Defeating the Hegemon

Mass opposition to war did not deter the Obama administration from plunging the US in another crisis, which has deepened the chasm in the political order between both the adventurists and the right-wing neo-isolationists, such as the Tea Party. Compared to either the adventurists of the John McCain type or the isolationists, Obama’s position seemed «moderate.” He appeared to be «tough” with the Syrians, threatening to strike at any minute. It appeared, too, that the threat has worked as he made the Syrians agree to give up their stockpile of chemical weapons. But this argument rests on false logic: it presupposes that Obama was certain that the Russians would offer the Syrian chemical weapons as a gift to the US to avoid a war in which the US would triumph. This logic also presupposes that in its stance the US has upheld human rights and was disgusted by the Syrian use of chemical weapons.

This myopic view dismisses the US actions in the region as part of its global design to maintain and strengthen its hegemony. However, a review of the US role in the region reveals US hypocrisy regarding human rights and democracy. Its support of Israel, despite Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, exposes US animosity towards the peoples of the region. US support of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt is another example. The US has violated human rights in pursuit of its national interests, which are those of the US-dominated transnational capitalists.

Furthermore, holders of this myopic view seem or pretend to think that the quarrel with Syria is merely about the stockpile of chemical weapons and chemical attacks that the US has accused the Syrians from launching. This propaganda has no relation to what has occurred on the ground. Therefore, a different reading based on concrete events is required to discern why the US moved away from the brink regarding Syria.

A different reading of the recent developments would point out that since the beginning of the Arab mass uprisings, the US had been caught off guard as the resulting instability has disrupted its strategy to regain or consolidate its global power. It had to improvise. So far it appears that despite several setbacks the US has been able to redirect its strategy and try again, as the Syrian case indicates.

But the tenacity and military successes of the Syrian regime against the terrorists and the demise of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt constitutes a major setback for the US. This succession of events has shown that the previous utilization of client states and groups have not yielded for the US the desired strategic results. Hence, Obama’s hasty decision threatening to commit a direct aggression on Syria. His behind-the-scenes diplomatic moves to have the Russians (and the Iranians) agree to even a limited «strike” (read aggression) was completely rejected. Congressional and public opposition at home has been disturbing for Obama who found himself between a rock and a hard place: not attacking Syria after reaching the brink would reveal the US declining global position.

However, an attack on Syria might have meant a regional war the likes of which the US has not endured since the American war in Southeast Asia. Such an event would have plunged the global economy into a deep recession if not a depression at a time when the world has not completely crawled out of the 2008 global financial and economic crisis. An all out war would threaten oil and gas fields, the state of Israel, and US installations in the region. The economic and military chaos that would ensue could sweep all neighboring countries into the apocalypse. Clearly, Obama has painted himself into a corner. Enter the Russians, who might have calculated that either way the US has lost much of its prestige, however temporarily, with this ill-advised Obama maneuver. They then offered the chemical weapons deal, which Obama had to hold on to and so the world was saved from a major devastation.

A declining hegemon is most dangerous. It still persists with the military option through the UN. Only unified Peoples’ movements across the Middle East can blunt imperial aggression and ultimately defeat the hegemon.

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