The U.S and Russian governments continue their chess match with the lives of the Syrian people. Last week, Russia made a move that pushed the U.S. to temporarily delay its aggressive march to an open war on Syria. The Russian government took advantage of the widespread opposition to any U.S. bombing of Syria – internationally as well as here in the U.S. The Russian government still claims that there is no proof that Assad’s regime did in fact use chemical weapons. And a recent UN report claims that sarin gas was used but has no evidence for who carried out the attack. The U.S. has agreed to the Russian plan, which will send in some sort of weapons inspection team to dismantle all chemical weapons in Syria. But the U.S. has insisted that if Assad’s regime does not comply in any way, they will return to their original plan of bombing the people of Syria as punishment.
This plan has nothing to do with protecting the Syrian people from future attacks, and nothing to do with any real opposition to weapons of mass destruction. Both countries are interested in the same thing: protecting their military and financial interests in the region, which were threatened during the Arab spring in 2011, when the Syrian people rose up against the brutal Asaad regime. But now this uprising has turned into a bloody civil war, with the U.S. and Russia supporting opposite sides.
Russia has been arming and funding the Assad regime for decades, including during this civil war, which has killed more than 100,000 Syrians, and has forced over two million people to flee becoming refugees in neighboring countries.
And the U.S. has been arming and funding these so-called rebel groups indirectly through aid to the regimes in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Many of these fighters have links to Al Qaeda and have killed thousands of civilians. Just last May, United Nations monitors accused these groups of using sarin nerve gas on civilians in a crowded city. Overall most of the armed opposition to Assad are many different groupings of kidnappers and killers. Neither Assad’s regime nor these so-called rebels represent the interests of the Syrian people.
The U.S. and Russia aren’t concerned with the lives of ordinary people. They think the conflict in Syria is likely to get worse, and may even spread to neighboring countries. Both of them want to have their hands in the mix so they can have a stronger influence on the outcome. And on Sunday, President Obama said in an interview on ABC news that Iran “shouldn’t draw a lesson that we haven’t struck [Syria], to think we won’t strike Iran.” In the end, for both Russia and the U.S., their only concern is to keep regimes in power that will do their bidding and try to topple the ones that won’t.
And so by agreeing to this international plan with Russia, the Obama administration has bought themselves some time to try and chip away at any opposition to their murderous plans. Polling in the U.S. and throughout the world show the majority of people are opposed to any U.S. military strikes on Syria. The U.S. even had a difficult time getting approval from its allies for its planned assault. The British government failed to convince their parliament to go along with it. In Germany, the press was reporting that they were shown evidence that the opposition forces were the ones who used chemical weapons. And it seemed unlikely that the U.S. Congress was ready to approve the planned attack.
The Obama administration will continue to try to win approval for this slaughter of innocent people, perhaps seeking support from Congress, maybe some allied governments in Europe, and maybe a few regimes in the Middle East. But the administration has said that approval is not necessary – they will be the ones to decide whether to carry out an attack.
The role the U.S. plays in the world is not that of a peacekeeper but a butcher of the world’s people. And as the U.S. has decided to buy some time to build support, let’s not stand by and allow another slaughter to be carried out in our name.