Funny things on the way to the war on Syria have been happening ever since the war in Syria began two-and-a-half years ago, and they just keep on accumulating.
The latest was U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement that he will hit Syria unilaterally, without a UN mandate and without waiting for the conclusions of UN inspectors on the issue of poison gas — but with a “yes” vote from Congress.
Then, as the debate opened in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he made it known that he would strike Syria “even if Congress votes No” to his war!
At the same time, veteran AP Middle East reporter Dale Gaviak was posting, on Minnesota-based Mint Press, the results of his own investigations with Syrian rebels and their families in the chemical-weapons-hit Damascus suburb of Ghouta.
His findings: Saudi-paid rebels and their parents told him they received “tubes and bottles” from the Saudis “without knowing they contained poison gas,” and “an accident happened” as a result of “mishandling,” killing scores of civilians and fighters.
This is not the first time Syrian “rebels” have pleaded “accidents” in the face of evidence that they killed civilians.
The shock of the double Russia-China veto
And while U.S. legislators were self-absorbedly busy with their hackneyed moral grand-standing as Global Cops, oblivious to U.S. serial mass violations of human rights for more than 60 years around the world, the UN’s Ban Ki-moon reminded them that “No attack on Syria can be carried out without a UN mandate.”
Funny things on the way to the war on Syria started as early as October 2011 when Russia and China stunned the NATO/OECD Triad in the UN Security Council (U.S., U.K. and France) by opposing a double veto to a resolution aimed at opening the door to a Libya-2 in Syria.
At that time, the Libyan “rebels” had triumphed over the Gaddafi regime and were installing their own brand of murderous chaos in Tripoli, after lynching and murdering the confused and confusing founder of the Jamahiriya himself, on camera.
NATO/OECD military intervention on the side of the “rebels” had made the difference in Libya. With Russia and China abstaining, the Triad had managed to pass resolutions in the UN Security Council, imposing sanctions on the Gaddafi regime, a “no-fly zone” over Libya (rendering the Libyan Air Force useless) and omnibus provisions for “further necessary measures.”
Triumphant NATO hits a solid wall
Africom, the U.S./NATO command for Africa, was deployed on African soil for the first time since its creation by George W. Bush in 2007. Long-time CIA collaborators from Libya, military and civilian, some of them Al-Qaeda jihadists, began operating on the ground, alongside “special forces” from NATO countries.
When Syria, whose own “Arab Spring” upheaval quickly morphed into a civil war involving jihadi mercenaries from dozens of countries, came up for a Libya-type scenario in the UN Security Council, Russia and China put their veto, saying they did not want a Libya-2 in Syria, and calling for a negotiated, political solution.
This was the first time since the end of the Cold War that the triumphant march of the apparent NATO/OECD victors hit a wall, and a solid one. The Triad had maneuvered for 22 years, within the UN but often around it, to push its one-sided global military agenda — expansion of NATO, even into Afghanistan after 9/11, two Iraq wars, the “Silent Genocide” following the Rwanda-Congo (Kinshasa) mess, the dismemberment of Yugoslavia…
Cameron’s defeat and Obama’s appeal to Congress
David Cameron losing the Syria war vote in the British House of Commons alerted Barack Obama to the risks of staking his presidency, and his Nobel Peace Prize, on a Bush, Lone Ranger, “Chief Executive” type of military assault on Syria. His inside polls had been telling him what we now know: that more than 60 per cent of Americans don’t want another war.
The debate in Congress this week hardly matched the core values of diplomacy and the oratorical skills of the British MPs, but it highlighted a major strategic shift of the U.S. away from the UN, and towards a full-spectrum Congress-approved, Lone Ranger, militarized global diplomacy.
John Kerry repeated at will the Russian and Chinese vetoes had rendered the UN Security Council unworkable — and nobody mentioned all the U.S. vetoes that keep sheltering Israeli war and occupation crimes against the Palestinians, including the use of chemical weapons as recently as 2009 on civilians in Gaza.
The BRICS, NAM and SCO convergence on multi-polarity
The pivotal Russia-China vetoes on Syria in October 2011 were no flukes. As partners within the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization, founded in June 2001, three months before 9/11), both countries, with four Central Asian partners, have been calling for a multi-polar world system to replace the uni-polar, U.S./NATO-dominated one resulting from the end of the Cold War in 1989.
The emergent BRICS countries, with India, Brazil and South Africa demanding permanent membership and veto power in the UN Security Council, have converged with the multi-polar agenda of the SCO. So has the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), energized at its August 2012 Summit in Tehran, with members like Nigeria, Indonesia, Egypt, Mexico, Pakistan, also claiming UN veto power — as do Germany, Japan and Italy, losers of WWII on the ashes of which the victors built the UN.
Demands for reform of the UN have been on the table since the early 1990s, but the Triad has dragged its feet for two decades, looking instead to the WTO, to NATO, to an expanded G20 (from G8) to globalize its reach, and fiddling with the IFIs (International Financial Institutions like the World Bank and the IMF) to upgrade the voting power of countries like India and China, in a bid to co-opt them.
Syria, the SCO ‘Red Line,’ and the NATO response
For Russia and China, for the SCO, as well as for the BRICS and NAM countries, Syria became in 2011 a “Red Line” to put a stop to U.S./NATO/OECD global military unilateralism aimed at opening NATO to countries as far-flung as South Korea, Australia and Colombia! And Syria became the “test case” for returning global governance to the rule of international law and the UN Charter.
Judging from the Congress debates, the U.S. (and its NATO Triad partners) have been framing their own response to this major challenge. That response is now clear: the U.S., the U.K. and France will act on their own, and outside the UN if necessary, to further their interests and prolong their hegemony — while couching such unilateralism as a selective “humanitarian imperative” to “protect civilians.”
France was the former colonial master of Syria, and (socialist) President François Hollande does not plan to ask the National Assembly for a vote. He is ready to attack — just waiting for the U.S. Congress vote! The National Assembly had its own debate nonetheless, with oratory matching that of the British Parliament. But it seems if Obama wins in Congress (which is not certain, in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives especially), Cameron may bring the issue for a second vote in the House of Commons!
The first cracks within NATO since 1989
So much for the Triad. As for the rest of NATO, it does not seem as united as before. In fact, the funniest thing on the way to the war on Syria has been the first major cracks within NATO ranks since it proclaimed victory with the collapse of the Soviet Empire and went on to dismember Yugoslavia, occupy Afghanistan and deploy on African soil.
The unflappable Anders Fogh Rasmusen, cool and soft-spoken hawk of the NATO establishment, faced the media in Brussels this week to say NATO would not take part in the U.S. attack on Syria. The European members are very divided on the issue, he said.
No doubt the mega-flap about the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance and electronic spying on European “allies” and on individual European leaders has severely damaged the Trans-Atlantic Partnership, and European resentment towards the U.S. is still intense and raw.
The Snowden Effect and souring U.S.-Russia relations
This affair has also soured U.S.-Russia relations, and it was surely a calculated move for Vladimir Putin to offer asylum to young Edward Snowden, the technical employee who leaked the voluminous NSA spying files to Wikileaks and to the media. U.S. retaliation came swiftly with Obama calling off his planned meeting with Putin at the G20 Summit this week in St. Petersburg, and loud U.S. demands for him to boycott the G20 altogether and to call for a boycott of the coming Winter Olympics in Sotchi five months from now.
For some time now, a new Cold War of sorts has been settling on U.S.-Russia relations. The coming Syria showdown will surely heat things up — with unpredictable consequences.
And this is where the fun stops: both the U.S. and Russia have deployed huge fleets in the Eastern Mediterranean, with Putin saying Russia plans to react to the bombing of Syria. Obama’s men repeat the strikes will be electronic and remote-controlled, targeted, limited, with no boots on the ground in Syria. But any strike will precipitate the whole world on a dangerously slippery slope — and no one knows where that will lead.