[Brief thoughts] On the much vaunted 2013 threat of intervention

My theory of imperialism is this: if the people of the region want it, the US won’t support it (unless there is something potentially to make it worthwhile, like oil in Libya, but they’ll still try to fuck shit up afterwards). That’s the yardstick you should measure ‘imperialism’ by, instead of abstractions on what you think it wants. People in Syria wanted an intervention against Assad, they didn’t get it. Voila. If they didn’t want intervention, they probably would’ve got it. People in Iraq did not want an invasion, they got it, voila. That’s how it works.
The US *did not want to take down Assad in Syria*, ever. It wanted to rid Syria of chemical weapons because it was clear that the regime might not be able to safeguard them, and because having them flying around is a regional threat (especially to one certain country). They threatened Assad, Israel came up with a deal and voila.
In my opinion, the fact that intervention in the case of Syria would clearly have been anti-genocidal and aligned with the will of the majority there meant that I (and loads of Syrians I’ve seen interviewed at the time) never believed it would happen. The fact that prolonging the conflict (which entailed keeping Assad in power) would be genocidal meant that it was going to happen.
Now, with the West bombing every single one of Assad’s enemies, perhaps those conspiratorial Arabs who were always suspicious of the Americans’ motives whilst others were getting their pants in a twist about how the US had it in for Assad (instead of for the Syrian people) were right.

2 thoughts on “[Brief thoughts] On the much vaunted 2013 threat of intervention

  1. “People in Syria wanted an intervention against Assad, they didn’t get it. Voila. If they didn’t want intervention, they probably would’ve got it.”

    Which people? Supporters of the revolution or the counter-revolution? Seems one element of the Syrian people got what it wanted and the other did not.

    And how does your theory account for the YPG which is getting exactly what it wants from U.S. imperialism?

  2. The supporters of the revolution, the majority of whom are actually much more wary of foreign powers by nature than regime supporters (who as we found out will welcome anyone coming into their country despite their so-called “nationalist” credentials). As for the YPG, it provides an ally on the ground against ISIS which could be presented as evidence of “action being taken” at home, and one that does not pose a threat to US regional interests (or as much of a threat as empowerment of, by contrast, the Syrian revolution). It is also a useful American tool to use as a pressure card on Erdogan (this is obviously not to say that they are “proxies” and the US has its own reasons for supporting the YPG).

    The US fight now isn’t with some socialist project in an area of Northern Syria with no potential for regional expansion (especially considering the antipathy between the YPG and Arabs in the north), it is with revolutionary Islam(ism). The US has chosen to rely on one set of “ideological extremists” (socialists) over another (Islamists) – of course it went further and actively bombed the forces which had the greatest potential to both militarily and ideologically weaken ISIS (Syrian Islamists). This of course undermined its anti-ISIS campaign and contributed further to radicalisation, but to be fair, to me the US campaign against ISIS has never been fully-serious, from the prevention to the disease phase.

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