Setting aside the question of evidence, there’s a serious problem with the contention that Syria carried out the recent chemical attack in Douma. It requires us to accept not only that the Syrian government is evil but also that it’s comically stupid. It was on the point of liberating the area after years of jihadi occupation and Trump had announced only a week before that the US was looking to get out of Syria, and soon. There was really only one way to screw things up and that was by conducting a chemical attack.
The remaining jihadis, on the other hand, had much to gain. They had refused the Syrian government offer to be bussed out together with family, hangers on and small arms (but minus serious weaponry) and were therefore planning on one of two things. Either a fight to the death or some sort of changed circumstances that would allow them to persist and perhaps even, in their best of all worlds, triumph. Since they were surrounded and unable to access fresh supplies or fighters, that could only mean some kind of external intervention. How could that be brought about? Given the power of the anti-Assad narrative, a false flag chemical attack would do nicely. Et voilà.
To me it seems like obvious Kabuki theatre but most in the West still buy the “Assad did it” story. That’s probably not surprising. Doubting the powers that be at such a profound level is not a pleasant experience and there’s no reason why most people would even consider the possibility. Particularly not when the reporting and commentary is so spectacularly one-sided. I still occasionally wonder whether Trump, May and Macron truly believe the official line or simply profess to do so in pursuit of some larger goal. Despite a natural inclination to plump for the latter, it’s not clear which alternative is the more alarming. For now, I suppose the question must remain unanswered. What does seem certain, to me at least, is that there are those within the governing elites in the West who do know the truth and manipulate it for their own perceived ends.
Quite apart from the logical improbability of the mainstream narrative on this, and related, issues, there’s the question of evidence. The reports to date stem from the jihadis themselves, or groups, like the White Helmets, who have long cooperated with them. Hardly disinterested parties. Treating their allegations so seriously is akin to a court taking the word of the accused as sufficient without any external corroboration. It’s inherently absurd and a measure of how far we have drifted into conceptual and factual incoherence. Deconstruction indeed.
The correct answer to the dilemma is obvious. Carry out a verifiably objective investigation as quickly as possible so that whatever decisions need to be made can rest on a sound foundation, and then make them within the framework of the UN and international law. Even if this took a month or two, so what? Here too, unfortunately, the answer seems all too clear. For each week that passes the Syrian government comes closer to completely securing its core territory and killing or ejecting the remnants of the jihadi forces that have been terrorising Syria for 6-7 years. Some find that prospect intolerable, amongst them most of the Gulf states, the current Israeli government and powerful factions within the US and Europe.
Instead, as we all now know, limited strikes on Syria were carried out by the US, the UK and France in the early hours of Saturday morning. Such wickedness had to be punished at once, it seems, lest it become overconfident or proliferate. We can at least be grateful that sufficient sense prevailed to ensure these attacks were limited in scope and intended to avoid unduly antagonising Russia. So far. If we’re really lucky, perhaps the previously unfolding path in Syria will be resumed.