A Howling Moral Vacuum: America’s Syrian Policy



AVID FANS of the US television series Homeland are already familiar with the drill. People in the White House, people in the Pentagon, people in the State Department let it be known to people working in the Central Intelligence Agency that certain things must be made to happen. None of these people will ever tell (or admit to) the world what it is that they want to make happen. That’s because what the US actually wants to happen is very often the opposite of what the US says it wants to happen. And that, of course, is the whole point of an outfit like the CIA. It allows the American Government to enjoy its diplomatic cake while blowing everybody else’s cake to Kingdom Come.

Take Syria, for example. In the earliest days of the uprising that became the Syrian Civil War the CIA was hard at work on the ground. It’s job was to build up the armed resistance to the regime of Bashar al-Assad as quickly as possible. Money and weapons flowed freely – even though the CIA’s knowledge of exactly who it was funding and equipping was, at best, sketchy. At worst, the CIA helped to funnel American aid to individuals and groups who had a much greater interest in Salafist Islam than they did in liberal secular democracy.

Of course the creation of a liberal secular democracy was not the real reason the CIA was in Syria. The real reason they were working so hard to make civil war inevitable was because they wanted to prevent Syria and its neighbours, Lebanon and Iraq, from getting any closer to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In pursuing this objective the United States wasn’t only acting in its own interests, but also in the interests of the governments of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Turkey was paranoid that the quasi-autonomous Kurdish enclave in Northern Iraq might one day morph into an independent Kurdistan. Such a development would make the task of repressing its own Kurdish minority ten times harder.

Saudi Arabia was determined to free the Sunni Syrian majority from the tutelage of Assad’s Shi’a allies – thereby preventing the creation of a powerful and antagonistic crescent of Shi’a-dominated states stretching from the Pakistani border to the Mediterranean Sea.

Israel’s motives for fomenting an intractable civil war may have been no more reputable than preferring a Syria racked by the agonies of civil and religious strife, to a Syria peaceful and prosperous enough to once again attempt to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Once again? Oh yes, in the early 2000s the Assad regime, with help from the North Koreans, undertook the construction of its own nuclear reactor. In 2007, Israeli jets blew the reactor to smithereens before it could come on line.

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The motives of the people in the White House, Pentagon and State Department were much the same as the Israelis. US strategic objectives in the Middle East have been remarkably consistent since the end of World War II. First and foremost there’s the region’s oil reserves. These must, at all costs, remain under the control of regimes friendly to the United States. Even the remotest possibility that the emergence of a dominant regional power, or combination of regional powers, might threaten US access to Middle eastern oil is to be “terminated with extreme prejudice” (as they say in the CIA).

Whether the potential leader of such an emergent entity be a Persian (as in the case of the Iranian Prime Minister, Mossadegh) or Arab (as in the case of the Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein) the United States has demonstrated that it will stop at nothing to preserve its hegemony in the Middle East.

So, the next time you’re wincing at horrific images broadcast out of East Aleppo, ask yourself why the civilian population hasn’t left the war zone for somewhere safer. While you’re at it, you might also ask yourself how it is that the Jihadis dug into the rubble never seem to run out of arms and ammunition. And, why it is that only the Assad Government and its Russian allies are being ordered to stop the shelling and the bombing of civilian targets?

Could it be that the men, women and children under fire in East Aleppo are much too valuable to the Jihadis as human shields to be allowed to leave their shattered homes? Or is it simply their immense value as propaganda weapons? Especially East Aleppo’s children, whose tiny broken bodies are beamed into the living-rooms of Western households practically every night of the week. Absent from our news bulletins, however, are the images of the men, women and children being killed by the Jihadi artillery shells exploding every day in the streets of West Aleppo. Funny that.

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, just like his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, may say America wants peace in Syria. But if that was really the case, then the US Government would have ordered the CIA out of Syria, and stopped shipping arms to the rebel units dug into the rubble of East Aleppo. If ending the Syrian civil war was America’s true objective in the Middle East, then it would be making peace at the side of the Russian Federation – not casting it as the principal obstacle to a successful resolution of the conflict.

What makes the Homeland series so compelling is the howling moral vacuum at the heart of American foreign and defence policy. It sucks the characters into its emptiness and leaves them breathing dirt in the dark. They are expendable instruments who would like to do good, but can’t. Because doing good is not what serving a superpower is all about.

President Ronald Reagan may have presented America as “a shining city on a hill”, but it was Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, who came closest to describing her true character. “America”, he said, “has no friends – only interests.”

Remember that next time you watch the news.


  1. I never watch ‘the news’ because it isn’t ‘the news’; it’s the day’s dose of propaganda.

    With respect to Syria, don’t forget the proposed Qatari gas pipeline through Syria to cut Russia out of the European gas market. Of course the Syrians don’t want a Qatari gas pipeline through their country, so they have to be eliminated.

    The big question now is this: will America, with Hilary Clinton as president, declare war on Russia, or will it just start war with Russia without declaring it?


    • Nah, Clinton won’t start a war.

      If our American cuzzies, under Reagan, could keep their mitts of the Big Red Button, I doubt any other reasonably sane President would “Go Nuclear”. Remember the 1980s, with the US plans to introduce Pershing 2 and cruise missiles to Western Europe? Remember Reagan’s bizarre ‘Star Wars’ space-weapons programme?

      Those were hard-core Cold War-riors.

      The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists had the Doomsday Clock at “3 minutes to midnight” in 1984 (http://thebulletin.org/timeline). It’s also “3 minutes to midnight” now, that that’s with climate change thrown into the mix of potential threats to human existence on this planet.

      So no. As much as I dislike the American Empire and it’s misguided military adventurism in the Middle East and tacit support for Israeli agression, I’m pretty sure Clinton won’t start WWIII.

      Trump, on the other hand… (http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-real-nuclear-threat)

      • No one knows, Frank. We do our best to keep informed, but can never be sure whose analysis is the most accurate.

        That said, we do know that US is certainly not what it was in the 1980s (now very much weaker economically, financially, politically and militarily) and is under more pressure than ever. And the maniacs who are in control in Washington are clearly both desperate and insane. And totally hypocritical (not a new phenomenon).


        The deterioration of practically everything that is a natural consequence of banks, corporations and opportunists determining government policy means that we are now in ‘End Times’, not from a biblical perspective but in terms of the end of financial-economic-political-social (largely American) system that has dominated for over a century.

        I cannot see the oligarchs who control America or Americans in general giving up their privileged position without a fight. And war is surely the only option left for them, since the American way of life is ‘non-negotiable’. And American like war. It has now become part of the national psyche.

        • A global society that reflects greed is headed for massive destruction and that is what we are. We need a mode of orginisations that reflects other value and I think that is a failure of the left and peace activists and unions.

          If you look at any protest in New Zealand and strip out everything you are left with one truth that is your power is illegitimate, it dosnt make sense, you need to go. This is generalised through out even amounts treaty settlement protests like why aren’t the unions orgninsing these events in collaboration. And the messages are pretty sensible. A fairer distribution of wealth, strengthen rights and so on. That’s pretty much what Mike Treen has been saying and is working to strengthen orginsing and communication.

      • You’re too sanguine. We are post Reagan. Post MAD. The current administration of the US believes i can achieve primacy: full spectrum global domination. It’s not about big red buttons any more, it’s about believing the other side will never push it while maneuvering bases and weapons into place so that even pushing it a missile would be shot out of the sky.

        You grossly underestimate the goals of the current elite and Clinton’s complicity with them.

      • Frank;

        “Nah, Clinton won’t start a war.”

        “I doubt any other reasonably sane President would “Go Nuclear”. Remember the 1980s,….”

        This is not the 1980s Frank and Hillary is not reasonably sane.

        I am not saying she would necessarily “Go Nuclear” but she has stated
        recently that she would go to war with Russia. I have no doubt about that.

        Her health is not good but more importantly she represents the face of
        the ‘Shadow Government.The Globalists that are nearing their End Game of World Government.
        Unfortunately things seem to be unraveling for them with Financial Collapse beckoning,Syria resisting and Trump on the horizon.

        Add Brexit,other EU nations wanting referendums, Russia not wishing
        to be part of it and what have we got?
        Historically it means war. These people can’t stand a Multi-polar World.

        War is their the last move in the playbook to try to maintain power.

        Afewknowthetruth says;
        “No one knows, Frank. We do our best to keep informed, but can never be sure whose analysis is the most accurate.”

        Well Infowars is now mainstream to millions on a global scale and has
        proved virtually 100% correct in their message of 20yrs.

        MSM,for years,has tried to keep the name Alex Jones out of the media
        so people won’t go to his site to find out what he has to say.
        Now the dam has broken hence the news on TV3 on Monday that this
        man is the ‘Conspiracy Theorist’ where Donald Trump gets his conspiracy
        information from. Which is not true BTW.

        Add Putin to the mix and we have a perfect piece of propaganda for the
        mis-informed that still rely on MSM for their information.
        The narrative is so discredited now that things will never go ‘back to their normal’.

        The Tipping Point is here and many now know that most of what he says
        is true.

        Americans are on the front line of this onslaught and Infowars IS the
        ‘tip of the spear’.!

        So to keep us up with the play with information the MSM is hiding from us
        view and listen to these very important clips.

        Russia will shoot down any missile or aircraft that enters Syrian airspace without permission!!





  2. Personally I think Hillary will Invade a Middle East country in her first term. That is the only way a Hillary type personality and skill set can stave off that much debt. Obviously Trump has a different set of skills to deal with debt that dosnt nessecary envolved invasion but us defence spending will remain above 400 billion either way

  3. I wonder if America underestimated the support the Russians would give Assad.

    I wonder too, if they thought the Syrian rebels never even had a chance of winning, like what happened with the Kurds in Iraq, who America cynically abandoned, and turned into cannon fodder.

    • Russia faces an existential threat [from America] and cannot back down in Syria. Failure to stem the tide of neoliberalism and racially/religiously inspired terrorism which the US has been financing and sponsoring would result in destabilastion of the Russian Federation: Putin will not allow that to happen, and has made it abundantly clear to the warmongering Americans what will happen if they attempt a takeover of Syria via the usual method of carpet-bombing cities. Any aircraft not designated as flying legally by the Syrian government will be shot down. And any aircraft or missile deemed by the Russians to be a threat to Russian personnel will be shot down.

      Since Russian missile systems are far superior to American, and so are the aircraft. The Americans appear to be checkmated.

      Defeat in Georgia.
      Defeat in Ukraine.
      Defeat in Syria.
      Defeat in Yemen.

      The Americans could throw a tantrum and tip over the chessboard, of course.

      However we look at it, the world has never been in a worse state.

      And tomorrow it will be a little worse, an inevitable consequence of ‘the system’.

  4. Yep ,… their all at it.

    Scheming and planning , setting one lot off against another ,… no different from Tacitus’ s day ,… when the Romans approved with glee when they managed to set one German tribe against another and have them slaughter each other, … thus saving the Romans the trouble and helping to ensure Roman hegemony in the region…

    This is how the world does politics . And has been for eons.

    And this is how it is today , one could say that the example of Roman duplicity is alive and well in 2017. And they would be right.


    Empires and their duplicitous men and women paid to keep the borders ‘safe ‘. In this case the USA’s CIA.

    Formerly called OSS – the Office of Strategic Services . Who had in their service such men as Rex Applegate , a close quarters combat instructor … who wrote the book ‘ Kill or be Killed’.

    That is the sort of heritage we are talking about when we talk of the CIA. Killers, among other things. And political saboteurs. Blackmailers and election riggers, assassins and arms and drug runners, experimenters in psychological warfare, suppliers of arms for insurrections , advisers to foment regional instability….

    Is it any wonder we see news footage of broken bodies of small children , – and that the footage we see is ALWAYS caused by the other mob – never the side the CIA wants to assist.

    The Romans would have given their hearty approval.

  5. I do not think the motivation was to stop Syria getting closer to Iran, as it could have hardly got closer as the Assad regime already was to Iran. Also would the US have had more reason to be worried about Iran to get more influence in Iraq. But it was unable to stop that anyway. Now the US government has agreed with Iran on nuclear program changes, and on lifting some of the economic and financial boycott.

    The US is bombing ISIS in Iraq and assisting the Shiite majority government and army there to take Mosul.

    I think the US had the goal to assist local forces overthrow the Assad regime, simply to create some kind of pro western, or at least less hostile, preferably democratic government there.

    But as so often, the calculation went badly wrong.

    Now the US has become a lame outside force, and has lost almost all influence on what happens within Syria, that is apart from collaborating with the odd ethnic or other fighter group, which is now mainly the FSA. Air bombardments are near impossible now, since Russia took over most of the airspace, and is now going to establish a permanent base there.

    Turkey has distanced itself from the US and plays its own game.

    Iran and Hezbollah are succeeding on many fronts, together with the Syrian Army.

    All that will happen now is that Assad will militarily win, except perhaps have some small areas of insurgency here and there, but for the rest, Syria will remain unstable internally, with a threat of terror attacks, as happened in Iraq since the US invaded there.

    Even Assad and the Russians and Iranians will not manage to fully control Sunni rebels of whatever kind, and this will go on for years to come.

    The course of the US will be determined in November, probably end in Clinton taking her reign, and continuing Obama’s course, but with more resolute action here and there, but Syria will largely be no go zone for the US, as Russia will ensure it stays put and that a regime there will be closely aligned with Moscow.

    • ‘I think the US had the goal to assist local forces overthrow the Assad regime, simply to create some kind of pro western, or at least less hostile, preferably democratic government there.’

      I think the goal is to destabilize Syria and install a corrupt, puppet government, composed of people with connexions to American corporations -a puppet government that would allow rapid looting of the Syria by American corporations.

      The ‘freedom and democracy’ argument has been seen to be completely phony so many times it is no longer believable.

      • The Russians do that, the US does it, China does it, so as the Romans once did, the Babylonians once did, the Hettites once did, the Mongols once did, the Persians once did, and the list can go on. Human beings, which we are, are simply not the kind and peace loving lot, we would not have John Key and this regime in place, if humans were kind to each other and not greedy, power hungry and so forth.

      • What is there to “loot” in Syria, what was there even before the civil war to “loot”? They have sparse resources, and rather perhaps only reasonably well trained and educated people, but the economy was never great there.

  6. Mr Trotter –
    “Take Syria, for example. In the earliest days of the uprising that became the Syrian Civil War the CIA was hard at work on the ground. It’s job was to build up the armed resistance to the regime of Bashar al-Assad as quickly as possible. Money and weapons flowed freely – even though the CIA’s knowledge of exactly who it was funding and equipping was, at best, sketchy. At worst, the CIA helped to funnel American aid to individuals and groups who had a much greater interest in Salafist Islam than they did in liberal secular democracy.”

    I have read posts by other authors on this blog, and some of them are good with providing links to sufficient evidence, when they make such bold claims as you have made here.

    You provide no evidence of this, and it would sound totally foolish and amateurish for the CIA to act in such rushed, careless manner. They already had the Iraq fiasco, so they would not have gone to great lengths to try another adventure, which appears even desperado like, the way you write.

    I have no doubt the CIA had a role in all this, but I think that they did in all honesty not simply provide weapons to people they would not have known well enough.

    It all started with the usual, peaceful protests, and then the mosques and also Sunni leaders played a greater role, and it escalated when the security services started cracking down harshly. As with other conflicts, the intentions of most was initially peaceful, then less radical armed resistance, and in the end the more radical, the jihadists, the salafists took greater control.

    I honestly think you have watched too many US spy movies, Chris.

    • “As with other conflicts, the intentions of most was initially peaceful, then less radical armed resistance, and in the end the more radical, the jihadists, the salafists took greater control”

      I honestly think you have watched too much US TV drama, Mike.

      Where there may be local protests against the government, the CIA see an opportunity and leap in, AK47s and all – well – it’s worked for them in the past, so they’ll just keep repeating the old age formula…..they have said for at least the last 20 yrs they wanted to overthrow Syria (and Iraq…check, and Libya…check, and Iran…pending, and………)

      • Absurd, like those claiming the US supports JFS (formerly Nusra), ISIS and so forth, to self destroy, yeah right.

        Chris went a bit far with his presumptions, and he presented not one bit of evidence, or a hint of it.

        Some here defend the Russians, and think their global station RT is the source of balance and truth, but they are all playing dirty, so I was just trying to keep some sanity re this.

        Thinking the CIA is everywhere and intent on simply overthrowing regimes and peddling weapons 24/7, that is exaggerated.

        By saying that, I do NOT defend them, and I know full well that they are in many places up to mischief.

      • RT, who some here prescribe to, are reporting extensively on the right leaning AfD in Germany and their protests, doing all to support dissent within Germany, rightly or wrongly, they are clearly acting with interest to influence political affairs in other countries. So does the US, so do other countries, I want people here to wake up and stand up against ALL interference from outside, not become fans of one or the other side.


  7. All very interesting, as we know thousands of so-called intelligent commentators have thoughts on the Middle East mass murder in the name of democracy.
    The America empire will as it always has done, simply kill those who oppose its desires. But at heart they are cowards, they lack the guts of honesty…they are a disgrace to humanity… What interests me is the gutless way we simply follow them into the bull-shit world of mire and muck, like the UK and Australia we simply do as we are told… Key as Prime Minister kisses US or Saudi arse every chance he gets… The America of today is a Hollywood gone mad… they believe their propaganda and their hypocrisy. It is so obvious that even a child can see through it. Clinton is a murderer well practiced in the art. As have all the Presidents since the 2nd world war. Tony Blair adores them, John Key longs to be one of them, it seems as if all our heroes are American clones…show me an American CIA, FBI individual and I’ll show you a gutless weak spineless idiot.
    I don’t give a crap who the Americans elect as president, Clinton or Trump…ones a murderer and the others a rapist but together they represent what America has become. A sick Hollywood drama dictatorship of the wealthy where the term ‘Ugly American” applies in all respects.

    • Do not forget, the ones in power here (in little Niu Zilliland) and in the US still somehow get voted in, by enough idiots out there, who are brainwashed and care only about their own and petty interests.

      As long as there are enough easily brainwashed people who maintain the status quo, nothing will change.

    • The Standard began delivering drivel long ago. And The Standard started applying censorship when its phony narratives were challenged. I haven’t looked at it for many years, having been banned for ‘speaking unmentionable truths’ about Labour politicians a decade ago.

      You have to be one of the party faithful, an uninformed fool, to be in ‘The Standard club’.

      • From being a Centrist Blog The Standard has been moving increasingly Rightward. The silencing of all Left critique that deviates from their simplistic National Bad, Labour good narrative has become more intense, and more dishonest, Once when banning Left commenters The Standard authors used to announce that they were banning some commenter for some perceived transgression and give a time for the their ban, a week, a year, permanently. Now they just quietly shut them out, secretely applyng permanent bans on Left commentators, dishonestly
        giving the impression to their readers that the Left has no answer to their sectarian Centrist narrative. At the same time The Standard give free run to the Right to make comment and engage in endless circular and sterile debate around Labour Good, National Bad.

        The result of all this is that we get one sided posts from The Standard’s anonymous resident Lord Haw Haw’s for the Assad regime, Bill and Colonial Viper, that allow no criticial comment of their support for the mass murder of the Syrian people from the skies by both the regime and Russia.

        Any comments counter to their line that the war in Syria is not a civil war, but is instead a US/CIA/Saudi conspiracy fought by foreign mercenaries is ruthlessly suppressed.

        Below is an example of the sort of link that is not allowed at The Standard, lest it to disturb their simplistic view of the conflict.


  8. Good post Chris. Some truth emerged.

    Double Speak,
    MSM images,
    Saudi Arabia,

    Covers most of it I think.

    Keep up the work.


  9. This is what the Yanks support (see video), hardly islamist, but the Islamists are the only staunch fighters, such as Ahrahr al Sham, Jabhat Fateh Al Sham and other groups, but then do we want to hand Syria to them? I doubt that Assad will ever get total control of Syria ever again.


  10. No more genocide!

    Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution!

    Victory for Syrian people now!

    Join us on Sat 29 October at 2pm at the Russian Embassy!

    Civilians in Aleppo and across Syria are being intensively bombed by Russia with bunker bombs, phosphorous bombs, napalm, thermobaric and cluster bombs; and by the Syrian regime with chlorine containing barrel bombs; targetting homes, schools, hospitals, rescue teams, and underground shelters .
    Like many Syrian cities, Aleppo has been under a starvation siege. The regime and Russian have even bombed the city’s water supply.
    Despite these atrocious crimes against humanity, Aleppo’s people show tremendous solidarity and caring for each other, as they work to find the wounded under the rubble, and rush them to undergound clinics for treatment. Hundreds of democratically run community councils have been formed across Syria in the liberated areas. They have produced a tremendous amount of art, literature, music, and electronic media documenting the revolution and counter revolution in Syria.
    The “peace” talks have broken down. It is clear that Russia and the Assad regime are looking for a military solution to enable the genocidal Assad regime to continue in power.
    Most of the fighters killing Syrian civilians are not Syrians. They include soliders from Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, many of them conscripted or desperately poor with no other options for a living.
    The Assad regime and Russia have killed half a million Syrian people. The genocide has to stop! The regime regularly uses rape and torture as weapons.
    The war started because people across Syria went onto the streets to demand democracy, and instead were shot, rounded up, tortured, raped and killed. So the people took up arms to defend themselves. The Assad regime has vowed to continue to obliterate the population until it accepts his rule.
    Both the United States and Russia have re-defined the people’s struggle for democracy as a “war on terror” and are both responsible for killing civilians.
    Isis grew in Syria with the encouragement of the Assad regime. Assad deliberately released extremists from his jails, who went on to join Isis in Syria. The regime leaves Isis alone, and Isis is continually attacking the democratic opposition groups. The democratic opposition has been forced to fight on two fronts, against the attacks from the regime and from Isis. Despite the evils perpetrated by Isis, it has killed a fraction of the number of people, that the Assad regime has. The Assad regime with its Russian and Iranian allies are the greater evil.
    Stop the bombing! Troops out!

    • Great Comment however how dare you lump in the Destruction of ISIS by the great US Military and those on the ground that hate ISIS – which is EVERYONE in Syria except Assad and Putin —- with the “Barbaric” “War Crimes” and “Terroristic attacks on civilians” by Russia – as Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Powers condemned Russian attacks recently.

  11. On the news last week that Hezbollah has demanded the official representatives of the Palestinians leave Lebanon.

    As a large part of Assad’s army defected to the rebels, Lebanon’s Hezbollah is carrying out most of the ground fighting on the regime’s behalf. Palestinian refugees in Syria who have borne the brunt of the regime’s fury. A Hezbollah propagandist explains the rational.

    Mr. Ibrahim Amin, Editor in Chief of Lebanon’s Al Akbar daily newspaper, presents an  argument that somehow because Palestinians have been given many more civil rights in Syria than for example in Lebanon, which to Syria’s great credit is true; the refugees are somehow at fault for their own slaughter and siege at Yarmouk. This is nonsense of course as is his statement, “In Syria, Palestinians were citizens.”  Palestinians for example, cannot vote in Syrian elections and Amin should know that they have never been made citizens of Syria and this is common knowledge.
    Writing in the 1/13/14 issue of his newspaper, Editor Amin piles endless blame on the victims, rather than the perpetrators, by seeming to argue that they deserved what is happening to the babies dying of malnutrition, dehydration, disease cause by the siege of their camp. He demands to know “What pushed Palestinians in this camp to believe in toppling Bashar al-Assad? No sane person ever figured that much of the camp would raise their weapons in the face of Syria.”


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