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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"It would be lunacy and madness for Syrian govt to use chemical weapons"

Above you can watch an interview with me on RT  on the very latest developments in Syria.


Douglas said...

Jim Gehrarty observed in 2008 that all Barack Obama statements have an expiration date.

The August 20, 2012 statement that movement or use of chemical weapons would cross a "red line" just reached its expiration date.

Neil Clark said...

Hi Douglas, Hope you're well. 'Red line' only seems 2 apply if Syrian govt crosses it. It seems US/UK not too keen to have investigation on chemical weapons claims.

Undergroundman said...

The most insane foreign policy decision development has been Cameron and Hollande's decision to try to arm the rebels. The real itch to do this all along has nothing to do with "humanitarian intervention" Amnesty International has criticised the war crimes of the "rebels" i.e insurgents. The strategy is in getting "regime change" at all costs. The geopolitical plan is actually relatively simple, even if the means are extremely complicated. Because the invasion of Iraq led to a Shia ascendency there and Iran is next in line for "regime change", Syria must have a pro-Western government ( at least if that "plan" doesn't backfire. It will break the arc of Shia ascendency stretching from Iran through to Lebanon where Hezbollah is a proxy of Iran. From the East, the US/ Britain is pressurising the Pakistani regime not to go ahead with the IP Pipeline as part of the sanctions programme. State Department officials have repeated threatened Pakistan about this and to abide by the TAPI Pipeline that is due to be constructed via a "stabilised" Afghanistan, the real, yet unstated war aim. To that end the US recently agreed to aid India with it's nuclear programme so it won't be tempted to accept the Iranian option. With Iran effectively curtailed in its regional ambitions, pressure will be ratcheted up on its government by those who will be suffering from the immiseration caused by the decline of its oil and gas revenue Simultaneously, to block off the IP Pipeline east means that the pipeline cannot be extended via India to China, a Power also vying for control over Central Asian oil and gas supplies to feed its rapidly industrialising economy.

Undergroundman said...

Essentially Syria is part of the jigsaw in the NEW Great Game for resources that stretches from the Middle East through Iran, the main independent bulwark to Western hegemony in Central Asia. As Lutz Kleveman writes in his The New Great Game, even officials opposed to the Tehran regime oppose any attempt by the West to install a government full of American based Iranians.They remember the CIA coup in 1953 that led to the rise of the Shah, his repressive regime under the SAVAK and botched modernisation prpgramme that produced in turn the Islamist Revolution in 1979. As for Syria, it's an ally of Iran against the domination of Saudi Arabia, a country infinitely more repressive than Iran. And the Saudis are pouring millions of dollars of weaponry into Syria to support some unsavoury jihadists.It is not just the doublethink of Western meddling that is the problem, it's the messianic insanity of believing that a huge wave of "regime change" via military threats and intervention according to vastly uncertain foreign policy precepts will yield a New World Order as opposed to a vast zone of war and anarchy. Mark Almond has written numerous articles on this and made many perceptive comments on how the spread of war in Syria could embroil the region in greater bloodshed and ignite something akin to World War Three. Diplomatic pymies and pseudo-conservative "statemen" such as William Hague are too incompetent and ignorant of the realities of diplomacy to realise this.Careful pragmatism is needed and the urgent need to find alternatives to oil supplies from dangerous and unstable lands riven with sectarian and ethnic conflicts.

Douglas said...

Did David Cameron claim that chemical weapon use would be a red line for UK intervention? I'm not seeing him using that phrase, but he seems to have expressed a similar sentiment in August of 2012.

Has David Cameron become more Obama-like after that basketball game they watched together?

Undergroundman said...

One more thing, since Hillary Clinton claimed Russia was arming the Assad regime, there has been a creeping propaganda towards supposedly matching this arms suppy ( where is the evidence Russia IS currently arming the Assad regime ?) By arming the insurgents, that could actually ignite a greater conflict with Russia which opposes the strategy of tilting the balance of power in the Middle East away from Iran and leaving the gateway open for Western domination of Central Asia. It could well lead to both sides arming their proxy forces.

Mark Almond wrote a superb piece in the Daily Mail He wrote "We like to think our statesmen and diplomats are wiser than the men who blundered into the defining catastrophe of the 20th Century – the 1914-18 war, a conflict that brought imperial powers of Germany and Russia up against Britain and, ultimately, America....

It is horribly reminiscent of how in 1914, Germany and Russia let their policies be shackled to local allies Austria and Serbia. Now, the plates are shifting and Washington, Moscow and Beijing risk letting Syria’s factions draw them into a global wrestling match.
...The West’s support for humanitarian intervention in civil wars cuts no ice in the East. Russia and China see human rights and democracy as threats to their regimes and regard such rhetoric as a cover for grabbing resources while the West still can...This puts East and West on a collision course.

But never forget in 1914, wise voices said a Balkan squabble could never lead to a world war. After all, Britain and Germany were each other’s major trading partners. It would be madness to commit economic suicide on behalf of Serbs or Habsburgs.

Yet once the dynamic of conflict gripped leaders’ minds, the psychology of fear and self-assertion trumped rational self-interest.

It is vital for our leaders, East and West, to refuse to repeat diplomatic history’s mistakes. No one can guarantee that they won’t make new ones. But brinkmanship is not the way to secure peace now.

East-West rivalry over a nasty Middle Eastern crisis is not a return to the Cold War but to a situation much less predictable and controllable.

Only history can tell whether our leaders are up to the challenge. If they are not, there may be nobody left to write it'

Neil Clark said...

Hi Karl,
Great to hear from you and your thoughts on Syria- I agree totally. The obsession with arming the rebels is all about trying to achieve a 'regime change' at all costs, to weaken Iran, which as you say, is the main independent bulwark to Western hegemony in Central Asia. If Assad had fully privatised his economy and broken with Tehran, I somehow don't think Cameron and co would be so keen to arm the 'rebels'.....

Undergroundman said...

There's an interesting piece by John Glaser on how covert US operations in Jordan are designed to try and arm the "right" insurgents. With Hobbesian chaos ensuing such a policy still amounts to a dangerous strategy that could see Syria collapse into even more bloodshed and carnage.

'Anonymous American officials have told The Associated Press that there is an ongoing effort to train “secular Syrian fighters in Jordan” and aiding so-called “moderates” in the rebel forces trying to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“The training has been taking place since late last year at an unspecified location, concentrating largely on Sunnis and tribal Bedouins who formerly served as members of the Syrian army,” according to The Associated Press. The trainees are not current members of the Free Syrian Army, officials said, because the US “fear[s] the growing role of extremist militia groups in the rebel ranks, including some linked to al-Qaida.”

The military training has coincided with a sharp increase in the CIA’s effort to coordinate the delivery of weapons to Syria’s rebels from countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and others. This, despite the Obama administration’s continuing claims to stop short of directly arming the rebels.

While Washington claims its efforts are meant to stem the rise of Islamic extremists in the rebel forces, some with links to al-Qaeda, their ability to properly vet rebels is extremely limited and has failed in the past, according to intelligence officials.

In October, The New York Times published an article confirming that, “Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists,” despite so-called vetting processes by the US'.

The move by Cameron of Britain and Hollande of France to arm the insurgents in Syria could easily lead arms to fall into the wrong hands. i'e that of jihadists sponsored by Saudi Arabia in its attempt to remove it's rivel Iran's main ally in the Middle East. Read the rest of the piece here

Undergroundman said...

As regards the Eastern Front in this hegemonic war, the promise of troop withdrawal by 2014 has now been replaced by cant about troop "drawdown".

Meaning troops will remain. The TAPI Project, what H Clinton called "The New Silk Route" is essential to hemming in Iran from the East.

Anatol Lieven, an intelligent liberal "ethical realist" underestimates the centrality of the TAPII Pipeline but he's correct to assert,

"“The US is not withdrawing from Afghanistan and 2014 is not really a cutoff date,” was the emphatic announcement with which Lieven began the 45-minute-long talk. “The US continues to feel threatened by Taliban because of which it will continue to retain bases and military advisors for the Afghan government. However, they have learnt to accept what is happening on the ground in Afghanistan as they were responsible for choosing the country’s administration.”

Without beating around the bush, Lieven summed up the main reason preventing the US from making a clean exit from Afghanistan – “America does not have an exit strategy.

They haven’t formulated any plan about how they will handle the next year’s presidential elections in Afghanistan either.” Lieven explained that at times, people express the fear of a civil war breaking out in Afghanistan if the Americans left. “What do you think is happening right now,” he asked. “Afghanistan has been in a state of civil war since long before the Soviets withdrew from it.”

You never get to read this vital information in Western newspapers looking at the realities of geostrategy. Just can articles about what Obama "could", "might" or "must " do.

Journalists need to relearn the art of understanding hard facts and realities else the public is simply going to be bombarded with oil spin about "women's rights" etc, though there are those well intentioned enough to believe that this can be a subsidiary aim of the NATO presence in Afghanistan.

Yet in accordance with doublethink, the US, while Drone Bombing Pakistan, is putting out peace feelers to the Taliban!!!

SIMPANGblogger said...

Hallo...hou are you

Undergroundman said...

Conservative historian Michael Burleigh puts paid to the Syrian chemical weapons propaganda too. He writes,

'Given that fundamental fact it matters not one jot what Cameron or Francois Hollande think. Besides, Assad's troops apparently 'do a pretty good job of securing those sites' (Leon Panetta, US Defence Secretary), and the regime has sworn not to use chemical munitions against the armed rebels.

So although talk of securing chemical munitions stocks sounds decisive enough, which is the impression both leaders are seeking to leave, it is a minor irrelevance next to the primary need for pressure to be brought on Assad and/or regime elements to be pressured into talks about Syria's longterm future with a rebel leadership that may make a stab at coherence at a conference in Cairo this weekend.

It is the spiral of violence inside Syria and its destabilising effects on the wider neighbourhood, and the inability of the major powers to agree to halt it, that is the real problem, rather than the perennial red herring of WMD, which really are the least of Syria's problems"

Precisely. Get the leaders of the opposition and regime elements to talk. The West's messianic strategy is going to cause carnage. We are led in the world by pathetic political pygmies when we need true statesmen once more.

Neil Clark said...

Hi Karl,
Thanks for the posts. Alas, UK, France, US and their Gulf allies seem hell-bent on one thing only- violent regime change and don't want any political compromises which might keep Assad or his supporters in positions of power.
There could have been a peaceful solution to this a long time ago- the new constitution, endorsed by vast majority of those who voted, provided a framework for a democratic solution, but it was rubbished by the west and its allies, who have encouraged the 'rebels' to keep on fighting.

Undergroundman said...

"There could have been a peaceful solution to this a long time ago- the new constitution, endorsed by vast majority of those who voted, provided a framework for a democratic solution"

A democratic transition of the sort that happened under Franco the 1970s may have provided a comparison.

But, of course, the Atlanticist Powers are simply not interested because this is about hegemony in the Middle East and Central Asia-Iran is a sovereign bulwark and the ultimate target should Syria have a pro-Western regime imposed on it.

The problem, apart from it's inhumanity, is that it simply has not much of a chance of working. Though Assad is a dictator, sometimes authoritarian order is preferable to chaoas ( as Thomas Hobbes knew ).

The only result this stupid and hubristic foreign policy will have is to ramp up sectarian tensions across the Middle East. As a conservative-liberal realist, I tend to agree with not only yoursel ( coming from the Old Left ) but also the Old Tory tendency represented by Mark Almond and Norman Stone, who know have distanced themselves neoconservatives ( even if Stone was a fan of Thatcher ).

The Right is divided on foreign policy. I'm old school ( though just 37). I have a pessimistic view of the human condition which view the task of statesmanship to be that of staving off recurring historical conflicts and tragedies. As with John Gray, I reject messianic Utopianisms.