Was it Mutiny? U.S. Rulers Split Over Syria
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
The American bombing of Syrian soldiers was no “mistake” – it was a mutiny by the War Party in the U.S. military and government, who want victory for the jihadists. “The war hawks have never forgiven Obama or ceased denouncing his failure to ‘finish off’ Assad” in 2013. They hope that a President Hillary Clinton “will launch the final, crushing strike” against Assad – “if the jihadists can just hang on until Inauguration Day.”
The decades-long U.S. policy of deploying Islamic jihadists as foot soldiers in U.S. imperial wars — the world’s most unholy alliance — has led to a catastrophic split at the highest civilian and military levels of the U.S. State. Last weekend’s American air attack on Syrian Army positions at Deir al-Zor that killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers and resulted in a temporary victory for ISIS forces was a blatant bid by the Pentagon and the CIA to sabotage any prospect of cooperation between U.S. and Russian forces in Syria. In a very real sense, it is a mutiny against a lame duck president who, certainly since 2013, has attempted to achieve regime change in Syria without allowing the jihadists to take power in Damascus.
The mutineers include civilian and military elements of the Pentagon — probably including Obama’s own Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter – the CIA and other intelligence services (but not the Defense Intelligence Agency, whose analysts warned of the rise of ISIS in 2012). They are encouraged and emboldened by the prospect that a President Hillary Clinton will declare a “no fly zone” over Syria – a move that would necessitate, under U.S military doctrine, an all-out attack on all of that country’s aircraft and anti-aircraft weapons systems, resulting in a war with Russian forces. The Russians know what’s up, and they are distressed and alarmed. “The big question that has to be asked is, ‘Who is in charge in Washington?” said Russia’s UN Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, on Saturday. “Is it the White al House or the Pentagon?’”
The cease-fire agreement arrived at between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart calls for the U.S. and Russian armed forces to collaborate, after a period of seven days, in targeting both ISIS and the al Qaida force formerly known as the al Nusra Front, the military backbone of the West’s proxy war against the Syrian government. If the U.S. superpower, whose military assets in the arena far outweigh Russia’s, honestly adhered to the agreement, the war against the Assad government would collapse. The mutineers see the waning weeks and months of the Obama presidency as a make-or-break moment for their jihadist proxy strategy in the region. The contradictions of that strategy have now come fully home to roost, confronting President Obama with a real-life “Seven Days In May”-type scenario.
It is impossible to fully comprehend the current crisis unless one understands why the U.S. has acted as “both midwife and sugar daddy” to the international jihadist network since the rise of a left-wing government in Afghanistan, nearly four decades ago. Although the U.S. is a superpower, there is no large social base of potential support for U.S. imperial aims among the peoples of the region. (In recent decades, the stateless and desperate Kurds have become an exception.) The colossal failure of George Bush’s invasion of Iraq made it domestically impossible to repeat the deployment of massive U.S. forces on the ground. America’s allies among the Persian Gulf monarchies are fat, kleptocratic, feudal regimes whose militaries are largely made up of mercenaries. Turkey is a former imperial power whose troops would not be welcome in the old “provinces” of the Ottoman Empire. In 2011, the U.S. lost its big proxy Arab military “stick” in the region, with the overthrow of the Mubarak regime in Egypt.
The Arab monarchies, especially Saudi Arabia, which partnered with the U.S. in nurturing the global jihadist network in Afghanistan, were terrified that the rebellion in Tunisia and the (at least, temporary) sidelining of Egypt’s huge standing army would expose their own corrupt regimes to insurrection — fears shared by the U.S. and western Europe. Their answer to the so-called “Arab Spring” was to attack Muammar Gaddafi’s secular government in Libya, acting as an air force for jihadists on the ground. Once Gaddafi had been removed (“We came, we saw, he died,” Hillary Clinton cackled), the West and the Gulf monarchies and Turkey mobilized the entire international jihadist network to bring the same fate to Bashar al-Assad, in Syria, at a cost, so far, of nearly half a million deaths. The jihadists were not merely auxiliaries, but the irreplaceable, frontline soldiers of empire.
With Gaddafi gone, the Obama administration thought it was on a roll, recouping ground and prestige lost in Bush’s failed war in Iraq. As we wrote in May of 2012:
“The Americans doubtless think they are in control of events in the Mideast and North Africa, but the jihadis know better. The Arab world wants the U.S. and the Europeans out of their countries. That certainly includes the jihadis – who are glad to take the West’s weapons, but have dedicated their lives to a Higher Power whose address is not London, Paris or New York. The Mother of All Blowbacks is coming. And when those jihadis turn on the Americans, Washington will have no place else to go.”
Analysts in the Defense Intelligence Agency attempted to sound the alarm, warning that jihadists might soon establish a “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, and “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition [meaning, America’s allies] want in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”
In other words, the DIA was warning that ISIS was about to emerge as a direct result of the West’s policies, and that this seemed to be the intention of “the supporting powers.” The DIA charged that the Pentagon was suppressing or altering its reports – which is why the agency went “off channel” with its complaint in a memo that was not made public until years later. The split in the military over Syria — or, at least, in military intelligence – goes back at least four years.
We cannot know if President Obama was made aware of the memo at the time, but the next year he certainly behaved as if he had reconsidered the logic of the U.S. jihadist strategy. Following the (false flag) chemical attack on civilians in suburban Damascus in late August of 2013, Obama was under great pressure to bomb Syria for having crossed his “line in the sand.” But, instead, he cancelled the attack and opted for Russia’s proposal that Syria rid itself of all chemical weapons. The conventional wisdom is that Obama was deterred by the British Parliament’s moves to disassociate the UK from any U.S. assault on Syria, and by the threat that the French might do the same. But, since when has the U.S. allowed the opinions of other countries’ legislatures to deter its military actions? Obama had only recently defied a huge block of opinion in his own legislature, refusing to acknowledge the relevance of the War Powers Act to his conquest of Libya. No, what stopped Obama from bombing Syria in August of 2013 was the realization that that al Nusra and ISIS, which had announced its presence in April of that year, would be marching into Damascus if Syria’s army were destroyed.
The war hawks have never forgiven Obama or ceased denouncing his failure to “finish off” Assad. Hillary Clinton has encouraged them to believe that she will launch the final, crushing strike — if the jihadists can just hang on until Inauguration Day. The cease-fire agreement, to be followed by a joint Russian-American blitzkrieg against al Nusra and ISIS, could so deplete the jihadist ranks, there would not be enough of them for Hillary to rescue.
The war hawks in the State Department feared that Russia and Syrian successes on both the battlefield and in world political forums threatened to doom their jihadist enterprise. In June of this year, more than 50 co-called “diplomats” signed an internal memo calling for “a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process” – diplo-speak for a bombing campaign against Syrian government targets. It was a Foggy Bottom mutiny of the militarists, on an unprecedented scale, by people who would not take such political risks unless they believed they were protected by comrades in high places and would soon serve under a more jihadist-friendly president.
The contradictions inherent in sponsoring international jihad have caught up with America, splitting its ruling circles and fomenting defiant insubordination within its military. Last weekend, the United States acted as an air force for ISIS, helping them to overrun a Syrian army base. It was not a mistake, not an elaborate ploy orchestrated at the White House; it was the result of a mutiny by the War Party, which refuses to wait for Hillary’s arrival to assert its will. Jihadism has wrecked the Empire’s system of government — bin Laden’s revenge — and brought humanity to the very brink of obliteration.