Pindostan launches cruise missile attack against Syrian government
James Cogan, WSWS, Apr 7 2017
Between 8 and 9 pm, ET Thursday, two Pindo warships in the Mediterranean fired a barrage of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base at Shayrat, near the city of Homs. The attack is the first direct assault by Pindostan on the government of Pres Assad and has plunged the world into days of uncertainty as to the consequences. Highlighting the utter recklessness and criminality of the Pindosi action, Russian forces were at the base. The Syrian government has issued a bitter condemnation of the attack, denouncing it as “aggression”. At present, there are no confirmed reports regarding casualties. The Russian military was reportedly given notice that the air base was going to be bombed. If the Russians were given notice, questions remain as to whether they were given sufficient time to withdraw their assets from harm’s way. The pretext for the Pindo attack is the sinister and dubious allegation that Assad’s air force used chemical weapons in an attack on a rebel-held town on Tuesday. The claims are dubious above all because the Syrian government had no motive to use such weapons, knowing that it would be seized upon to demand that Trump order a direct intervention. By contrast, the rebels and with their CIA advisors had ample motive under conditions in which they are facing complete military defeat. Moreover, the AQ-linked Jabhat al-Nusra is known to be in possession of and to have used chemical weapons. On Thursday, the Assad government again categorically denied any responsibility for a chemical weapons attack. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem stated:
I stress, once again, that the Syrian Arab Army did not and will not use such weapons even against the terrorists who are targeting our people.
The attack on Syria is the outcome of months of political civil war in Faschingstein, which has seen Trump denounced by the Demagog Party and much of the media as a virtual Russian puppet for his stated agenda of improving relations with Moscow. His domestic opponents have succeeded in compelling the new administration to shift and make the immediate focus of US foreign policy stepped-up operations in the Middle East. The result is the prospect of a rapid descent toward a confrontation with Iran and nuclear-armed Russia. It is entirely conceivable that the Syrian military, using sophisticated Russian-supplied anti-aircraft missile systems, will now retaliate by engaging Pindosi aircraft in Syrian airspace, or launching attacks on the Pindo grunts on the ground with various rebel militias in parts of the country. Trump appears to have authorised the bombardment even as he was sitting down for dinner and a photo opportunity with Chinese Pres Xi, who arrived in Pindostan just hours before and whose government has consistently aligned with Russia to defend Assad’s government.
Among the numerous questions posed by the strike is whether the summit between Trump and Xi can even proceed. The situation is unprecedented for a Chinese leader. Xi will face immense recriminations in China if he is seen sitting alongside Trump in polite diplomatic talks at a luxury golf resort in Florida, while his own government, plus Russia, Iran and other countries are denouncing a unilateral and illegal Pindosi act of war on Syria. Moreover, the Trump administration has been threatening to launch a pre-emptive attack on North Korea, triggering a catastrophic war on China’s borders. The missile strike on Syria will remove any doubt in Chinese strategic and military circles as to whether Trump would be prepared to order such action. Trump held a press conference Thursday evening at his Florida mansion. In words dripping with imperialist hypocrisy, he stated:
Tonight I call on all civilised nations to join us in seeking to end this slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.
Tillerson subsequently issued a statement accusing Russia of being “complicit” in the alleged gas attack and denouncing it for failing to meet its undertakings in 2013 to ensure Syria destroyed its chemical weapons. At the time, the Obama administration, in the face of doubts in the Pentagon and popular opposition, used the Russian guarantees to back away from its plans to wage a massive air war on the Assad government. The Russian government has not, as of this writing, issued a formal response. The Russian Senate Security and Defense Committee chair Viktor Ozerov told journalists:
(The attack is) an act of aggression against a UN member.
Prior to the missile strikes, Russia had demanded an impartial investigation into the alleged gas attack and warned Faschingstein that there would be “negative consequences” if it instead took military action. Moscow, backed by Bolivia, has signaled that it will demand an emergency session of the UNSC on Friday to condemn the strike. Iran has also not yet issued a statement. Large numbers of Iranian military personnel are on the ground not only in Syria but also in Iraq, fighting alongside Shi’ite militias that are nominally loyal to the (nominally) Pindo-backed government in Baghdad. In Syria, the Turks-Toads-&-Thanis financed and armed Ahrar al-Sham declared that it “welcomes any Pindo intervention through surgical strikes.” The Israeli government has issued a statement voicing its complete support for the operation. Turkey had already given blanket support in advance of the strikes. As the strike took place late at night European time, the imperialist vassals of Faschingstein in Europe, after spending days exploiting the alleged gas attack to denounce Assad and Russia and call for action, have not yet issued formal statements. On the other side of the world, an indication of how numerous Pindo vassals may respond has been given in Australia. The country’s defence minister was phoned by Pindo boxtops several hours before the strikes. Australia has fighter-bombers and other aircraft operating with Pindo forces in Syria and Iraq. Both the government and the main Labor Party opposition have made statements fully endorsing the Pindo strike, though PM Turnbull would not confirm if the Australian military would join attacks on the Syrian government.
A new chapter in the Pindo drive for global hegemony
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, Apr 7 2017
With the cruise missile attack on Syria, Pindostan has opened up a new chapter in its war for global hegemony that it began more than a quarter century ago with the invasion of Iraq. The claim that this attack is a response to the Syrian government’s use of poison gas is a transparent lie. Once again, as in the air war against Serbia in 1999, the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, and the attack on Libya in 2011, Pindostan has concocted a pretext to justify the violation of another country’s sovereignty. The bombing of Syria is a unilateral abrogation by Pindostan of the agreement negotiated with Russia in 2013, which resulted in the calling off of a long-planned direct military intervention by them in the on-going civil war. As we warned in Sep 2013:
The postponement of war does not lessen the likelihood, indeed, the inevitability, of the outbreak of a major war. As the bellicose statements emanating from Faschingstein make clear, the ‘military option’ remains on the table. Nor is Syria the only target for military attack. Pindo operations against Syria would set the stage for a clash with Iran. And, still further, the logic of Pindo imperialism’s drive for global dominance leads to a confrontation with Russia and China. Nor can it be excluded that the conflict of interests among the major imperialist powers, for example Pindostan and Germany, might under certain conditions metastasize into armed conflict.
This warning has been substantiated. Moreover, the attacks signify at least a partial resolution of the bitter conflict over foreign policy that has been raging within the highest echelons of the Pindosi state since last November’s presidential election. With the support of the most powerful factions of the Pentagon and CIA, the Demagog Party’s demand for war against Syria and intensified confrontation with Russia has prevailed. The Trump White House has been compelled to execute an astonishing about-face from the policy that it had publicly announced only days earlier. What is most extraordinary about these developments is the speed with which they have unfolded. The launching of cruise missiles against Syria came barely 48 hours after the first report of an incident in Syria’s north-western Idlib province, an area largely controlled by the Syrian affiliate of AQ, in which approximately 70 people were allegedly killed by poison gas. Literally within minutes of the incident becoming known, the corporate media swang into action, denouncing the government of Pres Assad as the culprit. Editorialists for the NYT and other major newspapers, along with the talking heads of television news, all worked off of the same script, voicing moral outrage and demanding that Faschingstein carry out retribution. Everything points to the media having been thoroughly briefed beforehand in order to carry out a carefully orchestrated war propaganda exercise. On Wednesday, Trump echoed this media narrative at a White House press conference, declaring:
These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated.
Trump repeated this line in a statement to the media from his Mar-a-Lago resort home on Thursday night. Nikki Haley issued an open threat of unilateral military action. The denials by the Syrian government of responsibility for any chemical attack have been summarily dismissed by the White House and the media, as has the record of AQ forces in Syria carrying out their own chemical weapons attacks and blaming them on the government. The case of who was responsible for the alleged chemical weapons attack was “solved” in less time than the NYPD devotes to investigating a street mugging. The verdict was in and the sentence is now being carried out.
One only has to compare this forensic fast-track to the methods employed when the Pindosi military carries out air strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen, killing hundreds of civilians. The Pentagon routinely insists that it has no credible evidence of any civilian casualties. In those cases in which it deems an investigation unavoidable, it usually takes weeks before it issues a report either denying the carnage or reporting a small fraction of the real death toll. Barely 200 miles away from the site of the alleged chemical weapons attack, in the city of Mosul, Pindostan has slaughtered hundreds of Iraqi men, women and children, burying entire families alive with bombs and missiles and destroying entire city blocks. Needless to say, the corporate media is not broadcasting footage of the aftermath of these attacks with their charred dead and scattered body parts. None of the talking heads crying crocodile tears over the alleged gas attack in Syria have managed to summon up an ounce of moral outrage for those killed by the Pindosi military. There is no doubt that the incident in Syria was a concocted pretext for the launching of a long planned military intervention. The first place to investigate in order to get to the bottom of what happened in Idlib is the division of the CIA responsible for dirty operations in Syria and coordination with proxy forces organized around AQ. We have been here so many times before that it is hardly worth wasting the time required to refute the official story.
It is now 14 years since Pindostan launched its invasion of Iraq over similar lies about weapons of mass destruction, setting into motion a vast slaughter that has claimed the lives of over one million people and turned millions more into refugees. Similar lies were told in 2011 to provide the pretext for the US-NATO war for regime change in Libya. The media breathes not a word about these notorious precedents. Nor for that matter is there even a hint that this new US war is being carried out in alliance with AQ. The days of “embedded” journalism during the Iraq war now seem almost quaint. The media has abandoned the slightest pretense of independent journalism. Pindostan’s ruling oligarchy demanded another campaign of military aggression to secure its hegemony over the Middle East and push back against its regional and global rivals, particularly Iran and Russia. Like the invasion of Iraq, the intervention against Syria is a war crime. Pindostan is intervening into a civil war that it itself provoked, armed and financed with the aim of toppling the Assad government and installing a puppet regime. The attempt to achieve these aims by means of Islamist proxy forces has failed after claiming nearly half a million lives and turning five million Syrians into refugees. This failure is due to not only the Russian and Iranian backing for Assad, but also the fear and hatred felt by the majority of Syrians for the Pindo-backed elements linked to AQ.
The abrupt shift in line by the Trump administration is a measure of the immense pressure for war from within the capitalist ruling class. Only days before the alleged incident in Idlib, administration officials were stating that Assad’s rule in Syria was a reality that had to be accepted. Trump himself repeatedly voiced his disagreement with the Obama administration’s policy on Syria, insisting that the only Pindosi aim there should be to combat Daesh. The bitter denunciations of Trump by the Demagogs and the Demagog-aligned media like the NYT has been precisely over this question, his perceived softness on both the Syrian government and even more critically its chief ally, Russia. Had Hillary Clinton won in November, it can be safely assumed that bombs and missiles would have been striking Syrian targets within days of her election. Trump’s delay in pursuing such a course underlay the furor of the Demagog Party, the political instrument of Wall Street and the military and intelligence apparatus, in denouncing him for alleged ties to Moscow. Trump has now been brought into line. The shift in policy has been accompanied by a shakeup within the White House staff. Stephen Bannon has been removed from the NSC amid an increasing assertion of power by the military. This was an entirely predictable change of course. As we commented last December, amid Trump’s naming of one senior military officer after another to top posts in his administration:
As much as Trump is choosing ex-generals, the generals may themselves be choosing to join his administration, confident that they can ultimately dictate policy.
For its part, Russia’s foreign policy lies in shambles, exposing the false perspective of those within the government of Pres Putin who naively believed that something as insignificant as a change in presidents could alter the elemental drive by Pindo imperialism toward new and ever wider wars. The war against Syria has no popular support. The political shake-up in Faschingstein and the preparations for renewed military aggression have unfolded behind the backs of the Pindo sheeple. The indifference of the ruling establishment to popular sentiment is reflected in the absence as even so much as an opinion poll on this new war of aggression. No critical voices are being raised against the war, either in Congress or the media. There is not even the pretense of a debate. Demagogs who denounced Trump yesterday are now rallying in a bipartisan show of support for their “commander in chief” and the military. Typical was frequent Trump critic Adam Schiff, who allowed:
(I should) feel more comfortable knowing that the President was relying on Gen Mattis and Gen McMaster.
Bernie Sanders, self-described “democratic socialist” and leader of the supposedly “progressive” wing of the party, said nothing about the war plans, because he supported them. The entire opposition of the Demagog Party to Trump was based on these issues. All the talk about Trump’s hounding of immigrants, deportations and wholesale attacks on democratic rights will quickly fade in the interest of unity on the question of war. An attack on Syria carries with it the direct threat of a far wider and potentially world catastrophic war. What will be the reaction of Russia if Pindosi missiles kill its military personnel on the ground in Syria? The Pindo ruling class is willing to take the risk. Confronted with the protracted decline of its once-unchallenged dominance of the world economy, it is forced to rely more and more on its military power as a means of asserting global hegemony. That such a course points inevitably to a new world war that would threaten the survival of humanity will not cause it to change course. The actions the Pindo oligarchy recalls nothing so much as Trotsky’s description of the world bourgeoisie on the eve of WW2, hurtling “with closed eyes toward an economic and military catastrophe.” The conflict that has erupted will not end with Tomahawk missiles. The drive of Pindostan for global hegemony cannot be resolved outside of an endless series of military escalations, each more reckless than the one before, leading ultimately to catastrophe. These events express the burning necessity for the building of a mass anti-war movement, based on the working class, and having as its aim the abolition of the capitalist social order that is the root cause of war.