Russia FM: A Bus transporting Russian specialists was attacked in Damascus

Russia FM: A Bus transporting Russian specialists was attacked in Damascus

Russia FM Lavrov

Russia FM Lavrov

DP-News – agencies)

MOSCOW- A bus carrying Russian passengers came under fire in Syria on Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“Today a bus that was carrying Russian specialists was attacked in western Damascus,” Lavrov said, noting that it was not the first such incident.

On Friday, a building in Damascus where Russian specialists live was fired at from a grenade launcher.

“One grenade hit the second floor wall, causing damage to the building. Fortunately, no one was injured,” Lavrov said.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, in a televised press conference in Moscow on Saturday, said that Russia will not change its stance of rejecting military intervention in Syria because of the dire consequences it would have on the entire region.

The Russian foreign minister also gave a briefing on a Russian proposal for an international conference on Syria.

Lavrov stressed that Russia will not allow passing any Security Council resolution that allows the use of force against Syria.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin is against the Western demands and has called for action in “an accurate, balanced manner” in Syria.
“Why are we thinking that if we push the current (Syrian) leadership from power, then tomorrow general wellbeing will begin there,” Putin said during a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande in Paris on June 1.

The situation in Syria has come close to a wide-scale civil war. Kofi Annan’s peace plan is not being implemented war. Such assessments were made at the United Nations after a new bloody massacre near Hama and the opposition’s opting out of the Armistice Agreement. Despite that Moscow calls for saving the UN-backed settlement plan for Syria and for working out a mechanism for the fulfillment of this plan at a new international conference.

It is necessary to persuade the armed opposition to enter into dialogue with the authorities. Moscow calls for the convocation of an international conference on Syria with the participation of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, and also with the participation of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran. The League of Arab States (LAS), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the European Union (EU), and the United Nations are also invited to take part because Moscow suggests that it should be held under the UN auspices.

The main thing is to reach agreement in using their political influence on Damascus and on various opposition groups obliging them to observe the cease-fire regime. And next step will be to establish a dialogue between them.

Meanwhile, a group of UN observers continue monitoring a ceasefire that was part of a six-point peace plan presented by the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, in March.

Annan told UN “everyone is looking for a solution” but acknowledged doubts about a peace deal he brokered, which calls for a ceasefire and dialogue to end more than a year of violence aimed at toppling Assad.

A UN diplomat, speaking anonymously, said “there will be action in the coming days to get a vote on a resolution which includes measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter — which would mean sanctions.”

Chapter VII allows for sanctions and, in extreme cases, military action. Russia and China, infuriated by the NATO campaign in Libya last year, have vowed to oppose any military intervention.

The Syrian government has frequently stated that the foreign-sponsored “saboteurs and terrorists” are responsible for the deadly turmoil that began in March 2011.
On June 3, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in a televised address to the parliament that Syria is “facing a war waged from the outside,” stressing that “Standing up against the conspiracy is not easy, but we will overcome the obstacles.”


The future of Super FOB takes shape in Paktika

Images: The future of Super FOB takes shape in Paktika



The future of Super FOB takes shape in Paktika

A security guard for the Lebanese company Nassar Group International pulls guard duty on their living compound, which is inside the Forward Operating Base Super FOB construction site. In addition to a contingent of a few dozen Lebanese security professionals and site managers, NGI employs hundreds of local Afghan workers in the building of Super FOB, which will be the largest training and operations base for the Afghan National Army when completed.

The future of Super FOB takes shape in Paktika

U.S. Army Capt. Andrew Littel, Forward Operating Base Super FOB commander, walks the Super FOB construction site March 16, with Gaby Bougharios and Simon Jabbour, who are senior managers for Nassar Group International, the company that won the bid to construct the huge base. Super FOB will be the largest training and operations base for the Afghan National Army when complete.

The future of Super FOB takes shape in Paktika

Pierre Nassar, owner of Nassar Group International, the company hired to construct the Afghan National Army base known as Forward Operating Base Super FOB, stands in front of some of the modern barracks ANA soldiers will live in when the base opens later this year. Once it’s up and running, Super FOB will be the largest training and operations base for the ANA in the country.

The future of Super FOB takes shape in Paktika

Site managers check the progress of construction on the dining facility on Forward Operating Base Super FOB, March 16, which will be able to feed 1,000 soldiers at a time. Super FOB is being built by Nassar Group International, a Lebanese company supervised by the Army Corps of Engineers, and will be the largest training and operations base for the Afghan National Army when complete.

The future of Super FOB takes shape in Paktika

Local Afghans work on the cement foundations for 10 wood-burning stoves that will supplement the dining facility on Forward Operating Base Super FOB, while the flags of Lebanon, Afghanistan and the U.S. fly behind them March 16. Super FOB is being built by Nassar Group International, a Lebanese company supervised by the Army Corps of Engineers, and will be the largest training and operations base for the Afghan National Army when complete.

The future of Super FOB takes shape in Paktika

U.S. Army Capt. Andrew Littel, Forward Operating Base Super FOB commander, explains the paving process for one of the streets of Super FOB, March 16, which will be the largest training and operations base for the Afghan National Army when complete.

The future of Super FOB takes shape in Paktika The future of Super FOB takes shape in Paktika The future of Super FOB takes shape in Paktika The future of Super FOB takes shape in Paktika The future of Super FOB takes shape in Paktika

R2P-PNAC (Project for New American Century)

Responsibility to Protect: No time for triumphalism


Julia Pettengill

Leading advocates of the “Responsibility to Protect,” the principle justification for the UN-authorized Libyan intervention, like Ramesh Thakur, have argued that the Libyan conflict has brought the “…closer to being solidified as an actionable norm.” Yet the advance of this concept is by no means assured.

Indeed, the conduct of the Libyan campaign reveals the extent of the challenges which proponents of the R2P must address if the concept is to become more than an ad hoc justification for intervention. This will require consistent and forthright leadership from the international community as a whole, but also from President Obama in particular. This will no doubt prove challenging: the steps that need to be taken to do this will likely displease both the right and the left in the US, but are crucial if the R2P is to become a sustainable and intrinsic element in the international response to crises like Libya.

One of the key elements of the R2P in need of clarification is its remit. Many have mistakenly confused the R2P with humanitarian intervention, or view it as a license to meddle in the affairs of countries the UN doesn’t like. In fact, the R2P is a holistic concept, based on three pillars: 1) All states have a responsibility to protect their own populations; 2) the international community has an obligation to assist states which cannot exercise this responsibility; 3) the international community has an obligation to take all necessary putative measures—including, as a last resort, military intervention—to protect populations from war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide if a state refuses to do so.

The preventative elements of the R2P are perhaps the least understood, and will require a commitment in resources from the US government which will do doubt make Tea Party conservatives uneasy. The Obama administration has already taken steps in this direction with the establishment of an Interagency Atrocities Prevention Board and a senior level post in the National Security Council to coordinate prevention and response as a whole-of-government effort. At a time of intense pressure to cut federal expenditure and reduce the overall size of government, it is understandable that conservatives might balk at such measures, yet ultimately short-sighted; the prevention of crises is, in the long run, far less expensive than the cost to global security or of military intervention.

At the same time, the R2P will be meaningless if it is not backed by credible promise that military intervention can be undertaken in response to the Gaddafis of the world. The believability of that stance, in turn, depends upon maintaining robust military capabilities. At a time when NATO allies like the UK are trimming the fat from already skeletal military budgets, it is particularly important that the US not follow suit. Congress must reject the $500 billion in defence cuts proposed for the upcoming Super Committee deficit reduction negotiations— a figure which would come on top of the $350 billion reduction in the defence budget already agreed in the August spending deal.

There must also be an honest reckoning of the extent to which future interventions can be conducted according to the “lead from behind” strategy favoured by President Obama during the course of the NATO operation. Anyone serious about advancing the R2P must acknowledge the crucial role of US leadership in such circumstances, both militarily and diplomatically. The initial absence of American leadership in the Libyan intervention contributed to the dragging-out of the operation: the rapid turnaround in fortunes which allowed the rebels to take control of Tripoli occurred in large part because of a stronger push by NATO, in concert with the rebels and with an increased American contribution.

R2P advocates must also consider and clarify the operational scope of such interventions. Confusion over the legitimacy of operational tactics such as targeting Gaddafi’s compound or coordinating with rebel forces curtailed the momentum achieved by rebel forces in the early stages of the uprising. In fact, the notion that NATO forces could not make these types of operational decisions relied upon an unduly limited interpretation of UN Resolution 1973, and is, in any case, illogical and counterproductive. This ambivalence lengthened the conflict, costing civilian lives as well as treasure, and the precedent it sets could dissuade the international community from undertaking future efforts to enforce the R2P.

The current UN formulation of the R2P rightly emphasizes the importance of multilateral cooperation in enforcing the principle, particularly regarding coercive actions like sanctions and military intervention. Libya represented a rare case of broad-based international agreement on the need for action, but was very much an exception to the long-standing tradition of obstruction by the authoritarian members of the Security Council, China and Russia. But would it really be justifiable to let a future genocide unfold because China and Russia would not consent to authorizing military force? The politicized Security Council hardly has a reassuring or reliable record on this front, and the Libyan case is not a sufficient refutation of the appalling inaction in Darfur, the Balkans and Rwanda. This question of legitimacy is the disturbing lacuna at the heart of the R2P movement which has yet to be adequately addressed.

Proponents of the R2P must craft a policy that is sustainable and legitimate— not a fantasy of internationalist purity.  The R2P will always be subject to the flawed and often squalid realties of both domestic and international politics, but imperfect enforcement is better than none at all. The goal should be to sufficiently embed the concept into our reaction to international crises, so that it becomes increasingly difficult for perpetrators to commit mass atrocities, and for the international community to evade their responsibility to hold them to account. It’s a daunting challenge—and “leading from behind” is not an option.

Julia Pettengill

About Julia Pettengill

Julia Pettengill is author of “A Guilt Beyond Crime: The Future of Genocide Prevention in the Anglo-American Sphere”, published by the Henry Jackson Society in 2009, and cited in the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission’s 2010 report “Those Who Bear the Greatest Responsibility.” Pettengill holds an MA in Modern History from the University of St Andrews, and worked as a writer and researcher prior to joining HJS as a Research Fellow in May 2011.

Neocon Plans for A Syrian Safe Area

Syria Safe Area 

Safe Area for Syria


An Assessment of Legality, Logistics and Hazards

Prepared by
Michael Weiss

Reviewed by
Brigadier General Akil Hachim (Ret.)
Military Advisor to Syrian National Council


Photograph show activists brandishing signs asking for NATO fighter planes over Damascus; there is even a social network group titled “NATO4Syria.” And yet, calls for a “no-fly zone” connote some form of international military assistance, not necessarily the one described. Even in the Western press, references to a no-fly
zone or to the “Libyan model” go unexamined in terms of their applicability to Syria, even though any sensible or feasible intervention in Syria would be sui generis. Turkey has been mulling the imposition of a “buffer zone” for months, to little tangible effect. Yet if ever a moment to intervene in Syria presented itself to Turkey, it should have arrived in mid-June, when more than 10,000 refugees from Jisr al-Shoghour fled to Antakya, or after the recent regime-sponsored raids on
the Turkish embassy in Damascus, consulates in Aleppo and Lattakia and hajj pilgrims in Homs.

It has become clear that Ankara is not going to launch a unilateral military operation against a neighbouring country that, less than a year ago, was being hailed as its great commercial and diplomatically. Turkey has never conducted a humanitarian intervention on its own and is unlikely to begin one now.  Therefore, a multilateral intervention similar to Operation Provide Comfort and either led by NATO or by an Anglo-French-American-Turkish coalition would be the most feasible option for military intervention in Syria.  At present, the most achievable option would be to establish a “safe area” in the country to provide refuge for embattled civilians from other cities and towns, a base of operations for the designated political leadership of the Syrian opposition as well as a military command centre — in other words, a Syrian Benghazi.

Without such a domestic hub for a transitional government, the opposition
will find it incredibly difficult to formulate a long-term strategy, much less
adaptable tactics, for toppling the regime. A cohesive physical space for
freedom of movement within Syria is a necessary precondition for toppling
the regime, if only to facilitate communication between the SNC and FSA as
well as within the opposition more generally. A safe area would also house
an encryption-enabled communications directorate featuring unobstructed wireless access and satellite transmission signals for broadcasting ”Free Syria” television and
radio programs to the rest of the country.

There is currently a favourable window of opportunity for this option. The regular army has been exhausted due to its prolonged deployment in multiple urban and rural areas throughout the country. Morale among regular troops has plummeted and the ability of the regime to logistically sustain units other than the Special Forces and shabbiha militia is increasingly tenuous. The risks associated with the most robust option — an aerial campaign matched by a small ground operation
— are mitigated in part by the relative weakness of Assad’s regular forces and military assets.

Offering the regime additional time to consolidate and explore alternative means to shore up their resources will enhance risk for future intervention.  Although the psychological and strategic impact of a safe area cannot be quantified, it should not be dismissed nor underestimated. The boost to activists’ morale in knowing that a part of Syria has been unalterably liberated is likely to be significant, particularly in light of the fact that after nine months of facing brutality and traumatisation, the activists are still protesting daily. For similar reasons, the rate of military defections will likely increase if soldiers discover that, rather than living in exile in Turkey or Lebanon or Jordan (where their fate is uncertain), they have the option of repairing to a revolutionary headquarters. Because the Syrian Air Force might attempt combat sorties and try to obstruct the establishment of a safe area, a pre-emptive aerial campaign would have to be waged to neutralize the regime’s air defence systems, particularly in Aleppo and Lattakia and in and around Damascus.

Given the dynamics on the ground, the best location in which to establish a safe area would be Idlib province in Jisr al-Shoghour, near the Turkish border and Mediterranean shore. Not only are the bulk of defecting soldiers located there already, but the devastation wrought by a multi-pronged invasion of Jisr al-Shoghour last June has resulted in high anti-Assad sentiment in this province.
Additionally, Jisr al-Shoghour is sandwiched between mountainous terrain, with a valley region that extends northward into Turkey and southward into the rest of Syria, making ground offensives by the regime from east or west difficult (this was one of the reasons that attack helicopters were used in June). A supply corridor from Turkey into Jisr al-Shoghour would benefit from the natural fortification of Syrian topography.

An air strike could be waged by U.S., British, French and Turkish aircraft, facilitated by support aircraft from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan, all of which participated in enforcing the Libyan no-fly zone. U.S. Special Forces, the Special Air Service and Turkish and Qatari Special Forces could coordinate on the ground with rebel Syrian soldiers to establish an 11-square-kilometer perimeter around Jisr al-Shoghour. Training of additional defectors could be conducted at Incirlik Air Base and other regional bases or at a makeshift rebel base in the safe area itself.

One incentive for launching a preliminary aerial campaign to secure a safe area is the proven weakness of Syria’s air defence systems. In 2007, the Israeli Air Force was easily able to bomb the Syrian nuclear facility at al-Kibar, first by jamming the regime’s radars to make it seem as if no planes were in the sky, then by creating “phantom” blips of hundreds of planes seemingly everywhere within Syrian air space. The U.S. has similar technology. In short, with multilateral support, and the coordination of rebel units on the ground, an aerial campaign can prove strategically decisive, while meeting U.S., Western and regional security aims — including the stated desire of regional Arab and Western leaders to see Assad gone.

As with Operation Provide Comfort, logistics of an aerial assault could be coordinated from Incirlik Air Base, the key NATO Southern Region base, which currently houses over 1,161 U.S., 215 British and 41 Turkish personnel and which the U.S. has used to run missions into Iraq. Additionally, the U.S. Sixth Fleet is stationed in Naples, Italy, and the UK’s Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and
Dhekelia in Cyprus have more than sufficient capabilities to enforce a naval blockade of Syria, while countering any Syrian naval offensives. (Despite Russia’s positioning in the Mediterranean, the chances are exceedingly slim that the Kremlin would engage U.S. or UK vessels in direct combat.)

Creating an internationally protected zone on partitioned land in Syria is indeed a form of military intervention. The creation and success of a safe area or partitioned zone should include Arab or Turkish participants as a matter of legitimacy (much the way Qatari intelligence was a part of the Libyan intervention), but it will nevertheless require the technical expertise, sophistication andexpertise of major Western powers.

The Neocon Democrats–Henry Jackson Society

Humanitarian interventionists dig in

In his new book Anti-Totalitarianism, Oliver Kamm makes a shrill and inconsistent defence of the Iraq war.

by James Heartfield

Two weeks ago, a motley gathering of parliamentarians, pundits and academics announced themselves as the Henry ‘Scoop’ Jackson Society in the Palace of Westminster. A small flurry of newspaper reports tried to divine the meaning of the argument they initiated over the discipline of International Relations, and its relevance to their political allegiances (1).

Among them were Labour MPs Gisela Stuart and Denis MacShane, as well as Tory Michael Gove and Ulster Unionist David Trimble: something of a broad church (2). Testing for the reporters was the proposition that the Henry Jackson Society were critics of something called ‘realism’ (sometimes ‘cynical’ or ‘hands-off realism’) and supporters of liberal internationalism.

Easier to understand was that this was a rally in support of the government’s war in Iraq. But muddying the waters again was the question: left wing, or right wing? To help us understand this mess of labels comes the Henry Jackson Society’s own Oliver Kamm, sometime Times contributor and prolific blogger, with his book Anti-Totalitarianism: The Left-Wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy (Social Affairs Unit).

Unfortunately, Kamm’s college debating style, lively enough by the page, is quite incoherent overall. It is more confusing than elucidating that Kamm and his fellows have pinned their political argument on an interminable difference in the academic discipline of International Relations: that between so-called realists and liberal internationalists.

The realists in IR take the nation state, pursuing its interests, to be the irreducible element of international relations, and so set a relatively high store by the concept of state sovereignty. They tend to be sceptical of state-building and democratisation programmes. They have been heard to counsel the foreign policy objective of maintaining a ‘balance of power’, and rejecting the idea of permanent alliances.

By contrast, liberal internationalists see the moral case against despotism abroad as a principle that trumps sovereignty. They reject the monopoly of states over international relations, pointing to other actors, the many international non-governmental organisations, like Human Rights Watch. They want to see international institutions enforce justice against recalcitrant states.

The trouble with trying to understand world conflict and diplomacy in these terms is that neither school fully captures the essence of the issue. Rather, both emphasise one-sidedly different aspects of international society. The realists are right that as long as political power is not globally unified, then states are obliged to compromise with one another, or to go to war. And the liberal internationalists are right that nations cannot hold on to their own ideals without aspiring to universalise them, by exporting them abroad, at the same time. Both are, in their own way, expressions of the imperfect form of modern society, fragmented into competing nation states. Any attempt to see through either a wholly realist or wholly internationalist policy will end in confusion.

It is disingenuous of Kamm to insist that his is a ‘left-wing case’ – by his own account his Labour Party membership lapsed many years ago, and so far his sole political intervention has been to support his uncle Martin Bell’s anti-party campaign in the Tatton by-election, and to endorse the pro-war Tory candidate in his constituency in 2005. He makes an attempt to ground his liberal internationalism in the Cold War Atlanticism of Labour’s right (hence the nod to the Democratic Party’s Cold Warrior Henry ‘Scoop’ Jackson). But the formative event in Kamm’s thinking is the Conservative government’s failure in 1992 to support military intervention against Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in the Former Yugoslavia.

It was then that Kamm, and many others, framed their arguments in terms of liberal internationalism (that is, military action) as opposed to the ‘cynical realism’ attributed to John Major, and his foreign secretary Douglas Hurd. In Anti-Totalitarianism, Kamm rehearses the historical parallels between Tory appeasement of Hitler in 1939 and Tory appeasement of Milosevic in 1992 – as well as projecting forwards to damn opponents of the Iraq war as appeasers of that other Hitler, Saddam Hussein. These are, of course, absurd parallels that mangle any sense of the specifics of each case. But that is the shortcoming of abstract moral categories. They soak up any empirical content, annihilating the real differences between circumstances.

What makes Kamm’s argument sound so shrill, though, is not its logic, but the shifting sands of public opinion. In the 1990s the case for humanitarian intervention was, if not exactly popular, occupying the moral high ground of politics. For the chattering classes, Major’s failure over Bosnia was emblematic of his government’s exhaustion, and the case for humanitarian intervention was like pushing at an open door. On taking office in 1997, Labour vindicated the liberal internationalists by instituting an ‘ethical foreign policy’ that eschewed the mere pursuit of national interests.

Since then, however, the tide has turned. Growing disenchantment with Tony Blair’s support for the American campaign in Iraq finds the liberal internationalist case on the back foot. The same chattering classes that sounded off against inaction in the former Yugoslavia have been marching against the war in Iraq. Much of the argument is the same, but the interventionist case is no longer getting a free ride on popular disenchantment with the government. Rather the opposite – the disconnect between politicians and people takes the follies of the Iraq war as its main bone of contention.

The sands shifting beneath the case for intervention have led to some re-naming of the arguments. The case for war is no longer called ‘liberal internationalism’, but ‘neoconservatism’ – principally by its critics. That is useful for those mostly left-wing critics of the war who want to differentiate their own previous support for action against Milosevic from George W Bush’s war against Saddam.

Kamm even retreats from the idea that it is possible to build democratic states
In fact, the Bush administration had both realists and idealists in foreign policy. ‘Foreign policy in a Republican administration will … proceed from the firm ground of the national interest, not from the interests of an illusory international community’, promised Condoleezza Rice (3). Conversely, the supporters of the Project for the American Century, like Richard Perle, wanted to see the export of democracy across the Middle East. Before 11 September 2001, the main complaint made against the administration in Europe was that it was disengaging from international commitments. After 9/11 the need to project American values under fire saw the idealists gain the upper hand. They had to have a name, and so they were called neoconservatives, having mostly been supporters of Ronald Reagan.

Oliver Kamm’s thesis rightly emphasises the continuity between the liberal internationalists of the Nineties and the neoconservative case for exporting democracy in the new millennium – hence ‘the left-wing case for a neoconservative foreign policy’.

But he cannot sustain the argument that he is for liberal internationalism against cynical realism. The great advantage of the moral critique of the shabby compromises of power was that it was never tested in practice. Liberal internationalism remained a debating point, not a policy. But now that the policy has been put into practice all the repulsive details of waging war are unavoidable. Worse still, they are amplified by squeals of outrage from the middle classes, out of love with Tony Blair.

It is no good Kamm (or David Aaronovitch or Stephen Pollard) wringing their hands over torture in Abu Ghraib, or the continuing insecurity and loss of life in Iraq. Now that the policy has been put into practice it is no use continuing to talk about an ideal of humanitarian intervention: this is it.

Worse still, the arguments, never as robust as they appeared, are quickly falling apart under pressure and Kamm’s snidey blogging style is not really equal to the task of holding them together. He struggles to recover the moral high ground of the 1990s, but over and again cuts his cloth to suit practical realities today. Stung by association with Tony B. Liar, Kamm assumes the pompous officialese of the barrack-room lawyer: ‘It seems plausible that Tony Blair persuaded himself of the cogency of the intelligence conclusions about Saddam’s WMD, where a more empirically minded person would have demurred.’ Recalling that this is supposed to be a defence of Blair, Kamm insists that such an approach is ‘far from being a disqualification for political office; on this issue it may be an asset’. Note to Kamm: when you are in a hole, stop digging.

Kamm says he is for exporting democracy, but not, because ‘democracy may be the tool of the illiberal…as would be the case if, say, the Islamists were to win in Iraq’. Retreating to the position that liberty (which seems to reduce pretty much to the liberty of Westerners to purchase Iraqi assets) is more important than democracy, Kamm ties himself in knots again: ‘The inevitable abridgements of liberty that a military campaign requires are not sufficiently well-designed to allow us to maintain for long the appearance – and reality – of fairness and due process.’ Which tortured prose means that fairness and due process are suspended for the duration. How long? ‘The anti-totalitarian struggle is one that will probably last decades’ and ‘what are initially designed as emergency measures may, therefore, last indefinitely’. All of which sounds suspiciously like George Orwell’s perennial war-emergency in Nineteen-Eighty Four.

And lastly, of course, Kamm has to abandon his intellectual affiliation to liberal internationalism. Understanding that the liberal critique of this war that runs ‘why not in Sudan?’ presents an infinity of obligation, the Henry Jackson Society must compromise with reality and ‘accept that we have to have priorities’ (4). For Kamm, the importance is to close down the anti-war argument that the international community, not America or Britain, ought to be the instrument of justice. So he retreats to the realist position that ‘the international order, unlike a constitutional democracy, is anarchic’. In fact, he thinks that it is a ‘good thing’, as well as ‘an inevitable feature of modern international politics’ that ‘there is no supra-national body that exercises sovereignty’.

Indeed, Kamm also retreats from the idea that it is possible to build democratic states, citing coalition authority adviser Noah Feldman’s argument that we only ‘have an obligation to stay in Iraq until its government has a monopoly of force’. Are some now suggesting that Saddam’s crime was not the denial of democracy or liberty to his people, but that he was no longer trusted to maintain the monopoly of force?

It is true that Kamm digs out some of the more absurd allegiances of the Stop the War Coalition, like their soft spot for Islamism. But Kamm cannot resist calling anyone who is not 100 per cent with him an appeaser of fascism. Worse still, his columnist’s preference for the provocative argument over coherence undermines even that line of attack. In an aside that I thought had to have been inserted by a malevolent Trotskyist typesetter, Kamm veers off into a historical defence of…the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. With all the authority of the newly opened Moscow archives, he insists that the Republic was nothing more than an outpost of ‘Stalin’s foreign policy’, whereas ‘Franco’s was a vicious, clerical reactionary despotism, but with regionally circumscribed significance’ – or as Kamm means it, the lesser evil.

James Heartfield is a member of the Sovereignty and its Discontents workgroup. Anti-Totalitarianism: The Left Wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy by Oliver Kamm is published by the Social Affairs Unit, 2005.
(1) David Clark, ‘The Neoconservative temptation beckoning Britain’s bitter liberals’, Guardian, 21 November 2005

(2) ‘Statement of Principles’, Henry Jackson Society website. The Society’s ‘international patrons’ are more clearly drawn from the right wing of American politics, like former Rumsfeld advisor Richard Perle, ex-CIA head James Woolsey, foreign policy-wonk Robert Kagan and US Conservative William Kristol.

  • Believes that modern liberal democracies set an example to which the rest of the world should aspire.
  • Supports a ‘forward strategy’ – involving diplomatic, economic, cultural, and/or political means — to assist those countries that are not yet liberal and democratic to become so.
  • Supports the maintenance of a strong military, by the United States, the countries of the European Union and other democratic powers, armed with expeditionary capabilities with a global reach, that can protect our homelands from strategic threats, forestall terrorist attacks, and prevent genocide or massive ethnic cleansing.
  • Supports the necessary furtherance of European military modernisation and integration under British leadership, preferably within NATO.
  • Stresses the importance of unity between the world’s great democracies, represented by institutions such as NATO, the European Union and the OECD, amongst many others.
  • Believes that only modern liberal democratic states are truly legitimate, and that the political or human rights pronouncements of any international or regional organisation which admits undemocratic states lack the legitimacy to which they would be entitled if all their members were democracies.
  • Gives two cheers for capitalism. There are limits to the market, which needs to serve the Democratic Community and should be reconciled to the environment.
  • Accepts that we have to set priorities and that sometimes we have to compromise, but insists that we should never lose sight of our fundamental values. This means that alliances with repressive regimes can only be temporary. It also means a strong commitment to individual and civil liberties in democratic states, even and especially when we are under attack.

(3) Foreign Affairs, January 2000, Promoting the National Interest

(4) ‘Statement of Principles’, Henry Jackson Society website.

Turkey: Taking a Risk With the U.S. In Syria

Turkey: Taking a Risk With the U.S. In Syria

By Igor IGNATCHENKO (Russia)

Turkey: Taking a Risk With the U.S. In SyriaIn late 2011 Frederic C. Hof, one of the State Department`s point man on Syrian policy, equaled the Assad regime to ‘a dead man walking’. At the end of December, 2011, Hof joined a special secret committee set up by the Obama administration to discuss possible scenarios of Syrian intervention. The Foreign Policy magazine said that an ‘unusually small’ group of officials from the Pentagon, the State Department, the Department of the Treasury and other bodies was headed by Steven Simon, National Security Council senior director for the Middle East and North Africa. This group operates beyond a traditional format of cooperation between American governmental institutions.

On December 20, 2011, the Henry Jackson Society, an influential think- tank headquartered in London, released a plan headlined Intervention in Syria? An Assessment of Legality, Logistics and Hazards prepared by Michael Weiss, Communications and Acting Research Director of The Henry Jackson Society. Mr. Weiss begins by outlining preconditions for the intervention. He says that any charges against the Syrian government could be used as a pretext for intervention. The plan suggests that multilateral intervention in Syria should begin with air strikes by Anglo-French-American-Turkish forces to establish a ‘safe area’- or a protected zone, similar to the one they had in Libya`s Benghazi, which would be a stronghold of the Syrian Liberation Army.

Turkey is well-placed as a command central for coordinating personnel and aircraft needed for preemptive strikes on the regime’s air-defense systems. In late November, 2011, the Turkish government first publicly announced the possibility of a military intervention in Syria. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu described the measure as ‘forced but quite real’. The US State Secretary Hillary Clinton confirmed the likelihood of the intervention as she attended a meeting of the Friends of Syria Group in Paris on April 19. Any provocation staged by the US or Ankara could be used as a pretext for a NATO-led invasion in Syria.

On May 2-12 the North East Multinational Corps held the Crystal Eagle-2012 exercises in Denmark, involving some 1,500 troops from 15 countries (Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Lithuania, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the U.S). A scenario was settled in a fictitious Auriga. The troops had to prevent a local conflict from turning into a civil war. The UNSC decided to launch a military operation comprising the North East Multinational Corps to bring stability to the region. Obviously, a fictitious Auriga was hiding the real name – Syria. Taking into consideration the recent statements made by Davutoglu and Clinton, the exercises in Denmark prove that NATO has been already preparing for a military solution to the Syrian issue. Apart from this, on June 1-16 Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Estonia and Germany have been holding the large-scale Baltops-2012 naval drills aimed to practice the use of multinational forces in settling a crisis. Since Syria has ports in the Mediterranean, it is clear that NATO has been focusing on both land and naval scenarios of the Syrian intervention.

The Turkish government led by Recep Erdogan dreams of building a new Ottoman Empire and thus is actively involved in the implementation of the US ‘Greater Middle East’ project. Turkey`s former Industry and Trade Minister Bülent Esinoğlu, the author of the ‘Flooded by the West’ book, Erdogan is a co-chairman of the “Greater Middle East” project and is ready to do everything possible to ensure the separation of Syria in three parts as required by Washington. But Turkey seems to be unaware of digging its own grave: the current situation is actually about separating large Islamic states into smaller ones so that the weakening United States could keep on controlling this oil-rich region.

The U.S. once actively supported Saddam Hussein`s plans to attack Kuwait and later accused the latter of initiating aggression and staged Operation Desert Storm, which was followed by another intervention in Iraq in 2003. It resulted in Hussein`s execution. Now Erdogan seems to be following in his late counterpart`s footsteps: after Turkey invades Syria the international community could blame the Erdogan Cabinet for initiating aggression, also mentioning the bombing of suspected hideouts of the Kurdish rebel groups in northern Iraq. Although Turkey is a NATO member and also remains a strategic partner for the US in the Middle East, it had not yet received Washington`s support in fighting the Kurdish separatism and terrorism. On March 21 the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom unveiled its annual report, urging to put Turkey on the list of countries offending religious freedom. On the same day the Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani declared the establishment of the independent Kurdish state (which was, however, postponed). The Kurds refer to the autonomy in northern Iraq as ‘Southern Kurdistan’, while there is also ‘Western Kurdistan’ (Syria), Eastern Kurdistan (Iran) and Northern Kurdistan (Turkey). In other words, the Arab Spring uprising has caused the worsening of the Kurdish issue which had remained unsettled since WW I.

Plans to establish the state of Kurdistan were first unveiled long time ago, but their actual implementation could hardly have been real without the US Iraqi campaign of 2003. There is much evidence to conclude that the US planned to weaken Turkey`s influence in the region by establishing a new state of Kurdistan on its territory. In June of 2006 the U.S. military`s Armed Forces Journal published Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters’ map of a redrawn Middle East. This map was used ruing training courses at the NATO Defense College in Rome and was unveiled to the public there on September 15, 2006.

Mr. Peters, who is still an influential person in the Pentagon, a free Kurdish state must unite the territories of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran, which obviously suggests splitting these countries into smaller parts. The territory in question is rich in oil and other resources. So the new state would be grateful to the US government for the support and would share its resources, like it was in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, and South Sudan which is currently involved in active cooperation with the U.S.

It is evident that the Arab Spring uprising has sparked another stage of the re-division of the Middle East and North Africa lands, the process which involves both western and Arab states. But it is not at all evident that in these circumstances Turkey will manage to protect its borders. When the Syrian intervention begins, Turkey will find itself in a very risky situation. Instead of trying to keep status quo now when the Middle East is living through very tough times, the Erdogan government is getting its nation involved in a very risky venture. It is hard to argue with Ronald Reagan who said: “The Kurds are like a match America could light whenever it decides to”.

SourceStrategic Culture Foundation