Responses to Questions on avoidance of an American Attack on the Assad Regime

14 Sep

Prefatory Note: The following questions were put to me by Patricia Lombroso of the Italian publication, Il Manifesto.

1] How much you think the opposition of the entire world for another war influenced US to put on hold the go ahead to intervention with military attack in Syria.

IT IS DIFFICULT TO MEASURE, AS SUCH AN INFLUENCE IS NEVER ADMITTED. AT THE SAME TIME, I THINK THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THE ADVERSE OUTLOOK OF THE WORLD’S PUBLIC, ESPECIALLY IN EUROPE, WAS A CLEAR FACTOR IN HALTING THE DRIFT INTO WAR. EVEN MORE IMPORTANT WAS THE REFUSAL OF THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT TO BACK DAVID CAMERON, THE BRITISH PRIME MINISTER. ALSO SIGNIFICANT, WAS WAR WEARINESS IN THE UNITED STATES, WHICH OBAMA MENTIONS FREQUENTLY, WHICH IS A CODED WAY OF ACKNOWLEDGING THE FAILURES OF AMERICAN WAR POLICIES IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN.

2] How much is the ideology favoring “military intervention” on behalf of supposed “humanitarian wars,” still operative in US and the Western world as suggested by finding Hilary Clinton and John McCain on the pro-interventionist side of the Syrian debate.

I THINK THE MILITARIST WING OF BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES TENDS TO CONVERGE ON POLICY OPTIONS THAT ARE DEBATED IN PRE-WAR CONTEXTS WITHIN THE UNITED STATES. SUCH ADVOCACY IS INCREASINGLY OUT OF TOUCH WITH THE POLITICAL CLIMATE IN THE USA, WHICH IS NO LONGER SUPPORTIVE OF WARS THAT SEEM TO LACK A STRATEGIC MAJOR JUSTIFICATION. THERE IS ALSO A  GROWING AWARENESS THAT AMERICAN MILITARY INTERVENTION HAS NOT LED TO SUCCESSFUL POLITICAL OUTCOMES, AND HAVE ENTAILED SERIOUS ECONOMIC DIVERSIONS OF RESOURCES AND HUMAN CASUALTIES THAT ARE NOT JUSTIFIED. THE AMERICAN PUBLIC HAS BEGUN TO UNDERSTAND IS POSSIBLE TO WIN ON THE BATTLEFIELD AND YET LOSE THE WAR. THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE MAJOR LESSON OF THE VIETNAM WAR, BUT IT HAS NOT BEEN LEARNED BY THE POLITICAL LEADERSHIP WHO DERISIVELY REFERRED TO SUCH LEARNING AS ‘THE VIETNAM SYNDROME,’ SOMETHING TO BE OVERCOME. IT WAS GEORGE H.W. BUSH’S FIRST CLAIM AFTER THE GULF WAR IN 1991 THAT “WE HAVE FINALLY KICKED THE VIETNAM SYNDROME.” PROBABLY THINK TANKS ARE ALREADY PRODUCING POLICY PAPERS ON HOW TO GET OVER ‘THE IRAQ SYNDROME”!

3] Is your opinion that the explosion of a war in the Middle East as too

risky in relation to its probable consequences that might have persuaded Obama

to be cautious in planning his moves against the Assad regime in Syria?

IT WAS PARTLY THE SENSE THAT ONCE SUCH AN ATTACK OCCURRED THERE COULD BE SERIOUS UNANTICIPATED CONSEQUENCES AND COSTS THAT UNDERMINED ITS INITIAL RATIONAL. ALSO, THE PROPOSED SCOPE OF THE CONTEMPLATED INVOLVEMENT MADE NEITHER STRATEGIC NOR HUMANITARIAN SENSE. SUCH A CONTEMPLATED ATTACK WAS NOT CAPABLE OF WINNING SUPPORT IN THE UN, IN CONGRESS, AND AMONG PUBLIC OPINION AT HOME AND ABROAD. EVEN IF THE ATTACK WAS SUCCESSFULLY CARRIED OUT IT WOULD NOT LIKELY ALTER EITHER ASSAD’S CONTROL OF THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT OR THE COURSE OF THE CIVIL OR PROXY WAR AFFLICTING SYRIA. THE IMPULSE TO LAUNCH AN ATTACK BECAUSE  ASSAD HAD CROSSED OBAMA’S RED LINE ABOUT CHEMICAL WEAPONS SEEMED LIKE AN OVERLY PERSONAL, ARBITRARY, AND UNTENABLE JUSTIFICATION FOR MILITARY ACTION WITH ITS VARIOUS RISKS AND HUMAN COSTS, INCLUDING THE ALMOST CERTAIN DEATH OF INNOCENT PERSONS. THE FACT THAT OBAMA WAS RESCUED BY PUTIN AND OPPOSED BY A REACTIONARY CONGRESS ADDED AN IRONIC DIMENSION TO THE TWISTS AND TURNS OF U.S. POLICY ON SYRIA. THE SITUATION IS STILL UNFOLDING WITH NO CLEAR WAY TO PREDICT THE OUTCOME, ALTHOUGH THE RENEWED TURN TOWARD DIPLOMACY ENGENDERED A GLIMMER OF HOPE. FOR THE SAKE OF THE SYRIAN PEOPLE, AND THE STABILITY OF THE REGION, THE PRIME GOAL SHOULD BE A DOMESTIC POLITICAL PROCESS THAT PROJECTS A FUTURE FOR SYRIA THAT COMBINES UNITY WITH THE DEVOLUTION OF AUTHORITY IN EFFECTIVE FORMS THAT BRING HUMAN SECURITY TO THE VARIOUS ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES THAT CONSTITUTE 21ST CENTURY SYRIA.

AFTERTHOUGHT: THE U.S. AND RUSSIA HAVE NOW REACHED AN AGREEMENT THAT HAS BEEN ACCEPTED IN DAMASCUS TO THE EFFECT THAT SYRIA WILL AGREE TO ACKNOWLEDGE ITS STOCKPILES OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS, AND HAVE THEM DESTROYED BY MID-2014 UNDER INTERNATIONAL SUPERVISION AND VERIFIED BY UN INSPECTORS. THE PROVISIONAL OUTCOME, ASSUMING IT HOLDS UP, REPRESENTS A MASTER TRIUMPH OF RUSSIAN DIPLOMACY, A GEOPOLITICAL SETBACK FOR AMERICAN GLOBAL LEADERSHIP, AND AN AMBIGUOUS VICTORY FOR THREAT DIPLOMACY. THE OVERALL RESULTS IN RELATION TO HOLDING LEADERSHIP DEMOCRATICALLY ACCOUNTABLE BEFORE LAUNCHING NON-DEFENSIVE WARS AND DETERRING THE USE OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION REMAINS TO BE SEEN.

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12 Responses to “Responses to Questions on avoidance of an American Attack on the Assad Regime”

  1. ray032 September 14, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    Richard, not used to seeing you write in all CAPS?

    All’s fair in Love and War, the old saying goes.

    In Diplomacy, this is the Standard “Quid pro quo” employed by many different Nations in Diplomatic Deal Making. Obama is not the 1st President to employ the strategy.

    For those who hate Obama, there is no denying his threat of the use of force on Syria, paved the way for this real Diplomatic Breakthrough solution, like the parting of the Red Sea, as an alternative to Military escalation in the Powder Keg the Middle East already is.

    Obama was threatening Armageddon! The Syrians and Russians blinked.

    What’s in your glass? Half full or half empty?

    What excuses do the US and Russia still have for not destroying “their” chemical weapons as they are also supposed to do according to the Treaty they previously signed and Syria just signed? Leadership by example would be refreshing.

    • Richard Falk September 14, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

      Ray: in Australia everything is done with CAPS, and besides I was rushed, but promise
      not to repeat as it seems self-important! Richard

      • Albert September 15, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

        Those caps to me indicate the seriousness of the situation, which certainly deserves that emphasis.

  2. Sergey September 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    I think the Russians surprised everyone when they offered their initiative right when the foreign intervention seemed inevitable. It is not often that I see wisdom in the Russian modern foreign policy, but if this initiative will be executed according to the agreement reached in Geneva it will represent a huge milestone for international diplomacy and Russia’s role in the world, which until recently seemed not significant.

  3. deepaktripathi September 15, 2013 at 2:51 am #

    Dear Richard: As usual a comprehensive overview of the meaning of the Russia-US agreement on Syria’s chemical weapons. It would be interesting to know what you think are the costs for Turkey in particular and for Erdogan and his party, both nationally and internationally. I realize that there are costs for Cameron and Hollande, too, but their embarrassment is easier to overcome.

  4. monalisa September 15, 2013 at 3:48 am #

    Dear Richard,

    thank you for your comprehesive overview.

    As what I can see from here (Austria) the EU is still like an US puppet or to say lunatic.
    Too many warmongers in mainstream media.

    Neglicences of International Law, supremacy of states and Human Rights aren’t brought into play when it comes to Western Powers.

    Additionally, I couldn’t find any mainstream media mentioning the diplomatic exceptional role of Putin/Russia in the case of Syria.
    EU still “brainwashed” and forgetting that throughout history – except the time of the Communist Era – Russia was an ally of Europe’s different states taking side of this or that European country/ies as it saw appropriate at that time.

    Russia within the shortest possible time stood up on its own feet again after such a big collapse.
    By comparison: UK was unable to do that up til yet.

    Maybe from this stems too some sort of “neglicence of facts” within EU together with envy.

    However, I am still not sure if Putin’s diplomacy will work out. Too many war ships in the Mediterranean Sea.
    Too many Western secret service agents working within Syria and Lebanon (and maybe Turkey). CIA is a master (or at least was) in creating false flag actions.

    I do hope for the best possible for the Syrian people!

    Take care of yourself,

    monalisa

  5. imleif September 15, 2013 at 3:57 am #

    Two questions linger with me.

    Will the responsibility for the chemical attack be truthfully placed, and what consequences will it have?

    Will destruction of chemical weapons actually mean safety for the Assad regime? If I remember what happened to Iraq/Saddam, it seemed that no matter what they did to comply with destroying their WMD, it was never enough to satisfy the US.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4996218

  6. carlos September 15, 2013 at 4:36 am #

    Thanks Richard for concise, clear answers to your questioner. I would have liked her to ask about the role of Israel a) in the ‘intelligence’ gathering and b) in urging US to a strike,
    Hilary Clinton, aligned with McCain, showing colours as a warmonger. Will US have a warmonger as next President? Time to bone up on diplomacy?
    With US past history and big problems within, and as one commenter points out, will US and Israel declare their WMD and do something about them for the peace of the world?
    ps. Caps in Australia mean you are shouting!

    • ray032 September 15, 2013 at 7:28 am #

      Coming out of the White House meeting with the President last week, Senator Bomb! Bomb Iran! McCain said “Syria is a proxy war against Iran.” Other US political Leaders are expressing the same idea. So That’s it?

      It is no secret Israel has been pushing the US to take the lead in bombing Iran’s Nuclear facilities, and it appears America has jumped into it. At this point, no Intelligence Agency in this world says Iran is actually making a nuclear bomb.

      Iran did sign the NPT. Every Nation that signs the NPT is allowed to legally enrich uranium short of the 90% purity needed for Nuclear weapons production without outside interference. The UN Inspectors report Iran is enriching uranium up to the 20% needed to produce Medical Isotopes.

      The US-Israel and the West has made Iran the “Exceptional Nation” to the NPT Rules.

      The world is mute on Israel’s Nuclear bombs it has outside of the NPT and never questions Israel’s intentions? There is no questioning Israel’s intentions on why it needs 4 submarines, probably armed with Nuclear missiles, to deal with it’s localized problems in their immediate neighborhood?

      One of the bedrock Principles of Democracy is everyone is INNOCENT until PROVEN GUILTY. That Democratic Principle, while Good for the protection of it’s own Citizens, is thrown away in the case of external relations with Iran.

      Under the Leadership of America, at the request of Israel, the West has judged Iran Guilty for unknown “intentions” or guilty before the fact.

      Because Iran refuses to be made the exception to the Rule, and rightly so, the US has made US Law Extraterritorial, in making unilateral US Legal sanctions against Iran apply to the entire world.

      This is way beyond, and in addition to, the authorized UN sanctions In practice and effect in opposition to it’s own NPT.

      It is tantamount to Economic warfare against the 80 million people of Iran in the attempt to crash the entire Iranian Economy on the heads of those 80 million people, in an illegal communal punishment in violation of the Geneva Accords.

      The Problem is, that economic warfare against Iran to bring the Nation to it’s knees for following the LEGAL RIGHT ALL NATIONS HAVE THAT SIGNED THE NPT, has not had the intended consequences as yet

      All of Human History establishes the only next step left is War.

      And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
      (false teachings about God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam)

      For they are the spirits of DEVILS, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth
      (Pope, Presidents, Prime Ministers, CEOs, the Rich and other Idols of the people)
      and of the whole world,
      (the rest of us)
      to gather them to the Battle of that Great Day of God Almighty.

      Behold, I come as a thief. (when you least expect it)
      Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

      And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
      Revelation 16

      Armageddon was derived from Har Mediggo located in Occupied Judea and Samaria of the Roman Province of Palestine 2000 years ago.

      Today, Har Mediggo-Armageddon still exists, but is now located in temporal Israel recreated from the Bible after an absence of 3000 years, the very Bible that mentions Armageddon only once.

      Wonder of Wonders! After 2000 years, the ME conflict is still over the Occupation of Judea and Samaria.

      The LORD works in mysterious ways! Who can discern them?

      • oldguyincolorado September 20, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

        I thought Isreal had 5 subs, and not 4. Live and learn. In that spirit: as to why Isreal needs them, just look at a mid-East map; compare the size of the populations; note that there are other “countries” which want to see the elimination of Isreal; remember how many countries Isreal has had to face in many of the wars she has fought (starting with 1948); those other countries live on after defeats by Isreal – if Isreal looses just one, she is gone.

        No matter how or why the conditions in the mid-East got this way, the fact is that this is where the mid-East is and all of the day-dreaming in the world and scripture quoting that takes place will not change this. The Koran tells us where the Islamists want to be (read it – it is the LAW for hundreds of millions); look for some good quotes there. Try to fathom the concept of “submission”. Read the statement by the Grand Mufti in the 1920’s which, for the Islamists, says it all: Kill all Jews. You do know that he worked closely with the Nazis during WWII and wanted to set up similar camps in “Palestine” – this was BEFORE Isreal even came into existance. He was Arafats “Hero” (and his uncle, or so I hear). He is a “father figure” for the M.B.
        Do you honestly believe that Iran would not build a bomb if the world (U.S., the Saudis, probably Russia, Turkey and others) were not watching? What if they pull a Pakistan and get some help from our good neighbors, the North Koreans? Talk about a “bargaining chip” -just what the world needs.
        I suggest that you look at the agendas of each country in the mid-East before taking too hard of a line. For Isreal to give up her bombs or drop her guard for just one moment will probably result in her Armegeddon. She only needs a small one to finish her off.

        Sorry if I have offended you, but, as the old saying goes: “It aint your ox which is getting gored”. That is true of most of the folks on this blog.

        Professor Falk does keep us stimulated, doesn’t he? Problem for me is: I have to keep repeating myself – but then most of you floks do, too; via different names; same words. But then, as I have said: “It Aint your ox, is it”.

  7. ray032 September 16, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    Richard, I read a commentary by Jimmy Carter on the current Israeli-Palestinian Peace negotiations in Harretz Today, and following a link and then another, I came directly to Jimmy Carter’s Blog. I would speculate you met him on an occasion, but here is what he wrote on September 13 in his own Blog, and my reply;

    ‘Referendums could be key to peace deal’

    http://theelders.org/article/referendums-could-be-key-peace-deal

  8. monalisa September 21, 2013 at 1:07 am #

    to oldguyincolorado:

    since when is North Korea the neighbor of USA ?
    Or do you mean your neighbor state – so you live somewhere in Asia ?
    (To compare a tiny country to the USA is somehow extremely loopsided!)

    You post is the best proof how mainstream media works.

    monalisa

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