We’re Asking The Wrong Questions About Syria

Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text God protects Syria on the old city wall of Damascus 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Thomas L. Knapp…….

As I write this, two key questions remain unanswered, and a third mostly unasked, about a deadly daybreak attack on Khan Sheikhoun, a northwest Syrian city of (pre-war) 50,000. Hundreds were wounded and as many as 100 killed, apparently chemical weaponry (Turkey’s health ministry believes the agent in question was the nerve gas sarin), on the morning of April 4.

The two most obvious questions are who did this, and why?

The US government (and unfortunately most American media, acting as stenographers rather than journalists as is too often the case in matters of war and foreign policy) have settled on the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as the culprit. That claim seems very questionable, if for no other reason than that there’s no plausible “why” attached to it.

After more than six years of civil war, the Syrian government has (with Russian assistance) turned the tide. Assad is well on his way to defeating both the Islamic State and the “moderate rebels” (read: al Qaeda) backed by the US, restoring his control over the country.

A chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun doesn’t seem to fit into that scenario. Not only does it serve no obvious military objective, but it’s precisely the kind of atrocity that American hawks will latch onto and use as an excuse to continue and escalate the US military intervention in Syria at Assad’s expense.

Cui bono (“who benefits?”) doesn’t always point to the true answer to a question, but in this case it’s reasonable to ask. The Khan Sheikhoun attack may very well have been carried out by the rebels themselves, in an attempt to keep the US further in the war, on their side.

Another plausible explanation is that Syrian regime aircraft bombed a rebel facility where the chemical weapons were manufactured or stored, accidentally releasing them. It’s happened before. It’s how a number of American troops, possibly including me, were exposed to sarin during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Or maybe it was Assad behind the attack, for some reason beyond the ken of distant observers.

But who and why are the wrong questions. The third question — the right question — is: Why is the US involved in this war?

The Assad regime has not attacked the US, nor has Congress declared war on Syria. There’s simply no defensive — or for that matter even legal — rationale for a US military presence in Syria. Whatever horrors the civil war there may entail, American military adventurism makes them worse, not better. It perpetuates instability rather than bringing peace.

Donald Trump ran for president on a platform of reducing US military meddling in other countries’ affairs. It’s time for him to follow through and order a US withdrawal from Syria.


Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

15 thoughts on “We’re Asking The Wrong Questions About Syria

  1. You ask a question that I have yet to hear from the media other than Assad is a ruthless dictator. Realistically, I don’t see Russia backing him if that is the case. It could be some ploy by Trump’s underlings who fed him bogus information. It could be some political agenda that goes beyond common sense.

  2. Right on again!

    I have learned that the most obvious is often the least likely, but “Why is the US involved at all?” is the more important question than who was responsible.

    1. It’s a “civil war” by any reasonable definition. The arrayed forces are:

      1) The existing regime, aided by outside forces; and

      2) Domestic forces attempting to overthrow the existing regime, aided by outside forces.

      Is it possible to attribute the very existence of the domestic rebels to the machinations of the outside forces supporting them? Sure. That doesn’t make it not a civil war.

      1. Well then you must be a Coincidence Theorist, Mr.Knapp, as I am sure you are familiar with general Wesley Clark’s disclosure of which countries, Syria included, were to be regime changed following 911.

        1. I guess you’re right, if by “Coincidence Theorist” you mean “someone who lets the facts direct his conclusions rather than insisting that the facts must conform to his fantasies.”

          It is entirely possible for US intervention in Syria to be part of the scheme Clark describes AND for the fighting there to be a “civil war.” You see, in addition to following the facts rather than trying to fantasize the facts into conformity with my wishes, I also understand that words mean things.

          1. Sorry, but the facts are, stated from people who were there in Syria since the beginning of the staged uprisings, that those who were instigating “civil war” against the Syrian President, were not Syrians but foreign mercenaries.

            These eyewitness accounts came from people who were interviewed by Patrick Henningson from 21st Century Wire. I won’t bother wasting my time to locate the exact podcasts for you as it’s apparent you are not interested in what does not coincide with your agenda.

            BTW, What type of hat do Coincidence Theorists wear? My guess would be a mortarboard.

          2. Yes, because anything “stated from people who were there in Syria” is obviously true, at least as long as it’s what you want to hear.

            Yes, there are absolutely foreign fighters on the rebel side in the civil war. There are also foreign fighters on the regime side in the civil war. That doesn’t make it not a civil war.

            Never having met a Coincidence Theorist, I have no idea what kind of hat one would wear. When I wear a hat it’s usually a Panama to go with my linen suit.

          3. May I ask where it was that you came by your truth of it being a “civil war”? What sources are you basing that information on?

          4. The sources I’m basing it on are called dictionaries. It’s a civil war because it’s a war fought within a country by factions, one of them the existing state, attempting to maintain control (the state) or seize control (the rebels) of that particular piece of geography and its political institutions.

            It’s not JUST a civil war — it’s also a proxy war between the US and Russia, part of a regional war between Arab secularists (among them the Ba’athists who rule Syria) and Wahabbe/Salafi jihadists (among them the Saudis), etc. — but it IS a civil war.

            I understand the propaganda value of pretending that it’s entirely one of the things it is and not at all any of the other things it is, if you can pull that off. But you can’t.

          5. You seem to think that “war as per Oded Yinon” and “civil war” are mutually exclusive things. They aren’t. Just because you are obsessively focused on one possible aspect of something, it does not magically become true that that is the only possible, actual, true or important aspect of that thing.

            This whole conversation is the equivalent of me mentioning that something is “purple” and you insisting that no, it’s “round.”

          6. I have very thick skin Mr. Knapp, so you can continue with your attempt to paint me as being a brush with one bristle, but I’ll continue to paint….When most people hear the words “civil war” they are inclined to believe as per the definition: “a war between citizens of the same country.” That is simply not the case. The war in Syria has been instigated and propagated by the Zionist hand that rules us for the total dominion of Zionist rule over the region. These Zionist have never been citizens of Syria and hopefully never will be. By claiming it to be a “civil war” you are giving people permission to not take responsibility for what their ZOG governments are doing. I will stop arguing now as I know that you are well aware of these facts.

            Got to go make some shekels now. Enjoy celebrating “Good” Friday, cause words mean things.

          7. “When most people hear the words ‘civil war’ they are inclined to believe as per the definition: ‘a war between citizens of the same country.’ That is simply not the case.”

            Except that it irrefutably, beyond a shadow of a doubt to anyone who lives in the real world instead of in your hallucinatory fantasy, the case.

            It is ALSO a war involving people and forces and money, etc. from other countries (yes, including Israel and governments influenced by their Israeli lobbies), but if you don’t believe that there are in fact Syrians on all sides of it, you’re out of your gourd.

            If you are going to use the neo-Nazi “ZOG” acronym, this discussion is over.

  3. It was surely a “false flag attack” when Assad “reportedly” dumped poison gas on “his own people.” The cia rebel terrorists did it. Remember that Hussein “reportedly” did the same thing to his people, years ago, when the US Owners wanted to attack him and make a regime change in Iraq because Saddam was a Bathist who wanted high royalties for the Iraqi oil, same as Assad is doing now with his 2.5 Billion barrel oil reserve. It’s stilllll about oil, folks. The media is a trained parrot, they don’t know who does what in a combat zone, they just process the Pentagon pap for home consumption. Don;t buy it.

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