The US' public position on Syria has been widely circulated and is well known by now.
"We don't want to take actions that would contribute to the further militarization of Syria because that could take the country down a dangerous path," White House press secretary Jay Carney said. "But we don't rule out additional measures if the international community should wait too long and not take the kind of action that needs to be taken."It is also well known that formal US treaty ally Turkey and US colonies Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been substantially supporting the opposition, and this foreign support has helped fund and organize the armed resistance to the Syrian government. The US has been at least quietly supportive of this assistance. There are persistent rumors that the US, particularly Jeffrey Feltman, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, has had a major role in coordinating this campaign.
The administration previously had said flatly that more weapons are not the answer to the Syrian situation. There had been no mention of "additional measures."
I do not have evidence that these rumors are true. My expectation is that decades from now records will be declassified that detail US/Israeli involvement and direction of this campaign, just as almost half a century after the US' 1953 toppling of Iran's Mossedegh, contrary to vehement contemporary denials, the US involvement in that program was made public.
But quiet support in the widely known actions of the US' allies and colonies is enough to establish complicity even before evidence of direct involvement which may become available in the future. Here is Hillary Clinton expressing support for the efforts of others to support Syria's armed opposition:
"There will be increasingly capable opposition forces. They will from somewhere, somehow find the means to defend themselves as well as begin offensive measures," she told reporters after taking part in a London conference on Somalia."Somewhere, somehow" in this case means from the US' allies and colonies. There are some points that bear repeating about supporting armed resistance to any government, good or bad.
1) Armed resistance vastly increases the amount of deaths in any anti-government campaign. Syria's armed opposition creating actual firefights with the government has increased the total number of people who've died in this conflict by at least tenfold and quite plausibly 100-fold.
2) Every sovereign government, good or bad, will forcibly resist foreign-supported armed opposition to its rule. If foreigners were to provide weapons or funds to acquire weapons to anti-US government forces in Miami or Seattle and those forces managed to incorporate those cities into "liberated territory", or managed to remove all security forces loyal to Washington DC from those cities and surrounding areas, then Barack Obama's campaign to regain control of those cities would look very similar to Assad's campaigns to restore effective central government authority over Homs and Hama. The rhetoric would also be the same. Obama would call any such armed resistance foreign-influenced traitors and terrorists.
Barack Obama just relinquishing those cities would not be a consideration, much less would his leaving power be. US colonies of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others would behave identically to Obama or Assad except for differences in the amounts and types of weapons at their disposal.
Would there still be an armed resistance of there was no outside support? Possibly. Clearly any armed resistance would be smaller. Clearly fewer people would be dying. An easy response to an argument that an intervention is having little to no effect on the outcome is to ask, then why are they bothering? Why are they wasting money?
It is safe to say that at the very least ten times as many Syrians are dying in the current conflict as would have died if the US' allies and colonies did not intervene. If 7,000 people have died, at least 6,300 would be alive but for a campaign the Barack Obama administration, did not disapprove of even if it did not organize it.
That raises the question of why. If we start from the presumption that Barack Obama does not favor more Syrians dying to fewer all things being equal, then what makes things unequal? What could the US gain from armed conflict in Syria that Barack Obama considers worth thousands of Syrian lives?
On this question Obama administration officials are open that they hope a future Syria will not be aligned with Iran. Here is Feltman on Syria and Iran:
"Syria is essential to the extremely negative role that Iran has been able to play in the region. Take Hezbollah. The transit routes for the arms to Hezbollah are via Syria. The facilitation that Iran gives to Hezbollah to undermine the state of Lebanon, to put Israel at risk, to basically destabilize the region, it comes via Syria. Syria is basically Iran's only friend."Feltman's ideas about Iran playing an extremely negative role in the region and Syria's help in playing that role bears closer inspection. We will see how profoundly anti-democratic Feltman's contention is.
We can start with Lebanon, a country that Feltman thinks is being undermined by Hezbollah. Lebanon had elections that were considered fair in 2009. The electoral alliance that Hezbollah participated in won 54.5% of the popular vote. (Barack Obama beat John McCain with 52.9% of the popular vote.) While Feltman believes Hezbollah's arms are a threat, the people of Lebanon have not voted to support Feltman. Most of Lebanon's voters do not believe Hezbollah is an undermining, rather than representative influence. Feltman hopes though that Assad's overthrow will allow the United States to overrule Lebanon's voters.
From Lebanon, let's look at Iran which Feltman believes plays an extremely negative role in the region. Iran's government represents people who, by a seven to one margin, do not consider Israel a legitimate country.
18. Level of agreement - The state of Israel is illegitimate and should not exist.Barack Obama and Jeffrey Feltman disagree with the people of Iran and describe Iran's policies that are consistent with those beliefs to be extremely negative. But Obama and Feltman would disagree with any democratic or representative government of Iran.
Strong Agreement: 51.9%
Mild Agreement: 14.6% (total agree, 66.5%)
Mild Disagreement: 4.6%
Strong Disagreement: 3.9% (total disagree 8.5%)
This direct question asked of the Iranian population gives a very stark result that is very difficult to minimize. Since then, I've never seen this direct question asked again in a publicly available source of the Iranian population or any population in Israel's region.
On the other hand the Palestinians are mostly Sunni, and Arab. If there is an important distance between Sunni and Shiite and between Arab and Persian, then the populations of majority Sunni Arab states are likely to consider Israel illegitimate by even larger margins.
The questions we do see asked of Arab populations are more constrained, such as this from Brookings:
Which of the following statements is closer to your view?But Israel is not willing to return all 1967 territories including East Jerusalem. Israel continuously says it is not and the respondents to the poll believe it is not.
24% - Prepared for peace if Israel is willing to return all 1967 territories including East Jerusalem, and Arab governments should put more effort into this
43% - Prepared for peace if Israel is willing to return all 1967 territories including East Jerusalem, but Israel will never give up these territories easily
23% - Even if Israel returns all 1967 territories, Arabs should continue to fight
So what the Brookings poll asks is "If something was true, that you know is in fact not true and will not be true, would you in that imaginary world be 'prepared for peace' with Israel?". 67% of Arab respondents in one form or other responded yes to that question. 67% of Arabs would, in that imaginary world, be 'prepared for peace' with Israel.
Note that 'prepared for peace' does not imply that they would even then consider Israel legitimate, that they would want to maintain that peace if circumstances such as Israel's current military edge were to change, or that they would not support efforts to end Israel's military advantage over its neighbors. What is being asked by Brookings is not a meaningful question. Every Western poll I've seen since 2006 supposedly asking non-Jewish Middle East populations about their acceptance of Israel has been flawed in this way.
Respondents pointedly, deliberately and misleadingly are not asked by Brookings if they accept Israel in the real world. Here, Brookings is actively working to mislead its Western audiences.
The Brookings poll is not inconsistent with and does not contradict the Readers Digest poll. It is a safe assumption that if asked the same direct question Readers Digest asked the Iranians, the people of Syria would disagree with Feltman and Obama about Israel and about what kind of role would be positive or negative even more vehemently than the people of Iran.
These polls and these non-Jewish populations of the Middle East expressing disagreement with Barack Obama and Jeffrey Feltman bring us back to the question of why things are not equal, why Barack Obama would prefer to see thousands of Syrians die than oppose the formation of an armed resistance in Syria.
If the goal is to prevent Syria from playing the negative role in the region Iran plays, then there are at least three ways to accomplish this. One might be a democratic Syria that agrees with Obama and Feltman that opposing Israel is a negative effect on the region. The US and its supporters lie when they present this as the outcome they hope for. There is no reason to believe Syria's voters would agree with Obama and Feltman about what kind of role Syria should play in the region and good reason to believe they would disagree.
There are two other ways: 2) Syria can come under the control of a pro-US dictatorship, rejoining the colonial structure that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt (for now), Jordan and Kuwait are part of. This is the colonial structure Iran escaped when the US-imposed Shah was overthrown and which made it possible for Iran to now pursue, with Syria, what Feltman and Obama consider a negative role in the region.
Short of that, Syria might, the US, Feltman and Obama may hope, ultimately reach what Obama would like to see in Egypt, a government that has a democratic facade but whose policy on issues the US cares about are set by the United States. Juan Cole and the Heritage Foundation favorably describe this arrangement as "partly free" for Morocco and Kuwait. Jimmy Carter openly supports this arrangement for Egypt. Cole doesn't openly advocate this outcome but refuses to offer any criticism of this arrangement if, as it has promised, Egypt's military was to bring it about.
The last way is that Syria can be destroyed. Whatever else happens, the destruction of a country is the most common outcome of a civil war that results from foreign-supported armed opposition fighting the government. Syria may never have a government that agrees with Feltman or Obama about what constitutes a negative effect on the region, but if its ability to impact the region beyond its borders is crippled, that would be the next best thing.
Hopefully Syria will, despite the efforts of the US, its allies and its colonies, avoid a further escalation of its civil war. Other than the September 2001 attacks on the US homeland, the US has not suffered much to deter it from policies that result in large amounts of death of Arabs and Muslims to subjugate the region on Israel's behalf. I hope this lack of consequences for the US continues, because I oppose people dying.
I also hope though, that the US one way or another stops being an evil nation, a nation that would rather see thousands of Syrians die then see them live in a country free to play what Feltman and Obama (but not Syria's own population) consider a negative role in the region by threatening Israel.