A magnificent Morning Star column by Neil Clark:
The West stepped up its intervention in the Syrian civil war this week, with the United States formally recognising the rebel coalition as "the legitimate representative" of the Syrian people. As with France and Britain before it this is presented as an entirely reactive step, a response to events on the ground in Syria. The truth is rather different.
After the end of the cold war many hoped we'd be entering a new era of peace and international co-operation. Nato could be disbanded, our nuclear weapons could go and the money saved - the so-called "peace dividend" - could be spent on alleviating poverty. But Western rulers had other ideas. The fall of the Soviet Union left a terrible power vacuum as there was no longer any real check on Western imperialism. Instead of peace, we've had war, war and more war.
Over the past 20 years the US and its allies have intervened militarily in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. And now they're threatening Syria and Iran. It's a mistake to see these wars as stand-alone conflicts. They're all part of the same war - the war for total Western military and economic global domination. Each intervention has followed a similar pattern and has been preceded by lies that would have made Goebbels proud.
Back in 1999 we were told by a certain Tony Blair that we simply had to intervene in Kosovo because Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic was "set on a Hitler-style genocide equivalent to the extermination of the Jews during World War II." It wasn't true. In fact a low-level conflict was bubbling away in Yugoslavia between the Western-backed Kosovo Liberation Army terror organisation and government forces. It was a conflict purposely stoked up by the West to provide a pretext for military assault and the final dismemberment of Yugoslavia. In the words of George Kenney, an official at the US State Department's Yugoslav office, "in post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalisation."
In 2001 we were told we had to attack Afghanistan because the government there was hiding Osama bin Laden. But plans to attack the Taliban had already been made before the September 11 attacks. In 2003 we were told - once again by Blair - that we had to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that "could be activated within 45 minutes." That too of course was a blatant lie. Last year we were told we had to intervene in Libya for "humanitarian reasons" as Colonel Gadaffi was going to massacre the citizens of Benghazi. Regime change was not the aim - we, the West, were intervening to save lives. And of course that was a lie too.
Let's take a look at the results of these "humanitarian interventions." Former Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia James Bisset has described the results of the 1999 war in an article entitled Towards a Mafia State in Kosovo. He tells of "a systematic purging of the non-Albanian population and a rampage of revenge killing and destruction. Kosovo, since its so-called liberation from Serbia, has become a failed state with massive unemployment, crime and corruption." Nevertheless, Bisset says, "Kosovo is the stepchild of the US-led Nato powers, and therefore must be seen as a success. Nato and its cheerleaders cannot admit to failure."
In Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom has brought over 10 years of death and destruction to Afghan civilians as well as soldiers from Britain and other countries. In Iraq around a million people have been killed since the invasion. The country has effectively been destroyed, torn apart by civil war. Libya's a similar case. As Guardian columnist Seumas Milne has said: "If the Libyan war was about saving lives it was a catastrophic failure." Nato's actions increased the death toll tenfold, and since then we've seen ongoing vicious tribal warfare and racist attacks on black Africans. Now the war machine that sowed death and destruction from Belgrade to Baghdad and from Kabul to Tripoli has moved on to Iran and Syria. And once again the lies have been outrageous.
In Syria we're told that President Bashar al-Assad has no or very little support and is only being kept in power by the dastardly Russians, who are only concerned with their own self-interest - unlike the West, of course. But it's Western powers and their regional allies which have been helping to push Syria towards civil war. Intervention against Syria has already begun. In the summer the New York Times reported that CIA officers were operating secretly in Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters would receive arms to fight the Syrian government. Philip Giraldi, a former CIA field officer, revealed earlier this year in the American Conservative magazine that French and British special forces were on the ground in Turkey assisting the Syrian rebels, while the CIA and US special ops were providing equipment and intelligence to help the rebel cause.
The West wants us to believe that it's like a firefighter, wanting to put out the blaze currently raging in Syria. But the reality is that they're the arsonists. Hillary Clinton and William Hague would like us to think they want to see a democratic Syria. But attempts by Russia and China to bring rebels and the government to the negotiating table have been pooh-poohed. In February Syrians voted in a referendum for a new, democratic constitution, which was backed by 89 per cent of those voting. As Russia Today reported, the vote was a historic one since it would "put an end to five decades of one-party rule."
What was the reaction of the Western powers? This was a "cynical ploy," according to Clinton. A "sham," according to German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. The European Union responded to the move by slapping even tougher sanctions on Damascus. In fact, democracy is the very last thing the Western imperialists want to see in Syria. They want to forcibly replace the Ba'athist government there with a new puppet regime. The greatest crime of the Assad government in their eyes is not its human rights record. Countries with worse records are Western allies. It is that Syria is an ally of Iran and Russia, and supports the Palestinian resistance. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has said Assad's fall would be a blow to Hezbollah and Hamas.
The hypocrisy of the so-called "liberal interventionists" is glaring. We must intervene in Syria to stop civilians being murdered by the government. But they didn't say the same thing when Lebanese civilians were being killed by Israeli air strikes in 2006, or when Palestinian women and children were slaughtered in the brutal and repeated Israeli assaults on Gaza. I won't accept lectures on morality from the defenders of Operation Cast Lead, or the assault on Lebanon where a third of those killed were under the age of 12, or the fans of the crime of the century, the illegal and murderous invasion of Iraq.
Syria is being targeted because regime change in Damascus is an essential preliminary to an attack on Iran. And again, with Iran, the lies have been outrageous. Iran threatens us all with its nuclear weapons programme, we're told, by the same people who peddled the lie about Iraqi WMDs. You wouldn't think they have the nerve, but they do. Iran has every right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, which is what it says it is doing. And even if it were secretly developing nuclear weapons, why are the Western powers and Israel allowed them if it isn't? Unlike those countries, Iran hasn't attacked anyone.
The war against Iran has already begun. Its scientists have been murdered in cold blood, including one who was shot dead outside his daughter's nursery school last summer. If Western scientists were being murdered by Iranian secret agents the planes to bomb Tehran would be leaving within the hour. And Iran is subject to ever tighter economic sanctions. We need to expose the lies of the warmongers and put our country on a radically different path - that of peace, justice and respect for international law.