Yesterday (3/14) NPR’s “All Things Considered” ran a “discussion” about Syria and the U.S. All options were not on the table – at least not the anti-interventionist option.
Melissa Block hosted three guests seriatim: the aptly named Anne-Marie Slaughter, former “director of planning” at the State Department. Paul Wolfowitz, architect of the criminal war on Iraq and Daniel Serwer, a former U.S. “special envoy” and “coordinator” for the Bosnian Federation. How is that for a broad spectrum of views?
Going first, Slaughter suggested that “no-kill” zones be established but that plan quickly morphed into the need for a supporting air campaign by the U.S. and NATO and “defensive” arms to the pro-Western forces in Syria. When Melissa Block inquired about the nature of a “defensive” arms, Slaughter conceded that there was no way to prevent the arms from being used in other ways, “revenge attacks” and “offensive actions” in Block’s terms.
For Slaughter time is of the essence, because there is “brutality on an extraordinary scale” in Syria (There are indeed 7000 dead in Syria – thousands on each side of the civil war there.) Enter the second guest Paul Wolfowitz whose Iraq war has resulted in the deaths of 1.4 million Iraqis and the displacement of 4 million. That, however, is not to be considered “brutality on an extraordinary scale.” Of course the U.S. was not killing its own people in Iraq but other people – which seems to make it OK. Block and her editors apparently were clueless about the irony of this juxtaposition of Slaughter’s claim and Wolfowitz’s appearance.
What was Wolfowitz’s prescription for Syria? “Defensive weapons.” Where had I heard that before? But Wolfowitz wants more US control over the weapons saying: “Hamas, which used to be in bed with Assad, has now distanced itself from the Assad regime. I’m sure the bad guys are figuring out how they can help the opposition so that they can have a position later.” Hamas the democratically elected government of all Palestinians and still in control of Gaza, daily under an assault by Israel (backed by the U.S.) is of course one of the “bad guys,” the infantile designation for official enemies, at least weak ones. Block concluded by raising what lessons Iraq holds for the present situation in Syria. And Wolfowitz had the answer. The problem was that the US did not invade earlier, in 1991, rather than 2003. No challenge from Block on that one.
So far two guests – one opinion. Surely the third guest, Mr. Serwer must be an anti-interventionist. Early on he made his position quite clear: “I don’t believe that there is a military solution in Syria without a massive U.S. effort to defeat the air defenses, the artillery, the tanks of the Syrian army and I see no will in Washington to do that kind of thing at the moment.”
Serwer simply says he opposes military action because it must be big and costly and there is no will “at the moment” in Washington to do so. That lack of will is due to the fact that the average American is fed up with the endless wars in the Middle East. Serwer continues: “You know, if you take military action, I think you have to think about taking serious military action. And serious military action would be aimed at decapitating this regime. The problem is you don’t know what comes after because there is no really consolidated opposition political structure.” Like Wolfowitz Serwer is concerned about “the bad guys.” Again no opposition to intervention but there is concern that once the dogs of war are unleashed, the new rulers may be one of “the bad guys.”
Serwer tells us that regime change could be effected if only Russia and China would go along. But Russia and China saw what happened in Libya, with “humanitarian” cover used to plunge Libya into an orgy of death and destruction; they are unlikely to be fooled again. So Serwer advises the “opposition” to bang on pans in the middle of the night.
Three interventionists, with one, Serwer, opining that intervention is impractical now so that we have to hope we can effect regime change through diplomatic means. The idea that we have no right to intervene in Syria is not even discussed. The anti-interventionist view is not even considered. Humanitarian Imperialism holds sway in the corridors of NPR.
NPR is one of the main opinion shapers for the intelligentsia in the US, and hence a very valuable asset for the Empire. What is an anti-interventionist to do? This writer has stopped contributing. If I want to listen to the occasional decent show (Car Talk is the only thing that comes to mind.), then I take heart in the fact that my tax dollars more than cover that one hour a week.
John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com