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In reaction to recently alleged chemical attacks upon civilians in Syria, President Trump has launched a major US missile attack against the Assad regime – from US warships in the Mediterranean, just east of Cyprus.

Those who know their history (or even those who loosely play generic war games on a PC) might understand how a chain of alliances can lead to all-out war. This bullish US aggression could be a turning point for the world, perhaps even our ‘Franz Ferdinand’ moment. Because behind the humanitarian outcry, what Trump has done is to force the allies of Syria – namely Russia and Iran – into a corner. They only really have two choices now. Either they must come to the aid of their ally militarily, or abandon Assad and back off – allowing the US and the West free rein in the region: essentially green-lighting them to take whatever action they wish.

Hell, it could even give Israel ideas to follow suit in Palestine. It’s hardly like Netanyahu takes much notice of international rulings on the matter any way.

China could feasibly respond to US aggression in the region too – particularly if backed by Russia, and odds are tipped in their favour. Your best chance of taking down a giant is if you attack it from all sides, after all. The Middle East is an increasingly dangerous chess board. It has been for decades – centuries, even. It’s not just resources, it’s strategic; the doorway between two worlds.

And, of course, if the US are dragged into full-scale war, there is no doubt they will ‘call the banners’, particularly with a man like Trump at the helm. That means Britain, Canada, and probably most of Europe too. Because any western nation, EU member or NATO ally who doesn’t back Trump’s regime in any and all military actions, particularly a conflict as significant as that with Russia, would almost undoubtedly find themselves on a geopolitical naughty step. Blacklisted, sanctioned, or God knows what else.

Let me describe that another way: World War III.

The Humanitarian crisis – but which one?

Since the colonial period died away, and sabre-rattling for its own sake became frowned upon, Western governments have faced the pesky detail of having to ‘justify’ their military actions. From their point of view, things were probably so much simpler when they could just shout “for King and country” and order two hundred dragoons over the hill.

This invariably means showing the populace some sort of disaster, or humanitarian crisis. An affront to that which we see as palatable in a modern world. However, a nuance that often escapes the majority of Western electorates is the hypocrisy. These appalling aberrations of humanity occur all the time, and all over the world. Often under regimes that it suits our governments to remain ‘hush hush’ about, or to look away from. No finer example being than the way our British government rolls out the red carpet for other Islamic terrorists, Saudi princes who behead, stone and persecute their own people; or cold blooded killers like Duterte in the Philippines – a man who freely admits he ordered death squads to go out on to his streets and murder hundreds of ‘undesirables’. Then we cry outrage when a nation we don’t like does something awful. We harangue Russia for its corruption and its treatment of homosexuals. We deplore Assad for waging a brutal war against innocent people. Whether you believe the west should intervene in such circumstances or not, you simply cannot deny the hypocrisy, and the seemingly blinkered Western attitude to picking and choosing which humanitarian crises we should be enraged by, and consequently motivated to act against.

Usually it turns out to be the crises where there is military, diplomatic, or financial gain. Odd, that. Funny how our governments are so outraged by the plight of innocents when they’re being bombed by an enemy, but not when we’re bombing them. Or when they’re drowning in the Mediterranean, trying to get away from the bombs.

Uncomfortable ambiguity

There is growing concern that the US does not accurately report on events in the Middle East. A legacy which of course charts all the way back to the Iraq war, and Blair and Bush’s testimony to Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction”. It amazes me that those who question our governments’ versions of events can still so easily be slapped with the term ‘conspiracist’, or ‘tin-foil hatter’ etc, when the whole world has been shown categorically that Western governments WILL lie to achieve their own ends. It’s like ignoring the six tonne elephant in the room.

This is one such meme doing the rounds:

I make no ironclad judgements as to the horrors of this chemical attack in Syria, or diminish them in any way. I am not qualified to say. I simply explore some inconvenient details:

  • Just about every major US and Western military strike in the past century has been preempted by an attack on Western interests, and/or an ‘affront to humanity’. Almost like clockwork. Many of these attacks do not entirely add up and, at best, have left many people questioning the relevant governments’ reported versions of events.
  • There have been many challenges to reporting in Syria specifically, and the role of the ‘White Helmets’ for example. According to many credible sources, their role in the Syria conflict is entirely duplicitous, and a subterfuge.
  • Assad must have known that a chemical weapons attack was one of the very few things he could possibly do that would enrage the entire international community, and justify bombers from all over the world to start pounding his administration back into the dirt. It seems to me, given the tentative geopolitical situation in the region, for him to do that was almost incomprehensibly stupid. It makes very little sense, tactically. The Syrian government have also categorically denied involvement in this chemical attack.
  • The American attack on Syria was launched the very next day after the reported chemical attack. At best, this means the US administration did not take long to verify the facts/details concerning the attack, at worst, the guns were already primed.
  • One demonstrable side effect of worsening tensions in the Middle East is that the price of oil and gold have both spiked. Munitions manufacturing too. Meaning that regardless of anything else, many rich business types around the world will be rubbing their hands together with glee. (You know, those types mostly occupying or connected to Trump’s administration.)
  • Having spat and elbowed his way to the Oval office by decrying US military interventions around the world, shouting loudly that conflicts in the Middle East were none of the United States’ business etc, and that ‘crooked Hillary’ would lead us into another World War and/or confrontation with Russia, Trump sure as hell needed a good justification to u-turn. Something… anything, in order to betray the key campaign pledge. He couldn’t sweep that one under the carpet.
  • While Trump is undergoing increased scrutiny amid damning allegations of involvement with the Russian government, I can think of very little better to put such allegations to bed than an act of hostility against Russia. It almost kneecaps the argument, and questionably makes any continued investigation nonsensical.

A simple fact is this. Any country that spends inordinate amounts of its budget and GDP on overwhelming military capabilities wants to use them at some stage. Anyone who believes otherwise needs to wake up and smell the coffee. It is a business like any other. If there is no demand for the weapons, the businesses go under. That necessitates war and conflict, in the eyes of the people who benefit.

Often, they also just happen to be the same people who sell you newspapers.

Another simple fact – in spite of all the controversy surrounding the interaction between Donald Trump and the Kremlin, the question of his alleged treason, we’d better all bloody hope there is a special relationship between the two men after all. Because maybe, just maybe, Vladimir Putin won’t respond by dragging us all into a World War.

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