Syria - Like Watching a Train Crash in Slow Motion

The only sensible commentary I've seen from Aotearoa about the USA federal government's latest plan to bomb Syria, in response to a chemical weapons attack on one set of Syrians by another set of Syrians, is from Keith Locke on theDailyBlog.

There may be kiwis still alive who remember the last time the New Zealand military was involved in Syria - World War Two, and have some notion of the role the carve up of the middle east among the winners of that war has played in the political and religious tensions in the region. Not to mention the constant interference, including the constant flow of weapons, to keep middle east oil flowing to both USA and USSR aligned regimes, including New Zealand. For most kiwis though, the constant flow of headlines about the civil war which began in Syria in 2011 is the first they've heard of the country, and sadly, the corporate media coverage has shared this historical amnesia.

The only sensible commentary I've seen from Aotearoa about the USA federal government's latest plan to bomb Syria, in response to a chemical weapons attack on one set of Syrians by another set of Syrians, is from Keith Locke on theDailyBlog. Following the news fragments coming through the RadioNZ website over the last few days is like watching a slow train crash. First, USA Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that a poison gas attack in Syria was clearly carried out by the vicious governing regime of Bashar Al-Assad, rather than the vicious fundamentalist rebels sponsored by the USA. On the same day, they report that Snapper Key is already promising at least "moral" support from the New Zealand state for the latest unprovoked attack by the US Empire on a foreign country, despite the UN Security Council holding out for a diplomatic solution to the civil war that has raged in Syria for more than two years,

Desperate not to be left out is current Labour foreign affairs spokesperson Phil Goff. Goff is a cold war fossil, a cabinet minister in the 1984-90 Labour government, who has never apologised for helping to impose "Rogernomics" on an unsuspecting public. He also helped subject the country to another three years of Snapper Key by leading Labour to failure in the 2011 election, rather than stand aside for a leader who may have had some chance of winning, as his successor David Shearer did recently. Goff too stated he wanted the New Zealand state to be a cheerleader for an unprovoked US-led attack on an Arab country, just as he did as Helen Clark's Minister of Foreign Affairs when he enthusiastically offered the NZ Special Air Service to support the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, using the smokescreen of the events of September 11, 2001 (see Nicky Hagar's book "Other People's Wars" for more of that story).

Things came a bit unglued for the US war machine though when after initially being as enthusiastic about their bombing plan as Key and Goff, the government of the UK - its chief Yes Man in the coalition of the gullible which gave its unprovoked invasions a glaze of respectability - decided that this time they are not buying the "intelligence" linking Assad's forces to the chemical gas ("slam dunk" evidence of "weapons of mass destruction", ringing any bells?). It didn't help that Respect MP George Galloway was able to present evidence that the rebel forces the US is backing to get rid of Assad are engaged in ritual cannibalism and sawing people's heads off.

Undeterred, the US is still determined to start dropping bombs on Syria, claiming that it has to think of the children. I would have thought that thinking of the children would be a good reason not to start bombing another country, but that's just me. What's interesting though, is the way the British government's refusal to rubber-stamp another US-led invasion has taken the wind out of our own politicians' war sails.

Snapper Key now says any decision about New Zealand involvement in the US bombing plan should be debated by Parliament, perhaps because of canary in the political coalmine Peter Dunne saying "the British vote could be an international game changer." Goff now says the New Zealand state should use its close relationship with the Australian state to lobby the UN Security Council, which Australia takes over the Presidency of on Monday, to "suggest a resolution requiring all UN member states to immediately cease providing weapons to Syria".

I'm left wondering how we, the people of Aotearoa, can return our country to the staunchly independent stance we took on foreign war-mongering when we declared our country a nuclear weapon free zone, and supported the vision of a nuclear free Pacific? . How can we, peace-loving residents of a small group of Pacific islands a long way from any of these international conflicts, become the "Switzerland of the South Pacific", as some visionaries have suggested? Particularly when the New Zealand Defence Forces swear loyalty to the Queen of England, not the safety and well-being of the people of Aotearoa?


Commenting has now closed on this article.

...and the train wreck continues:

>> the Syrian chemical attack is an assault on human dignity and presents a serious danger to US national security. <<

So unilaterally bombing someone else's country isn't an assault on human dignity? Regardless of whether it was Assad,'s forces, the rebels, or someone else, who gassed civilians in Syria, what possible danger could that pose to US national security?!?

Obama is:
>> confident in the case the US has made, without waiting for United Nations weapons inspectors to report on the attack. <<

Oh yeah, like the case they made for Saddam having weapons of mass destruction? How could anyone make a decision with such devastating consequences without even waiting for the UN inspectors who were there, on the ground, gathering the physical evidence, to confirm whether it was even a chemical attack at all?!?

Obama says:
>> the United States cannot and must not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus. <<

So the two possible approaches are "turn a blind eye" and bomb Syria back into the stone age, the same as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq? Mr Obama:

Putin said:
>> it would be utter nonsense for the Syrian Government to provoke opponents with such attacks when it is in a position of strength. <<

Not sure about the position of strength bit, but you would be hard pressed to offer a convincing motive for Assad's forces to launch a random chemical weapons attack on their own civilians, and nobody has tried. After all, it's not exactly the best way to win hearts and minds when you're fighting a civil war.

This Midnight Notes Collective piece, which analyses Bush's "War on Terror" and its role as the iron fist in the velvet glove of neoliberalism, and critiques of the arguments of the US antiwar movement, is just as relevant 10 years later to the USA plan to bomb Syria:

A sample:
>> The antiwar movement should, therefore, speak to the Desires and Hopes of the people of the U.S [or Aotearoa]., from universal healthcare to a healthy environment. We also need to bring the demands of the anti-globalization movement of the 1990s into our demonstrations, forums and programs, especially the wisdom behind the slogan, "This Earth is Not For Sale," i.e., an end to the privatization of the gifts of the planet and its history. <<

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