January 24, 2018
The latest spat between Washington and Moscow over how reports of chemical weapon attacks in Syria should be investigated seems to be just an episode in which US political necessities trump transparency in policy-making.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson blamed Russia for a suspected chlorine gas attack in a Damascus neighborhood. The incident was reported by anti-Damascus groups, which said the Syrian Army had attacked civilians. Tillerson used the reports to showcase Russia’s supposed bad behavior in Syria, and said “whoever conducted the attacks, Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims.”
The word “whoever” stands for “whichever actors in league with the President Bashar Assad regime,” since, according to Washington’s apparent reasoning, the only plausible scenario is that bad regime guys attacked innocent civilians, because why not? Alternatives, ranging from false flag operation to accidental release of the gas, which is not a chemical weapon in itself and is used in many civilian applications, were absent from Tillerson’s rhetorical exercise. This was not surprising, considering that he was speaking at an event dedicated to circumventing Russia’s veto at the UN Security Council in assigning blame for chemical attacks in Syria on Damascus.
Tillerson’s message was quite clear: since Moscow supports Damascus, whatever happens in the territory that the Syrian government claims to control is Moscow’s fault. Of course, by the same logic, US hands are covered in the blood of whoever was killed by the weapons, which the US supplied to rebels forces and which ended up in jihadist hands. But it is doubtful that Tillerson would ever publicly acknowledge responsibility for those deaths or many others that can be traced back to US foreign policy.
Russia’s response in the blame game was predictable. Brought into question…