It’s a sad day for the US, Britain, France and Israel. Their proxy terror war in Syria is lost, and this latest maneuver was a desperate attempt to save face.
‘Shock-and-awe’, it most certainly was not, but it was nevertheless illegal and reckless. The US, UK and France jointly produced a ‘show of force‘ in Syria last night after a tense week in which Western threats of bombing Syria as ‘punishment’ for its government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians in Douma left many wondering how Russia would respond, and whether that would spark off ‘WW3’.
This time around, the declared mission was to “take out Assad’s chemical research infrastructure,” a military strike that amounted to 103 cruise missiles – almost twice as many as the 59 the US fired at Shayrat airbase almost exactly one year ago – targeting mostly empty buildings and airfields on the outskirts of Damascus and Aleppo. Among the targets, however, were also alleged “chemical weapons sites in areas around Damascus and Aleppo”. Forgive me for nitpicking, but doesn’t that mean that FUKUS (France, UK, US) used missiles to explode chemical weapons sites in residential areas in Syria in order to make sure that Assad cannot use those chemical weapons against civilians, for example, by exploding them in residential areas?
Anyway, Syrian media is reporting that just three people were injured. Russia claims that it did not even bother to activate its own anti-aircraft/missile systems in Tartus and Latakia, although they did mention that, since 2016, they have been upgrading and modernizing older Syrian systems.
Highlighting the limited extent of US capability in the region, Defense Secretary Mattis announced today that this operation was a “one time shot.” The Syrian and Iranian governments of course condemned this as a “barbaric” and “criminal” violation of Syria’s sovereignty that would only embolden the remaining terrorists there – which it will – while Putin described it as “an aggression against a sovereign state which is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism.”
The British government stated that its airstrikes were carried out by four Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s, which launched ‘Storm Shadow’ missiles at a former missile base 15 miles west of the city of Homs. Why did they target that site? Because, they said, the Syrian government keeps a stockpile of chemical weapons “precursors” there, which could of course be any multiple-purpose chemicals. Another of the destroyed targets was a ‘scientific research center’ outside Damascus, a facility that housed civilian educational and scientific laboratories. Anything, it would seem, that could be associated with ‘chemicals’ was fair game.
The Western Coalition of the Dubious is hyping up the operation as a successful show of force. France released videos of the jets’ takeoff, and the UK released video of their jets’ prep work. They all insist Assad’s guilt is “beyond doubt” (Macron), that the attack was “right and legal” (May).
The fact that last night’s airstrikes occurred just hours before OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) investigators were due to arrive at the scene of the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, near Damascus, also speaks to the West’s desperation. Rather than wait to hear news from those inspectors that would likely indicate or prove that no such chemical attack had occurred there last week, the Americans, French and British raced to ‘spend’ their ‘justification’ for military action before the cheque bounced. The investigators have now reached Damascus, and if they’re allowed to actually do their work properly, they will discover what their organization certified four years ago: the Syrian government has neither ‘stockpiles’ nor ‘production facilities’ of chemical weapons.
The Russian Ministry of Defense says that 71 of these missiles were shot down by Syrian anti-missile defenses. The Russian MoD also made a point of stating that the Syrian anti-missile defenses used (S-120, S-200, BuK) were “Cold War era“. All in all, the ‘precision’ attack on three ‘chemical weapons’ facilities was a farce. Syrians were dancing on the streets of Damascus this morning, even as their city’s air defence systems launched missiles to meet one of Trump’s shiny, “smart” Tomahawks:
This round of airstrikes now marks two successive incidents in the space of one year in which a contrived ‘chemical attack’ false-flag event in Syria has sparked howling in the Western media about ‘chemical weapons’, Trump and other Western leaders promising hell to pay, and NATO forces subsequently launching what amounts to token airstrikes.
Like last year, both Russia and Syria were informed of the airstrikes – although not the exact targets – in advance. This time, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, said that the US did not “do any coordination with the Russians on the strikes, nor did we pre-notify them,” while also stating that the Pentagon “specifically identified targets” to “mitigate the risk of Russian forces being involved.” To whatever extent ‘deconfliction’ took place, the message was implicitly communicated by the West’s limited choice and scope of military action.
Echoing George W Bush’s premature statement about the Iraq invasion in 2003, Trump declared ‘Mission Accomplished!’, praised the “perfectly executed strike” and thanked the UK for its “wisdom and the power of their fine military.” A perfect counter to such bluff and bluster, and the impotency of the West’s airstrikes, was a video posted on President Assad’s Twitter account of him nonchalantly going to work this morning, as usual:
رئاسة الجمهورية العربية السورية pic.twitter.com/hhIZT6cOTe
— Syrian Presidency (@Presidency_Sy) April 14, 2018
This video shows a successful intercept of one of Trump’s “smart” missiles:
Not so smart then.
In his televised speech announcing the airstrikes, Trump twice referred to WW1. I find it fitting that the US president’s speech-writers should frame this flaccid attack in the context of the ‘Great War’. Chemical weapons, though first used to deadly effect in that war by the German military, were substantially used by the British and French forces. Porton Down was established at that time, first as a testing facility, and remains today a major center for the production of chemical weapons. While its chemical weapons facilities in and around Salisbury are officially limited to the production of ‘non-lethal’ chemical weapons like ‘tear gas’, it is no coincidence that canisters of smoke bombs marked ‘Made in Salisbury, England’ were among the arsenals of weapons discovered by Syrian forces as they cleared terrorist enclaves in Ghouta last month.
But the larger point concerning WW1 as a frame of reference for this American-British-French assault on Syria is the fact that that war marked the beginning of those three countries’ domination of the Middle East – along with the bastard child they initially birthed during that war: Israel. As part of the primary goal of destroying German military and trade competitiveness with Anglo-American-French ‘management’ of the world, the Western Order was keen to cut off German and Russian ‘incursion’ into the oil-rich Middle East. And so they rallied the Arabs to rise up against Ottoman rule, then betrayed them mercilessly by carving the region into ‘protectorates’ we today call Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, etc. They have been playing one Middle Eastern country against another ever since. But now there’s a new sheriff in town, and this one plays fair: Russia has brought order to the region, heralding the end of the West’s domination there.
Trump concluded in his pre-bombing speech:
“What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murderer of innocent men, women and children? The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nation can succeed, in the long run, by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants, and murderous dictators.”
Wise words. Now if only the US establishment would apply them to itself.
The farce we witnessed in Syria last night is why this is not a ‘nuclear Armageddon’ scenario. Russia and the US (including all other parties in Syria) are conducting a dance of sorts there. Sure, it’s dangerous, and yes, it’s serious – people get killed after all – but the situation is nowhere near as literally existential for life on Earth as they make it out to be.
The bottom line for the US, UK and France is that they need to be SEEN to be powerful. Weapons manufacturers depend on it; their reputation as ‘leaders of the free World’ depends on it; and, most critically, petrodollar hegemony depends on it. The bottom line for Russia is, apparently, that it is content to cater to that need provided it is limited to just that – a DISPLAY of power.
Some are wondering why the Russians “didn’t do anything to stop this.” If the interception success rate was as good as claimed by the Russian MoD (and there is no reason to believe it wasn’t), then this points to the Russians having successfully upgraded those systems since arriving in Syria three years ago. In addition, the Russian MoD has in the past claimed that it has advisors and military personnel are embedded throughout Syria’s military infrastructure, and that all of Syria’s military activity is centrally coordinated from the Russian base in Latakia. And so, in effect, Russia ‘pretended’ that Syria alone defended itself from the Western powers.
There will be no regime change in Syria. There will be no ‘hot war’ between the US and Russia. The Western Alliance arguably lost this back in August 2013 when the first fake ‘Ghouta chemical weapons attack’ failed to galvanize sufficient confidence for ‘shock-and-awe’ in Syria. In the meantime, the Syrian government has become impenetrable to ‘decapitation from the air’, and Russia has acquired the might to neutralize the West’s doctrine of ‘might makes right’.
And the rest, as they say, is propaganda.