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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Antiwar.com's confusion on Obama's Syria Poilicy

I have been saying for over a year now that Obama has been playing "good cop" to Putin's "bad cop" on Syria but the reality is that they both are on the "same page" of trying to defeat the Syrian Revolution.

For those like Antiwar.com, who is apparently unfamiliar with the good cop/bad cop tactic, let me quote from WikiPedia:
'Good cop/bad cop' tactics involves a team of two interrogators who take apparently opposing approaches to the subject. The interrogators may interview the subject alternately or may confront the subject at the same time.

The 'bad cop' takes an aggressive, negative stance towards the subject, making blatant accusations, derogatory comments, threats, and in general creating antipathy between the subject and himself. This sets the stage for the 'good cop' to act sympathetically: appearing supportive, understanding, in general showing sympathy for the subject.
The important thing to understand about this tactic was put succinctly by television producer Bernie Brillstein, who said that one should never forget that "Good Cop/ Bad Cop Means There's Two Bad Cops."

If one is not familiar with the role of the "good cop" in this common police tactic, one might conclude that the "good cop" is confused because while he says one thing, he does another.

This is the position of AntiWar.com as expressed today in John Glazer's piece Obama’s Confused Syria Policy: Pro/Anti-Assad & Pro/Anti-Rebel. That is why he begins his essay by saying:
Obama’s Syria policy is fundamentally one of contradictions. Back in 2011, the president called for Bashar al-Assad to step down and proceeded to gradually support the armed rebellion. As Joshua Landis, professor at the University of Oklahoma and an expert on Syria, wrote back at the time, “Let’s be clear: Washington is pursuing regime change by civil war in Syria.”
They know that merely "calling for" Assad to "step down" is not the same as acting to remove Assad and as the last year has shown there really isn't much substance to the "gradual support" he has given to those seeking to oust Assad, especially given that this revolution is now two and a half years old, and the US has yet to provide even small arms to the resistance, so they invoke the words of an "expert on Syria" to assure us that Obama really is pursuing a policy of "regime change" in Syria.

The US pursued a policy of regime change in Afghanistan, then Iraq and most recently even in Libya. After witnessing those vigorous military assaults, AntiWar.com is going to need a whole battalion of experts to convince anyone rational that the US is pursuing the same policy of "regime change" in Syria. But without this declaration, Obama's "confusion" fades away and AntiWar.com's confusion comes to the fore. AntiWar.com, and many others in the anti-interventionist Left are becoming befuddled because they continue to believe Obama has been pursuing a policy of "regime change" in Syria but his actions don't support that conclusion.

They think Obama is confused because he says one thing and does another, but the confusion is entirely with AntiWar.com. Obama knows exactly what he is doing. In the world of politics, saying one thing while doing another is not a sign of confusion it is the tactic of deception and that is exactly what "good cops" do.

AntiWar.com's confusion shows early on because right after invoking Josha Landis to assure us that Obama's policy is one of "regime change" in Syria, it goes on to contradict itself:
At the same time, the Obama administration did not welcome the fall of the regime in Damascus. As the State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said back in January, even as the U.S. supports the Syrian opposition on the margins, it is of utmost importance to “maintain the functions of the state,”
From the point of view of the imperialists, there is really nothing contradictory about a "show" of support for a progressive movement while working to maintain the status quo, that is SOP for them. Only those that are hopelessly confused themselves would think this is a sign of confusion on the part of Obama.

So Obama wants to “maintain the functions of the state” but as any observer of the Syrian revolution can tell you, the main function of the Syrian state in the past couple years has been to brutally suppress the aspirations of its people, and AntiWar.com still thinks he supports the overthrow of the Syrian state but is a little confused?

They attempt resolve that contradiction by implying that Obama was really for regime change before he was against it:
As Phil Giraldi, former CIA intelligence officer and Antiwar.com columnist, told me back in March, “Obama has come around to the view that regime change is more fraught with dangers than letting Assad remain.”
But then their very next sentence undermines that thesis:
Instead of moving initially to directly arm the rebels, the Obama administration stalled for two years and made policy moves like designating the al-Qaeda in Iraq offshoot in Syria a terrorist organization and pressuring Saudi Arabia not to send heavier arms like anti-aircraft weapons.
So even while Obama was in "regime change" mode, according them, he refused to arm the rebels, put one anti-Assad group on his hit list, and worked to convince others not to arm the rebels. The essay then goes on the state the contradiction this way:
So while Obama’s policy, at least as stated, was the fall of the Assad regime, he also tried to prevent its collapse. And even as U.S. policy was to support – and, indeed, now to arm – the rebels, it was also to divide and conquer the opposition and fight al-Qaeda’s rise in Syria.
Does AntiWar.com not understand that contradiction between policy, "at least as stated", and real policy is standard for neo-liberal imperialists? In fact its one of their defining characteristics.

For more than two years now AntiWar.com has promoted the view that the Syrian rebels were merely proxies for NATO. Their main proof should have been the way Washington has been vigorously arming its proxies. Except Washington hasn't. So instead they treat Washington's "good cop" promise to arm Assad's opposition as though it were the real thing. The claim that finally he is "now to arm - the rebels" links to another AntiWar.com piece written a month ago, 12 July 2013, that begins:
In discussions with Saudi King Abdullah, President Obama reiterated his “commitment” to arming Syrian rebels, a pledge he initially made a month ago, but which so far hasn’t led to any deliveries of US arms.
It has now been another month since then, so two months from Obama's "commitment", with another ten thousand Syrians dead, and they have yet to deliver bullet one to the opposition, yet AntiWar.com still clings to this promise as proof that Obama is really backing Assad's opposition.

Where's the confusion?

The Independent did an investigation into arms received from the West and published its finding on Sunday:
Revealed: What the West has given Syria's rebels

Britain has so far handed over equipment worth £8m - but can it help on the front line?
Kim Sengupta
11 August 2013
So far the UK has sent around £8m of “non-lethal” aid, according to official papers seen by The Independent, comprising five 4x4 vehicles with ballistic protection; 20 sets of body armour; four trucks (three 25 tonne, one 20 tonne); six 4x4 SUVs; five non-armoured pick-ups; one recovery vehicle; four fork-lifts; three advanced “resilience kits” for region hubs, designed to rescue people in emergencies; 130 solar powered batteries; around 400 radios; water purification and rubbish collection kits; laptops; VSATs (small satellite systems for data communications) and printers. In addition, funds have been allocated for civic society projects such as inter-community dialogue and gathering evidence of human rights abuses. The last “gift” to the opposition, announced by William Hague last week, is that £555,000 worth of counter-chemical warfare equipment is on standby.
Any military aid from Britain will not arrive until Parliament returns from its summer break. Last month the Commons approved by 114 votes to one a motion calling for the “explicit consent” of MPs, in both debate and vote, before weapons are sent to Syria.

France was instrumental, alongside the UK, in lifting the European Union arms embargo on Syria which would allow supplies to be sent to the rebels. But the messages from the Hollande government on the issue have been ambiguous. Last month Foreign minister Laurent Fabius stated that it would not be possible to send weapons as they may fall into the wrong hands and end up being used against France.
In June the US administration announced that it would give “direct military aid” to the rebels because the Assad regime had crossed the “red line” set by Barack Obama when it used chemical weapons on the rebels. Until then congressional committees had blocked the sending of arms because of the jihadist threat but now, two months on, opposition fighters say they are yet to see much sign of the new armaments. In any event, US officials say that in the immediate future only small arms are likely to be dispatched and even then only after careful vetting of the groups that are getting them. More...
These merger supplies have had minimal effect on the battlefield and only an imbecile would say this is how NATO supplies its proxies and only someone with terminal confusion would call this a policy of "regime change."

The AntiWar.com piece goes on:
Former CIA analyst Paul Pillar echoed the sentiment: “In the short term probably the best outcome in that respect would be prompt re-establishment of control by the Assad regime.”

Mind you, that doesn’t mean Washington should start directly supporting Assad. I don’t think that, and neither, presumably, do these CIA guys. The Obama administration has shown, in its words and its reluctance to fully commit to a proxy war against Assad,
I have said all along that Obama has been indirectly supporting Assad, so it is cold comfort to know that AntiWar.com doesn't think Obama should directly support this brutal fascist regime. But how can you call it a "proxy war" and then claim that the masters are reluctant? I mean really, what kind of proxy war can it be if the so-called "proxies" are clearly far more committed to the cause than their presumed masters?

I have maintained all along that this whole "proxy war" line was really a racist slap at people who have been spilling their own blood and treasure for freedom. It is a way of saying they are fighting Assad because they have been duped into it by Westerners.

To add to the confusion, they see Obama as supporting the rebels not out of "regime change" ambitions but because of a misguided popular demand for humanity:
But the president has still bowed to pressure from the most superficially informed that we “do something” to stop the caricatured formulation of this civil war that it is a ruthless dictator slaughtering his own people and nothing more.
Now I have to admit that I am confused. What are they trying to say here? Are they trying to say Assad is not "a ruthless dictator slaughtering his own people?" Are they saying that really doesn't matter because there is more to it than that? Or are they saying the people who think something should be done about "a ruthless dictator slaughtering his own people" are "superficially informed?"

Near the end of the piece they quote Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as "to the need to preserve a functioning state" in Syria. That doesn't sound like a policy of "regime change" to me. Therefore I think the first sentence of the last paragraph better describes AntiWar.com's analysis of the Syrian conflict, than it does Obama's Syria policy:
It seems a confused, panicky approach.

For more on Obama's real Syria policy, see these other posts by me:
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad Exposed!
Obama "green lights" Assad's slaughter in Syria
Assad's Redline and Obama's Greenlight!
Chemical weapons use reported in Syria, Has Obama's red-line has been crossed?
AP weighs in on Obama's Green Light for Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syria: Obama's moves Assad's "red line" back as SOHR reports 42,000 dead!
SecState John Kerry and his "dear friend" Bashar al-Assad
How Obama's 'No MANPADS for you' policy in Syria is backfiring

More thoughts on Obama's 'No MANPADS for you!' policy
Obama: Did the CIA betray Assad's opposition in Syria? 

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

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