Thursday, October 18, 2012

Liberal warmongers gulp Kool-Aid



There's more to life than a U.S. election. Really. The headline in the Times today reads Denial Is Slipping Away as War Arrives in Damascus. The Damascus I glimpsed dimly in 2006 is under siege. Even then I knew I was seeing almost nothing of the forces below the bright surface of that proud ancient capital. But I know it was full of people getting by, however they were managing. And today they are in danger and however their lives once worked, their future will be different and most likely not better.

Helena Cobban has been watching Syria for years. She tried to sum up some of what we in the United States don't know in an essay last month.

… I weep for Syria and its people, caught up as they are in the madness of this internal/external war... A war that is horrifyingly similar to the one that I lived through in Lebanon 35 years ago-- and to the one that Iraqis went through in 2006-2007-- and indeed, to some extent until today.

The present war inside Syria was absolutely avoidable. And if the vast majority of the peaceful opposition people from inside the country had had their way, it would have been avoided. But no. The Sunni-ist ideologues of the Syrian diaspora-- many of whom had been living in the Gulf countries since the horrors they escaped in Hama and elsewhere back in 1982-- backed up by their co-ideologues from the governments of Qatar, Saudia Arabia, and sadly also Turkey seemed determined to make this an armed conflict. Washington, which under Obama as under George W. Bush has been fundamentally supportive of "regime change" in Syria, gave them all a green light.

And, most shockingly of all to me, large numbers of people in the "progressive", "human-rights"-oriented movement inside the United States-- including large portion of people who had been in the movement that always opposed the U.S. war in Iraq-- were cheering them all on from the sidelines. ...

By and large, most of these people do not know a lot about Syria and its history. They (like me) had cheered on the popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Then, regarding Libya, most of those people cheered on not only the multifaceted popular uprisings there but also the NATO attacks that led to Pres. Qadhafi's collapse. In Libya, the use of external (in that case, western) military force was presented to and by many people on the "left" in the west as not only "necessary" but also a speedy, decisive, and effective way to "save thousands of lives". ...

For the liberal warmongers (who prefer to use the mendacious term "interventionists"-- as though war is the only kind of "intervention" possible!), supporting NATO in Libya was their gateway drug to supporting Saudi and Qatari-instigated acts of violence in Syria. And then they had recourse to all those lying arguments about "no alternative", "only protecting peaceful protesters", etc etc.

What makes me extremely sad is how quickly so many of those people who were at the forefront of the western antiwar movement regarding Iraq seemed to have forgotten what they seemed to know so well in 2002-2003 about the counter-productive and quintessentially anti-humane nature of war. Somewhere along the way they had drunk great gulps of the pro-war Kool-Aid.

After everything that we've seen in both Iraq and Afghanistan over the whole of the past decade, there are still so many armchair "liberal interventionists" in the United States who think that a salutary little war could be good for Libya's people... or for Syria's???? What on earth are they smoking? And why should anyone anywhere in the world take their views and their analyses seriously?

The whole is worth reading. Cobban is one of the more informed, more principled anti-war activists left. She sees the dying as much as the "policy."

1 comment:

tina said...

First time i read in English something that makes sense about Syria.
i am not sending the rest of my comment because it is so bitter that it might well make you all feel too uncomfortable, uselessly.
from beirut, lebanon

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