Western intervention in Syria? I wish it actually was


4:47 pm - August 28th 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


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There are some commentators who write about international affairs entirely through western eyes. Of course, The United States is the most powerful nation on earth and spends more on weaponry and defence than the next 10 countries combined.

But the US doesn’t always dictate events, and doesn’t always have its finger-prints on everything. I find this attitude a bit patronising and racist – other countries across the world have their own agendas and constantly interfere in foreign affairs for their own ends. ‘The White Man’ doesn’t control everything, much as many self-styled anti-imperialists like to believe.

In 1971 for example, India’s PM Indira Gandhi stuck up two fingers at the US and, with explicit guarantees from the Soviet Union, liberated Bangladesh from the murdering Pakistani armies. More recently, India and Pakistan meddled in Afghanistan along with Iran and the USA to help create instability before the invasion of 2001.

The civil war in Syria is a case in point. Iran, Russia and Hezbollah have been intervening in the region for years to bolster Assad and keep him armed against the rebel army. On the other side, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have lined up against Assad and have been helping the rebel forces.

Saudi Arabia is key here because it has also been funding the Egyptian army coup against the Muslim Brotherhood (which it sees as the real danger) – despite pressure from the United States not do so. Anyone who thinks the ‘Muslim ummah’ is united and speaks with one voice should come back to reality.

So the strongest argument against US, UK and French involvement is: why the hell should we get involved in this huge mess? Stay the hell out!

And that’s a strong argument. Except it’s a bit bogus.

The USA, UK and France aren’t actually planning an intervention. And this certainly isn’t a humanitarian one.

Sure, the news media is in overdrive and to most people it sounds like Iraq all over again. There is a lot of sabre-rattling and discussions about chemical weapons and UN resolutions. There are strong statements being issued by every major politician vaguely related to all this. Media commentators are salivating all over the media.

But most of it is hot air designed to rattle Assad. What we’ll actually see are a few missiles being dropped on Assad’s key military targets from warships stationed much further off. There will be some carefully targeted attacks on weapons shipments to deprive Assad of firepower. That’s likely to be it.

Unlike Libya, there aren’t even immediate plans for a No Fly Zone and nor demands for regime change. Many of you won’t believe it, but wait until this so-called intervention starts.

And why are we taking such feeble action? Because Assad used chemical weapons on his own people. This means we either make a big show so as to dissuade him and others, or risk usage of chemical weapons proliferating. And that’s it.

This isn’t a humanitarian intervention. Our politicians have dressed it up as such, and commentators are arguing against intervention on that basis, but we should stop pretending it is. (If it were me in charge I would have done something before 100,000 people got killed in Syria. I would have intervened in Congo and other places too). But ever since the lies over Iraq there is no appetite for foreign intervention and so we’re stuck with angry words and feeble threats.

Syria is already a battleground with lots of foreign players interfering in its affairs. The United States won’t even come close (if they wanted to, here’s what they would do).

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Abu Fatimah

If only mainstream media would say it like you!

Sorry, what exactly *is* firing missiles at military targets if not an intervention?

Hundal:

What we’ll actually see are a few missiles being dropped on Assad’s key military targets from warships stationed much further off. There will be some carefully targeted attacks on weapons shipments to deprive Assad of firepower. That’s likely to be it.

So if he lays off the chemical WMD, he can go back to his regularly scheduled programme of military conflict? One the other hand, there’s always the possibility of just enough ‘mission creep’ in the cruise missile targets to affect the balance of the overall conflict.

PS: On Newsnight last night, one talking head suggested that what would happen would be that the USA would launch 3-400 missiles, while the UK would lob in a few from submarines and, er, that would be it. I suppose it’s that ‘special relationship’ thing: I wasn’t that impressed.

Just glad you aren’t in charge then if you promote intervention, Sunny.

If Iraq taught us a lesson that is restricting an escalation in Syria then warmongers Bush & Blair may have unintentionally done some good – they won’t be pleased.

[quote]This isn’t a humanitarian intervention.[/quote]

It never is if it involves weapons. Humanitarian intervention is done by humanitarian agencies delivering humanitarian aid. Not by governments dropping bombs.

It’s an error to conflate humanitarianism with military actions (no matter how well intentioned they claim to be), and a dangerous one that puts the lives of aid workers at risk of harm or worse.

@5cc

‘Sorry, what exactly *is* firing missiles at military targets if not an intervention?’

The following were chats, if that helps:

Jane Meyer, Outsourcing Torture: The Secret History of America’s “Extraordinary Rendition” Program, New Yorker, Feb. 14, 2005
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0208-13.htm

Quote:

Diane Abbott, a former Labour leadership candidate, told the Guardian she has not firmly made up her mind, but she is currently opposed to an intervention based on the available evidence.

“I voted against the Iraq War. At the moment, I can’t see anything that would make me vote for intervention in Syria,” she said.
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/aug/27/diane-abbott-labour-syria

Absolutely. By press reports, much of the “evidence” for the chemical weapons attack comes from Israeli sources. The UN inspectors have not had sufficient time to complete their mission of inspection and report back.

Not much can be deduced with confidence from the fact that the victims of the sarin gas attack in Syria were in areas opposed to the Assad regime. Sarin gas is not difficult to make – this was the gas used by the maverick Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan for a terrorist attack in the Tokyo subway in 1995. A graduate chemistry student can make the gas.

In Spain’s civil war in the 1930s, thousands on the Republican side were killed by other Republicans because of ideological differences. George Orwell, who fought on the Republican side and was wounded had to flee Spain with his wife to avoid being detained under an arrest warrant issued by the Republican government. Many years later, a researcher looking through Spain’s national archives found a copy of the arrest warrant – it had been copied through to Moscow.

Why would Moscow want to know about an arrest warrant issued for a British author who had fought on the Republican side? Orwell’s fable: Animal Farm, and his dystopian novel: 1984 were years away but Orwell’s experiences in Spain undoubtedly influenced his later writings.

“There are some commentators who write about international affairs entirely through western eyes.”

Erm, like you, you mean?

For more about Orwell’s experiences in Spain during the time of the civil war, try Peter Davison: George Orwell – A Literary Life (Palgrave 1996).

After reading that, it would be very unwise to assume that the sarin gas attack in Syria could only have been used by forces of the Assad regime. By many accounts, the opponents of the Assad regime include all sorts of divergent elements, including extreme Islamicists.

The Syrian opposition isn’t fighting just a brutal Iranian-backed regime accused of killing civilians with chemical weapons; it’s also battling within itself.

Moderate Syrian rebel groups are locked in combat with al Qaeda-linked extremists who have joined the opposition against Bashar Assad’s regime and are fighting other rivals to win the hearts and minds of villagers as they try to gain support in the countryside.
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/aug/27/syrian-rebels-also-fighting-al-qaeda-other-hard-li/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

News update on Wednesday night:

Syria Vote Will Not Approve UK Military Action

The Government appears to delay a decision on intervention after Labour demands “compelling evidence” on chemical weapons use.
http://news.sky.com/story/1134206/syria-vote-will-not-approve-uk-military-action

Personally I think Tony Blair has the right idea – somebody has to intervene in this pathetic, war-torn hellhole:

http://eplwire.com/tony-blair-to-intervene-in-newcastle-crisis/

12. Richard Carey

@ Bob B,

while we’re on Orwell, my fear is the government will end up intervening for the same reason Orwell shot the elephant.

In the news:

ISTANBUL – Syria’s opposition coalition said on Tuesday President Bashar Assad’s forces had dropped phosphorus bombs and napalm on civilians in rural Aleppo on Monday, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens. [Reuters 27 August 2013]
http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Syrian-opposition-says-Assads-forces-drop-phosphorus-bombs-near-Aleppo-324430

Compare that with this report in the Guardian on 16 January 2009:

“Video shows evidence of phosphorus bombs in Gaza

“Gaza doctors detail burns to entire victims’ bodies from chemical that is forbidden to be used as a weapon

“Video showing injuries consistent with the use of white phosphorus shells has been filmed inside hospitals treating Palestinian wounded in Gaza City.

“Contact with the shell remnants causes severe burns, sometimes burning the skin to the bone, consistent with descriptions by Ahmed Almi, an Egyptian doctor at the al-Nasser hospital in Khan Younis.

“Almi said the entire body of one victim was burned within an hour. It was the first time he had seen the effects of what he called a “chemical weapon”.

“The Israeli military has denied using white phosphorus during the assault on Gaza, but aid agencies say they have no doubt it has been used.”

How much moral outrage was expressed by Western powers over the use of white phosphorus shells by the IDF in Gaza? Were there any calls for punitive strikes against Israel for its used of banned weapons? The very suggestion is laughable.

From the BBC website in April this year, we have a news report saying the Israel military is now going to stop using white phosphorus shells:

“International law restricts the use of white phosphorus during war.

“The Israeli military said the existing shells contained ‘minimal amounts’ of white phosphorus, and would be ‘removed from active duty soon’.

“Three years ago, Israel promised to draw up new rules on the use of shells containing white phosphorus, in the wake of the Gaza war.

“Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the three-week conflict.

“During the offensive, Israel used white phosphorus rounds in densely populated areas, the UN and Human Rights Watch said.” [BBC website 26 April 2013]

Following recent hours’ spectacular triumph, Ed Miliband ought to use his Conference speech to promise to save what little remains of Sunday trading restrictions after Thatcher and Major, which is already declared Labour Party policy in this Parliament.

To promise to renationalise the Royal Mail, thus killing its privatisation stone dead, because no buyer would take the risk.

And to promise to take each of the rail franchises back into public ownership as it came up for renewal, thus renationalising the railways at no cost.

All while demanding a straight In-Out referendum on the day of next year’s European Elections, which only the Government could deliver.

At that point, even if it were not already, as some of us maintain that is and that has now been for years, then the paleocon case for endorsing Labour at the next General Election will become unanswerable.

It will then be over to Stephen Glover, Max Hastings, Philip Johnston, Peter McKay, Peter Hitchens (who has already been on record for a year that he will endorse any party committed both to the Sunday trading point and to rail renationalisation), Tim Stanley, Freddy Gray and all the rest of them.

They have done sterling work on Syria. The electoral consequence of their position is now obvious.

Personally, I regard the remaining Sunday trading restrictions as a total bind and long for their removal. Let consumers choose whether they want to shop on Sundays in the supermarkets as they can always shop in most small local convenience stores.

Curiously, Nicholas Ridley, a Thatcherite before Mrs Thatcher came on to the political horizon, consistently opposed privatisation of the railways, which he thought would always have to be subsidised for social reasons and that was better managed in the public sector with accountability to Parliament. The Major government nationalised the railways in the year Ridley died.

Bob B, take up your Sunday trading views with USDAW. And with Chuka Ummuna, who is 34 and who was first elected in 2010. What about the workers?

Labour needs to make more of this, as of the cruel cuts in our conventional defence, the ruinous reduction in provincial disposable incomes by the abolition of National Pay Agreements, the replacement of Her Majesty’s Constabulary with the British KGB that will be the National Crime Agency, the devastation of rural communities by the allowing of foreign companies and even foreign states to buy up our postal service and our roads, Royal Mail privatisation, and the railways, which could easily be renationalised at no cost, as I set out.

The anti-war movement of a decade ago never capitalised on the extent to which it reached deep into Tory Britain with its profoundly conservative message of foreign policy realism. The SWP was allowed to make the running, to exactly as much effect as one might have expected. Today, the anti-cuts, and it seems once again anti-war, movement has the potential to reach deep into Tory Britain with its profoundly conservative message of using State power in order to protect organic communities against the ravages of unbridled capital.

That potential is more than apparent from the 16 councillors who are committee members of SPARSE, the network of rural councils fighting the cuts and seriously considering a judicial review of Eric Pickles. Four are Independents, one is Labour, and the other 11 are Tories. It says it all that there is not a single, solitary Lib Dem.

Labour is reverting to its historical norm as the voice and vehicle of a many-rooted social democratic patriotism in all directions. And Labour is reverting to its historical norm as inclusive of social and cultural conservatives as well as social and cultural liberals. Inclusive of rural as well as urban and suburban voices. Inclusive of provincial as well as metropolitan contributions. Inclusive of religious as well as secular insights.

Where Labour is in third place or below, and certainly where it is in a distant second place, then it should dispense with any requirement that its prospective nominees be party members, although they would of course have to join if they were selected. Provided that they had been registered voters within the constituency’s then boundaries for at least 15 years, and provided that they were recommended to the Constituency Labour Party by the public signatures of at least five per cent of the voters.

If affordable, the CLP General Committee’s shortlist of two such applicants should be submitted to an independent, binding ballot of the entire constituency electorate. Such submission of the two-name shortlist, drawn both from such nominees and from people nominated by branches or affiliates in the usual manner, ought certainly to be made in safe Labour seats where the sitting MP was retiring, and in safe new seats or newly safe seats created by boundary changes.

Labour should undertake to meet maximum election expenditure in every constituency. The unions are loaded. Some 50 per cent of Labour Party members are also members of the technically unaffiliated teachers’ unions. There is the Unison General Political Fund. And so on. Immense possibilities, if one knows where and how to look.

The Labour Party has people who are employed to know here and how to look, just as it has to know in which parliamentary constituencies particular council wards are located. Or are they just too lazy?

“Bob B, take up your Sunday trading views with USDAW. And with Chuka Ummuna, who is 34 and who was first elected in 2010. What about the workers?”

More jobs will be created to keep supermarket stores open on Sundays and we need the jobs, especially to reduce the youth unemployment rate with almost a million young people currently out of work. The timing would be just right:

Number of workers in retail increasing at fastest pace since 2002

Employment in the retail industry is growing at the fastest pace in 11 years after the heatwave boosted Britain’s high streets.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/10272269/Number-of-workers-in-retail-increasing-at-fastest-pace-since-2002.html

As for defence spending, it is completely absurd for Britain to maintain its position as having the fourth largest military budget in the world, after America, China and Russia, when:

NHS waiting lists are longest in five years

Almost 2.9 million people are on a waiting list for treatment at NHS hospitals – the highest level in five years, according to official figures. [Telegraph 15 August 2013]

“Labour is reverting to its historical norm as the voice and vehicle of a many-rooted social democratic patriotism in all directions.”

Which is pure guff. People want better public services and a well-managed economy, not vacuous rhetoric.

18. Planeshift

“This means we either make a big show so as to dissuade him and others, or risk usage of chemical weapons proliferating. And that’s it”

Token gestures and slaps on the wrist are unlikely to prevent chemical weapons proliferating.

The lesson other dictators learned from Iraq was that if you actually do have chemical weapons (and what better way to demonstrate this than using them on your own people once a war is already won) and something approaching a friendly relationship with Russia then the west won’t seriously touch you.

19. George King

It is genuinely amazing how the Stalinist left have seemlessly switched their allegiance from the degenerate Soviet bureaucracy to the new proto-facist Russian imperialist oligarchy. We now have an appeasing Poison Gas Left to go with our Cruise Missile Left.

Does Silly Milly really want to take the blame for the next atrocity in Syria? Labour’s position should have been that given that the Coalition controls the means of destruction they should decide themselves what to do whilst making clear that they themselves stand shoulder to shoulder with the Syrian people and revolution against Assad and want to see the US/EU arms embargo lifted so that the Syrian people can defend themselves instead of having to plead with hypocritical Western leaders for non-existent help.

I don’t oppose Western intervention for the simple reason that there isn’t any and will not be any. They have stood by whilst 100,000 have been murdered and 4 million turned into refugees. This is all cosmetic posturing and if they do lob in a couple of ineffectual missiles for show I won’t be protesting it but urging the Syrian people to speed up their ouster of the Butcher Assad and beware false friends.

I hate to say this, but of all public figures, Nigel Farage is speaking the most sense.

See this video clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5pxp61tYJcw

It makes the clear point that nobody proposing action has a clue what to do, what good it will do, or even what side we want to be on, and that, although the US might have an interest in this, the UK certainly does not.

“This is all cosmetic posturing ”

Nail on head.

Far from “the US doesn’t always dictate events, and doesn’t always have its finger-prints on everything.” the reality now is that the US/uk is overstretched and does not have the influence. It’s power now is a fraction of that it had in 2000 (the neo-con project was a failure on it’s own terms), and it’s time people started dealing with that reality. Mainly those people in favour of endlessly starting wars against dictators in the sad belief that we have the ability to turn places in liberal democracies with little effort

Intervention is selective and is often predicated on the desire to secure or seize resources. It is curious, then, that has been no intervention in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where children are forced to work long hours mining materials for smartphones. Women are raped and people are forced out of their homes. There are countless human rights violations in countries like the DRC but the West wrings its hands and condemns them from afar but never lifts a finger.

Western humanitarian intervention is a sham; it’s a cover for other less humanitarian impulses.

23. George King

`Western humanitarian intervention is a sham; it’s a cover for other less humanitarian impulses.’

True. But if there was a socialist government with the capacity to intervene say by supplying arms or imposing a no flight zone to save and support the Syrian Revolution we’d want it to do so right? I don’t think we’d want it to sit by whilst a tyrant gasses our people. But you are right the reason the West doesn’t give a cuss about Syria is because it has zero strategic interest in it there being not much oil there just Arabs and long ago ceded it to the Russian sphere of influence in exchange for a free hand in Africa. As for the Congo Western corporations are happy buying their raw materials from war lords. A failed state their suits them.

@23

“True. But if there was a socialist government with the capacity to intervene say by supplying arms or imposing a no flight zone to save and support the Syrian Revolution we’d want it to do so right”?

I would like to think that a socialist government (the UK has never had a properly socialist government) would avoid such things. The Syrian opposition is composed of a myriad of groups and no one seems to be able to distinguish one from the other. One thing we do know is that Jihadists are operating there and by supporting the opposition, one could possibly be providing support and succour to the very people who wish to do us harm.

Interestingly, human rights were of little concern to the West when Iraq used them against the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq War.

“When Iraq used poison gas against the Iranians” is what I meant to say.

26. George King

`Interestingly, human rights were of little concern to the West when Iraq used them against the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq War.’

Quite correct, the imperialists are mui hypocritical and entirely self-serving. That doesn’t mean we have to be.

“True. But if there was a socialist government with the capacity to intervene say by supplying arms or imposing a no flight zone to save and support the Syrian Revolution we’d want it to do so right? ”

A socialist government would slash defence spending, meaning by definition we wouldn’t have the capacity to impose a no fly zone except as part of a massive coalition. We probably also wouldn’t have as big an arms industry because a socialist govt would end the supply of arms to oppressive regimes, which inevitably would lead to a reduction in the british arms industry – thus harming the ability to unilaterally arm one side.

I am not sure about your prescription or western intervention, Sunny, but your diagnosis of the existing problem, i.e. “Syria is already a battleground with lots of foreign players interfering in its affairs,” is more honest and truthful than many sources.

@ # ““There are some commentators who write about international affairs entirely through western eyes.”

Erm, like you, you mean?”

You clearly haven’t read what Sunny actually said. Or if you have, you haven’t understood.

#24

“`Interestingly, human rights were of little concern to the West when Iraq used them against the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq War.’”

I am very wary of the west getting involved in this war, because I am not convinced there is a clear goal or that it can be attained, or that it will have an overall beneficial effect. But your comment here is utterly irrelevant.

If we are to provisonally accept Sunny’s hypothesis that intervening in Syria might be a good thing, or that punishing Assad for using chemical weapons is necessary and right in itself, then what happened in the Iran-Iraq war a quarter of a century ago is neither here nor there. There is no moral or logical value in not doing what is right now on the grounds that one did not do what was right in the past. That is making the perfect the enemy of the good.

The case for or against intervention in Syria should be made according to what is happening in the here and now in Syria, not according to what was done or not done in the past elsewhere.

For instance, if a hospital failed to treat a patient properly in the past, it is not hypocritical to now treat another patient properly. Indeed, to you use past failure to attack proposals for doing something now suggests that you are trying to have your cake and eat it.

Very likely, this is one reason why the House of Commons is reluctant to approve an attack on Syria:

Try this text in the Guardian of prime minister Tony Blair’s speech opening the debate on the Iraq crisis in the House of Commons on 18 March 2003, as released by 10 Downing Street:
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2003/mar/18/foreignpolicy.iraq1

Another is this BBC news report on the G8 summit at Evian on 2 June 2003:

Blair stands ’100%’ by weapons claims

Tony Blair has rejected calls for an official inquiry into the government’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking at the G8 summit in Evian, Mr Blair said he stood “100%” by the evidence shown to the public about Iraq’s alleged weapons programmes.

“Frankly, the idea that we doctored intelligence reports in order to invent some notion about a 45-minute capability for delivering weapons of mass destruction is completely and totally false,” he said.

32. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Their are two type of despot in this world ;those that have natural resources and those that don’t.

I suggest to Sunny that if either the UK or US had any morality then the interventions in Afganistan and Iraq wouldn’t have happened. I would also suggest that a considerable number more have died and are dying in these countries than in Syria,which doesn’t minimise the issues there but does nonetheless provide an important perspective. It should be pointed out that, despite its domestically presentation, both wars were a great success in the terms in which they were fought. Oil production is secured along with a guaranteed long term US presence in the area creating a geographical continuity of oil production up to the Caspian sea. It will serve the Axis well in the long term.

In contrast Syria has some oil and a few reserves but not enough to worth fighting for ,quite apart from the lack of will of the would be aggressors. But sadly morality and disgust,whilst good a selling papers is IMO not the issue here. Real estate up for grabs might be more the issue.

So the ad might read;

Your chance to own Syria!

Needs some refurbishment/TLC and new management. Offers a unique opportunity for interested countries in the vicinity to expand territorially. Good views and transport links. Removals, courtesy the ‘international community’ included.

But before the ‘sale’ completes some thought on the following;

1. It makes no sense for Assad to invite the condemnation of the world and further undermine his position.

2.from what country/source is this intelligence coming from?

33. George King

`A socialist government would slash defence spending, meaning by definition we wouldn’t have the capacity to impose a no fly zone except as part of a massive coalition.’

Yeah, yeah. And back in the real world if your auntie had balls she’d be your uncle. You sound like a pacifist whose been captured as a useful idiot by Putin’s Poison Gas Left.

Bob B @31, on that note it was on Wednesday that we learned the Chilcot Inquiry report will not be published until at 2014, some five years after it was announced and three years after the conclusion of its open sessions.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exclusive-chilcot-report-into-iraq-conflict-will-not-be-released-until-2014-as-david-cameron-echoes-tony-blair-with-moral-case-for-war-8788203.html

ukliberty

Many thanks for that link @34 to the news that the report of the Chilcot inquiry into the invasion of Iraq is to be delayed until next year. I’d missed that news but I’m not surprised.

When the UN weapons inspectors resumed their search mission in Iraq after the invasion in 2003, they found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq despite all the claims made in a government dossier presented to Parliament on 24 September 2002:
http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB254/doc05.pdf

That dossier had a Forward signed by Blair himself.

36. George King

I wonder how many of Assad and Putin’s thugs and rent-a-mob made up the numbers at the embassy picket yesterday? Gay Syrians For Revolution should organise a counter demo. That’ll give them something to get worked up about.

37. Planeshift

“Yeah, yeah. And back in the real world if your auntie had balls she’d be your uncle. You sound like a pacifist whose been captured as a useful idiot by Putin’s Poison Gas Left.”

Ad hominems again.

you do realise I’m not a socialist, or pacifist for that matter – merely pointing out the actual policies of socialists and the obvious implications on foreign policy. Or are you saying a socialist govt would increase military spending and sell more arms?

It’s really rather pathetic you are trying to convince socialists of the case for war by explaining what a socialist govt would or would not do, rather than simply making the case on its own merits.

And I’d suggest somebody arguing that ‘invade every country that is run by a dictatorship’ is the person here who isn’t living in the real world.

32

“2.from what country/source is this intelligence coming from?”

Try this:

Israeli intelligence ‘intercepted Syrian regime talk about chemical attack’

Information passed to US by Israeli Defence Forces’ 8200 unit, former official tells magazine
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/28/israeli-intelligence-intercepted-syria-chemical-talk

39. Paul peter Smith

I must have missed the BBC’s coverage of this story. But I’m sure Cameron and Obama have taken it into account.
http://rt.com/news/syria-investigate-un-chemical-116/

40. Man on Clapham Omnibus

38. Bob B

That’s the point. I feel a buffer zone for God’s children coming on!

Iran says it will attack Israel if the USA & UK intervene in Syria, why isn’t anybody mentioning how bat shit crazy that is!??

It’s like China saying if you mess with North Korea i’m going to bomb Vietnam.

40 Man on Clapham Omnibus

Try this from the Guardian in February 2004:

Israel knew Iraq had no WMD, says MP

A prominent Israeli MP said yesterday that his country’s intelligence services knew claims that Saddam Hussein was capable of swiftly launching weapons of mass destruction were wrong but withheld the information from Washington.
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2004/feb/04/iraq.israel

43. George King

`you do realise I’m not a socialist’

Yes. That’s clear. By the way if you are not a socialist shut up about what `socialists would do’. You have no idea.

Try this BBC news from April this year:

Israel ‘to stop using white phosphorus shells’

Rights groups condemned Israel’s use of white phosphorus during the Gaza conflict because of its severely harmful effects on civilians.

International law restricts the use of white phosphorus during war.

The Israeli military said the existing shells contained “minimal amounts” of white phosphorus, and would be “removed from active duty soon”.

Three years ago, Israel promised to draw up new rules on the use of shells containing white phosphorus, in the wake of the Gaza war.

Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the three-week conflict.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22310544

I don’t recall anyone threatening to bomb Israel for using banned phosphorus shells in Gaza in 2009.

45. Planeshift

“By the way if you are not a socialist shut up about what `socialists would do’. You have no idea.”

Its pretty easy to find out. they are open about the fact they want to reduce military spending and curtail arms sales to repressive regimes.

or are you seriously saying the opposite?

Sunny: are you saying that you would like a large-scale Western military intervention in Syria that would bring the civil war to an end?

That would indeed be a humanitarian intervention, if it succeeded. However I very much doubt that anything like that would ever happen anywhere, because US and European military commanders won’t allow so many boots on the ground in a country like Syria. I was involved in discussions about humanitarian military interventions 20 years ago, and the military personnel involved always made it clear that they would not allow their troops to be in the ground in a foreign country keeping two factions apart (which is the usual scenario for a humanitarian intervention).

47. Man on Clapham Omnibus

44. Bob B

My null hypothesis is that this is to do with Israeli expansionism.

“I suggest to Sunny that if either the UK or US had any morality then the interventions in Afganistan and Iraq wouldn’t have happened.”

“The UK” and “the US” are not continuous unchanging regimes with the same individuals in control. We have had a change of government since those times and it is not illogical to blame and judge one democratic government according to the actions or indeed inaction of a forbear.

There are some very strong arguments against intervention in Syria. I’m not persuaded it intervention a good idea or that it will work.

But citing a previous government as a guide to what a current government should or shouldn’t do now is not a valid basis for argument. Indeed, just throwing every possible objection, including unfair, inaccurate or irrelevant ones, does not help build a stronger overall case; it in fact undermines it. Stick to what is germane to this case here and now.

On top of which, the suprior morality of one country or another is not what is at stake here. There is a case – that Sunny has put – that use of chemical weapons should be punished. there is also a credible case that western intervention will be counter-productive. What happened elsewhere previously has nothing to do with it, unless you genuinely believe that the way to secure peace in Syria is to shout ‘hypocrite’ loudly enough at the ‘right’ people.

I notice that those eager to lay into the US and UK on this matter are quiet or silent about the fact that Russia and China have been actively supplying and helping Assad’s regime. And yes, they ARE hypocritical about this and their hands are already covered in far more Syrian blood.

49. Man on Clapham Omnibus

48. Lamia

‘“The UK” and “the US” are not continuous unchanging regimes with the same individuals in control. We have had a change of government since those times and it is not illogical to blame and judge one democratic government according to the actions or indeed inaction of a forbear.’

I think you would have to justify that view with some evidence. I think it is also important to examine quite what you mean about democratic government. I suggest the term government includes far more than party politics and proceeds pretty much in linear fashion and in relation to forces outside of parliamentary scrutiny and control.Security is a case in point.

Much of recent foreign policy has been involved with longer term resource management particularly oil. So in the Blair government the need to enter Iraq and Afghanistan was mainly due to demonstrable American concerns in respect of oil and energy shortages. The war on terror was merely a convenient cloak especially since Al Qaeda had been cooperating and in contact with the US up until 9/11.
Since then we have had the backing of the Arab spring in a number of rich oil states. Even the French got out of bed on one occassion! Blair now is cooperating with Cameroon on securing oil deals with some of the nastier ‘Stans’ up to the Caspian.

I would admit that Syria is different. For one US doesn’t have an alliance with Syria.It doesn’t offer too much in the way of oil resources so its not worth invading. A collapse of Assad would bring however strategic benefits .I suspect Israel would like to see Assad off the throne for its own reasons. More mayhem,more opportunity.

‘There are some very strong arguments against intervention in Syria. I’m not persuaded it intervention a good idea or that it will work.

But citing a previous government as a guide to what a current government should or shouldn’t do now is not a valid basis for argument. Indeed, just throwing every possible objection, including unfair, inaccurate or irrelevant ones, does not help build a stronger overall case; it in fact undermines it. Stick to what is germane to this case here and now’

I think ,in relation to your above comment, you would recognise that people no longer trust their governments.Moreover ,if your assertion that this government is different from Blair then why is Chilcott being further delayed?

‘On top of which, the superior morality of one country or another is not what is at stake here.’

I agree, but neither was the war on terror or WMD. These were devices to justify aggression. In the end they hanged the wrong guy in many peoples opinion.

‘ There is a case – that Sunny has put – that use of chemical weapons should be punished.’

Question arises here as to who is doing the accusing and who is doing the punishing.So far the only source of information has been from the Israelis who can hardly be regarded as neutral.

‘there is also a credible case that western intervention will be counter-productive. What happened elsewhere previously has nothing to do with it, unless you genuinely believe that the way to secure peace in Syria is to shout ‘hypocrite’ loudly enough at the ‘right’ people.’

Not a clue what this means.

‘I notice that those eager to lay into the US and UK on this matter are quiet or silent about the fact that Russia and China have been actively supplying and helping Assad’s regime. And yes, they ARE hypocritical about this and their hands are already covered in far more Syrian blood.’

I cant speak for others but my view is all these countries have a policy and will try to do anything overt or covert to further it. I’d like to think that whether or not there is blood on the ground should matter. Sadly,I suspect, for some Governments ,more blood particularly from women and children just helps to oil the wheels.

50. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Sunny

‘But the US doesn’t always dictate events, and doesn’t always have its finger-prints on everything. I find this attitude a bit patronising and racist’

But presumably you dont think western intervention is!

Whatever happened to the right of self determination?

51. Charlieman

@50. Man on Clapham Omnibus: “Whatever happened to the right of self determination?”

The initial Syrian independence movement was about “self determination”. Alas the movement has been swallowed up by sectarians. Hopefully it can re-emerge.

Assad’s regime is sectarian and is designed to repress independence of thought.

So the question is about who has the right of self determination. And how self determination is expressed with regard to human rights.

52. Charlieman

@48. Lamia: “I notice that those eager to lay into the US and UK on this matter are quiet or silent about the fact that Russia and China have been actively supplying and helping Assad’s regime. And yes, they ARE hypocritical about this and their hands are already covered in far more Syrian blood.”

Agreed. Note also that Tartus, Syria is home to Russia’s military fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. Tartus as an asset might be more significant than Assad as an ally. International diplomacy is a significant factor if Russia might keep its Tartus base.

My admiration for Ed Miliband rises with every expletive appended to his name:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/government-sources-say-ed-miliband-is-a-copperbottomed-s-who-changed-his-mind-on-syria-8789496.html

It’s fatuous to demand support from MPs “in principle” for bombing Syria, by way of admonishing the Assad regime for using chemical weapons, without saying what sort of targets would not be considered appropriate targets for bombing and without saying how much bombing would be deemed sufficiently punitive.

How would the mission end? Demanding support “in principle” amounts to asking for a blank cheque. It would be foolish of MPs to agree to that. At least with the invasion of Iraq, the clearly stated objective was to remove the capability of Iraq to use weapons of mass destruction. Of course, it was unfortunate that there turned out to be no weapons of mass destruction.

News update: David Cameron loses Commons vote on Syria action
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23892783

But will Cameron resign as he should after this loss to his credibility?

55. Aquarius DXB

I just watched your jibe-ring on RT News where you showed how small your brain is. My guess is that either you are a total idiot or you belong to the evil group of western politicians that you so much defend.
Judging from your background I see that you haven’t got much education and comes from a former UK colony that never was famous for producing any more philosophical than Bollywood.
I see that you are a sad and frustrated person and if you had 5 minutes of power with weapons of mass destruction you would probably push the button and launch a strike on anyone you hate.
Your own grotesque appearance shows that you are the type of human that one would consider a waste of sperm and egg and not even worth breathing this earth’s air.
I suggest that you keep your meaningless rhetoric speeches away from young people so they won’t be contaminated by your sick mediocrity!

It’s advisable to check supposed facts before posting personal abuse. From Wikipedia:

“Born in London to Sikh parents of Indian origin, Hundal has a degree in Economics from Brunel University. He is best known as the founder and editor of the centre-left group blog Liberal Conspiracy . . . ”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunny_Hundal

57. Man on Clapham Omnibus

56. Bob B

You admonish to briskly Sir!

If anything, Sunny has amply demonstrated that facts should never be allowed to get in the way of a good debate (or dropping bombs on others)

Hot news:

Revealed: America’s $53 billion spying budget

Top-secret documents outlining the scale and detail of the country?s intelligence-gathering operation have been leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. Barton Gellman and Greg Miller crunch the numbers ? and ask whether the US is getting its money?s worth
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/revealed-americas-53-billion-spying-budget-8792322.html#

“This means we either make a big show so as to dissuade him and others, or risk usage of chemical weapons proliferating.”

But will it? I don’t think anything which doesn’t topple his government would really maintain deterrence. And I don’t know that this would solve the problem either; there’s ultimately a sectarian war going on here which might well continue without Assad.

I mean, if you were an Alawite, you would either have to run or continue fighting if Assad fell. A lot of Sunnis will be out looking for revenge and security from future dictatorships run by Alawites.

This is not Libya, where the regime was essentially a one-man personality cult. As in Egypt, the regime (at least the system, if not the man) has supporters.

As best I can tell, polls in most western countries show popular majorities opposed to military intervention in Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons.

61. PottyTraining

What do you expect – Sunni

His first allegiance is to other zionist Jews and he has his strings pulled by the Satanist elite families of the illuminati (which also includes ashkenazi Rothschilds etc)

He doesn’t give a shit about the people of this country, a liar, a power freak benefitting from a jew-banker usury extorting family!

- like his Ashkenazi ancesters in GAzaria/Khazaria who demanded a 10% cut(or death) off anyone travelling The VolGA or at the crossroads of the Silk road
His ancestors have committed genocide attrocities against all races ever since.

They were constantly at war with their Gazarian neighbours – just like the zionists now in Israel – it’s in their ‘black-bloodline’ genes

62. PottyTraining

The Miliband vs Cameron is a big stage show cleverly acted by two acknowledged zionist Jews!
Tricking(satan the trickster) the ignorant of the UK!

“De-railed” – pah!
Masonic ‘coded-word’ chutzpah!

63. Man on Clapham Omnibus

51. Charlieman

‘So the question is about who has the right of self determination. And how self determination is expressed with regard to human rights’

Does self determination necessarily involved human rights? I thought it just implied those within a state boundary were free to pursue what political means were relevant at the time. Sometimes that can mean civil war. It certainly doesn’t mean democracy.

64. PottyTraining

Ever wundered where vexatious words “SARS” + “SARIN” etc comes from?

As zionists use occult-jew gematria and speak hebrew
- Take a peek at meaning of Hebrew word “SAR”


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