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Developments concerning Syria continue to move very quickly. On Saturday, September 14, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced their governments had reached an agreement to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons. It reportedly called for the Syrian government to disclose its chemical weapons stockpile within a week, and for international inspectors to be on the ground in Syria by November to enforce the agreement.
This comes less than a week after President Barack Obama was openly preparing for a military assault on Syria and following a week of intense political and diplomatic struggle on the international stage and within the U.S. ruling class—as well as widespread opposition to war among the people. The agreement is being spun as, and might mean, the threat of a U.S. military strike has receded—at least for the time being. (The U.S., Russia, and other world powers may also be struggling out other, broader plans concerning Syria and the Middle East behind the scenes.) At the same time, the rulers of the U.S. and their media are working to set terms where at any moment they can declare that the Syrians or other parties are not living up to whatever the U.S. says has been agreed on, and the U.S. could launch a military strike justified with claims that they had gone the last mile in diplomacy first.
This latest turn toward an internationally imposed “diplomatic” approach to the horrific crisis in Syria was greeted by many progressives with a sigh of relief, labeling it a rejection of war in favor of diplomacy. William Rivers Pitt, Truthout: “It is a refreshing change of pace to see diplomacy at work after so many years of bomb first and ask questions later…” Or Robert Naiman, also on Truthout: “With War Off the Table, It’s Time for Syria Cease-Fire, Negotiations and Talking to Iran.” Then a joint statement by Jesse Jackson and Phyllis Bennis: “From War to Peace: Forceful Diplomacy, Not Military Force in Syria.” (Common Dreams and elsewhere)
This is NOT what’s happening. Whatever agreements are being hammered out by that cabal of rival imperialist states, big powers, and other reactionary regimes otherwise known as the United Nations or the “international community” are being done to suit their interests, not those of humanity. So fairy tales and delusions about turning from “war to peace,” and the wonders of “diplomacy at work” aren’t hopeful—they’re harmful! The only thing they will disarm—politically and ideologically—are those people who are influenced by them, obscuring reality and weakening resistance.
Emergency Presentation and Discussion on Syria with Larry Everest, Sept. 9, 2013
Watch this video recording of an emergency presentation by Larry Everest at Revolution Books in Berkeley, California, on September 9, 2013.
First, events—which have been unfolding very rapidly—could bring the “military option” front and center again, and Obama has made clear that military action is still “on the table”—with or without UN authorization.
Second, what is taking place is not a step toward eliminating horrific weapons of mass destruction. What’s taking place is that the tyrannical, murderous regime of a small, oppressed country is being forced under threat of bombardment to partially disarm by reactionary powers with far, far, far greater arsenals of death and destruction—including nuclear weapons that are qualitatively more savage and dangerous than chemical weapons—precisely in order to preserve their monopoly over these weapons of cataclysmic death and destruction.
Third, the Obama team may be calculating that because it lacks any good or easy options in Syria, striking this deal can be to its advantage, including because by appearing to “give peace a chance” it can build greater support for a possible military assault later if that is deemed necessary.
Fourth, as all this—and decades of history—shows, U.S. diplomacy, negotiations, and arms inspections—like military actions—are all about imperialism, nothing else. They don’t represent an attempt to arrive at a “fair” or “just” resolution of conflicts or to abolish weapons of mass destruction. Conducting diplomacy, and seeking various negotiated agreements, including at times around arms inspections and disarmament, are all part of the “tool kit” the U.S. employs to carry out and advance its global interests and strategy for domination and control. Nor do these means represent a repudiation of military violence—just the opposite. These efforts are based on, backed up, and enforced by the threat or use of military force—and they can murder just as many people as wars can!
This article originally appeared on revcom.us on September 14, 2013.