In an interview with Muslim Press, Ron Jacobs said, "If the [Syrian] war continues dragging on, the Assad government will continue to grow weaker, thereby allowing the US to expand its designs for hegemony."
He went on: "Then, there are the incredible profits for the US war industry that any long war brings in."
Here's the full transcript of the interview:
Muslim Press: Why are Western powers so intent on removing Assad and his government?
Ron Jacobs: I would argue the primary reason has very little to do with human rights violations or Assad’s “anti-democratic” approach to ruling. After all, Western powers had very little to say about these issues with the Ba-athist government in Syria until 2011. The reasons for the Western enmity are much simpler than that. Ever since the Assad family, through the Ba-ath party, came into power carrying the banner of pan-Arabism, the West has felt threatened. The former colonial and the new imperialist powers assume the resources and the control of said resources to be their right. Arab nationalism—which found its most popular and powerful expression in the persons of Egyptian ruler Nasser, the Assads in Syria and Saddam Hussein in Iraq—presented the greatest threat to this assumption. Western powers, under the leadership of Washington, were content to work with both Saddam and the Assads when they needed to counter other threats in the region and when they needed a place to send those they wanted tortured. However, like Saddam’s Iraq discovered in 1990, when the West no longer needs what you have to offer, it will work to destroy you. That is what is underway in Syria.
MP: What are the roots of the Syrian conflict?
Ron Jacobs: While there was certainly a desire for greater political freedom, I think the growth of neoliberalism in Syria created a situation that saw a selling off of state-owned industry to private corporations, the reduction in services and basic subsidies and a drastic decrease in income for many of its people. Of course, that income decrease is directly related to the neoliberal economic model that insures the gross accumulation of wealth in northern banking centers with a similar reduction in individual buying power for most of the world’s population. Just like in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt (among other nations around the world), the indigenous individuals and groups that tend to profit from the neoliberal privatization and loan scheme are those who are already part of the authoritarian regimes in power.
The transfer of industry and services from state to private hands usually results in the powerful adding profit to the power they already maintain. In other words, the centralization of state power morphs into a centralization of political power and private wealth, usually at a greater rate than before. The complement to this transformation is the further impoverishment of the working class and peasantry along with a growing impoverishment of the non-politically connected middle classes. It is this economic factor which has pushed every population responsible for the “Arab Spring” to rebellion. When combined with the long-running desire for political freedoms, the result has been, to say the least, incendiary and world-changing.
That is how Syria’s civil war began—as a massive protest for political freedoms and against neoliberalism.
MP: Is there enough evidence to prove that the CIA orchestrated the internal uprisings in the Arab country?
Ron Jacobs: No. I would argue that the CIA most likely had its hands in the uprisings. Indeed, various CIA fronts championed certain pro-US elements, much as they have done in numerous other nations around the world the past several decades. However, I think it grants the Agency more power than it actually has to say that it fomented the rebellions. A fairly accurate, albeit fictional, representation of the CIA role can be found in Graham Greene’s excellent novel about the agency’s role in the Vietnamese struggle against imperialism, The Quiet American; although the locales and the struggles are different, the CIA’s approach is less so. Those who say the rebellion was all the result of the CIA are not only diminishing the desire of the protesters for change, they are also creating a scenario that encourages further despair and hopelessness.
MP: What does the US gain through a long war in Syria?
Ron Jacobs: In short, if the Assad government falls, the US will have lost a constant thorn in its designs for hegemony. If the war continues dragging on, the Assad government will continue to grow weaker, thereby allowing the US to expand its designs for hegemony. Then, there are the incredible profits for the US war industry that any long war brings in.
MP: How does the mainstream media portray the conflict? Do you think the conflict could be predicted years in advance?
Ron Jacobs: In general, the mainstream media in the West portray the conflict as a struggle against an evil dictator who kills his own people. However, the fact that so many of the supposed freedom fighters are clearly interested in creating their own dictatorship has made that type of coverage subject to a fair amount of challenge. Despite the attempt by the mainstream media to paint Assad as the latest “Hitler,” I think many, if not most citizens in the West want nothing to do with the conflict and wish their governments would stay out of it.
Ron Jacobs is the author of a series of crime novels called The Seventies Series. All the Sinners, Saints, is the third novel in the series. He is also the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press.