What is it good for?

Posted: September 3, 2013 in Opinion piece
Tags: , , , , , ,

For the first time in many years, I felt a slight glean of pride at a decision by our elected representatives in the House of Commons, when they voted against the principle of military action against Syria.

Our right-wing media overlords obviously decided to draw far more from the vote than a rare reflection of public sentiment; either painting it as a ‘humiliation’ for David Cameron, or ‘partisan treachery’ by Ed Miliband, presumably believing that the measure of a Party leader is whether they can effectively order MPs to vote against their constituents and consciences. Then again, we know with their idolatry of Thatcher that wealthy vested interests love a ‘conviction’ politician who can bully their underlings and ignore public outcry.

Although it’s no surprise with the British media or our current government, it still shocks that such a cataclysmic decision can be framed with a black-and-white ‘punish the bad guys’ rhetoric. Even the most naïve are now surely aware that America’s foreign policy consists of naming a bad guy, ratcheting up the polemic, instigating an ‘incident’, declaring war, and, if convenient, planting the ‘evidence’ of their guilt later. This last component has been lamentably missed with recent conflicts, and seems to have soured the normally jingoistic general American public against foreign intervention.

That said, most seem to forget that there is actually no concrete evidence as of yet that Basher Al-Assad committed these atrocities. As others have noted, his culpability is taken for granted because of his previous crime sheet. Having crushed dissent with more than just an iron fist, Bassad is a tyrant who certainly deserves to be deposed; of that there is little doubt. But, to coin an immortal ethical question: who are we to dispense international justice, particularly when we shamelessly flog chemicals which may have been used in unpleasant ways by either the Syrian regime or rebels?

More to the point, why strike against Syria? Why not Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe thumbs his nose at the idea of democracy and brutally wipes out challenges to his rule? Why not North Korea, whose provocative sinking of South Korean ships and war game posturing should ring alarm bells beyond Pyongyang? Why not Belarus or Bahrain, to teach them the virtues of ‘democracy’? Which is when we come to the stark realisation that this is not all about some universal concepts of ‘justice’ or ‘liberty’, but other agendas. It is pretty sickening hearing Conservative MPs talk of the opposition ‘playing politics’ when we are talking about risking people’s lives: people who are unlikely to be related to Conservative MPs. The Conservative Party have always seemed to relish using the military as an international diplomatic and trading tool; something that Tony Blair also took to with relish.

When we put two and two together we understand that Syria has been a target of the US for some time for both natural resources and as an ally of their long-time nemesis Iran. America’s gargantuan military-industrial complex requires regular warfare to justify its obscene investment, thus we always have a perennial conflict of interest between the US’s stated aims of ‘spreading democracy and freedom’, and their multi-billion dollar resource-controlling agenda. Britain feels obliged to drag on her coat-tails for nothing more than a feeling of illusory Empire-romanticism and preferential trade agreements that usually result in US venture capitalists buying our blood reserves or guzzling large swathes of our NHS budget.

People banging the war drum talk as if strikes against Syria are just ‘punishment’ for Assad, though I fail to see how a man who kills his own people with impunity might be bothered by a foreign power doing the job for him. As has been noted, a dictator’s only agenda is to remain in power by any means, which raises doubts about his motives for provoking the world by gassing his own people, when Syrian rebels have far stronger a motive, and have most likely been supplied the weapons by our own glorious nation. Assad has of course made the fatal error have being allies with the wrong nations. If he had gassed Kurds in the 1980s while being an American ally, they would not have invaded and deposed him for another 15 plus years.

Warmongering or not, this is a conflict too far for the US. Surely anyone can see that pissing off Russia and China and provoking Iran while Israel has its finger on the button is just inviting World War 3. The British decision has brought some much-needed space and clarity to a situation that was rushing calamitously out of control. Until we realise that saving children by killing their parents with cruise missiles is a ridiculous solution, we have much to learn about ‘democracy’.


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