Keep Up The People’s Vigil On Us War Mongers

Following an apparently off-hand remark by US Secretary of State John Kerry during a press conference that US military action could be avoided if the regime of President Bashar al-Assad surrendered its chemical weapons, the Syria scenario has witnessed a sudden twist. Both Moscow and Damascus promptly accepted Kerry’s offer, which was evidently beyond Washington’s calculations. Its first reaction, therefore, was to preserve Washington’s pretext for war on Syria. A senior US official told media that Kerry’s comments represented a “major goof” and “clearly went off-script”. A State Department spokeswoman stressed that Kerry had only been speaking “rhetorically.” She dismissed the response of Russia and Syria as a “stalling tactic” that had to be treated with “deep scepticism,” and went on to say that it was “even more important that Congress votes to authorize the President to use military action against Syrian regime targets.”

But the administration quickly changed tack. Given the overwhelming popular opposition to the war at home and abroad, the near-universal welcome accorded to the Moscow-Damascus response, Washington veered round to the position that flatly rejecting the Russian-Syrian acceptance of Kerry’s “non-proposal” would draw flak from all quarters. And that a smarter option would be to accept it as a positive development secured through the threat of military aggression. That was exactly what President Obama did. He told the media he preferred resolving the chemical weapons issue through an international agreement, but added that “if we don’t maintain … a credible threat of military pressure, I don’t think we’ll actually get the kind of agreement I’d like to see.”

The course of developments prompts one to recall what happened in late 2002 and early 2003. Saddam Hussein, contrary to US expectations, allowed UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq and acquiesced to an ever-more onerous inspection regime in a bid to forestall a US invasion. The inspectors declared more than once that they were receiving full cooperation and finding no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. But the Bush administration blatantly ignored all of it and eventually invaded Iraq. To this day the Iraqi people continue to experience the horrific effects of the depleted uranium used in US attacks.

There is every chance of history repeating itself, this time in Syria. For while as a Senator Obama had questioned America’s Iraq war, as President he has evolved his own distinct ‘Drone’ way of continuing with the war without running the risk of getting bogged down in a military occupation. And now with Syria, Obama was finally stepping right into the shoes Bush had left for him, when the sudden turn in diplomacy forced him to reconsider tactics.

A war on Syria thus remains a real possibility. In fact, the US proclivity to war is not just a matter of Presidential or Congressional choice; it has deep structural roots. Its economy is predominantly a war economy; arms and ammunitions, war technology and post-war reconstruction fetching endless contracts and profits for the US and its corporations. US foreign policy has always been one of engineering and conducting war, the theatres of war keep changing but the trajectory goes on. It is this political economy of war which has sustained America’s global power and domination and control over key resources. So after Afghanistan and Iraq, America’s war machine has kept moving on, somewhat surreptitiously in resource-rich Africa, and is now knocking openly on the doors of Syria. What the US and its allies want is not just another regime change in the Arab world, but most importantly to corner Iran, the only remaining power in the Middle East or the entire Islamic world that continues to defy and resist the hegemonic game-plan of the US-Israel nexus. That strategic purpose remains as pressing today as it was in early September, the readjustment in tactics notwithstanding.

As things stand at the moment, the US and France will try to exploit the situation to their advantage. One option for them might be to prepare a Security Council resolution based on the very recent Moscow-Washington deal on a framework and timeline to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, but incorporating a slew of harsh additional conditions, an alleged non-compliance with which will then apparently justify US military action.

However, such an attempt, if made, will not be a cakewalk. The UN Charter does not permit military strikes in the name of “humanitarian intervention”. Moreover, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has stated that his country will provide the UN Security Council with data proving that the chemical weapons near Damascus were used by the opposition. The world body is thus all set to witness an intense debate on war and peace.

While consistently opposing US war designs – overt or covert, with UN sanction or without – we do recognise that the Syrian people have their own reasons to fight for change. Since the adoption in 2006 of sweeping economic reforms, including austerity measures, wage freeze and privatization, unemployment has worsened and living standards have deteriorated. The aspiration for democracy and pluralism that respects individual liberty and social diversity is also palpable among large sections of the people.

The ongoing civil war in Syria has already exacted an enormous human cost, with thousands killed and hundreds of thousands of people rendered homeless. It is one thing for the international community to intervene diplomatically through the UN to help restore peace and normalcy in the strife-torn country and facilitate a political solution, but unilateral American military intervention will only cripple Syria further and subject the Syrian people to a prolonged state of far greater misery and insecurity.

From Afghanistan and Iraq to Egypt and Libya, there are examples galore to show that American intervention and democracy cannot go together. If the Syrian rebels have any concern for the future of their country, they should fight their own battle and reject all kinds of American intervention or assistance.

Popular masses across the world should also remain vigilant and resolutely oppose any US move to further destabilise the situation in the Middle East by military aggression or other means. Manmohan Singh has said that India would oppose any military action against Syria if it was undertaken without UN authorisation, implying that New Delhi will support such action if it is authorised by the Security Council. This is absolutely unacceptable. The peace-loving people of India, while opposing the war-crazy US, must warn the Indian government against extending any kind of support to the US-led war campaign in Syria and elsewhere.

Box matter

CPI(ML) holds Protest against US Aggression on Syria

Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation observed 9 September as a day of protests nationally against imminent war threat on Syria by Obama administration. September 9th was the day Obama was trying to convince the American Senate for aggression on Syria. The Party called upon all left and democratic forces to come out against this imperialist aggression against Syria and force the Indian Government to oppose US designs, instead of succumbing to the strategic subservience to US imperialism, as successive Indian governments have failed to oppose the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A militant protest against US war aggression was organised in Bhubaneshwar, capital of Odisha. This was addressed by Party’s General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya and leaders of the Odisha state committee as well as AICCTU national executive members present in Bhubaneshwar for a meeting.

Protests were held throughout Bihar, UP, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Uttarakhand as a part of nationwide day of protest. In the national capital Delhi, party activists and members of Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra, Jan Sanskriti Manch, TUCI and PDFI demonstrated at Jantar Mantar.

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