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Those Old Colonial Lusts

photo: Zachary Baumgartner

That old colonial impulse keeps coming back. This past week, Britain and France pushed the rest of the European Union to lift the arms embargo in Syria – which in plain English means outright military intervention in that nation’s civil war.

Let’s recall that Britain once ruled a quarter of the earth’s surface and most of its oceans. France ruled much of West Africa, the Sahara and, after Word War I, what are today Syria and Lebanon. Britain ruled much of the rest of the Mideast.

Well, they’re back! France and Britain took the lead in attacking Libya and overthrowing its long-time leader and former ally, Muammar Ghadaffi. They now dominate Libya’s oil – a major source of energy for Europe. France just sent troops to protect its mining interests in former colonies, Mali and Niger.

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Turkey's Erdogan Gets Taste of His Own Medicine?

photo: OccupyGezi

After nearly a week of increasing public protests in Turkey, ostensibly over government plans to turn a last bit of green space in Istanbul into another shopping mall, matters became far more serious on Friday. Riot police descended on the protestors with various forms of tear gas (and possibly worse chemical and biological agents -- raw sewage?) and water cannon, blasting everyone and everything in sight including non-participants. When they caught protestors, they beat them violently and brutally, as can be seen in this video. Photographs show that police fired tear gas into crowded underground metro stations, leading to panic and worse. Istanbul looks like a war zone.

Today indications are that protests have only increased in number and fury in response to the violence with which they were met yesterday.

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When Terrorism Comes Home

photo: mattlemmon
Several observers have pointed out the similarities between today's savage attack in London, where a British soldier was reportedly beheaded by two men shouting "Allahu Akbar," and the gruesome recent attack by US/UK-supported Free Syrian Army Commander Abu Sakkar, who cut out and devoured his Syrian Army soldier victim's heart.

Indeed one of the eyewitnesses of today's London attack could well have been describing Syrian rebel Commander Sakkar's butchery a few weeks ago in Syria:

"We thought the two guys were helping him. We then saw two kitchen knives like you would find in a butchers shop, they were hacking at this poor guy literally. We thought they were trying to remove organs or something."

Nearly identical behavior.

It is important to point out that while the US and UK increasingly condemn (and exaggerate) the role of Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian fighters on the side of the government in next-door Syria, the truth is thousands of foreign fighters, including at least hundreds from Europe and handfuls from the US, have signed up to fight with the radical Islamic insurgents in Syria.

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Washington’s Hegemonic Ambition and U.S. Policy Toward Syria (excerpts)

What really drives American foreign a post-Cold War determination on the part of the United States to dominate the Middle East, to play a hegemonic role in the Middle East,  to micromanage political outcomes in key Middle Eastern states so that those states’ strategic orientation is subordinated to U.S. foreign policy preferences and the Middle East has a regional order which is essentially run by the United States.

When you look at the situation in Syria, it’s obvious that many innocent people have been killed, and that is a profound tragedy.  But I think that the narrative in the West — that this was basically a peaceful protest by Syrians that was responded to brutally, and these people took all of this violence until a year later, eighteen months later, they had to start responding violently — I don’t think that’s really the way things played out. Outside powers — the Saudis, others — were pouring money and weapons into Syria from a very early point.
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