Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Unlearned Lessons of Iraq and Libya

From Chronicles:
Two weeks of atrocity management over Aleppo indicate that the Deep State is still intent on intervening in Syria. Most Americans don’t want another Middle Eastern war, but if Hillary Clinton wins on November 8 it is looks increasingly likely that they will get it.

Writing at Consortiumnews.com on October 5, Robert Parry warned that official Washington’s political/punditry class has developed a new “group think” on Syria that is even more dangerous than the one preceding the Iraq war. Like the “frenzied war fever of 2002-2003,” this new consensus is based on “a mix of selective, dubious and false information,” while excluding from the public forum all discordant voices:

Most notably, there are two key facts about Syria that Americans are not being told: one, U.S. regional “allies” have been funding and arming radical jihadist groups, including Al Qaeda terrorists, there almost since the conflict began in 2011 and, two, the claim about “moderate” Syrian rebels is a fraud; the “moderates” have served essentially as a P.R. cut-out for the U.S. and its “allies” to supply Al Qaeda and its allies with sophisticated weapons while pretending not to. . . . The neocons and their liberal-hawk sidekicks only talk about stopping the “barbarism” of the Syrian government and its Russian allies as they try to finally wipe out Al Qaeda’s jihadists and their “moderate” allies holed up in eastern Aleppo.

Perry notes that these calls for a U.S. military action against the Syrian government—and implicitly the Russians—are coming from some of the most enthusiastic advocates of the war in Iraq, such as Sen. John McCain, Washington Post chief editorialist Fred Hiatt, and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. He did not name some other influential names urging intervention, such as ex-CIA director and former U.S. Cenral Command chief David Petraeus, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and Ashton Carter’s likely successor at the Pentagon if Hillary Clinton wins, Michele Flournoy.

Specific options are actively under consideration. According to a Reuters report of September 29, discussions were being held at “staff level,” and “include allowing Gulf allies to supply rebels with more sophisticated weaponry, something considered more likely despite Washington’s opposition to this until now. Another is a U.S. air strike on an Assad air base, viewed as less likely because of the potential for causing Russian casualties . . . ”

As for the first option, the unresolved problem is that in today’s Syria there are no “vetted moderates” to whom such “more sophisticated weaponry” (presumably including man-portable ground-to-air missiles, MANPADS) can be safely delivered. On the same day the Wall Street Journal warned that some of Syria’s major rebel factions were “doubling down on their alliance with an al Qaeda-linked group, despite a U.S. warning to split from the extremists or risk being targeted in airstrikes.”

A predictable interventionist ploy is to try to present various non-ISIS jihadists and Salafi fanatics as “moderates.” In reality, as the BBC reported last week, the recent US-Russian cessation of hostilities deal—which was meant to lead to joint Russian-US air strikes on the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda’s Syrian subsidiary Jabhat Fateh al-Sham [aka al-Nusra Front]—collapsed because “many of the more moderate rebel groups that the US backs have formed a strategic alliance with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and now fight alongside it.” State Department spokesman Mark Toner admitted that the U.S. had not targeted al-Nusra “for months” because they had become “intermingled” with other groups and civilians, but he claimed that “these moderate opposition forces are under increasing pressure from the regime, that they are driven into the arms [of al-Nusra], and they have to fight side by side.” (Read more.)

No comments: