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Syria and Nuclear War

April 12, 2018

US-led attempt to partition Syria (as it did de facto in Iraq and Libya) has failed. Sore losers, Washington hopes to regain through war, what it has lost in terms of the shifting regional balance of power, supported in this effort by Israel and Saudi Arabia. Dangerous moment (Map – Le Monde Diplomatique)

(The following article, from the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in Boulder, appeared in today’s Boulder Daily Camera. It warns of the danger of war, including nuclear war, essentially as a result of the Trump Administration’s reckless foreign policy.)

Peace Train Column for Friday, April 13, 2018

Syria and Nuclear War

By Tom Mayer


No sane person wants a nuclear war.  But in a world loaded with nuclear weapons a nuclear war might happen anyway.  One place where a nuclear war might start is Syria.  A military confrontation between Russia and the United States, the world’s foremost possessors of nuclear weapons, is quite possible in Syria.  Such a confrontation could escalate into a nuclear war if either side believed nuclear weapons were necessary to avoid a humiliating defeat.

Although the United States is clearly the world’s foremost military power – U.S. military expenses exceed those of the next nine countries combined – Russian stakes in Syria are greater than those of the United States.  Syria is much closer to Russia than to the USA.  Syria is Russia’s only reliable ally in the Arab World. Russia’s alliance with Syria gives it access to the Mediterranean.  Russia supports the Assad government partly to control insurgencies and terrorist attacks within its own country.  Moreover, the Russian people strongly endorse Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy.  These political realities mean that Russia will not back down in a military confrontation with the United States regarding Syria.

The U.S. concerns in Syria are more peripheral (and also contradictory).  In Syria, and elsewhere, the United States needs to maintain the credibility of its armed forces.  Israel and Saudi Arabia, both U.S. allies, want the United States to remain in Syria.  Israel desires a weak Syria which cannot challenge its annexation of the Golan Heights or support Palestinian resistance.  Both Israel and Saudi Arabia fear the emergence of a Shite block including Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon.  The United States, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, wants to overthrow the Assad government, but this government remains the indispensable force combatting jihadist terrorism in Syria.

The latest inducement to U.S. military action against the Assad government is the recent chemical weapons attack on the city of Douma.   Washington immediately blamed this attack on Assad and his Russian ally, but there is reason to doubt this narrative.  A chemical weapons attack appears entirely contrary to the interests of the Assad regime.  They are winning the war in Syria and Trump was considering withdrawing U.S. military forces.  On the other hand, a chemical weapons attack would be welcomed by be people who want the United States to remain in Syria.  Incidentally, the Syrian Red Crescent found no evidence of a chemical weapons attack in Douma

American armed forces should leave Syria immediately.  They cannot accomplish anything useful in that country.  Their presence increases the danger of military confrontation with Russia.  Bashar al-Assad is indeed a brutal dictator, but dictatorship in Arab countries is a consequence of social structure combined with imperialist intervention.  The institution of dictatorship is not eliminated when foreign forces remove a dictator.  Unfortunately, the most feasible ending of the horrendous war in Syria is continuation of the Assad regime.  In this imperfect world, stable dictatorship is far preferable to continual warfare which pulverizes society.  And it is infinitely preferable to nuclear war.


For further information on the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, contact this link.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Bill Conklin permalink
    April 12, 2018 12:45 pm

    Assad is not a dumb guy. It makes no sense, no matter what a tyrant he is, that he would gas a few of his own people when he has won the war and he has Russia on his side. Trumpty Dumpty appears to be upset that Assad allegedly killed civilians with poison gas but it doesn’t bother him that Israeli Psychopaths are murdering Palestinian Civilians with bullets purchased from the American Hegemon. The world is crazy!

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