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In Syria and Beyond, U.S. is a Hostage of its Own Power (Gazeta, Russia)


"Neither Iraq, nor Afghanistan, nor Libya, provide any evidence that intervention leads to problem solving and effective resolution. Nevertheless, it is all being repeated again. George Bush believed in the capacity of force to transform the world; Barack Obama does not. Yet both behave identically, bereft of ideas and with no counterweight that would otherwise compel the Americans to restrain themselves. It is as if America is hostage to its own power, with everyone waiting for confirmation of its never-ending capacity to act."


By Fyodor Lukyanov*



Translated By John Amor


September 1, 2013


Gazeta - Russia - Original Article (Russian)

Secretary of States John Kerry makes the case for action in Syria, Aug. 30.


U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT VIDEO: Secretary of State Kerry lays out Washington's case that the Assad regime is responsible for chemical weapons attack on civilians, Aug. 30, 00:19:28RealVideo

Writing about the latest war in the Middle East is a bore. The plot doesn't repeat itself precisely, but it contains the same set of elements. Only the layout varies. The accusatory pathos and metal in the voices of Western politicians has become so routine, it is easy to predict when voices will again tremble with righteous indignation. The mechanism has been simplified and accelerated. Given that everything is so clear, there is less time wasted on ritual diplomatic dances like there were ten years ago in Iraq, or even two-and-a-half years ago in Libya. At the [U.N.] Security Council, a resolution on the use of force has been proposed only so it can be formally vetoed, and the amoral obstructionism of Russia and China used as a justification to act without U.N. authorization.


There are no illusions as to the course of events to follow. A strike is inevitable - the entire propaganda machine is already laying out the rationale.


The verdict of the U.N. inspectors is unimportant here, although it may serve as the formal pretext for the start of operations. After all, members of the inspection team are, according to their mandate, entitled to speak to only one thing - whether or not chemical weapons were used in Syria. However, no one is contesting the fact they were used, including Damascus itself, and the question of who did it is beyond the expertise of the U.N. specialists. So as soon as the inspectors announce their evident use, President Obama will communicate an order to carry out retributive action. He cautioned last year that the use of chemical warfare agents would constitute a "red line," and the Assad regime's responsibility for this inhumane act is just taken for granted by default - who else could it be?


Several scenarios have been discussed, with both the U.S. and Great Britain insisting that no one intends to topple Bashar al-Assad; their purpose - retribution for crimes against humanity. However, by engaging in combat operations, the United States and its allies are resigning themselves to following a predetermined logic from which there will be no retreat. If a superpower takes action against a regime considered criminal, ending it without having attained a result, i.e. the elimination of that regime, is out of the question. Prestige would suffer - and others would lose their fear.


The first strike may be concentrated, but time-limited, to cause maximum damage to infrastructure and demoralize official Damascus. Furthermore, hopes will mostly rest with the rebels - they will have to take advantage of the situation and turn the tide of war in their favor. They will be provided military aid thanks to a principled decision on the matter taken by Europe and the U.S. early in the summer. If that isn't enough, and essentially the Syrian Army has thus far proven its viability, then it will fall to Western forces to continue not just its strikes, but permanent air support, as in Libya. It cannot be stopped - the deeper the engagement, the keener the need to secure victory.


In the history of "humanitarian interventions," which began soon after the end of the Cold War, there have been several scenarios and endings.


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The Iraq variation - full scale occupation of the country, can be excluded straight away. No one is prepared for that, as the risks and the expenditures are too high. The most brutal variation is Libya, where an operation that began with the slogan "responsibility to protect" almost immediately turned into a bloody campaign for regime change. That is a possibility, although in Syria's case its own peculiarities are enough to weigh down both the action itself, and what comes of it.


There is the example of Bosnia in the early 1990s, where the foundations were laid for everything that has come to be considered "conflict resolution." Namely, powerful external forces choose the "right" side in a civil conflict and begin actively supporting it, suppressing all others involved. In Bosnia, NATO used force to coerce the Serbs into greater compliance and concessions. As a result of pressure from the U.S. and its allies, the Dayton Agreement was signed, creating present day Bosnia and Herzegovina based on externally-imposed conditions.


Theoretically, it can be assumed that the intimidatory action toward Damascus is in pursuit of the same objective - to lead those involved in the conflict to the infamous "Geneva II," with the ruling regime weakened and ideally without Assad. In practice, however, this isn't feasible. There were three parties engaged in the Bosnian War, represented by three leaders - Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Croatian Franjo Tudjman and Bosnian Alija Izetbegovic. They were able to come to an agreement, and most importantly, ensure its implementation. The layout in Syria is much more complex. The opposition is not a singular party to negotiation. The coherently laid out Dayton Agreement could not be duplicated here, and even if one began gathering all the parties around a table, even the Americans couldn't deal with the discord.


This leaves the 1999 Kosovo campaign, where a combination of aviation war and guerilla actions in the autonomous province forced Belgrade to withdraw. It is worth remembering, though, that NATO was very nearly trapped. After several weeks of bombing, the Yugoslav Army was damaged but not seriously weakened. Gradually, the alliance's own munitions ran out. Global public opinion grew ever more negative - the incessant bombardment of a European country - by no means for the last time - by an international coalition many times more powerful, looked unsightly. The question arose as to the need for ground forces in Kosovo, which filled a majority of the allies with horror.



Then Moscow came to the rescue. At the request of Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin sent his special envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin to Yugoslavia, who threatened Milosevic with an end to Russian support, and along with Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, urged him to stop resisting and get out of Kosovo. If not for Russian pressure, Belgrade may have procrastinated and, taking advantage of NATO's zeitnot, would have secured more acceptable conditions.

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In Syria, Russia cannot be relied upon to help out should the United States and its allies get stuck there. From the point of view of the Russian leadership, every time Moscow has acted on a Western appeal and helped resolve a political problem, no good has come of it. In the latest example, Libya, the decision of Dmitry Medvedev not to block a U.N. resolution on the use of force against Tripoli is now almost officially recognized as a mistake.


Be that as it may, having begun to participate in this campaign, the U.S. will not be able to extricate itself without displacing Bashar al-Assad - and considerations of prestige will outweigh any doubts of those apprehensive about the chaos following regime change. There are no plans as such for reconstructing Syria without Assad - yet no one can stop this now. Only later will they think about what to do next.


The most dispiriting part of the modern history of conflicts (principally in the Middle East) is a growing sense that using force has become not the last resort, when all other possibilities have been exhausted, but a magic wand for when it isn't clear what to do at all.


Neither Iraq, nor Afghanistan, nor Libya, provide any evidence that intervention leads to problem solving and effective resolution. Nevertheless, it is all being repeated again. George Bush believed in the capacity of force to transform the world; Barack Obama does not. Yet both behave identically, bereft of ideas and with no counterweight that would otherwise compel the Americans to restrain themselves. It is as if America is hostage to its own power, with everyone waiting for confirmation of its never-ending capacity to act. Hence the cycle will play out again, until or unless some very rude shock forces an urgent change in tactics. Or until there emerges a force serious enough for the United States to have to reckon with.


*Fyodor Lukyanov is Chief Editor for Russia in Global Affairs.

Guardian, U.K.: British Lawmakers Reject the Use of Force in Syria
Independent, U.K.: Cameron 'Back to Square One' after Humiliation on World Stage
Telegraph, U.K.: Ministers Face Sack Over Syria Shambles
Guardian, U.K.: It Takes More Courage to Say there's Nothing Outsiders Can Do in Syria
Izvestia, Russia: Syria Chemical Attack a Clumsy Atrocity By Islamists to 'Buy Time'
Huanqiu, China: 'Moral Obscenity' a Flimsy Pretext for an Illegal War
Le Temps, U.K.: In Syria, Mr. Obama's Head Between 'Hammer and Anvil'
Argumenty i Facty, Russia: America a 'Cancer on the Planet' that Must Be Removed!
The Hindu, India: EDITORIAL: Attack on Syria a 'Bad Idea'
Telegraph, U.K.: Democratic Nations Must Now Live Up to Thier Values: Hague
Guardian, U.K.: EDITORIAL: Feeding the Fire in Syria
Izvestia, Russia: Syria Chemical Attack a Clumsy Atrocity By Islamists to 'Buy Time'
Le Monde, France: In Syria, the Time to Act is Now
Le Monde, France: CIA, Foreign Troops Join Syrian Rebels In Operation Against Assad
Debka File, Israel: Western-Mideast Military Action Prepared for Syria; Russia on Alert

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, U.K.: Deluded Cold War Powers Jabber About Syria
Sotal Iraq, Iraq: Oklahoma's 'Infidels' and Our So-Called 'Muslims'
Guardian, U.K.: Putin Backs Assad; Raps Cannibalistic Syrian Rebels
Der Spiegel, Germany: Berlin Rules out Arms for Syrian Rebels
Independent, U.K.: Cameron Stands with Obama as U.S. Decides to 'Arm' Syria Rebels
Telegraph, U.K.: 'Obama Doesn't See Where He's Going'
L'Orient Le Jour, Lebanon: Israeli Raid on Syria Nearly Provoked 'All-Out War'
All4Syria, Syria: As Assad Kills His Own, Israel Moves Freely Across the Sky
Al Mada, Iraq: Nasrallah vs. Qaradawi: Battling Sheikhs Turn Syria into Repeat of Iraq
L'Orient Le Jour, Lebanon: America's Red Line is a 'Syrian Halabja'
Liberation, France: Western Inaction in Syria is What Creates Extremists
Observer, U.K.: Yes, U.N. has Duty to Intervene. ... But When, Where and How?
Independent, U.K.: After Israeli Air Strikes - We are Now Involved in Syria
Liberation, France: Western Inaction in Syria is What Creates Extremists
Jerusalem Post, Israel: Israel's Message to Assad'
Israel Hayom, Israel: 'Who Dares, Wins'
Yedioth Ahronot: Israel, U.S. Coordinate to Thin Out Syria's Weapon Stockpiles
Tishreen, Syria: The Global 'Chemical Weapons Conspiracy' Against Syria
BBC News, U.K.: Syria's Chemical Weapons Stockpile and its Human Impact
Al-Rai, Jordan: Shaking Russian Backing for Bashar al-Assad
Al-Ghad, Jordan: U.S. Troops in Jordan: It is Unwise to Oppose Uncle Sam
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Saudi Arabia: Obama Must Face Up to Post-Assad Syria Now!
Thawra Al Wehda, Syria: An Arab Summit Without Syria? ... Ridiculous!
Debka File, Israel: Arab Summit Breaks Up in 'Uproar' Over Saudi Weapons to Syria Rebels
Al-Iraq News, Iraq: Great Satan and the Zionist Entity: 'Arabs Swallow the Iranian Bait'
Al Iraq News, Iraq: 'Ignorant' Iraqi Leaders to Aid Syria, Along with Russians and Iranians
Thawra Al-Wada, Syria: America's 'Arab-Zionist' Pawns
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Russia: Kremlin 'Suspends' Use of Tartus Naval Base in Syria
Guardian Unlimited, U.K.: Syria and Turkey: How Long can Great Powers Sit on their Hands?
Kayhan, Iran: American Media Come Clean on U.S. Support for Terrorists in Syria
Moskovskii Komsomolets, Russia: Report: U.S. to Help 'Oust' Black Sea Fleet from Crimea
Okaz, Saudi Arabia: Global ‘Passivity’ Over Syria will End in Disaster
Izvestia, Russia: Why the Kremlin Opposes Assad’s Immediate Ouster
The Telegraph, U.K.: U.S. Refuses to Help Syrian Rebels Until after Elections
Ma'ariv, Israel: Why Syria is Lebanon All Over Again
Debka File, Israel: 'Big' Russian Fleet Nears Syria
Guardian, U.K.: Why U.S. and Russia Want a Backroom Deal Over Syria
Kommersant, Russia: Israelis and Russians Bound Again by Battle Against Nazis
La Stampa, Italy: Obama Offers Putin End Game Commitment on Syria
MK, Russia: Obama's ‘Hope’ Keeps Putin from ‘Window on Paradise’
Ma’ariv, Israel: Russia’s ‘Sadomasochistic’ Foreign Policy Success
Ma'ariv, Israel: Why Syria is Lebanon All Over Again
Debka, Israel: Russia, China, Iran Plan 'Biggest-Ever' Middle East Maneuvers
Debka, Israel: U.S. and Russia Deploy to Syria; 'Double Prey' for al-Qaeda
NZZ, Switzerland: Houla Massacre is No ‘Turning Point’ for Syria
An Nahar, Lebanon: Syria is Another Iraq, with Israel Thrown In
FARS News Agency, Iran: U.S. and Allies ‘Revive’ al-Qaeda for Use in Syria
NZZ, Switzerland: Houla Massacre is No ‘Turning Point’ for Syria
Al-Baath, Syria: America and the ‘Global War Against Syria’
Global Times, China: U.S., West ‘Morally Accountable’ for Syria Massacre
Daily Star, Lebanon: Daylight Massacre in Syria
Telegraph, U.K.: The Real Dilemma on Syria: Can the West Go it Alone?
BBC, U.K.: Scars of Iraq War Haunt American Policy in Syria
Global Times, China: Syria Crisis China's Moment to Show it Can't Be Hemmed In
Global Times, China: Beijing Shows 'Courage' By Vetoing Syria Resolution at U.N.
Guardian, U.K.: Before Syria Crisis Expands, Obama and NATO Should Act
The Independent, U.K. : West will Soon Forget Horror Over Childrens' Slaughter
Daily Mail, U.K.: Yes, Syria is Tragic, British Intervention Would be Madness
The Daily Star, Lebanon: Daylight Massacre in Syria
The Daily Star, Lebanon: Tide Turning Against the Syria Regime
Le Quotidien d’Oran, Algeria: The 'Brutality of the World', According to Putin
Moskovskiye Novosti, Russia: 'Russia's in a Changing World,' By Vladimir Putin
Al-Seyassah, Kuwait: Russia 'Bloodthirsty', China 'Misguided', for Syria Veto
Kochi Shimbun, Japan: In Syria, the U.N. Security Council Fails the World
Hoy, Ecuador: 'Cynical Imperialists' of East and West Clash Over Syria
Estadao, Brazil: Moscow Rescues Assad: Not a 'Travesty,' a 'Humiliation'
People's Daily, China: Give 'Peace a Chance' in Syria
Mehr News Agency, Iran: Supreme Leader Says U.S. Takes Revenge on Syria
Jerusalem Post, Israel: Obama's 'Rhetorical Storm'
Debka File, Israel: First Foreign Troops in Syria Back the Rebels
Zaman, Turkey: U.S. May Be Hiding Behind Russia's U.N. Veto





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Posted By Worldmeets.US Sept. 1, 2013, 11:44pm