The politics of make-believe

25.08.2013 - Silvia Swinden

This post is also available in: French

The politics of make-believe
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“David Cameron and Barack Obama moved the west closer to military intervention in Syria on Saturday as they agreed that last week’s alleged chemical weapon attacks by the Assad regime had taken the crisis into a new phase that merited a “serious response”.

In a phone call that lasted 40 minutes, the two leaders are understood to have concluded that the regime of Bashar al-Assad was almost certainly responsible for the assault that is believed to have killed as many as 1,400 people in Damascus in the middle of last week.” … “France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said on Saturday that “all the information at our disposal converges to indicate that there was a chemical massacre near Damascus and that the [regime of Bashar al-Assad] is responsible”. The Guardian

But…”Before leaping to conclusions, we should consider motivation. The ruling Syrian regime of Bashir Assad has every reason to avoid using chemical or biological weapons; WMD use will precipitate overt military action by the US and its allies. Why would the regime provoke attacks from the outside when they are waging a war internally against domestic and foreign forces (some affiliated to Al Qaeda) already funded and supported by the West? However, the US, its allies and these opposition forces have every incentive to draw the US into open warfare on Syrian soil. The US is determined to remove yet another government, hostile to US hegemony, but without direct application of US military might, the rebels cannot hope to win their bloody civil war.” Critical Thinking.

Who to believe?

The scenes of dead and dying women and children showing signs of chemical poisoning endlessly shown on TV, are designed to make public opinion scream “Someone do something, quickly!” and sure enough “U.S. naval forces are moving closer to Syria as President Barack Obama considers military options for responding to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad government.” ABC News.

Does the uncharacteristic caution of the west to get involved rather than the more usual shoot first, ask questions later, denote a weariness based on the learning experiences of Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, etc, etc?  Or is it simply a result of Syria’s regime having Russia as an ally, and they are saying a resounding Niet! to intervention?

“The first casualty when war comes is truth”

This quote, whose authorship, ironically enough, is much disputed, cannot be overstated in the Syrian situation. Both sides accuse the other of their own atrocities. Alex Thompson, the British Channel 4 journalist had already reported the rebels set him up to be shot and make the government look responsible, an experience others shared according to tweets he received.

Atrocities are being committed in Syria by all sides; more than 100.000 people have been killed and more than a million displaced, many of them children. If the international community is really serious about stopping this horror, they will follow the money trail to see who is paying for the weapons, and force the players to sit down and negotiate a political solution. The longer they delay doing this, or if they choose to intervene militarily, there will be an even higher proportion of the groups involved who respond to their own extreme view of the world and are beyond reasonable dialogue.

And there is little doubt that the conflict will drag other countries of the region, as it is already happening with Lebanon.

 

Categories: Middle East, Opinions
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