Sept. 16 — While U.S. warships continued to sail in the Eastern Mediterranean to keep the Syrian people under threat, Russian-U.S. negotiations resulted in an agreement on Sept. 14 that the Syrian government, acting under United Nations supervision, would destroy whatever chemical weapons it possesses.
Secretary of State John Kerry, whose role seems to be that of “hard cop” in this crisis, has continued to threaten Syria with military action. Kerry insists that Syria must list all its chemical weapons within two weeks and destroy them all by mid-2014 — unreasonable demands — or else “there will be consequences.” (New York Times, Sept. 16)
Commentary in the corporate U.S. media and among U.S. politicians was mainly focused on evaluating how the negotiations affected the strategic interests of U.S. imperialism, with varied analyses.
Most U.S. commentaries attacked Russian President Vladimir Putin for taking a leading role in the negotiations. Some praised President Barack Obama for cleverly finessing a difficult situation and succeeding in disarming Syria. Others attacked him for weakly submitting to Putin and “betraying” the opposition forces in Syria.
After a meeting with Kerry, Israeli Premier Benyamin Netanyahu spoke positively about the accord.
These commentaries have nothing to do with the interests of the working class in the U.S. or worldwide. They only involve evaluating the interests and tactics of U.S. imperialism and its clients in the Middle East.
No U.S. worker, employed or unemployed, no oppressed person and only a very few rich people in the U.S. have anything to gain from U.S. involvement in a war with Syria. A war would be a loss to the great bulk of the population who want jobs, higher pay, better schools and health care and do not want any part in another slaughter.
Since, as Kerry has said, the attack is “still on the table,” the U.S. working class must continue to mobilize against such an attack in order to defend its interests as well as to show solidarity with the Syrian people.
According to the U.S.-Russian agreement, Syria must provide a “comprehensive listing” of all its chemical weapons within a week. That includes storage, production and research sites. The agreement also requires “immediate and unfettered” access to these sites by international inspectors.
Inspections are to be completed by November, as is the destruction of equipment for mixing and filling munitions with chemical agents. All chemical weapons are to be eliminated by mid-2014.
This timetable is unrealistic. More than 15 years after the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention went into effect, neither Russia nor the U.S. has eliminated all their weapons. The U.S. still has almost six times the chemical weapons Syria is supposed to have.
President Obama pulled back on Sept. 10 from his attempt to win support in Congress for the war when it became apparent the attempt would likely fail. For the first time at least in recent history, not only was the U.S. population solidly against the war, so was a majority of Congress.
So, too, were most U.S. troops. A “Military Times survey of more than 750 active-duty troops this week found service members oppose military action in Syria by a margin of about three-to-one.” (Navy Times, Sept. 12)
With as little support among its usual allies as among the U.S. population, Putin’s willingness to negotiate provided Obama a way out of the corner his “red line in the sand” had put him in. Only French imperialism was ready to join the military effort to win a foothold in its former colonial possession, and even the British Parliament voted against the war.
At the same time, the Syrian government said it was pleased that the vicious U.S. attack was at least postponed. The Russian government, which had also put naval vessels in the region, was obviously pleased to have arranged the agreement.
In an attempt to bolster the anti-Assad opposition, the U.S. openly delivered new weapons to the “rebels” after negotiations with Russia began. The fighting in Syria, which has taken about 110,000 lives, including some 45,000 government troops and militia fighters, will continue.
The U.S. and other NATO countries, including Turkey, as well as the Saudi Arabian and Gulf monarchies, will continue to feed weapons to the “rebels” who kill Syrians, as they have for the last two-and-a-half years.
U.N. inspectors say they found sarin
On Sept. 16, the U.N. special investigators released their report on Syria, saying that the nerve gas sarin was used on Aug. 21, based on lab reports on victims’ blood. The U.N. had no comment on which side actually employed the sarin.
The Russian and Syrian governments both accuse elements among the opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of using the chemical weapons. They and many other observers say it would have been stupid and suicidal for the government to use such weapons when U.N. inspectors had just entered Damascus.
Despite the lack of evidence proving Syrian government crimes, U.S. officials and the corporate media repeat ad nauseam that “Assad used chemical weapons against his own people.” Nearly everyone in the U.S. commenting on the Syrian crisis also repeats this unproved “Big Lie.” They also repeat the U.S. administration’s charge that 1,400 people died on Aug. 21. Other British and French reports say that about 350 to 500 people died, a big discrepancy that also discredits the U.S. claim.
While the agreement has postponed drastic military action, it has neither removed the U.S. threat nor eliminated U.S. imperialism’s drive to find a more effective pretext for opening a new war.