Friday, 30 August 2013

Cameron defeat over Syria - pushing for real R2P

The humiliating parliamentary defeat suffered by David Cameron and Nick Clegg over Syria is not just a hopeful relief for the people of that already-savaged country, but also a promising impasse in the wider rejection of Western war-on-demand.

Nor should it be seen as a Labour-led 'rescue from war'. While militant Liberal interventionists, from Clegg to Ashdown, bewail the vote, Ed Miliband now rides the wave of liberal media approval.

Yet the Labour amendment, also defeated, was never written as a decisive anti-war tract. Deeply aware of the public mood, Miliband and the coy Douglas Alexander crafted a get-out card that keeps their party 'Blair-clean', yet still effectively commits to bombing and ousting Assad.

This halt on war proceedings - perhaps only a temporary one - did not happen because 'parliament has done its job', and certainly not because 'Labour has acted for Britain'.

Rather, it's been fostered by a constant anti-war voice which, if often seemingly tame and impotent, has been proven resiliently correct.

Fuelled by recent exposures of US-UK mass spying, the rejection also suggests a growing public distrust in intelligence agencies' efforts to wage relentless wars based on spurious evidence.

It would be churlish to claim that much public sentiment against this proposed war is rooted in particular feelings for Syrian or other Middle Eastern peoples, concerned as it is, rather, about 'our' sacrifices and weariness over 'our' losses in conflict. That's a selective propagandist message in itself. 

Yet, as the enduring carnage of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya keeps showing, professed 'military solutions' amount to nothing of the sort. Whatever the wider war-rejectionist sentiment, such awareness has taken much deeper hold.    

That mood does, of course, reflect the oft-mentioned 'shadow of Iraq' and historical understanding of Blair's gross subterfuge. Yet, how darkly ironic to watch a media which helped sell such mass murder now invoke the spectre of that disaster against war-favouring politicians.

And, if a week's a long time in politics, just look at the Guardian's own shameless turnaround, from its gung-ho pre-debate editorial to its squirming post-debate approval of 'restraint'.

How seamlessly the Guardian and other media, deeply complicit in rationalising Iraq, sheltering the Blair circle and giving an implicit nod to Cameron over Syria now slip into 'noble back-off' mode.

Iraq haunts Blair and co-criminals like Alastair Campbell, both of whom had feverishly pitched for the bombing of Syria - while, like the West at large, staying silent on Egypt's military coup and mass killing.

Iraq has cast a restraining cloud too over the Cameron-Clegg war motion, with even multiple Tories covering their backs from hostile constituents. Posture and expedience posing as prudence and principle.

But the same Iraq shadow also looms over a war-step media, which has again tried to sell the latest 'damning evidence' to a disbelieving public.       

The source of that 'vital intel'? None other than Israel. Mossad and the CIA, we're meant to believe, have the 'smoking-gun proof' of Assad's guilt.

The motives behind that claim should have been viewed, at the very least, as likely fabrication in the joint push for war. So, likewise, with Cameron's supportive part in that mendacious loop, reflecting the resolute bond between this military-corporate alliance.  

But where are the leading media critiques and illumination of that key relationship, or sceptical questioning of its bomb-primed intelligence?

While 'regional correspondents' were busy showing anxious Israelis queuing for gas masks, there was virtual silence on Israel's own dark manoeuvrings and supposed 'slam-dunk' evidence of phone intercepts proving Syrian guilt. It was all just assumed and taken on faith. 

Meanwhile, as the politicians and spooks concoct their plans, the humanitarian crisis deepens.

What is to be done about the suffering of Syria? This writer has no certain ideas, other than the need for ultimate dialogue, something that the rebels and their Western/Gulf sponsors have resolutely avoided. Assad should surely have to answer for his acts. But so too must the jihadist-inflamed opposition and squalid international alliance that funds and supports them. Little or none of their high crimes, including Israel's bombing of Syria, is up for serious media discussion. 

Nor is the narrative of 'intervention' itself ever read as an aggressive act, pitched, as in this case, in always-malleable aims and means terms like 'punishment', 'lesson-learning' and 'proportionate'. 

A corrective word also, in that regard, towards that still 'leftist' rebel-supporting fragment which couldn't contain its own disappointment and animosity over the halting of cruise missiles. We, the 'anti-war miscreants', are now supposed to live with the 'guilty burden' of non-intervention and of 'caring more' for stopping Cameron/Obama than for suffering Syrians.  

It's a twisted and perverse logic, coming from many who have themselves opposed the West's darkest deeds and can surely see what's intended for Syria.  

Real responsibility to protect (RR2P?) means humanitarian action which helps stop the very forces who ruthlessly use 'liberal intervention' and R2P to efffect their own strategic interests, inevitably resulting in even greater murder and chaos. Again, just look at the ongoing daily death tolls in Iraq and Libya. 

Our primary human concern must be for all those souls killed and victimised in this brutal civil war. But one can be both conscientiously and empirically sure of one thing: more Western bombs, more 'missionary' missiles, will only intensify that death and suffering.


Mary said...

Good John and regards. Delete this when you have changed David to Ed (Miliband)!

D is in NY raking in the shekels at the IRC!

Michael Stephenson said...

I don't know what has to be done in Syria, but we know what the US wants to do with it, and that is install a client regime that represents the interests of the US and not that of the Syrian people.

That is the worst possible outcome for the Syrian people, independence from the US will always be in the interests of the Arab people, and supporting those wanting to oust Assad will doom another generation of Syrians to the struggle for democracy against US puppet hegemony.

John Hilley said...

Oops, thanks Mary. Don't know why that happened. Duly altered.

Agreed, Michael, whatever the US means, almost certainly violent, the aim is to see a safe, pliant regime.