Russian Roulette

Monday, 24 June 2013

Hard to believe, and perhaps overly optimistic, but it seems the American empire bulldozing its way across the planet finally faces imperial overstretch and roll-back. Protests on the streets of Brazil highlight the difficulty of distracting an impoverished populace with just circuses, even on the scale of the football World Cup. Turkish unrest signals a back-lash against a policy of destroying secular governments and installing the Muslim Brotherhood on the pay- roll. It’s also unlikely that Emperor Obama and his proconsuls want to play Russian roulette over Syria and end-up with a bullet in the head.

At the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, the British Prime Minister David Cameron anguished over a non-existent dilemma. Should he arm the rebels struggling against the “murderous regime” of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and risk putting weapons into the hands of Al Qaeda affiliated mercenaries who fight on the same side? His Foreign Minister William Hague – who speaks with a marble in his mouth – swore the UK mission was to save the lives of innocent Syrians.

This is sanctimonious cant. Al Qaeda is widely recognised as a CIA asset and Washington as the godfather of international Jihadism. The FUKUS (France, UK, US) imperative is to bomb Syria into submission now that their proxies have failed to deliver geopolitical and resource grabbing objectives. With their austerity economies in crisis – and the world economy on the brink of another major downturn – war for profit has acquired even greater urgency for these belligerents.

Former NATO top-gun General Wesley Clark confirmed that he learned soon after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 that the US planned to “take-out” Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran in the next five years. More recently the former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas has dumped on the Brits. He told the French TV channel LPC that British officials had confessed to him, two years before the conflict began, that they were preparing an invasion of rebels into Syria.

The concern about sophisticated weapons being diverted to the Al Nusrah Front – essentially an Al Qaeda faction – is clearly sheer hypocrisy. The rebels have been receiving covert military aid from the start. The recent lifting of a European Union embargo – at the urging of the British and French – merely paves the way for escalating arms shipments openly.

President Obama has announced increased military support to the rebels because the Syrian government crossed his “red line” by using chemical weapons of mass destruction. A number of sarin gas attacks (unverified) are claimed to have left between 100 and 150 people dead. By comparison conservative estimates are that about 93, 000 people have been killed in Syria during the conflict. The accusation is a convenient fabrication as implausible as the “weapons of mass destruction” propaganda used against Iraq. Sounds like nonsense and it is.

Multiple sources – including CNN – have confirmed that the Western alliance has made chemical weapons available to the Al Nusrah Front and sent in military contractors and Special Forces to train the rebels in their use. A UN independent inquiry found last month that it was the rebels – rather than the government – who were using sarin gas. Moreover as the Washington Post reports “the determination to send weapons had been made weeks ago”.

The real problem is that a strategy of using Al Qaeda mercenaries which succeeded in Afghanistan has failed in Syria. The rebels have been routed and increasing their firepower will make no difference. In the circumstances neither the rebels not their sponsors have anything to gain from a peace conference that will leave President Al- Assad in power. Unsurprisingly, on Capitol Hill bipartisan calls for a “no fly zone” are mounting.

The imposition of a “no fly zone” – ostensibly to prevent air attacks on civilians by their governments – is justified by the Western-sponsored doctrine of R2P. The US and its minions claim this gives them the “right” and the “responsibility” to protect peoples everywhere. It’s an upgrade of the “white man’s burden” and equally cynical. The entire African continent is now in thrall.

Robert Gates, former US Defence Secretary explained the practical application of R2P with regard to Libya in 2011. “There is a lot of, frankly, loose talk about some of these military options. Let’s just call a spade a spade. A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defences. That’s the way you do a no-fly zone. Then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down. That is the way it starts.”

It ended with Libya being carpet-bombed and regime change effected. The lesson has not been lost on the Russians who have promised to veto any proposal for a “no fly zone” in the UN Security Council. Foreign Ministry representative Aleksandr Lukashevich said: “We have seen the Libyan example of how such a zone is implemented and how such decisions are brought to life. We do not want this to be repeated in the Syrian conflict.”

Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov said: “There have been leaks from western media regarding the serious consideration to create a no-fly zone over Syria through the deployment of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles and F-16 jets in Jordan… You don’t have to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law.”

But “humanitarian intervention” is not constrained by treaties or Security Council sanction. In the guise of genocide prevention its moral force rules supreme. All the West needs is a “coalition of the willing” prepared to bring the “shock and awe” visited on Baghdad to Damascus. But Syria is not a soft target like Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya – or indeed Somalia where R2P was invoked to justify an invasion leading to what UN observers described as “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa – worse than Darfur”.

Syria’s formidable air-defences are being strengthened by Russian “state of the art” surface to air missiles and fighter jets. And China – in a remarkable shift from its position on Libya – has thrice vetoed resolutions condemning the Syrian government and proposing measures against it. Both countries fully understand they are the ultimate targets. Self-preservation eclipses opportunities for profit when the chips are down.

The mainstream media liberally obsesses about the moral obligation for the West to intervene. It prefers to ignore the fact that mutually assured destruction makes that impossible on anything but a token scale. War is an essential component of the neo-liberal economy and a social investment that favours powerful corporations. An onslaught on Syria would boost the flagging FUKUS economies and deflect rising resistance to austerity. However it’s a limited option and critically will not solve an endemic crisis of “capitalism”.

Brazilians were conned into believing their government was committed to a “socialist” alternative to neo-liberal theology. Now they’re on the streets protesting soaring inequality and the impoverishment of millions – including large sections of the middle class. Re-branding has been upstaged by reality – a grim warning for pseudo-progressive governments in the pockets of the global financial oligarchy. A summer of discontent may yet erupt on the streets of London and Paris as people realise they are all victims of GDP.

The Turkish protests are significantly different from the US managed “colour revolutions” of the “Arab Spring”. They go beyond disaffection with the authoritarian style of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This is a revolt against the religious decadence and the political opportunism of the Muslim Brotherhood that Erdogan really represents. The Brotherhood – originally funded and promoted by the Saudis to push an ultra-orthodox theology at variance with the Quran – is a key ally of Western imperialism and has been installed across much of North Africa courtesy of the US.

Brotherhood leaders like Erdogan and Egyptian President Mahommed Morsi have been leading the charge on Syria in tandem with FUKUS, covertly supporting the rebels and Al Qaeda mercenaries (they share the same perverted theology) while calling for regime change. They’re avid supporters of the IMF and equally enthusiastic about inflicting austerity at home – along with their peculiar version of Islamization. There’s serious reason to believe that the Turkish protests will inevitably dislodge Erdogan; foreshadowing the demise of the Brotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia and slamming the door shut on Western intervention in Syria.

Overly optimistic? Perhaps. It’s true most of the punters disagree and are staking their money on Russian roulette in Syria. But would any of them have bet on the Brazilians saying “sod it” to the World Cup?

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