The propaganda release that is listed below of the US Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve news release posted on the US Department of Defense website of June 19th regarding the shooting down of a Syrian Su-22 that was attacking ISIS positions in Syria. This is the American attempt to justify a war crime, an act of aggression against Syria.
“On June 18 at 6:43 p.m., a Syrian regime SU-22 military jet aircraft dropped bombs near Syrian Democratic Forces fighters south of Tabqah, Syria, and, in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet aircraft.The coalition presence in Syria addresses the imminent threat ISIS in Syria poses globally. The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated.”
Let’s examine the claims made in this extraordinary document, this casual admission of guilt.
The Americans first try to lend legitimacy to their proxy forces attacking Syria by inserting the word “democratic” in their name. This is the word always used by the Americans to define any anti-democratic group they support or create. In turn, they attempt to delegitimize the Syrian government and people by claiming the plane they shot down was the plane of a “regime” the word they always use when they plan to overthrow that government to replace it with a puppet government of their own.
The phrase “rules of engagement” means simply their own internal orders on when and where to commit acts of aggression against Syria in their invasion and occupation of Syrian territory. “Collective self-defense” is a phrase they like to use to make us fall down laughing hoping thereby to disarm and overwhelm us with the black humor of it all. The United States forces in Syria are aggressors and invaders. They are committing the supreme war crime and all the crimes that flow from that. They have no right of self-defence. They have no rights there at all except to leave or surrender to the Syrian government and apologize for their arrogance and the injury they have caused to the Syrian people. “Coalition partnered forces” means the other members of the criminal group of nations that willingly assist the United States to commit aggression against Syria against all international law and the domestic laws of those countries.
The statement that the Syrian jet was shot down “immediately” suggests that the American fighter was in the area at the time waiting to pounce; that this was not a reaction to an attack but an attempt to impose a no-fly zone over terrorist forces operating with American forces. In effect, the Americans are attempting to protect their ISIS proxy forces besieging the government garrison at Deir El-Zour, a siege the government forces are trying to break.
The Americans tried to excuse the shoot down by claiming that the Syrian jet was attacking their Kurdish proxy forces in one town but the facts are that the Syrian jet was attacking ISIS forces in another location. And of course, the Syrians have every right to attack the American proxy forces and the Americans themselves since the Americans are invaders. In essence, the Americans have shown that they are ready and willing to enforce their no-fly zone whereas the Syrians and Russians have been content to issue warnings if their forces are attacked. So far they have not acted on those warnings. The question is, will they and when? For this is not an isolated incident.
A pattern emerges
On September 17, 2016, US planes attacked Syrian forces at Deir Ez-Zor claiming they were targeting ISIS forces and hit the Syrians “by mistake” a “mistake’ that helped the ISIS forces in their siege of the Syrian base there.
On April 7, 59 cruise missiles, launched from American ships, hit a Syrian air base. They had another excuse used to attempt to justify that.
On May 18 the Americans attacked Syrian government forces, once again it was claimed, for being too near US proxy forces and a US position near the Jordanian border.
Now we have the US once again protecting and assisting the ISIS forces laying siege to the Syrian government base at Deir Ez-Zor. So the claim in the US press release that the US is “addressing the ISIS threat” is a big lie. The US is not conducting counter-ISIS operations. It is conducting operations directly in support of ISIS forces. Since that is now clearly established to be the case then the US is also guilty of all the atrocities, all the war crimes committed by ISIS since ISIS began its operations about 3 years ago.
The criminal dossier composed of American and allied war crimes is getting very thick yet we see no statement from the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court about these crimes. The Americans, of course, have withdrawn from the ICC but still, the Prosecutor could make a public statement about these crimes, condemn them, state that a dossier is open and active at least for investigative purposes but no, she is silent, ever evading her responsibilities.
Meanwhile the Russians stated that the shoot down of the Syrian fighter jet on June 19 shows a “disrespect for the United Nations”, which it is, though “contempt” would have been a stronger word, and called for a “thorough investigation by the US command” into this “flagrant violation of international law.” But the US is certainly not going to investigate itself for its deliberate act of war. The Russians and Syrians know it is a deliberate act of war. So what does this mean, this call for an investigation? One can only conclude that these words are meant to express outrage while the Russians and Syrians assess their options and what has to happen next, for something has to happen or else the Americans will extend their own no-fly zone over all of Syria.
No good outcome
The US aggression against Syria has been taken to a new level of direct American attacks. Unless there is an effective defense against these attacks they will escalate and quickly. The Russians and Syrians, of course, want to avoid a wider war at all costs and they must be saluted for their patience and endurance in the face of these provocations, but is clear that the Americans are intent on pushing and pushing and pushed so far that Iran has reacted and fired its missiles at the ISIS forces this week. They have said they will do it again. They are not waiting for the Russians and Syrians to act, though we must assume they were informed and perhaps approved, for they also are under direct threat from the aggression against Syria.
The Russian air forces have now stated that from now on they will target American and allied air forces that threaten them and their allies. But targeting is one thing. Will they shoot them down? At some point that will have to happen as the Americans are not interested in talking or negotiating anything and only understand the logic of force.
They showed their intentions a few days ago when an F16 approached the Russian defense minister’s plane as it flew to Kaliningrad and had to be warned off by a Russian fighter. The Americans claim they did not know who was on the plane and were just “checking it out” but the Americans knew exactly who was on that plane and what right do they have to do any such thing in international air space? No, that F16 was a dagger at the throat of Mr. Shoigu and the Russian people. It was a death threat, meant to intimidate Russia and the Russian people, a criminal act under international law, an insult, the action of thugs.
That it happened near Kaliningrad confirms my view stated several times in past articles that Kaliningrad will be a focus for their hybrid war methods since the Russian forces their control the approaches to St. Petersburg, secure Russian access to the Baltic and Atlantic and sit behind NATO lines now running from Estonia, Latvia Lithuania and Poland down to the Donbass republics. The NATO powers would like nothing better than to push the Russians out of Kaliningrad and the Russians, who have reinforced their forces there, know it. The threat made against Mr. Shoigu’s plane is part of American hybrid warfare, an attempt to harass the Russians in Kaliningrad. We can expect further actions there.
But whatever criticism we may level at the Russians for not acting more forcefully against the American threat must be tempered with a respect for the Russian leadership and their ability to assess the situation and react appropriately for there is this difference between the Russians and the Americans; the Americans telegraph every move they make, their intentions are clear, their strategy understood. But the Russian play things closer to the vest, insist on talking while preparing for something else, for they understand very well from their historical experience Sun Tzu’s dictum that the side that knows when to fight and when not to will take the victory.
But the real criticism must lay at the feet of the anti-war movement in the west that, except for some isolated initiatives, by small groups and concerned and active individuals, is almost paralyzed, or taken over by the “interventionists,” those deluded people who think they can solve all problems through war. This is the case in the USA, Canada, and Europe generally. Kept off-balance and confused by repeated “terrorist” attacks always attributed to whoever the enemy is deemed to be, a few years ago Al-Qaeda, now the US construct, ISIS, and by a massive propaganda campaign in the media, too many who claim in earnest to love peace and humanity call for war and death. I have no answer to the question of how to revive the peace movement so that it can have an effect on world governments. Others, I hope, do. But if I were able to speak with President Trump and the war faction that goads him on, to the Canadian prime minister who acts as his simpering puppet, I would repeat what an Indian sage once said to Alexander The Great, who was slaughtering his way across the world,
“Every man can possess only so much of the earth’s surface as this we are standing on. You are but human like the rest of us, save that you are always busy and up to no good, travelling so many miles from your home, a nuisance to yourself and others. Ah, well! You will soon be dead, and then you will own just as much of this earth as will suffice to bury you.”
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel “Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, including for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook,” where this editorial first appeared.