Air Attacks and Cameron

by Bryan Hemming

What a strange idea removing Bashar Assad will solve all Syria’s problems is. Pray what will become of all the Syrians fighting against his removal? And why should any of us automatically assume the Syrian Army is solely fighting for the survival of Assad just because David Cameron says so. By the same flawed logic can we assume the average British serviceman is fighting for the survival of David Cameron and the Tories?

Present estimates of the Syrian Army put numbers at between 178,000 and 220,000 regular soldiers. Added to that it is believed there are another 80,000 to 100,000 fighting as irregular forces. Bearing that in mind, do US, French and British leaders honestly believe they are all going just to lay down their weapons, go home and wait for ISIS to pop round in order to decapitate them and their families in the unlikely event of hostilities ceasing as a direct result of air attacks? It didn’t work last time, or the time before that. Or even the time before that.

Hasn’t it occurred to Obama, Hollande and Cameron the losers of either side might hold the West responsible for their defeat? In reality, whatever the result, it is most probable all sides will the more they are subjected to air attacks. The terrible truth is that they will be right.

As it has happened before several times very recently, surely, the most likely outcome is that history will repeat itself once again. Do our leaders really think none of the Syrian soldiers risking their lives to support the status quo could possibly think to form their own death squads should they consider the West responsible for their defeat?

Already far more battle-experienced than most British servicemen even a very small percentage of the Syrian Army could go on to wreak havoc in Europe and the US if alienated by events. It might also be taken into account that a sizable number won’t want to risk the option of returning to their homes, even with the promise of a government composed of ‘moderate’ rebels. Would you risk it? And if their families have been killed by the same allied bombs, that saw their homes destroyed, they won’t have anything left to lose.

The idea the entire Syrian Army is fighting to keep Assad at the helm of Syria is as dangerous as it is plain stupid. Most soldiers will literally be fighting for their lives and the lives of their families. Assad’s future prospects will not be at the forefront of their minds. To assume otherwise is sheer Western arrogance.

If the West really wants to get rid of Assad, the means to do it is staring them in the face. Support the side with an identifiable leader, not a mish-mash of factions even US intelligence can’t untangle, despite having helped arm them.

Though it may seem improbable, to find a suitable parallel to follow, we need only to look at events in Britain immediately following WWII.

The first British general election after the Second World War was held on 5th July 1945, just two months after VE Day. Despite the media confidently predicting a win for wartime leader Winston Churchill, the Tory Party were trounced at the ballot box, as Clement Atlee led the Labour Party to a landslide. Returning servicemen demonstrated they hadn’t fought fascism just to retain Winston Churchill as their leader. By electing Atlee they rightly claimed victory for themselves and democracy. They saw it as rightly belonging to them, and the working class from which the vast majority had come, precisely because they had fought for it. Those not serving the war effort on the battlefield, at sea, or in the skies, had endured five long years of deprivation and bombing at home. They had strived in factories, mines and on the land.

The spectacular election win for Labour was a clear indication the British people had not fought for their leader or their king, but for themselves, their families and their futures. Experience of being ruled by a greedy elite for most of history showed them the Labour Party was the only route that would lead to them improving their lot. And there’s the rub, in common with nearly all Western leaders the last thing David Cameron wants is a president in Syria who represents the working class and democracy. So what’s Labour’s excuse?

Not to recognise historic similarities with the post-war general election in Britain could turn out to be the biggest mistake the Parliamentary Labour Party will ever make. Voting to join airstrikes in the House of Commons on Wednesday will be a vote against their own party members. Not only has the legality of such strikes not been established, many believe they will be illegal under present international law. To vote for war is effectively to vote for consigning the Labour Party to dustbin of history. There won’t be a second chance.


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Dec 2, 2015 9:54 AM

As a life long Labour voter increasingly disillusioned with ‘New’ Labour and Blairism, the feebleness of Milliband and his me too but a bit milder austerity, forced me to vote Green in May. Yes, I know it was a ‘wasted’ vote, but then so have all my votes as I have always lived in a solid red or blue constituency anyway.
The election of Corbyn has given me new hope that Labour can return to the party it should be and persuade me to return to Labour next time round.
Voting in favour of bombing will mean New Labour remains alive and alien to me. The heart and soul of the party is at stake. If the new labourites get their way and oust Corbyn, I will never vote Labour again, and I am sure the party will whither and die.

Derek Brown
Derek Brown
Dec 2, 2015 6:19 AM

Cameron is a Blair 2. He is just doing what he is told to do by america. They need a war right now. They are losing syria, hail hail to the syrian people. For standing up for their country. I would do the same for England. Isis is britain’s child. To wreck havoc in the middle east, Cameron, no muslim is attacking britain. Just false flags. Disgrace you are Mr Cameron

Marc Krizack
Marc Krizack
Dec 2, 2015 2:35 AM

Why does “The West” want to get rid of Assad? No one has given a satisfactory answer. They say he has “dropped barrel bombs” or he has “killed 250,000 of his own people.” First, real numbers: From the British group Syrian Observatory For Human Rights: As of August 2015, 240,381 people have been killed. (Al Jazeera) “At least 88,616 regime forces were killed – or one third all deaths documented by the SOHR …”

“The monitor, which relies on a wide network of sources on the ground, put the death toll for rebel fighters at 42,384 and said 34,375 foreign fighters had also been killed in Syria.”

So, the number of non-combattants killed is about 117,000. Now assuming all this is true, (even though it would be foolish to assume that all civilian deaths were caused by regime forces) when did Assad kill all these people? Why, it happened mostly during what started out as a civil war 4 years ago and quickly turned into an international battleground. So if the reason for overthrowing Assad is that he killed a lot of people, what was the reason for overthrowing Assad before he killed all those people? In fact, whatever one may think of Assad as hereditary ruler, barrel bombs and numbers of people killed in the war are just fig leaves. Syria was in the Neocon crosshairs since the late 1990s. We should not let people get away with playing loosy-goosy with the facts or the truth.

Dec 2, 2015 2:23 AM

” … If the West really wants to get rid of Assad, the means to do it is staring them in the face. Support the side with an identifiable leader, not a mish-mash of factions even US intelligence can’t untangle, despite having helped arm them …”

Bryan, what you are suggesting is just as dangerous and (to be honest) stupid as what the West is doing now in Syria. The West has supported “opposition leaders” in other countries in the past and helped them come to power with colour revolutions, only to see these leaders, once in power, wreck their countries’ economies and politicis with austerity policies in the name of “deregulation” or “reform”. Georgia is one example and I fear that Myanmar under Aung San Suu Kyi (technically not allowed to be President but apparently she’ll be telling the President what to do) will be another.

Bryan Hemming
Bryan Hemming
Dec 2, 2015 8:01 AM
Reply to  Jen

I think you have misunderstood my intentions, which is probably my fault. But you might’ve noted I suggest Labour MPs vote against supporting air attacks, and that is the point of the article.

The reality is that the West has been deeply involved in Syria from the start, and now appears to be supporting all sides at once, at the same time as pretending to support nobody. We can’t turn back history; the fighting is going on now, and a solution has to be found.

You say “The West has supported “opposition leaders…”. Though you don’t give examples, I can only assume you mean countries like Iraq, Libya, Ukraine and Egypt. Assad is not an opposition leader, and it is Assad to whom I am referring when I state “the side with an identifiable leader, not a mish mash of factions”. I’m sorry if that doesn’t come over clearly.

Assad is the elected president, and despite a chequered history, Syria has remained comparatively stable under his leadership. The support the West has given to opposition leaders in many countries throughout the world, solely in order to undermine democracy and shore up its own dominance, is the heart of the problem in my view.

Nevertheless, in some ways you are wrong, in saying the West has merely ‘supported’ opposition leaders. The truth is that the US, in particular, has a long history of inciting, financing, arming and training opposition forces solely in order to create the mayhem and death that lead to regime change and tyrrany. The same tactics have been used in Syria.

The West needs to support Assad in order to re-establish stability. Only then can the talks begin and elections take place without Western interference.

I hope I’ve cleared that up for you.

Dec 2, 2015 12:11 PM
Reply to  Bryan Hemming

Thanks for replying to my comment. I was uncomfortable with what the paragraph in question seemed to suggest and I saw that another commenter had also objected to it.

I’m aware that supporting “opposition” leaders and politicians like, for example, Alexei Navalny in Russia or Moussavi in Iran (in the presidential elections in Iran in 2009 which returned Ahmadinejad for a 2nd term) is one of a number of tactics (including inciting, financing, arming and training opposition forces, and the use of colour revolutions and false flag events) used by the US and its allies to effect regime change through violence and chaos. In my original reply, I was specifically targeting the tactic of using (or creating and building up) an identifiable leader as one way in which the West weakens support for a sitting leader because this is what I interpreted the paragraph to be saying.

The fact that British Labour Party MPs are free to vote as they wish in Parliament on whether or not UK airstrikes should go ahead is already a defeat for Jeremy Corbyn. What he should have done was organise a caucus or internal referendum in which BLP members vote on the issue and whatever is the majority vote becomes the BLP’s platform and that goes straight to Parliament in its stark purity.

Dec 2, 2015 12:17 AM

President Assad is in power because the people there want him to be. At no point as far as I know in the past for four/five years since this all started as his leadership been threatened by any moderate legitimate Syrian opposition.

An army will fight for his family, his community, but he will also fight for his country, and that is wrapped up in the system of leadership.

Syria it is clearer day by day has been made worse by the western interventionists.

Geoff Bridges
Geoff Bridges
Dec 1, 2015 11:46 PM

The quickest end to the Syrian conflict is to persuade any moderates in the FSA to join Assad and the SAA against ISIL and the Islamist rebels and once they are defeated have a democratic, negotiated settlement and any alleged war crimes investigated. It should be up to the Syrian people to decide who governs their country and for how long.
In 2013 a survey showed 70% of Syrians supported Assad. In the 2014 elections 10.3 million Syrians voted for Assad out of an adult population of 15.8 million including those in rebel held areas and refugees in foreign countries, he received 78% of the popular vote. Independent observers from 30 countries described the election as “free, fair and transparent”. Therefore the vast majority of Syrians support Assad and the help from Russia and Iran. http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/10/deconstructing-the-nato-narrative-on-syria/

Paul Wyatt
Paul Wyatt
Dec 2, 2015 8:04 AM
Reply to  Geoff Bridges

I thought that The USA believed in democracy and here we are supporting insurgent forces that use violence to get into power. Let’s have an election…

Dec 1, 2015 11:23 PM

‘If the West really wants to get rid of Assad, the means to do it is staring them in the face….’
– frankly, I have a problem with that and the rest of the article. Syria is a sovereign state and ONLY Syrians a have right to decide who governs them, no one else – and as it stands, Assad enjoys huge popular support. Everyone keeps making off the cuff remarks about Assad without providing any evidence (enough of the barrel bombs or that he has killed more than ISIS has, please, and excesses of the armed forces a devil does not make)

Bryan Hemming
Bryan Hemming
Dec 2, 2015 8:09 AM
Reply to  sidney

I seem to have stirred up a hornet’s nest here. Let me state clearly, I am not sanctioning the West’s actions, as is made abundantly clear by the fact I state Labour should vote against Britain joining the fray.

The truth is if the real objective of the West is to get rid of Assad then the best way to do it would be the option the Russians have put on the table, which is to establish stability and have elections. Nowhere do I state that I want to get rid of Assad, unless you think I am the West. I am questioning the real motives of the West by the example you give. Read it again!

Dec 2, 2015 11:52 AM
Reply to  Bryan Hemming

Starting a paragraph with “If the West really wants to get rid of Assad, the means to do it is staring them in the face….” was like waving a red cape in front of a crazed bull in a corrida. The rest of the article seemed a bit skewed after that as well.

The most the West can do is to co-operate with Russia, get rid of ISIS and all its allies, and agree on an appropriate transition to democratic government in Syria. But the choice of leader ultimately lies with the Syrian people themselves. If Assad runs for power again, and the Syrians elect him again, then the West will have to learn to respect and deal with him.

For his part, Jeremy Corbyn should have appealed publicly to the British Labour Party’s grassroots supporters to support his anti-war stand. He should not have allowed himself to be led into a position where he could be bullied by Hilary Benn and his pro-war faction into allowing a free vote for Labour MPs in Parliament. Corbyn will not come out looking good among Tories and BLP members alike.