PATRICK LAWRENCE: Biden’s Inhumanity on Syria

The U.S. hypocrisy to come will be even greater than anything tried by the Trump administration.

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

For a time after Joe Biden took office not quite three months ago, among the questions raised was how the new administration would address the Syria question.

I do not think we will have to wonder about this much longer. It is early days yet, but one now detects the Biden’s administration’s Syria policy in faint outline. From what one can make out, it is bleak, it is vicious, it is unconscionably cruel to the Syrian people. 

And it may prove yet worse than anything the Trump administration came up with, the Bible-banging Mike Pompeo in the lead as secretary of state.

Will Biden’s national security people drop the covert coup operation Barack Obama set it in motion nine years ago, its failure long evident? Or will they reinvigorate American support for savage jihadists in the name of “regime changing” the secular government in Damascus? What about the American troops still operating illegally on Syrian soil? What about the oilfields the Trump administration took to “protecting” from the nation that owns them? What about the brazen theft of crude from those fields?

And what, of course, about the murderous sanctions that various executive orders have escalated on numerous occasions since the Bush II administration imposed the first of them 17 long years ago?  

What will Biden and his people do, in short, about the godawful mess the U.S. has made of the Syrian Arab Republic since it bastardized legitimate demonstrations against the Assad government in early 2012 (at the latest) by perverting them with Sunni extremists and hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons?

These were the questions. Answers now begin to arrive.

February Bombing

The first suggestion of things to come came in late February, when U.S. warplanes bombed sites inside Syria’s border with Iraq said to have been used by militias backed by Iran. This action coincided roughly with talks in Washington with senior Israeli intelligence and military officials, convened to determine whether and how the administration would re-enter the accord governing Iran’s nuclear programs. Those talks merely confirmed what was already evident: The Biden administration will make no move in Iran’s direction without Israel’s approval. Ditto in the Syrian case.   

As a long record shows, Israel wants to destabilize Syria as long as it is not governed by a pliant Western client; it continues to bomb Syrian targets, including Damascus, on a regular basis. With these realities in view, we can confidently surmise that the Biden administration does not actually have a Syria policy, just as it does not actually have an Iran policy. Apartheid Israel has a Syria policy it dictates to the professedly Zionist Biden administration.

“When I think of the suffering of the Syrian people, including Syrian children, I think of my own two children,” Antony Blinken tweeted last week. “How could we not take action to help them? Our common humanity demands it. Shame on us if we don’t.”

One already grows accustomed to our new secretary of state’s wildly disconnected remarks on social media and elsewhere. This guy has a troubled relationship with reality, we must begin to conclude. As The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal replied to this morbid hypocrisy, “If you treated your children like you treat the Syrian people you would be jailed for child abuse.”

But let us set aside the preposterous assertion that, while starving Syrians of bread, fuel, medicines and reconstruction funding other nations would otherwise provide, Blinken thinks of suffering Syrians as he does his children. As boilerplate propaganda this offensive stuff may seem trivial and worthy of no note. But in this case we are left with a question worth posing.

Why ‘Common Humanity’ Now?

Why would Blinken broadcast these things on social media at this moment? Why would he summon “our common humanity” when there is no shred of evidence that he or anyone else among Biden’s national security crew gives a tinker’s damn about those human beings commonly known as Syrians?

I have two answers, of equal importance.

One, the Biden administration appears to be preparing Americans for a round of Washington’s morally bankrupt, grossly illegal campaign to bring down the government of a sovereign nation because it does not conform to America’s imperial diktat (and because, as noted, this will please the Israelis). Liberal and “progressive” consciences must be eased. And among others a state of slumber must be maintained.

Two, Blinken has in all likelihood begun the work of keeping Washington’s “coalition partners,” notably the French and British, in the Syrian subversion game by providing cover for the savagery that is to come. Reading straight from the Vietnam-era script, Blinken wants America’s “allies and partners” — a favorite phrase of his — to be confident that when they bomb Syrian children the world will understand it is in order to save them.

Never go to Tony if you are in search of an original thought.

Reading into these matters, text and subtext, we can begin to brace ourselves for what is probably on the way in Syria. The coup operation is again on. American troops will remain on the ground, almost certainly to increase in number over time. The U.S., in concert with the same fanatics it has to date bankrolled, trained and supplied, will continue to sequester Syria’s oilfields and the fertile wheat fields that ought to be feeding the population.

The hypocrisy to come will be yet greater than anything the Trump administration tried on — a forecast I offer confidently. Here comes the bankruptcy of the “responsibility to protect” at its very worst. This will be liberal righteousness with a genteel veneer worthy of your grandmother’s mahogany dining table.

PBS Report

Another piece of the puzzle arrived just before Easter (of all times), when PBS broadcast an interview with Abu Mohammad al–Jolani, the head of Hayat Tahir al–Shalam, HTS, the latest among the name-changing cutthroats our mainstream press still refers to as Syria’s “moderate opposition.” Martin Smith’s exchange with Jolani is a piece of a full-dress documentary on Jolani that Frontline plans to air in the not-distant future. Herein lies a tale.

Alert readers will recall that Jolani was once an Islamic State commander who went on to found Jabhat al–Nusra, the worst of the worst among al–Qaeda’s shape-shifting affiliates operating in Syria. The State Department declared Jolani a “specially designated global terrorist” in 2013. This designation still stands.

Jolani now runs what he calls a “salvation government” in Idlib, the remaining retreat of Islamist extremists in northwestern Syria. Yes, he remains an Islamist theocrat determined to impose Sharia law on secular Syria. But (the big “but”) is that he is committed to fighting Assad and so shares “common interests with the United States and the West,” as PBS delicately puts it.

Human rights NGOs have implicated Jolani and HTS — videos, witness testimonies, interviews with victims — in numerous cases of torture, violence, sexual abuse, arbitrary arrests, disappearances and the rest of the inexcusable stuff these groups get up to. Jolani denies it all in his encounter with Smith: “There is no torture, I completely reject this,” he says on camera.

To be fair to Smith and Frontline, they have covered themselves carefully by laying out the record of Jolani’s and HTS’s crimes against innocent Syrians. But Smith also wants us to know of Jolani’s emergence “as a leading Islamist militant” — note the “Islamist” remains — “and his efforts, despite his history with al–Qaeda and allegations of human rights abuses, to position himself as an influential force in Syria’s future.”

As if to certify this judgment, PBS cites the noted remark recently of James Jeffrey, the self-confessed liar who served as President Donald Trump’s special envoy to Syria, to the effect that HTS is “‘an asset’ to America’s strategy in Idlib.”

What are we looking at here? There are two ways to consider this question.

One, PBS’s generous reporting on Jolani’s past is at bottom part of a rehabilitation job. It is once again a case of text and subtext. Read the PBS report accompanying the video of Smith’s interview. The list of HTS’s sins is a lengthy apologia, the intent of which appears to be to preclude the criticisms sure to arise along with Jolani’s emergence as “an influential force in Syria’s future.”

My conclusion: Syria may shortly get its version of Juan Guaidó and Alexey Navlany, the two Dummköpfe Washington has ridiculously elevated to some status of saintly democrats in Venezuela and the Russian Federation respectively. My verb is “may” because the Jolani project could prove so preposterous as to fail  before it gets airborne.  

Two, we watch the redeployment of a tried-and-disastrous strategy Zbigniew Brzezinski sold to President Jimmy Carter in late 1979. Paranoiacally anti–Soviet, Carter’s national security adviser persuaded the peanut farmer from Plains the best way to snooker the Soviets in Afghanistan was to finance and arm its adversaries. Osama bin Laden, al–Qaeda — indeed, the fundamentalist freak show that has unfolded in Syria for nearly a decade: Need one say more about the consequences of Zbig’s idiocy?

One would think the policy cliques in Washington would learn something once in a while, but no. They cannot learn because they cannot quite get to thinking.

This column concerns early signs of another foreign policy disaster that may be impending. Should these signs prove out, we will watch as an empire already on its back foot makes another desperate attempt to defend its fading hegemony. Let us, once again, bitterly hope for failure.

America could knock over whoever it wished long ago, and it could send men to the moon. No longer does it seem able to do either.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site. 

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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20 comments for “PATRICK LAWRENCE: Biden’s Inhumanity on Syria

  1. walk-away
    April 8, 2021 at 17:04

    the last sentence/paragraph of this post:

    “America could knock over whoever it wished long ago, and it could send men to the moon. No longer does it seem able to do either.”

    Now why would the author wish to tarnish his otherwise factual post with the credibly false assertion of “send(ing) men to the moon”?

  2. Tim Foster
    April 8, 2021 at 08:46

    Why hasn’t Consortium News published the most recent VIPS memo ?

    They all used to be on here.


  3. Rob
    April 7, 2021 at 17:27

    There is no small chance that if the Assad government is overthrown, Syria will follow the same path as Libya after Gaddafi was deposed, i.e. chaos, anarchy, battling warlords and religious fanaticism. Such an outcome would not displease Israel and its Western backers. But Russia and Iran would not be pleased and would likely intervene to prevent it. Also consider the possibility that Assad will not go down without inflicting serious pain on Israel proper, if not on the broader region. With the participation of Iran and Hezbollah, such a scenario could play out.

    The stupidity, cruelty and recklessness of American policymakers boggles the mind. Yet these are the people at the helm of the sinking ship that is the American Empire. God help us all, but mostly the suffering people of Syria.

  4. April 7, 2021 at 17:05

    I expected no less from Biden. Obama was a breath of fresh air.however failed to be honest and renaged on his promise of open government. Biden continues to perdue whistle blowers who are only exposing the kind of truth citizens in a notionally free world have a right to know. Whether Snowden, Assange, Manning or any of the others involved in whistle blowing- beit on Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, drone warfare or trans continental mass surveillance- these are not our traitors.

    Whether USA,UK or Australia we will find ourselves with traitors heading government. That is the reality of our notional democracies

    • jdd
      April 8, 2021 at 09:54

      Obama a “breath of fresh air?” Who was it that launched the war against Assad, organizing, training, arming and paying the jihadists ?

  5. Buffalo_Ken
    April 7, 2021 at 14:14

    My simple plan is this.
    I’m gonna tell my daughters (check on that), I’m gonna tell my neighbors (check on that as well), I’m Gonna tell everyone I know about the truth in Syria. The sad horrible truth. I’m gonna tell everyone I know, and they can do with it as they will. Say even if it ean don’t wan o be my friend anymore. That is on them and I know this cause I’m just telling the truth. If a friend can’t take the truth, then that ain’t a friend worth having.
    The truth of this article just firms my resolve.

  6. Anne
    April 7, 2021 at 14:00

    First I must thank you, Mr Lawrence, for this most clear, truthful and ultimately horrifying, but unsurprising (for its information) piece…

    Karl M wrote that history “repeats itself the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” I would only say that the US (with “Israel” usually in the background) repeats its historical atrocities in both canons: tragic farces….tragic for those on the receiving end (never for those in the US – and I include the US military here because, you choose to enlist in a killing machine, you choose to take the chance of being killed and that’s your prob), utterly farcical (and of course barbarically profitable for all facets of the killing machine) for the inane, thickie, but well remunerated, clearly immoral, unethical, inhumane and ultimately barbaric DC lot who sign on to it all, one way or another… Of course, they find it remunerative, too. They (the ruling elites) need to be on the receiving end of something truly akin to what they have been so willing and eager to dole out to others (all classes) in other countries far from these shores, and NEVER any threat to us, since 1945…

  7. Jeff Harrison
    April 7, 2021 at 13:22

    Two thoughts.
    One. Einstein said that the operational definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Clearly we have that now but beyond that consider what kind of characteristics an insane organization/individual are.

    Two. I wondered what was behind the CIA shooting its mouth off about funding the crazies in Afghanistan. The netizens pretty much shot them down almost instantly (Oh, THEN what happened?)

  8. Michael Nolan
    April 7, 2021 at 11:40

    Tremendous piece by Patrick Lawreence. I still have a question: itis said, in some quarters, that our assault on Syria is due to oil. Is that what it’s all about? Protecting US oil interests?

    • rosemerry
      April 7, 2021 at 15:53

      Whatever the excuse, the only beneficiary is Israel. The constant pretence that the USA is behaving in a legal, moral or humanitarian way by destroying a sovereign country ruled by an elected president is reflected in the support for Israel no matter what crimes it commits. Iran is only an “enemy” of the USA because Israel goads the USA into this situation. Syria now wants to rebuild and many nations (especially Russia!) are eager to help, but the USA uses its cruel sanctions on anyone who disobeys its orders.

  9. Moi
    April 7, 2021 at 05:46

    For the last decade the world has been deceived into thinking that the Syrian civil war began when security forces fired on “peaceful demonstrators”.

    Robert Ford served as US Ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014. In an interview last month he admitted that the protests that kicked off the Syrian war were anything but peaceful.


    – “yeah, the protesters did attack the telephone office … attack a court building. …There had been a few gun battles here and there …”

    – “The Free Syrian Army … joined protest marches and were sent up to rooftops. And their job… was to watch the protests down below, and when the Syrian security forces came in … they would shoot at the Syrian security forces …”

    The interviewer:

    – “Anthony Shadid of The New York Times, … reporting in May of 2011 that even US officials, possibly yourself, were acknowledging that the protesters were armed. And then in June, you have the mass killing in Jisr al-Shughur of more than a hundred Syrian soldiers, which it was later confirmed was committed by the opposition.

    The point is that the West have lied through their teeth about Syria from day 1 and the MsM has facilitated it. This is not going to change one little bit into the future.

    Basically, whatever the West says, the opposite is true.

    • vinnieoh
      April 8, 2021 at 12:07


      Thanks for those mostly forgotten truth reminders. The recipe for foreign government overthrow by the US is tried and true. There is no place in time or space on this tortured rock where either perceived or actual grievances, large or small, do not exist. What our purveyors of chaos and mayhem do is to identify those grievances, then infiltrate, fund, support, and finally “popularize” them in our national and also the international press.

      Specifically relating to Syria, a long duration and intensifying drought drove rural people into the cities and the Assad government either didn’t or couldn’t respond in a manner to ease the tensions. That was the opening for the CIA/Mossad; make it “all the fault of Assad” and demand that he be removed, instigate violent protests and then point the virtuous and indignant finger at the inevitable response of the legitimate government to violent rebellion.

      It “works” every time for many reasons. It works on USA’ns because we are so far spatially removed from the turbulent and violent consequences of the machinations of our foreign “policy” sociopaths; it works because, as the operations unfold our media, like trained seals, obediently repeat the government propaganda delivered to the front offices of their newsrooms; it works because our entire professional political class is completely and utterly morally degenerate; it also works because, even if we knew and accepted the truth, the popular will has been completely disenfranchised of agency and action.

      It’s my belief, possibly mistaken, that a firm and steady majority of USA’ns have understood since at least 2005 that the US presence and actions in the greater ME are “A BRIGHT SHINING LIE” (to borrow from the late Neal Sheehan wrt Viet Nam.) And yet, like some clockwork fatalistic nightmare it stumbles on to its disastrous conclusion.

  10. Realist
    April 7, 2021 at 04:28

    I learned over the Easter weekend from family members not seen since before the covid pandemic emerged, but now all vaccinated, still healthy and alive, that Democratic lemmings apparently love Crazy Joe Biden as much as they hate Donald J. Trump. One cannot discuss the man and his many conspicuous flaws which are simply not perceived by these people. He will take us to the brink of war with Russia, if not beyond the brink, and yet they see absolutely nothing wrong with his judgement, no evidence whatsoever for dementia or even flawed logic. If one wishes to maintain stable family relations, one does not even mention the imbecile, let alone criticise him. One cannot even make the objective point that, after all, the vaccines *were* developed on Trump’s watch, so Joe doesn’t get all of that credit… yet he does. In the real world, Joe has already caused more damage to East/West relations, acting like a pugnacious juvenile delinquent from some street gang, than the blustering Don did in four fraught years. Most American voters simply seem happy enough to accept the theory fed them by their chosen political party that most of their problems in life stem from the bad attitudes of foreign leaders and their alleged history of constantly sticking it to the heroic United States of America. For all Dems life is good, Joe is the new John Wayne, Joe will make the world safe for us all and only traitors would doubt that. Welcome to the Monkey House.

    • Anne
      April 7, 2021 at 14:06

      Unfortunately, dreadfully, zero surprise…simply not being trumpist = “good.” For reasons beyond me – in What way are EITHER so-called party for humanity? for peace? (ho ho) for the best for the world in toto? Neither because they are one party (Janus) with two heads, all in it for themselves and the corporate-captialist-imperialist plutocratic ruling elites (to which many DCers belong anyway – Harris, Pelosi etc) who control them….and us…

    • rosemerry
      April 7, 2021 at 16:01

      So sad, and especially now that Joe is following all the Trump policies they all criticised, and also going back to the old Obama policies that led to Trump. Refusing to release Assange, robbing Venezuela, Honduras (remember the overthrow of the government in 2009?) helping the “Health” insurance industry, pandering to the Republicans. who needs a vulgar Trump when you have gentle uncle Joe??

    • Gerry L Forbes
      April 7, 2021 at 22:32

      “… yet they see absolutely nothing wrong with his judgement, no evidence whatsoever for dementia or even flawed logic.”

      I think that Biden’s cognitive problems last summer were the result of a Transient Ischemic Attack or mini-stroke. That would explain why his difficulties only occurred for a short period. I had a stroke a bit over a year ago and about the only lingering effect is an occasional inability to find the exact the word I’m looking for.

      A TIA is a neurological manifestation of a cardiovascular problem so any treatment he is getting would be for cholesterol, blood pressure etc. Intellectually don’t expect him to be anything other than the moron he always was.

  11. Antibody
    April 7, 2021 at 04:12

    A very depressing prognosis for Syria that, unfortunately, is all to likely to come true. I hope Russia and Iran can thwart whatever nefarious plans the US government and its partners in crime are cooking up for Syria.

    About a month ago the Russian government told the Israelis to stop bombing Syria or face serious repercussions, up to and including having their fighter jets shot out of the sky. Russia, much to Iran’s and Syria’s chagrin, has since 2015 when its intervention began let the Israeli air force drop bombs on and shoot missiles into Syria with impunity. Hopefully Russia was serious about putting a stop to this.

    The only hope Syria really has is its allies, Iran, Russia and China, stepping up their efforts to circumvent American sanctions and stopping the US military machine, the west’s jihadi proxies and the Israelis from collapsing the country.

    The danger is that the country will be effectively split apart, with the Turks/jihadis in Idlib, the Kurds in “Rojava” and the Americans becoming permanent occupation forces while the 60% or so of Syria that remains under government control is continuously subject to sanctions and military harassment.

    There are elections in Iran coming up and the world will soon find out what kind of tricks Washington is going to play in order to avoid rejoining the JCPOA. I have a feeling that Washington and its allies in Europe and Israel will try to start something in Syria and attempt to draw in Iran and escalate the situation while, of course, portraying Syria and Iran as the bad guys.

    I hope Russia, which has some clout in Syria, gets a bit more proactive than it has been and slaps down the imperialists when the inevitable escalation comes. It’s going to be a long, hot and uncomfortable summer for Syrians I’m afraid.

  12. KiwiAntz
    April 7, 2021 at 00:24

    This article really highlights the reason why America needs to completely disappear from the World Stage, its a disgusting, depraved Superpower! It’s vile, cruel, sadistic & demented Hegemony, is on full display in Syria, Iraq & Afghanistan! This Nation is a plague on the Human race & is just as sick & murderous as Hitler’s Nazi Germany was! The total collapse of the dying US Empire can’t come soon enough for peaceful people, around the Globe, people like the Syrians, Iraqi’s, Iranian’s & Venezuelans & others who are sick to death of American meddling & bullying! Already, the chess pieces are being moved to hasten the demise of this Global Tyrant & a great reset is coming to America, sooner rather than later! Like Ancient Rome, America is it’s own worst enemy & it’s seeding its own destruction by rotting from the inside out! Everyone can see it’s looming collapse, everyone except themselves, due to its exceptional hubris, arrogance & ignorance!

    • Anne
      April 7, 2021 at 14:01

      Thumbs Up, KiwiAntz!

    • April 7, 2021 at 20:17

      Kiwi Ants I agree – ” vile, cruel, sadistic and demented” that is a pretty good description of our foreign policy. It has been going on for roughly 200 years and apparently gets worse each decade.
      I knew I didn’t like Blinken, and this article clinches the deal. Also I have been wondering when some reporter would start reporting on the disasterous US policy of assisting ISIS and other groups against the Assad government which has been going on for over a decade.
      Well, we bought into the vicious White Helmets which it turned out were financed by Britian. We gave them an Oscar for all their lies!
      I could wish for a miracle that someone in the MSM will find some courage and write the truth, but I think this is as close as we’re going to get.
      Thank you to the author and to Consortium!

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