Are we going to stand idly by?

By Stephen Gowans

In the end, the US intelligence community assessment released by Washington yesterday to justify an attack on Syria amounts to this: There is no confirming evidence that a chemical weapons attack occurred on August 21 in Syria, or if one occurred, that it was carried out by the Syrian military.

Newspapers have been warning that Washington would be unable to point to a smoking gun and had no hard evidence to back up its charges against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Nothing in the official assessment disconfirms this.

The assessment is a judgment, based on an opinion that a chemical weapons attack occurred and that the Syrian military is the only agent in Syria capable of carrying one out.

Others have a different view. The UN special commission of inquiry into Syria announced in May that it had strong suspicions that opposition forces had used chemical weapons. Speculating about the possible outcome of a US-French war on Syria, Washington Post reporter Anne Gearan wrote today that “the rebels might be tempted…to stage further attacks and blame” the Syrian government.

Even more damaging to Washington’s case is this August 29 report from Associated Press reporters Kimberly Dozier and Matt Apuzzo:

U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders. Some have even talked about the possibility that rebels could have carried out the attack in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war. That suspicion was not included in the official intelligence report, according to the official who described the report.

US secretary of state John Kerry, Washington’s war-monger in chief on the Syrian file, said: “The question is: What are we—we collectively—what are we in the world going to do about this?”


• The United States is hardly an impartial party, and has been trying to topple the Arab nationalist government in Syria for decades. It has an interest in contriving pretexts to intervene militarily.
• An attack on Syria would be illegal.
• Even if there was confirming evidence that the Syrian military launched a chemical attack, it is not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Neither are US allies Egypt and Israel. And while Syria did in 1968 sign onto the Geneva Protocol banning the use in war of gasses, the protocol is concerned with war between, not within, states.
• Along with Russia, the United States has the world’s largest stockpiles of chemical weapons.
• Washington’s revulsion at the use of chemical weapons is disingenuous. The United States aided Saddam Hussein to gas Iranians in the late 1980s.

The more fitting question is: What are we—we collectively—what are we in the world going to do about the United States arrogantly arrogating onto itself, in contempt of international law, in defiance of the greater part of humanity, the right to wage war on Syria, and worse, on a pretext?

7 thoughts on “Are we going to stand idly by?

  1. Thanks for the reply,
    Yet, Turkey has still a long way to go before its problem with democracy can be described as “discrediting the consensus politics.” (not that I long for such a Western Hippocratic Democracy) Here, somehow people are still demanding “to be consulted” en masse. The underlying problem is not about discouraged voters/citizens or apolitisized/deceived public. To the contrary, the state exercises every means of repression, even those very primitive apparatuses of direct intimidation, torture, and like. Coerce is still balancing out the Consent. Turkey is more like Eastern Europe (say like Russia, Bulgaria, Romania or Hellas), if not totally a middle eastern dictatorships….

  2. As for Turkey it is a charter member of NATO. That about sums it up on Turkey.
    The use of chemical weapons in Syria is a ruse by the USA as is the Iranian nuclear programme as was Iraq’s WMDs.
    These are excuses and LIES used to further US hegemony (wars of expansion and control of the earth’s wealth on behalf of Wall St.)
    As for what “we” can do to stop this attack on Syria and all other such wars “we” can tell everyone in discussion what is really happening.
    What happened in the UK parliament recently when Cameron lost?
    30 Tories and 9 Lib Dems voted against the coalition government’s (Cameron’s) resolution.
    Iraq experience and Blair’s lies?
    Poor planning by Cameron?
    UK public opinion strongly against any attack on Syria may have been a factor.
    Any other reasons?
    Would the US Congress vote against an attack? Would it make a difference? What about a split vote between the Senate and the House?
    If I were a citizen of the USA and/or involved in the US anti-war movement (does it still exist?) I would be organizing and putting pressure on Congress members to oppose an attack on Syria.
    Demonstrations in the street also.
    I believe that US public opinion is opposed to an attack on Syria. Correct?
    Other than that how does one stop US imperialism which has been in existence since at least 1898?
    Change the system (remove capitalism).

  3. Turkey seems to have become a Western-style democracy, which means electing a government which ignores the opinion of the people on important issues such as selling off public assets, or going to war. The loudest critics of “old-fashioned” (consultative) democracy invariably deride it as ‘consensus politics’ and are quick to describe consultation as “cumbersome” and “unworkable.”
    However, the fact remains that if people have elected a government which doesn’t consult them before making big decisions then they’ve elected a dictatorship which falls somewhat short of most people’s expectations of democracy.
    So, welcome to the club. You are not the only person disappointed by what “modern democracy” refuses to deliver.

  4. You are right about the third bullet, as well as about the so-called “media conversation.”

  5. (from Turkey) Another question is what are we – we, the Turks, Kurds, Armenians, Greeks and else… – what are we in Turkey going to do about the AKP government arresting our political, social,cultural will on the deceiving pretext of parliamentary democracy, and serving a secret political agenda by representing all of us in the international arena and showing us all as Turkish war mongers?

  6. These are the kind of questions that never enter into the National Conversation, or better, not allowed by the corporate-complicit media.

    I find the third bullet above is ambiguous at best, and really needs to be re-written. It even reads better when to is substituted for do.

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