Reply to: The American Century is Over, and It Died in Syria

“The ‘American Century’ Is Over, and It Died in Syria” declared Hal Brands in Bloomberg View on March 8. Yes and thank God it is over. The house of truth fell on the American Century’s terrorist witch in Syria; all that’s left is its dangling scrawny legs – and the ruby slippers of reality that might help get America back on the road to maybe, someday, leading by example instead of Tomahawk missiles. It’s time for the witch to curl up and finish dying already so humanity everywhere can sing, “Ding dong the witch is dead” (from the 1938 classic, “The Wizard of Oz”)  and Syrians can get their country and some of their future back.

Everything but Brands’ conclusion is routine, absurd “American Centurion” lies and propaganda. His introduction is this: “The forces of democracy and the great moral gains of the New World Order have given way to great-power conflict and the new autocracy.”

Examining the “democracy and great moral gains” of the American Century, meaning US foreign policy post WWII, reveals a reality that is dark, aggressive, anti-democratic, immoral and ultimately against US interests as well as the interests of civilization itself. The American Century policies have made a mockery of democracy and morality; have stripped any vestige of honor from our military; have created the refugee crisis that may destabilize Europe; and have sucked our economy dry while spending trillions needlessly killing millions. All this while bowing down and selling hundreds of billions of dollars in weapons to the most autocratic, terrorist supporting regime on the planet, Saudi Arabia. The American Centurions refuse to take responsibility for any of it – instead continually blame others in order to justify more of the same failures.

All this has never been more apparent than in the illegal, dirty war against Syria.

The first paragraph alone is a study in misleading, false assertions. It begins:

For anyone who thought that the winding down of the campaign against the Islamic State would cause the Syrian civil war to recede from the headlines, the last few weeks have been a rude awakening. 

A US campaign against the Islamic State never existed.

ISIS was incubated in America’s Camp Bucca prison system in Iraq. In 2012, General Michael Flynn, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the time, wrote a report for the Obama administration outlining the intelligence revealing the US backed insurgency in Syria as dominated by Wahhabi/Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Qaeda Iraq and that their intentions were to establish an intolerant, violent Islamist state in northeastern Syria. In an interview with Mehdi Hasan on Al Jazeera’s Head to Head, Flynn stated flatly that the administration made a “willful decision” to use those armed jihadist groups as assets in order to put pressure on President Assad.

The US coalition that began in September of 2014 did not concern itself with fighting ISIS after that terrorist group had moved onto Al Nusra’s territory (Al Qaeda in Syria), areas that were originally taken over by the equally sectarian mercenaries of the US formed Free Syrian Army. The coalition never fired on the massive ISIS oil convoys heading towards Turkey that provided the income stream required for the growth of ISIS for example.

In fact, a WikiLeaks released audio recording of John Kerry speaking to the western-backed Syrian ex-pat opposition at the Dutch Mission of the UN on September 22, 2016 (the political opposition that is not even supported by its “rebel” militias in Syria) spelling out precisely that Russia came in after Syria had invited them because the US was watching ISIS grow out of control in order to put pressure on Assad (and provide justification for later, increased illegal US activities in Syria):

The reason Russia came in is because ISIL was getting stronger. Daesh was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus at some point and that’s why Russia came in. Because they didn’t want a Daesh government and they supported Assad. And we knew that this was growing, we were watching. We saw that Daesh was growing in strength and we thought Assad was [indecipherable]. We thought however, that we could probably manage that Assad might then negotiate. Instead of negotiating, he got Putin to support him. John Kerry

While this damning confession by the head of the US State Department admitting that the US led coalition, marketed as an “international fight against ISIS” was in fact sitting illegally and idly in Syria watching ISIS grow and prosper received a tiny bit of coverage (in the New York Times, The Guardian and The Washington Times),  basically the western main stream media responded en masse with awkward silence, not worthy of mention apparently when there were so many more important stories like coverage of any given Kardashian’s backside.

Had the news media hammered this story like they do others, it would have been a game-changer. Instead of caving to the pressure however, the shrewd Assad appealed to Russia, whose votes with China on the UN Security Council had stopped another Iraq War murderous farce from happening in Syria. Putin agreed, the Russians came in, hitting and basically ending the profitable ISIS oil convoys and supporting the Syrian Arab Army, the army of the legitimate government of the sovereign state of Syria, in its fight against ISIS, Al Qaeda and related terrorist groups.

In the meantime, ISIS continued receiving weapons from US and Saudi Arabia sponsored “rebel” groups as detailed in the 2017 Conflict Armament Research report. I was in Deir Ezzor in October of 2017 and saw one of the vast ISIS weapons arsenals captured by the Syrian Army and allies from Al Mayadeen including a 155mm Howitzer. The US led coalition had bombed strategic bridges on roads surrounding Deir Ezzor city to isolate it and impede advances by Syria and its allies to take on ISIS in Ar Raqqa. The blatant slaughter on September 17, 2016 by the US on the long-held Syrian Army position at Al Thardah killed over 100 Syrian soldiers who had been fighting against ISIS for years and the US apparently coordinated with ISIS fighters who immediately captured the strategic hill overlooking the airfield. More recently, the US, after indiscriminately bombing Ar Raqqa into near oblivion, arranged for the SDF, its latest mercenary army of mostly Kurdish separatists, to make deals with hundreds of ISIS fighters to escape Ar Raqqa and live to fight another day. There is some evidence that some of those terrorist fighters joined the SDF soon thereafter.

Obviously, the US strategy has never had anything to do with combatting its ISIS asset but has everything to do with using that pretext to establish its illegal military presence complete with military bases in Syria and taking control over the northeast section of the country that not coincidentally holds the richest oil fields.  In reality, the US did not liberate Raqqa and a huge swath of surrounding Syrian land – it stole it. The Syrian Army and its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies did liberate three of the four ISIS caliphate command centers: Deir Ezzor, Al Mayadeen and Abu Kamal, as well as most ISIS-held villages in the area, in heavy, hard fighting often with terrible casualty rates. These victories, not the American/SDF blasting of Ar Raqqa, led to the victory over the terrorists’ caliphate in October and November and while there are still ISIS fighters and some militias operating, its backbone down the Euphrates is broken. The single greatest piece of evidence that the US mission was not to fight ISIS is the inescapable fact that the Americans are not only still there but intending to create a 30,000 strong mercenary army in the area they now illegally occupy. The 2018 budget allocates yet another $500 million to train and equip undesignated fighters with an estimated $400 million of that going to weapons alone. The Pentagon has estimated the cost of the US (illegal) occupation will be $4 billion this year.

The US forces are operating in Syria in total violation of both national and international law. The Authorized Use of Military Force does not apply when US official documents and officials’ statements clearly show that the US has been supporting various terrorist groups in Syria – not fighting them. Not only is the US presence unwelcomed by the legitimate government of Syria but also by the vast majority of the Syrian people of all family and faith groups, including most of the Sunni majority, who support their president and army against this US orchestrated regime change war using foreign-sponsored proxy militant armies.

The War in Syria was never a Civil War.

Brands’ labels the war against Syria as a civil war as government officials and western journalists have done for the past seven years but that’s never been the case.

“American Centurions” have had Syria in their sights to control since 1949 when the CIA attempted its first coup there. In 1956-57 numerous plots and assassinations were planned and tried.  In 1987 the CIA’s Foreign Subversion and Instability Center, Office of Global Issues wrote the declassified “Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Political Change” which outlined hoped-for scenarios that would oust Hafez al-Assad. From 2004-2008, the CIA conducted paramilitary raids in eastern Syria, one of which resulted in eight Syrians killed whom the Syrian government claimed were civilians. Thousands of Damascenes took to the streets in a protest rally against the US attack.

The current war is an intensified extension of this same policy – a policy that has routinely violated the sovereignty of Syria while promoting destabilization. In 2003 in the London Review of Books, Charles Glass asked, Is Syria Next? He said:

For the men who came to rule the United States with the inauguration of George W. Bush, the Syrian menace was nothing new. Some of them had long wanted to wage war against Iraq as a way of containing Syria. ‘Israel can shape its strategic environment, in co-operation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing and even rolling back Syria,’ a Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy advised Benjamin Netanyahu when he assumed office in 1996. This group’s paper, ‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm’, suggested that efforts should ‘focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq – an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right – as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions’. 

In 2004, the US hit Syria with crippling sanctions. In 2005 President Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah were accused of assassinating Rafic Harriri although the special UN tribunal created in 2007 to investigate the killing has only now, eleven years later, been able to declare it “an act of terrorism.” Yet Syria pulled its troops out of Lebanon. In the summer of 2005 Christiane Amanpour of CNN went to Damascus to interview President Assad and informed him bluntly that “regime change was headed his way” and that the US was “already picking out new leaders for Syria.” In 2006, Israel invaded Lebanon only to be routed in a humiliating defeat at the hands of Hezbollah with support from Syria. By the end of 2006 the Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Damascus wrote a cable, “Influencing the SARG (Syrian Arab Republic Government) in the end of 2006” which stated that the SARG ended that year much stronger both domestically and internationally. Undeterred, by Assad’s popularity, the cable went on to describe more possible ways of undermining the government while promoting destabilization and fomenting sectarian distrust and rebellion among the Sunni majority. In 2007, President GW Bush and Eliot Abrams met with leaders of the Syrian ex-pat Muslim Brotherhood to enlist more help in undermining President Assad. From 2006-2010, the US spent millions on training “activists and journalists” to use to do the same. Also in 2007, General Wesley Clark revealed the neocons’ plan to “take out” Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Iran immediately after 9/11. Qaddafi’s brutal death allowed the CIA and State Department to transfer weapons from Libya to waiting “rebels” in Syria; weapons that were stockpiled in Saudi sponsored radicalized mosques. The narrative of brutal crackdowns against protestors in Syria is a myth; Gary Gambill’s malignant but accurate on facts “Two Cheers for Syrian Islamists” in Foreign Policy from 2012 reveals the reality:

For starters, the Assad regime would not be in the trouble it’s in today were it not for the Islamists. Though the March 2011 uprising was initially broad-based, the Arab world’s most sophisticated internal security apparatus easily pacified protesters outside of heavily Sunni areas. But the mixture of faith and politics proved impossible to contain: Since banning Muslims from attending prayers was politically unthinkable, mosques became the focal points of massive anti-government demonstrations that quickly overwhelmed the regime’s capacity to clear the streets without bloodshed.

US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford was pelted with vegetables by Damascenes, disgusted with his support of violent radical revolutionaries who wanted to establish a  harsh Sharia law state in place of the secular system and society. Father Frans van der Lugt described the attempts by the Syrian Army to keep the peace and prevent bloodshed in Homs in the earliest days of the war and stated, “The protesters shot first.” Father Frans was executed by Al Nusra shortly before the Syrian Army took back full control of Homs in 2014.

Syria fights against terrorists and propaganda.

Brands goes on to falsely summarize the current situation in Syria as one of increasing brutality by government forces against “rebels” in the eastern part of the Ghouta suburb outside Damascus. He fails to mention that he wouldn’t want any of these “rebels” living in his neighborhood. The groups controlling eastern Ghouta – Jaysh al Islam, Ahrar al Sham, Al Rahman, Tahrir al Sham, and Al Nusra – are all Islamist extremists that have been committing horrifying atrocities for seven years against the Syrian population. Massacres, beheadings, torture, kidnapping of thousands, looting in the areas they’ve “liberated” while imposing harsh sharia law through violence and intimidation on residents; also continual mortars, snipers, exploding bullets, suicide and car bombings in civilian areas in Damascus are the calling cards of these US and allies’ supported “freedom fighters”. In eastern Ghouta, Alawites and Christians have been driven out or executed and Sunnis standing against their autocratic terrorist rule shared that fate also. The basic character of the “rebels” has been known from the beginning of the conflict which is why such a small percentage of Syrians ever supported this US orchestrated regime change war using terrorist/mercenary/criminal proxy armies to do our dirty work. Gambill unabashedly summed up the US war mongers’ thinking in the 2012 FP article referred to above, “Two Cheers for Syrian Islamists” in which he notes how the “rebel” groups are all jihadists while blithely asserting, “Fortunately, while the Islamist surge will not be a picnic for the Syrian people, it has two important silver linings for U.S. interests.” Gambill went on to praise terrorists as being more effective fighters than secular counterparts with a talent for “shattering the calm” of civilians in Damascus and Aleppo; and he anticipated a Sunni Islamist surge inflicting a “full-blown strategic defeat on Iran.” Iran, a country that hasn’t invaded another one in about 200 years, that is zero actual threat to the US, that is in full compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal, and who helped defeat terrorists and saved Christians as well as Muslims in Syria is, according to American Centurions, the greatest threat to our personal freedoms.

The reports of chemical weapons use and supposed evidence of course come from these Islamist jihadists also yet their allegations are never questioned by most journalists. Neither are the possible motives behind the allegations. In fact, the Syrian government has been accused of using prohibited weapons whenever they are making great gains via conventional warfare and usually before international negotiations/peace talks, presumably against women and children just out of sheer spite against civilians in attacks that serve no purpose other than to give the radical militants more PR leverage and provide justification for even greater US involvement against Syria. Keep in mind, five and half years after the attack on the US compound in Benghazi, the US government claims we don’t really know what happened there; yet within hours of supposed chemical weapons attacks in areas completely controlled by terrorist groups, US officials immediately declare the culprit and cause. Hysterical hyperbole begins again with professed outrage for another “crime against humanity” and feigned sympathy for the victims while exhibiting convenient forgetfulness that the CIA helped Saddam Hussein launch some of the worst chemical weapons attacks in history against Iran and continues to use depleted uranium munitions.

Brands then refers to “aerial clashes” between Israeli, Iranian and Syrian forces. Israel has boasted of making over 100 illegal aerial attacks in Syria, most often illegally using Lebanese airspace to do them and for reconnaissance. Iranian forces are in Syria at the request of the Syrian government and have been effectively fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda there. Not so Israel. Their head of Military Intelligence, Major General Herzl Levi, stated in a public forum that Israel does not want ISIS defeated in Syria. Journalist Richard Silverstein reported on the apology ISIS made when they mistakenly fired on Israeli forces. In his “BREAKING: Former Israeli Defense Minister Confirms Israeli Collaboration with ISIS in Syria” article in Tikun Olam of April 23, 2017, Silverstein said,

Some critics claim that an ISIS apology doesn’t signify an alliance or serious collaboration between the Islamist group and Israel.  To which I reply–when you bomb an ally you apologize.  When you bomb an enemy–you don’t.  What does that make ISIS to Israel? Further, when was the last time an Islamist terror group apologized for firing bullets at Jews or Israelis?

In the same article, Silverstein reported on former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s unapologetic statements in a video interview regarding Israel’s support for Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups in Syria. Israel’s intentions and actions show a clear policy as summarized by Alon Pinkas, former Israeli consul general in New York:

This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie. Let them both (the Syrian government and militant in addition to the Syrian people) bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria. (Israel Backs Limited Strike Against Syria, NYT, September 5, 2013)

So Israel’s stance is this: hundreds of thousands dead?  Who cares? The threat of Syria being ruled by terrorists? No problem, as that would also mean greater justification for any future aggression against that state. They make deals and help Al Qaeda and ISIS in order to disrupt supply lines to Hezbollah so their long-held ambition to control Lebanon might be achieved. Oil was discovered in the Golan so along with its great water resources and strategic position, Israel covets finalizing their stealing of that land from Syria.

The first paragraph ends with a mention of the recent confrontation between “American airpower and Russian ‘mercenaries.’” In fact there were few Russians involved, if any. Christoph Reuter in Spiegal Online, “The Truth About the Russian Deaths in Syria” summarized the findings of a two-week long investigation into the incident interviewing witnesses and participants in the battle:

The situation on the ground between Khusham and Tabiya on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, described by a half dozen witnesses and people who were party to the events, does not confirm Russian mercenary participation in the attack or even that they joined the fighting at all. 

But the greatest proofs of how far from reality Brands’ statements are would be the situations in Aleppo and Homs today, after their liberation from US and allies’ backed terrorist militias. Homs was freed from almost all groups in 2014 and Aleppo at the end of 2016. I’ve been in Homs four times and Aleppo twice in the past two years. In both cities, displaced persons have been returning; hundreds of thousands went back home to Aleppo just in 2017. Businesses and factories, schools, medical facilities, and homes are being rebuilt quickly. One friend of mine in Aleppo said it’s almost boring living there now without the mortars, suicide and car bombs, exploding bullets, chlorine gas attacks etc., that the west’s “moderate rebels” attacked the civilians with almost daily.

So after Brands introduces his topic with a blitzkrieg of inaccuracies in just the first paragraph, he finally says something in the second that is accurate, though not in the way he intends it.

Yes, the Syrian conflict remains “an appalling human catastrophe” for the reasons mentioned above – because the US decided to try to remove the popular President Assad when he refused to submit to Israel-favoring dictates, and to replace him with head chopping, torturing, raping, kidnapping, looting thugs who imposed harsh sharia law through violence and intimidation wherever they “liberated” in safe and secular Syria. One of the armed groups, who received direct US support with weapons, including sophisticated TOW anti-tank missiles, is Ahrar al Sham who lines the streets of their areas with billboards that read, “Democracy is polytheism.” Just about everyone in Syria wanted and still wants reforms in the government including President Assad; but only a tiny percentage of Syrians wanted a total take out of the government Iraq or Libya style. I’m often told Syrians are too afraid to criticize their government – another fable – they’re quite forceful in voicing frustration particularly regarding corruption that’s increased during the war and against the inevitable war profiteering that happens in every conflict. Another common complaint is that President Bashar really should have been ruthless in stopping the “revolution” early on; but the west’s war loving propaganda outlets of BBC, CNN, Fox and the rest, along with Qatar’s pro-Muslim Brotherhood Al Jazeera and Saudi Arabia’s pro-Wahhabi/Salafi Al Arabiya produced and marketed the fake “brutal crackdown” narrative nonetheless.

The American Century dies in millennia-old Syria

The true, core statement in Brands’ otherwise alternate-reality piece is this: “More significantly, Syria is the nexus for the destabilizing trends that are thrusting the entire global order into crisis.”

In that he is correct. The American Century, the reckless, arrogant, greedy, short-sighted US together with NATO partners particularly Britain and France, its allies/clients of  Israel, the terrorist-sponsoring Persian Gulf States and originally, in its heady ambition to control the world’s petrol-based economy, Erdogan of Turkey as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, finally met its match in the Deep Civilization of Syria and its allies of Iran, Russia and China (each with their own agenda of course). You see, the problem with the US plans for Syria was this: Most Syrians saw through it and rejected it saying, “No thanks” together with most of the army and its Commander in Chief. Their allies, Iran and Hezbollah, Russia and China also proved willing to face the wrath of the US.

Too many Syrians, it turns out, have that Syrian ‘savvy’ that comes from being rooted in a land that has been coveted, traversed, invaded, and occupied by empires since the first imperial wars of the Egyptians and Hittites. For seven years the Syrians have been suffering, dying, and mourning but they’ve stood against the lies and sponsored terrorists of the American Century war mongers. With the imminent victory in east Ghouta the illegal regime change war based on lies, like Iraq and Libya, is almost over, and the utterly hypocritical, aggressive, greedy age of the American Century is also.

And that’s a very good thing.

Ding-dong, the witch is dead! Which old witch? The wicked witch
Ding-dong, the wicked witch is dead
Wake up, you sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed
Wake up, the wicked witch is dead!
She’s gone where the goblins go below, below, below, yo ho
Let’s open up and sing, and ring the bells out
Ding-dong! the merry-o sing it high, sing it low
Let them know the wicked witch is dead

Originally published: Janice Kortkamp (Syria Resources Archive)

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