It took me a week to gather myself to write this. I was so disturbed by the news that US, Britain and France decided to attack Syria for an alleged use of chemical weapons on its people on April 7, 2018, in the city of Douma, killing 70 people, without proof.
When I was growing up in Singapore, I was a staunch believer of the American system. Hollywood movies mesmerized me and my fellow Singaporeans, and “Top Gun” was my favorite movie. Even during my national service in the Singapore Armed Forces, the rifles we had, and the jet fighters were American made. In that era, USA was thought to be the Great Superpower that liberated the world from the evil Communism. That was the propaganda we grew up with in the tiny city state.
But it was in 2003, after the Operation Iraqi Freedom that the world, myself included, realized how despicable the coalition forces of the United States, the UK and allies were, to invade a sovereign country based on a blatant lie that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction. After the country was destroyed, no WMD or anything close to it was ever discovered. Nobody from the coalition was tried and convicted of war-crime. No lesson learned. As a matter of fact, invasion of sovereign countries or surgical operation to take out leaders of sovereign states seems to have become rather common after that.
I soon realized that the world I knew was fast crumbling as I took the red pill, and woke up to the brutal truth of reality, that US was never the great saviour that saved us from the evil Imperial Japanese Army; nor the superhero that saved us from Communism. I also found out that the western media was just a tool of the western imperialism, toeing the line for the western imperialists as and when they require the service. Everything that the United States did for us was for its national interests.
Fast forward to 2017, newly elected US President, Donald Trump, while hosting President Xi Jinping of China in the White House, decided to punish Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons on his people. Trump ordered to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles to strategic Syrian military sites, killing 9 civilians including 4 children. Nobody in the west cared about the death, and nobody cared whether the alleged use of chemical weapons was genuine. Nobody cared that the Chemical weapon stockpiles owned by the Assad government had been removed after the alleged use of chemical weapons first occurred in 2013.
The alleged Douma chemical attack occurred just before the Syrian government forces were about to retake the city from the rebels. The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations attributed 70 deaths while the Syrian American Medical Society reported 500 injured “were brought to local medical centers with symptoms indicative of exposure to a chemical agent.” Several opposition groups, NGOs and “the White Helmets” claimed that the Syrian Army helicopters dropped barrel bombs suspected of containing chemical nerve agents on the city of Douma. U.S., France, and UK vetoed a Russian-proposed UN resolution. Russia also vetoed the United States’ proposed resolution to create “a new investigative mechanism to look into chemical weapons attacks in Syria and determine who is responsible.” On the same day, Syrian and Russian governments invited the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to send a team to investigate the attacks. Unfortunately, the coalition of the 3 powers, namely the US, Britain and France decided to launch a joint missile strike on Syria’s military facilities and alleged chemical factories in the Syrian capital of Damascus and Homs on April 14, 2018. US Defence Secretary James Mattis confirmed that the US used more than twice as many missiles as it did in a 2017 strike on Syria’s Sharyat Airbase on April 7, 2017.
The Russian defence ministry was quoted as saying that Syria deployed Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, including S-125, S-200, 2K12 Kub and Buk to repel the attacks. A senior Russian military official has said that Syrian air defence had intercepted at least 71 cruise missiles fired by US, UK and French forces. Russia’s claim was disputed by the coalition of the 3 powers.
The amazing thing in this fiasco, is that most people seem to doubt the legitimacy of the military strike by the western powers. Some of the people question the rationale of using chemical weapons on the city when the Syrian Army was about to retake the city within days. Others denounced the use of missiles on Syria before the UN investigation. Many are also suspicious of the reports by activists like the “White Helmets”, and the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights”.
Fortunately, this time around, there was no fatality. Yet, it would be childish to think that the western powers would let Syria achieve the goal of unifying the country, with the help of Russia and Iran. Would more people gather enough courage to defend the human rights that the western powers claim to uphold? Are these people ready to take the red pill like I did in 2003?
Joseph graduated with a degree in Business Administration from the National University of Singapore and is a CFA and CAIA charterholder. He enjoys geopolitics and study international politics extensively. Joseph currently lives in Hong Kong.