The attacks in Syria can be justified, insofar as the hostility towards westerners is requisite in impinging upon our safety, but the way in which we are fighting cannot be, by attacking with invisible drones that seek only to kill, we are too sheltered from the slaughter of thousands and displacement of millions to truly understand the consequences of our actions. We have become so detached from such methods of warfare that the headline implicating us in the deaths of 200 civilians in Mosul seemed to pass most people by. I find it impossible to place all three foreign policy disasters under the same rubric of incompetence. Afghanistan was largely justified if you put aside the notion that Al Qaeda were the only jihadis worth pursuing. Iraq was wholly unjustified and inexplicably executed. The war in Syria makes complete sense but ineptitude has rendered our stance morally bankrupt. As a precursor to these events we ought to remind ourselves of how remiss we were with regards to our inaction in Rwanda in 1994 which resulted in the deaths of 800,000 people. Perhaps, if the appropriate action had been taken during the Rwandan genocide we wouldn’t have found ourselves squabbling with a wide array of Arab States.
The problem with addressing the issue of Isis in the west is we seem to assume they must be committing these atrocities in repudiation to our foreign policy even though they specifically tell us, ad nauseum, that this is on the bottom of their list of motives. Why would they lie about their reasoning when they fully believe it’s justified? They are trying to spread the message of Islam so I can think of no good reason why they would provide misinformation with regard to their rationale. When they say they hate us because we don’t believe in Allah we ought to take this statement at face value. They have no motivation to deceive us on this topic, to do so would be to detract from their purpose of spreading Islamic fundamentalism. We have to start trusting that they actually believe what they claim to believe. When this day comes we will finally be able to address the issue at hand. They’ve already said that if they back down in response to our decision to reign in foreign policy, it will merely be in order to bide time so they can further obliterate us and our beliefs in the future. They do not care about the fatal result of British and American foreign policy in bygone decades, why would they? They are killing fellow Muslims and countrymen at equally alarming rates. The statistics, released by Pew, even demonstrate that Muslims in Muslim majority countries are more scared of Islamic terrorism than Christian extremism. We have to start taking their self-evaluations seriously or we’ll find ourselves fighting a war against phantom ideology while they retaliate with a war of eschatological proportions.
While fighting Islamic State seems like a good use of our time and resources, making yet another enemy in Bashar Al-Assad does not. We’ve somehow made the mistake of financially supporting every group on the ground, including ISIS, except the Government. Sure, it was a dictatorship for decades, but now it’s a Government that got into power with 88.7% of the popular vote in 2014, with a leader that many Syrians support enough to mark their ballots with blood. We can be sure that any Government we impose on Syria in the aftermath of overthrowing Assad would be anathema to the native population. I understand people’s reservations about backing the Assad regime, western media has nothing positive to say about him and many see him as a genocidal authoritarian, yet I feel inclined to believe him when he denies using chemical weapons.
Since Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011, British and American leaders have turned their interests to Assad, whose overthrowal has been in the works since 9/11 according to 4-star General Wesley Clark who claims the Pentagon drew up a plan to topple 7 governments in 5 years, them being: Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Iran. All of which have since been subject to American intervention, with the exception of Iran. Assad is often portrayed as an iron fist, crushing dissenters for his own megalomaniacal gains but in interviews he always comes across as a well intentioned, intelligent leader. This means he’s either a remorseless psychopath or he’s genuinely innocent of the crimes he’s accused of, I think the latter is just as likely given what we know about American political intentions in the region.
ISIS was the product of the American invasion of Iraq, not the Syrian Civil war. We can’t blame Assad for it’s creation, if there’s anyone to blame for the rise of ISIS, other than ISIS, it is surely British and American Governments who left ungoverned extremists to their own devices with a warchest of weaponry and a generation of victims waiting to be radicalised. When it comes to my repudiation of the western narrative regarding Assad I felt like a paranoid conspiracist until further reading only reaffirmed my belief. The often cited Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, as featured in a number of mainstream media outlets as the ultimate source of information on the Syrian Civil War, is in fact a one man operation run out of Coventry, England. The source has often been criticised for including rebels in civilian death tolls and has always been quick to point the finger at Assad for purposely launching chemical attacks on his own people, a move which makes virtually no sense at all from Assad’s point of view and again points to the fact that Assad is either innocent of these war crimes or psychopathic. My belief that Assad may be the victim of media bias is further reinforced by the facts surrounding American relations with the Persian Gulf States. Specifically in relation to American oil interests in a Qatari gas pipeline that was supposed to run through Syria, but for Assad’s opposition to the proposal. This is particularly surprising given Syria are one of three countries in the world who oppose the Paris Climate agreement, the others being Nicaragua who argue the agreement doesn’t go far enough, and America who argue climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. Nevertheless, overthrowing the Assad regime has unambiguous economic rewards for Qatar and is subsequently in the interest of the American elite. If America can contribute to the sanctioning and development of the pipeline you can be sure they’ll continue to reap the benefits of Qatari oil trade. If deposing a democratically elected president is the requirement then you can be sure they’ll use the power of their economy, military and press to secure the deal.
Assad, part of the Shia minority, is strongly opposed by many of his bordering Sunni Governments, with Iran his closest political and religious ally. Of all the middle eastern countries Assad could have in his corner Iran is probably the one with the worst reputation in America, where they seem to have focussed their hatred since Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979. Despite recent attempts from Iran to cooperate with western powers they still appear, unnecessarily, to be the chief concern of the American population. Thus, their support for Assad really doesn’t do him any favours on American radio waves.
Now, after years of stagnation under the Obama administration, an intellectually destitute charlatan has taken the reigns of the operation, and his ignorance on the topic is undeniably cause for concern. Perhaps the most frightening display of Trump’s incompetence was describing the Quds Force as having been “horribly mistreated”, the same Quds Force that are on the American terrorist watchlist and are renowned for working as a guerilla faction outside Iran. The reality is Trump was probably talking about the Kurds, who are being persecuted in Iraq. But the fact he didn’t know the difference is clearly a problem for the commander in chief of the military. A man who is only ever one command away from unwittingly offering financial and military support to Guerilla factions is, unsurprisingly, not someone I want in charge of the world’s largest military.
Aside from Trump’s demonstrable absence of knowledge in the domain of foreign policy there are even more sinister forces at play, corrupting his ability to think critically about foreign intervention. Most notable is his precocious appetite for militarised foreign policy that Trump has deployed as a smokescreen for his own domestic scandals. The fact that Trump briefly deflected attention from the Russia scandal by blowing up a Syrian airbase leads me to believe this tactic may be commonly implemented by the administration. I’m not saying the decision was wrong, it was a completely rational response to the information he had at his disposal, but I certainly wouldn’t be shocked to see him dodge future criticisms by committing war crimes, an idea he openly volunteered to the American public during a GOP debate. The other truly horrifying truth that must be addressed in the aftermath of the Syrian bombing is the fact that Trump actually owns stock in the defense contractor, Raytheon, that produced the missiles. Yes, seriously. We have a president who stands to profit from his decision to blow up syrian infrastructure. I can see him now, pressing the “Launch” button and watching the value of his shares grow with every strike. *Beep* “How much have the shares gone up by?” *Beep* “Now how much?”. A truly horrifying thought indeed, and yet one that my mind can readily and willingly conceive.