Don’t bomb Syria

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It’s 2003 all over again with Western powers preparing the ground for a massive aerial bombardment of an Arab country.

The assault on Iraq was a disaster. Millions of people were either killed, wounded, or forced to flee their homes. The country was ripped apart and is still plagued by violent conflict.

Now it is Syria’s turn to “be taught a lesson” with American and British missiles. In all the media commentary – from Obama, Cameron, Rudd, Key and Goff – there is one thing missing – any compassion for the Syrians who will be killed and wounded in the strikes. Presumably, they are just collateral damage.

Phil Goff was on Radio New Zealand this morning attacking those nations on the UN Security Council (Russia and China) that are actually trying to save lives. Russia says lets wait for the UN inspectors to report on the evidence for the use of chemical weapons, and let’s keep trying to get the Syrian parties to the conference table to work out a peaceful solution.

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The lead-up to the US assault on Syria in 2013 is almost a carbon copy of Iraq in 2013. In 2003 the dictator Saddam was supposed have weapons of mass destruction ready for use and UN inspectors were sent in to find out if this was true. In 2013 the dictator Assad has supposedly used chemical weapons and UN inspectors have been sent in to find out. In 2003 the United States didn’t wait for the inspectors to report, and began bombing Iraq. In 2013 it seems likely the US won’t wait for the inspectors to report, and will start bombing Syria.

In Iraq the UN later found Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. Surely that is in argument for caution in Syria. In Syria today, the UN inspectors have yet to find what chemical agents killed people in the Bagdad suburb and who was responsible.

If the Assad regime is found to be responsible it will surely suffer hugely, without any military action from outside. The price will be hostility from the Syrian people and virtually the whole international community (including its main military supplier, Russia). In this circumstance US air strikes would only serve to help Assad, enabling him to divert attention away from chemical weapons use to the death and destruction caused by yet another bombing of a Muslim country. Since America bombed a baby food factory in Sudan in 1998, it has bombed Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and assisted the French to bomb Mali.

The strikes on Syria will also escalate the civil war, with both the Assad regime and its opponents less willing to take the only sensible course, negotiations for a ceasefire and the establishment of a broad transitional government.

There is no rational purpose to any air strike on Syria, other than to remind the world of American power. We are told President Obama would lose face if he didn’t strike, after previously declaring that Assad’s use of chemical weapons would be a “red line”. Superpower credibility comes before Syrian lives. Don’t expect to see many dead bodies in the coming Pentagon-orchestrated TV coverage, with its many aerial shots of missiles hitting their targets and the triumphal Obama press conferences.

As usual, our Prime Minister seems to be falling in behind Washington. But this is a golden opportunity for the Labour leadership contestants to show their mettle on an important issue of war or peace. All you have to do David, Grant and Shane is to state, unequivocally, that you oppose any US-led airstrikes on Syria. No ifs, no buts.

17 COMMENTS

  1. This is why the Green Party is so important. It is the only major party that unequivically presents a sane and independent point of view. It is almost impossible for Labour to take such a position.

  2. Good to see Keith standing up for the thugs in Syria or showing any sympathy for the victims in Syria. Assad hates Israel so he in Keith’s eyes he is a hero fighting ‘terrorists’. Next i expect you will be in support of george galloway’s consipiracy theory that Israel provided the chemical weapons!

  3. I must say I rather agree with how George Galloway has eloquently expressed it:
    “It is entirely implausible that the Syrian regime chose the moment of the arrival of a UN chemical weapons inspection team to launch a chemical attack on an insurgency already suffering reverse after reverse on the battlefield and steadily losing international support with each new video showing them eating the hearts of slain soldiery and sawing off the heads of Christian priests with bread knives.”

    The Drummers of War
    Syria 2013
    Who are the ones
    who are beating the drums
    of war?
    Not they whose sons
    will soon die alone,
    not the widows who mourn
    or the children who scream,
    not the nurse who carries
    the amputated limb,
    or the lovers parted
    with their amputated dreams.
    These are never the ones
    who beat on the drums
    of war.
    But the wolves in suits,
    the sellers of arms,
    the peddlers of lies
    for whoever will pay,
    those who strut the world-stage,
    those who slink in the shadows,
    who smile and smile
    though their souls stink to hell…
    They are the ones
    who beat on the drums
    of war!
    Michael Hedley Burton

  4. US imperialism’s firepower has historically solved little. It is the yanks continued support for the Israeli zionists that rarks up most of the mid East conflicts.

  5. Lets not forget that the very nations calling for “intervention” (read murder) have a track record so horrific that it beggars belief that we have been sucked back 10 yrs to yet another blood lust.

    The self proclaimed protector of the free world, USA, has the distinction of being the only country to have used Chemical and Nuclear weapons on civilian populations. In fact not only have they toppled democracies in the region (Iran) but have armed dictators with chemical weapons (Saddam). The hypocrisy is sickening.

    If NZ politicians cannot do the very least bit of resistance to this madness by vocally condemning it then what good are they?

  6. The UN is just a shill for USA/UK interests. Don’t expect them to make an impartial decision. A previous chemical weapon attack recently petered out the war rhetoric when it was found to have been initiated by the ‘rebels’. NZ being part of the intelligence system for the US will be involved whether we want to be or not. Of course Key will use this to further brown-nose his allegiance with things Amerikan. Remember that the Pentagons business is war and the pursuit of war. The drums are beating…..

    • For all its flaws, the UN is nothing of the sort. If it was, it would have rubber-stamped the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, rather than the US/UK having to thumb its nose at the UN and lead a coalition of gullible into an orgy of collateral murder.

  7. The US doesn’t learn from its mistakes and the world has had enough of this psychopath.

    Lets scrap 5 eyes, distance ourselves from the US and get real independence from the UK and align ourselves with countries that don’t survive from acts of terrorism.

    • Referring to a nation of 313 MILLION people as a singular person shows that you are not only small-minded, but pathologically uninformed as well. Your nation hate may play well with your rugby mates, but it really demonstrates that New Zealand is still an ignorant, isolated little country.

      • “Referring to a nation… as a singular person shows that you are not only small-minded, but pathologically uninformed as well”

        “New Zealand is still an ignorant, isolated little country.”

        Oh the irony.

  8. http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2013/08/27/bfp-syria-report-satellite-imagery-proves-syrian-chemical-weapons-attack-staged-by-rebels/comment-page-1/#comment-11309

    James Corbett interviews Ayssar Midani, Aug 27 (28 mins): names the local Jabhat al-Nusra commander, Sheikh Zahran Abdullah Alloush, as having ordered the firing of the two rockets with chemical warheads. In fact, Alloush is the commander of the Liwa al-Islam Brigade, based in Duma. He is a well-known and documented figure. She says the satellite imagery actually shows the rockets being fired, travelling and reaching their targets, and that it has been given by Vitaly Churkin to the UNSC. She does not say whether satellite telephone communications from or to Alloush substantiating the claim were intercepted. The video evidence (and audio evidence, if there is any) has not been released publicly, and this is a typically Russian authoritarian mistake. They will not comprehend the fact that the world public has to be treated as an equal interlocutor in emergencies, not an object to be manipulated by competing rulers.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/deleted-daily-mail-online-article-us-backed-plan-for-chemical-weapon-attack-in-syria-to-be-blamed-on-assad/5339178

  9. http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2013/08/27/bfp-syria-report-satellite-imagery-proves-syrian-chemical-weapons-attack-staged-by-rebels/comment-page-1/#comment-11309

    “James Corbett interviews Ayssar Midani, Aug 27 (28 mins): names the local Jabhat al-Nusra commander, Sheikh Zahran Abdullah Alloush, as having ordered the firing of the two rockets with chemical warheads. In fact, Alloush is the commander of the Liwa al-Islam Brigade, based in Duma. He is a well-known and documented figure. She says the satellite imagery actually shows the rockets being fired, travelling and reaching their targets, and that it has been given by Vitaly Churkin to the UNSC. She does not say whether satellite telephone communications from or to Alloush substantiating the claim were intercepted. ”

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/deleted-daily-mail-online-article-us-backed-plan-for-chemical-weapon-attack-in-syria-to-be-blamed-on-assad/5339178

  10. Comparing the situation in Syria to that in Iraq a decade ago represents an entirely blunt and overly simplistic foreign policy perspective. Any argument that flows from the premise that these are parallel is severely lacking. As for Russia/China “actually trying to save lives”, the author does not seem to understand that a policy of non-intervention is still a policy in itself. In other words, if the deaths that result from Western intervention in the region are to be counted and scrutinised, so should the deaths that result from non-intervention, which in this instance exceed 100,000.

  11. I don’t know who used gas. I do know Assad is a murderous dictator. I do know that many elements of the opposition are murderous thugs. I do know that Western attacks on Syria will lead to more death and suffering. I do know that we started to get up off our knees as Kiwis and be a little independent. We now seem to be back on our knees. I do know Key is a poodle who wants to sniff superpower genitalia. It seems Goff is no different.

    We should stay out of it and make it obvious that we do not support war. Will the three candidates for Labour leader say this? Probably not, although I’d like to see it.

  12. Meanwhile there are thousands of refugees trekking across the borders and living in tough conditions.

    Are we helping them? And the receiving countries who have no useful Nauru to dump them on?

    Is our little voice being raised to help conserve the antiquities of Damascus and other ancient places for future generations?

    Are we using our voice in the UN loudly enough? Working with other nations to speak firmly to those tired and nostalgic warmongers?

    And, do we as New Zealanders, require our government to check with the nation as a whole before sending any of our people into yet another ‘illegal war’?

    Can we be more in the mould of Canada, than the tired old USA?

    • Unfortunately, Canada is now more like the tired old USA than it is like Canada. Harper has done, and is doing, a lot of damage.

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