Myth one. Obama is in a Corner.
Among the most repeated and least true statements as regards the US position toward the Syrian war is the idea that in some way US President Barack Obama has painted himself into a corner with the stroke of a red brush. This notion flies in the face of the real behavior of the US administration in relationship to the war in Syria.
It provides convenient cover for the equally false idea that the coming engagement of US military forces in Syria is intended to be “limited,” short term, or in any other way partial. It ignores the obvious fact that US intervention had already begun however haltingly with the decision to arm the relatively ineffective Free Syrian Army as well the fact of the much more effective intervention of the Gulf State monarchies in supplying Islamist fighters with weapons the original source of which is in most cases the US and European powers, and it seems to ignore the obvious geopolitical reality of the long and desperate struggle of the US ruling class to reassert its imperial interests in the face of a series of more and less dramatic defeats and setbacks suffered in the region over the past 4 decades. I will detail these in my third section of this series.
Whatever one’s opinion of the US president may be, it is not possible that after six years in his position that he remains so naive as to think that the consequences of a military strike on a close ally of the two most significant challengers to US imperial power in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region can be managed with controlled consequences or that once entered there will be a way out of the Syrian Civil /global proxy war short of some or another decisive conclusion. The question for US and its imperial allies in Syria has always been not whether but rather how to intervene. Once the spontaneous opening of mass protests opened in Syria following the overthrow of reactionary regimes in Egypt and Tunisia the focus of the the US ruling class has been how to seize the opportunity, block the rise of a politically independent mass democratic popular movement and make the attempt to shift the balance of power in favor of their interests and against those of their rivals. That President Obama’s moves in this direction have been marked by patience, and deliberation ought not to be confused with hesitancy on the part of a man who has overseen many dozens of assassinations by drone aircraft, the NSA Prism spy program and the calculated cold blooded assassination of the reactionary anarchist arch terrorist Bin-Laden. It should be considered that in many ways time has been on the side of US imperial interests in Syria. Time has allowed the Assad regime to weaken and lose credibility. Time has allowed the development of a humanitarian crisis which may in the eyes of the liberal-pro-imperialist “humantarian-interventionist” camp justify military action by means of the “somebody do-something” or its cousin the “we can’t just do nothing” (even is the something is bombing this week’s enemy back to the stone age and further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis) argument. Time has allowed rivals Russia and Iran to show their hand in the game and Hezbollah fighters to enter the theater of war thus making them fair game for US missile and fixed wing air-borne attack, as well as allowing them and jihadi forces to weaken each other in the field of battle before the inevitable arrival of the American “advisers” and other military personal who will inevitably be “on the ground” but, I suppose, if we are to believe the US president, will wear athletic or casual footwear, sandals, or, in any case, something other than than “boots.”
What we are witnessing is the careful manipulation of a skilled and now experienced executive of the US imperial ruling class as he rally’s and draws both conflict ridden wings of the two US bourgeois parties behind the executive branch and moves ambivalent middle class public opinion behind what promises to be the first dramatic and devastating strike in a protracted intervention in an expanding regional war.
2 AND 3 TO COME.