May 11, 2013

WASHINGTON DC – The vicious Syrian civil war has put the world’s two biggest nuclear powers on a collision course over a small Levantine nation of no strategic interest to Washington. This cannot be allowed to go on.

News that the US and Russia will hold a Syrian peace conference this month is most welcome and long overdue.

As Benjamin Franklin so wisely noted: “there is no good war, and no bad peace.”

Moscow has been calling for such a conference for two years. But Washington rejected the idea in hope the Syrian rebels it was backing would prevail. However, now that the Syrian war is in stalemate, the US has opted, albeit reluctantly, for a diplomatic effort to end its war before the whole region goes up in flames.

Syria is the latest example of Henry Kissinger’s famous quip, “being a US ally is often more dangerous than being its enemy.”

The Assad government in Damascus was for decades a tacit Western ally that suppressed militant Islamists, kept its border with Israel quiet, and interrogated prisoners for US intelligence services. Damascus even muted claims to its Golan Heights, illegally annexed by Israel after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

But good behavior and cooperation did not help Syria when the US, Britain, France and Israel decided to go after Iran, Syria’s leading ally. When Syria’s President Bashar Assad refused to join the US-led alliance of western powers and conservative Arab states against Iran, his nation’s fate was sealed.

“The road to Tehran runs through Damascus,” went up the cry. Syria was marked for Iraq-style destruction.

In Syria, Washington encouraged growing animosity between Sunni and Shia Muslims which it had found so useful in breaking Sunni resistance in Iraq. Theological differences were turned into bitter political rivalry as Iran also continued inflame the Sunni-Shia dispute across the Muslim world.

What began in Syria as a small, non-violent protest against the Assad regime was met by typical brutal repression and quickly grew into a national rebellion. Recalling the western-engineered uprising that overthrew Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi, the West and its Arab allies quickly armed, financed and directed Syria’s insurgents. As in Libya, the cutting edge of the rebellion were militant Islamists.

France, Syria’s former colonial ruler, played a quiet but important role, supplying the rebels communications gear and anti-tank weapons. France seems intent in reasserting its former colonial influence in West Africa, the Sahel, Lebanon and Syria.

The US stayed in the background, providing finance, advanced equipment and political support, letting ally Turkey do most of the work.

But after two years of vicious fighting, the Syrian civil war appears stalemated. The cautious US President Obama seems reluctant to get US forces involved in a Mideast ground war – and for good reason. The US military is dangerously stretched across the globe and the US Treasury runs on money borrowed from China and Japan. But Obama is under intense political pressure from warlike Republicans, the religious far right, and partisans of Israel to crush Syria, then Iran.

As a result, Obama has been dithering while Syria bleeds and its war threatens to spread to Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. Last week, Israel launched heavy air strikes against Syrian military targets, a clear act of war, killing some 80 Syrian soldiers.

It was unclear if Israel was indeed trying to destroy shipments of long-ranged artillery rockets being sent from Iran to Lebanese ally Hezbollah, as it claimed, or launching a campaign to defeat the Assad government by destroying its air and armored forces.

According to reports, Israel did not give the US prior warning of its air strikes against Syria. Here in Washington, many security officials are now wondering if Israel might drag the US into a war with Iran in a similar fashion.

What is clear: Syria is being ground up and pulverized. Like Iraq, it is being severely punished for a defiant, independent policy and refusing to comply with western plans for the Mideast. Syria is also serving as a whipping boy in the place of Iran – a graphic message to Tehran of what can happen if its nuclear program is not switched off.


copyright Eric S. Margolis 2013

This post is in: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Mideast, Russia, Syria, USA


  1. scissorpaws says:

    Or, rather, a la North Korea do their damnest to acquire a nuke by whatever means necessary.

  2. Every time I read stories like this, I can`t help but wonder, who really runs the White House. And invariably that picture of Obama meekly taking a tongue lashing from Netanyahu, and that in his own House, comes to the fore. There seems to be a sort of cancer growing its tumors all over the American body.
    When I read the different opinions of the general American public, I seem to get the feeling, that what is happening in the political theater is not of their choosing. But supposedly being a democratic society, it is fair to assume, that their government follows the will of the majority, but opinion polls do not seem to bear that out.
    That famous Kissinger quip, “being a US ally is often more dangerous than being its enemy” is once again proven to be very true. Ask Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi among others. After the lies, that destroyed the most secular country in the ME, why would anybody believe the Americans anymore?
    When a country tries to cooperate with the US, they get a Judas kiss and many still fall for it, thinking it to be an expression of friendship.
    Does America still need the Iranian oil so bad, that they are willing to risk a nuclear war, or is the motive more sinister?
    Russia is indeed a big nuclear power, but by no means the only one America has to worry about, because both Russia and China have an ideological kinship. And for the survival of their ideology they have to be each other`s ally. On top of that, America cannot count on any support from an Islamic country, because they have alienated both sides of the Islamic divide to serve their own purpose.
    “But good behavior and cooperation did not help Syria when the US, Britain, France and Israel decided to go after Iran, Syria’s leading ally” Eric writes. When I asked myself the question, what is the common denominator from these countries, I could find several, but one stood out the most and that one is scary. Apply it to the facts of history, not the fictitious version of the victors, who write the official history books, but the one that is told by the victims.
    Funny, how religion still can sway the masses to such a great extent, that they are willing to unquestioningly sacrifice their one and only life regardless which religion it is, Islam, Christianity or Judaism.
    The symbiotic relationship between politics and religion gives each their strength and powerbase. Without this bond, the world would have a fair chance at peace.
    How can these three Abrahamic religions claim to serve God, while they are willing to commit the most heinous crimes in their god`s name?
    Is it not remarkable, that Israel can take unilateral decisions and yet the US is bound by some kind of treaty to come to their aid? The American people strike me as an honest and proud people, but when it comes to matters of Israeli interest, they suddenly become very subservient, which begs the question, what is it, what appears to be a stranglehold?
    Whose interests in the ME are most at risk, if another country there was to acquire a nuclear weapon? Let`s hope, that sanity will return to the west, because this megalomania is a dangerous kind of insanity.

  3. Mike Smith says:

    Once again the US sticks its nose in … then everyone else does the bleeding

    Why are Americans confused as to why people want harm to come to them ?

    I know the average flag waving idiot believes everything their government tells them too, but that is no excuse.
    Same with Israel

  4. I remember Mr. Margolis pointing out several months ago,that after his trip to the Middle East,his greatest fears were that that this is a powderkeg waiting to explode.As far as the Rebels in Syria fighting the Assad regime,I firmly believe that this was also western engineered (to use Mr. Margolis’ term)…and not what the world is being told.

    As an example China no longer is the “bad” communist nation it was back in the days of Mao Tse Tung.China has given the citizens a new freedom to speak out as long as nothing is written in the state controlled media.Many Chinese are enjoying a far better life now while being able to afford their own homes,cars etc.This is exactly what I envision for the people of Syria….not a suppressed population.When this ugly civil war started 2 years ago,rest assured there was western meddling and perhaps Israel also involved, to begin this process of ousting Assad.Which brings another good question.The Assad regime was warned by the west that any use of chemical weapons against these “rebels” would result in consequences.Not sure what is meant here.Anyways it was reported that chemical weapons were,in fact,used and initially the Assad regime was blamed for this criminal act.Now even the UN is uncertain whether it was actually was Assad…OR the rebels who used them.The situation is just about as clear as a murky body of water.Throw in the fact that Netanyahu wanted to make amends with Turkey over that horrific incident where supply ships bound for Gaza were attacked by Israel and resulted in the deaths of people on this supply ship that had no weapons on board to be tranferred to Hamas…these were just allegations to justify this criminal act.

    The common denominator here is Iran,which has never invaded any country in hundreds of years.They are no threat to Israel in any way,who (Israel) wants complete domination in the ME.Whether Iran builds nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes or whether they are building the bomb as a deterrent for Israel to leave them alone,in their business.Too many other countries possess nuclear weapons….so why should Iran be excluded.If they had the bomb,Iran would never use it as a first strike against Israel.They are NOT suicidal.Meanwhile Syria continues to burn while the west fiddles.Obama must resist pressure from the powerful Jewish lobby to use military force against Syria.I totally agree with Mr. Margolis that dialogue is the only way.It is clear that Israel is determined to destroy Iran through it’s ally…Syria.The puzzle has now been completed and any military action will result in more needless deaths against not only Syrians,but Israelis as well who are feeling the heat and war mongering by PM Netanyahu.This is why during the last elections,the Likud party lost a lot of seats….but evidently not enough.There is no question that Israelis want to live in peace alongside it’s neighbours,but as long as Netanyahu and his Likud party remain in power,that danger of more war increases on a weekly…if not daily basis.

    Meanwhile back in the US,so many people are jobless,homeless and there is talk about more war.Monopoly money is not accepted as legal tender as Republicans need to take off their rose colored glasses.It is not easy being the President of the United States…or safe for that matter.Obama wisely remembers what has happened to previous presidents.

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