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John Passant

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August 2013
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Don’t bomb Syria

The West was threatening air strikes on Syria as Socialist Worker went to press, writes Judith Orr.

Britain, the US and France led calls for action against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. This came after a chemical attack which killed hundreds of civilians in Damascus last week.

David Cameron has called a meeting of the National Security Council for Wednesday to discuss military options. He has recalled parliament on the following day to debate Syria.

Labour MP and chair of the Stop the War Coalition Jeremy Corbyn told Socialist Worker, “Cameron has re-called parliament to sanction another war.

“Western intervention will kill many more people and have all the unintended consequences of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. I will be opposing this latest military adventure.”

Foreign secretary William Hague rolled out the old refrain that they want to wage war because of “humanitarian need”.

He claims that an attack will “protect civilians”—which would make it legal without a UN mandate.

But the West is not interested in the needs of the Syrian people, whose revolution for freedom and democracy began in February 2011.

The barbaric response from Assad’s regime has killed more than 100,000 Syrians. Many more have become refugees.

Any intervention by the Western imperialist powers will only make the situation worse—as the experience of Libya shows.

A Western bombing campaign did not improve the lives of ordinary Libyans.

Airstrikes on Syria will cause civilian casualties. They could even strengthen Assad as he presents himself as standing up to imperialism.

Western powers are no strangers to the use of chemical weapons. From carpet bombing Vietnam with Agent Orange to the use of white phosphorus in Fallujah in Iraq, they have often crossed this “red line” themselves.

But the taste of defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq lingers. Western politicians say they want to carry out a one-off attack. They are terrified of becoming embroiled in another long and bloody war.

The West has significant firepower in the region. It can launch missiles without any aircraft entering Syrian airspace.

But western leaders know that taking on the Syrian military is a much greater task than they faced in Libya. That is why there have been plenty of declarations of intent, but as yet no open military action.

Cameron and US president Obama say they only want to help those fighting for democracy. Yet their closest allies in the region include Saudi Arabia, which has recently crushed dissent in Bahrain.

In reality they are only interested in pursuing their own strategic interests. Supporting the revolution means keeping their hands off it.

As Bassem Chit, a revolutionary socialist in Lebanon, put it, “Socialists should not fall in the trap of choosing between the two tragedies of imperialism and dictatorship.

“The Syrian people and all Arab people can be free once we all stand in unison, from the Gulf to the Ocean, against dictatorships and imperialism.”

Stop the War Coalition has called an emergency protest on Wednesday 28 August 5pm, Downing Street, London. For information on other protests go to



Comment from paul walter
Time August 29, 2013 at 9:20 am

Everything the West ever touches dies on the spot.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time August 29, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Then what should the UN Security Council do to prevent another chemical attack on the people?

Comment from John
Time August 30, 2013 at 7:49 am

It will do nothing because Russia and China won’t allow it. Just as it has been unable to control the crimes against humanity of the US it will not be able to do anything about this. The UN is a creature of the big powers. The solution lies in the popular revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa. Their liberation is their task, not that of US imperialism whose aim is to continue control of the region, not liberate the people there or even protect them from crimes. The concern of the US and the West is very selective. Remember weapons of mass destruction? They were used to justify the invasion of Iraq and the death of more than 1 million innocent Iraqis. The invasion wasn’t about saving people, or liberating them. It was about US power in the region.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time August 30, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Thanks, John.

Comment from Kay
Time August 31, 2013 at 8:26 am

Well, while I would hate to see an escalation like Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which clearly have ended in a big mess, there is a dilemma for the rest of the world.

Firstly, there are the chemical and more recent napalm attacks on his own people by the Assad regime (and the latest UN weapons inspector reports seem to confirm it is the Assad regime that launched the attacks, although some experts are still saying there is no unambiguous proof – either way). To allow those horrific attacks to go unpunished risks more and more unchallenged attacks on innocent people. Not to mention the fact that Obama has made a rod for his own back with his “red line” threat. Al Jazeera has reported that Assad is moving military facilities into residential areas, making any strike on them a strike on citizens.

On ABC24 this morning, life looked quite peaceful in Damascus. People interviewed relaxing at a coffee shop indicated they greatly preferred a continuation of the Assad regime to rule by “Islamists” who would change the law to make it far more restrictive. And most commentators point to Al Qaeda elements within the rebel forces.

So, really, the West has no reason to support either the Assad regime or the rebels. I certainly hope there is no intervention by the US or its allies – we’ve already seen how well that works! I fear that once again, the US is ‘hot to trot’ on intervention. But it is very distressing seeing the horrific injuries of the innocent citizens!

Comment from Chris Warren
Time August 31, 2013 at 9:46 pm

and the latest UN weapons inspector reports seem to confirm it is the Assad regime that launched the attacks, although some experts are still saying there is no unambiguous proof – either way)

Twaddle – when this was posted, the UN inspectors have not even left Syria and had not presented any findings. It is also not clear that the terms of reference of the UN inspections included determining the source or assigning responsibility.

There were previous rebel threats and chemical attacks – that have gone ignored and unpunished.

So where was your concern for the victims of these attacks ???

What a dogmatist.

Comment from John
Time August 31, 2013 at 9:51 pm

I stand with the Syrian revolution against the neoliberal capitalist butcher Assad and US imperialism. If that makes me a dogmatist then I am proud to be one. It also makes me a revolutionary socialist, unlike the crap current of fake leftism you represent Chris.

Comment from Kay
Time September 1, 2013 at 4:11 am


You know Chris attacks ANYTHING I say – no matter what the content is!