USA Maneuvering for UN-Sanctioned Attack vs. Syria

Richard Becker

Having been forced to back off from a threatened military attack on Syria by intense international and domestic opposition, the Obama administration is now seeking to lay the basis for a UN Security Council-sanctioned assault.

On Sept. 13, an agreement was reached between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on a plan to dismantle Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons. The government of Syria expressed support for the agreement, while the Syrian armed opposition has condemned it.

Having been delayed in carrying out a direct military attack, the United States, Britain and France are seeking to use any UN Security Council resolution as the basis for a renewed push toward a Pentagon bombing campaign. Russia and China, which hold the two other seats in the Security Council, are attempting to word any Syria resolution in a way that prevents it from being used or interpreted as a rationale for such an intervention.

France was the colonial power over Lebanon and Syria. Britain was the other major colonial power in the Middle East until the end of World War II. The United States took their place as the major imperial power in the region in the post-World II era.

The ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), which organized protests around the country in the weeks prior to Obama’s announcement that he was pulling back from an imminent military attack on Syria, stated: “We believe that the issue of chemical weapons is being used as a pretext for greater intervention by the United States, Britain and France to carry out a larger but unstated agenda in the Middle East, which is to destroy every single independent, nationalist government in this oil-rich region.”

The United States has more than 5,000 nuclear weapons and is providing more than $3 billion each year to Israel, which has a large stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and, even more importantly, a large number of nuclear weapons. When the United States demanded last week that Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile be destroyed, they made sure to avoid language calling for a regional ban on such weapons since it would have highlighted the fact that the U.S. government’s principal ally, Israel, possesses these weapons.

Maneuvers at the United Nations

The plan agreed to by Syria calls for the Syrian government to turn over a list of its chemical weapons and where they are stored by Sept. 21. UN weapons inspectors are to arrive in Syria by mid-November and the weapons are supposed to be destroyed by the middle of 2014.

The agreement is being turned into a UN Security Council resolution. Kerry is demanding that the resolution include authorization for military strikes on Syria if it is deemed to not having sufficiently complied with the resolution. But the Russian government opposes this provision, and Russia is one of the five states that have veto power in the Security Council.

Both Obama and Kerry have repeatedly threatened that the United States could still carry out a unilateral attack on Syria, regardless of the wording of a UNSC resolution.

Chemical weapons report—More questions

The rationale for the U.S. threats of military action was a chemical weapons attack in Ghouta and the surrounding area east of Syria’s capital Damascus on Aug. 21. Obama and Kerry have blamed the Syrian government for the attack from the start. More than a year ago, the President Obama declared that use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would cross a “red line,” triggering a U.S. military response.

A team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had arrived in Syria on Aug. 18 to investigate an earlier alleged use of chemical weapons in the city of Aleppo.

That the Syrian government would launch a large-scale chemical weapons attack immediately after the arrival of the OPCW team in the country seems illogical, even more so given that the government forces have been making major gains in the war over the past several months.

The OPCW team conducted an investigation of the Aug. 21 attack and issued its report to the UN on Sept. 16 confirming that a chemical weapons attack had taken place, but not assigning responsibility. While the United States, Britain, France and Turkey have all blamed the Syrian government, the Syrian government has adamantly denied using chemical weapons and accused the opposition of staging a provocation to justify a U.S./NATO assault.

On Sept. 18, the Agence France Presse reported that the Syrian government had forwarded “new evidence showing it was opposition forces were behind the sarin attack” to the UN.

Besides responsibility for the Aug. 21 attack, the OPCW report leaves other unanswered questions. The Ghouta area is in Syrian opposition hands and the report states, regarding evidence the OPCW was collecting: “During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.”

The OPCW report does not include the estimated death toll. While the United States claims that at least 1,429 were killed, Britain and France have reported far lower figures, 350 and 281 respectively.

The report states that a deadly nerve gas, sarin, was delivered by M14 artillery rockets. But the question of whether the armed opposition possesses such munitions and sarin gas itself is not addressed.

There have been numerous reports of rebel forces possessing and seeking to produce sarin. On Sept. 13, the Los Angeles Times reported that a Turkish prosecutor had indicted six members of the Syrian opposition for attempting to procure precursor materials for creating sarin. The government of Turkey, it should be noted, has been strongly supporting the opposition.

The opposition Syrian National Coalition and “Free Syrian Army” have expressed bitter disappointment that the U.S./NATO air strikes they were hoping for did not materialize. They were counting on foreign intervention to tip the military balance in their favor, as it has become clear that they cannot win without it.

While it is worthwhile to skeptically examine the claims of those who are set on attacking Syria, the people’s opposition to a new imperial war against Syria should not be premised on whether or not chemical weapons were used either by pro-government forces or by the armed Syrian opposition. Rather it is necessary to expose the imperial motives of the United States, Britain and France, who are seeking any pretext to carry out their semi-colonial designs on the peoples of the region. These same imperialist forces have used nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Imperialist powers do not go to war because of “moral outrage” about the use of any particular weapon.

While the Obama administration was forced to pull back from military strikes, it has not given up on the objective it shares with the 11 other presidencies dating back to World War II: domination of the oil-rich and strategic Middle East. That means the anti-war movement must stay on alert.

Syria: Empire’s Last Gasp

IMPERIAL CRUSADE AGAINST SYRIA

Oscar Sánchez Serra

WHY is the United States attacking Syria?

Brazil, Russia – reborn as a superpower and an uncomfortable one – India and China – are emerging economies that are already acting as leaders on the world geopolitical stage. It is said that India and China, also the most populated nations of the world, will mark the rate of development during the 21st century. In other words, one has to be prepared for a global transfer of power. The current empire will not be the most powerful.

For Viktor Burbaki of the U.S. Strategic Culture Foundation, mathematical models of the global geopolitical dynamic have led to the conclusion that a grand-scale victory in a war utilizing conventional means is the only option for the United States being able to reverse the rapid collapse of its geopolitical status. Burbaki affirms that if the current geopolitical dynamic persists, a change in global leadership could be expected by 2025, and the only way in which the United States can derail this process is by unleashing a war on a grand scale.

Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 have already endured imperial attacks, utilizing the same argument based on a pack of lies. The tactic of the world gendarme has never been to challenge states that could dispute its global supremacy, for which reason Burbaki considers that Iran, Syria and Shi’ite groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, face the greatest danger of suffering strikes in the name of a new world redistribution of power. The specialist did not state this the other day, but more than 12 months ago, in February of 2012.

In other words, to get rid of Syria and Iran, obstacles on the route to U.S. global domination, would be Washington’s next natural step.

Paul Farrell, U.S. columnist and financial analyst, stated last April that the United States needed a new war, in order for capital to thrive. He ironically commented then, in a brief note which appeared in Russia Today, “Didn’t WWII get us out of the Great Depression?” He capped this statement off with data which informs his thesis that wars benefit capitalists above all. The Forbes list of world billionaires skyrocketed from 322 in 2000 to 1,426 recently, 31% of them being American.

Marcelo Colussi, Argentine psychologist, professor, writer, journalist and full-time activist for social justice and global dignity, has one of the most convincing answers to the question as to why the United States would attack Syria. When, at the beginning of the 20th century, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge said that his country’s business consisted of doing business, this has today been transformed into doing business with war. Let others do the fighting and here we are to sell them weapons.

In this context, the Argentine intellectual passes his verdict that today, U.S. power is based on wars, always those in other nations, never on its own territory. In any event, war is its axis; its domestic economy is nourished to a large extent by the arms industry and its planetary hegemony (appropriation of raw materials and imposition of the rules of the economic and political game on a global scale, with primacy of the dollar. Today, Washington needs wars. Without wars, the power would not be a power.

What we are seeing now with a besieged Syria, what is leading the Middle East into a war of unforeseeable consequences, with the real target, Iran, following behind and with Israel, which is waiting, pressuring and coercing the master to the North to fulfill its promise of punishing that Persian country, is not a chance operation.

The first victim of war is the truth. While in Iraq the most obscene fallacies were its possession of weapons of mass destruction and its close links with Al Qaeda, and in Iran, the manufacture of powerful nuclear armaments, in Syria the lie is chemical weapons utilized by President Al-Assad against his own people, although nobody with the most elemental common sense believes it, because Syria would be the least to benefit by creating a pretext such as this.

But lies are part of the plan, and this one did not come into existence overnight, nor was it improvised in a bar over a few beers, but in the White House, in 1997, when a group of fevered minds of the alienated ultra-right created a project for the New American Century, with the objective of sustaining the United States as the hegemonic superpower of the planet, at any and all costs.

The objectives of the project are the opening up, stability, control and globalization of markets, as well as security and freedom of trade; unrestricted access to energy sources and raw materials needed to dynamize the U.S. economy and those of its allies; the monitoring and control in real time of people and all significant political and social movements opposed to its interests; the expansion and domination of the financial and industrial capital of its companies and transnational corporations; and the assuring of control over the means of communication and world information.

To that end it has not even stinted on mercenaries, who abound in Syria – well paid and armed – nor in the deployment of U.S. military might, as well as creating situations within nations, such as the manufacture and unveiling of the so-called Arab Spring in North Africa, which ended with the assassination, recorded live, of Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Who thought up and armed this insanity based on the industry of death, the real sustenance of the U.S. economy? Illustrious neo-cons with senior positions in the administrations of Reagan, George Bush (father and son); in other words: Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Dan Quayle, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Elliott Abrams, John Bolton and Richard Perle, among others. Who sheltered them politically? The Republican Party, the Democratic Party, AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), or the pro-Israeli lobby in the nation of the stars and stripes; and many powerful organizations on Wall Street, in the media and in the powerful military-industrial complex. It would seem that it is not important who the President happens to be.

The Twin Towers were brought down, but this provided the basis for the rising up of the Project, sowing the divine fundamentalist idea that the United States is the only nation capable of combating the terrible evils of Islamist terrorism, drug trafficking, or organized crime, even though it is within its own territory that most terrorists are harbored, where the highest quantity of drugs are consumed, and where criminals enjoy impunity. An implacable media crusade was launched which fixed fear and danger in the mentality of citizens of the world.

It has reached the extent that, even the UN, in its investigation into the existence of chemical weapons in Syria – the key pretext for the aggression – has stated that its research is only to confirm whether they were used or not, and not who utilized them.

A variant of the of the Arab Spring was already tested out in Syria, but failed in destabilizing the country, hence the recourse of destroying the nation and leaving it without a government, and without order, because social anarchy there would justify a U.S. presence, plus that of its allies with all their troops and even a coalition. This would provide a gateway to Iran, additionally keeping a close watch on the dangerous Hezbollah in Lebanon, and a commitment to Israel which, since its defeat by this force in 2006, has not been able to heal its wounds.

Who can be left in any doubt that all of this is an orchestrated plot, and that the United States and its allies are not bothered as to whether or not chemical weapons enter the equation?

What does interest it is the geo-strategic situation of Damascus and imperial power, even if this involves a bloodbath in this nation of heroic people, and world peace is once again trampled by the nation and government which sets itself up as the paradigm of human rights. But it should be careful. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

Drop Charges Against Greek Anti-Fascists!

Spartacist League

The Trotskyist Group of Greece (TGG), sympathizing section of the International Communist League (ICL-FI), demands that all charges against Savvas Michael Matsas, Secretary General of the Workers Revolutionary Party (EEK), and Konstantinos Moutzouris, former rector of the National Technical University of Athens, be dropped. Michael is being targeted because he is a leftist and because he is Jewish, and is falsely accused of “defamation” against Golden Dawn because the May 2009 issue of the party’s journal New Perspective characterized them as a Nazi organization that incites racist attacks against immigrants. He is also charged with “disturbance of the civil peace” and “incitement of violent assaults and conflict.” Konstantinos Moutzouris is accused of allowing the independent news portal Indymedia to use university servers.

Following several anti-fascist demonstrations in early 2009 in defense of immigrants, the fascist Golden Dawn filed a lawsuit against numerous parties and individuals, such as the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the left coalition of ANTARSYA, SYRIZA, as well as immigrant organizations. In total, they listed 80 people. After three years the police conducted interrogations and Konstantinos Moutzouris and Savvas Michael were singled out for prosecution. Their trial is scheduled for 3 September 2013.

Savvas Michael and Konstantinos Moutzouris had done nothing criminal. This prosecution by the state is nothing other than an attempt to intimidate anti-fascists into silence and passivity. The actions of these two men were in defence of the working class, the left, immigrants and minorities. The trade unions, minority organizations and the left – all intended targets of the fascists – must rally behind those accused and demand all charges be dropped immediately!

This case has also fueled a climate in which a vile online anti-Semitic campaign has been whipped up against Savvas Michael with calls to “hit the Jewish vermin” and describing him as “an instrument of the World Jewish Conspiracy to foment civil war among Greeks to impose a Judeo-Bolshevik regime in Greece” (“Resolution of Solidarity” at http://www.change.org/petitions). The savage attacks by the Greek capitalists and by the imperialist EU against Greek working people over the past 5 years have led to many protests and struggles by the working class and the left. At the same time attacks on the left are increasing while nationalism, anti-immigrant racism and hostility to anything not considered “pure Greek” are on the rise. It is in this context that Savvas Michael and Konstantinos Moutzouris are facing charges.

It is in the interest of the working class and all the oppressed to defend Savvas Michael and Konstantinos Moutzouris against capitalist repression and chauvinist poison.

We demand that the charges against Savvas Michael and Konstantinos Moutzouris be dropped now! 

Syria: War Profiteers, Slavery, and the Hypocrisy of Imperialism

Nathan Goodman

Across the world, people are protesting against US intervention in Syria. Polls show widespread skepticism of the impending war. Rather than making Americans safer, intervention is likely to support forces connected to al Qaeda. Yet it still seems inevitable that the US government will launch cruise missiles at Syria, escalating the country’s bloody civil war. Why?

Because politicians don’t work for the people. As Thomas Knapp of the Center for a Stateless Society puts it, “politicians and soldiers work for (and constitute part of) the political class. Their job is to transfer as much wealth as possible from your pockets to that class’s bank accounts.”

In that case, they’re doing their job quite well. The war profiteers at Raytheon have seen their stock prices soar in anticipation of the Syrian war. As the Boston Herald reported on August 31st, “The Waltham-based manufacturer of the Tomahawk cruise missiles, expected to be used in any strike on Syria, saw its stock hit a 52-week high last week at $77.93 per share, and has stayed near that high, closing yesterday at $75.41.”

Officials like John Kerry argue that this war is somehow a humanitarian response to atrocities by the Assad regime. But the corporations that stand to profit are no humanitarians. To the contrary, they have been involved in some of the most grotesque human rights violations of our time.

For example, war profiteers profit off slave labor. Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing, and BAE Systems all use prison labor to manufacture military equipment. Prisoners are often forced to labor under sweatshop style conditions, and when they are paid they often receive meager wages like 23 cents an hour. As William Hartung puts it, “There’s no greater restriction on a worker’s rights than being stuck in prison.” Profiting off prison labor creates an incentive to keep prisons full, which may be part of why America has the largest prison population on Earth. Most of America’s prisoners are non-violent offenders, and the majority are people of color. The racism and injustice of slavery remains, and war profiteers benefit from it.

War profiteers also benefit from human rights violations at America’s borders. Their products are used to violate privacy through pervasive surveillance at the border. They are wielded by Border Patrol agents who murder migrant workers and break indigenous communities like the  Tohono O’oodham Nation apart. This aggressive border security helps bosses exploit and abuse undocumented workers. With the threat of deportation and a militarized border hanging over their head, they are deterred from reporting wage theft, sexual violence, and other abuses by their employers. So once again war profiteers enable exploitation, violence and abuse.

Then there’s the warfare they profit from worldwide. General Atomics profits by making Predator drones that kill innocents in Pakistan and Yemen. A litany of corporations profited from the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Like the impending war in Syria, this invasion was justified largely under humanitarian pretenses. Yet rather than “liberate” Iraqis, this invasion brutalized them. The US government murdered innocents, tortured prisoners, and illegally used white phosphorus, a chemical weapon, to kill Iraqis. American war profiteers made a killing from a war in which the US government crossed the very same “red line” they accuse Assad of crossing.

As Emma Goldman wrote decades ago, “no one, be it individual or government, engaged in enslaving and exploiting at home, could have the integrity or the desire to free people in other lands.”  By this standard, we must not trust the US government or the war profiteers to “free” anyone in Syria.

Nathan Goodman is a Senior Fellow and Lysander Spooner Research Scholar in Abolitionist Studies at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).

12 Big Lies Justifying Syria Attack

Mazda Majidi

1.     Myth: There is evidence that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons.

Fact: Despite vague claims of having proof, not only does the U.S. government have no evidence, it has worked hard to suppress any real investigation into what actually happened in suburban Damascus on Aug. 21. Washington pressured Damascus through the UN to grant permission for an inspection of the area, assuming that Syria would refuse. As soon as the Syrian government granted the permission within 24 hours, the U.S. tried to get the investigation canceled, claiming that it was too late.

2.     Myth: The use of chemical weapons by Bashar Assad’s government is not surprising and Syria will use them again if is not “punished.”

Fact: The Syrian government had no incentive to use chemical weapons and every reason not to. It is widely recognized that the government had made significant gains in the civil war and that the rebels were losing ground. Why would the Syrian government use chemical weapons when it knew that it would likely trigger a U.S. military attack? The opposition rebels, on the other hand, had strong motivation to use chemical weapons and blame it on the government because it is their only chance to reverse their fortunes in the civil war by inviting Western military intervention.

3.     Myth: Only the Syrian government could have used chemical weapons because the rebels would have lacked the capacity to do so.

Fact: The “evidence” provided equates proof of the use of chemical weapons (by someone) with proof that it was the Syrian government that used them. In fact, several states, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and the U.S. have long been directly involved in the Syrian conflict, supporting the Syrian rebels with funding, arms, equipment and training. Any of these parties could easily have facilitated the launch of chemical weapons within Syria in areas long under the control of the rebels. Unlike nuclear weapons, launching chemical weapons does not require a great amount of technological capacity. In May 2013, Carla del Ponte, member of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, stated that there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” that the rebels had used the nerve agent Sarin. Del Ponte said that her panel had not seen any evidence of the Syrian government forces using chemical weapons.

4.     Myth: If the United States and its imperialist allies prove that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, a U.S. bombing will be legal.

Fact: The UN Charter, to which the U.S. is a signatory, makes it illegal for any member nation to attack another, except in the case of self-defense. “Punishing” another member state, even if that were the real motive, would not legally justify a U.S. attack on Syria. The Obama administration, despite its pretense to legality and morality, is proposing to bomb Syria without the approval of the United Nations Security Council, which it knows it cannot obtain.

5.     Myth: U.S. Congressional approval would make a U.S. bombing of Syria legitimate.

Fact: The U.S. Congress has no more jurisdiction over Syria than the Syrian parliament has over the United States. If another country’s parliament voted to bomb the U.S., would President Obama and the U.S. Congress consider the bombing legitimate? Obama’s consultation with Congress is intended to give a veneer of legality to a gross violation of international law.

6.     Myth: U.S. intervention in Syria is intended to protect civilians.

Fact: A U.S. attack on Syria will claim countless victims, including civilians. The history of the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan proves that its military interventions kill thousands of civilians. Washington politicians and the generals consider civilian victims to be “collateral damage” and callously state: “We don’t do body counts.” The majority of the victims of ongoing U.S. drone bombings in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia have been civilians.

7.     Myth: The Syrian people are united against the Syrian government.

Fact: While the rebels have some popular support, a significant part of the Syrian people, including many Sunnis, Alawites and Christians, support the state. In fact, support for the rebels has eroded in rebel-controlled areas due to their atrocities and criminal activities. Without popular support, it would not have been possible for the Syrian state to still stand and, in fact, gain the upper hand in the civil war.

8.     Myth: The Syrian people support a U.S. bombing.

Fact: Opposition groups such as the Syrian National Council, whose leaders are handpicked by Washington, are enthusiastically calling for a U.S. bombing campaign. But these groups do not even represent the Syrian rebels, much less the Syrian population at large. It is hard to imagine any people supporting the bombing of their country. This is particularly true of the Syrian people who have witnessed the catastrophic effects of U.S. bombings in their neighboring country, Iraq.

9.     Myth: The U.S. government is opposed to weapons of mass destruction.

Fact: The U.S. government is opposed to its adversaries owning weapons of mass destruction, or any weapons for that matter. The U.S. owns over 10,000 nuclear warheads. It is the only country to have ever used nuclear bombs, twice. It has used ammunitions tipped with enriched uranium in Yugoslavia and Iraq. It has provided its garrison state, Israel, with white phosphorus, a weapon Israel used in its 2008-2009 massacre of civilians in Gaza.

10.  Myth: The U.S. government is only now considering intervening in Syria.

Fact: The U.S. has long pursued the goal of regime-change in Syria. On April 10, 2003, the day after the fall of Baghdad, John Bolton, then undersecretary of state for arms control, stated:  “Iran, Syria and North Korea should heed the lesson of Iraq.” The Syrian government, despite its inconsistent and contradictory record, has not been a Washington client. For that reason, Washington has sought to overthrow the Syrian state for decades. Throughout the civil war, the U.S. has funneled arms and funds to the Syrian rebels through its client states neighboring Syria, Turkey and Jordan, with much of the finances coming from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, ultra-conservative, repressive absolutist monarchies.

11.  Myth: The goal of U.S. intervention is not regime change.

Fact: Despite President Obama’s oft-repeated claim, the ultimate goal of bombing Syria would be nothing but regime change. The U.S. hopes that an intense bombing of Syria will change the balance of forces in favor of the rebels, resulting in the overthrow of Bashar Assad’s government. If Washington achieves this goal, it will then be in a stronger position to pursue regime change in Iran. Ultimately, the U.S. government wants nothing but compliant client states in all of the Middle East, a region with immense resources of oil and gas.

12.  Myth: U.S. intervention in Syria is unrelated to the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fact: Obama’s intervention in Syria is nothing but a continuation of the same goals that drove the Bush administration to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq. The false pretext for U.S. intervention in Iraq was weapons of mass destruction while the false pretext for U.S. intervention in Syria is chemical weapons. The real motive behind both interventions is to expand the domination of the U.S. Empire to maximize the profits of oil giants and corporations.

Hands Off Syria! Take Action Against U.S. Intervention!

This Call to Action was originally posted by the ANSWER Coalition.

Washington is on the march toward yet another war of aggression in the Middle East, this time targeting Syria. In the event of U.S. military strikes against Syria, the ANSWER Coalition is calling on organizations and individuals to take to the streets in opposition to what would be a destructive and criminal war by the U.S. government.

Make plans now to hold a demonstration in your city on the day of or the day after U.S. military action begins. Fill out our Event Listing form so we can help spread the word!

Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of the American people are clearly opposed to U.S. intervention, the signs all point to war. In a recent Reuters poll, only 9 percent favored direct U.S. military intervention, and 89 percent opposed arming the Syrian opposition. But the tiny elite clique who really run the country are completely discounting the will of the people, making a mockery of their so-called “democracy.”

The U.S. 6th Fleet has deployed war ships to the eastern Mediterranean and is threatening to launch missile and air strikes against Syria. Not only are the White House and Pentagon openly threatening direct intervention, they are also moving to further arm the Syrian opposition. A U.S./NATO attack on Syria could well lead to a wider, regional war with grave and unpredictable consequences.

A staged provocation: a pretext for war

The pretext for attacking Syria is the allegation that the Syrian government used chemical weapons last week in the suburbs of the capital, Damascus, just after a UN team had arrived in the country to investigate an earlier alleged use of chemical weapons. President Obama declared over a year ago that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would cross a “red line,” triggering U.S. military action.

The idea that the Syrian government would launch a chemical weapons attack exactly at the moment when the UN team was in the country investigating chemical weapons defies all logic.

In a sign of their total disregard for the truth, the United States government has declared, in advance of any actual investigation, that the Syrian government is guilty of using chemical weapons. U.S. officials have stated that the United Nations weapons inspection team, which is today at the site near Damascus where hundreds of people died last week, is “too late.” In other words, the United States, along with Britain and France – the former colonizers of the region – have decided to use chemical weapons as an excuse to go to war.

We must remember the Iraq War in 2003, where “overwhelming evidence of weapons of mass destruction” was used as the pretext for a war that killed hundreds of thousands and tore Iraq apart. No such weapons were ever found.

If in fact chemical weapons were used in Syria last week, the far greater likelihood is that it was a staged provocation by the opposition to invite U.S./NATO intervention in order to save their weakening military position in the conflict. We have no reason to trust the U.S. government’s version of what happened. This is the same government that has routinely lied and deceived the American people on many issues, as was recently revealed by Edward Snowden’s leaks related to NSA spying.

U.S. foreign policy is not one of benign humanitarian concern, but one of Empire. Washington’s goal is control of the entire oil-rich and strategic Middle East region. To achieve this aim, U.S. leaders – Democrats and Republicans alike – have worked to destroy independent governments and popular movements in the region for more than six decades.

For the people of the United States, fighting against a U.S. intervention in Syria is of paramount importance to prevent the spread of war and destruction. The ANSWER Coalition is calling on all those opposed to this brutal war drive to take action against any U.S. attack on Syria! A broad coalition of organizations worked together in June and July 2013 for days of action opposing the U.S. role in Syria. We expect that the actions in the coming days and weeks will be of a similar unified character.

Plan a demonstration in your city on the day of or the day after U.S. military action begins. Fill out our Event Listing form so we can help spread the word!

Lying About Syria: John Kerry’s “Colin Powell Moment”

Alex Lantier

Yesterday, US Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on national television to deliver a lying statement aimed at preparing public opinion for an impending US-NATO attack on Syria. It was his very own “Colin Powell moment.”

On February 5, 2003, Powell, then the secretary of state in the Bush administration, made an infamous presentation before the United Nations. For two hours, armed with photos, graphs and audio tapes, the chief diplomatic officer of the United States made the case for war against Iraq. He claimed that the evidence he presented showed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which it was about to unleash on the world.

The media and politicians of both parties hailed Powell’s performance, declaring that the former general had made an overwhelming case that Iraq had enormous WMD programs. Six weeks later, bombs fell on Iraq as the US invasion began.

Powell’s speech was a pack of lies. Not one of his claims about yellowcake uranium from Niger, aluminum tubes, or mobile weapons labs was true. At the time, the WSWS wrote that the brief for war was “a diplomatic charade laced with cynicism and deceit… predicated on a colossal lie: that the coming invasion is about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Baghdad’s supposed threat to US security and world peace.” And so it proved to be.

The speech ten years later by Kerry was no less dishonest, no less cynical. Indeed, by comparison, Powell’s presentation was a masterpiece of detail.

Kerry’s entire case against the Syrian regime consisted of a general moral denunciation of chemical weapons. Describing “gut-wrenching images” of casualties from the alleged chemical weapons attack on Ghouta, he said: “The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity.”

The United States government and its allies in Britain, France and Germany are in no position to lecture the world on the “moral obscenity” of chemical warfare or anything else. A complete documentation of the war crimes and atrocities carried out by American and European imperialism would fill many volumes.

Washington has poisoned entire Iraqi cities with depleted uranium and white phosphorus. Earlier, it dropped 75 million liters of Agent Orange—a chemical weapon—on Vietnam, affecting millions of people. The US is the one country in the world that has used nuclear weapons on defenseless cities—not once, but twice, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It and the European imperialist powers—who pioneered the use of poison gas—are collectively responsible for the deaths of millions of people.

While invoking the “moral obscenity” of indiscriminate killings with chemical weapons, the Obama administration continues to fund the Egyptian military junta, which over the last month has slaughtered thousands of unarmed protesters in the streets.

Kerry could not present a single fact, beyond his own lurid allegations, to justify the claim that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces carried out a chemical attack in Ghouta.

Instead, he said: “Our understanding of what has already happened in Syria is grounded in facts, informed by conscience, and guided by common sense … Chemical weapons were used in Syria. Moreover, we know that the Syrian regime maintains custody of these weapons. We know that the Syrian regime has the capacity to do this with rockets.”

Such arguments prove nothing. Though Kerry preferred not to mention it, it is well known that US-backed opposition militias have access to chemical weapons and have used them. Opposition groups have posted YouTube videos bragging of their ability to manufacture poison gas, and UN officials have repeatedly stated that investigations inside Syria showed that opposition forces, not the Assad regime, were responsible for previous chemical attacks.

The CIA, which has been transformed into a heavily-armed global paramilitary organization, has access to such weapons and could easily make them available to the opposition.

Kerry’s claim that his accusations against Syria are grounded in “common sense” is false: common sense, applied to the situation in Syria, leads one precisely to the opposite conclusion.

The opposition is on the run, losing the war; their only hope is massive military intervention by their backers in the US, Europe and the Middle East. The chemical weapons attack—previously described as a “red line” by the Obama administration—provides the desired pretext for this intervention.

In another remarkable statement, Kerry gave a back-handed acknowledgment that Washington does not intend to offer proof of its allegations against Assad. He stated, “as Ban Ki-moon said last week, the UN investigation will not determine who used the chemical weapons, only whether such weapons were used, a judgment that is already clear to the world.” That is to say that, regardless of what the investigation shows about the identity of the attackers, Washington will seize upon it as a pretext to attack the Syrian government.

After demanding that Syria allow “unrestricted” access to investigate the alleged attack, Kerry responded to the government’s acquiescence to this demand by declaring that it doesn’t matter anyway, since it was “too late to be credible.” All the demands are simply intended to pave the way for war. Short of opening up the country to foreign occupation, there is nothing the government could do to satisfy the ultimatums of US imperialism.

Only months after his 2003 speech on Iraq, it was clear that Powell had lied through his teeth. In the months ahead, Kerry, the one-time anti-Vietnam war protester, will also be caught up by the web of lies underlying the US war drive against Syria.