No. 129

Syrian disaster vindicates Coalition of the Willing’s invasion of Iraq

STONE the crows! What would the world do without the UN?

Have a chance of stopping the slaughter in Syria, for a start.

If there was ever a vindication for the US and its allies ignoring the UN and invading Iraq the current crisis in Syria is it.

Former UN general secretary Kofi Annan’s resignation announcement on Friday makes the point. “When the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger pointing and name calling in the Security Council.” [i]

The UN is powerless at peacemaking because Russia and China veto any UN actions to force the Assad Government out, or at least to talk to its opponents.

The Crows have no idea whether Assad’s opponents would be an improvement on his corrupt clan or more or less of a threat to Middle East peace.

Certainly it seems there is a religious element to the war, with Assad’s Allawite sect disliked by Sunni Muslims.[ii] But there are secular reasons for Syrians to want the Assads and associates gone, not least for the way they have controlled the country as a kleptocracy for 40 years. [iii]

But whatever the cause of the conflict and the nature of a successor regime, AFP reports 20,000 Syrians are dead in the 17 months since the fighting started, with fatalities now running at 3000 a month.[iv][v] Civilian casualties can only increase as the government uses artillery and airpower in built up areas. [vi]

It is surely up to the UN to put pressure on Assad to stop shooting Syrians.

That it doesn’t is down to Russia and China in the short term.

As one commentator told the BBC, “Sovereignty, to the Russian leadership, means an unlimited licence for governments to do as they please within their national borders.”[vii]

And the Chinese Communist Party does not like the idea of anybody encouraging outsiders to defy unelected governments. Beijing worries the West is using Syria as an example to undermine the CCP’s authority at home. [viii]

So both nations use their Security Council veto to stop the UN (which, when it comes to the heavy military lifting, means the US) intervening in any way. [ix]

But the Europeans are also responsible for the refusal of the US to go outside the UN and increase the pressure on the regime. Not that the EU is speaking up for Assad; in fact it has long-imposed sanctions on his kleptocratic clan.

However, in the way the Europeans, especially the French, worked hard to stop the UN supporting the United States in the war to remove Saddam Hussein they did every terror-state a favour.

For as long as American presidents remember the way George W Bush was smeared for removing Saddam Hussein, an act which catalysed revolts against tyrants throughout the Middle East and Maghreb, the US will not go to war, or even lean heavily on dictators.

The disaster in Syria “might have been mitigated if the U.S. had worked from the start with Turkey, Europe, the Saudis and the Gulf states to assist, arm and organise the opposition,” the Wall Street Journal editorialises. [x]

As if President Obama will risk being denounced at the UN, and in city streets in the US, Europe, and Australia, as an imperialist.

We saw the maximum military support the oppressed of the world can expect from the Americans in Libya last year. While the USAF provided behind the scenes support and flew some combat missions, it was the British and, to the great credit of Nicolas Sarkozy, (a rare French leader not afraid of a fight) the French, who provided the air cover the Libyan revolutionaries needed to defeat Gadaffi last year. [xi]

And that is about as far as President Obama, or come to that a Romney White House will go. And with the socialists back in power in France probably nowhere near it in Syria.

The UN signal to peoples who yearn for democracy and the rule of law, or just want to be rid of government by thieves and thugs is clear – you are on your own.

The people who marched in Australian streets to denounce George Bush a decade back got what they were demanding – a US that does not intervene to protect the powerless from dictators.

The world is the worse for their win.

ENDNOTES


[i] ABC TV, Lateline, “Annan quits ‘impossible’ peace mission,” August 3, @ www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2012/s3560582.htm recovered on August 5

[ii] “Jangling sectarian nerves,” The Economist, January 7

[iii] Frank Gardner and James Longman, “Syria: hunting for President Assad’s assets,” BBC, July 19 www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18901624 recovered on August 5

[iv] AFP, “Last month deadliest in Syria since revolt,” August 4, @ www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h9Fn3QeI27q7Oo8sibt8ZN402QyA?docId=CNG.3a08c6899195c45e01f258f28bb7edc1.61 recovered on August 5

[v] AFP, “Aleppo under renewed government siege,” The Australian August 5

[vi] CNN, “Opposition: Syrian forces deploy heavy weapons as battle for Aleppo intensifies” @ http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/05/world/meast/syria-unrest/ August 5, recovered on August 5

[vii] BBC News, “Why Russia is standing by Syria’s Assad,” June 15 @ www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18462813 recovered on August 5

[viii] Evan Osnos, “Why China will back Assad – until it won’t,” The New Yorker, July 20

[ix] Rick Gladstone, “Russia and China veto UN sanctions against Syria,” New York Times, July 19

[x] “Obama’s Syrian education: Now that the UN has ‘failed utterly’ will the President act?” Wall Street Journal, July 22

[xi] US Department of Defense, “US continues support of NATO operations in Libya,” April 19 2011 @ www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=63612 recovered on August 5

'2012