By Richard Lightbown
The British media was full of sound bites last weekend from politicians expressing outrage against Russia and China for blocking a UN Security Council resolution based on an Arab League proposal for the Syrian crisis. This is the same Arab League that called for the no-fly zone in Libya which precipitated events leading to a death toll five times higher than the current total in Syria. It is supported by the same United States administration which has ordered drone assassinations in Yemen and Pakistan, along with widespread human rights abuses around the world. Along with the same United Kingdom government whose shadowy spooks in MI6 helped to provoke the Libyan uprising, and train Palestinian security forces in the black arts of torture. It is the same French government which armed and trained Libyan rebels; acts which, in the opinion of the chair of the Security Council’s Sanctions Committee, were in breach of UNSC resolutions 1970 and 1973.
NATO was not mandated to train or arm the Libyan rebels, or employ any forces on the ground, or bomb hospitals, schools and infrastructure; it was mandated to protect civilian life. With the death toll at more than 30,000 and counting, this cannot be considered a successful operation that fulfilled its mandated task.
After the recent Security Council result US Ambassador Susan Rice had the temerity to declare “The US is disgusted”. So why was it not disgusted over Fallujah, or Kosovo, or direct US involvement in Afghanistan which began with the widespread use of cluster bombs? Because the United States if the world’s greatest rogue state, the world’s greatest perpetrator of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the world’s greatest hypocrite.
Western media however is loathe the admit this. On Saturday, 4 February ITN was implying that Russia vetoed the proposal simply because Syria is a major buyer of Russian arms and provides the Russian Navy with a friendly port on the Mediterranean. The BBC was still leading with the story of Western outrage over the vetoes the following night. In the Independent on Sunday, Joan Smith called for the support, training and organization of the Syrian opposition along the lines of the deployment of NATO Special Forces in Libya. She should keep herself up to date. NATO already has training camps in Turkey for opponents of the Assad regime. According to Italian sources used by Pravda NATO snipers have been transferred from Libya to Syria; while MI6, probably in conjunction with the CIA, already has forces there.
Despite the involvement of Western military, David Hearst in the Guardian and Dr Alan George in the Independent on Sunday both asserted that military intervention is not on the agenda. Neither justified their assertion, which did not concur with the UN’s own report on the session which specifically mentioned Russian fears of such an event. Reuters reported that a vote was forced on the Council while Russian diplomats were still seeking alterations to the Anglo-French draft, while both Russian and Chinese representatives spoke of the need to seek peace between opposing factions. This important point was totally ignored in statements by American, British and French leaders who were more interested in apportioning blame than in seeking consensus.
The real reason for the Russian and Chinese vetoes is that they were duped by NATO’s involvement in Libya. What should have been the enforcement of a no-fly zone and a total embargo on military goods for the protection of civilian life was distorted beyond recognition by the alliance. Without Security Council authorization, rebels were armed and trained, a stable prosperous society was bombed into poverty and insecurity, atrocities were committed, much of the infrastructure was damaged or destroyed, the regime was overthrown and armed bands were left on the streets to fight among themselves and to kill and loot with impunity.
Having been fooled once, Russia and China cannot, and will not allow any authorization which could serve as an excuse for a US-led colonial project in Syria. In reality the Western politicians expressing outrage and crying crocodile tears for Syrians are intent on overthrowing the Assad regime in Damascus in total disregard to any suffering or harm that might cause. With a population more than tenfold that of Libya, a death toll in excess of 100,000 could result.
Those promoting a NATO intervention should look at the track record of American-led interventions: through Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya; the story is always the same. High-tech super weaponry is used to destroy, kill, maim and pollute the local people and their environment, with minimum losses to the assailants. There is no positive aspect to this story for the victims. Following in the wake of NATO forces there is only destruction and death: devastation far in excess of the violence used to justify the attack.
Those who propose a NATO ‘solution’ in Syria should be able to justify their case by answering two questions.
One: If Russia and China had vetoed UNSC resolution 1973 (and assuming NATO had respected this result), what damage and death toll do they think might have resulted?
[It should be remembered here that no evidence has been produced to support the original allegations of “genocide” by loyalist forces which provoked the call for intervention.]
Two: If NATO gets sufficient excuse to attack Syria and carry out a regime change what damage and death toll might result (and how will this compare with current estimates of 6000 dead)?
The fact that nobody from the US administration has so far provided data which might answer these simple questions suggests that the answers might be inconvenient and embarrassing to those proposing yet another war under the guise of a humanitarian intervention.
– Richard Lightbown is a writer and researcher. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.