Dark Cloud logo

 

Home

Columns

Commentary

Dark Endeavors

And Here We Go Again....

a Syrian War?

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, August 28, 2013.

Outside Damascus, Syria, on August 21, Doctors Without Borders say a chemical attack of some sort killed 355 people. The US says that the government forces of Syrian President Assad are the guilty party, without providing evidence yet. There is reason for the accusation: Syria has one of the world's biggest stockpiles of chemical weapons and nobody can formulate how or which of the several mutually antagonistic rebel groups would have obtained them. That, however, is certainly not proof, and the US has been slapped before on this subject, given that Bush said Weapons of Mass Destruction and their imminent use was the basis of the Iraq War. He lied, many have died.

But, as I speak with you, France as well as the US say they are ready for air war to attack Assad's regime and thereby assist the rebels. Britain is starting its political machine running to get wider support in Parliament. All three nations have conducted investigations that support the accusation, but they haven't shared it with the UN, considered necessary for public support. At this moment the UN investigators are in a Damascus suburb doing the necessary work. One of them has said it certainly seems as though it was a chemical attack, but will wait for the investigation to end.

Obama has acted, in general, with great restraint and wisdom in the Middle East to this point, not folding to bomb Iran as the neoconservative chicken hawks and John McCain wanted. He did not rush into Libya, nor Tunesia, nor Egypt, and events have proven his hesitations correct. There are no good guys in the Middle East, or none big enough to either support or acknowledge.

But here is a case of a desperate dictator gassing his own people, something we allowed Saddam to do in the early 1990's after we pulled out, and something that should not be allowed, as the elder Bush said once, to stand. Assad is a thug and he and his family deserve punishment, but what has kept Syria in one piece for so long is a minimal level of undenied competence in Assad's Baathist party. Well, that and Russian and Iranian support. So, one wonders why would they do something sure to bring retaliation, and why these victims?

It is possible that it is not Assad the West fears, but that among the numerous groups that compose the Syrian rebels are militant Islamists. These groups are thought likely, if they win, to give weapons of value to the more violent, incompetent, and borderline insane groups who'd use it against Israel or US troops in Afghanistan. Or against each other. There's precedent for all sorts of paranoia and justified fear.

The Free Syrian Army is escorting the UN investigators, and as such things go, the FSA is secular, sane, Sunni, and Syrian. It's to be hoped it will so stay, but this is the Middle East.

What is being threatened by the US and its allies is a NATO and/or UN schlacking of the Syrian airforce and armored vehicles. Radar stations won't last the first day, and Assad will be on a first name basis with carrier pigeons to give orders. It is the sort of loss of face that tyrants do not deal with successfully. Temper tantrums follow. If he's already using chemical weapons, he won't hesitate to up their use. It will be ugly.

Israel, no idiot, has distributed gas masks and at the moment says that about 65% of its citizens are so equipped and they're still at it. As ever, what the Syrians would want is Israel to enter the fray, because it would unite all true Arabs. That is a given, so Israel has to walk the line between taking damage yet not overreacting and not pandering to its own Chicken hawk brigades and extreme Orthodox yahoos. It has to be tough.

Republicans in this nation would love it if Obama jumped in over WMD's and it was discovered that none had been used so that, just like Bush, he could be drummed out of office with child predator popularity. So ugly has the far right become in this nation, I could not help thinking that some of them might provide chemical weapons to someone in Syria just to achieve this result. I have no doubt they'd do that. Their problem is that Obama knows them better than they know themselves, reserves serious thought for serious matters, and has a history of correct, adult action. Imagine McCain or Romney in the Oval Office today.