious, because leaders in the United States wanted to bring about regime change in Syria well before August 21, 2013. The evolution of the public position of United States leaders on Syria eerily resembles the run-up to the 2nd Iraq War.  

The itch

5/6/2002. In January 2002's State of the Union speech, G.W. Bush called Iraq, Iran, and North Korea the axis of evil. But in May of that year, evidently proud of the rhetorical turn, new members were added. "The United States has added Cuba, Libya and Syria to the nations it claims are deliberately seeking to obtain chemical or biological weapons (source)."

The matter of "seeking to obtain" such weapons did not take very long, because in 2003, Syria had allegedly acquired, and were testing, these sorts of weapons. 

4/15/2003: Donald Rumsfeld: "We have seen chemical weapons tests in Syria over the past 12, 15 months (source)."
Rumsfeld and G.W. Bush. Those were the days.

President G.W. Bush said, back in 2007, that “These two regimes [Iran and Syria] are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq,” He added, “Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We’ll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq (source).”

Retired General Wesley Clark said, back in 2007, “I just got this memo from the Secretary of Defense’s office. It says we’re going to attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years – we’re going to start with Iraq, and then we’re going to move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran (source).” That was 2007. Since then, the Libyan government has been destabilized and President Obama has authorized arms shipments to fuel the civil war in Somalia (source). Earlier this year, a former Bush official wrote an editorial calling for U.S. military intervention against Sudan (source). And Lebanon requires no special attention. Any carnage to will be unleashed in Syria will inevitably spill over the border into Lebanon, as that is where one can find large numbers of Hezbollah troops. 

Ruins of the Roman Empire, Palmyra, Syria
The short-lived romance stage

For a little while, Bashir al-Assad was viewed as a pro-western reformer. He did seem like an improvement over his father Hafez, even if he was a member of the Baathist Party (remember them?). He and his glamorous wife dined with Mr. and Mrs. Kerry. The Queen of England granted him an audience.

The soon-to-be-forgotten voice of reason stage

In January of 2012, a policy expert argued that, “if American and NATO forces were to oust Assad, ‘that could make things worse, and lead to a civil war’ among Syria's religious groups … That would mean ‘a long operation’ for American troops – just as the Iraq war— which stretched on and on due largely to fighting between religious sects (source).”

The “let’s hope for a coup d’etat” stage

On 2/14/2012, the U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, stated, “We are not dithering. We are not hesitating. The US position is that we reject any kind of military intervention in Syria, let's be clear about that (source).”  

On 2/ 24/2012, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helpfully suggested that, “With deep divisions preventing forceful international action … security forces long loyal to Bashar Assad and his family could oust the Syrian president and end the bloodshed that is ripping his country apart (source).”

The “accidentally divulging the real reasons for war” stage

On 6/4/12, one neo-conservative wunderkind opined that, “Cutting Iran's link to the Mediterranean Sea is a strategic prize worth the risk (source).” For a bit of context, the reader may remember that, during the presidential campaign between Romney and Obama, the hapless Massachusetts Republican repeatedly asserted that Syria is “Iran’s route to the sea.” Many people found this assertion to be ridiculous, because a substantial portion of Iran borders the Persian Gulf.

However, what Romney meant to say was that Syria could become Iran’s route to the Mediterranean Sea. In January of 2011 it was reported, “Under the new deal between the two countries, a gas pipeline will transfer Iran’s gas to Iraq and Syrian territories feeding their power plants,” and following that, the pipeline will extend “through Southern Lebanon … to [the] Mediterranean Sea and Europe [in particular southern Italy], while Syrian oil minister Sufian Allaw noted that ‘The strategic gas pipeline will transfer gas from Iran to Iraq, Syria, and the Mediterranean Sea and this is connected to the Arab gas pipeline’ (source).”

Also, if Syria were to undergo regime change and a new pro-Western government were installed there would be benefits to Israel. “In Lebanon, Hezbollah would be cut off from its Iranian sponsor, since Syria would no longer be a transit point for Iranian training, assistance, and missiles (source).”

The prima facie evidence of complicated-geopolitics-at-play stage

“In June 2012 Iran announced that it would hold a naval exercise together with Syria and Russia in the eastern Mediterranean (source).” Russia is, of course, a staunch ally of Syria. Russia has always lamented a lack of direct access to the Mediterranean. One observer reminisces, “How many times, throughout the Cold War, did we hear of Russia’s desperate need for a warm-water port (source)?”

The "inconvenient factors are ignored" stage

BEIRUT 6/14/13 — A Syrian rebel group's April pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda's replacement for Osama bin Laden suggests that the terrorist group's influence is not waning and that it may take a greater role in the Western-backed fight to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad (source).

The “we’ll intervene militarily if we have a good reason” stage

On 8/20/2012 Barack Obama said that “his administration would rethink its opposition to military intervention in the Syrian civil war if President Bashar Assad deploys weapons of mass destruction, calling such action a ‘red line’ for the U.S. (source).”

Mythical Moderates

9/3/13: "The Obama administration is considering putting the Pentagon in charge of arming and training moderate rebel forces in Syria (source)." The neo-cons behind the 2nd Iraq War clung to the idea that there were moderate elements in Iraq who would rise up and stabilize the situation, and make the sensible choice of taking a pro-western stance. Now, there are undoubtedly plenty of moderates in Syria or Iraq, but moderate folks are liable to stay quiet rather than risk a public beheading.
U.S. Military Presence in North Africa

This blog is supported by my hope to contribute to the public discourse in a constructive manner. Please share this article widely if you found it informative or enlightening.

No comments:

Post a Comment