The Most Revolutionary Act

Diverse Ramblings of an American Refugee

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
New Plymouth, New Zealand
December 02
Retired psychiatrist, activist and author of 2 young adult novels - Battle for Tomorrow and A Rebel Comes of Age - and a free ebook 21st Century Revolution. My 2010 memoir The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee describes the circumstances that led me to leave the US in 2002. More information about my books (and me) at

FEBRUARY 16, 2012 3:20PM

Why the US Wants Regime Change in Syria

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(This is the second of two blogs about the covert US war against Syria. The case Obama is making for sanctions and “humanitarian” intervention in Syria is a total fabrication. The US goal in Syria is regime change. The people Assad is attacking aren’t unarmed protestors. They are Islamic militants that the US and NATO have been funding and training for at least ten months.)

The People of Syria Support Assad

According to John R Bradley, author of After the Arab Revolution and the only analyst to predict the Egyptian revolution, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are also providing arms and funding to the Free Syrian Army. In an interview with Russia Today, Bradley supports the prevailing view of Assad as a ruthless despot. However he also points out that Syria’s president is one of the last secular Arab leaders in the most ethnically diverse nation in the Middle East. At the moment, he enjoys wide popular support because many Syrians view him as the last bastion between them and a fundamentalist Islamic government, like the one just installed in Libya.

Recent callers from Homs (the Syrian city under siege) to the February 10, 2012 BBC Have Your Say seem to support this perspective. While none are big Assad fans, the growing strength of the Islamic resistance worries them. Moreover they see Assad’s secular administration as far preferable to Sharia Law.

The US Military Agenda in the Middle East

Michel Chossudovksy, who has also been writing for months on the covert US war in Syria, is more alarmed about its significance in the context of broader American objectives in the Middle East. He explains that the US has targeted Syria, both because of its strategic alliance with Iran and because of Pentagon’s underlying strategy of isolating and encircling Iran as a prelude to toppling its current government. In a recent interview on Guns and Butter, he describes how the US has systematically occupied and/or militarized nearly all the countries that border Iran. First you have US-occupied Afghanistan and Pakistan (the target of a second undeclared US war) on Iran’s eastern border. Then you have Iraq, which is still partially occupied, Kuwait (where the US deployed 15,000 troops in December), and Turkey, with its US airbases, on Iran’s western border. Finally you have Saudi Arabia (also host to major US military bases) and Qatar to the south. According to Chossudovksy, US military intervention in Syria will spill over and involve the Hezbollah in Lebanon, effectively neutralizing Iran’s last remaining allies.

In a disturbing article entitled When War Games Go Live , Chossoduvsky quotes from retired General Wesley Clark’s 2003 book Winning Modern Wars regarding the role of military intervention against Syria and Iran in the Pentagon’s grand Middle East strategy. According to Clark, the Pentagon has been making preparation to attack both countries since the mid-nineties. On page 130 of Winning Modern Wars, Clark states

“As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.”

The reliability of these predictions, despite a 2008 regime change from George Bush, the so-called neocon hawk, to Barack Obama, a supposed soft power advocate, is uncanny. The US persists in its occupation of Iraq, in addition to major military engagements in Somalia and Sudan. Presumably the military intervention in Libya is complete, now that the new US-friendly regime has agreed to privatize Libyan oil for the benefit of US oil companies.

According to Chossudovsky, countries such as Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Iran and Sudan became US military targets because they refused to play ball by allowing Anglo-American oil company unlimited access to their oil resources. In contrast, oil-poor countries like Syria and Lebanon are current targets because of strategic alliances with oil-rich Iran.

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My next blog is on Pentagon plans for Iran. Outside intervention is clearly in the cards, despite the military treaties both Russia and China (both nuclear powers have) have to defend Iran against an external aggressor. Russia, which has a naval base in southern Syria, also has a treaty to protect them against outside intervention.
Maybe so. Or, maybe a whole lot of people in Syria are sick of Assad and we're helping them out. Perhaps... both? Where do you place the wishes of the Syrian people on your scale of what is worthy and what isn't?
Did you listen to the BBC Have Your Say program? A lot of people from Syria called in and said that Assad was the only thing standing between them and an Islamic state. Most of the anti-Assad calls were from Syrian exiles who live in the US or London. There have been massive demonstrations in favor of Assad that never get reported in the US media (check on Chossudovsky's link - he has posted images of some of these demonstrations). The Syrian people who phoned in to the BBC are terrified that the armed Islamist militants are going to end up installing an Islamist government like the one in Libya. Syria is the most ethnically diverse country in the Middle East. There are a lot of Christians and Jews there, as well as both Shia and Sunni Muslims. From what they told the BBC, a lot of these people are really frightened that if Assad is overthrown, they will lose their secular government and be forced to follow Sharia Law. Libya has imposed Sharia Law, and anyone who objects is getting tortured and assassinated (at least according to Amnesty International).

When the US and NATO covertly support Islamic militants (in violation of international law), they are clearly not giving a say to Syrians who want to maintain a secular state.
By "Syrians who want to maintain a secular state" are you referring to the Assad regime? I remember how Qadaffi claimed (until he was shot in the head by one of his own people) that Al Qaeda was the main instigator of the uprisings in Libya. Remember that? You make noises about international law, but please tell me, is the shelling of Homs being carried out within the bounds of international law? Do you hold Assad to a less stringent standard than you do the machinations of the United States? If so, why?
Dr. B: please, if Obama is not what this is about (as you replied to me yesterday), maybe you should change the lead paragraph (the one in parentheses) in which you use "Obama" and "fabrication" in the same sentence. Sorta play into the wet dreams of those who think we'll be happier and more peaceful when Romney becomes President.

I admire the ways you are putting the argument for non-intervention, which is usually the more popular viewpoint anyway. It is true that Assad was supported by most of the minorities and even among the Sunni majority in Syria, and probably could have stayed that way if he had given some real concessions early on. But the tables have turned, and the war drums are beating, just as they did against Qaddafi once he started killing people wholesale.

Wesley Clark was (is?) a brave man, but to assume that a decade-old strategic plan means that intervention is imminent is not realistic. That's just how they roll at the Pentagon when things are in turmoil somewhere - get ready for the worst.

Lots of bad information floating around about Syria too - not surprisingly since it was in the shadows for so long. If the Russkies have a naval base in southern Syria, they must have some incredible sand-burrowing subs technology. It is in northern Syria at Tartous, near Lattakia.
Drew-Silla, it has been well-established, as reported in the mainstream Telegraph, that Libyan rebels had Al-Qaeda links. In fact the Libyan rebel commander admitted it:

As for the shelling of Homs, it's the impression of residents of Homs (the ones who called into the BBC) that the government was shelling armed militants who were leading an armed insurrection against a sovereign government (you can read the report of the Arab League Observer Mission - I have a link in my prior post - this is confirmation by neutral observers that this is happening). And yes, the right of a sovereign government to protect itself against armed insurrection is protected under international law. If Occupy Wall Street decided to take up arms and storm government installations in Washington DC, the US government would be perfectly within its rights under international laws to use all its military might against them.

Ordinary joe, your comment confuses me. If we can't hold the Commander in Chief accountable for what the US military and CIA, exactly who do we hold accountable? What makes you say that our strategy in the Middle East has changed since 2001? The US has carried out military intervention in Iraq, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan, just like Clark predicted - there are still active duty troops on the ground in Iraq, Somalia and Sudan. Moreover we seem to be on track to attack Iran - if the January 2012 war game Austere Challenge 12 is anything to go by (the largest war game in world history. Check out "When War Games Go Live"
You live in a charmingly black and white world, Dr. Bramhall. Anything done by the United States is evil (except, perhaps, for shelling OWS encampments), whereas anything done by autocratic regimes that happen to oppose the United States is just dandy. It must be nice to be so full of certitude at all times. No shades of grey for you, nah, there's just the mean ol' Yankee Empire beatin' up on all these fine folk who are only defending their massively corrupt and anti-democratic police states dontcha know...
Drew-Silla, your comment is what is know as an argumentum ad hominem fallacy - i.e. when you can't attack the facts or reasoning, you attack the person.

I'm sure this blog will attract lots more controversy. I'm tied up in a Green Party conference for the next few days but promise to respond on Sat.
I'm glad someone else noticed that we're surrounding Iran. I really thought I was the only one. I can't wait for the war in Turkmenistan. That one should be awesome.
Dr, Bramhall; I notice that you like to use lawyerly language when it helps you to avoid discussing actual facts. How very... commendable.
[r] Stuart, thanks for this. In this disinformation age in America I watch the news with horror as a "humanitarian" corridor is now being pushed by France to "help" Syria. Major bullshit. Yeah, that is rich. If you hear the word "humanitarian" trust it means bombing the sh*t out of civilians. Al Qaeda fighters are now being brought up as being aligned with Syria. AQ when they were part of the Libyan rebels was no biggie to the drivers of the USWarMachine, but now the AQ mongering starts. So the US and NATO lost credibility with what they did with Libya (to anyone but myopic, disinformed Americans), so the bullying oil hungry rapist Western nations have to be more manipulative re Syria. War with Syria they say won't stay contained in Syria like it did in Libya but will explode over more regions. More death. More refugees. And do they really care about the future of the peoples, whether it is secular or religious as long as the contractors get theirs and they score a proxy win against Iran and Russia and China (the grandiose aggression intensifies). But to the US(Israel)/NATOWarMachine, the hammer is the tool to faux-settle unrest (really destabilize for profit, why we are so generous with arms sales). Really, the hammer is the tool to commit genocide in the name of profit. Wrong Side of History, America, and its accessory to murder majority of lemming citizens!!!! Another nation state set up for devastation and exploitation! libby
Malcolm, we're surrounding Iran because the only people who talk about how much Iran is our enemy more than we do is... Iran. They would surround US if they could ya idjit; do you seriously believe otherwise? How for fuck's sake can a college boy have such a weak grasp of geopolitics?
If it weren't for the fact that Persia has never been the aggressor nation in any conflict with another country that I can find, I'd totally be there with ya, drewsie, but since they are an historically defensive nation and we've given Israel 1st strike nuclear capability (decidedly OFFENSIVE weapons), I'm gonna have to say that you are completely talking out your ass on this one.
" that the new US-friendly regime has agreed to privatize Libyan oil for the benefit of US oil companies." There you have it. R
Malcolm, the Iranians might still remember that they were indeed once the aggressors, the baddest dogs in the neighborhood, but got ultimately had their butts whipped by Western forces. OK, that was a while back, 2500 years or so, but I'm sure they know their history better than we do, either ours or theirs.

No, I don't blame our aggressive stance on Obama, at not as singlehandedly as many do. Presidents don't have the power to wage war, and of course this was a point of dissension over intervening in Libya, where I think Obama followed a conscientious path to Congress' ire. It took Pearl Harbor to convince Congress to enter WWII, something the Roosevelt administration was unable to do on its own. Bush Jr. was not the instigator of the Iraq tragedy - he was suckered by Wolfowitz and the rest of the "New Right". Vietnam, I still believe, happened because Kennedy (son of a Hitler appeaser) and Johnson could not stand the pressure from the right - I blame them more for their weakness in opposing the diplomatic (who lost China? was still fresh) and military-industrial complex that was largely ignored after Eisenhower outed it, because it meant jobs, jobs, jobs and votes, votes, votes. I fault Obama for naivete about being able to bring the m-i c to heel rather than for bloodthirstiness. Leon Panetta gave it a shot, probably ineffectually but then again, today I heard The Despicable Hannity say that he has to go, so maybe he's OK after all.

That's my take. I could wish for more enlightened foreign policy, but I'll settle for leading from behind for now. At least we can discuss it without calling names as in several other blogs I've seen on OS.
Malcolm, college boy, you with your degrees and stuff; you don't know much about history. Not that ancient history has a lot to do with the "modern" situation, but since you brought it up and seem set on showing what a smartypants you are, have you ever heard of the Persian Empire? Xerxes? The various (ha!) dudes who called themselves Darius? Ever heard of the Parthians, Malcolm, or the Sassanids? ? Do you really have any idea of what the fuck you're talking about when you type the shit that you type into the Interwebz? You're a dear fellow, Malcom X whatever, but you don't know a fucking thing about history let alone geopolitics.
You would have to be both blind and deaf to really believe that the people of Syria don't want Assad out as soon as possible. He is slaughtering innocents (by the thousands now). I have no doubt that there are Islamic militants in the fight now, but to suggest that this is some kind of big Western conspiracy theory is ridiculous.

Assad has sheltered leaders of terrorist organisations for years. Khalid Mishal runs Hamas from Syria, for a start. He also gave refuge to one of the worst Nazi war criminals of WW2 and was probably responsible for the assassination of Hariri.

He needs to go.
Natalie Not Pedantic, the only woman for whom I'd be gay...
Here's the thing about Syria, and it's a thing which Dr. Bramhall doesn't seem much concerned about: Syria is a profoundly corrupt and completely anti-democratic police state which is brutally repressing its own citizens and which also, acting as a proxy of Iran as it often does, projects terrorist proxies of its own all over the damn place. That is a fact, and I'd be interested to see if anyone here would seriously dispute it. Now, are the United States and NATO acting in the Mid East from purely altruistic motives? Of course they're not, no more than the brutal Assad regime or the Islamist (and Doc Bramhall does seem concerned about Islamists!) government in Tehran are acting from altruistic motives. So what are we left with here? The West crafts a narrative about what is going on and their enemies craft a narrative too about what is going on, so it seems worthwhile that we find things out for ourselves rather than buying into some bullshit Manichean worldview wherein one side is completely evil and the other side is completely good. Yes, the Western media are lying, but they aren't the only liars on the block.
Dear God. The "lesser of two evils" crap now being applied to reckless, aggressive, destabilizing, violent US/NATO imperialism. All about oil and the petro-dollar SO NOT ABOUT THE WELFARE OF SYRIANS OR WHOMEVER WE ARE BULLSHITTING AND BOMBING OPPORTUNISTICALLY AND OBSCENELY! So we cultivate puppets in the MidEast to betray their neighboring countries, we come down hard on a country oppressing its people if they are not in the US oligarchs' pockets, but if they are, oppress away and we'll give you the military toys to do it with!!! From a blog I recently did on Syria:

"If only R2P really did stand for “responsibility to protect”, the alleged intention of the UN’s mandate, and an evolved international community with honorable intentions could enter stage left, WITHOUT guns blazing, to help a hapless and endangered citizenry and to promote peace and national welfare. Instead, as Pepe Escobar has declared, “R2P” has clearly come to stand for “right to plunder” among the hyper-militarized, avaricious, and what might well be called “Axis of Western Evil,” the US, NATO and Israel (and their new and growing collection of Arab/African puppets)."

"So, as more and more innocent citizens die in Syria by the bloody hand of their government, the imperialist vultures (another Escobar apt coinage) circle, ready to ruthlessly exploit and expand the destruction of Syria’s infrastructure, seriously ignoring the hellish plight of the people save for possible shallow and shameless pr war-perpetrating purposes."

"“No fly zone” in Libya had such peaceful connotations upon first hearing, did it not? HAH! As did “humanitarian interference.” As with Libya, as violence toward Syria inevitably breaks out from the faux-humanitarian “Western Axis of Evil” will the citizen-killing chaos be hidden behind a fraudulent, “international community” mask? Will the word "war" Orwellianly and shamelessly be dropped from the Western corporate media once again?"

"The Syrian citizens are damned from within, damned from without. One might say, forgive the pun but it also seems apt, they are between “I-raq” (a looming and dooming “Iraqization” of their country, so to speak) and a hard place (their betraying, vicious government)."
"Natalie Not Pedantic, the only woman for whom I'd be gay..."

Tease ;)
I'm pretty sure the US sheltered the worst Nazi war criminals (the ones without the big names that you can't get away with sheltering).

And, Drew, I do not know my ancient history, but show me where Iran has been the aggressor in any recent conflict. They haven't.
Here's another really important video about what's really happening in Syria right now.