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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 41, September 28, 2013

Now it is Syria

Tuesday 1 October 2013, by Sukumar Pathak

After Afghanistan and Iraq it is now Syria’s turn to be devastated by incendiary and high explosive bombs, artillery shells and rockets by the American Army and Air Force.

Afghanistan was accused of hiding Osama bin Laden; Iraq of having “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (WMDs); Syria is being accused of using chemical weapons in mid-August in a Damascus suburb that killed about 300. The USA was trying to get its planned strike against Syria approved by the Security Council of the UNO. But the five permanent members of the Security Council, namely, the UK, USA, France, Russia and China, have not been able to reach a unanimous opinion: the USA, UK and France are in favour of the military assault, but Russia and China are vehemently opposing it. This means that the USA-sponsored proposal for strike was most likely to be vetoed by Russia and China.

The Iranian lawmakers and military have strongly opposed the US’ proposed attack: they have issued an open warning to the US and its allies to the effect that a military strike on Syria would lead to a retaliatory attack on Israel fanned by the “flames of outrage”. Meanwhile, Israel has ordered a partial mobilisation of reservists and strengthened its missile defences as a precaution against a possible Iranian and Syrian attack.

One aspect of the Syrian crisis is the total silence of the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Countries and the once proactive Non-Aligned Movement. The most likely possibility is that the USA will go forward with its strike plan, with or without the Security Council sanction. US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has said that the USA was ready to go the moment President Obama gave the signal: “We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfil and comply with whatever option the President wishes to take.” This when the USA has not presented any concrete proof of the use of chemical weapons and when UN inspectors, currently in Syria, are yet to endorse the allegation. Speaking at the Hague, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was of the opinion that no action should be taken until the UN chemical weapons inspectors finish their work. It is still not certain that chemical gas was used in Syria, or if used, it was by the government forces and not by the rebels. Incidentally, the USA had used 20-million gallons of defoliants and herbicides in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, that killed 400,000.

There is no public support in Britain for invading or bombing Syria. The American public is equally sceptical about their government propaganda. Bashar al-Assad’s Ba’ath Socialist Party has been in power since 1963. His family has been ruling Syria since 1971. It is his friendly ties with Iran and Hezbollah that really condemns Assad in the US and Israeli eyes. Like Saddam Hussain, Assad is secular, not a fanatic bigot like the rulers of Saudi Arabia who fund and arm the rebels.

However, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria..... one war after another were alll spearheaded by the USA. The question arises about the motive behind these endless series. Endless series of combative acts. There would have been peace after World War-II ended in 1945 but for the declaration of the ‘Truman Doctrine’ in 1949 by US President Harry Truman to contain communism in the world. There would have been peace in Asia after the French colonialists were defeated at Dien Bien Phu but for the direct US military intervention in Vietnam.

One answer in the Syrian case is the large reserves of natural gas that Syria has as in the case of Iraq it was its huge oil resources—Iraq being the third largest producer of petroleum in the world. The second factor that provides the motive for the intended strike is that the present administration of Basher al-Assad is not—as Saddam Hussain’s in Iraq was not—‘fundamentalist’, an euphemism for bigotry and fanaticism. All American allies in Asia are governed by bigoted and fanatical rulers, Saudi Arabia’s being the most bigoted and fanatic of them all. Strange it is that the USA, that prides itself of its democratic values, has all the time been evincing a preference for the most non-secular and non-popular regimes in Asia.

These apart, it seems the USA has a compulsive desire for going to war on the slightest pretext and at the slightest provocation. It seems it cannot do without a war over some-thing against some country. Can it be that the American is basically a war economy, that it faces grave problems without stupendous expenditure on armaments? Is the US Administration a political machine for waging wars? The USA, it seems, or rather it is evident, does not tolerate, above all, the existence in Asia of a sovereign, independent state. What it likes is a client state ruled by a pliant ruler (like Pakistan, for example).

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