Mainstream turns against intervention, this time (Tom Friedman has spoken)

on 104 Comments

Tom Friedman has spoken. The mainstream U.S. consensus on Syria is solidifying, and it’s against American intervention in that civil war.

Many of the same folks who supported the disastrous Iraq war are against this one; and that will make all the difference. This one is “Lebanon on steroids.”

That consensus is reflected in former Obama aide Gary Samore saying on NPR this morning that Obama doesn’t “want to get dragged into” the Syrian civil war because it’s a “messy” situation, it would involve “a very large scale military force,” and because “there’s genuine uncertainty” about who used chemical weapons; in NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski’s report on Morning Joe saying that it is unclear who used chemical; in Tom Friedman’s column–Friedman, who supported the disastrous Iraq war– saying that intervention would be “staggeringly costly and take a long time, with the outcome still not guaranteed;” in Larry Abramson’s piece on NPR quoting Anthony Cordesman and another expert that even US air strikes would involve a massive mobilization; in Andrew Sullivan’s piece— another guy who supported the Iraq war– saying that we shouldn’t get wound up by Israel to think this is a walk in the park, no “this is emphatically not our fight, it is an intensely complex one in a fractured and splintering region;” and in Dexter Filkins’s long piece in the New Yorker, a publication that supported the disastrous Iraq war, seeming to weigh options but summarizable in one phrase attributed to an American official, that Syria would be “Lebanon on steroids;”

Note that some of these voices and publications could have helped stop the rush to war in Iraq. And none of them did. David Remnick was running Jeffrey Goldberg’s bogus reports on a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda that time around (a link that actually exists in the Syrian context); now he’s going with the wiser Filkins.

In another sign of the consensus, The Washington Post gives space to Katrina vanden Heuvel, who opposed the Iraq war, opposing this one, quoting Joshua Landis to the effect that Syria is just like Iraq, and slamming Anne-Marie Slaughter as “bellicose” for supporting intervention.

So Anne-Marie Slaughter is on the ice floe; she chose the wrong conventional wisdom. Watch her mend in days to come!

My friend Ilene Cohen notes that Israel’s efforts to sell a war in Syria have so far failed:

Both the Europeans and the Americans have taken note that the story (enthusiastically pushed by the Israelis) is far from clear, even if Obama did (alas!) issue his unfortunate red line statement, presumably to appease the Israelis (and of course he supports the Israeli right to bomb Syria). But Miklaszewski emphasizes that both Europeans and Americans are reluctant to plunge into another war. Not John McCain, though. He’s ready to put boots on the ground.

But the good news, I suppose, is that some from the earlier warmongering camp have started to pull back. Friedman, I think, doesn’t want to look like a fool after being so egregiously wrong on Iraq

More on Israel’s dubious role. Sullivan mocks the idea that the Israeli attack on Syria was not an act of war.

We are told this was not an act of war. Why? Er, because Israel did it and therefore it is not an act of war. It may have killed close to 100 Syrian army soldiers, among many others; it may have been the biggest single explosion in Syria’s capital city throughout the entire conflict; it may have required entering another country’s airspace and bombing its capital city; but this is not a war. Moreover, this not-war is embraced by the US. Because Israel did it.

I would note that last night on the PBS News Hour, Steve Clemons of the Atlantic and the New America Foundation praised Israel for its attack and said it might be a model to us.

Israel has shown substantial restraint through this period of civil strife and conflict inside Syria, and saw that it — there may be substantial missiles being transferred to Hezbollah. And they took action to stop it…

Israel has tried to be surgical and to remain calm –

[This was] sensible and important for Israel..

the interesting thing is to watch the caution with which Israel has been behaving, the surgical way in which it took out these weapons. I imagine that’s exactly the same kind of thing that the United States would like to do with securing the chemical weapons in one way or another, and not turning this into an effort against the broader Assad regime and making the U.S. as a principal player inside Syria’s civil war.

Gosh. What are liberals for?

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104 Responses

  1. Citizen
    May 7, 2013, 11:35 am

    Sullivan’s take on Israel’s attack on Syria and why it’s not a declaration of war on Syria is picture perfect. America has had a lobotomy when it comes to anything Israel.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 7, 2013, 1:06 pm

      greenwald wrote about that yesterday too citizen.

      btw, the ‘surgical’ lingo by clemons is disgusting.

      • MRW
        May 7, 2013, 2:06 pm

        Clemons entire comment is disgusting.

        I’m going to go over the wall here with a non sequitur that might apply. If Friedman got through even 1/3 of Jeremy Scahill’s 4/23/2013 book Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, it would explain why he’s pulling back. Scahill’s book is one of the most disturbing and riveting things I’ve read in a long time: it shakes you to recognize the reality of what we are really doing in the world, and how complicit Americans and the press are in letting it happen. Stunning in its detail, research, and access to sources.

      • Kathleen
        May 7, 2013, 5:02 pm

        Reading Scahill’s book now. Have not gotten far. But disturbing all ready. Scahill is one of the best if not the best investigative reporter going right now. No nonsense..the brutal and yes disturbing facts

      • lysias
        May 7, 2013, 5:28 pm

        I just finished Scahill’s book. It is one infuriating read. It concludes with the assassination of Awlaki’s 16-year-old son.

        The stuff the U.S. is doing makes the Boston Marathon bombers look like pikers.

      • James Canning
        May 7, 2013, 7:37 pm

        Annie – – I wanted to note I agree with you, that the problem with negotiations to resolve Israel/Palestine, is that each time things go back to “square one” – – but this is ISRAEL’S fault.

        Did Hostage point out Israel in fact goes back further than “square one”?

        (Emir of Qatar was being polite, to Charlie Rose.)

    • seafoid
      May 8, 2013, 12:39 am

      America is israel’s lawyer. It is so obviously hopelessly unable to be anything else in the region.

  2. seafoid
    May 7, 2013, 11:51 am

    I had to laugh at Reuters today saying Israel was following “business as usual” after the bombing in syria.

    It was supposed to be about some trip of Prime Minister Benjamin Milikovsky’s but of course Israel has been bombing the neighbours for such a long time .

    And all the Diasporans who kneejerk their support for whatever military madness Israel initiates. I’m sure they are good people. But there is so much absurdity that goes with the tribal identification.

    The return to Zion – could it ever have worked ? Could Israel ever have been a normal country?

  3. atime forpeace
    May 7, 2013, 11:56 am

    A better question instead of what are liberals for is why does Israel hold such power over American politics?

    “Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not carry even one American soldier, and is located in a critical region for American national security.” Alexander Haig.

    Is the nation of Israel some type of science experiment being used by the American national security nut cases ?

    When will the aipac crowd realize this and stop being used by their american sponsors?

    Does the aipac crowd not care that Israel is giving Jews the world over a very bad name and has the potential to cause some very serious blowback, something comparable to what the bolshevik dream caused for them in the not too distant past.

    does anybody ever learn from the past?
    Sometimes you’re the player sometimes you’re the game.

    • libra
      May 7, 2013, 6:15 pm

      atime forpeace: “Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not carry even one American soldier, and is located in a critical region for American national security.” Alexander Haig.

      And now a hoary old hasbara chestnut. Just because that was Haig’s opinion 30 years ago doesn’t necessarily make it true, then or now, whatever Ambassador Oren would like us to believe.

      That said, if true would it be the first American aircraft carrier to have attacked a US Navy ship?

      By the way, who are AIPAC’s American sponsors other than their donors? We see claims like this regularly on Mondoweiss but never any documented evidence as to who these mysterious string pullers lurking in the background are.

  4. lysias
    May 7, 2013, 12:03 pm

    If Clemons wasn’t going to say that, would he have gotten on the News Hour?

  5. Justpassingby
    May 7, 2013, 12:10 pm

    So first these editiorials and “expert” push for war like no tommorow and then when they are on the doorstep, they back off?

    How come we have incompetent people like Friedman speaking on middle east anyway? He know nothing about it.

  6. gingershot
    May 7, 2013, 12:15 pm

    At least the lemmings are not all juiced up and cheering for a war this time around.

    It’s been surprising to see Chris Matthews and Rachel ‘Never Seen a Neocon’ Maddow actually expressing distaste for another Middle East war

    No one is really fingering Israel and her Neocons yet – really tying this all up in a neat little package for the American public yet – conditioned as they have been for years to know nothing about the Middle East

    This is the problem – how does anyone understand what is going on without connecting all these points and fingering Israel and the Neocons directly and specifically – exactly the thing the ‘Holocaust Industry’ and constant ADL-/Dershowitz-style ‘anti-Semitism slurs’ were invented for. Can’t be done. Israel MUST be identified in all of this for ANY of this to make sense.

    Israel MUST be outed…

    Who is going to do it and explain how it has been Israel and her Neocons who lied us into Iraq, tried everything under the sun to hoax us into Iran, and are now trying to lie and trap us into Syria, and how that all ties in with Israeli Apartheid?


    Who is doing it is Mondoweiss

  7. pabelmont
    May 7, 2013, 12:30 pm

    Perhaps we will not, after all, go to war this time. But where did that (so called) “red line” come from. Remember the “WMD” thang and Saddam Hussein and Iraq and all the fun we had because someone invented a reason (nukes, possession of) that was made out to be a satisfactory justification for the USA to go to war? A reason (rationale) that was never questioned, as such, even by the one or two senators who voted against going to war? Why did people accept the WMD rationale then, and why did they (seem to) accept the “red line” or “chemical weapons, use of” rationale now? what’s the matter with people’s thinking?

    So, glad that we are — some of us, some of the establishment, some of the BIGs — resisting yet another war. But be nice to see some rational thinking instead of all these knee jerk rationales.

    Meanwhile, there is the threat of climate change, a threat apparently going unanswered, apparently of no concern to the establishment, to the BIGs, to those who count present profits and see no reason to be concerned with tomorrow. Ah, yes, tomorrow, and if people are dying and markets stop working, transportation stops working, things that require co-operation stop working, and the BIGs cannot sell anything anymore, and they lose all political power — they can at least console themselves that they did, at least, bring down the world-system by preventing action on climate change.

    • James Canning
      May 7, 2013, 7:39 pm

      Yes, where did that “red line” come from? Foolish Republicans often call for one. McCain, Graham.

  8. Krauss
    May 7, 2013, 12:34 pm

    But is Assad a good guy? I don’t see why Israel isn’t in it’s right to bomb Assad back to the dark ages.

    Phil, this wasn’t a cast lead. The injured people were soldiers in a brutal crackdown on their own people, these people are complicit. Secondly, it was a military research facility – most likely which carried out tests with chemical weapons to be used on civilians.

    Israel acts in it’s national interest – does it want Hezbollah to have chemical weapons? This isn’t a moral question, but strictly about cold-hearted realism.

    But all of this does not mean that invading Syria is a good idea. Bill Keller was delusional when he said that Syria is different than Iraq – it’s very much like Iraq. In fact, it’s even worse than Iraq because it’s basically a hotpotch of a nation, created by European colonialists (like so many places in the Middle East) without regard to the cultural or ethnic diversity of the region.

    Syria is a bunch of bad options. The rebels are dominated by jihadist elements and al-Qaida(supposedly ‘decimated’ according to Obama…) increasingly plays a leading role.

    Noam Chomsky likes to say that America has a long tradition of supporting Islamists and similar extremists in the Middle East – and he’s right. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good habit. Because the rebels in this case are as bad if not worse than Assad.

    Just like Egypt. We praised the Arab spring but many on the left refused to listen to the caution by those who saw the Muslim brotherhood for the demented reactionaries that they are. Sexual assaults on women are way up after they have won and Christians are even more harrassed and brutally attacked than ever.

    The thing with these Islamists revolutionaries is that while they praise democracy so that they can get to power, you’re never sure of the next election. A lesson Iranian dissidents, many of whom took up arms with Islamists in the ’79 revolution, learned too well and promptly fled the nation in droves.

    Only white liberals – safe in their couches in their advanced Western democracies – can afford to gloss over these issues.
    And only white liberals – yet again – can advocate an invasion so carelessly of a country most of them have never visited.

    So I do share your disdain of the liberal establishment but I do not share the outrage of Israel’s actions.

    And at any rate, involvement in foreign affairs tend to give substantial blowback. Remember that Osama was radicalized by U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia?

    Ironically enough, this interventionist impulse isn’t conservative but actually leftist/liberal in it’s origin, emanating from the French revolution, then being taken up by Trotsky and his Marxist friends in their call for the worldwide revolution. According to them, foreign powers would have a right to intervene on political grounds to save a ‘country from itself’ and ‘liberate the people’.

    This is the same exact rhetoric we’ve heard from neo’conservatives’. Many of whom have their roots in Jewish milieu of New York Marxism around the 1940s and 1950s.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 7, 2013, 1:12 pm

      there’s so much wrong with your comment krauss it’s hard to know where to begin. but let’s start here:

      “it’s even worse than Iraq because it’s basically a hotpotch of a nation, created by European colonialists ”

      and israel wasn’t?

      • Abierno
        May 7, 2013, 2:01 pm

        The place to begin might also address that fact that no source has
        indicated that Assad is transferring chemical weapons to Hezbollah.
        Serious doubt exists as to the existence of the missles which were ostensibly in transit. Killing off the elite guard protecting Damascus
        is a direct intervention in support of the rebels, who have already begun to build off this event. Also, as the origins of the Syrian war become less opaque, the consensus is that this is a politically motivated take down of Assad as well as the dismantling of Syria into another failed state such as Iraq, Afganistan, and Libya, so as to destabilize Lebanon, Jordan with the result of a strong path to the destruction of Iran. Who benefits? Who has been consistently threatening to “mow the grass” in Lebanon? Who has been strongly indicating the need for significant additional additions to already held land in the Golan Heights – for security purposes? Who has massed
        troops on the Lebanese and Syrian borders?

      • Annie Robbins
        May 7, 2013, 4:01 pm

        The place to begin might also address that fact that no source has
        indicated that Assad is transferring chemical weapons to Hezbollah.

        of course abierno! i’ve said multiple times over the last few days israel’s attack had nothing to do with transferring weapons to hezbollah, i didn’t want to sound like a broken record.

        krauss’s comment is like throwing red meat to the wolves. the whole thing completely inflammatory. for some reason tho, the argument syria was “worse than iraq” because it was a “hotpotch of a nation, created by European colonialists” some justification for bombing it into oblivion..

        !!! breathtaking. anyway, glad to see it’s getting the pushback it deserves.

      • Taxi
        May 7, 2013, 3:20 pm

        “there’s so much wrong with your comment krauss…”
        You can say that again!

        Here’s my little goldfish in Krauss’s big pond of cr*p:
        “Israel acts in it’s national interest – does it want Hezbollah to have chemical weapons?”

        Well try this, Krauss: ‘Hizbollah acts in its national interest – does it want israel to have nuclear/chemical/biological weapons?’

        Your statement seems to imply that Lebanon does not have the same rights to self-defense as isreal. Are some weapons more moral than others in your crafty kraussian universe?

        Astounding too that you even believe the spin on the reason israel attacked Syria. You honestly think that Iran would send such important “game-changing weapons” to hizbollah through war-torn Syria by land, instead of flying them on Iranian planes directly to Beirut aiport where airport security is in the hands of hizbollah?

        Come on, Krauss, “this isn’t a moral question, but strictly about cold-hearted realism”.

        Oh and one more thing: hizbollah’s already got them “game-changing” weapons – and israel knows it too. Hence, no israeli blitzing of Lebanon since 2006.

    • American
      May 7, 2013, 1:25 pm

      @ Krauss

      holy christ!…..likening Israel’s 2 bombings *inside* Syria to some ‘neoliberal’ humanitarian intervention?
      man…..that is some pathetic scrapping the bottom of the barrel for a excuse!

    • lysias
      May 7, 2013, 2:04 pm

      Far from being a creation of European colonialists, Syria was already a unity as the Roman province of Syria, which was established by Pompey.

      • James Canning
        May 7, 2013, 7:14 pm

        Syria is indeed very ancient. After the First World War, most Palestinians would have preferred to be part of Greater Syria (present Syria, plus Lebanon, Israel/Palestine and Jordan).

    • Ron Edwards
      May 7, 2013, 2:42 pm

      “I don’t see why Israel isn’t in it’s right to bomb Assad back to the dark ages.”

      Tell you what. I just decided you are a bad guy. Here come some bombs!

      Write an organized, grammatical essay of approximately1000 words’ length explaining the ethical, legal, and political deficiencies of that statement, or in layman’s terms, what you don’t like about it. Be sincere.

      Now does this essay look when you substitute “Israel” for me in your essay?

    • Danaa
      May 7, 2013, 3:28 pm

      Krauss, using your reasoning, why not bomb Israel and it’s collection of WMDs “back to the stone age”, as you suggest for Syria? after all, there’s no doubt Israel is guilty of committing horrid atrocities, possibly much worse – and more numerous – than Assad, has built an apartheid “hopscotch” state that discriminates against well over 30% of its citizens, has one captured territory (gaza) turned into an internment camp where it periodically runs some bombing runs to cull its citizens, and has another territory (the “West bank0 being ethnically cleansed as we speak, encourtaging it’s peasants (the settlers”) and it’s state sanctioned Kossacks (the “IDF”) to perpetrate pogroms in broad daylight. All that while keeping 1000s of political prisoners , including children, imprisoned under horrible conditions, and generally behaving like a proper fadscist thuggish regime, with some of the population benefitting while others – the majority – used as cannon fodder to keep things humming along for the elite.

      You tell me one reason, Krauss that we should not be bombing israel as opposed to Syria, if you are so keen on having “bombing fun”? or, if not the US (which is obviously subjugated to Israel) then why object if, say, russia does the job and gets rid of the threat that WMDs possessed by a rogue regime, represent, a regime that like clockwork, keeps threatening to “wipe off the map”, cf. “bomb into the stone age” other humans?

      frankly, next to the yahoos running the show in israel like it’s their little garden party, Assad looks pretty good – —

      So, to build on your peculiarly strange comment, if “badness’ is the yard stick for “OK to bomb” and the ruling regime in israel (a democracy much as Sparta was – just for the few privileged) is even badder” than Assad’s (where “badness” is measured by total number of people killed and atrocities perpetrated over, say, the last 15 years, and number of people – percentage-wise – deprived of their liberty and human rights), then Israel’s WMD caches – in Dimona, on the outskirts of Tel Aviv and haifa – should be the first target, no? after all where do you think these nuclear tipped missiles are aimed at, exactly? at Riad? Amman? or is it Moscow and Leningrad?

      • seafoid
        May 7, 2013, 5:05 pm

        We should bomb israel so orthodox girls get a fairer share of national income and don’t have to depend on charities to buy their wedding dresses.

      • Citizen
        May 9, 2013, 12:14 pm

        @ Danaa
        Thanks for the rhetorical questions. We all know that when any economic and military powerhouse picks who it wants to slam for being an asshole to its own people, such powerhouse will pick the ones most resistant to the powerhouse state’s agenda, which has zero to do with humanitarianism, although that’s the banner put up.

    • marc b.
      May 7, 2013, 4:22 pm

      krauss, that’s just bizarre. so Israel is going to surgically “bomb assad back to the dark ages”? just him personally. no this isn’t cast lead, it’s a full cast of western powers destabilizing the assad regime in order to set Syrian society back into the dark ages like they’ve managed in Libya and Iraq, with the further intent, ultimately, of weakening Iran. that’s the plan. read it. it’s been publicly available for years.

    • seafoid
      May 7, 2013, 5:01 pm

      Not your best effort, Krauss. Israel isn’t in its right for the same reason the nazis were not entitled to wipe out judaism in Europe. It is none of Israel’s business. Obama is a sociopath. Most of the people in congress are corrupt. Doesn’t mean bulgaria has the right to bomb dc. Qatar and saudi should stop funding jihad in syria.

      Do you think whoever israel wants to run syria would be a progressive with an interest in paternity leave and better creches in damascus?

      Who decided israel was regional satrap? I’m afraid this is where 50 years of craven US support for Israel has brought us. The hypocrisy of bot leaders promising israelis there will never be another war in which ashkenazim die like cattle while israel contemplates unleashing mass murder on any country it fancies is noted.

    • Hostage
      May 7, 2013, 9:31 pm

      But is Assad a good guy? I don’t see why Israel isn’t in it’s right to bomb Assad back to the dark ages.

      Because the UN Charter doesn’t permit members to establish “red lines” for launching unilateral preemptive attacks against miltary bases in other countries – not to mention the plethora of UN Security Council resolutions that Israel has already breached by attacking Syria, driving off its Arab cultivators, and annexing their homes and lands.

      It’s hardly the first time that western liberals have covered-up atrocities by complaining about the human rights of their favored factions, while tacitly condoning a foreign invasion, occupation, and annexation of a territory by an aggressor state, e.g. see “Declassified British Documents Reveal U.K. Support for Indonesian Invasion and Occupation of East Timor”:

      The natural corollary to your question would be to ask if the various minority factions living in Syria, who back the secular Baath Party and National Progressive Front (NPF) against the Sunni Islamist insurgents, shouldn’t have the right to question if Israel or the US are the “good guys” and bomb them once in a while? Those two countries export arms capable of reaching the Syrian capital of Damascus. After all, the Syrians have seen white liberals bombarding that capital in the not too distant past under the pretexts of security and international intervention. See Spokesman Review, “French bombard Damascus daily”, 25 June 1926:,3794328

      In Prof. Susan Pedersen’s, “The Meaning of the Mandates System: An Argument”, the author pointed out that the Assembly of the League of Nations had objected when the permanent members of the Council (i.e. white liberal French and British authorities) carried out routine bombardments of the indigenous populations of the internationally mandated territories in South Africa, Syria, and Palestine. The Assembly complained that those grave injustices did not come under the heading of providing “tutelage”. Nonetheless, no one recommended taking legal action against the offending authorities. See the discussion starting at bottom of page 14 of the pdf file:

      Today, we recognize those actions are crimes against humanity that aren’t subject to any time limits. There have already been court cases involving declassified documents on the colonial period. See Mau Mau Ruling Sets Legal Precedent,

      The Iranians and Syrians have already witnessed the Saudis sending US-made tanks to Bahrain to suppress an uprising there. Those same Gulf states have been funneling US-supplied arms to the insurgent Sunni Islamist groups in Syria too. In fact, the current situation is very similar to the charges and counter-charges surrounding the Sunni Islamist uprising in Syria during the late 1970s and 1980s. It culminated in rebellion in Hama that left between 10,000 and 25,000 people dead in 1982.

      You could also compare the current situation with the calls for intervention in the US civil war. FYI, nothing has happened in Egypt yet that remotely approaches the devastation or injustices witnessed during the USA’s own civil war and its aftermath. Abraham Lincoln and his cronies killed hundreds of thousands of people, while insisting that the rest of the world should mind their own business and stop inventing excuses to intervene our domestic affairs.

      Lincoln explained that the Civil War had:

      produced a profound agitation throughout the civilized world. In this unusual agitation we have forborne from taking part in any controversy between foreign states and between parties or factions in such states. We have attempted no propagandism and acknowledged no revolution. But we have left to every nation the exclusive conduct and management of its own affairs. Our struggle has been, of course, contemplated by foreign nations with reference less to its own merits than to its supposed and often exaggerated effects and consequences resulting to those nations themselves.

      See Lincoln’s Second Annual Message, December 1, 1862

      He specifically noted in the same address (cited above) that the treaty with Great Britain for the suppression of the slave trade could be treated as a red line (jus cogens). He pragmatically condoned the continued practice of slavery in regions under the direct control of Union forces as a matter of official policy. He even took action through the rump Congress that required the victims of those policies to pay income taxes to defray the war expenses he incurred.

      • Hostage
        May 7, 2013, 9:51 pm

        P.S. that should have said that Lincoln did NOT feel the British could treat violations of the treaty on the suppression of the slave trade as a “red line” or excuse to intervene in the US Civil War. Even then, the prohibition of slavery was considered jus cogens or compelling law by most “civilized” nations.

      • James Canning
        May 8, 2013, 7:31 pm

        Hostage, I assume you are aware that considerable sympathy for the South was to be found in England, expecially among higher social groups. The workers of Northern England were strongly in favor of the North.

      • Hostage
        May 9, 2013, 9:46 am

        Hostage, I assume you are aware that considerable sympathy for the South was to be found in England, expecially among higher social groups.

        My point was that, time and again, the Lincoln administration warned other countries against any international intervention on the basis of customary law – despite the fact that: 1) the US was in technical violation of its international agreements on the suppression of the slave trade; 2) hundreds of thousands were slaughtered; and 3) the Union Army violated the Lieber Code and the Articles of War during campaigns, like Sherman’s March to the Sea. If you want to intervene or launch a preemptive attack, you can always find an excuse to do so by demonizing one of the belligerent parties.

        The UN Charter prohibition of unilateral threats or use of force against the political independence or territorial integrity of any state still applies whether or not it’s leader is considered “a good guy”.

      • MHughes976
        May 9, 2013, 10:03 am

        As I recall Lord Palmerston, noting that there were some who favoured British intervention, recited a verse going something like ‘He who seeks to interpose often gets a bloody nose’ – which, doggerel or not, is quite sensible and applies to many other situations.
        I suspect that an ironical history could be written of American disapproval of British blockade policy in Napoleon’s time, British dislike of American blockade policy in the Civil War and the concurrence of both in the harsh blockade of Germany in WW1.
        In 1861 there were those in Britain who said ‘We can’t tolerate disruption of Atlantic trade, so we should intervene on the side of those being blockaded’ and in 1914 those who said ‘America can’t tolerate disruption of Atlantic trade, so they should intervene to help us impose our blockade’. Lots of arguments cut lots of ways, don’t they?

      • James Canning
        May 9, 2013, 1:50 pm

        And the Germans were trying to enforce a blockade against Britain, during First World War. Helped to bring US intervention against Germany.

      • James Canning
        May 9, 2013, 1:54 pm

        Your points were sound, Hostage. As almost always is the case. Perhaps I should say, very nearly always.

      • MHughes976
        May 10, 2013, 4:08 pm

        In the form of unrestricted submarine warfare, indeed.

      • James Canning
        May 11, 2013, 2:15 pm

        MHughes976 – – And a catasrophic gamble, and blunder, by Germany.

    • Krauss
      May 8, 2013, 8:49 am

      I’m frankly astounded by the ignorance of some of the replies but this takes the cake:

      holy christ!…..likening Israel’s 2 bombings *inside* Syria to some ‘neoliberal’ humanitarian intervention?
      man…..that is some pathetic scrapping the bottom of the barrel for a excuse!

      Re-read what I wrote. I was mocking the notion of ‘humanitarian intervention’. I also explicitly stated:

      “And only white liberals – yet again – can advocate an invasion so carelessly of a country most of them have never visited.”

      What I wrote was simple: I fail to see the outrage that Israel bombed a military target where the casualties were military targets.

      Bombing Assad does not mean bombing the entire country. It means striking at his military installations, and particularly those engaged in the production of chemical weapons – to be used against their own population.

      As for Israel, I noted I do not see Israel’s action as either moral or immoral. I stated simply that they are cold-hearted rational actions.

      To read what I wrote as somekind of endorsement of massive intervention on ‘humanitarian grounds’ – when I mocked that notion alltogether and drew a direct link to Iraq means that some of you are truly in a bubble where there are only two sides – and nothing in-between.

      And as for the comment about Israel being a creation of European colonialists – I agree. But what does that have to do with anything? I’d favor an international U.N. force in Israel to broker a true peace because we all know America won’t be able to do it’s job. But in the meantime, why should I defend a monstrous dictator like Assad – who gasses his own people?

      • Taxi
        May 8, 2013, 2:10 pm

        “why should I defend a monstrous dictator like Assad – who gasses his own people?”

        Where’s your frigging proof?!

        I bet you believed Saddam had WMD’s too, uhuh.

      • Hostage
        May 8, 2013, 5:08 pm

        Again, using the very same logic, why wouldn’t the Syrians be justified in declaring a blockade and targeting the US or EU factories that deliver fighter aircraft to Israel?

        Ever since April of 1967 Israel has used its fighter aircraft against Damascus. It’s obviously a much more serious security threat for Syria to allow those weapons transfers to occur.

    • Qualtrough
      May 8, 2013, 10:34 am

      How would Israel (or the US, or the UK, or the…) deal with an armed rebellion financed by foreign powers and featuring a large number of foreign fighters, some linked to Al Qaeda and other fundamentalists? I doubt brutal crackdown would begin to cover what you would see. Let’s be honest here. Assad might not be an angel, but this is a war that was conceived far away from Syria, and kept going by outside forces. Faced with that, most countries would resort to any means necessary to defeat it.

  9. American
    May 7, 2013, 12:57 pm

    About Clemons……he got bumped off msm guest spots for a while cause he was too outspoken on the I-Firsters on his TWN, really caught hell, WP’s Rubin and all the Zios publicly hauled him over the coals………appears he is now ‘reformed’ enough to be allowed back on.
    Bad timing on his part—-he help lead on US-Isr -I/P and the congressonal I-Firsters way back and now when a breakthur is finally occuring he is missing the boat…..PTSD from being mauled by the zios no doubt.

    • Blank State
      May 8, 2013, 12:06 am

      “About Clemons……”

      You still don’t get it, do you? He sold out. Its all about his career now, no matter what snake oil he has to peddle, or ass he has to kiss. He wants in the inner sanctum, so what’s he care about how donkey tastes?

  10. quercus
    May 7, 2013, 1:04 pm

    Friedman is a clown and I couldn’t care less what he thinks.

    • Kathleen
      May 7, 2013, 1:45 pm

      A very rich clown. Not sure why folks give his opinion any thought. Just where did his alleged credibility come from? Self appointed?

      • James Canning
        May 7, 2013, 7:12 pm

        Kathllen – – Obama says Tom Friedman is his favorite commenter on foreign policy.

        Ask why Obama would think this good policy on his own part.

  11. gingershot
    May 7, 2013, 1:41 pm

    UPDATE: Another popular Repub talking head comes out against Syrian involvement

    On today’s May 7th ‘Morning Joe’ – Scarborough coming out against adding Syria to the list of ‘American quagmires’ since WWII

    see remarks particularly at around minute 14:50

  12. Kathleen
    May 7, 2013, 1:44 pm

    Shocked by Clemons. And yes Anne Marie Slaughter has been everywhere anyone would have her on pushing for an intervention in Syria for several years now. Did not know Andrew Sullivan had supported the Iraq invasion he sure has changed his tune.

    Would it not be more appropriate and specific to say some of these individuals do not support intervening any further than the U.S. all ready has. As former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit and the Leveretts have pointed out U.S. support as it has all ready been in Syria ( CIA helping with weapons, intelligence etc) has absolutely fueled the Syrian rebels (who no seems to know who they are) and has caused the immense amount of Syrian casualties

    On Syria, Our interventionists ensure America’s luck is running out

    Diplomacy, Not More Weapons, for Syria

    The U.S. and the Obama administration have been doing plenty of intervening in Syria all ready

  13. James Canning
    May 7, 2013, 2:13 pm

    Jurek Martin of the Financial Times has some germane comments in the FT today about this matter (“Lessons for Obama from Bush’s wars”). Obama “understands that the Iraq war was a disaster of biblical proportions”.

  14. James Canning
    May 7, 2013, 2:53 pm

    Sould one note here that Saudi Arabia and Qatar tried to work with Bashar al-Assad, in the years before the eruption of the civil war in Syria?

    Taxi, of course, thinks the Emir of Qatar wants to help Israel oppress the Palestinians.

    • Justpassingby
      May 7, 2013, 3:37 pm

      Its not the first time you make absurd comments.

      Qatar, the same regime that just announced they will visit Israel later this year to strengthen the bilateral ties. Obviously Qatar putting ties with Israel and ties with terrorist syrian rebels above Palestinians and the Resistance in the middle east.

      • James Canning
        May 7, 2013, 7:50 pm

        Just – – You seem to need to do some background reading. Saudi Arabia and Qatar worked for years, regarding changing the stance Syria was taking in the Middle East.

  15. BillM
    May 7, 2013, 3:30 pm

    Meh. Washington isn’t against direct intervention because they’ve learned a lesson, they’re against it because the war has already reached the end goal for them. This isn’t a replay of Iraq; it’s a replay of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, or the Iran-Iraq War. In each of the those cases, the war was GREAT for the US (and Israel). Two hated enemies (Islamists and Communists, Arabs and Persians) slaughtered each other and destroyed their countries, ensuring that they wouldn’t rise up to present new geopolitical challenges. It was only after the wars were over that the mujahideen were unleashed, Saddam was left desperate enough to attack Kuwait, and Iran was free rebuilt a geopolitical power base.

    The US won’t intervene directly in this war, it will intervene as it did in the two above. It will supply arms to keep the fighting going and ensure that neither side can win. This is why Obama last week was threatening (and certainly already implementing) measures to increase the strength of the rebels (more weapons) but that US intelligence has already said won’t alter the fundamental balance, but ruling out any action that could bring the war to an end, such as direct US intervention.

    Hooray for us. No Americans need to die in this one, we’re just financing all the killing.

    • James Canning
      May 7, 2013, 7:07 pm

      BillM – – Saddam Hussein tried to annex Kuwait, and its enormous riches, due in large part to astounding blunder by the American ambassador in Baghdad at the time (April Glaspie).

      • lysias
        May 8, 2013, 10:03 am

        Was that a blunder, or was the U.S. setting a trap for Saddam?

      • James Canning
        May 8, 2013, 2:07 pm

        Epic blunder by April Glaspie, Lysias. US policy was not to take a position on disputes between Kuwait and Iraq regarding alleged slant-drilling into Iraqi oilfields from Kuwait, and related issues. Glaspie gave Saddam the notion he could invade Kuwait and resolve the dispute by military force. And even annex the country.

        No, it was not a trap for Saddam. Incredible blunder, by Glaspie, that most US journalists have tried to sweep under the rug.

      • gamal
        May 9, 2013, 8:05 am

        look i have been reading your comments James, you are a paid propagandist for the Gulf emirates and Saudi, you are a rare fish in these waters, love the unsupported assertions, its like reading Asharq al-Awsat, but its not very convincing, bit boring need to pep it up man, tell us about the Shia…..not some silly assertions about what the hell do you know about what Glaspie was up to.

      • James Canning
        May 9, 2013, 1:59 pm

        Gamal – – I have read the transcripts of April Glaspie’s meetings with Saddam Hussein, prior to his invasion of Iraq in 1990. I suggest you read them.

        British journalists were astounded at her blunder, and equally astounded at the reluctance of American journalists to look into the matter.

      • BillM
        May 8, 2013, 1:03 pm

        James, in part. A bigger driver was that he was desperate. He had a million-man army he couldn’t afford and couldn’t disband, and debts (mostly to Kuwait and Saudi) that he couldn’t pay. It was the conclusion of the war that drove him to rash action.

        Syria is the same. Israel and the US are sitting pretty as Jihadis battle the Syrian army, and Hezbollah and Iran are steadily forced to commit more and more resources. The war is great for the US and Israel. But once it’s over, no matter who wins, it turns into a disaster.

      • James Canning
        May 9, 2013, 2:18 pm

        BillM – -Yes, Iraq had huge debts as a result of the long war with Iran.

        BUT, key fact is Saddam Hussein’s generals told him not to invade Kuwait because the US would drive Iraq out.
        Saddam went against the advice of his generals due to his perception of what response (or non-response) would come from the US. Here is where April Glaspie’s blunder comes into play.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 10, 2013, 5:47 am

        hmmm, james. do you have any source for what you claim saddam’s generals told him?

        Excerpts from the screenplay ‘The Golden Bullet” (The Rise and Fall of Saddam Hussein).
        *All dialogue taken from official American and Iraqi records.


        Saddam sits with AMBASSADOR GLASPIE and her secretarial aid; Tarek Aziz and his deputy, NIZAR HAMDOON. The atmosphere is stiff and official.

        Madame Ambassador, let’s suppose Kuwait continues flooding the market and prices keep tumbling. Let’s assume that Kuwait refuses to stop its acts of political aggression against us. What do think the US attitude will be?

        The Ambassador appears uneasy at the question but retains her elegant composure. Her aid sitting to her side, maintains a focused but neutral expression throughout the meeting, writing notes.

        Mr. President, your disagreements with Kuwait have a historical flavor. As you know, it’s been our policy since the sixties not to have anything to do with these kinds of local disagreements. In fact this policy has even been recently confirmed by our Secretary of State, James Baker.
        Washington only hopes that you can solve these problems in a suitable way.

        Saddam studies the Ambassador’s demeanor for a beat.

        Tarek Aziz observes them both with a tired nervousness. Nizar wears an expression of attentive calm.

        I’ve received instructions to ask you about your intentions concerning Iraqi troop concentrations on the Kuwait border. Washington asked me to put this question to you in a friendly spirit, not one of confrontation. Our aim is simply to make peace and we are interested in everything concerning peace, not only in Iraq but in the whole world.

        We wouldn’t ask anyone not to be interested in peace or not to be concerned when they see circumstances that threaten peace. We’re not asking for a solution at the expense of others. Nor will we ever accept a solution at our expense!

        The uncomfortable Ambassador shifts lightly in her seat.

        Tarek Aziz’s face deflates at Saddam’s stern tone as Nizar sits up stiffly.

        (polite restraint)
        Madame Ambassador, we’ve been continuously asking Kuwait and the Gulf States to stop their economic war against Iraq. We’ve sent special envoys, written messages, every possible means we’ve tried with them. At a summit held between Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Iraq to resolve this issue, we even reached an agreement less than our desires but we accepted it. Two days later the Kuwaiti Oil Minister made a statement attacking this very agreement.
        When we failed to find a solution, well obviously Iraq wasn’t going to allow itself to die. Yes, our troops are on the border, twenty kilometers on the Iraqi side, and as I told President Mubarak a few weeks ago, nothing will happen until we had met with the Kuwaitis.
        But, in every way, Madame Ambassador,
        (locks eyes with her)
        wisdom will prevail.

        The awkward Ambassador now smiles to be assured.

        SADDAM (CONT’D):
        (smiles back)
        So now you have good news.

        Nizar relaxes in his chair. A relieved Tarek Aziz beams.



        A GIANT SAUDI FLAG framed in OPULENCE hangs on a wall.
        King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and Kuwaiti CROWN PRINCE SAAD AL-SALEM AL-SUBAH, sit with Iraq’s vice-president IZZAT AL-DOURI and the infamous CHEMICAL ALI.

        The ROUND TABLE meeting is official and hostile.

        Your majesty, I have with me undeniable proof that Kuwait took advantage of our distractions with Iran and ordered a side-ways drilling of oil fields inside our Iraqi territory.

        Proof – what proof?!
        (to King Fahd)
        Fabrications! The usual insults and mad fabrications from Saddam’s–

        KING FAHD:
        If you please, Crown Prince, please, let the vice-president finish. Please, everyone will get their chance to speak. We’re here tonight to resolve a very serious problem and I ask everyone to remember that patience is a virtue that god himself demands of us.

        The Prince’s mouth tightens with dissatisfaction.

        Chemical Ali’s hostile eyes focus on the Kuwaiti Prince.

        Now that this proof of aggression can be made available for the whole world to see–

        KING FAHD:
        There is no need for us to travel down this path. Let us instead discuss what you think would be a fair compensation, if, as you say, you have proof of your accusations.

        Very well your majesty.
        (at Crown Prince, firm)
        We estimate our loses during the eight years that Kuwait re-routed Iraqi oil to be at ten billion dollars–

        God be my witness I will not put up with slander or daylight robbery!

        Chemical Ali grinds his jaw.

        Izzat opens a LARGE ENVELOPE, pulls out MAPS, DRILLING PLANS, DOCUMENTS and PHOTOGRAPHS of OIL DRILLS and PIPELINES. He places these items before the King.

        A tense beat as the King inspects them with a frown.

        The king leans closer to the Kuwaiti Prince’s ear and whispers for two beats as the Prince’s eyes shift calculating with fury before he finally nods an agreement.

        KING FAHD:
        (to Izzat, pacifying)
        Human error, old maps, faulty calculations, so many times, my friends, these things have caused avoidable conflict and suffering.

        Chemical Ali breaks a small smirk. Izzat’s eyes calculate.

        KING FAHD (CONT’D):
        In the name of peace, and because of your ancestor’s history of blood and brotherhood, the Crown Prince of Kuwait on behalf of the Emir of Kuwait, agrees to pay Iraq the sum of ten billion dollars.

        (locks eyes with Izzat)
        Nine billion, your majesty, nine billion!I will not pay a cent more–

        Ten billion is our low estimate! You should be paying us trillions for the half million Iraqis martyred to save you from the filthy Iranian devils!

        Your majesty, in the strongest possible terms, Iraq insists on ten billion dollars!

        The Crown Prince glares fire and bitterness at Izzat.

        King Fahd closes his despairing eyes for two beats.

        KING FAHD:
        (to all)
        In the name of securing peace between you tonight, it behooves me to pay the one billion dollar difference myself. I will do this in the name of peace between my brothers.

        DISSOLVE TO:


        (to an attentive Saddam)
        Mr. President, after the King guaranteed the ten billion, the next morning we all met again in order to set up a date for the Emir of Kuwait to visit Iraq to officially sign the agreement.
        (serious pause)
        But instead, the Crown Prince venomously accused us of blackmail and refused to compensate us after all.

        It was an ugly scene, Mr. President.

        Saddam’s brows crease with dark, cold fury.

        I want to know his exact words.

        He said, and I quote: Kuwait will not give Saddam a single penny. He also said that even though Kuwait was a small country bullied by Iraq for decades, his kingdom now has some very powerful friends who won’t hesitate to use their military bulk against anyone who attacks them.

        Saddam cracks a small menacing sneer.

        The Crown Prince then proceeded to threaten us saying that if we don’t pull our troops away from the borders, he’ll plunge the Iraqi dinar so low that it won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.

        Saddam’s mouth twists as he turns to Chemical Ali.

        Is this all true, every word of it?

        Every single damned word, Mr. President. Except,
        (to Izzat)
        if you’ll forgive me comrade, you left out what I think is the most important detail.

        Saddam glares coldly at Izzat who can only lower his head.

        Tell us, comrade Ali, why did Izzat do that?

        In truth, King Fahd was so disturbed by what I’m about to tell you that he made everyone in the room swear on the holy Koran that this detail would not cross your ears. Under huge pressure from the King, comrade Izzat was forced to place his hand on the holy Koran and take this oath of discretion.
        But I didn’t.

        Saddam, stern, nods acceptance of explanation.

        So tell us, comrade Ali, what words would make the gracious King Fahd so disturbed?

        Mr. President, the Crown Prince of Kuwait ended his unprovoked tirade of insults hissing and threatening that if Iraq ever attacked his kingdom,
        (eyes bulge)
        he swore to make all Iraqi women into harlots and whores!

        Everyone’s chest puffs up with fire and revenge.

        (grits teeth)
        Pimps – they’ve always been nothing but pimps.

        With speed he picks up his DESK PHONE and with dark determination he dials.

        SADDAM (CONT’D):
        (into phone)
        Execute the plan – I order you to be in Kuwait City by noon tomorrow. I order the immediate capture and imprisonment of all the royal Kuwaiti pimps!

        Chemical Ali applauds grinning as Izzat looks on with troubled eyes.

      • BillM
        May 10, 2013, 10:50 am

        James, no dispute on anything you have said, but it was the desperation of his position that pushed him into seizing the thin reed of Glaspie’s mistatements. I’ve always found that aspect of the decision – the inevitable blowback/consequences of a long war – far more interesting that the diplomatic error by the US, and far more important for current thinking about when/where the US decides to “get involved.” Saddam’s untenable position wouldn’t have disappeared even if Glaspie had been smarter.

      • Taxi
        May 10, 2013, 11:16 am

        Sorry, BillM, but Saddam’s (pyrrhic) victory over Iran left him weakened, not “desperate”. That stage came later – way after his forced withdrawal from kuwait, when the n0-fly-zone finally took hold and started to really cramp his style of governance.

      • BillM
        May 10, 2013, 11:42 am

        I disagree, and that is the heart of my contention about the danger of wars ending, and the US and Israel both being happy with the Syrian war continuing in its current condition. Saddam may have looked like a winner (pyrrhic, as you point out), but the desperation was real. His backers in the war instantly became angry creditors, and were happy to use his debts to try to bring him to heel. He couldn’t pay for or disband his army (the US occupation helpfully provided proof of what happens when you disband a 400,000 man army, never mind a 1-million man army). His agressive foreign and domestic policy (war against the Kurds, meddling in Lebanon and seeking to weaken Syria, invading Kuwait) were not driven by his megalomania (though that was real), but by his situation, which was a direct result of 8 years of war. He needed conflict as justification, he needed to somehow change the financial balance, and quite frankly he needed something to do with his army.

        The situation in Syria is not exactly the same (it’s closer to Afghanistan), but it’s fairly analogous. The US and Israel might laugh as Assad’s army and jihadis slaughter each other, but eventually the war will end, and the peace will be upleasant for both the US and Israel (unless the US has completed its “pivot to Asia” by then, and stops caring).

      • Taxi
        May 10, 2013, 2:41 pm

        “His backers in the war instantly became angry creditors, and were happy to use his debts to try to bring him to heel.”

        If by “backers” you mean Saudi and the Gulf states, then you’re completely wrong on this one too, BillM. The monies given to Saddam by Saudi & Gulf states were offered as (cynical) ‘gifts’ to help him fight the ‘dreaded’ Iranian mullahs. The Saudis/Gulfies were secretly hoping that the two hated countries of Iraq and Iran would destroy each other and no victor would emerge. When Saddam won on a technicality, with the 11th hour aid of American reconnaissance of Iranian army positions, the Saudis and the Gulf states feared a doubling of Saddam’s power in the region and between them conspired against him by first insisting the war-chest given to Saddam was a ‘debt’ and not a gift, demanding full reimbursement of alleged debt . Second, they launched an economic petro-war against him to bankrupt the unsteady post-war Iraqi economy in the hope of weakening Saddam, expiring him and his myth both internally and regionally. There is no evidence whatsoever that Saddam was “desperate” at that stage. But indeed he was bitterly disappointed and angry at the oil Arab’s betrayal of him and absolutely livvid with murderous rage at the verbal offenses uttered by the Kuwaiti Prince, as the screenwriter in Annie’s post correctly and accurately states. Saddam was definitely not “desperate” at all at that time because he STILL had American backing.

        I know all this from speaking with Bob Baer about it at the time that it was happening, when he was working on the CIA’s Iraq file. At the time, America was still somewhat friendly with Saddam – it was AFTER he invaded Kuwait that America ‘dropped’ Saddam – really because the newly opened CIA offices in Baghdad could not get ANY cooperation from his intelligence services whatsoever since opening day, and Saddam was deemed “too much trouble”, too egomaniacally “out of their control” and therefore not to be trusted anymore. ‘Dropable’. He’d already beat the Mullahs and they didn’t need him anymore.

        Saddam’s “desperation” phase was much later than the Kuwait crisis. After his losses in Gulf War 1 against Bush Snr, he actually took a 3 year sabbatical from direct rule, assigning his security duties to his son-in-law, Kamel. When Saddam returned himself to office and investigated Kamel’s activities during his absence and found that he’d been fleecing the Iraqi Central Bank, Saddam ordered Kamel’s arrest. Kamel and his wife, Saddam’s daughter, got a tip on the arrest from Saddam’s first wife and they fled to Jordan by moonlight. Subsequently, Saddam discovered that Kamel had planned, with the help of the CIA, to personally assassinate him during a family Eid gathering that Kamel was supposed to attend. Ironically, Kamel had fled the night before the Eid pow-wow where he was supposed to “put a bullet in Saddam’s head” and where Saddam was simultaneously supposed to have him arrested and humiliated in front of all the whole family at their yearly gathering. (Yeah man, Shakespearean twists and turns!)

        When Saddam discovered that the CIA had infiltrated his inner circle through his family members, although their mission had failed, he began then to feel pathologically ‘unsafe’ without: read the no-fly-zone, AND within: read Kamel & Uday both tried to assassinated him, but in the case of Uday, it was prompted by his acute Oedipal complex, incited by his mother.

        When members of Saddam’s family tried to assassinate him, only then can we really say that Saddam became “desperate”. Till then, all his maneuverings were to buy time and hope the next USA administration would be leaner on him. But then… George W Bush happened, 9/11 happened, and the pentagon snatched the Iraq file from the CIA’s hands (because of their many failed assassination attempts on Saddam/failed mission in Iraq).

      • James Canning
        May 10, 2013, 3:02 pm

        UN sanctions hurt Iraq, in wake of Gulf War in 1991. But those sanctions enabled enrichment of a number of Iraqis closely associated with Saddam.

        Question: why didn’t Saddam shout from the rooftops that he had destroyed Iraq’s WMD?

      • James Canning
        May 10, 2013, 3:11 pm

        BillM – – I disagree. Saddam had a good legal case, and with patience he could likely have achieved a reasonable settlement, plus major discounts on Iraqi debt (from war with Iran).
        Saddam “went with his gut”, in the same way George W. Bush did. But Bush’s advisers (in 2003) were pusing for the idiotic war.
        Let’s remember Saddam destroyed his WMD after the Gulf War.

        And we might bear in mind that Colin Powell was reluctant to resort to arms to get Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.

        April Glaspie’s blunder was of HUGE IMPORTANCE. Full stop.

      • BillM
        May 10, 2013, 4:34 pm

        Taxi, your first paragraph restates what I said; you just found a longer way to say it. The rest is interesting, but doesn’t really have anything to do with my point or the original article.


      • James Canning
        May 10, 2013, 4:47 pm

        Taxi – – A very large factor was Saddam’s belief Iraqi oil was being extracted from Kuwaiti wells. “Slant-drilling”.

        April Glaspie was instructed by Jim Baker, to take no position on the dispute regarding slant-drilling (and extraction from Neutral Zone).

        Glaspie blundered by giving Saddam the notion he could resolve the dispute with Kuwait by military force. Glapsie should have told Saddam: invade Kuwait, and you will be expelled by military force.

      • James Canning
        May 10, 2013, 7:09 pm

        BillM – – Saddam Hussein’s generals saw ZERO need for Iraq to invade Kuwait. Accurate cost/benefit was done by them, and disregarded by Saddam due largely to blunder of April Glaspie.

        One wonders why a woman was in Baghdad, as US ambassador, at this crucial moment.

        In fact, Glaspie left the country, on her annual leave. Very poor choice of time to go on vacation.

      • Taxi
        May 11, 2013, 6:28 am

        Shocking that I agree with you on this point, James Canning :-)

        Saddam invaded kuwait for a handful of reasons. First, like you said, because of colossal unclarity in policy communication between USA and their (at the time) friend, Saddam – read: the Glaspie meeting.

        Secondly, because Kuwait had launched an unprovoked economic war against Iraq.

        Thirdly, because of kuwait’s slant-drilling into Iraqi territory while the Iraqi army was busy bleeding and dying to help protect them and other oil emirates, as well as Iraq, from the “Iranian menace”. Really, you can say because of kuwaiti theft, betrayal and back-stabbing.

        Fourthly (nobody mentions this one much), because before the colonialist Brits drew lines in Arabian sands in the early part of the 20th century, dividing up the land over bottles of Cognac, Kuwait was mostly actually part of Iraq’s south eastern desert (a quick read on the history of the birth of Kuwait won’t go amiss here – or even a quick look at a map of the region – the whimsical-looking line that divided kuwait from Iraq). Most Iraqis will tell you that Kuwait is historically and legitimately theirs and they’ve been denied it by western imperialism.

        And last (but certainly not least if you know anything about the Arab tribal culture of self-pride, that is), the straw that broke the camel’s back for Saddam was the curses and the verbal insults on the ‘dignity’ of Iraqi women that the Kuwaiti prince apparently, belligerently, heaped on Saddam. This may appear ridiculous to us in the west, but in the mideast, to insult a man’s mother, sister, daughter, or wife, is tantamount to attacking his manhood – something of a challenge that generally cannot be ignored in Arab patriarchal society. Something so deep in the tribal Arab psyche that yes, it can lead to war.

        I’ve sat over the years with a few people, both western and Arab (journalists/diplomats/writers/intelligence analysts), who knew Saddam first hand and have made him the subject of their life’s work. I’ve heard many Saddam stories from them that I’ve never seen in the mainstream media. That’s why I was surprised to see annie’s screenplay post that depicts scenes incredibly similar to what I’ve actually been told by my sources but never seen either in print or in cyberspace.

        The real history of the loser of a war remains hidden for many, many years after their demise. This is the power of the aftermath of a propaganda blitz – it reverberates for many generations to come.

        The mainstream media usually writes about the fake Saddam. Their Saddam. Not necessarily the real one.

      • James Canning
        May 11, 2013, 1:54 pm

        Thanks, Taxi. Saddam’s generals told their vicious dictator boss, that if Iraqi forces occupied Kuwait, they would be thrashed but good by th US.

        Really astounding blunder, in my view, by Jim Baker, in having April Glaspie serving in Baghdad as US ambassador at such a crucial juncture.
        (I say this as a great admirer of Baker.)

        Richard Helms would have told Saddam: you have big problems now, to be sure. But, if you are so foolish as to invade Kuwiat, your problems will be much greater.

  16. gingershot
    May 7, 2013, 3:47 pm

    What is Israel getting out of throwing all this gas on Syria/Iran? – this is a gem from today’s therealnews regarding Israeli short and long term strategy –

    ‘Israel’s Syria Strategy to Weaken Hezbollah and Profit from Chaos’ – it’s a great 19 minute video from Shir Hever/Paul Jay

    Very well done in exposing short- and long term-Israeli strategy in regards to destroying John Kerry’s CPR attempts to restart the ‘peace process’ and eliminating that threat to continued Apartheid (remember those, like from last week?), the Israeli/Neocon sport of touching off Arabs killing Arabs (honorable mention for Daniel Pipes), and the value of war as far as selling Israeli-built munitions

    ‘Apartheid Israel cannot exist without chaos in the Middle East’ – it’s like Rahm Emannuel says, that’s where the opportunities are

    • MK_Ultra
      May 8, 2013, 10:21 pm

      This has nothing to do with Hezbollah and everything with baiting Iran.

      • James Canning
        May 9, 2013, 2:40 pm

        You think Israel wants Iran to intervene in the civil war directly?

  17. alan
    May 7, 2013, 3:53 pm

    What ‘the mainstream’ in the US thinks is immaterial. Israel and the Gulf states can be relied on to do the heavy lifting and the rest of the world can look the other way or do a bit of cheering on….

    Syria was slated for destruction by the neo-cons ages ago. The programme may be a bit behind schedule but, hey, better late than never in their book. The US ‘mainstream’ won’t quibble about everyone else getting their hands dirty will it?

    • James Canning
      May 7, 2013, 7:48 pm

      alan, public opinion in fact is important. Not controlling, but important.

      Yes, some fanatical “supporters” of Israel, typically neocons, want Syria partitioned. Idea is to help Israel keep the Golan Heights permanently.

    • a blah chick
      May 7, 2013, 9:29 pm

      I always thought it was Iraq, Iran and the Syria on the agenda for these people.

      They’re right on schedule.

      • Citizen
        May 8, 2013, 10:03 am

        You’re right, those were/have been/are the three principle targets of PNAC. If memory serves, Israel wanted the US to attack Iran first, but jumped on board the priority agenda Bush Jr had–Iraq first. 9/11 was the trigger, the Pearl Harbor, that gave the neocons traction. Here’s a summary of PNAC, including a link to all its contributing members and governmental actors:

      • James Canning
        May 8, 2013, 2:10 pm

        Yes, Citizen. Israel wanted the US to attack Iran, after “9/11” attacks. This would have been awkward, given the fact Iran was helping the US to overthrow the Taleban in Afghanstan.

  18. DICKERSON3870
    May 7, 2013, 4:06 pm

    RE: That consensus is reflected in former Obama aide Gary Samore saying . . . “there’s genuine uncertainty” about who used chemical weapons . . . ~ Weiss

    “Britamgate: Staging False Flag Attacks in Syria”, [original source – Oriental Review (Russia)], 2/04/12

    [EXCERPTS] On January 22 a telling leak cropped up in the Internet. British defense contractor’s BRITAM server was hacked and megabytes of classified internal files of the firm were released to the public. . .
    . . . The key finding is a mail dated December 24, 2012 sent by Britam Defence’s Business Development Director David Goulding to Dynamic Director of the firm Phillip Doughty, who is a former SAS officer:

    We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington. We’ll have to deliver a CW to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have.
    They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.

    Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?
    Kind regards

    To clarify the things, CW is a standard abbreviation for Chemical Weapons; ‘g-shell’ is a bomb consisting of an explosive projectile filled with toxic gas.
    Taking into account the memorable Barack Obama’s warning that the ‘use or even transportation of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would represent a “red line” that would precipitate military intervention’, a message he reiterated last month after the election to the second term, the plotted operation, if carried out, would provide an ideal pretext for the foreign intervention into Syria. Israel has voiced the same warnings last week.
    Who would perpetrate the video-recorded delivery of CWs to Homs? The text of mail clearly indicates that they would use Britam’s Ukrainian personnel for forging videos. . .
    . . . Summing up these facts we can conclude that a provocation in Syria is the only option left for the war-mongers. Having exhaustive information on the real situation in Syria and being aware of inability of the corrupted rebel group to make any significant change in Damascus, they have nothing to do but hire a second-rate British PSC for another round of dirty job. We have no doubt that numerous tragic ‘revelations’ of atrocities committed by ‘pro-Assad army’ that were repeatedly hitting YouTube for the last two years, were also ‘ordered’ for enormous fee to the former British ‘berets’. The latest leakage deserves thorough investigation and consideration on the top international political level. . .


  19. Kathleen
    May 7, 2013, 4:28 pm

    “Tom Friedman has spoken” Who listens to what this man says. The pro invade Iraq crowd was so deadly wrong (and I for one believe they knew it) who cares what they have to say about anything. Friedman should be behind bars with any other journalist who pushed the false intelligence, the invasion for being complicit to war crimes. Tom is bloody very bloody

    The U.S. has all ready intervened in Syria..the rebels (who ever they are) would not have gotten as far as they have gotten without the Obama administrations help

    • James Canning
      May 7, 2013, 7:52 pm

      Yes, Kathleen: many of the most ardent promoters of the illegal and idiotic US invasion of Iraq, knew it was being based on false pretenses.

    • Rusty Pipes
      May 7, 2013, 7:57 pm

      That’s: Tom “suck on this” Friedman has spoken. Why does this man still have any credibility, much less a job?

      • James Canning
        May 7, 2013, 7:59 pm

        What reasons would you be able to surmise, Rusty?

  20. DICKERSON3870
    May 7, 2013, 4:43 pm

    RE: “More on Israel’s dubious role. Sullivan mocks the idea that the Israeli attack on Syria was not an act of war.” ~ Weiss

    AS DOES GLENN GREENWALD: “Israeli bombing of Syria and moral relativism”, by Glenn Greenwald,, 5/06/13
    No universally applied principle justifies the Israeli attack on Damascus. Only self-flattering tribalism does that.

    [EXCERPTS] On Sunday, Israel dropped massive bombs near Damascus, ones which the New York Times, quoting residents, originally reported (then evidently deleted) resulted in explosions “more massive than anything the residents of the city. . . have witnessed during more than two years of war.” . . .
    . . .Israeli defenders claim that its air attack targeted weapons provided by Iran that would have ended up in the hands of Hezbollah. . .
    . . . Because people who cheer for military action by their side like to pretend that they’re something more than primitive “might-makes-right” tribalists, the claim is being hauled out that Israel’s actions are justified by the “principle” that it has the right to defend itself from foreign weapons in the hands of hostile forces. But is that really a “principle” that anyone would apply consistently, as opposed to a typically concocted ad hoc claim to justify whatever the US and Israel do? Let’s apply this “principle” to other cases, as several commentators on Twitter have done over the last 24 hours, beginning with this:
    ● [TWEET] Nima Shirazi @WideAsleepNima: If Syrian planes bombed Israel’s Ramat David Airbase because it houses US-supplied weaponry, what would the appropriate Israeli reaction be?
    3:00 PM – 4 May 2013

    Here’s a similar question:
    ● [TWEET] Mehdi Hasan @mehdirhasan: Imagine if, say, Iran had unilaterally launched a strike on Salafi Syrian rebels overnight? Would we all be okay with that? #lawofthejungle
    5:29 AM – 5 May 2013

    . . . Few things are more ludicrous than the attempt by advocates of US and Israeli militarism to pretend that they’re applying anything remotely resembling “principles”. Their only cognizable “principle” is rank tribalism: My Side is superior, and therefore we are entitled to do things that Our Enemies are not. In more honest moments, they admit this. . .
    . . . So much of the pseudo-high-minded theorizing emanating from DC think thanks and US media outlets boils down to this adolescent, self-praising, tribalistic license: we have the right to do X, but they do not. Indeed, the entire debate over whether there should be a war with Iran over its nuclear enrichment activities, as Israel sits on a massive pile of nuclear weapons while refusing UN demands to permit any international inspection of it, is also a perfect expression of this mentality. . .


    • DICKERSON3870
      May 7, 2013, 4:51 pm

      RE: “. . . Few things are more ludicrous than the attempt by advocates of US and Israeli militarism to pretend that they’re applying anything remotely resembling ‘principles’. Their only cognizable ‘principle’ is rank tribalism: My Side is superior, and therefore we are entitled to do things that Our Enemies are not.” ~ Glenn Greenwald

      GEORGE ORWELL — in his 1945 “Notes on Nationalism” — explained exactly the warped form of thinking that creates this mindset:

      [EXCERPTS] . . . All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. . .

      . . . The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. For quite six years the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. And those who are loudest in denouncing the German concentration camps are often quite unaware, or only very dimly aware, that there are also concentration camps in Russia. Huge events like the Ukraine famine of 1933, involving the deaths of millions of people, have actually escaped the attention of the majority of English russophiles. Many English people have heard almost nothing about the extermination of German and Polish Jews during the present war. Their own antisemitism has caused this vast crime to bounce off their consciousness. In nationalist thought there are facts which are both true and untrue, known and unknown. A known fact may be so unbearable that it is habitually pushed aside and not allowed to enter into logical processes, or on the other hand it may enter into every calculation and yet never be admitted as a fact, even in one’s own mind. . .

      SOURCE: “Notes on Nationalism”, by George Orwell –

      • DICKERSON3870
        May 7, 2013, 5:12 pm


        We are told this was not an act of war. Why? Er, because Israel did it and therefore it is not an act of war. It may have killed close to 100 Syrian army soldiers, among many others; it may have been the biggest single explosion in Syria’s capital city throughout the entire conflict; it may have required entering another country’s airspace and bombing its capital city; but this is not a war. Moreover, this not-war is embraced by the US. Because Israel did it.

  21. lysias
    May 7, 2013, 5:36 pm

    RT: Russia – U.S. to convene conference on Syria – Lavrov :

    Russia and the United States agreed to encourage the Syrian government and the opposition to advance efforts in achieving a dialogue, and to this end have decided to convene an international conference in late May which will follow up on the Geneva meeting which took place on June 30, 2012, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

    “Russia and the United States will encourage the Syrian government and opposition groups to come to a political solution to the conflict,” Foreign Minister Lavrov stated.

    “We also agreed on the need to try, and I think it will happen as soon as possible, possibly at the end of May, to convene an international conference to be organized in on the basis of the Geneva Conference, which was held in June last year,” said the Russian Foreign Minister.

  22. a blah chick
    May 7, 2013, 9:26 pm

    Yesterday I heard a guy on the TV say that Syria had to be stopped because they were using CHEMICAL WEAPONS and CREATING REFUGEES!!!!!!

    I was really bummed by this and then I realized that Israel had used CHEMICAL WEAPONS and created REFUGEES.

    And then I relaxed.

  23. RoHa
    May 7, 2013, 9:45 pm

    “What are liberals for?”

    What are liberals?

  24. RJL
    May 7, 2013, 10:34 pm

    Krauss is no lover of zion, but his understanding of the complicated war in Syria is better than seafoid’s, or Annie’s. Oh, seafoid, I love your sterile, not anti-semitic comment about bombing Israel on behalf of their orthodox girls! Bet you’d not say the same about bombing Saudi Arabia to redeem the girls not allowed to drive cars or walk unescorted by a male relative. No, the guardians of MDW would NEVER allow any anti-semitic comment, only a sterile anti-Israel one. Tell Phil I have several bridges, over very troubled waters, to sell him.

    • Taxi
      May 8, 2013, 12:57 am

      Boo hoo hoo RJL,

      Poor poor you having to be forced to read Mondoweiss at gunpoint everyday. Being forced the humiliation of cyber-hanging with all them “anti-Semites” and “sterile anti-israel” know-nothing goy. Oh deary deary me. And of course you know so much more about “Syria” than they do – after all you’ve been to the Golan several times and they haven’t, right?! Ooops I’m sorry, my “antisemitic” mistake calling the Golan Syrian when is clearly is israeli, right?

      And thanks for bringing up that “Saudi Arabia bombing” thing – thanks for reminding us that israel and saudi arabia have so much in common. Not that we needed reminding, but it’s always good to get a confirmation from mideast experts like YOU.

      Now I don’t have a bridge “over very troubled waters” to sell you, but I do have several I can recommend you for jumping off – list available upon request.

    • Sumud
      May 8, 2013, 7:31 am

      Krauss is no lover of zion, but his understanding of the complicated war in Syria is better than seafoid’s, or Annie’s.

      Krauss’ understanding of the “complicated war in Syria” is not relevant, at all.

      Israel chose to join the UN and agreed to abide by it’s treaties. Neither Israel nor any other country is allowed to attack a country, not even as a “pre-emptive strike”.

    • Danaa
      May 8, 2013, 7:11 pm

      RJL, why won’t you take issue with my comment (to which seafoid was responding by raising me one in the sarcasm department)? mine was so much more not-anti-semitic! plus it was more puerile than sterile (I don’t do sterile, DNA won’t let me, sorry). Did you actually catch the full depravity of said comment and absorbed the implications? i implied israel was “badder than Assad” and you let that one slide? how could you?

      BTW, I am sure that seafoid would have the same non-objections to bombing Saudi-Arabia to rescue innocent Saudi girls from non-driving, non-voting, all covered-up fate, as he would to rescuing the rarely-driving, sort-of-voting, kind-of-covered-up, similarly innocent ultra-orthodox girls.

      For what it’s worth, I have full confidence in seafoid’s inner sense of symmetry. Though when it comes to RJL, alas, i got my doubts.

      This is my complaint against “MDW” (freudian for “WMD”? ) commenters – no one ever wants to pick a fight with me. (OK, hophmi tried once, but alas, he went off the reservation in the length department, which is MY territory). I feel discriminated against and in recompense am demanding the prompt return of Mooser (whom we all miss, right?)…..

      • Annie Robbins
        May 9, 2013, 12:48 am

        demanding the prompt return of Mooser (whom we all miss, right?)…..

        i definitely miss him danaa.

      • Danaa
        May 9, 2013, 1:17 pm

        He has last been been in evidence on MOA – what’s up with passing over MW? maybe he is fuming over a comment taking longer than 10 minutes to appear? if it is, I hope he returns to share the good fumes with the rest of us, poor fumers that we are….

      • Rusty Pipes
        May 10, 2013, 9:30 pm

        Especially when he doesn’t get as many laughs there as he does here.

  25. CloakAndDagger
    May 7, 2013, 10:56 pm

    But Miklaszewski emphasizes that both Europeans and Americans are reluctant to plunge into another war. Not John McCain, though. He’s ready to put boots on the ground.

    Not his own boots or those of any of his offsprings, however. Few people know the dark side of his performance in Vietnam and betrayal, and his subsequent pardon. They only tout his imprisonment, and not what he did as a POW.

    • Taxi
      May 8, 2013, 1:00 am

      John McCain is the most powerful israeli in our congress and he likes it this way, thank you very much.

  26. Blank State
    May 8, 2013, 12:00 am

    “I would note that last night on the PBS News Hour, Steve Clemons of the Atlantic and the New America Foundation praised Israel for its attack and said it might be a model to us.”

    What a huge disappointment this guy Clemons has become. An opportunist who doesn’t think twice about doing whatever it takes to climb the career ladder. Donkey, ape, dog…..ain’t gonna matter to him, if it gets him one more rung up the ladder.

  27. MK_Ultra
    May 8, 2013, 10:29 pm

    The lamestream media may be against intervention in Syria ~cough~ but it’s quite clear than on this one (because Syria is weak and poses not threat of response), they’re doing the bidding thru good ole reliable Isreal. Someone above mentioned PBS and that reminds me that, for the past month, the corporate media has been on over-drive manufacturing consent for ISreal’s acts of terrorism against Syria. In the case of PBS, it is particularly shameful. It all started on the anniversary of the end of Palestine with a POS documentary titled “The Miracle of Isreal” – I didn’t have to see to know that the demise of Palestine to create the “miracle” of Isreal wasn’t mentioned. Ever since, they’ve had on every night the story of the American Jews, the Jews this, the Jews that. It’s sickening to watch so much a** kissing of a god-forsaken illegitimate project.


  28. Rusty Pipes
    May 9, 2013, 7:24 pm

    An important reminder from vanden heuvel’s column that there’s no legal justification for US involvement in Syria:

    Nor does the United States have any legal basis for waging war on Syria. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not pose a terrorist or national security threat to the United States, nor a threat to international security. There is no United Nations resolution that can be stretched to provide even a transparent cover for intervention, as there was in Libya.

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