Owen Jones Correspondent
Here’s what happened in the build-up to the criminal, calamitous interventions in Iraq and Libya. “Something must be done!” cried the war party.
It was those who opposed war who were placed in the dock, our contemptuous prosecutors demanding: “What is your alternative, then?”
We were deemed heartless in the face of despicable atrocities, and the useful idiots and dupes of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi who — unlike many of the warmongers themselves — we had always opposed.
What happened next?
Iraq was reduced to a killing field: hundreds of thousands died; millions injured, traumatised or displaced; a sectarian conflagration ensued; the rise of Islamic state and other extremists.
Libya, too, reduced to bloody chaos, a petri dish for murderous jihadis.
And yet the politicians who orchestrated war, and their accomplices in the commentariat who helped build the case, are still treated as the statesmen and women of moderation; hard-nosed realists, the sensible inhabitants of “the real world”.
In a just world, they would be disgraced, driven from public life, pariahs, every single one of them.
Instead, they are paraded on television and given prestigious columns to incite yet further military interventions in the Middle East, without shame, without their bloody record being interrogated.
All over again, it is the opponents of war who are treated as the ones with the real questions to be answered.
Here they go again.
There is no case to bomb Syria.
This is meant quite literally: no case has been presented to the country.
What would the targets be?
How extensive would the operation be?
What would be the strategic goals?
What would success look like?
What would be the potentially adverse consequences — minor issues like a massive re-escalation of Syria’s murderous conflict or war with Russia, that kind of thing — and how would they be prevented?
Ah, but these are mere distractions, because something must be done, and anyone who says otherwise is heartless in the face of atrocities, or de facto stooges of Bashar al-Assad, or both.
All over again, it is we, the opponents of war, who are treated as the ones with the real questions to be answered, by a media elite that, over and over again, fails to scrutinise a disastrous western foreign policy.
History repeats itself, observed Karl Marx, “first as tragedy, then as farce.”
But any military intervention will leave Assad in power, unless the West is planning a full-scale invasion and full-blown war with Russia — which strikes me as unlikely.
Apparently, a military strike will deter him from using chemical weapons against his own people. This was the promised outcome when Trump sent dozens of missiles hurtling towards Shayrat airbase in April last year: that did not happen, and here we are again.
Either the West launches a symbolic attack the regime can easily absorb, achieving nothing.
Or it executes a massive series of strikes that proves a game-changer after a seven-year civil war that has already taken the lives of hundreds of thousands, and re-escalates the conflict.
There are liberals who made so much of their horror at Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House, saying that having an authoritarian egomaniac as the world’s most powerful man was a threat to world peace, even that he was a modern-day Mussolini or Hitler.
Now that he wants to drop bombs, they suddenly cheer him on.
Syria is often presented as a case study of disastrous non-intervention. What utter rot. Syria has been a battleground for foreign powers, from Russia to the Gulf states, for years.
The US has been bombing the country and supplying arms to rebels for some time.
There should be honesty among the war party, at the very least: its argument is not that there hasn’t been intervention, but that there hasn’t been enough intervention.
No good can come of adding even more western missiles to Syria’s carnage.
A military alliance with Trump in Syria can only escalate the horror of this war.
And, unlike the politicians and commentators who brought us the quagmires of Iraq and Libya, the British public know it. — The Guardian.