Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Nations Consider Military Intervention in Syria

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Recent civilian killings at the hands of the Syrian government are prompting some to call for military intervention in the country. According to the Christian Science Monitor:

At least 108 people, a third of them children, died in a weekend massacre in Houla [Syria] in one of the worst violations of the six-week-old ceasefire ...

The Syrian government insists that it is not responsible for the mass killings, which it blames on "terrorists." The spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, said ... most of the victims had been "executed" with knives and gunfire.

Crying humanitarianism, the powers that be are pointing to these most recent killings as a provocation for military intervention. General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has stated that these recent deaths of over 100 Syrians — including 49 children and 34 women — may be enough to trigger involvement of U.S. troops.

The UN Security Council called an emergency meeting on Sunday, at which the members voted unanimously to condemn the killings and to pin the blame for them on Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime. The Security Council claimed the attacks “involved a series of government artillery and tank shellings on a residential neighborhood." It added, “Such outrageous use of force against civilian population constitutes a violation of applicable international law. Those responsible for acts of violence must be held accountable.”

According to Fox News, the international community has “scrambled to respond to the violence over the weekend, with the recognition that an international peace plan has failed to stem the fighting.”

When asked whether military options were being considered, Gen. Dempsey answered, “Of course — there is always a military option.” He did add that some military leaders remained cautious about using such an option: "You'll always find military leaders to be somewhat cautious about the use of force, because we're never entirely sure what comes out on the other side," he said. "But that said, it may come to a point with Syria because of the atrocities."

Dempsey was also asked whether military forces would treat Syria as they did Libya, where the U.S. military teamed up with the rebels.

“I'm sure there are some things that we did in Libya that could be applicable in a Syria environment or Syria scenario. But I'm very cautious about templates," he replied.

In immediate response to the killings, the United States has reportedly expelled Syria’s top envoy in Washington, Zuheir Jabbour. He has been given 72 hours to leave the country, said State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

"We hold the Syrian government responsible for this slaughter of innocent lives," said Nuland. "This massacre is the most unambiguous indictment to date of the Syrian government's flagrant violations of its U.N. Security Council obligations."

Australia took similar action, expelling Syrian Charge d’Affaires Jawdat Ali, and another diplomat from the Syrian embassy. Germany has also asked its Syrian ambassador to leave the country. France plans to follow suit.

Senator John McCain was outraged by the news of what took place in Syria and has called for greater international intervention.

Calling Obama’s policies in Syria “feckless,” McCain said, “This is a shameful episode in American history.”

"And it's really an abdication of everything that America stands for and believes in. And on Memorial Day, we should be especially moved by this incredible inaction and failure to assert American leadership," he said

It seems as though we are back in March all over again, when Senator John McCain wrote an article for USA Today outlining various reasons for why the United States should intervene in Syria, particularly humanitarian.

In March, McCain also addressed the atrocities believed to have been committed by Assad and his forces, and attempted to call U.S. military intervention a humanitarian effort: “Though Assad tries to portray the opposition as terrorists, this is false. They are ordinary Syrians who want a better life. They share many of our values and interests, and they want our help. We should offer them military and humanitarian assistance.”

Nevermind that the United States Constitution does not include provisions for pre-emptive war or invasions of other nations, especially when it is neither declared by Congress nor in the direct interest of America’s national defense.

And it is an unfortunate reality that “humanitarian aid” announced by our State Department almost always means military intervention. Take, for example, the Kony 2012 film sensation that rose to notoriety and then took a nose dive after it became clear that it was just another ploy for militarism and an opportunity for resource hogs like George Soros to get richer.

Likewise, GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney asserts that the United States should arm opposition groups, and has accused President Obama of being weak.

''After nearly a year and a half of slaughter, it is far past time for the United States to begin to lead and put an end to the Assad regime. President Obama can no longer ignore calls from congressional leaders in both parties to take more assertive steps,'' Mr Romney said.

''The United States should work with partners to organise and arm Syrian opposition groups so they can defend themselves. The bloodshed in Houla makes clear that our goal must be a new Syrian government.''

The problem with arming the rebels, however, is that the United States never really knows who the rebels are or what outside forces control them. Some may be dissidents who are truly frustrated with living under tyranny and wish to see a major regime transformation. But others may be professional terrorists or revolutionaries working to bring about another type of tyranny. Just take a look at Egypt. The so-called “democratic revolution” was simply a regime change that took the Egyptian people from one type of tyranny to a Muslim Brotherhood tyranny.

Thus far, President Obama has avoided public discussion of military action in Syria.

But reports have indicated that the United States has already been involved in warfare in Syria, covertly.

According to documents WikiLeaks has recently released, an insidious war on the Mideast nation may already have begun, as the Pentagon is planning to direct terrorist attacks and assassinations inside Syria in order to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

Bhalla learned that despite official assertions by the U.S. government, there were already NATO powers on the ground in Syria. The e-mail states:

After a couple hours of talking, they said without saying that SOF [Special Operations Forces] teams (presumably from the U.S., UK, France, Jordan, Turkey) are already on the ground focused on recce [reconnaissance] missions and training opposition forces.

[The mission's purpose is to] commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within.

According to Bhalla’s e-mail, the goal was to “prepare contingencies and be ready to act within 2-3 months.”

Meanwhile, the American people have voiced sympathies for Syria. In a February poll conducted by Fox News, 82 percent of Americans answered that they wished to see humanitarian aid provided to Syria, but the majority polled also answered that they did not want the United States to take military action.

But American foreign policy has made it virtually impossible to separate the two. Humanitarian aid = military intervention. And no matter the cause, or the side the United States takes in a conflict, it inevitably backfires, leading to the type of blowback that has resulted in anti-American terrorism, or catastrophe for the nation we are supposed to be aiding. Operation Restore Hope in Somalia is a prime example of the latter. Touted as an effort to end famine in Somalia, the endeavor quickly grow to a large military operation, resulting in the deaths of American and Pakistani soldiers, as well as thousands of civilians. And accusations of abuse at the hands of peacekeepers lead some to believe that they may have been doing more damage than good in their “humanitarian” mission.

Fortunately, there are now obstacles to military action in Syria, most notably Russia, which also serves on the UN Security Council. What happens next is impossible to predict.

Photo: In this photo provided by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, meets with Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, in Damascus: AP Images