UN’s Syria Inspection Led By NATO Shill

Yoichi Shimatsu

Instead of a non-politicized investigation and lab analysis, the UN investigation of alleged nerve-gas attacks inside Syria was led by Professor Ake Sellstrom, a man of mystery who keeps a veil of secrecy around his research and political-military relationships.

Sellstrom’s report on Syria for the UN and his prior inspections record in Iraq are dubious, to say the least. In the eyes of laymen, his seeming objectivity and non-partisanship is based on the myth of Sweden’s neutrality. The public assumes – wrongly- that Sweden never takes sides in wars or geopolitical conflicts.

Fraud of Neutrality

This cosmetic veneer of Swedish neutrality has been deftly exploited by Israel and NATO to perpetrate falsehoods throughout Sellstrom’s work for the UN, including denial of the chemical-and-biological causes for “Gulf War Syndrome” and the shipments of U.S. chemical weapons to the Saddam Hussein regime.

The Hans Blix-Ake Sellstrom inspection teams in Iraq did not investigate the special-weapons bunkers that were bombed by American warplanes in the U.S. invasion.

Sellstrom also never made any attempt to probe the U.S.-produced 20-foot-long cannisters of VX nerve gas discovered at Balad Air Base by American National Guardsmen. His mission was not to prove Iraqi guilt but to get Washington off the hook for supplying tons of nerve gas to Baghdad. Saving U.S. officials like Donald Rumsfeld from disgrace and treason charges is far more important to imperial power that disclosing any facts in a theater of war.

The salient critique of the UN inspections in Iraq was made by American inspector Scott Ritter who accused the team of spying for Washington and NATO. The same question hangs over Sellstrom’s report on Syria. Is Sellstrom acting on behalf of Washington and Tel Aviv?

NATO Front Man

What is publicly known about Sellstrom is that the biochemist heads the European CBRNE Center [Center for advanced Studies of Societal Security and Vulnerability, in particular major incidents with (C)hemical, (B)iological, (R)adiological, (N)uclear and (E)xplosive substances], at Umea University in northern Sweden, which is sponsored by the Swedish Defense Ministry (FOI). Though not a NATO member, the Swedish military and police have a leading role in European security affairs as drafters of the repressive 2009 EU action plan based on the Stockholm Counterterrorism Programme.

Major funding for the CBRNE multidisciplinary research projects at Umea comes from the EU budget for the war on terrorism. These projects include: defense strategy for large-scale terrorist attacks (notice the term “relatively large scale” in his just-released Syria report); recommendations for EU medical emergency responses; and specialized training at Umea for experts, including military officers attached to NATO.

Sweden’s military-industrial complex, which includes Saab and Bofors, is anything but peace-loving and neutral. The kingdom’s cloak of neutrality is most useful for Israeli interests, which have exploited Scandinavia’s clean image to skew international policy against the Palestinians and Arab states, as demonstrated in the half-baked Oslo Accords.

Israeli Infiltration of Scandinavia

Umea University is deeply involved in joint research with Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), the Haifa-based university that provides state-of-art technology to the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and its intelligence agencies. Several departments, which are involved in joint Israeli research, participate in multidisciplinary studies at Sellstrom’s CBRNE center. These include: the computer department, which has cooperated with Technion on control systems since 2004; the medical faculty; and chemistry, his own field of studies.

The Israeli-Swedish research cooperation is fostered by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which provides scholarships and awards to bind together the industries and universities of the two countries. This year the State of Israeli is sponsoring the Start Tel Aviv program for expanded cultural ties, in its relentless campaign to subvert Scandinavia. The political agenda and military links behind the bilateral cooperation has prompted an anti-Israel boycott by conscientious Swedish academics.

No Credibility on Syria

The term “relatively large scale” chemical-weapons attack used in the introduction to the UN report on Syria is hyperbole, since any major attack with sarin would have resulted in tens of thousands of fatalities, especially if dispersed by military rockets. The first videos from Ghouta showed residents pouring out of their homes onto the street, gasping for fresh air. If indeed highly efficient rockets had been used, every one of them would have been killed instantaneous. The gassing, therefore, must have been an accidental release indoors, probably from a hidden rebel arsenal.

Chemical residues from the alleged rockets would have been oxidized by the heat of impact and certainly no intact organophosphate traces would be detectable, since sarin is designed to decompose after 20 minutes. Rockets are designed to use a binary system by which two chemical precursors are mixed during mid-air dispersal. Thus, there is no need for stabilizers or dispersants, meaning an absence of any identifying chemicals. The UN inspectors arrived long after the expiration period for sample testing. There is a possiblity also that the site and rocket parts may have been tampered with falsified evidence by the rebels and their foreign military advisers.

The casualty figures are unverifiable, and certainly not any of the videos showed more than a dozen corpses at a time. The scenes of swaddled infants is typical of war propaganda, certainly not believable when only a few faces were visible. The sum effect of these images is closer to theater than credible reporting.

Sellstrom’s strategy is to point fingers of guilt at the Syrian regime, while avoiding all possibility of alternative and more probable scenarios.

Hidden Agenda

American ambassador to the UN Samantha Power made emphatically clear that the “nerve gas used in Syria was more concentrated than the nerve gas in Iraqi.” Her statement should be rephrased as: “Saddam may have trans-shipped U.S.-supplied nerve gas into Syria, but it wasn’t our nerve gas used against Syrian civilians.”

That is the essential point of the Sellstrom report: To take Washington off the hook for being the major supplier of nerve gas precursors, formulations, delivery technology and storage systems to the Middle East, incluing Israel, Egypt, Libya, Iraq and very possibly Syria (during the Clinton era of good will).

The UN report of chemical weapons on Syria lacks basic credibility due to the duplicitous record of its chief inspector, Ake Sellstrom, who is politically and financially compromised at every level. An impartial fact-finding mission of credible international experts is required, but it would have no chance of conducting a fair investigation so long as Washington provides weapons and political support to the insurgency, including its Al Qaeda faction.

The geopolitical objective underlying the White House orchestrated hystrionics over Syria is to strip Damascus of its limited deterrence capability against Israel’s nuclear forces. Nerve gas may not be much of a counter-strike response compared with atomic warheads, but it seems Israel’s goal is absolute strategic supremacy against the Arab states and Iran. With the new UN report on Syria, Tel Aviv is a giant step closer to the dream of rendering all its neighbors defenseless and divided.

Yoichi Shimatsu, a science journalist based in Hong Kong, led a team of investigative reporters for the Japan Times Weekly and served as consultant to Takarajima 30 magazine during the Tokyo subway gassing in 1995.

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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.

Israel Still Angling for Attack on Syria and Iran

israel-war-sign-syria

Jonathan Cook

President Barack Obama may have drawn his seemingly regretted “red line” around Syria’s chemical weapons, but it was neither he nor the international community that turned the spotlight on their use. That task fell to Israel.

It was an Israeli general who claimed in April that Damascus had used chemical weapons, forcing Obama into an embarrassing demurral on his stated commitment to intervene should that happen.

According to the Israeli media, it was also Israel that provided the intelligence that blamed the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad, for the latest chemical weapons attack, near Damascus on August 21, triggering the clamour for a US military response.

It is worth remembering that Obama’s supposed “dithering” on the question of military action has only been accentuated by Israel’s “daring” strikes on Syria – at least three since the start of the year.

It looks as though Israel, while remaining largely mute about its interests in the civil war raging there, has been doing a great deal to pressure the White House into direct involvement in Syria.

That momentum appears to have been halted, for the time being at least, by the deal agreed at the weekend by the US and Russia to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.

To understand the respective views of the White House and Israel on attacking Syria, one needs to revisit the US-led invasion of Iraq a decade ago.

Israel and its ideological twin in Washington, the neoconservatives, rallied to the cause of toppling Saddam Hussein, believing that it should be the prelude to an equally devastating blow against Iran.

Israel was keen to see its two chief regional enemies weakened simultaneously. Saddam’s Iraq had been the chief sponsor of Palestinian resistance against Israel. Iran, meanwhile, had begun developing a civilian nuclear programme that Israel feared could pave the way to an Iranian bomb, ending Israel’s regional monopoly on nuclear weapons.

The neocons carried out the first phase of the plan, destroying Iraq, but then ran up against domestic opposition that blocked implementation of the second stage: the break-up of Iran.

The consequences are well known. As Iraq imploded into sectarian violence, Iran’s fortunes rose. Tehran strengthened its role as regional sponsor of resistance against Israel – or what became Washington’s new “axis of evil” – that included Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Israel and the US both regard Syria as the geographical “keystone” of that axis, as Israel’s outgoing ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, told the Jerusalem Post this week, and one that needs to be removed if Iran is to be isolated, weakened or attacked.

But Israel and the US drew different lessons from Iraq. Washington is now wary of its ground forces becoming bogged down again, as well as fearful of reviving a cold war confrontation with Moscow. It prefers instead to rely on proxies to contain and exhaust the Syrian regime.

Israel, on the other hand, understands the danger of manoeuvring its patron into a showdown with Damascus without ensuring this time that Iran is tied into the plan. Toppling Assad alone would simply add emboldened jihadists to the troubles on its doorstep.

Given these assessments, Israel and the US have struggled to envision a realistic endgame that would satisfy them both. Obama fears setting the region, and possibly the world, ablaze with a direct attack on Iran; Israel is worried about stretching its patron’s patience by openly pushing it into another catastrophic venture to guarantee its regional hegemony.

In his interview published yesterday by the Jerusalem Post, Michael Oren claimed that Israel had in fact been trying to oust Assad since the civil war erupted more than two years ago. He said Israel “always preferred the bad guys [jihadist groups] who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys [the Assad regime] who were backed by Iran.”

That seems improbable. Although the Sunni jihadist groups, some with links to al-Qaeda, are not natural allies for either the Shia leaders of Iran or Hizbollah, they would be strongly hostile to Israel. Oren’s comments, however, do indicate the degree to which Israel’s strategic priorities are obsessively viewed through the prism of an attack on Iran.

More likely, Israel has focused on using the civil war as a way to box Assad into his heartlands. That way, he becomes a less useful ally to Hizbollah, Iran and Russia, while the civil war keeps both his regime and the opposition weak.

Israel would have preferred a US strike on Syria, a goal its lobbyists in Washington were briefly mobilised to achieve. But the intention was not to remove Assad but to assert what Danny Ayalon, a former deputy Israeli foreign minister, referred to as “American and Israeli deterrence” – code for signalling to Tehran that it was being lined up as the next target.

That threat now looks empty. As Silvan Shalom, a senior government minister, observed: “If it is impossible to do anything against little Syria, then certainly it’s not possible against big Iran.”

But the new US-Russian deal to dispose of Syria’s chemical weapons can probably be turned to Israel’s advantage, so long as Israel prevents attention shifting to its own likely stockpiles.

In the short term, Israel has reason to fear Assad’s loss of control of his chemical weapons, with the danger that they pass either to the jihadists or to Hizbollah. The timetable for the weapons destruction should help to minimise those risks – in the words of one Israeli commentator, it is like Israel “winning the lottery”.

But Israel also suspects that Damascus is likely to procrastinate on disarmament. In any case, efforts to locate and destroy its chemical weapons in the midst of a civil war will be lengthy and difficult.

And that may provide Israel with a way back in. Soon, as Israeli analysts are already pointing out, Syria will be hosting international inspectors searching for WMD, not unlike the situation in Iraq shortly before the US-led invasion of 2003. Israel, it can safely be assumed, will quietly meddle, trying to persuade the West that Assad is not cooperating and that Hizbullah and Iran are implicated.

In a vein Israel may mine later, a Syrian opposition leader, Selim Idris, claimed at the weekend that Damascus was seeking to conceal the extent of its stockpiles by passing them to Lebanon and Iraq.

Obama is not the only one to have set a red line. Last year, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, drew one on a cartoon bomb at the United Nations as he warned that the world faced an imminent existential threat from an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Israel still desperately wants its chief foe, Iran, crushed. And if it can find a way to lever the US into doing its dirty work, it will exploit the opening – regardless of whether such action ramps up the suffering in Syria.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

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.

Syria: Lies the Imperialists Told Us

Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition

The criminal attack being planned against Syria is based on lies. They are not hard to expose.

The Syrian government was given a formal request on Saturday, Aug. 24 to grant access to a United Nations team of inspectors to the town in the outskirts of Damascus to determine if chemical weapons had been used. The Syrian government granted permission the very next day, Sunday, Aug. 25.

Obama administration officials then immediately declared that the inspections no longer mattered because the Syrian government had delayed UN weapons inspectors’ access to the site. In fact, top U.S.  officials called UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon on Aug. 25 (when Syria agreed that the inspectors could visit) demanding that he cancel the UN weapons inspections because they “were pointless.” (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 26)

The claim against Syria is ludicrous. The Syrian government would not have an interest in using chemical weapons knowing that it would be the trigger for NATO military intervention. The government was winning the war. The foreign-backed armed rebel groups could only win the war if the U.S. and/or NATO intervened directly.

Every imperialist attack and every imperialist-inspired regime change strategy requires a pretext and a public rationale. There needs to be a noble cause to justify the aggression. Since it is the 21st century rather than the 19th century, the politicians of western capitalism have to conceal and mask their predatory aims as they routinely bomb and kill people in the Middle East, Asia and Africa who resist allowing their lands and resources to fall under the domination of western corporations, banks and business interests.

“Public opinion” required a humanitarian motive for the bombing of Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011 and Syria in 2013.

The greatest purveyors of violence in the world present themselves as the greatest purveyors of humanitarian interests in the world.

Syria is not threatening the United States nor is anyone in the Obama administration suggesting such a threat exists. Thus, the planned military strikes against Syria are a violation of the UN Charter and international law.

The UN Charter and self-defense

The Obama administration is playing a dangerous game, escalating a war that could have devastating regional and global consequences.

The United States and Syria are both members of the United Nations and signatories to the UN Charter.

The UN Charter makes it illegal for one member nation to attack another except in the case of self-defense.

The Obama administration’s calculations on why it can and should bomb Syria are not premised on the idea of “legality” but rather power and power alone. They believe that Syria is so small and vulnerable that it will not be able to defend itself or retaliate against U.S. targets.

But the UN’s Article 51, Chapter VII makes clear that Syria would have such rights in the event of an unprovoked armed attack: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.” (Article 51, Chapter VII).

Syria’s presumed inability to retaliate is the unspoken assumption of the U.S. war planners and their cheerleaders in the mass media. War made easy!

The potential implications of an unprovoked attack on Syria are not even mentioned. The Obama administration implicitly promises the American people that only Syrians will bleed in this new “war.” With this promise they hope that the people of the United States will not rise up against the government that commits war crimes in their name.

During the next days people are going into the streets throughout the United States to say NO to another bombing campaign in the Middle East. Join and organize these demonstrations. The time to act is right now! Click here to join a demonstration in your area.