When George W Bush first declared the ‘War on Terror’ it seemed like just another of his ‘mis-speaks’ – surely he must have meant ‘War on Terrorism’? But we didn’t really bother because we knew it was neither, but just a label for wars of convenience on someone else’s Terra.
As these wars of opportunism fought by the United States to expand its interests and control pass their fourteenth year however, their supposed target has now grown to fit Bush’s description, as legions of stereo-typical ‘terrorists’ rampage across America’s foreign battlefields.
Perhaps it should be no surprise to find that this morphosis in the enemy has been accompanied by a change in how it is portrayed by the prosecutors of the war on terror and their client media.
Just as they pretended to be fighting terrorism in all those years when they were fighting for control of Iraq’s oil fields, now they are pretending to fight against ‘violent extremism’ and ‘radicalisation’ at home, while justifying their ongoing campaign abroad as ‘self-defence’ – the ‘Islamist death-cult’ must be prevented from spreading beyond the boundaries of the chosen battlefields, and coming home to bite its trainers. (That campaign of course is little altered, though now rapidly expanding in scale to threaten the whole region, including Russia)
But there’s another reason for this ‘rebranding of the enemy’ to sell it to the Western public – the countries who have to actually fight and die at the hands of this terrorist enemy are calling it by its real name, so the West can no longer use it without admitting that they share a common foe.
This has come into sharp focus in recent weeks with the launching by Russia of a bold initiative – putting together a group of states to fight the terrorist groups in Syria. It is a bold initiative because two of those states have been the main supporters of the Syrian insurgency, and must be convinced that it is in their own interests to change direction, as well as to abandon their quest to overthrow the Syrian government.
But Russia’s initiative is no gambit, as it begins with one unyielding condition – that President Assad is going nowhere until stability is restored, when new free elections can decide if he will remain Syrians’ choice of president.
The Russian joint counter-terrorism plan has another feature which distinguishes it from all the plans past and current of the self-declared ‘international community’ to ‘fight terror’ or to ‘degrade and destroy Da’esh’ – it is what it says, and doesn’t conceal some hidden agenda.
And as far as Russia and Syria are concerned, this means fighting ALL the armed groups who are terrorising the inhabitants of villages and cities in Syria, regardless of their affiliation or alleged justification for taking up arms against the Syrian Arab Army.
Apart from calling the US coalition’s bluff – that it is only protecting Syria and the world from Da’esh, this plan obviously directly targets groups that the US is not targeting, like ‘Syria’s Al Qaeda’ – Jabhat al Nusra, or actually supporting, like the mythical ‘Free Syrian Army’ or its new ‘Division 30’.
As far as the Syrian army and the people they are defending are concerned such labels are irrelevant and offensive – they simply want to see the end of this foreign-backed insurgency with the death or disarming of all its fighters.
Recently we heard from a friend who has returned to his home in Aleppo, and who has particularly acute observations to make of how it feels to be under constant threat of attack from terrorists, as they daily fire their home made gas-cylinder missiles to kill and terrorise residents of the government-secured section of the city.
Aleppo has also been suffering from a water shortage, as the insurgent groups have control of the supply from the Euphrates and only allow it to reach the rest of Aleppo via the Queiq river, into which they have dumped dead bodies and sewage. He describes how he feels:
“Those capable of dumping bread and clean water into a contaminated river to prevent half the city from eating the bread or having clean drinking water are committing heinous crimes against humanity.
I am not sure if it is a “war crime” as such but they are the real “infidels” if there is any real meaning for this word that they bandy about so liberally.
They are not “freedom fighters” or “moderates” that NATO and their allies are supporting so vociferously. We are suffering from lack of water, we go thirsty while they are intentionally squandering it.
I watch, heavy hearted, as the elderly and children patiently wait in endless queues in the searing heat to fill their assorted containers. I see them having to lug these heavy containers through the narrow alleyways, struggling under the weight as the precious water splashes into the dust beneath their feet.
I feel nothing but rage when I see these thugs and criminals on the other side of the city pouring thousands of litres of clean, fresh water into the disease infested river under the noses of the thirsty Syrians they are claiming to liberate.
They are the terrorists, they are the monsters in this story and they are committing daily mass crimes against the citizens of Aleppo, but this is never mentioned by the western media.
This is Aleppo, the real Aleppo, not the western media fantasy, this is our sleeping, waking, perpetual nightmare of life under terrorist occupation.”
So what does the ‘Coalition against ISIS’ have to say about these terrorists targeting Syrians and their soldiers? It says: ‘do what you like but don’t target us’. And as Australia stands ready to expand its air force deployment over the border from Iraq following a US request, the danger to Australian forces from pursuit at the International Criminal Court seems to be the main consideration. For our friend in Aleppo such insufferable conceit would make Australia’s likely contribution to Syria’s suffering indistinguishable from all the rest.