The impending US strike on Syria is justified as necessary to punish the Assad regime for using chemical weapons on its citizens and prevent it from further employing them. The situation, says Washington, calls for “humanitarian intervention.”
The US, Saudis and Qatar who seek to take sides in fuelling sectarianism and violence in the Middle East, should remember how a similar discourse of preventative war and promotion of sectarian forces in Europe led to World War I.
The threat of a reckless, dangerous, and illegal US or US-led assault on Syria is looking closer than ever. However any attack will not protect civilians—it will mean taking sides once again in a bloody, complicated civil war.
What the civil war in Syria has exposed is that the massive political and social transformation, and real regime change under way is led by people themselves. US military involvement serves only to escalate the destruction.
While Israel moved away from the far right in last month’s elections, the new coalition is unlikely to alter the occupation. Change may come from divestment campaigns, the new UN recognition of Palestinian statehood, and in the Israeli and Palestinian campaigns of nonviolent resistance.
Hagel’s nomination engendered bitter, angry opposition from the moment it was floated as a trial balloon. And the fact that Obama went ahead with the nomination is a good indication that on at least some critical foreign policy issues, Obama is not prepared to allow either the pro-Israeli lobbies or the hard-core neoconservatives, in and outside of Washington, to determine whom he could and could not choose as Secretary of Defense.