Most of the important information needed for understanding current events comes, not from established news media or official government communiques, but from sources that were prepared to risk breaking the law or simply being eliminated for being too troublesome in order to make know to the public certain information that was never intended to be shielded from the public. Not in the public interest was a favourite phrase to justify not making public certain things it was very much in our interests to know about.
When over 250,000 communications between U.S. diplomats that were never meant to see the light of day were made public via Wikileaks by public sector employees disgusted at the things our governments were doing that were definitely not in the public interests, suddenly the ruling elites who had had things their own way for too long were on the back foot. A number of researchers have put together a treasure trove of information and analysis that can be immensely clarifying. They are available at WikiLeaks, the nonprofit media organization that accepts confidential information from anonymous sources and releases it to news sources and the public. (The recently released book from this research, published by Verso, is "The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to U.S. Empire.")
One of the most interesting insights to emerge from the Wikileaks documents is US State Department policy on Syria, a strategically significant middle eastern nation which has dominated international news for the past few weeks because of Russian military intervention in support of the Assad regime as well as the surge of refugees from areas taken over by the US sponsored terrorist group, ISIL (aka Islamic State) who are causing chaos in Europe as they flod into EU member states that just do not have the infrastructure to cope with so many newly arrived people.
Why were Washington's efforts over two years to halt the progress of Islamic State so ineffective, when once Russia and Iran took a hand, the ISIS irregulars were on the run within a week?
Tanks to WikiLeaks, the nonprofit media organization that accepts confidential information from anonymous sources and releases it to news sources and the public, those of us in new media who do not have careers to think of or reputations to protect (I retired at age 49, eighteen years ago) and thus are free to write the truth can now tell you the answer can be found in diplomatic communications released by WikiLeaks, which show that regime change in Syria has been the policy of the U.S. government as far back as 2006.
In spite of diplomatic advice from their own embassy staff as well as allies, The White house refused to reconsider the policy of requiring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to agree to resign before any meaningful negotiations to end the civil war can take place? Any diplomat could have told the White House that demanding the political suicide of a legitimate ruler who has the support of a majority of his people as a condition for negotiations between the USA and its major middle east allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar over which group of fanatical Islamists will replace him is not going to go far, especially when the legitimate ruler has not only public suport in his own nation, but powerful allies like Russia, China and Iran. US policy in Syria amounted to a commitment to indefinite war.
Even more horrifying, in view of the hundreds of thousands of deaths and countless lives ruined, not to mention 4 million people displaced, is the documented evidence that Washington was committed to a policy of promoting sectarian conflict in the Syria in order to destabilize the Assad government. A cable a senior U.S. embassy official in Damasus (the chargé d’affaires - the Ambasador had been withdrawn for his own safety) in December 2006 contains advice on how Washington could exacerbate the chaos in Syria and exploit certain “vulnerabilities” in the assad regime.
The vulnerabilities included "the presence of transiting Islamist extremists" and "Sunni fears of Iranian influence." (Assad and his ruling clique are Alawite Muslims, a branch of the Shia faith, ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are Wahabi, an extremist branch of Sunni, and the official relion of the Saudi Royal House and the rulers of Qatar.
Nobody in the U.S. State Department or Department of Defence could credibly claim ignorance of the inflammatory nature of this policy. The sectarian Sunni-Shia civil war in Iraq, which the U.S. military, The White House and The Pentagon claimed, was unsuccessfully trying to contain, could not have progressed beyond a local skirmish had the USA and its allies not armed and trained ISIS and Al Qaeda fighters, Assad's forces would have crushed the rag bag force of extremists without difficulty. (Similarly the local difficulty in Benghazi that was escalated by US, UK and French bombing into a regime change war that overthrew Gadaffi and turned Libya from Africas most prosperous and civilized nation to a chaotic failed state would have been crushed without US intervention on the side of the extremists.
In the U.S.A. public disgust with the sectarian civil war in Iraq that was spawned by the rundown of the U.S. and European occupation following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime cost Republicans control of Congress in the November 2006 election. The election result immediately precipitated the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense. Saddam was an evil tyrant, as was Gadaffi, but like Assad they kept order of a kind and prevented age old sectarian wars exploding into the modern world and spreading through the Islamic diaspora. No one working for the U.S. government on foreign policy at the time could have been unaware of the implications of promoting Sunni-Shia sectarianism. And most of the diplomatic staff continued in their posts when Barack Obama assumed the Presidency.
Further cables in the Wikileaks hoard also show that U.S. efforts to overthrow the Syrian government beginning visibly in 2011 but heralded by a speech made by Obama in Cairo in 2009 (he promised US support for all rebel groups fighting to overthrow governments the US administration did not like) were not in response to the Assad government’s repression of political opposition, but rather a long term strategy to get rid of Assad so the USA could threaten Russia's southern border. They explain why the U.S. government armed the ISIS rebls and the CIA were instruimental on forming the rival and hostile groups into a cohesive fighting force and why, while claiming to support democracy it ignored popular support for Assad in Syria. Syrian support for Assad has survived the civil war because a cursory review of the mess in Iraq (even before the rise of the ISIS) showed that a much worse fate for their country was likely shold Assad fall.
Even now, with hundreds of thousands dead and a military stalemate (until Vladimir Putin took a hand), Barack Obama’s administration is showing some flexibility toward meaningful negotiations, if only because the alternative is for the American military to take on Russia and Iran. Unfortunately, though predictably for those of us who researched the man in 2008, Obama has surrendered most if not all of America's credibility as a superpower to the Russians and Chinese and allowed Iran to establish itself as the main regional power.
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