A cartoon style illustration of a superhero couple with American Flag in the background. Photo: iStock
A cartoon style illustration of a superhero couple with American Flag in the background. Photo: iStock

When will it stop? The Trump administration was “confident” that “animal Assad” was responsible for the alleged attack in Douma on April 7 despite lacking evidence, and veteran journalist Robert Fisk visited Douma and was told by hospital doctors that no chemical attack took place.

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US President Donald Trump had to decide within 48 hours what price Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would pay. The choice was rushed; the evidence was obfuscated and filtered through fanatics like National Security Adviser John Bolton to Trump’s ear.

Following collective military strikes in Syria by Israel, the US, Britain and France, there are two narratives now in play – that the attack wasn’t illegal and was magnanimous versus this dubious event was seized upon by the old “allies.”

Belief is what matters – just ask General James Mattis, who said there was no evidence, but he “believes” it happened. If you repeat something enough, people will believe it.

The public is never told the truth

The Western public is encouraged to support military actions of the US, UK, and France initiated out of altruism. But raining down a barrage of missiles to show solidarity with the Syrian people against Assad isn’t that helpful. If the US political class was so magnanimous, it would take in 500,000 Syrians, which would alleviate real suffering; missiles don’t, but the US public will resist that, and so that lays bare this phony morality.

This isn’t about saving lives. US military operations kill people all the time. If it was, the US political establishment would stop supporting the Yemen war. If the US political class and media are so aggrieved about suffering, why not bomb Saudi Arabia to stop a catastrophic war in Yemen that the Western public is being kept in the dark about?

Britain’s Winston Churchill once criticized those who were loath to use chemical weapons. Today, Nikki Haley, the US’s ambassador to the UN, said of Syria that “only a monster does this,” yet the US uses clusterbombs and white phosphorus (a chemical weapon), has drone-striked weddings in Yemen, and bombed hospitals in Afghanistan. Who is she to label monster?

Washington has no moral or legal right to topple governments using humanitarian justifications that are vapid and hollow legally, according to Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois, especially when  facilitating a horrible conflict in Yemen. Coverage of the war is being censored because the US and UK are profiting from the sale of weapons to the Saudis and Emeritis that are killing children. So, their moral compass demands action for Syrians but Yemeni’s are cannon fodder?

And the public isn’t told the other reasons behind this or other such wars, but let’s surmise a few.

War makes people rich, and the armaments sector is one of the only industries the US has left

War makes people rich, and the armaments sector is one of the only industries the US has left. Going to war puts the US in debt, but it also keeps industries afloat. Missiles, bombs, and all manner of destructive ordinance and projectiles only make industry contractors money if they are used and replaced. At the same time, those same industries are large political donors and their influence in any military excursion can’t be dismissed, but it is not discussed in an official capacity.

The US has hundreds of foreign military bases. Think of all the US bases that were in Iraq, that are in Afghanistan, that are around the world in Germany, Japan, even the occupied Pacific islands. Now think about how many McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts,  or UPS stores and more are on those bases and how many jobs the military-industrial complex sustains.

Aside from war being an industry, this posturing towards Syria is revealed by former Nato commander General Wesley Clarke, who told of a plan in 2002 to intervene and topple seven governments in five years: Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, Syria, and Iran.

And where are we today? Iraq was destabilized, Libya was decimated, Yemen is being destroyed, Somalia is “droned” unilaterally, Iran is always highlighted as a dangerous nation in need of humanitarian intervention or invasion, and Syria is a battleground between foreign nations. This is an imperial plan.

Syria also borders Israel and Lebanon, an important issue for Israel and their US lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. US hawk Bolton is loyal to Israel and dreams of destroying Iran, and Israel wants Assad gone. Israel and Saudi Arabia are pushing for war every day against Iran, so the “road to Damascus leads to Tehran.”

Furthermore, Syria’s meagre oil in its east compared to US supplier Saudi Arabia isn’t the motivating factor. However, two pipelines proposed in 2000, one from Iran and one from Qatar,  through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and into Turkey make the idea of energy politics and impeding foes and competitors still likely through Syrian destabilization. Russia viewed such a pipeline as a threat to its dominance in the European market.

And finally, Syria has a Russian naval base and airbase, which enable Russian power projection in the Mediterranean and Middle East.

Is Assad the only possible boogeyman?

There was no incentive for the Syrian government to launch this attack; in fact, there was actually a disincentive. There’s every motive for Tahrir al-Sham (various terrorist groups including al-Nusra/al-Qaeda) or Saudi-sponsored Jaysh al-Islam to do this. They have the motive and means: they want to stay in Syria and have used mustard gas and sarin gas before.

Could Assad have authorized this? Yes, war makes monsters of many and war crimes have occurred on all sides, with the UN concluding that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) used chlorine in three cases and ISIS  used mustard gas.

But the timeline of events is suspicious.

Last year, the US State Department said the goal was no longer regime change in Syria and within days, on April 4, a supposed chemical attack occurred in Idlib. At the beginning of this month,  Trump said he wished to withdraw US troops illegally occupying Syria and within days – on April 7 – there was a supposed gas attack. Come on; is that not the least bit suspicious? Now US troops won’t be withdrawn until goals are reached, but what are those goals?

The Russian mediators actually reached an agreement with Jaysh al-Islam to finally leave Douma, as the SAA already controlled nearly 90% of East Ghouta before this supposed gas attack occurred.

You’ll find it difficult to read in The New York Times or The Guardian that the rebels are Wahhabis and Takfirists; two fanatical schools of Islam that espouse the eradication of all Muslims who aren’t strict Sunnis.

Now, does Russia have a vested interest? Yes, Syria is their long-standing ally, Russia has a large Muslim population in its Caucuses region, and takes pride in drawing a red line in the sand against US regime-change policies.

Of course, Russia lies but so do all nation-state governments one way or another, the US even more so. Could the US be lying? Yes, US interest groups lie all the time. Furthermore, Trump could be being lied to by Bolton, by Iran hawk Mike Pompeo, the CIA, or the proxy terrorists of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and even the US’s own sponsored groups. And of course,  Trump would like to distract from scandals following him.

But, of course, the White Helmets, an organization conceived and directed by a marketing company named “The Syria Campaign” based in New York, were the source of the Douma videos.  They’re funded by foreign governments, actively campaign for a no-fly zone, and only work in areas controlled by the armed opposition, mostly al-Nusra/al-Qaeda, and have offices filled with terrorist paraphernalia. Sometimes they carry weapons, celebrate terrorist victories, and even assist in terrorist executions. Sounds a bit suspicious doesn’t it?

The role of the media

Nobody in the US media can explain why al-Assad has purportedly decided to use chemical weapons (after giving them up in 2014 under supervision) when he has everything to lose.

And, of course, CNN is pushing for war. Just think about the time the network’s Fareed Zakaria said Trump ‘became presidential’ once he bombed another country. Think about the thought process behind that.

Where are the pictures of the dead kids that the Saudis are killing in Yemen? They are killed with weapons supplied by the US and Britain. We never see those images, just images of children in Syria used as a political tool. This is war propaganda.

And what’s really unbelievable is that Tucker Carlson of the right-wing  Fox News can see through this propaganda, and is warning against war, while the liberal media is now center-right and pushing war, and  no progressives are given a platform outside of the internet.

The power of belief

I’m not saying it’s impossible that al-Assad ever used chemical weapons, but why can it never be al Qaeda, ISIS, or Jaysh al-Islam? How can “belief” be enough for Western corporate and national press or officials?

US politicians have been giddy with excitement for militarism, with the media laying out strategies for Trump to follow. Anything challenging the “belief” needed to facilitate this action was censored or omitted on MSNBC, and in the UK dissenting voices on the BBC and Sky News are being cut off.

What interests are pushing for the toppling of the Syrian government and other regional governments? In France, President Emmanuel Macron says the West must stay in Syria and build a new country. That’s just a polite declaration of revanchist intentions and recolonization.

The Saudis are so desperate they’ve offered to deploy ground troops in Syria, and Arab countries have offered to pay for the US to topple al-Assad. The powerful interest groups of the Gulf and Israel, as well as factions in the US, UK, and France, have invested a great deal in this failed, duplicitous conspiracy, but as long as those in power “believe” in their mission, the push for war will continue.

Andrew Brennan is a dual Irish/American citizen who was educated in Ireland. He holds two Master of Arts degrees from the National University of Ireland, Galway. He has experience in radio, research, and domestic television, and also currently contributes to Forbes and Global Times.

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