By: Hazem Saghieh
The postponement of the U.S. strike on Syria was seen, as usual, as an occasion to declare victory. According to the brilliant mind that the axis of defiance is blessed with, anything that does not kill automatically or cast dirt upon the corpse is a major victory. Thus are the expectations of the lowly, amid very loud clamoring indeed.
That aside, the Syrian regime suffered two resounding moral and material defeats. It turned out that he Syrian regime owns and stores the chemical weapons used in Ghouta, and subsequently, it is the party that now has to hand the weapons over humiliatingly for their dismantlement and the dismantlement of the last remaining lie of so-called ‘strategic balance’ with Israel.
But the Syrian regime will also be exposed to monitoring and inspection, which most likely will be the first step in the path towards its death, which may be long and winding. It’s the death that comes after many insults, which the cries of glorious triumph will perhaps infuse with a farcical element.
Yet this does not invalidate the fact that the Syrian revolution is not the party that will benefit from the significant weakening of the regime, and things may develop in such a way that they would culminate in a situation where no one may be able to benefit from the regime’s death.
Indeed, the most recent political battle between the ‘international community’ and the Assad regime overlooked the Syrian people and their pains, while the revolution was unable to breach this confrontation and establish an organic link between its battle and the battle of the ‘international community’ against their common enemy.
At the heart of this image, there are two weaknesses: The weakness of Barack Obama’s leadership (unfortunately, imperialism is weak!), and the weakness of the Syrian revolution.
The fact of the matter is that the first weakness, after the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in light of the economic crisis, is fueled by the growing isolationist mood, not just in the United States, but also in Western Europe. A majority of two-thirds of these communities is loath to any military intervention, no matter what form it takes, outside their territories. And when immunity towards humanitarian appeals weakens, they meet this, at best, with understanding and sympathy from faraway.
Is this reality changeable? Can the Syrian revolution play a role in changing it?
By recalling the experience of the Second World War, it becomes clear that back then, the U.S. mood was too averse to involvement in the major conflict, content with providing military support to the British allies, and not interested in the attempts of Winston Churchill to “implicate” Washington in the war.
This situation continued until Pearl Harbor, which confirmed that the Axis also wanted to target the United States, its sovereignty, and its interests. However, the U.S. response to what happened in Hawaii was also accompanied by clear popular awareness of the difference between the two sides to the conflict, that is, fascism on the one side, and liberal democracy on the other.
If that experience were to teach us anything, it would be the need to clarify the unity of interests with the powers whose support is desired, and the need to clarify the difference with the forces whose defeat is sought, but also with the forces of the revolution that undermine the revolution’s connection to the outside world.
In other words, there is no hope to push Western attitudes into a more advanced position in light of the reluctance to forge a direct alliance with the West, or in light of fighting the Baath in a Baathist language. There is no hope of doing so in light of turning a blind eye to the radical jihadists, whether they are manufactured by the regime or not; in light of seeing the issue of minorities – the Alawites, Kurds, Christians, and others – as marginal; in light of refraining from putting forward any promising vision for the future; or in light of failing to build military, political, and organizational bodies that can be taken seriously.
No doubt, these are difficult tasks. But the Syrian situation itself is difficult, and has no room for easy options. Yet it must be said that relying on foreign intervention, in light of the inability to resolve the conflict with the regime, itself implies a high dose of self-criticism. Indeed, it is saying that we are facing a brutal regime whose brutality did not fall from the sky, but came out of tangible social precursors. But it is also saying that the counter social precursors are not sufficient to topple the regime and make the revolution a success.
Perhaps it is time for this implicit and silent self-criticism of an entire society to become heard, with a clear direction. Otherwise, the ‘international community’ will kill the regime, but the revolution, too, will have died by then.