For leading Western powers, the chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds in Ghota, Syria on August 21 was never more than a propaganda device.
The real issue is simple — U.S. and Israeli control over the entirety of the Middle East. This has always been the agenda, and despite all recent efforts at re-embroidering the emperor’s new clothes, Obama’s guise is looking increasingly transparent.
The contours of the plan for U.S. hegemony in the Middle East were leaked quite plainly by General Wesley Clark in his 2003 book, “Winning Modern Wars.” Clark recounts, “As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.”
The program is behind schedule, certainly, but the systematic destruction of independent governments across the Middle East has been as brutal as it has been thorough. We’ve watched the dominoes fall, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya and now Syria and Lebanon, with Iran not far behind, and as each domino falls the cries of millions of suffering human beings fades into the background as we move on to the next target.
Even if Clark had not spelled out the grand plan, the actions of the United States speak clearly enough. The game is one of domination and control of the oil-rich Middle East.
Having said that, the reality we have just witnessed was the failure of Obama’s war-marketing machine.
Too many people started asking the wrong questions. Instead of keeping to the intended dialogue over whether Assad should be punished and what the consequences of that punishment would be, ordinary people everywhere strayed from the script.
People questioned whether Assad was guilty and whether the United States had the right to act as the world’s moral policeman. Not many went so far as to ask the truly off-limits questions as to what U.S. intentions in the region really are. Even so, the propaganda machine stumbled and crashed.
While this battle for Damascus may have been lost, the war (for both Syria and Obama) is far from over. Since chemical weapons were never really relevant to U.S. war plans to begin with, we should not expect war to be abandoned even if chemical weapons are taken off the agenda entirely. There most surely is a Plan B.
Even now the U.S. administration is trying to reframe the dialogue. On the issue of United Nations jurisdiction over Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, Secretary of State John Kerry is saying that there will be “consequences” if the proposed U.N. oversight isn’t conducted satisfactorily and the Syrian government doesn’t keep to its “obligations.”
The framework for a new public dialogue is being laid out, where the appropriate questions will be “is Assad keeping to his obligations?” and, if not, “does the United States have any choice but to force his compliance through re-igniting the war machine?” We only have to remember the U.S. demands placed on Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons of mass destruction, where whatever the Iraqi dictator did was interpreted as non-compliance, to see how this scenario plays out.
And so the groundwork has been laid for the second battle for Damascus. The question now is whether the church and peace activists around the world will continue to be able to hold their ground against a renewed assault in rhetoric.
Fr. Dave Smith is an Anglican priest from Sydney, Australia. He traveled to Syria in May as a member of a peace delegation. This article is excerpted and adapted from an article (“How Obama Lost the Battle of Damascus”) that originally appeared at prayersforsyria.com.