Wednesday, April 17, 2013

There *is* a US-Zionist conspiracy - in Assad's favor

[Originally posted at NOW]

If I were the sort of person who opposed the Free Syrian Army for its treacherous subservience to American imperialism, I imagine things like this lede from the Wall Street Journal yesterday would make for rather perplexing reading:

“Senior Obama administration officials have caught some lawmakers and allies by surprise in recent weeks with an amended approach to Syria: They don't want an outright rebel military victory right now because they believe, in the words of one senior official, that the "good guys" may not come out on top.”

Nor would my confusion be any the slighter were I the kind of provincial Western reactionary who places the blame for Syria’s appalling humanitarian emergency on my own government’s excessive support for the opposition (Exhibit A: Peter Hitchens).

Yet, for those who have monitored the signs carefully, this is not in fact an “amended approach” of any kind, still less a “surprise.” In a depressingly excellent piece of analysis for Syria Deeply last week, Thanassis Cambanis made the observation that:

“A handful of voices in the Western foreign policy world are quietly starting to acknowledge that a long, drawn-out conflict in Syria doesn’t threaten American interests; to put it coldly, it might even serve them. Assad might be a monster and a despot, they point out, but there is a good chance that whoever replaces him will be worse for the United States. And as long as the war continues, it has some clear benefits for America: It distracts Iran, Hezbollah, and Assad’s government, traditional American antagonists in the region. In the most purely pragmatic policy calculus, they point out, the best solution to Syria’s problems, as far as US interests go, might be no solution at all.”

This view, he added, is one that “several diplomats, policy makers, and foreign policy thinkers have expressed to me in private.” It also happens to be the one espoused by Daniel Pipes, who has taken it to its logical conclusion by saying outright that, “Western governments should support the malign dictatorship of Bashar Assad.” Yes, that Daniel Pipes, the man who was Bush’s pick to head the Institute of Peace, who calls for bombing Iran “now” and annexing the remains of Palestine to Egypt and Jordan.

Indeed, where does Israel stand on this question? Though Assad and his groupies have naturally smeared the opposition as Zionist proxies from the outset, this has always been a transparent pantomime. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the October 1973 war, which is another way of saying it’s been four decades since the Assads have flung so much as a pebble across the Golan. It’s become standard practice for IDF top brass to refer to the rebels as “terrorists,” and if a Haaretz article today is to be believed, Netanyahu is about to tell David Cameron “to be extremely cautious about arming the Syrian rebels.”

From here it’s not a very great leap at all to Obama actually droning the FSA, something for which the CIA has reportedly already made plans (no talk whatsoever, you notice, of droning the shabbiha, let alone the regime). The best the rebels can expect is an ice-cold shoulder from Washington for the foreseeable future – a policy which, if nothing else, has the merit of consistency. This, sadly, truly is pernicious “imperialism,” though not the sort that gets condemned by those who define their politics as the negation thereof.

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