- Beware the politician who calls himself/herself a conservative and leaps at the first opportunity to spend money across the continent while neglecting his fellow citizen. Frankly this looks all too much like Iraq in 2003 and Vietnam in 1963 – Steve Massey
US interference in the affairs of other countries under the guise of so called humanitarian intervention has become one of the great foreign policy issues of our time. The US does a lot of this in addition to spying on the heads of state of its allies not to mention its own citizens.
It is as bad under Obama as it was under Bush. The real difference between the two men is that it was much easier to depict Bush as an inarticulate moron played and pulled by whatever reactionary clique wielded power and influence. The difference in the aggressive war mentality of either lies not in kind but in degree. Both seem, in the view of the author, to be afflicted with the curse of The Carter Doctrine whereby the US could invade other countries to ensure it maintained a steady supply of oil. Foreign policy issues are more complex than that but the realist concept of state self-interest would not seem to have changed greatly since war criminals like Nixon and Kissinger were at the helm.
Steve Massey makes it clear from the outset that he is unashamedly biased against the notion of a US war on Syria. He views the Assad regime as a ‘mob style assembly of criminals, cutthroats and murderers’ which has committed many atrocities but maintains it was not alone. The rebels too showed little regards for rights as they inflicted numerous war crimes.
Tracing the conflict from when it ‘started as a protest in the city of Hons’ back in 2012, the author argued that Obama quickly moved to oust Assad and that along the way US policy reached a point where Jabhat Al Nusra, despite being a component of Al Qaeda, morphed over a nine month period from being a State Department designated enemy to one that had ally status.
Massey hammers the neo cons for having pushed the US into wars and complains that not one US official has faced criminal charges for having started the American war on Iraq. Yet he sees a benign aspect to some US foreign policy and that while it at times means well the types of interventions it pursues result in meaning and doing being wrenched apart: the outcome is that the US ends up not doing too well. The examples provided, however, are far from convincing: the US often ends up behaving badly in countries where its intentions are good such as Vietnam and Iraq. But it is hard to sustain the argument that the US since the 1960s has generally acted with good intentions abroad. The one opportunity where limited intervention clearly not shaped by self-interest could have made a real difference was Rwanda 1994. The US refused to act out of self-interest and almost a million were slaughtered.
The lens Massey views foreign policy through becomes even more blurred when he honestly says that Israel is the best US ally in the Middle East but does so in a sense that would suggest this is a good thing. It is good but only for the US, not the victims of Israeli terror.
Overall, this work is a brief summary of the case for not going to war against Syria. The proof reading could have been better, particularly as this is billed as a ‘Revised and Expanded’ version. The typos tend to disrupt the flow and on occasion thwart the meaning. The book provides a handy breakdown on the rebel groups and while some attempt to show their evolution over time is made, it is more in the way of bullet points, being too short a work to allow any serious scrutiny. Ultimately the central theme is that while Assad is an egregious ruler this does not warrant US intervention.
His concise observation is probably not wide of the mark:
The biggest mess we might create would be the fall of Assad and a descent into chaos so complete that portions of Southwest Asia might be plunged into dark age that could settle for decades ... we will again be seen as a meddling reckless giant.
Steve Massey, 2013, Syria: The Case for Non Intervention. Kindle. ASIN: B00DDZ7XKE