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Will Nobel Peace Prizewinner Obama 'Go It Alone' In Attacking Syria ?

Politics / US Politics Aug 30, 2013 - 02:09 PM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop


In a stunning setback for UK Prime Minister Cameron's hopes for a quick nod through vote by Parliament for his government's war plan against Syria, his march to “punitive limited military action”, opening the potential for wider war in the Middle East hit a brick wall. British MPs defeated the government motion by 285 against 272 votes, August 29, as some MP’s shouted ‘resign, resign’. The junior coalition Lib Dem party of Nick Clegg is almost totally against the military adventure redolent of T. E. Lawrence days when the US, France and the UK could play judge and jury in the Middle East, but veteran Lib Dem party grandee and former Kosovo administrator after the 1995 NATO war against Serbia, Paddy Ashdown, Tweeted on August 30: “In 50 years trying to serve my country I have never felt so depressed/ashamed. Britain's answer to the Syrian horrors? None of our business!”

Veteran user of Depleted Uranium weapons, the UK's Tony Blair predictably chipped in, August 29 from his yacht in the south of France, saying: ‘But we have collectively to understand the consequences of wringing our hands instead of putting them to work”, due to Syria being “a breeding ground of extremism infinitely more dangerous than Afghanistan in the 1990s.”

Neither US President Obama nor France's Hollande face Cameron's same problem. Obama can invoke the War Powers Act. French presidents have an unsure and contested prerogative to declare war despite Article 35 of the Constitution saying black-and-white that only Parliament authorizes war by France. Hollande himself, and his staffers say, August 30 that they are not fazed by the House of Commons decision, due to military action against Syria falling into the “reserved eminent domain” of French Presidential powers, used at several times since the Fifth Republic was founded. These somber times especially included the 1956-63 war against Algeria which claimed at least 50 000 French lives and 500 000 Algerian lives.

The Nobel Peace prizewinner of 2009, Barack Obama may however still find himself all alone, due to French public opinion, shown by polls run by Ipsos, BFM TV and i-Tele moving ever faster towards a huge majority of nay-sayers, in the 60% - 65% range, with only 20% for the ayes. When the French Parliament debates the subject, September 4, the fast-growing ranks of lawmakers opposed to military action without a clear mandate from the UN, could force Hollande, despite his “eminent domain” to back down in the same humiliating way as Cameron.

Obama more than ever has to pray the UN inspectors can produce evidence able to be spun and worked into gorily thrilling media fodder better than the present slim and contested evidence that the al Assad regime was responsible for the most recent chemical weapons atrocity in Syria.

Barack Obama may increasingly draw on the bent-logic of Tony Blair to justify his war aims. This argument is simplistic, therefore easy for TV news anchorpersons to repeat almost word perfect after a quick gargle in front of their bathroom mirrors. It says that if the West does not strike Syria now, the Gulf petro-monarchs, Turkey and Israel, as well as the Red-White-Blue team of the US, France and UK will increase funding and weapons supply to so-called radical Islamic terror brigades operating in Syria – and a fast growing number of other MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries. The better term is AK47 toting gangstah fighters able to parrot a few Islamist-type slogans.

Bombing Syria now, can prevent Syria from falling into a super-production of post-NATO Libya. The spin on this argument – already clear in Obama's statements and administration briefings – is that al Assad will not be killed or forced to flee. His regime will stay in place but after the rap on his knuckles and the regrettable “collateral dead” when smart missiles act dumb, al Assad will become Islamic moderate. France's Hollande calls this a “political settlement” opening the way towards democracy - like in Egypt. In addition but not mentioned, the new and moderate all Assad regime will hold in place long enough for Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar to arrive with the petro-cash to pay for the provisional government of their choosing, which “provisionally” of course will not be democratic.

No, that didn't sound too logical but with the leaders we have today, is that a surprise?

Former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich, who is no admirer of the Nobel Peace prizewinner was quoted obviously with approval by 'Russia Today' (RT), August 29 saying that a ‘targeted strike’ on Syria by the US would be “nothing but an act of war”, adding that an airstrike on President Assad’s forces which are fighting the so-called radical Islamist forces “would make US pilots Al-Qaeda’s air force”. Kuchinich said that airstrikes on Syria will embolden the “multinational jihadi” using the Al-Qaeda logo, and would surely and certainly drag the US into another war in the Middle East.

To be sure being wiser after the event is always easy – and Western war planners, strategists and politicians have the examples of Iraq, Tunisia, Yemen, Libya and Egypt in front of their noses.  Wherever so-called Islamist moderate governments have been installed, national security and sectarian problems increase, the economy nosedives and the refugees – either economic or military - move out. Economic wealth has little impact on the outcome – whether it is high income Libya or very low income Yemen, but in both cases they get poorer. Exposed minorities, which depend on the sectarian patchwork in each country are always, but always the first target for oppression. In Syria's case, its already two-million-strong refugee outflow will be joined by the Christians, numbering about 2.5 million at present. The Shia Alawites and the Kurds, as well as the Druzes and Turkish speakers will also either flee or declare regional independence after a violent and bloody sort-out of antagonistic and opposed communities.

The UK knows all about this – its 1947-48 separation of India and Pakistan during which as many as 4.5 million persons were slaughtered.

After their plush halal rump steak dinners, the Gulf petro princes and kings can move on to discuss the rump state Syria which they want, run on strict Islamic lines. It will be necessarily well-armed because it will be the constant target of the 3 or 4 other rump state remnants which will gell out of current Syria. The Kurdish east of Syria for example, is sure and certain to unite with Independent Kurdistan in north Iraq, itself suffering accelerated breakdown of the former unified nation state.

Like we know, images and newsreel footage out of Syria show roads, buildings, bridges, power plants and infrastructure of all sorts in utter devastation. Whoever runs the rump state after al Assad is gone will have a massive job in terms of rebuilding. Paying for it will need huge amounts of aid and investment – which will not come, except in theory from the Gulf States. To be sure, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE handed over $12 billion to Egypt after Moursi was ousted but repeating this kind of largesse in rump Syria is in no way certain. The default option is therefore highly simple: another failed state, split into 4 or 5 warring internal fiefdoms, operated by their domestic Warlords.

Obama and Hollande could or might nurture fond dreams that this time around, this will not be the only logical result to toppling the incumbent national strongman or dictator and then “walking away from the problem”. Both Egypt and Tunisia show the overthrow can be local-organized, while they also show the resulting unstable state is a natural target for regional powerbroker meddling, and meddling by the US, UK and France, as well by other global powers.

Above all Obama and Hollande have to forget their Al Qaeda obsession. To the extent it exists, its ability to run any state, for any length of time – Taliban rule in Afghanistan – was a disaster.  To be sure, Al Qaeda with the right kind of sunglasses can seem to have been an effective fighting force, against the USSR in Afghanistan, but in that case it was showered with all the arms it wanted by the West. Without that aid the armed groups, gangsters and bandits spouting Islamic slogans always break down into fiefdoms or 'chefferies' in the ruined remains of the former nation state, reverting in fact to an age-old mold for social organization, preceding the nation state.

Reconstructing the nation state in the MENA, along realistic lines and sustainable bases will be the high ground target - and will take decades.

By Andrew McKillop


Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2013 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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