Rawlinsview September 8, 2013–New York
Doubtless I seem as the swordsman lancing a scarecrow setting up for my third myth the one that is least believed.
Lest their remain the opinion that no-one of any experience or authority, beyond the President of the United States, the US secretary of state, and the arched-browed earnest US ambassador to the United Nations, has faith in this fairy tale, please consider this second opinion article on the plan from a war experienced and world traveled liberal New York Times correspondent.
So while neither intervention nor paralysis is appealing, that’s pretty much the menu. That’s why I favor a limited cruise missile strike against Syrian military targets (as well as the arming of moderate rebels). As I see it, there are several benefits: Such a strike may well deter Syria’s army from using chemical weapons again, probably can degrade the ability of the army to use chemical munitions and bomb civilian areas, can reinforce the global norm against chemical weapons, and — a more remote prospect — may slightly increase the pressure on the Assad regime to work out a peace deal.
Leaving aside for the moment the linguistically and conceptually oxy-moronic concept of the phantasmagorical “Moderate Rebel” my article takes as its task to tackle the hobbled idea of the “limited strike.” More broadly, and so as not to make it too easy– my enemy is nearly emptied of straw before the fight begins–I wish to discuss the consequences of what is to come for the anti-war opposition and for our class who has no interest in the approaching destruction.
Fast Forward accepting the following assumptions.
The first is that the “limited strike” is not a strategic orientation, and that it never was one. From the first (see Pin the Tail on World War III) I have argued that the actions of the Obama administration are born not of an attempt to evade involvement in Syria but rather come from a commitment to find a way in to the war.
A consideration of the alignment of geopolitical forces in Syria must give any sane person pause for thought. Indeed the slowness and initial caution which has characterized Washington’s approach toward the situation in Syria is telling. That same deliberation and the circumstances which have brought about the current move toward action on the part of the US rulers must indicate the degree to which their drive toward intervention in Syria is not likely to be half-hearted or otherwise partial. Rawlinsview June 16, 2013
That the way in has seemed at least on the surface to be rather amateurish at the level of performance, as has been so much the focus of various bourgeois commentators, is beside the point for our purposes. What we are witnessing is a deliberate, if ungraceful, effort. There are variations on what is possible, but they all scope in a narrow band. After much hand wringing and puffery Obama will win his mandate to attack Syria by some slim margin gerrymandered along lines having more to do with who has what to lose and gain in Congress, whose seats are likely to be contested, and who owes whom what favor.
A congressional majority of some sort will support “our” president and troops. Some number of missiles will land in and about Damascus, supporters of Assad will decry the inevitable collateral damage and the attack will be avenged in some way or another. Assad will fight back. Of course he will. Perhaps, once it seems to him inevitable that his fate is sealed, he will attempt some sort of preemptive strike at US Naval Power or at the the forces allied with the US such as Turkey or Israel. In any case, because this is what happens when one country bombs another, the war will escalate and the puffery in congress and on the part of the state department will escalate with it. An American airman or sailor or two will be sacrificed in the game, a US helicopter shot down “near the Jordanian border” more calls for vengeance and so on. Anybody who is past middle school has seen this play rehearsed and no one other than the genetically naive could believe that it will be otherwise.
So then what with the military “trainers” and “advisers” and the “No-Fly” zone and the “covert” operations and the “special” forces, except for that in this case and unlike even the Vietnam War the embroilment of the entire Middle East North Africa and Mediterranean region is a real and accelerating possibility.
Obama’s Real Dilemma
That the imperial interests of the U.S. ruling class can not be defended without force is the underlying challenge before the Obama administration. With this is the reality that the political relations underpinning imperial interests in the Middle East are eroding at an accelerating pace. The question which will be discussed in the US congress above the din of recriminations, hindsight judgment and partisan one-upmanship will be, not whether, but only for the most part when and how. For the Obama administration the time has chosen to be now. While Assad is still in power, before the Jihadi forces strengthen their positions and before the unrest spreads further to proxies, allies and clients such as Jordan, the Gulf States Turkey, and even, though less likely Israel.
For working people and other social forces, who do not have war as a goal or objective and who have nothing to gain from the ongoing slaughter and dislocation, what must be understood is that the upcoming congressional debate will tilt away from our favor and that we must hold to a perspective and develop a movement international in it’s character and distinguishably independent from the state power and political parties of international imperialism, committed to the principles of of the right of nations to self determination, one prepared to fight in the long haul against the drag down toward world war. This will prove to be the challenge before a generation.