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How to Bomb Syria

by Paul Larudee / September 18th, 2014


President Obama has announced that he is seeking a coalition to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS in Iraq, Syria and wherever else it may be. That coalition, however, will apparently be neither a NATO coalition nor a United Nations coalition. Why not?

Part of the problem is that NATO member Turkey is refusing to allow air strikes against ISIS to be launched from its territory. Does this have anything to do with the fact that Turkey has been providing safe passage, safe haven, arms and other support for ISIS, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and – oh yes – buying stolen oil at cut rate prices from them?

To be fair, Britain, France, Germany and other NATO countries have also balked at violating the sovereign air space of Syria. They undoubtedly remember that Syrian forces shot down a Turkish aircraft that entered Syrian air space in 2012 and that Syria is equipped with some of the most advanced and effective antiaircraft systems in the world, the Russian S-300 (and possibly S-400) series. They also might care about their own sovereignty.

On the other hand, the Syrian government is willing and has actually offered to cooperate. ISIS is their arch-enemy, and Syria has said that it would welcome US participation in the fight, as long as Syrian sovereignty is respected through coordination with the Syrian armed forces.

However, the US might not be needed in Syria. Chances are that the Syrians might be able to bring along their Russian and Iranian allies, and perhaps China, too. If the objective is to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, there’s no faster and more effective way to do it than to create a “coalition of the willing” that includes nearly everyone.

Of course, the US might not like to work with these countries, but so what? If they are willing, the plan removes a burden from the US and also eliminates the issue of violating Syrian sovereignty. They will get the job done, which allows the US and its allies to concentrate on ISIS forces in Iraq. A UN resolution to this effect is likely to be a shoo-in if it has US backing. No need to thank them.

Of course, such a plan is much too logical. It makes the assumption that the US actually wants to get rid of ISIS. In fact, that’s not the case at all. Most ISIS weapons come from the US via Saudi Arabia, Turkey (NATO), Libya, Qatar, and the “moderate Syrian rebels”, who are “moderate” only by stretching the term to include some of the most intolerant Takfiri Islamists. Many are also not Syrian, but have been recruited from all over the world. They are also not rebels, but rather mercenaries that commute to the battle zones from safe havens in Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon.

Who supports ISIS, anyway, if not the countries committed to “degrade and destroy” it? These include the US, European NATO countries, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others. ISIS is a convenient way of dividing, weakening and sometimes overthrowing all the societies in the region.

All except one.

Is it a coincidence that the countries in question are all in Israel’s neighborhood? That they were named in Israel’s Clean Break plan as early as 1996? That the authors of the Clean Break plan, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, became top advisers in the G.W. Bush administration?

The plan is at least half implemented. Having coopted the Jordanian monarchy, overthrown the first freely elected civilian Egyptian government, destroyed the Libyan government and society, prevented a popular takeover of the Yemeni dictatorship, bribed and protected the Saudi and Gulf monarchies and laid waste to Iraq, there remain the northern tier of Lebanon, Syria and Iran, as well as the ongoing destruction of Iraq. Is it a coincidence that, with the exception of Iran, this is exactly where ISIS operates?

For whose benefit is this if not Israel’s? Certainly not for the US. We are exhausting our resources and manpower and creating more enemies for ourselves, not less. Granted, the weapons manufacturers and oil companies are doing great, but the rest of US society is paying a heavy price, as funds to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, educate our children, provide health care, increase home ownership and otherwise preserve and build upon the gains of our society over the last century are diverted to costly military adventures on behalf of Israel.

If we want to dispose of ISIS, we have no need to drop our bombs, only our hypocrisy. Not a single country in the world admits to supporting ISIS. We have only to use the end user terms of our arms sales to NATO, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other recipients of US arms to prevent those arms from reaching ISIS. We can use our influence with Turkey to shut down the sale of oil from ISIS-held territory. We can also end the practice of providing arms to forces fighting the Syrian government. Most of those arms end up in ISIS hands.

ISIS began as a small insurgency in Iraq, but we and our regional allies are responsible for making it the problem that exists today. Our purpose was to use ISIS to weaken and divide all the countries in the region (except Israel). Now we are trying to use it as a pretext for direct US intervention in Syria, which the American people rejected last year.

If the US is serious about getting rid of ISIS, there are better ways to do it than sending our combat aircraft into Syria without the permission of the Syrian government, the UN, or even NATO. Let’s stop trying to deceive the American public, the Congress and the world about our intentions. The Obama plan doesn’t pass the smell test.

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Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement. Read other articles by Paul.

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