Since America became the leader of the “free world”, interference in the independence and sovereignty of nation states around the globe has become a permanent fixture of US foreign policy. The tactics may differ from place to place but the aim remains the same everywhere: to control countries as much as possible, loot their national resources and subject them to the will of the “central” capitalist states in North America, Western Europe and the Pacific Rim. Local tools are used, including allies such as Israel and Turkey, the only member of NATO in the Middle East.
The US is flexing its hegemonic muscles against Syria at the moment, even though UN inspectors have not concluded their investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Damascus. It doesn’t look as if UN approval will be sought or given so Washington is using France to provide some sort of international legitimacy for any action it might take.
Whether or not the Obama administration will carry through its threats remains to be seen; it is likely that it will. What has to be understood is that US concerns about Syria and the use of chemical weapons have nothing to do with morality or humanitarian norms; it is all about protecting Israel and retaining its military superiority in the region. All of America’s military interventions in the Middle East over the past few decades have had Israeli’s security as the main sub-text. To think otherwise is to ignore the facts.
Following its defeat in Vietnam, the US changed its foreign policy, adopting Cold War management by mediation and what National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski called “dual containment”. This appeared on the scene with the Iraq-Iran war, with America encouraging the conflict in order to wear down both sides. US ally Menachem Begin, the then prime minister of Israel said at the time, “We wish success to both parties of the war.” This illustrates what dual containment means. I believe that the Netanyahu government wishes the same in Syria and hence is supportive of a US-led strike which is likely to prolong the war not solve the problem, wearing down regime and rebels at the same time. Netanyahu is a student of Begin.
Since the early nineties the US has been the world’s sole “superpower” following the end of the Cold War. Successive administrations have ignored the lessons of Vietnam, with neo-conservatives embracing an “end of history” ideology and dreaming of an American Empire. As a result, US military escapades around the world have multiplied.
As part of its strategy of divide and rule, America has sought to destroy potential threats to its hegemony in the Arab world. Iraq is a case in point; Saddam Hussein had no “weapons of mass destruction” but his regime and his country have paid the price for American ambition. Too close to the Palestinian cause, Saddam was also a threat to Israel, so he had to go. Nevertheless, in a world where history has no “end”, the results have been bitter, including a worldwide crisis of capitalist economics, which has distracted the US. This has allowed potential rivals to enter the fray, with nuclear-armed Russia and China prominent. The creation of the BRICS group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and their alternative approach to unbridled Western capitalism and free markets is a direct challenge to US hegemony as manifested in the World Bank, World Trade Centre and International Monetary Fund. The BRICS move has allowed some states to break free from capitalist domination, notably in the Far East and Latin America.
With the election of Barack Obama to the White House it was natural for America to review its policies of direct military intervention. This has seen indirect support of the kind given to the rebels in Syria to-date as well as using NATO as a front, giving an international dimension to interventions designed specifically to boost US foreign policy.
Such indirect military intervention in Syria conflicts with the neo-conservative approach as well as Netanyahu’s wishes and those of other governments in the Middle East. All want to take advantage of the chaos in Syria for their own nefarious reasons. Strikes against Syria would undoubtedly embarrass regional governments and could lead to greater intervention by the likes of Lebanon’s Hezbollah as the fight would be taken directly against Israel.
In any case, US and Western intervention in Syria is open to all possibilities and is hard to predict in terms of timing, intensity and outcome. Whatever happens, it will be dangerous for the whole region, not just Syria. This is a war that the Netanyahu government has always sought and the West, led by the US, has encouraged it for Israel’s benefit. Some analysts predict that the US strike will destroy Syria’s air defence capabilities leaving its airspace open to Israeli jets to use in an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Sympathy for the victims of the Syrian gas attack should not be confused with US moral standards or humanitarian concerns. As and when an attack against Syria takes place it is clear that the beneficiary will be Israel. The rhetoric coming out of Washington is little more than Israeli words spoken by Western tongues. Syria is in the way and it must be severely weakened or destroyed altogether for Israel to achieve its own aims.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.