US Defeat in Syria: The Wrong End of “Might Makes Right”
With Damascus and its allies firmly in control of Syria and its future – the war having been decided on the ground rather than “politically” as envisioned by Western politicians, media, and policymakers – the US proxy war against Syria has all but failed.
Despite the obvious defeat – and as contemporary American history has illustrated – the US will unlikely relent and instead, do all within its power to complicate the war’s conclusion and disrupt desperately needed reconstruction efforts.
Encapsulating current American intentions in Syria is a Foreign Policy article titled, “The New U.N. Envoy to Syria Should Kill the Political Process to Save it.”
The article – written by Julien Barnes-Dacey of the NATO-Soros-funded European Council on Foreign Relations – suggests the otherwise inevitable end of the conflict be delayed and that reconstruction aid be held hostage until political concessions are made with the militarily-defeated foreign-backed militants dislodged from much of Syria’s territory by joint Syrian-Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah efforts.
The article makes an unconvincing argument that maintaining Idlib as a militant bastion, delaying the conflict’s conclusion, and withholding reconstruction aid will somehow positively benefit the day-to-day lives of Syrian civilians despite all evidence suggesting otherwise.
Demands made toward “decentralizing” political power across Syria seems to be a poorly re-imagined and watered down version of America’s Balkanization plans rolled out in 2012 when swift regime change was clearly not possible. The article also indicates concern over Europe’s potential pivot toward Russia and an abandonment of European complicity with US regime change efforts.
But what is most striking is the article’s – and Washington’s insistence that Syria make concessions to a defeated enemy – funded and armed from abroad and with every intention of transforming Syria into what Libya has become in the wake of the US-led NATO intervention there – a fractured failed state overrun by extremists disinterested and incapable of administering a functioning, united nation-state.
It is striking because it has been the US who has for over half a century predicated its foreign policy on the age-old adage of “might makes right.” The US – no longer mightiest – now demands concessions despite no leverage to logically compel anyone to make such concessions.
At the Wrong End of “Might Makes Right”
While the US poses as leader of the “free world” and self-appointed caretaker of a “rules based international order,” such rhetorical constructs are mere smokescreens obfuscating what is otherwise naked modern-day imperialism.
By the end of the Cold War, the US saw an opportunity to cement this “might makes right” international order by plundering a collapsed Soviet Union and liquidating old Soviet client states from North Africa, through the Middle East, and all across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The 2003 invasion of Iraq was perhaps the apex of American “might makes right” in action. It was a war based entirely on intentionally fabricated claims to underwrite what was otherwise a war of conquest. It was the keystone of a much larger project to reorganize Cold War spheres of influence into a single realm under Wall Street and Washington.
The US possessed not only the military and economic means of forcing nations to concede to its interests, it monopolized global information and public perception to convince the world it was doing so for a nobler cause.
With the acceleration of technology – in terms of information, industry, and defense – the disparity between the sole global superpower and even developing nations has begun to shrink – saying nothing of the growing parity between Russia and China vis-a-vis the US and Europe.
The US-led war in Libya was perhaps the last, mostly unopposed “might makes right” war Washington executed with full impunity.
Its attempts to repeat the Libyan experience in Syria met a political and military brick wall with the 2015 Russian intervention. The US also suffered serious setbacks in Ukraine in 2013 and 2014 when Crimea was reunited with Russia and separatists in eastern Ukraine spoiled a US-backed coup aimed at transforming the entire nation into a proxy not only hostile toward Moscow, but sitting right on Russia’s borders.
In an international order predicated on “might makes right,” Washington finds itself no longer the mightiest. Rather than reexamining American priorities and reforming US foreign policy, the US is instead doubling down on its commitment toward regional and global primacy. The corporate-financier interests underwriting this foreign policy do so for a lack of a better alternative.
The Tropism of Imperialism
Like an evolutionary tropism – the economic and political forces that have taken hold of America, its people, and its resources could no more redirect the course of American foreign policy than a tree could redirect its growth toward the sun. However, external forces – an emerging multipolar world order – are more than capable of pruning this overgrown empire, and perhaps redirecting its growth into a shape more conducive toward global stability.
In Syria, a significant branch of American imperialism is being pruned away. US troops lodged in Syria’s east represent an expensive and vulnerable occupation. The ability or inability of Syria and its allies to dislodge the US presence there will indicate just how aggressive the rolling back of American imperialism will be – which may be one explanation as to why the US is so stubbornly refusing to withdraw them.
A US withdrawal from Iraq, Syria, or Afghanistan would be perceived as a sign of weakness. But it is weakness already more than apparent to the world – thus stubborn long-term and now multiplying occupations in and of themselves are a sign of growing American impotence. There is no positive outcome regarding current US foreign policy – not for those directing it and for the time being benefiting from it, nor for those subjected to it.
In Syria and elsewhere the US is engaged, the task at hand is to manage America’s decline with patient persistence and avoid deadly, desperate attempts by Washington and Wall Street to reassert American influence through destructive wars and proxy wars.
Rome was not built in a day, nor was it dismantled in a day. But it was ultimately dismantled. It would be unrealistic to believe otherwise regarding modern American hegemony.