Four Reasons Why Interventionism In Syria Is Crazy And Stupid

Caitlin Johnstone
7 min readSep 13, 2018


As tensions continue to mount around the Al-Qaeda-held province of Idlib in Syria, the New York Times has published an op-ed by virulent neoconservative war whore Bret Stephens explaining that the US should intervene militarily in order to thwart the geopolitical agendas of Iran. He argues that any movement to recapture Idlib should be met with a full-scale assault on the Syrian government, crippling its air force and attacking Bashar al-Assad’s presidential palaces. Stephens says this must be done to prevent Tehran from “consolidating a Shiite crescent stretching from Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.”

Sometimes all you can do is laugh. These propagandists keep giving us all these different, unrelated reasons why the US and its allies should definitely totally intervene in Syria and overthrow its government. It’s because the Syrian people want freedom and democracy. Wait, no, it’s because Assad is violating international law by using chemical weapons. Actually, it’s to thwart Putin’s agendas. Scratch that, it’s to stop Iran. We’re being given all these different stories about why a regime change intervention in Iraq’s next-door neighbor Syria is needed, and the only thing those stories seem to have in common is that they all require a large amount of expensive weaponry being discharged upon the human beings who back the Syrian government. Maybe, just maybe, taking out the Syrian government has always been the real goal, and they’re just making up different excuses to see what sticks?

They’re having a very hard time getting anything to stick with much conviction, though, so I figured I should give them a little assistance in seeing why that might be. Here are a few of the things which prevent interventionism in Syria from being a sane and appropriate thing for the US and its allies to do:

1. US-led military interventionism in modern times is literally always disastrous, literally never helpful, and literally never accomplishes what its proponents claim it will accomplish.

Argue against US warmongering for any length of time and you will invariably run into someone who brings up World War II. “If people like you were in charge back then, we’d all be speaking German!” goes the common refrain. They bring up World War II when arguing in favor of US-led military interventionism because that’s how far back into history they have to reach to find an example of it that was arguably not disastrous. From Vietnam to Iraq to Libya, any time the US has led a military campaign against a nation’s government has been a completely indefensible disaster unless you reach all the way back to the cusp of living memory to a time when the world was unrecognizably different from what it is today.

Since World War II ended in 1945, the US has become an unrivaled superpower with such strong alliances that it is effectively a globe-spanning empire whose agendas are seldom in the broader interests of the rest of humanity. In modern times, depraved war propagandists like Bret Stephens are incentivized with money and prestige to promote military agendas which just so happen to align with the agendas of imperial plutocrats and the intelligence agencies they form alliances with. Then, when those military agendas prove disastrous, neocon pundits like Stephens move in to claim that it’s only because they weren’t carried through properly by whoever happened to be in charge at the time. Happens every single time, without a single solitary exception.

The same monsters who butchered a million Iraqis and destabilized an entire region have no moral authority to intervene in Iraq’s next-door neighbor, and indeed are the very last people in the world who should be deciding when military interventionism is warranted.

2. All of the violence in Syria is entirely the fault of the US empire in the first place.

As I’ve been mentioning a lot lately, there is an abundance of primary-source evidence that Syria is a longtime target for regime change by the US and its allies, and that this alliance actively plotted to create a violent uprising in Syria exactly as it ended up unfolding in 2011. The establishment narrative that western involvement only began after Assad responded to peaceful protesters with brutal violence is utterly false; they’ve been up to their elbows in Syria since long before the violence began. Let’s go through it once more:

  • Here is a 2006 WikiLeaks cable in which the US government is seen exploring possible factions which could be incentivized to rise up against Assad, and ways in which psyops could be used to ensure widespread violence.
  • Here is a declassified CIA memo from 1986 in which the Central Intelligence Agency is seen exploring ways in which sectarian tensions can be inflamed to provoke a violent uprising in Syria. Here is a useful article featuring excerpts from the memo showing some jarring parallels between what was being planned and what happened a quarter century later.
  • Here is a video clip of General Wesley Clark naming Syria among the countries scheduled by the Pentagon for regime change in the wake of 9/11.
  • Here is a video clip of the former Foreign Minister of France stating in plain language that he was informed by British government insiders in 2009 that a violent Syrian uprising was being planned, two years before the violence erupted.
  • Here is an article featuring a video of the former Qatari Prime Minister stating that the US and its allies were involved in the violence from the very beginning.
  • Here is an article from May of 2011 reporting on some of the extremely suspicious provocations that led to the outbreak of widespread violence. Here’s another from March 2011. Here’s another from December 2011.

These are not conspiracy theories, these are conspiracy facts. Every violent death in Syria is the fault of the US and its allies. The narrative that there is a bad guy who that same alliance needs to protect civilians from is the exact opposite of the truth. The Syrian government is trying to restore stability to a region the US-centralized empire is solely responsible for destabilizing. A sovereign nation has every right to undo the damage that was done to it by western imperialism, and western imperialists have no right to stop it.

3. The narrative that Assad is gassing civilians makes no sense.

As the always excellent Moon of Alabama recently put it, “Chemical warfare is ineffective. That is why everyone agreed to ban it.” There is nothing about chemical weapons that is inherently more horrific than, say, nuclear weapons; the difference is that they’re just not a very efficient way of killing a large number of people, whereas nuclear weapons are. The Syrian government and its allies are having military victory after military victory over the occupying militias which had taken over large territories, and they have been doing so using far more effective conventional munitions.

Why, after all that success, would Assad suddenly switch to using an ineffective, banned military tactic that is guaranteed to provoke western retaliation and potentially bring about his own downfall? Even if he’s the worst person in the world, there is no motive for him to do such a thing and there is every incentive not to. The only possible explanation would be that Assad receives some kind of personal gratification from committing war crimes, perhaps sexual in nature, and that this bizarre, unheard of kink is so alluring to him that it would overwhelm his desire to remain in power and stay alive. Furthermore, he would have to have only discovered this strange, unique sexual fetish a few years ago, coincidentally around the same time the US and its allies decided it was time to remove him from power.

Nonsense. Add to this the fact that America’s own State Department already admitted last year that there are terrorist factions in Idlib with a history of using chemical weapons, and the entire narrative becomes even more laughable. While Assad has no incentive to use chemical weapons, the Al-Qaeda affiliates in Idlib have every reason to make a last ditch attempt to make it look like he did, especially now that the US government has assured everyone that Assad will immediately be blamed for any chemical weapons used.

4. We know that they are lying to us.

One has only to glance at the incredibly fake Bana Alabed interview conducted on CNN or the clearly staged footage from BBC’s Saving Syria’s Children to know with certainty that there is a pervasive war propaganda campaign geared at manufacturing consent for regime change interventionism in Syria, and that that campaign runs all the way up to the most mainstream western news media outlets in existence. Just watching CNN’s Alisyn Camerota solemnly exchanging scripted dialogue with a seven year-old Syrian girl on nationwide television assuring America that Assad is guilty of chemical weapons attacks is enough to assure any thinking person that there is no limit to the lies these people will advance to get their war. The notion, for example, that the “White Helmets” are participating in a western-backed propaganda campaign pales in comparison to what we’ve already seen with our own eyes in that interview. If they’ll do that, they’ll do anything.

We know that they are lying to us, just like they lied to us about Vietnam, Iraq, and Libya. If there were a legitimate reason for military interventionism, they wouldn’t need to lie about it. There is no legitimate reason for any military force to be in Syria without the invitation of the Syrian government. Get out, you murderous bastards. Get out now.


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