Past Decade in Syria in 5 Minutes
By David Swanson
October 19, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - The accepted
story in the United States of what's happened in Syria is just that,
a story told to make narrative sense of something completely
In Southern Sweden a giant
round rock lies on flat farmland, and the lovely story my ancestors
used to tell to explain how it got there came down to this: a troll
threw it there. As evidence, in a nearby castle, one can
find a horn and a pipe that come into the story. The horn contained
what today would be called chemical weapons, which burned the back
of a horse when the hero of the story was smart enough to dump it
over his shoulder rather than drinking it. Man and horse got away by
riding across the furrows of a field, because everyone knows that
trolls must run back and forth the full length of each furrow, which
slows them down tremendously. The facts all fit. Some fringe
conspiracy theorists may question the very existence of trolls, but
such arguments need not be taken seriously.
A peace activist recently sent this
link to a listserve with a note stating that this video got the
Syria story pretty much right. I had a number of objections:
That the United States got involved in Syria in
2006 is revealed in WikiLeaks. That the Pentagon was intent on
overthrowing the Syrian government in 2001 is revealed by the Donald
Rumsfeld memo shown to Wesley Clark, and by Tony Blair in 2010. So
the story in this video of the U.S. taking an interest -- purely
humanitarian of course -- only in 2013 is highly misleading.
That misdirection also facilitates leaving out of
the story the U.S. brushing aside of a peace process proposed by
Russia in 2012.
The statement, presented in the video as fact,
that Assad used chemical weapons in that attack in 2013 is
outrageous, as that has never been established. What ought to have
been said was that someone used chemical weapons and Obama claimed
falsely to have incontrovertible evidence that it was Assad.
Quoting Obama on a 2013 proposal for a "targeted
military strike" blatantly avoids Seymour Hersh's report on the
massive bombing campaign Obama had planned.
The video's conclusion that because the war is
complicated there is therefore "just no end in sight" is reckless,
as an end could be achieved if some effort were put into it,
beginning with an honest assessment of the facts, and a retelling of
2013 as something other than "the United States backing down."
What would an honest account about the
same length as this video look like? Perhaps like this:
Sad to say, the global policeman of humanitarian
intent is no more real than a troll or a "Khorasan Group."
At least as early as 2001, the United States had
the Syrian government on a list of governments targeted for
In 2003, the United States threw the Middle East
into a whole new sort of turmoil with its invasion of Iraq. It
created sectarian divisions, and fueled and armed and facilitated
the organization of violent groups.
At least as early as 2006, the United States had
people in Syria working for the overthrow of the government.
The U.S. response to the Arab Spring, and the
U.S.-led overthrow of the Libyan government made matters worse. ISIS
was developing long before it burst into the news, its leaders
organizing in U.S. prison camps in Iraq. The region was heavily
armed with weapons from outside the region, primarily from the
United States. Three-quarters of weapons shipped to Middle-Eastern
governments were and are from the U.S. The weapons of the U.S.
military itself and of its allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq,
were intentionally and accidentally supplied to new violent groups.
The Arab Spring in Syria was made violent almost
immediately, with support for violence from one side coming from the
United States and its Gulf dictatorship allies, and from the other
side from Iran and Hezbollah and Russia. The Free Syrian Army became
one player in a civil and proxy and regional war, recruiting
fighters from around the region of "liberated" disaster states. Al
Qaeda became another player, as did the Kurds. The U.S. government,
however, remained focused on overthrowing the Syrian government, and
took no serious steps to halt support for al Qaeda and other groups
from U.S. Gulf allies or Turkey or Jordan (steps such as cutting off
the flow of weapons from the United States, imposing sanctions,
negotiating a cease-fire or arms embargo).
In 2012, Russia proposed a peace-process that
would have included President Bashar al-Assad stepping down, but the
U.S. brushed the idea aside without any serious consideration,
suffering under the delusion that Assad would be violently
overthrown very soon, and preferring a violent solution as more
likely to remove the Russian influence and military -- and perhaps
also due to the general U.S. preference for violence driven by its
weapons industry corruption. Meanwhile the Iraqi government was
bombing its own citizens with weapons rushed to it by the U.S.,
violently fueling the coming ISIS assault. And the U.S. had "ended"
its military occupation of Iraq without ending it.
In 2013, the White House went public with plans to
lob some unspecified number of missiles into Syria, which was in the
midst of a horrible civil war already fueled in part by U.S. arms
and training camps, as well as by wealthy U.S. allies in the region
and fighters emerging from other U.S.-created disasters in the
region. The excuse for the missiles was an alleged killing of
civilians, including children, with chemical weapons -- a crime that
President Barack Obama claimed to have certain proof had been
committed by the Syrian government. He never produced so much as a
horn or a pipe or a pleasant story as evidence.
Seymour Hersh would later reveal that the U.S.
plan had been for a massive bombing campaign. And Robert Parry,
among others, would report on the debunking of White House lies
about the chemical weapons attack. While Syria might have been
guilty, the White House almost certainly did not know that,
and the U.S. public seemed to recognize that even such guilt would
not justify entering the war. A Russian proposal to eliminate
Syria's chemical weapons had already been known to the White House
and been rejected. What compelled Obama to accept diplomacy as the
last resort in 2013 was the public's and Congress's refusal to allow
war. But Obama went right on arming and training fighters in the
Syrian war, and sending more troops back into Iraq.
When ISIS burst onto the scene it openly begged
the United States to attack it, viewing this as a huge recruitment
opportunity. The United States obliged, attacking ISIS from the air
in Iraq and Syria (and getting numerous allies to do so as well), in
addition to continuing its arming and training operations -- now
supposedly aimed at both ISIS and Assad. ISIS thrived, as did
various anti-Asad groups. Turkey joined in by attacking Kurds rather
than ISIS or Assad. Russia joined in by bombing ISIS and
anti-government groups in Syria. This dangerously increased already
high tension between Russia and the United States, as Russia intends
to keep the Syrian government from being overthrown, and the United
States intends to overthrow it -- and to bring in more allies, with
the UK planning a vote on adding their bombs to the mix.
Of course, a ceasefire, an arms embargo, actual
aid and reparations, regional disarmament and diplomacy, and the
departure from the region of foreign powers all remain possible if
David Swanson is an American peace activist,
blogger and author.http://davidswanson.org