Sept. 10 — It happened just as President Barack Obama was gearing up to argue in a nationally televised speech that the U.S. should carry out missile strikes against Syria, supposedly in order to prevent its future use of chemical weapons. Now Obama has been forced to postpone the vote in Congress, a vote he most likely would have lost.
Russian President Vladimir Putin put forward a general proposal, agreed to by Damascus, for Syria to turn its chemical weapons over to international control, where they will be destroyed.
Many are hoping that this proposal will put the skids under the U.S. war drive against Syria. But that would be a fatal error and a complete misunderstanding of Washington, the Pentagon, the oil companies and the military-industrial complex, which are behind the drive to overthrow the independent, sovereign government of Syria.
The Syrian government is fighting for its life against reactionary insurgencies sponsored by the U.S. and Turkey, on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar, on the other. All the while the CIA is in Jordan training mercenaries to fight the government in Damascus.
Whatever comes of the present maneuver, one thing is certain. Washington has not given up its goal of “regime change,” first stated by Obama in 2011 when he said that “Assad must go.” Nowhere in any statements has that goal been retracted.
Perhaps the Russian proposal and Syria’s acceptance can slow down Washington. Or it can expose the hypocrisy of U.S. claims to oppose weapons of mass destruction while planning to bring death and destruction to Syria under a storm of cruise missiles. Washington is by far the greatest purveyor of weapons of mass destruction in the world today.
But moving the debate into the U.N. Security Council carries dangers for oppressed countries, because this body is dominated by the imperialist powers.
Only time will tell if the Russian proposal slows the tempo of U.S. aggression. Hopefully, it will give some respite to the Syrian people.
But only mass mobilization at home and around the world will stay the hand of the Pentagon in the long run. The hawks see Syria as a stepping stone to attack Iran and Hezbollah, and to drive the Russians from their naval base in Syria. It is meant to break up an alliance of the forces of resistance in order to establish complete U.S. domination of the oil-rich Middle East and pull Syria firmly back into the orbit of imperialism.
Pols, diplomats hurry to undermine Russian proposal
The forces of aggression in the imperialist camp are scurrying to find a way around the Russian proposal, to counter its obvious appeal and the cooperative spirit of the Syrian government.
Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halki stated that his government would go along with the idea, “to save Syrian lives.” Foreign Minister Wali al-Muallem said that Syria agreed and was willing to become a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
This basic proposal to take away Washington’s pretext for war sent the hawkish capitalist politicians and imperialist diplomats scurrying to find a way to keep the missile strikes on the agenda.
Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, mouthpieces for the Pentagon, and Sen. Charles Schumer quickly put together a “gang of eight” committee of senators to redraft the war resolution so it would demand that strikes take place if the weapons are not destroyed by an early deadline, and also if the U.N. Security Council fails to pass a resolution condemning Syria for carrying out chemical attacks on its own people.
President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and the Syrian government have denied this from the beginning. The U.S. has not produced any credible proof. Assad went on the Charlie Rose Show on Sept. 9, where he categorically denied carrying out such attacks.
Thus McCain, Graham, Schumer and Co. want to make implementing the Russian proposal conditional on the Security Council calling Assad a liar — a condition that the Russians have already said is unacceptable.
The imperialist government of France, the former colonial power over Syria, is submitting a proposal to the Security Council threatening Syria with war if the weapons are not destroyed completely and immediately. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced the French proposal as “unacceptable.”
Putin demands U.S. rule out ‘use of force’
While the war makers in Washington have intensified their efforts to approve the strikes, Putin was quoted in the Sept. 10 New York Times as saying on television: “Undoubtedly, all of this makes sense and can function, can work, only if we hear that the American side and those who support the United States in this sense rule out the use of force, because it is difficult to make any country — Syria or any other country, any other government in the world — unilaterally disarm if the use of force is being prepared against it.”
Secretary of State John Kerry, who first floated the idea of removing the weapons, is now trying to pretend he didn’t mean it. He is busy covering his tracks with belligerent statements demanding quick action by Syria and declaring that “the use of force absolutely should not be off the table.”
Never before has an attempt to stir up war fever among the people at home fallen as flat as Washington’s current attempt to drum up support for cruise missile strikes. The hawkish Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 10 that a Journal/NBC poll found that support for the strikes dropped from 44 percent last week to 33 percent this week.
The anti-war movement should take this as a signal to broaden its appeal to the masses, who are disgusted by 12 years of war and five years of relentless economic crisis. Not only should there be no pause in the struggle against an imperialist attack on Syria, but that struggle should be accelerated, broadened and escalated.