My Archives




Статья про войну с ISIS…

Share this:

На мой взгляд, — интересная.

After the military corrupted the English language with “collateral damage”, I’d like to introduce the equally dainty and equally misleading “collateral benefit”. I hope you like the smooth way the euphemism oozes from the lips; the imperceptible subtlety with which it shuffles off responsibility.

The phrase implies, without being so crude as to say so out loud, that the west does not intend mass murderers to benefit from its wars any more than it intends civilians to die in its airstrikes. If when the accountants of violence make their reckoning, the dictators are as triumphant as the civilians are dead, that is no concern of ours.

Bashar Assad is now enjoying the collateral benefits of western foreign policy. It is not that he, and by extension Iran and Hezbollah, is our formal ally. We still have our standards, after all. If their power is strengthened, and the bombing and slaughtering of civilians continues, we regret it, naturally. These are unintended side-effects no one can expect us to control.

Human suffering is not a competition. You can’t measure mounds of corpses and reserve your criticism for the highest. Yet when Barack Obama addressed the UN, he did not even glance at the mountain of bodies in Syria. He described the war crimes of Islamic State, but did not once say that clerical fascism had been nurtured by the bloodier war Assad had launched against the Syrian version of the Arab spring.

“We will support Iraqis and Syrians fighting to reclaim their communities,” Obama cried. But only if they were fighting to reclaim them from Islamic State.

Between 2011, when peaceful demonstrators demanded the removal of a Ba’athist dictatorship that has tyrannised Syria since 1963, and April this year, the UN said that 191,000 people had been killed – the figure is “probably an underestimate”, it added. About nine million Syrians have fled their homes. To comprehend the catastrophe the Assad regime has brought, you must imagine an apocalyptic Britain where the entire population of London – and then some – run for their lives. Assad has launched chemical weapons attacks on the suburbs of his own capital. The gallant Syrian air force has dropped incendiary bombs on school playgrounds. Uncounted thousands, including relief workers, lawyers and doctors, have disappeared into his prisons where their jailers have beaten, mutilated and raped them.

Obama might have thrown every condemnation he threw at Islamic State at the Assad regime. Both have “terrorised all whom they come across” in Syria. Both have subjected “mothers, sisters and daughters to rape as a weapon of war”. Both “have gunned down innocent children”. But while Obama said Islamic State had shocked “the conscience of the world”, he could not manage one word about Assad.

I accept that the conscience of the world is as flexible as an iPhone. And I have mentioned before how Mr Obama’s bends with the wind. But his behaviour, and that of the wider west, remains extraordinary. We are going to war against a barbaric enemy, but no one is talking about the barbarism that helped create it. That airstrikes against Assad’s enemies must strengthen his chances of survival is not a fit subject for discussion.

I am tempted to write that Obama’s willingness to aid criminals is Nixonian. Authorities on the Middle East are already looking at the diplomatic exchanges with Tehran and speculating that he is edging towards his own Nixon in China moment. Nadim Shehadi of Chatham House says that Assad must be waiting for the news that Obama is prepared to allow him to dominate Syria and his Iranian puppetmasters to dominate Iraq and Lebanon as well. Perhaps, however, the comparison with the worst of his predecessors is too kind to Obama. Nixon and Kissinger would do anything and support anyone who was against the Soviet Union. For all their crimes, they had a brutal singlemindedness. I struggle to find coherence of any kind in Obama’s foreign policy.

Pages: 1 2

Leave a Reply