Not that anyone cares, but the United States committed itself to yet another war on Sunday -- yes, April Fool's Day -- as the ever-bellicose Hillary Clinton teamed up with the extremist tyrants in Saudi Arabia and other international humanitarians to supply moolah and military materiel to the rebels in Syria.
The self-proclaimed "Friends of Syria" group has now undertaken to pay the salaries of the "Free Syrian Army" and supply the rebel forces, led largely by Islamist factions -- although Western leaders and their parrot-like media still pretend (at least in public) that the armed uprising is aimed at establishing a groovy secular showcase of pluralistic democracy. The fact that sectarian Sunni factions have seized control of the initially unarmed (and largely secular) protests and are now set on a course of "ethnic cleansing" of the Alawite minority, from which much of the regime's ruling class is drawn is, of course, ignored or downplayed by the ubiquitous cheerleaders for Permanent War in our militarist media-political class. To be sure, Alawites are not the only targets; all other "minorities" -- i.e., anyone, including fellow Sunnis, who do not agree with the sectarians' narrow notions -- are also in the cross-hairs of the sectarians as well.
Just before Hillary and the other April Fools played their deadly prank -- a move absolutely guaranteed to lead to more violence and bloodshed -- one of the leading lights of the initial peaceful protests spoke out against the militarization of the resistance to the odious state regime. As AFP reports:
Fadwa Suleiman, an actress who became an icon of Syria's revolution, is furious that her country's peaceful protest movement has been drawn into armed conflict with the regime.She said she is saddened to see that "the revolution is not going in the right direction, that it is becoming armed, that the opposition which wanted to resist peacefully is playing the game of the regime and that the country is heading for sectarian war".
…Suleiman became a high-profile member of the opposition movement last November when she appeared in footage from the rebel city of Homs that was broadcast on the Al-Jazeera television news network.
The 39-year-old actress, well known in her homeland for her work in theatre, films and television, belongs to the same Alawite religious minority as President Bashar al-Assad. She says that a major reason for her participation in the protests was to do her bit to stop any slide into a sectarian war between factions of the Sunni Muslim majority, Alawites or Christians.
…And that is why she is furious that those "who are arming the Syrian street are willing to do anything to take power in the same way that Bashar Al-Aaasad is ready to do anything to stay in power."
But Ms Suleiman will mourn in vain for the peaceful revolution that was lost. The rampant militarization of the conflict suits our imperial managers (and their various satraps, clients and dependents around the world) very well. Secretary Clinton and her boss, the war-waging Peace Laureate -- along with the crocodile tear-shedders in Congress, aching to "liberate" the Syrian people by inflicting mass death upon them -- are not very interested in the relative merits or demerits of the forces involved in the Syrian conflict. They don't care if the rebels are "playing the game of the regime" by helping foment sectarian war. They don't care if more and more innocent people, on both sides, are being killed and dispossessed and tormented by the war. They don't care if the repressive Asad family regime is replaced by a repressive sectarian regime or, as in Libya, by a gaggle of warring factions, as a result of the war.
All they care about, in the end, is the war itself -- or rather, war itself. Wherever they find incipient conflict, they are eager to exacerbate it, sustain it -- and feed upon it. We have seen this over and over in the past decades, from the Iran-Iraq War, to Guatemala, to El Salvador, to Nicaragua, to Kosovo, to Somalia, to Yemen, to the Philippines, to Afghanistan (in 1980 and 2001, both cases being an intervention on one side of an ongoing civil war), to Pakistan, to Libya and now to Syria. Almost invariably, the policies adopted by the imperial managers (of both parties) make the conflicts worse, fomenting extremist resistance and ever-more violent repression: a deadly cycle that benefits no one -- except the "masters of war."
For as Paul Craig Roberts notes, our Potomac Poobahs now preside over a new kind of empire. It doesn't conquer and settle territories, doesn't seek fame and glory -- hell, it doesn't even win most of the wars it fights. But it gets the job done: and the job is "extracting resources" from its own subjects to fill the coffers and expand the perks of the rulers. As Roberts writes:
[In a new book, historian Timothy Parsons] wonders whether America’s empire is really an empire as the Americans don’t seem to get any extractive benefits from it. After eight years of war and attempted occupation of Iraq, all Washington has for its efforts is several trillion dollars of additional debt and no Iraqi oil. After ten years of trillion dollar struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Washington has nothing to show for it except possibly some part of the drug trade that can be used to fund covert CIA operations.
America’s wars are very expensive. Bush and Obama have doubled the national debt, and the American people have no benefits from it. No riches, no bread and circuses flow to Americans from Washington’s wars. So what is it all about?
The answer is that Washington’s empire extracts resources from the American people for the benefit of the few powerful interest groups that rule America … The US Constitution has been extracted in the interests of the Security State, and Americans’ incomes have been redirected to the pockets of the 1 percent. ...
In the New Empire success at war no longer matters. The extraction takes place by being at war. Huge sums of American taxpayers’ money have flowed into the American armaments industries and huge amounts of power into Homeland Security. The American empire works by stripping Americans of wealth and liberty.
This is why the wars cannot end, or if one does end another starts … This truth doesn’t mean that the objects of American military aggression have escaped without cost. Large numbers of Muslims have been bombed and murdered and their economies and infrastructure ruined, but not in order to extract resources from them.
It is ironic that under the New Empire the citizens of the empire are extracted of their wealth and liberty in order to extract lives from the targeted foreign populations.
And yet another iteration of this sinister process is gearing up in Syria. It has nothing to do with the murderously repressive nature of the Syrian regime. America's chief ally in the Syrian intervention is Saudi Arabia -- a theocratic-autocratic regime that is, by every measure, far, far more repressive than Syria. The Saudi royals ruthlessly -- and violently -- suppress any peaceful protest against their stifling, draconian rule. They have sent troops and weapons and money to murderously repress peaceful protests in neighbouring Bahrain. Yet Secretary Clinton stood proudly with these murderous repressive tyrants this weekend as she outlined their joint plan to ensure the death and suffering of more people in Syria.
Supplying -- much less paying the salaries! -- of an army on one side in a conflict is generally regarded as an act of war. At least, this was the line taken by the United States government when it was dealing with its own armed uprising awhile back and continually threatened massive retaliation against any nation intervening on the side of the rebels. (A story well told in Amanda Foreman's A World on Fire.)
So mark April Fool's Day 2012 in your calendar as the day the United States officially and openly initiated its latest war. Will it succeed in driving the Assad family from its authoritarian perch in Damascus? Will it liberate the Syrian people into a new life of liberty and prosperity? Will it enthrone radical extremists "willing to do anything to take power" and open the door to sectarian slaughter (as in Iraq)? Who cares? The intervention will set cash registers ringing, and that, my fellow subjects, is, as always, the bottom line.