New York Times columnist and former executive editor Bill Keller offers Americans a concise version of the propaganda case for war with Syria in a recent article. He writes:
The United States has supplied humanitarian aid and diplomatic pressure. But our reluctance to arm the rebels or defend the civilians being slaughtered in their homes has convinced the Assad regime (and the world) that we are not serious. Our fear that arms supplied to the rebels would fall into the hands of jihadis has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, because instead of dealing directly with the rebels we left the arming to fundamentalist monarchies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and they are predictably using lethal aid to appease the more radical Islamists.
So, to review, according to this narrative, the U.S. is supplying “humanitarian aid”, but no arms to the rebels. The reason the U.S. hasn’t joined its regional allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar in supplying arms to the rebels is because of fears they might fall into the hands of Islamic extremists.
Keller argues that the U.S. must no longer sit on the sidelines like this, but must intervene for the “national interest”, because “A failed Syria creates another haven for terrorists, a danger to neighbors who are all American allies, and the threat of metastasizing Sunni-Shiite sectarian war across a volatile and vital region.”
I find myself commenting again and again and again and again and again on how the U.S. media (following the lead of America’s “newspaper of record”) is being willfully dishonest with the public and attempting to whitewash the actual U.S. role in the Syrian conflict by tossing relevant facts down the memory hole; namely, the facts that (1) the CIA has already been coordinating the flow of arms to the rebels, and (2) most of those arms have indeed ended up in the hands of Islamic extremists.
Once again, let me remind that the CIA has already been coordinating the flow of arms to rebel forces, whose ranks include foreign jihadists, with Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front (an offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq) taking on a key role and constituting some of the rebels’ most effective fighters, and with most of the arms funneled by the CIA to the rebels from Saudi Arabia and Qatar going to the Islamic extremists.
Now that we’ve rescued these facts from the memory hole, let’s go back and reassess Keller’s argument in light of them. He argues that the U.S.’s “reluctance” to arm the rebels has encouraged President Bashar al-Assad by convincing him that the U.S. is “not serious” about doing anything to actually implement its stated policy of regime change. What this means is that although the U.S. is willing to intervene to escalate and prolong the violence by arming the rebels, the failure of this strategy to overthrow the Assad regime is causing the U.S. to lose credibility in terms of its willingness and ability to project hegemonic power throughout the world.
He argues further that this same “reluctance” has resulted in arms falling into the hands of jihadists. What this means is that since the U.S. decision to coordinate and direct the flow of arms to the rebels has resulted in terrorists getting ahold of most of the weapons, the U.S. must double-down on this policy with the hope that if only we do even more to arm the rebels, the consequences will somehow be different this time around.
As for Keller’s argument that the U.S. must go to war in Syria lest the terrorists take over, translated from doublespeak, what this means is that the U.S. must overthrow the secular government in Syria by escalating the sectarian violence by increasing its support for armed rebels whose top fighters are radical Islamists, including members of al-Qaeda.
Doesn’t sound like such a good idea when you put it that way, in the context of the actual facts, now, does it?
The ironic headline of Keller’s piece is “Syria Is Not Iraq”. Well, it will be if the U.S. yet again wages a full scale war for regime change without regard for the predictable consequences.