Backing away from war

UNITED States Secretary of States John Kerry made an unscripted remark during an interview; when asked what the Syrian government could do to avert a US air strike on Damascus, he replied that they could surrender all their chemical weapons — but said he didn’t think that would happen.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pounced on this and proposed that the Syrian government should hand over all its chemical weapons into Russian custody, with United Nations verification. The Syrian government of Bashar Al Assad readily agreed — putting the US warmongers on the spot.

But in some ways Kerry’s throwaway remark also led to a reprieve for President Barak Obama. Following the Westminster Parliament’s rejection of Cameron and Obama’s war plans Obama was left out on a limb with very little solid support for this proposed imperialist aggression.

He was under great pressure to seek support from his own legislature. The French government was put under similar pressure to withdraw from the war unless it had the backing of its elected representatives.

But as the debate on the proposed war against Syria approached the American opinion polls were showing more and more popular opposition to the war — likewise in France. Obama was facing the humiliation of losing the vote as the people of America — hard up and weary of foreign wars — looked ever more likely to vote against the war. Such a vote would probably have ended his presidency in ignominy.

Make no mistake Obama was relieved to be able to put the brakes on the drive to war — and on that Congress vote — without having to lose face.

The leading warmongers are furious. Our Foreign Secretary, William Hague, is barking furiously like a demented Yorkshire terrier deprived of its prey. Cameron is also apoplectic with rage. They are both claiming this is a “diversion tactic” by the Russians and Syrians. They cannot say they don’t want Syria to hand over the weapons but they are insisting on standards of verification that we know in advance will be virtually impossible to meet to their satisfaction.

They also know that the longer the delay the more evidence will emerge to confirm that the sarin gas attack in Damascus last month was the work of the rebels they are paying to supply with weapons and not the Syrian government.

And they know the Syrian conventional forces will continue to defeat and roll back the foreign extremist mercenaries who are posing as Syrian rebels and committing countless atrocities against the Syrian people who are loyal to their elected government.

The hawks are still determined by hook or by crook to have their war. The news agency Russia Today claims its reporters have uncovered plans for another provocation by the “rebels” — the launch of nerve gas attacks on northern Israel, which they hope will be blamed on the Syrian government.

The combined strength and savvy of the global peace campaign and the Russian and Syrian governments have averted the war for now, which is no small achievement. But we dare not relax and imagine the danger has gone. The struggle goes on.