Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org, and now updated here
On November 25th, America’s International Crisis Group (ICG) headlined “Ways out of Europe’s Syria Reconstruction Conundrum” and urged the U.S. Government’s European allies to follow America’s lead and refuse to contribute any funds towards reconstruction of Syria unless and until a government of that country is installed which is acceptable to the U.S. Government. The ICG also stated that, “Europe should consider supporting small-scale rehabilitation projects on condition of no regime interference. … Moscow, the regime’s main protector and enabler, has tried to solicit international help to rebuild Syria – partly to re-legitimise the regime, … but shows neither willingness nor ability to push the regime to make any significant concession [to the U.S. Government].” The ICG ignored that whereas the U.S. and its allies were invading Syria as enemies of Syria, Russia had been requested by Syria to enter the war on 30 September 2015 in order to to assist it in protecting and maintaining Syria’s sovereignty. When the ICG used the phrase “on condition of no regime interference,” they meant that Syria’s Government must have no say-so whatsoever regarding any U.S.-and-allied participation (if any such participation is even to exist) in Syria’s reconstruction — in other words: any such participation would be solely controlled by the invading governments. Furthermore, that ICG document used the term “regime” 234 times always referring to the Government of Syria, whereas the term “government” was used to refer to it only one-tenth as many times. None of the invading governments was referred to even once by the term “regime.”
The U.S. Government says that Syria’s Government caused the U.N.-estimated “at least $250 billion” cost to restore Syria from the destruction that Syria’s war produced, and so Syria’s Government should pay those reconstruction costs. That link is to a New York Times article, on 3 December 2017, which explicitly blamed Syrian “President Bashar al-Assad’s ruthless triumph” — which was won against all of the jihadist groups (which the U.S. and its allies had brought into Syria to overthrow and replace Assad’s Government). The Times blamed Assad for having caused the devastation in Syria; the U.S. and its allies say they aren’t to blame for it, at all, by their having organized and armed and trained the tens of thousands of jihadists from around the world for that 6-year invasion of Syria in order to overthrow its secular, non-sectarian, Government, and replace it with one that would be selected by the Sauds; and, so (they say, and that NYT news-article implicitly assumes it to be true), if the invaders-occupiers of Syria might ultimately agree to pay some portion of these $250B+ reconstruction costs, then this would be sheer generosity by the U.S. and its allies — nothing that these governments are obligated to pay to the surviving residents in Syria. It would be charity — not restitution — according to them. The way that this NYT news-report presents this case is, first, to ask rhetorically, regarding the U.S. and its allies in the invasion of Syria, “Can they afford to pour money into a regime that has starved, bombed and occasionally gassed its own people?” and then promptly to proceed by ignoring this very question that they have asked, and instead to provide a case (relying heavily on innuendos) for the immorality of the U.S. and its allies to provide restitution to Syria’s Government to restore Syria. That’s how this Times news-report argues for the U.S. Government, against Syria’s Government, regarding Syria’s postwar reconstruction: The Times news-report repeatedly simply assumes that Syria’s Government is evil and corrupt, and that it is to blame for the destruction of Syria, and thus shouldn’t receive any money from good and honest governments such as ours. It implicitly accepts the viewpoint of the U.S. Government and its allied governments — a viewpoint which blatantly contradicts the actual history of the case, as will here be documented by the facts:
America’s Government (including its press, such as the NYT) simply refuses to recognize the legitimacy of Syria’s Government (even after the first internationally monitored democratic election in all of Syria’s history, which was held in 2014, and which the incumbent candidate Bashar al-Assad (whom the U.S. alliance has been trying to overthrow) won, by 89%), and the U.S. Government has, itself, evilly been trying to conquer Syria (a country that never threatened the U.S.), ever since at least 1949, when the CIA perpetrated a coup there (the new CIA’s 2nd coup, the first one having been 1948 in Thailand — and here is the rest of that shocking history) and ousted Syria’s democratically elected President; but, then, in 1955, Syria’s army threw out the U.S.-imposed dictator, and restored to power that democratically elected Syrian President, who in 1958 accepted Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s offer to unify the two countries (Syria and Egypt) into the United Arab Republic (UAR), in order to protect Syria against a then-imminent invasion and attempted take-over by NATO member Turkey (which has traditionally been hostile toward Syria). It was a peaceful and voluntary transfer of power, to Nasser. However, Nasser became an unpopular President in Syria, as the nation’s economy performed poorly during the UAR; and, so, on 28 September 1961, Syria’s army declared Syria’s secession from the UAR; and it then installed-and-replaced seven Presidents over the next decade, until 22 February 1971, when General Hafez al-Assad resigned from Syria’s military and was promptly endorsed by the Army for the Presidency; and, soon thereafter, on 12 March 1971, a yes-no national referendum on whether Assad should become President won a 99.2%”Yes” vote of the Syrian people. President Assad initiated today’s Syria, by assigning a majority of political posts to secular Sunnis, and a majority of military posts to secular Shiites. All of the Sunnis that he allowed into the Government were seculars, so as to prevent fundamentalist-Sunni foreign governments — mainly the Sauds — from being able to work successfully with America’s CIA to again take over Syria’s Government. Assad’s Ba’athist democratic socialist Party chose his son Bashar, to succeed Hafez as President, upon Hafez’s death on 10 June 2000; and, when Barack Obama became U.S. President in 2009, Obama carried forward the CIA’s plan to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and to install a Saud-allied fundamentalist-Sunni Syrian government to replace the existing non-secular, but Iran-allied, Ba’athist Government. However, since Bashar had built upon Hafez’s secular, non-sectarian, governmental system, the old CIA plan, to apply fundamentalist Sunnis to destroy the basically non-sectarian state (which is the basis of the Assads’ political support), ultimately failed; and, so, America’s Government and media are trying to deal with the consequences of their own evil, as best they can, so as to have only Syria and its allies suffer the Syrian war’s aftermath. U.S. President Donald Trump has been continuing and even intensifying President Obama’s policy, and he loaded his Administration with rabidly anti-Syrian and anti-Iranian people.
In the American Government’s view, the least that Syria’s Government should now do is to pay all the costs for the consequences of America’s lengthiest-ever effort against Syria — or, if Syria’s Government won’t do that, then the U.S. Government will continue its occupation of Syria, and won’t help the Syrian people at all, to recover from the devastation, which the U.S. blames entirely on Assad (who never threatened the U.S.). In fact, on 14 December 2019, Syria Times headlined “A huge convoy for US occupation forces enters Syria’s Qameshli city” and reported that, “The US occupation forces sent today to Qameshli city in Hasaka province a new convoy composed of tanks, ambulances and dozens of vehicles and cars loading military and logistic materials. According to local sources, the convoy illegally entered this morning from Iraq in order to fortify the US occupation forces’ positions in the Syrian Jazeera.” The report went on to state, “Over the few past months, the US occupation forces sent through illegal crossing points thousands of vehicles loaded with weapons, military equipment and logistic materials to reinforce their existence in the Syrian Jazeera region and to steal Syrian oil and wealth.” Video of that convoy can be seen here. (Photos of a smaller convoy of U.S. weapons to Qamishli in August can be seen here.) On December 13th, Syria News headlined “Syrian Security Prevent Trump Forces Approach near Qamishli Airport”, and one can reasonably presume that Trump’s allegations that he’s no longer trying to conquer Syria have all been mere lies. He is continuing Obama’s war to conquer Syria for the Sauds to control.
The Syrian Government says that the countries which invaded Syria with their weapons and their jihadists and their organization — not only the United States and its weapons-supplies to the jihadists, but also Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Turkey, UK, France, and other U.S. allies, the entire U.S. coalition who organized and supplied the six-year international jihadist invasion against Syria — are to blame for the destruction of Syria; and, “If you break it, you own it, and need to replace it.” So, Syrians think that the invaders — and not the people of Syria — must pay the reconstruction cost.
The U.S. Government blames Syrian President Bashar Assad for everything. That charge is, however, quite problematic, given the facts in the case. The U.S. CIA was behind the “Arab Spring” movements to overthrow and replace Assad and other Arab leaders who dissatisfied the U.S. regime, and it then fed into Syria the ‘rebels’ until now. Few of them are still remaining under U.S. protection — which is mostly east of the Euphrates River, where America’s Kurdish proxy-forces are in control, after having finally defeated, with American air power, Syria’s ISIS.
That NYT article used the word “rebel” six times to refer to the jihadists who were fighting against Syria’s Government, and didn’t even once use the word “jihadist” or “terrorist” or anything like that, to refer to even a single one of them. However, almost all of the anti-Assad fighters were, in fact, jihadists (or, some people call them, instead, “radical Islamic terrorists”).
Western-sponsored opinion polls have been taken of the residents of Syria, throughout the war, and they have consistently shown that Bashar al-Assad would easily win re-election there in any free and internationally monitored election, and that the Syrian people overwhelmingly (by 82%) blame the United States for having brought the tens of thousands of foreign fighters into Syria to overthrow and replace their nation’s Government. Consequently, if Syrians will end up bearing the estimated $250B+ reconstruction cost of a war that 82% of them blame on the U.S., then the Syrian people will become even angrier against the U.S. Government than they are now. But, of course, the U.S. Government doesn’t care about the people of Syria, and won’t even allow in any of them as refugees to America; so, Syrians know whom their friends and enemies are. America’s absconding on its $250+B reparations-debt to them wouldn’t surprise them, at all. It’s probably what they’re expecting.
Some U.S. propaganda-media, such as Britain’s Financial Times, have field-tested an alternative, a blame-Russia approach, in case the U.S. team can’t get the blame-Syria story-line to gain sufficient international acceptance. For example, that newspaper’s Roula Khalaf headlined on 1 March 2017, “The west to Russia: you broke Syria, now you fix it”, but most of the reader-comments were extremely hostile to that designation of villain in the case. Here were the most-popular comments:
COMMENTS, Most recommended:
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Nomad_X Mar 1, 2017 What dreadful ‘analysis’ …. Russia finished the Syrian war because they had to. Syria was an artificial proxy war instigated by the USA, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – the Iranians and Russians joined in after the west tried to remove Assad, and failed. The UN also said publicly that Syria was not a civil war – it was a war of foreign mercenary groups trying to overthrow the Assad regime. Russia had no choice but to be there – Putin said publicly there was over 500 Russian nationals involved, and they would be going home once they were finished in Syria. Syria is another US foreign policy disaster which someone else had no choice but to clean up – it essentially created and legitimatized ISIS and now we ALL have to pay for it …. ReportShare54Recommend
Reply Airman48 Mar 1, 2017 The usual Bogus Russian troll perspective that is devoid of the truth. Syria has been a Russian client state in the 1960s when Hafez al Assad invited the Soviets in. Russia took ownership of the Syrian Civil War the minute it intervened and deployed Military forces to that country and after waging a brutal campaign of indiscriminate bombing that killed many hundreds of innocent Syria Non combatants it now expects the West to pay to reconstruct Syria. Read the title of the article again “The West to Russia. You broke it, you FIX it” ReportShare35Recommend
Reply Nomad_X Mar 1, 2017 @Airman48 Some facts for your viewing pleasure – 1. Syria being a client state is not new news – just because they bought their weapons does not mean they wanted a war. 2. Russia cleaned up and finished the war – they did not initiate it – the USA did. 3. The title is a misnomer – the USA, Saudi Arabia and Turkey broke Syria. ReportShare27Recommend
Although some readers, such as “Airman48,” seemed eager to blame anything on Russia, most of the readers, even at that rabidly anti-Russian, neoconservative-neoliberal (or, to use old terminology, pro-imperialist) publication, seemed to be somehow uncomfortable with that view. Perhaps that view would have been popular in 1900 (America and UK were proudly imperialistic at that time), but it seems to be unpopular today. It’s not as easy to fool the American and British people into an invasion as it was, for example, when we invaded and destroyed Iraq on the basis of lies, in 2003. Barack Obama managed to win public support for a repeat of that performance in Libya in 2011, and, of course, for the anti-Syria campaign, and also for a very bloody coup overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014 — a trifecta of U.S. invasions on the basis of lies (and all of which were invasions of countries that never endangered U.S. national security) — but the bipartisanship of that U.S. hyper-aggressiveness (first with the Republican Bush, and then with the Democratic Obama) has made clear to many Americans, that the U.S. Government itself is the problem, that this is not a partisan problem; it is a problem with the Government itself, by both Parties, which is evil in what it is bipartisan about (such as supporting invasions by lies, against countries that never threatened us).
Voice of America is no more propagandistic than all of America’s major media are, even though it’s openly a U.S. Government medium; and it headlined on 30 December 2017, “Pentagon Preparing for Shift in Syrian Strategy” and reported the latest variant of the U.S. regime’s plan to dump all the costs of the invasion of Syria, onto the Syrian people. Secretary of ‘Defense’ James Mattis said, “What we will be doing is shifting from what I call an offensive, terrain-seizing approach. … You’ll see more U.S. diplomats on the ground.” The article continued, “‘When you bring in more diplomats, they’re working that initial restoration of services. They bring in the contractors. That sort of thing,’ the defense secretary said. ‘There’s international money that’s got to be administered so it actually does something and doesn’t go into the wrong people’s [the Syrian Government’s] pockets.’” He wants U.S. international corporations to be placed into position to skim off some of that reconstruction-money. (Some of this cash might then become recycled into Republican political campaign donations, which would please the Republican U.S. President, and Republicans in Congress. But the Democrats in Congress are ‘patriotic’, and so will not resist Republicans’ effort to continue crushing Syria.)
Mattis was threatening Syrians with America’s absconding with all the damages it left behind, unless Syria’s Government will give America’s Government at least some of what it wants (but never earned). This VOA article said, “There are questions about how the initial recovery efforts will work, given that much of Syria is now under the control of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” The implication there is that America has a right to overthrow Syria’s Government; and, that, unless Syria’s Government will bend at least part-way in recognizing this right, the U.S. Government will abscond totally from this matter. The U.S. regime is blaming everything on Assad, and expects him to be grateful for any financial assistance that the U.S. Government, in its kindness and generosity, provides, to his land, which it has destroyed. (Of course, Syria’s Government has also bombed targets in Syria, but the only alternative that was available for President Assad would have been to surrender Syria to the jihadists whom the U.S. team had brought into and armed there.) However, VOA’s presumption that Syria’s Government is to blame and that the invading jihadists aren’t, isn’t likely to be accepted by any nations except some of America’s allies. For example, Poland might back it, in order to retain the U.S. regime’s support, which is especially important to the Polish regime, because their support from some of the other European regimes has been fraying recently, and because beggars (such as Poland is, when it becomes widely criticized by the rest of the EU) can’t be choosers. Apparently, the Trump regime believes it can assemble a sufficient number of such regimes, so as to win its way.
Trump has the support of the entire U.S. aristocracy on this. A leading voice of the U.S. aristocracy (and funder of its agents — such as U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner — when they are in the revolving door between government-service and Wall Street or other private agencies of the aristocracy) is America’s Council on Foreign Relations, which publishes Foreign Affairs magazine, which is perhaps the chief public voice of America’s billionaires, concerning international relations. On 4 October 2017, it published an article, “Don’t Fund Syria’s Reconstruction: The West Has Little Leverage and Little to Gain”, which presumed that “The West” is democratic and its governments represent their publics, and that Syria’s Government isn’t and doesn’t; so, “The West” has a supposed right to ignore the plight it caused in Syria (and which “The West” constantly lies to deny that it caused, and to blame Syria’s Government for the devastation that “The West”s hirees actually produced there).
Here are key excerpts from this CFR Foreign Affairs article, showing the position that America’s billionaires collectively argue for, on this matter — displaying their guidance on this issue, for their vassal aristocracies, in America’s allied countries:
Now that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has successfully defeated or neutralized much of the insurgency in his country, domestic and international attention has begun to turn toward stabilization and reconstruction. …
Yet large sections of the international community — including, critically, key donor countries — continue to reject the legitimacy of Assad and his regime. …
There is a less complicated solution: Do not fund the reconstruction of Assad’s Syria. …
Syria’s reconstruction cannot be dictated or meaningfully shaped by Western donors — at least not to any satisfactory political ends. …
The cost of Syria’s reconstruction will be immense — between $200 billion and $350 billion, depending on the estimate. These sums are far beyond the capacity of Syria, or the willingness of its Iranian and Russian allies, to pay. The burden of reconstruction, then, is expected to fall on the United States, members of the EU, and Japan, as well as on multilateral institutions that are likely to take cues from their major Western donors, such as the World Bank. …
On September 21, a meeting of “like-minded” actors (including Saudi Arabia, the United States, and the EU) announced that “recovery and reconstruction support for Syria hinges on a credible political process leading to a genuine political transition that can be supported by a majority of the Syrian people.” Reconstruction funding is “the biggest lever” the United States and its allies have to push for a credible political process, said David Satterfield, a U.S. State Department official, after the meeting. And according to British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, “We have one big card left to play in a pretty poor hand and that is the cash we can provide for the reconstruction of Syria.”. …
The country, in other words, cannot be put back together by working around the regime that tore it apart. …
Some analysts believe that the West can use funding to win concessions short of regime change. …
The regime will end up trading away “things that don’t matter,” said one European diplomat. “But it will hold out for so long, they’ll seem like concessions when you get them. If there’s something that Damascus has that most others don’t, it’s time.”
Donors will not be permitted to do an end run around Assad. …
Westerners who want to drive a hard bargain will find that they have less leverage than they thought. To begin with, the international community — and the universe of possible donors and investors — is not limited to the West. Syrian officials are keen to advertise the country’s nascent economic recovery and attract investment, but they have also said that they will give priority to investors from countries that stood by Damascus. …
Western donors should not finance the regime-led reconstruction effort. …
The West does not get unlimited tries to remove Assad or to dictate Syria’s politics. Thinking otherwise will be an expensive delusion.
Or, in short: America’s billionaires view the entire question as a business deal between themselves and the ‘regime’ that they have hired the U.S. Government since 1949 to overthrow and control; and the advice that they are giving to their vassal aristocracies is: “The West does not get unlimited tries to remove Assad or to dictate Syria’s politics”; and, so, “The West” should just walk away from the matter: there shouldn’t be any deal — Syria should just become a failed state, such as Libya, or Afghanistan.
Another prominent institutional voice of America’s billionaires is the similarly solidly neoconservative-neoliberal (or pro-imperialistic) Brookings Institution, whose Steven Heydemann headlined on 24 August 2017, “Rules for reconstruction in Syria”, and he wrote:
For the Assad regime, however, reconstruction is not seen as a means for economic recovery and social repair, but as an opportunity for self-enrichment, a way to reward loyalists and punish opponents, and as central to its efforts to fix in place the social and demographic shifts caused by six years of violent conflict. Assad himself affirmed this intent in a speech he delivered to mark the inauguration of the Damascus Exhibition. Thanking Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah, Assad said that Syria had “lost its best youth and its infrastructure,” but had “won a healthier and more homogenous society.” The prominent Arab [Qatari-Palestinian-Israeli] political analyst Azmi Bishara described Assad’s claim as “Hitlerian” and as confirmation of the “genocidal” intent of the regime’s policies of displacement.
Thus, a statement by Assad expressing satisfaction that Syria has even a smaller percentage of its citizens who support jihadists today than it had prior to the U.S.-Saudi-UAE-Qatari-Turkish importation of the world’s jihadists into Syria, was there being called “Hitlerian.” America’s billionaires (or at least their policy-propagandists) view Assad’s loathing of jihadists as bigotry, just like Hitler’s loathing of Jews was.
Furthermore, Bishara, who was being cited there by Brookings as an authority about Assad, was a big supporter of the U.S. coalition against Syria: for example, he said about Assad’s Government, at 2:17 in this 20 May 2013 telecast on Syria’s enemy Qatar’s Al Jazeera television in Arabic (Al Jazeera is pro-jihadist in its Arabic broadcasts, but anti-jihadist in its English ones), “Now, it’s shelling its own people, ferociously, an ongoing massacre, and yet the people resist. They haven’t stopped.” He didn’t mention “jihadists” or “terrorists” at all (because he represents their backers). There is no available evidence as to whether Bishara is being paid by the CIA, or perhaps by the Thani family who own Qatar, but Brookings’s failure to disclose information like that (Bishara’s statement’s falsely implying that Assad is anti-Syrian instead of anti-jihadist), in such a context as this passage by Heydemann, indicates the extent to which Brookings should be presumed to be merely an extension of the same international aristocratic group that ultimately controls the CIA, CFR, etc. (Bishara then went on there to use the phrase “we, the Israelis”; so, maybe he instead represents Israel’s Mossad. But that’s just as bad, and maybe even the same thing as the rest of them.)
Furthermore, the International Crisis Group’s “Income & Expenditure for the year 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019” includes a “Schedule of Contributions and Grants Received, for the Year Ended June 30, 2019” showing that by far the largest donor was George Soros’s Open Society foundations, which had contributed 30% of the funds. The next-largest donor was Carnegie Corporation of New York, at 6.3%. An additional 5.0% came from other tax-exempt foundations, which are controlled by other U.S. billionaires such as Charles Koch. All individual donations put together accounted for only 2.5%. It’s people such as that who are trying to transfer control over Syria to the Saud family.
The argument by America’s billionaires (via their agents), regarding restitution to the Syrian people, for the catastrophe that those billionaires (via their political contributions) funded against Syrians, is: If anyone should pay to reconstruct Syria from their invasion of it, then Syria’s Government should — that money should be paid by whomever pays taxes to Syria’s Government, and by no one else.
Apparently, “The West” intends simply to keep on destroying nations and leaving behind more and more failed states.
Of course, this long war to get rid of Russia’s allies might be a profitable policy for the owners of corporations such as Lockheed Martin, but there are big downsides to this policy, for the billions of people whom “The West” seems to care nothing about, such as in Syria, and in Libya, and in Ukraine. And this evil policy is bad even for the American people, who are increasingly coming to loathe the Government that America’s billionaires have increasingly bought and impose upon us.
America’s corruption deserves a Nobel Prize, like was won by Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama; but, this one should be called the “Hypocrisy Prize” and awarded directly to the U.S. Government — an invoice, “amount due,” totaling the damages done by this Government, to all of the governments that had posed no threat to U.S. national security but that the U.S. Government nonetheless overthrew or tried to overthrow, starting with Thailand in 1948. Of course, the rogue U.S. Government would not pay it, but the bill should still be presented, because that bill would be the first Hypocrisy Prize, and it would show what hypocrisy can amount to.
The U.S. regime’s way of dealing with this reality is to point out the hypocrisy of its allies. For example, on 10 December 2019, America’s National Public Radio (NPR) headlined “Why European Countries Are Reluctant To Repatriate Citizens Who Are ISIS Fighters” and exposed the hypocrisy of those allied regimes, while saying nothing at all about the U.S. regime’s hypocrisy, which was even worse, because Trump bans anyone to immigrate into this country from any of those invaded countries.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.