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.

Advertisements

Understanding the New Stage of the Syria Crisis

Brian Becker

Has the United States stepped back from the edge of the precipice?  Has the catastrophe been averted?

The U.S. war threat against Syria has not ended. But the particular path to war has required a shift because of resounding domestic and global opposition.

The U.S. Congress will now be asked to pass a different resolution than the one originally supported by the White House. The new resolution will be constructed to authorize Obama to carry out military strikes if the U.S. government decides that Syria is not in full compliance with a new UN resolution calling for its chemical weapons stockpiles to be totally destroyed.

This was precisely the scenario used by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney when they launched the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Even though the Iraqi government complied with UN weapons inspections demands and was actively disarming its own military forces, Bush simply declared that Saddam Hussein was not complying with UN resolutions and launched the U.S. war that toppled the government.

In Syria, like with Iraq, Libya and Iran for the past decades, the U.S. government goal of toppling independent, nationalist governments uses an assortment of tactics, including economic and financial sanctions, funding and arming internal domestic opposition, providing international legitimacy and recognition to the internal opposition, cyber attacks, and in some cases direct bombings and invasion.

Progressive and anti-colonial people should reject and oppose not simply one tactic like direct bombing but rather expose all forms of imperial domination against targeted countries.

In the case of Syria today, any push back or delay of the U.S. bombing of Syria is of extreme importance for the people of Syria. But it is certainly not the end of the struggle.

Russia’s proposal in context

The Russian government has offered a face-saving proposal to President Obama that is seen as a “way out” of the wildly unpopular U.S. bombing campaign against Syria.

It seemed likely that President Obama’s war resolution was going to fail in the House of Representatives and even possibly in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The people of the United States, in vast numbers, oppose the planned war against Syria even as the president and Secretary of State have tried to win them over by assuring them that only Syrians will bleed, which is the actual political meaning of the oft-repeated phrase “no boots on the ground.”

Although no details are yet available, the Russian proposal was immediately agreed to by Syria. The gist of the proposal is to put Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile under the control of the United Nations for their eventual elimination. Syria said it agreed to the Russian proposal as a way “to uproot U.S. aggression.” Syria has denied that it used chemical weapons on August 21 and suggested that the attack was a staged provocation by those who are seeking to draw in U.S. intervention to topple the regime.

UN as a double-edged sword

There will undoubtedly be another UN proposal put forward that also includes language asserting that the Assad government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack and those responsible for the attack must “be held accountable.” This would lead to the possible indictment and arrest of Assad for war crimes. This is a tack that the imperialists have used in several countries where the government is targeted for regime change by U.S. policy makers.

Such a poison-pill resolution would be unlikely to be accepted by Syria. Hopefully, Russia and China would also openly reject such a resolution, which is designed to lay the basis for open imperialist aggression.

The origins of Obama’s political crisis

Despite global and domestic opposition to the planned bombing campaign, Obama had continued his transition during the past weeks into the camp of John McCain, Lindsey Graham and his neo-con Secretary of State. This was the camp that had argued for direct military intervention because Assad could not be toppled through the civil war.

For the last two years, Obama supported the regime change plan through the agency of a foreign-funded civil war. His CIA, working in Jordan, coordinated the massive shipments of weapons to armed groups that were fighting the Syrian government. They used proxies and partners like Saudi Arabia as the source of the weapons, but it was the Obama administration’s strategy. The weapons go to the Free Syrian Army and other armed groups.

The commanders of the Free Syrian Army are on the CIA payroll, as was reported by Wall Street Journal reporter Adam Entous on Democracy Now. (Sept. 6, 2013)

The announcement of the alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians on August 21 was the pretext used by the interventionists to start the direct military war against Syria.

But from the beginning, the adventure ran into huge hurdles. Substantial sectors of the ruling class and Pentagon brass were unconvinced that another war would not be a disaster for U.S. interests in this oil-rich region. They were afraid that global opposition to the U.S. Empire could reignite and spread, as it had under George W. Bush.

Broadly speaking, public opinion in the United States was opposed to another war.

The whole case was riddled with obvious inconsistencies. They could offer no proof of their claim that Assad ordered the attack. They could cite no law that allowed the U.S. to wage a new aggression. They couldn’t openly identify what the real goal of the military operation was. But Obama , feeling politically trapped, pushed ahead toward the precipice.

Even on September 8,  Obama sent his representatives out to the Sunday morning talk shows arguing for war even as they admitted that they had “no irrefutable” proof that Assad had ordered a chemical weapons attack and that their justification was only based on what they called a “common sense test.” That means they have no proof at all.

Obama was ready to blaze away with cruise missiles and bombs against another small country in the Middle East. His feckless, super rich, blue blood Secretary of State was telling the American people not to worry about the coming catastrophe because the Saudi monarchy was standing solidly behind his efforts. When your Secretary of State loudly and proudly proclaims that he has secured the support of the arch-reactionary autocrats in Saudi Arabia, that has to be understood as sign that your war policy is sinking.

Obama, faced with the current circumstances, has been forced to step back, but there will undoubtedly be a Plan B developed using other mechanisms to intensify the war

Any step back from an imminent bombing of Syria and the certain wider war that would follow should be understood as a result of the global opposition to the planned bombing campaign and the deep division about its possible catastrophic impact on U.S. interests in the Middle East from within the summits of the economic and political establishment.

Syria and Iran have made it clear that if the U.S. undertakes this aggression there will be counter-measures taken. Once such a war is started, it is impossible to know how it ends.

Rather than relying on the United Nations to do the right thing, the most important aspect of the next stage of the struggle against the U.S. imperialist regime change efforts in Syria is for the people of the world to continue to organize all forms of public pressure in favor of a genuine peace that allows the Syrian people the right to determine their own destiny free from threats, sanctions, subversion and war.

White House Syria Lies Backfire on Administration

Clifford A. Kiracofe

Although US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that diplomatic options suggested by Russia to solve the Syrian chemical weapon crisis would be pursued, the damage done by the US beating the drums of war has already been done.

The use of propaganda in wartime is nothing new. From experience with Washington’s lies during former president George W. Bush’s Iraq War, the international community knows the US cannot be trusted.

The Bush administration knowingly and systematically circulated false stories about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) allegedly possessed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Washington’s outrageous claims such as supposed uranium “yellowcake” from Niger being transferred to Iraq proved false. Claims about “aluminum tubes” for rocket production proved false. Claims about chemical warfare and WMDs raised by then secretary of state Colin Powell at the UN proved false.

The broader pattern of Western deception for the Iraq War included falsified “intelligence” reports from the UK ordered by then prime minister Tony Blair.Parliament in its subsequent investigations of the “dodgy dossier” intelligence manipulation revealed Blair’s lies.

Investigations of the British claims revealed that Israeli institutions, including the Herzliya research complex, played an important role in creating these false British and US reports.

Today in the case of Syria, the world is experiencing the same spectacle of US, British,and Israeli propaganda and deception. The players remain the same and the pattern of lies and deception is the same.

In the present case, the White House bases its case of the Syrian use of WMDs primarily on a single “intercept” of an unencrypted Syrian military voice communication.Washington alleges that this intercept proves the Syrian military used WMDs against civilians.

But what are the facts? Official Washington carefully avoids identifying the source of the intercept and hides it under the rubric of classified information because, critics say, the source of this intelligence report is Israel.

Experienced retired US intelligence officers believe that Israel is once again playing false with information so as to influence the West to go to war in the Middle East. Reports say that the alleged electronic intercept of a conversation between Syrian military personnel was fielded by Unit 8200 of Israeli military intelligence, which specializes in signals intelligence.

Some US experts believe that this alleged intercept, if it even exists, was doctored by the Israeli government so as to “prove” Syrian government complicity in WMD attacks.

Former British ambassador Craig Murray raises additional questions about the Israeli report.

He claims that the powerful British electronic intelligence center for the region, located on Mount Troodos in Cyprus, has no such intercept from its own monitoring.

He says that this center has such powerful capabilities that no electronic communications in the Middle East can escape it.

In addition to the Israeli allegation, the White House says it has obtained materials from the scene of the recent attack in Syria which “prove” the nerve agent Sarin was used.

From whom did the US obtain such contaminated materials? The Obama administration refuses to identify the source and chain of custody of the materials.

Given Washington’s transparent propaganda campaign, it is not surprising that some leaders around the world express grave doubts about US allegations. Russian President Vladimir Putin forthrightly calls such propaganda “lies.” Many Americans, including senators and congresspersons, would agree with him.

It is significant that the US Intelligence Community (IC) so far is not on public record supporting the Israeli allegations. The US IC apparently cannot assess with high confidence this Israeli reporting.

This is why the Obama administration had to issue its own politicized report on alleged Syrian WMD use from the White House.

The White House made a major political mistake engaging in such blatant deception of the American people and the international community.

The recent turnabout may mean no strikes, but the harm to US credibility has already been done.

The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Syria & Cruise Missile “Socialists”

The ISO and the war on Syria: Silly and shameful

 

In recent weeks there has been a real upsurge of activity on the part of the anti-war movement in the U.S. Protests have been held in scores of cities – more that 50 on Sept. 7 alone – including substantial demonstrations in cities like New York and Chicago. An article published in the Socialist Worker on Sept. 10, entitled “Standing against both war and dictatorship,” goes a long way toward explaining why the International Socialist Organization (ISO) has been by and large irrelevant, or worse yet, an obstacle to this growing movement against another U.S. war.

Penned by ISO member Eric Ruder, the article takes to task three socialist organizations: Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), Workers World Party (WWP) and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) for supporting Syria in its fight to defeat a vicious onslaught from U.S. and Western imperialism, reactionary Arab states and the Israelis.

We in FRSO have constantly stated our views on this matter and we will always be on the side of those who resist imperialism.

Sectarianism directed at Syrian Americans

The anti-war movement is a united front, which brings together diverse viewpoints and forces. The level of political understanding about what’s happening in Syria is uneven and we need to unite people who have a wide range of perspectives. To oppose a U.S. attack on Syria, it is important that we have broad slogans that unite all who can be united, such as “Hands off Syria,” or “No U.S. war on Syria.” That’s a given.

It should also be a given that we build unity with Syrian Americans who are concerned about their loved ones at home and support their country in its battle with imperialism. Sadly this is not the case for the ISO.

In many cities, Syrian Americans have one of the most constant, dynamic, and in some cases, the largest force in the current anti-war movement. Most people would say that is a good thing, but not the ISO. Instead they complain about the flags, signs, and portraits that Syrian Americans bring to protests.

For example in Chicago, Syrian Americans have been extremely active in anti-war demonstrations. How does the ISO evaluate this? Ruder’s article says, “The ugly consequences of ‘antiwar’ support for the Syrian regime were easy to see in Chicago, where organizers of ‘Hands off Syria’ protests repeatedly turned over the platform to representatives of the Syrian American Forum…” Imagine that. Syrian Americans help organize demonstrations, turn out in large numbers and often speak from the platform.

The ISO, which has never been big on opposing U.S. intervention in Syria, was apparently “caught off guard” when they finally did make their way to the anti-war protests and found Syrian Americans expressing their views. It seemed “ugly” to them. Perhaps it is more a case of ISO playing the Ugly American.

ISO and the demonization of Syria

At the very moment when Washington and those who echo the master’s voice are trying to demonize the government of Syria, ISO is trying to do the same thing among left and progressive forces. So they criticize the Syrian government for being “inconsistent” opponents of imperialism and praise the “rebels.”

Let’s take a look at this. The government of Syria has done more to oppose imperialism than ISO will ever do. They help the Palestinians in a big way. Same goes for the patriotic and national democratic forces of Lebanon. Syria, Iran and the movements for national liberation in Lebanon and Palestine are central to the camp of resistance to imperialism and Zionism in the Middle East.

So what does the ISO article have to say about this? According to them not only is Syria an “inconsistent” opponent of imperialism, the article says “the West considers the Syrian regime a precious asset that can assist in maintaining the current hegemonic structure of power in the region, though their preference may be for it to be weakened and thus more subservient.”

The Bush administration used to say that Syria could be considered a part of his ‘Axis of Evil.’ Over the last couple of years Washington has spent over $1 billion to destroy the Syrian government and right now the U.S. is threatening a military attack. Yet in the world that ISO sees, Syria is a “precious asset” of the West. It is hard for serious people to take this kind of analysis seriously.

The point here is not to say that Syria is perfect or socialist or always does the right thing. What is being said is that we should not be joining our rulers in demonizing the Syrian government.

As for the ‘rebels,’ history’s verdict is in. One can debate the nature of the demonstrations against the Syrian government several years ago and what led up to them, but today, right now, the opposition is bought, paid for, and acting on behalf of the U.S. and the most reactionary of Arab regimes.

Anti-imperialism is a good thing

The U.S. has built an empire and that extends into Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and some other places too. It exists to rip off the land, labor and natural resources of others while enriching the elite who run this country. This empire is a grim place, held together by U.S. military power, death squads and puppet governments.

It is positive that there are national liberation movements in places like Colombia and Palestine that are leading powerful movements to break free of imperialism. It is a step forward for the peoples subjugated by U.S. imperialism and they land blows on our common oppressor.

It is also a good thing that there are countries in this world that have left the orbit of imperialism. This includes Syria. It is good for the people of Syria, good for the struggle in the Middle East, and for all of us who want a world without imperialism.

ISO considers it strange that a socialist would take this view. In fact it is ISO that is the odd one out.

We recently reprinted a statement from the Syrian Communist Party, which reads in part, “The defense of Syria’s national regime, which faces, head held high, all methods of aggression, refusing humiliation and submission, means defending the country and its sovereignty and independence.” Frankly this is what the vast majority of revolutionaries around the world think. Check out what Cuba says about Syria or the government of Venezuela. One could go on and on like this but the point is clear enough.

Revolutionaries and socialists need to make a concrete analysis of concrete conditions; this is what Marxism is all about: understanding reality in order to change it. Everything in this world is the product of actual historical processes that we can know about, if we bother to study them. This includes Syria.

The ISO uses the opposite approach, which claims the world is what they would like it to be and what they say it is. In their world, the brutal foreign-backed Syrian opposition becomes the Arab revolution. They find progressive forces where they are not, and when forces resisting imperialism have shortcomings – they say that those resisting are the same as the imperialists.

The world never has and never will conform to a bunch of preconceived notions. The anti-war movement deserves something better than the ISO’s armchair critiques.

The people of Syria, the peoples of the world and the people of the U.S. face a vicious enemy that will go to any length to maintain its power and privilege. Building an anti-war movement under slogans like “Hands off Syria” and “No war with Syria” is the best way that people in this country can help to defeat U.S. imperialism’s attempt to dominate the Middle East. Washington is isolated right now. People don’t want another U.S. war. Together we can win.

Communists Worldwide Oppose Attacks on Syria

Source

We, the communist and workers’ parties, express our solidarity with the Syrian people and denounce the military attack against Syria which is being prepared by the imperialists of the USA, NATO and the EU together with their allies in order to promote their interests in the region.

We reject the pretexts of the imperialists which, as was demonstrated, were also used in the war against Iraq and in the other imperialist wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya.

We call on the working class, the peoples all over the world to oppose and condemn the new imperialist war, to demand that the governments of their countries have no involvement in and do not support the criminal military offensive.

29/8/2013

  1. Communist Party of Albania
  2. Algerian Party For Democracy And Socialism
  3. Communist Party of Australia
  4. Communist Party of Azerbaidjan
  5. Democratic, Progressive Tribune, Bahrain
  6. Communist Party of Bangladesh
  7. Communist Party Of Belarus
  8. Communist Party of Workers of Belarus
  9. Workers’ Party of Belgium
  10. Communist Party of Belgium (Wallonia-Brussels)
  11. Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia
  12. Communist Party of Brazil
  13. Brazilian Communist Party
  14. Communist Party of Britain
  15. New Communist Party of Britain
  16. Communist Party of Canada
  17. Communist Party of Chile
  18. Communist Party of Cuba
  19. The Progressive Party of the Working People – AKEL, Cyprus
  20. Communist Party of Denmark
  21. Communist Party in Denmark
  22. Danish Communist Party
  23. Communist Party of Finland
  24. Communist Workers’ Party of Finland
  25. Pole of Communist Revival, France
  26. URCF (France)
  27. Galician People’s Union, Spain
  28. Unified Communist Party of Georgia
  29. German Communist Party (DKP)
  30. Communist Party of Greece
  31. Hungarian Workers’ Party
  32. Tudeh Party of Iran
  33. Communist Party of Ireland
  34. The Workers Party of Ireland
  35. Communist Party of Israel
  36. Party of the Italian Communists
  37. Communists People’s Left-Communist Party, Italy
  38. Activist Group Shiso-Undo, Japan
  39. Jordanian Communist Party
  40. Socialist Party of Latvia
  41. Socialist People’s Front of Lithuania
  42. Communist Party of Luxembourg
  43. Communist Party of Malta
  44. Communist Party of Mexico
  45. Partido Socialista APN, Mexico
  46. People’s Resistance, Moldova
  47. New Communist Party of the Netherlands
  48. Communist Party of Norway
  49. Communist Party of Pakistan
  50. Palestinian Communist Party
  51. Palestinian People’s Party
  52. Philippine Communist Party [PKP-1930]
  53. Communist Party of Poland
  54. Portuguese Communist Party
  55. Communist Party of the Russian Federation
  56. Communist Workers’ Party of Russia
  57. Communist Party of Soviet Union
  58. New Communist Party of Yugoslavia
  59. Communist Party of Slovakia
  60. Communist Party of Spain
  61. Communist Party of the People of Spain
  62. Sudanese Communist Party
  63. Communist Party, Sweden
  64. Communist Party of Sweden
  65. Communist Party of Southern Switzerland (federate to Swiss Labour Party)
  66. Syrian Communist Party
  67. Syrian Communist Party [Unified]
  68. Communist Party of Tadjikistan
  69. Communist Party of Turkey
  70. Labour Party of Turkey (EMEP)
  71. Communist Party of Ukraine
  72. Union of Communists of Ukraine
  73. Communist Party of Venezuela
  74. Party for Socialism and Liberation (USA)
  75. CPUSA
  76. Freedom Road Socialist Organization (USA)
  77. Workers World Party (USA)

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).

Senate Resolution Authorizes Regime Change vs. Syria

Barry Grey and Thomas Gaist

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday passed a resolution backed by the Obama administration that grants the president a free hand to carry out a devastating war against Syria in order to “change the momentum on the battlefield” and strengthen the US proxy forces seeking to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The resolution, passed by a vote of 10 to 7, with seven Democrats voting in favor, incorporates an amendment proposed jointly by Republican John McCain and Democrat Chris Coons declaring that “it is the policy of the United States” to shift the relationship of forces on the ground in favor of the opposition and enhance the fighting capabilities of “elements of the Syrian opposition.”

The resolution as initially formulated late Tuesday, following a hearing with Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, included language allowing the president to use whatever force he deemed necessary to “deter and degrade” Syria’s capacity to use weapons of mass destruction now or in the future, provide “all forms” of military and political aid to the so-called “rebels,” and “limit support from the Government of Iran and others for the Syrian regime.”

The language of the resolution amounts to a blank check for the president and the Pentagon to unleash a torrent of death and destruction on Syrian troops and civilians alike, oversee the toppling of Assad and the installation of a US puppet government, and extend the war into Iran and even Russia. It explodes the White House’s lying pretense that it is preparing only a “limited” and “narrowly targeted” intervention—what President Obama last week called a “shot across the bow” of the Assad regime.

It exposes Obama’s claim that the planned attack will not have as its goal regime change. It makes clear that with the impending attack on Syria, US imperialism is expanding its military aggression in the Middle East to engulf not only Syria, but also Iran and, ultimately, Russia and China. The looming attack is part of a drive for US hegemony in the oil-rich Middle East and the whole of the Eurasian region whose ultimate endpoint is World War III.

The resolution grants the president an initial 60 days of military operations in Syria, with the option to extend the war by another 30 days. It includes a provision barring the use of American ground troops, but adds the caveat “for the purpose of combat operations.” This loophole will be used to escalate the use of CIA and Special Forces troops within Syria.

Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, who voted for the resolution, said afterward of the military attack, according to the Los Angeles Times, “This won’t be a limited, but a powerful response.”

Before passing the resolution, the committee voted down a resolution by Democratic Senator Thomas Udall that would have limited military action to the use of naval vessels and blocked US war planes from entering Syrian airspace. The committee also voted down a resolution by Republican Rand Paul that invoked the War Powers Act of 1973 to stipulate that the president can order the use of military force only if the US is facing imminent attack.

Passage of the resolution is the first hurdle in the White House drive to obtain congressional authorization and launch military action as early as next week. On Wednesday, Kerry, Hagel and Dempsey appeared before the House Foreign Relations Committee to make the case for war.

The text of the resolution incorporates the lies, unsubstantiated allegations and factual distortions that have been employed by the administration to justify an unprovoked war of aggression against yet another impoverished former colonial country.

It asserts, without any substantiation, that the Assad regime used chemical weapons in an attack on opposition-held suburbs of Damascus on August 21, repeats the administration’s claim of over 1,000 fatalities in the alleged attack, accuses Assad of having carried out previous chemical attacks (ignoring United Nations charges that the “rebels” were responsible for those attacks), and blames the Syrian government for the massive toll in death and destruction that has resulted from more than two years of a civil war instigated and backed by Washington.

The key role of Senator McCain in formulating the resolution sheds light on the real background to and purpose of the war drive. McCain and his chief ally in the Senate, Lyndsey Graham, have for months been leading the agitation in favor of a major US escalation in Syria. Obama met privately over the weekend with McCain and Graham, and a White House spokesman welcomed the passage of the resolution with McCain’s regime change language following the committee’s vote.

At the end of May, McCain made a surprise visit to Syria and met with opposition militia leaders. His trip coincided with a government military offensive that had brought the US-backed opposition to the brink of defeat. It is likely that at that time he discussed plans for a major provocation to create the pretext for direct US military intervention.

It has been widely reported that in mid-August, US, Jordanian and Israeli Special Forces troops led hundreds of insurgents across the Jordanian border into Syria to launch an attack on Damascus. According to Syrian officials, the government launched a pre-emptive military offensive in areas around the capital city, including the site of the alleged August 21 chemical weapons attack, to halt this attack on Damascus.

This evidently set the stage for the alleged chemical attack that has been seized on as the pretext for a war for regime change—one that is in violation of international law, as it lacks the sanction of the UN Security Council.

It is clear that whatever occurred on August 21 was set in motion by the United States in order to save its proxy forces from defeat and escalate its imperialist aggression in the region.

In staging such a provocation and employing the technique of the Big Lie, the Obama administration is taking a page from the playbook of the Hitler regime. Every Nazi aggression—from the annexation of Czechoslovakia to the rape of Poland—was justified as a morally driven response to external aggression or attacks on the human rights of German populations.

Moreover, the war against Syria completely explodes the fraud of the so-called “war on terror.” As is well known, Washington’s major allies on the ground in Syria—and the forces that benefit most directly from US intervention—are Islamist militias linked to Al Qaeda, such as the Al Nusra Front.

Washington’s alliance with Al Qaeda, however, is not new. It goes back to the CIA’s funding and operational support for Osama bin Laden in the US-backed war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. And it includes US support for Al Qaeda-linked forces in the war for regime change in Libya in 2011.