‘Root of all evil - US interventionism’
RT: The White House has approved strikes in support of the Syrian rebels and now the US is calling Assad the main evil in Syria. How likely is it that future American attacks will target Syrian government forces?
Daniel McAdams: Clearly it’s an escalation, the indications are all there. But I’ll tell you what is the root of all evil in the region and that is US interventionism; that’s not to say the US is the root, but the interventionist impulse. Everywhere the interventionists have stricken the region it has left a disaster on its way. Look at Libya. How can they objectively say that they left it a better place? Look at Iraq, it’s a mess. Syria is a mess. They can say whatever they’d like, but the fact of the matter is there was no Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISL] in Syria before the US decided on regime change like there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq before the US invaded. But you do not need to be a supporter of Assad to recognize that if the US strikes the Syrian military and knocks them out of Damascus, IS will soon raise their flag over Damascus and nobody objectively - even if you can’t stand Assad - nobody objectively would say that that is a better result.
RT: Do you think that any blame at all should go to Assad over the creation of IS?
DM: I don’t know. All I know is that Syria faced an insurgency. That insurgency limited the ability of the Syrian security forces to control the country. The US was behind that insurgency therefore they bear responsibility for the "lawlessness” that they are now condemning. So you create lawlessness and then you say that the leader has lost his legitimacy because he can’t control the very lawlessness that you created. It seems absolutely absurd.
RT: Do you fear that Turkey could get more drawn into this conflict?
DM: Turkey is already more involved, they are bombing the Kurds which have been the boots on the ground against IS all along. Turkey for three or four years has turned a blind eye to jihadists crossing back and forth across its borders because it has supported regime change. It has not changed its tune at all, it still believes Assad must go, but now they are attacking US allies. I think it’s also very important that the US is looking for a backdoor UN Security Council resolution under the guise of searching and researching the uses of chemical weapons in Syria. The Russians thus far have been cooperating with the US in this, but they have been slightly wary because this could produce what the US needs, which is some kind of a fig leaf for a coming US invasion. The Russians were fooled on the Libyan UN Security Council resolution. The question remains whether they will be fooled again on this one.
RT: Do you think there’s been much appetite from the US public for example for something like this to happen, for more US involvement in Syria?
DM: The Americans have been terrorized for at least a year now [with the idea] that IS is the worst thing that ever happened. If we don’t fight them they will be coming under our beds and attacking us. So the propaganda has already been laid. It looks like the US is now refocusing propaganda against Assad. Sadly enough, propaganda does work. It has worked throughout history; it stirs up the masses and gives them a taste for war.
US trying to build ‘fantasy force’ in Syria
Political analyst Chris Bambery suggests that there is a growing concern in Washington that Obama is getting dragged into the Syrian civil war.
RT: So far the US has trained only around 50 people - and now many of them are dead or missing. Why is the US effort to train the Syrian rebels apparently proving so ineffective?
Chris Bambery: The people who have killed these people are Al-Nusra front, the Al-Qaeda linked group in Syria, and of course when they see the Americans trying to create this military force what they see is a threat to them and therefore they are going to move immediately to crush that.
And it has to be said that the vast majority of those rebels fighting the Assad regime are linked to groups like IS [Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL] and Al-Nusra Front who are hostile to the Americans. The Americans are saying to put airstrikes to defend these units, these 56 men that they’ve trained which seems fantastical.…They want to organize this new rebel force which is supposedly free from jihadist links, they want to bring down the Assad regime and they want to fight IS. You can’t do all three things. The jihadist groups will not let the Americans build up an independent force loyal to them on the ground in Syria, and at the same time those people are not going to fight the most effective fighters because what you’ve seen was a catastrophe of overrunning of the US backed base by Al-Nusra Front. The jihadist groups will intervene immediately to crush them. So this policy seems a failure, it seems fairly unbelievable given that Obama has said IS is the US’s main enemy. You have the White House spokesperson saying the blame for all of this lies with the Assad regime, when what’s been happening in Syria is a regular pattern of the US intervening, providing money, training rebel forces who then go on and join Al-Nusra Front or IS or others. I should also add, Al-Nusra Front – the people who overrun this US backed base last week of course are also being championed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – key American allies in that region. So this is a complete mess of a strategy and it doesn’t seem the Americans have any way out of this and frankly they are going to waste 500 million dollars in trying to build up this fantasy of a Syrian rebel force loyal to the US and hostile to the jihadists.
RT: Are we likely to see Washington spend even more money on training and equipping the rebels after it acknowledged its program is failing so far?
CB: There is a growing concern in Washington that Obama is getting dragged into the Syrian civil war. Of course there is a nightmare scenario that in ordering more airstrikes against IS and potentially against the Assad regime – who have air defenses, we should remember – that American power could be lost and then there will have to be some rescue attempt. So there is growing disquiet among certain sections of opinion in Washington that the US is going to be dragged into this. But the truth is the airstrikes have been relatively effective when backed up by ground forces in the case of the Kurdish forces in the North, but in the absence of ally ground forces the airstrikes are ineffective. It seems to me that Obama is pursuing a policy which is going to waste money and resources and those arms and finances could, instead of going to this fantasy force, go directly to Al-Nusra Front or IS and therefore aid the very people who Obama says are public enemy number one.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.