Thursday, Sept 11, 2013
Intervention for separation

From the beginning it should have been clear that Syria was never an all or nothing situation. There has always been room for compromise. One clear sign has been Moscow’s position. Its foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, has experience and common sense — more so perhaps than his U.S. opposite number. His frequent calls for moderation should have been taken more seriously.

But that has not been the only reason for reining in our “bomb Damascus” hawks. From the beginning there should also have been doubts about whether Damascus even caused the sarin gas attack. Why would it want to use chemical weapons if this could invite U.S. intervention, and when it already had the full air control needed to attack enemies when and where it wanted? And why should we ignore the very real possibility that other parties to the Syrian conflict were responsible, hoping to produce just the reaction from the United States that we saw?

Examples of “false flag” attacks being planned or used to justify outside, mainly U.S., military interventions have a long history — all the way from Operation Mongoose plans to destroy an allegedly passenger-filled aircraft and so justify an attack Cuba in 1962, fictitious Tonkin Gulf attacks to justify escalation of U.S. intervention in the Vietnam civil war, alleged atrocities in Kosovo, perhaps even the 9/11 events (we still do not have explanations for many mysterious aspects, including the seemingly controlled demolition collapse of World Trade Center Building Number 6).

Nor should we have been swayed by simplistic, morality-play illusions of good battling evil in Syria. Originally there was a moral component — the need to prevent brutal attempts by Damascus to crush popular resistance to its corrupt and oppressive rule. But as the extent of Saudi and Qatari involvement in providing arms and support to the insurgents became known increasingly we had to see the civil war there as a battle for Sunni domination over other Muslim factions. And already in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq we have seen the unpleasant details of what that entails.

The case for intervention in Syria lay elsewhere, and continues to lie elsewhere. If a civil war is fought out fairly — if neither side enjoys an overwhelming superiority in weapons or outside support — then we can accept the victory of one side or the other as a crude indication of national will. But in Syria the war is not being fought out fairly.

Long before those gas attack allegations, the sight of Damascus using overwhelming air and artillery power to pound guerrilla-controlled areas was sickening — almost as sickening as the U.S. abuse of air power to bomb and napalm much of Vietnam. If moral issues are important, then the West long ago should have intervened to impose the same no-fly zones and arms embargoes as imposed on Hussein’s Iraq, and which did so much to rescue the Shiite majority there from the brutality of Hussein’s Sunni-based regime.

Aerial bombings on defenseless civilian targets can be just as evil and deadly as chemical gas attacks. And they are continuous. Yet somehow over Syria such bombings are seen as less reprehensible than a one-off gas attack which, given the strength of the U.S. response, is unlikely to be repeated — assuming of course that the Syrian government was responsible in the first place.

Outside intervention should go even further and seek to separate the warring factions; if a civil war is allowed to continue indefinitely extremists on both sides gain influence, and we know that the winning side will almost certainly inflict dreadful punishment on the losers.

The creation of the Kurdish dominated area in Iraq is a very successful example of how separation intervention can work, even if it was an unintended result of U.S. action in Iraq (unfortunately nothing was done to separate the rival Sunni and Shiite factions, with the ugly results we see today).

In Libya the solution from the beginning should have been to draw a line in the sand between the rival groupings in Tripoli and Benghazi and enforce a truce. In the former Yugoslavia much more should have been done to force ethnic separation once it was clear that past hatreds meant the ethnic groups could not coexist. Fortunately in Bosnia the local Serbs were able over time to create their own self-governing area separate from the Muslim majority, putting an end to years of mutual brutality.

The best example of successful separation after extended civil war has been Taiwan. True, that separation owed much to island isolation plus a belated U.S. promise of intervention (today few seem to remember that the U.S. initially took a hands-off attitude). And Beijing’s angst over Taiwan’s claims and animosities did much to distort later developments in China; the U.S. could have done much more to encourage dialogue. But today, when Taiwan and Beijing are finally talking to each other, and when Taiwan serves as democratic model and investment source to China, many would agree that the enforced separation of Taiwan has helped both sides.

At an early stage of the Vietnam War, some of us in Canberra tried hard to push the creation of a “Taiwan-style” enclave there as a condition for supporting the U.S. intervention if it was clear that Saigon could not defend itself against its enemies. We even managed to persuade the then progressively-minded Rupert Murdoch to give us a page of his flagship newspaper to float the idea publicly.

True, our idea got nowhere: Most were convinced the U.S. was going to win the war anyway. And as with Syria today, many were hung up on the idea of the inviolable and unitary nation-state. But if the alternative is to allow the civil war to continue with both sides trying to claw each other to destruction, as we have seen so dreadfully in Somalia, Sri Lanka, the former Yugoslavia, and so on? Syria should be spared that fate.

 シリアがこれまで一度も是か非かの状況になったことはないのは、はじめからわかっていたはずだ。妥協の余地は常にあった。その明らかな表れのひとつは、モスクワの立場だった。ロシアのセルゲイ・ラブロフは経験と常識の持ち主だ。―― その点はおそらくアメリカの彼の相方に勝るらしい。彼がしばしば発信していた、より穏健的アプローチをという呼びかけは、もっと真剣に取り上げられるべきであったろう。
だが、“ダマスカスを爆撃せよ”と叫ぶわれらがタカ派を抑えるべき理由は、他にもある。そもそもダマスカスがサリン攻撃をやったかどうかということを、疑ってみなければいけなかった。アメリカの介入を招く恐れがあるのに、しかもシリアは自分が望めばいつでもどこでも敵を攻撃できる制空権をすでに手に入れていたのに、なぜ化学兵器を使いたいと思うか? もうひとつ、非常に現実味のある可能性―― この紛争に責任あるいくつかのグループが他にあり、彼らはまさにわれわれがこれまで見てきたようなアメリカの反応を引き出したがっていた可能性―― をなぜ無視しようとするか?
 外部勢力(主にアメリカ)の軍事介入を正当化するために、“ニセの旗”攻撃を計画、あるいは利用する例は長い歴史がある―― 1962年キューバ攻撃を正当化するためにいわゆる“満席”の航空機の破壊を謀ったマングース作戦から、アメリカのベトナム内戦介入をエスカレートするための口実とした作り物のトンキン湾攻撃、コソボのいわゆる暴虐、そしてもしかして9.11事件(ワールドトレードセンター・ビルNo.6の管理されたと見られる崩壊を含めて、多くの謎が説明されていない)に至るまで。

 またわれわれは、シリアで善が悪と戦っているというふうな単純なモラル劇的幻想に足をとられてはいけない。最初は、モラルの要素があった。―― 腐敗した抑圧的統治に抵抗する大衆を鎮圧するダマスカスの暴虐を押さえ込むことだった。けれども、サウジアラビアやカタールが武器その他で蜂起を支援していることが明らかになるにつれて、そこで戦われている内戦はスンニ派による他のムスリム諸派の支配と見られるようになった。すでにバーレーン、サウジアラビア、またサダムフセインのイラクでは、それがもたらした嫌悪すべき出来事の詳細をわれわれは見てきた。
 シリアでの介入に正当な理由があるとすれば、それはほかのところにあるし、今も引き続きそうだ。もし仮に内戦が公正に戦われた場合―― 双方とも圧倒的優勢な武力や外部支援を得ていない場合―― どちらが勝ったにしても、それは確かな国民の意思の表れとして受け入れることができる。ところがシリアでは、戦いは公正に行われなかった。




 長引く内戦の末に分離に成功したいちばんよい例は、台湾だろう。たしかに、この分離は、島が孤立していること、それに加えアメリカの遅ればせながらの介入があったおかげである(アメリカは最初は不介入の方針だったことを、今ではみんな忘れているようであるが)。 そして、台湾の主張と敵対関係をめぐる北京の苛立ちは、後の中国の発展を大きくゆがめることになった;アメリカは対話を促すためにもっともっと力を尽くすことができたはずだ。しかし今日、北京と台湾がようやく互いに対話を開始し、台湾が中国にとって民主的のよきモデル、また投資のよきソースとして働きかけることができるという時に、台湾が分離させられた措置自体は、双方にとって役に立ったと考える人は多いだろう。


 たしかに、このアイディアは実現しなかった、みながどっち道アメリカが勝つに違いないと思っていた。そして今日のシリアの場合のように、多くの人が犯しがたい、統一的な、ネーション・ステイツの概念に縛られていた。しかし、それができないならば代わりは、われわれがソマリア、スリランカ、前ユーゴスラビアほかで悲惨な例を見たように、双方が倒れるまで内戦を戦うままに放置することだとしたら? シリアはそのような運命を免れるべきだ。