Friday 6 September 2013

John Kerry’s moment of untruth (PO)

M D Nalapat

Friday, September 06, 2013 - Fortunately for John Kerry, the US public is largely ignorant about the factual situation in any country not their own. Which is why he was able to convince several US Senators that the proposed US strike on Syria would give the advantage not to Al-Qaeda but to the mythical “moderates of the Syrian Opposition”. US media have almost totally blacked out the numerous statements appearing in Al-Qaeda websites warmly supporting President Barack Obama in his determination to strike Syria.

Indeed, one US Senator actually went public in his belief that Al-Qaeda was a partner of Bashar Assad, when in fact that organization shares part of the same agenda of the coalition readying to strike Syria, which is to ensure that a Shia Head of State get replaced by a Wahabi.

It has long been humiliating for Wahabis worldwide that Syria has been ruled by a Shia family, that too from a sect regarded as ultra-liberal even by other Shias, and they see an opportunity in the US and the EU finally signing on to the Netanyahu agenda of regime change in Damascus. It is another matter that Bibi Netanyahu is proving to be another Ariel Sharon, who seems tough in perception but whose long-term effect is to degrade the security of the talented and versatile people he rules. Ariel Sharon as PM reversed the steady improvement in Israel-Arab ties that had been visible since the visionary Yitzhak Rabin was the Prime Minister of Israel, and helped create a sense of hopelessness within the Palestinian community. Palestinians are easily among the most moderate of the many groups within West Asia, and it is an affront to the numerous protestations of morality and desire for justice within NATO that to date they are severely handicapped in their efforts at leading a normal life. A rash of settlements have come up even in those Palestinian areas that have devolved to the Palestinian Authority, and these are not merely illegal but unwise from the viewpoint of Israeli security interests. This columnist, who believes that ground reality needs to get factored into policy rather than cosmic conception of non-existent attributes, has long argued that Israel ought to first decide what part of the post-1967 Palestinian territory it sees as essential to its security and overall integrity, and then move away completely from the remaining area.

The international community, especially the GCC states, ought to pour investment into this residual (but fully free) Palestinian State so it becomes a regional version of Taiwan and Singapore, with an international airport at Gaza, huge knowledge and industrial parks dotting West Bank.

The people of Palestine are brilliant, just as their neighbours in Israel are, and should there be world-class universities and schools set up in the land left to them by Israel, they would soon become a small but prosperous version of Taiwan (West Bank) and Singapore (Gaza). Far from exacerbating the security situation in Israel, such a prosperous Palestinian State would create opportunities in business for Israel rather than - as now - drain that state of the cash needed to maintain a huge security presence directed at the West Bank and Gaza, in particular at preventing the people living in these two enclaves from having the life they deserve as human beings. Although there was an opportunity for an Israel-Syria agreement on the lines worked out earlier with Jordan and Egypt, over-confidence based in the knowledge that Washington supports Tel Aviv 100% led to the chance being lost.

After the shock defeats of the US in Afghanistan (where the Taliban have regenerated themselves) and Iraq (where the US is hated),and the 2008 financial crash, the ability of the US to alter overall parameters to Israel’s advantage has significantly ebbed. Which is why it makes sense for Netanyahu to work on a peace initiative with his neighbours the way Menachem Begin did with Anwar Sadat as a result of the backing of President Jimmy Carter for the effort. The fact is that the informal border between Syria and Israel has been quiet for four decades, during which first Hafez and later son Bashar Assad took over the reins of government in Syria. Ignoring such a reality, Prime Minister Netanyahu has thrown his lot behind Doha, Ankara, Paris, London and Washington in their joint efforts to remove Assad from office. In this objective, the six anti-Assad powers are sharing the same objective as Al-Qaeda, whose chief, Ayman Al Zawahiri, shares their distaste for President Assad, although not entirely for the same reasons.

To watch US Senators and other policymakers claim that Al-Qaeda is a partner of Assad is to relive the period when Dick Cheney succeeded in convincing the US public that Saddam Hussein was the main backer of Al-Qaeda, when in fact he was viciously opposed by Osama bin Laden and his supporters. Colin Powell lost his halo when he went before the UN and uttered lie after lie about Iraq. Now, it is Secretary of State John Kerry - a likeable and ethical man - who has been diminished by his resort to untruth after untruth while seeking to persuade the US Congress to unleash fire in West Asia by beginning overt military action against Damascus.

Certainly the CIA, then led by George Tenet, obligingly swallowed the input provided by paid rogues that Saddam Hussein was in fact the actual head of Al-Qaeda and that Iraq was drowning in WMD. Had that been the case, there world have been no US invasion of Iraq. It is not out of pacifism that Barack Obama is ruling out “boots on the ground” in Syria but because there are indeed chemical and biological weapons in Syrian stockpiles. Should Assad accept the NATO offer of abandoning action were he to give up such stockpiles, in months he would be under attack from NATO, this time with “boots on the ground”. The video warriors of NATO enter into conflicts on the ground only against foes whom they can pummel to the ground, not against those that have the capacity to do extensive damage to men and material.

The attack on Syria will be met by a robust response from Bashar Assad, who knows that if he does not strike back, and strike back hard, a new wave of attacks will not be long in coming. NATO has made no secret of the fact that it wants Assad to go, not out of office but out of human existence. A magazine which reflects the NATO viewpoint religiously, the Economist, has in its latest issue called for a missile strike that would kill the Syrian President. To expect Bashar Assad to go quietly, the way Muammar Kadhafi did, may be unrealistic. Once the attack and its aftermath takes place, the untruths uttered by John Kerry, that the response to the US attack would be feeble from Damascus, Moscow and Teheran, and that Al Nusra would not be the principal beneficiary of US largesse and military action. John Kerry had had his Moment of Untruth. The Moment of Truth for his President will come soon after Barack Obama justifies his pairing with Henry Kissinger in winning a Nobel Peace Prize for acts of war.

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