The United States government took a major step toward direct military intervention against Syria with a White House letter to Congress on April 25 stating that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons. President Obama stated earlier that such a determination would mean U.S. military action.
Anti-war activists in the U.S. and around the world, however, recall only too well the fraudulent stories of “weapons of mass destruction” that President George W. Bush and his staff saturated the media with prior to the U.S. aggression against Iraq in 2003.
For months, the British and French governments have raised similar charges that Syria has used chemical weapons. Weeks ago the Israeli military announced that they believed the charges were true. These stories were often accompanied by qualifications, however, such as lack of information as to which side might have actually released the alleged chemicals.
Even the lead New York Times story on April 26, which trumpeted, “White House says Syria has used chemical weapons,” cautioned — in small print — that it “had not been definitely connected to [Syrian President] Assad.”
These charges are meant to grab headlines and prepare public opinion to get behind another war. The way the stories are rolled out also suggests that Obama wants to appear reluctant as he is “pushed” into military action.
In fact, the U.S. ruling class is determined to destroy each regime in the world that does not do its every bidding. The propaganda campaign aims to get the public to go along with, if not actually support, another open imperialist military intervention and perhaps an invasion.
The Syrian armed forces’ recent military gains have further shown that the U.S. imperialist goals are not being met by their proxy “rebel” forces. With massive arms shipments, military training, communications gear and political support, the rebels are still hard-pressed to make gains.
At the important rebel logistical supply point of Otaiba, east of Damascus, it has been reported that anti-government forces were driven out. (New York Times, April 26) In Qusayr, near the Lebanese border, heavy fighting, which threatens to spill over into Lebanon, has continued. The rebel fundamentalist Nusra Front threatened to “transfer the battle of blood to the heart of Lebanon” and attack Hezbollah in the Bekaa Valley. (New York Times, April 22)
Syria’s information minister, Omran al-Zoubi, charged that “the American hysteria about the use of chemical weapons was caused by the success of the Syrian Arab Army in striking terrorists [rebels]” in victories by government troops in the last weeks. (AP, April 27)
‘Rebels’ or terrorists?
Washington faces many difficulties in escalating the war against Syria. The CIA, working in Jordan and Turkey, continues arming rebel groups. Supplying more and bigger weapons would require positioning more U.S. military personnel for training on the ground. The U.S. ruling class is also concerned that these weapons are arming rebel groups hostile to the West and/or Israel as well as to the Assad government. An April 27 report in the New York Times concludes that “nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.”
The imperialists also threaten to create a no-fly zone over Syria. The war against Libya showed that a “no-fly zone” really means a massive bombing of the entire infrastructure of a country. But Syria has a much larger air force and air defense system than Libya did.
At the same time, the U.S.’s European allies in NATO have cut far back on military spending. The U.S. is currently financing 75 percent of NATO costs, while the European powers have slashed tens of billions of dollars in military budgets to try to deal with the deep and continuing capitalist economic crisis. This would leave the U.S. with the biggest military and financial burden.
Another obstacle to an air war against Syria is the unknown response of Syria’s allies, Russia and Iran.
Washington also faces difficulties in holding its client regimes together. Secretary of State John Kerry publicly advised Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to cancel his announced trip to the Palestinian territory of Gaza. Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc answered on television, “Only our government decides where and when our prime minister … would go.” He charged that Kerry was “diplomatically objectionable, wrong and incorrect.” (New York Times, April 23)
U.S. further threatens Iran
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was also in the region putting final touches on a $10 billion arms sale to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This deal further threatens Iran, another U.S. target for regime change.
Israel is publicly threatening a unilateral air assault on Iran over unproven charges that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. The U.S. government finances Israel with over $3 billion a year in military aid, but publicly distances itself from these threats against Iran. At the same time, Washington provides the Zionist state with the hardware needed to carry out such an attack.
Of course, the corporate media rarely mention that Israel possesses a nuclear-weapon stockpile, nor do they criticize Israel for the possession and use of chemical weapons. On April 26, bbc.com reported that Israel is “to stop using white phosphorus shells,” for which they were denounced worldwide during the bombing of Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza since.
Despite these many complications, evidence points to another imperialist military adventure, this time against Syria.