Obama lost his English poodle, but it looks like he’ll get a French one

It’s now clear that the Obama administration is going to strike Syria. Speaking in the White House, Obama just said that he is considering a “limited narrow act that would help make sure that not only Syria but other countries around the world” get the message they can’t use chemical weapons.

Andrea Mitchell of NBC says the decision to act is a “fait accompli.”

John Kerry indicated as much in his grandiloquent speech earlier today:

As previous storms in history have gathered, when unspeakable crimes were within our power to stop them, we have been warned against the temptations of looking the other way. History is full of leaders who have warned against inaction, indifference, and especially against silence when it mattered most. Our choices then in history had great consequences and our choice today has great consequences….

It matters because if we choose to live in a world where a thug and a murderer like Bashar al-Assad can gas thousands of his own people with impunity, even after the United States and our allies said no, and then the world does nothing about it, there will be no end to the test of our resolve and the dangers that will flow from those others who believe that they can do as they will…

Will they remember that the Assad regime was stopped from those weapons’ current or future use, or will they remember that the world stood aside and created impunity?

You can’t walk away from that language.

The media seem to be generally supportive, though the Congress is balking. The twitter crawl line on MSNBC included Rep. Raul Grijalva saying:

Attacking Syria is the wrong course of action. We need prevention right now, not punishment

And Alan Grayson, the Democratic Florida congressperson, wearing an American flag tie and looking America first, said on MSNBC, that attacking Syria is not in the American interest and the proof of the Syrian government’s hand in the chemical attacks is inconclusive:

“[This] simply has little or nothing to do with us. We are not the world’s policeman.”

A friend reports:

Christiane Amanpour, ever the liberal interventionist, is impatient, telling America to suck it up and let’s get on with it. On CNN, a few minutes ago:

“We’ve been discussing and these endless public debates about was there a chemical attack, who did it. It’s clear. It’s clear as day and it is a violation of the most serious international law and that is about weapons of mass destruction. [Note: International law does not even use the WMD term. We know for what reason the acronym WMD was invented.] This requires under law a response, and because of all the politics over Iraq and because of all sorts of other things, it is very difficult to go ahead in a unified manner. But I remember back in Kosovo, although this is a different issue, I remember back in Kosovo when Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia you know was attacking and threatening the population there, the United States had to go with its NATO allies around the United Nations and do what it had to do. You saw President Clinton went around all his allies, NATO or the UN, after Osama bin Laden blew up those East African embassies in 1998, and there has been very limited alliances hitting Saddam Hussein over various years during the late 90s. So there is precedent for this.”
My view is that US and Israel want to prolong the war, although US cannot say that. Weaken Assad and hence Iran, but not overthrow Assad for now, as they fear jihadis taking over. Israel wants more aggressive push towards Iran showdown than the US. This is typical divide-and-conquer and never let any other power in the region get too powerful Israeli strategy.
Nobody in the MSM wants to touch Saudi Arabia’s role in this. Saudi Arabia does want regime change, and it wants it now, and is quite willing to use jihadis to get what they want.
MSNBC had Andrea Mitchell, Chris Cillizza and Steve Clemons. As moderator, Mitchell did her usual pro-National Security State monologues, and the other two also expressed no doubts about evidence. The discussion was around politics and tactics.
And Mitchell just repeated now on MSNBC: “Very little disagreement over evidence.”
I am still waiting to see any MSM presentation challenging evidence today. Yesterday there was a short window after the British vote, where the challenges received some coverage. But by today, all gone.
BBC is looping repeatedly a “napalm-like” attack on a school with victims burned and screaming. Ironic, napalm is not illegal is it? Isn’t napalm on Vietnam how Kerry got his street creed originally. I remember protesting DOW chemical, as we were told napalm was a legal weapon in war. It is amazing how predictable this goes.
Obama needs to do this before he goes to G20, so that means bombs away by Tuesday.
He will be looking for a new poodle after British vote, but it looks like he will be given a French one.

Voila: BBC:

France is still ready to take action in Syria alongside the US, despite UK MPs blocking British involvement, President Francois Hollande has said.

He told Le Monde newspaper a strike within days could not be ruled out

Kerry’s speech was defiant re the UN. ‘The UN can’t tell us anything that we don’t
already know,’ Kerry said, referring to the work of UN inspectors in Damascus. ‘The UN can’t galvanize the world to act as it should,’ he added. [per Huffpo]   Says an anonymous friend:

This truculence and contempt toward the U.N. is very misjudged, in the person whose function is that of chief diplomatic officer of the United States. He is obliged to hold constant dealings with the United Nations. There was a comparable inappropriateness–misplaced language and idea of his role–in his use of the phrase “moral obscenity” other day. OK for a speaker on the political stump or at a protest rally, but again: not the secretary of state.”

More doubts: US military officers’ deep doubts about attacking Syria, from the Washington Post no less.

“There’s a broad naivete in the political class about America’s obligations in foreign policy issues, and scary simplicity about the effects that employing American military power can achieve,” said retired Lt. Gen. Gregory S. Newbold, who served as director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the run-up to the Iraq war, noting that many of his contemporaries are alarmed by the plan.

Marine Lt. Col. Gordon Miller, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, warned this week of “potentially devastating consequences, including a fresh round of chemical weapons attacks and a military response by Israel.”

What follows are the most substantive paragraphs of Kerry’s speech, on the evidence, followed by the US government “assessment” laying out its evidence.

We know that for three days before the attack the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons personnel were on the ground in the area making preparations. And we know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons. We know that these were specific instructions. We know where the rockets were launched from and at what time. We know where they landed and when. We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods.

And we know, as does the world, that just 90 minutes later all hell broke loose in the social media. With our own eyes we have seen the thousands of reports from 11 separate sites in the Damascus suburbs. All of them show and report victims with breathing difficulties, people twitching with spasms, coughing, rapid heartbeats, foaming at the mouth, unconsciousness and death…

The United States Government now knows that at least 1,429 Syrians were killed in this attack, including at least 426 children

U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013. by margafret


by

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 103 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. John Kerry claims 1429 Syrians were killed last week by chemical weapons in Damascus.

    In Operation Cast Lead from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009, the Israeli military carried out an attack on the Gaza Strip.
    ‘The magnitude of the harm to the local population was unprecedented: 1,389 Palestinians were +killed-, 759 of whom did not take part in the hostilities.’

    The IDF used white phosphorus as a chemical weapon against civilians, which was a war crime. No one as yet been brought before the international court.

    In both the above cases, chemical weapons were used against civilians but in Gaza, notwithstanding a damning report by the UNHRC, no action was taken against Israel. No cruise missiles were trained on Tel Aviv in punishment and America remained virtually silent.

    • seafoid says:

      The Alawis don’t fund Congress.

      I think the Yanks will fire a few token missiles.
      The Bahstan Brahmin has such a mesmerizing accent but the momentum is way down on earlier in the week.

      This is a very good piece on the Alawis , the Shia sect from which the Assads come

      link to nybooks.com

      “The Alawis of Syria, who make up only 12 percent of its population, split from the main branch of Shiism more than a thousand years ago. Before the twentieth century they were usually referred to as Nusayris, after their eponymous founder Ibn Nusayr, who lived in Iraq during the ninth century. Taking refuge in the mountains above the port of Latakia, on the coastal strip between modern Lebanon and Turkey, they evolved a highly secretive syncretistic theology containing an amalgam of Neoplatonic, Gnostic, Christian, Muslim, and Zoroastrian elements. Their leading theologian, Abdullah al-Khasibi, who died in 957, proclaimed the divinity of Ali, the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, whom other Shiites revere but do not worship. Like many Shiites influenced by ancient Gnostic teachings that predate Islam, they believe that the way to salvation and knowledge lies through a succession of divine emanations. Acknowledging a line of prophets or avatars beginning with Adam and culminating in Christ and Muhammad, they include several figures from classical antiquity in their list, such as Socrates, Plato, Galen, and some of the pre-Islamic Persian masters.

      Nusayrism could be described as a folk religion that absorbed many of the spiritual and intellectual currents of late antiquity and early Islam, packaged into a body of teachings that placed its followers beyond the boundaries of orthodoxy. Mainstream Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, regarded them as ghulta, “exaggerators.” Like other sectarian groups they protected their tradition by a strategy known as taqiyya—the right to hide one’s true beliefs from outsiders in order to avoid persecution. Taqiyya makes a perfect qualification for membership in the mukhabarat—the ubiquitous intelligence/security apparatus that has dominated Syria’s government for more than four decades.

      Secrecy was also observed by means of a complex system of initiation, in which insiders recognized each other by using special phrases or passwords and neophytes underwent a form of spiritual marriage with the naqibs, or spiritual guides. At this ceremony three superior dignitaries represent a kind of holy trinity of the figures who feature in other Nusayri rituals, namely Ali, Muhammad, and Salman al-Farisi (the Persian companion of Muhammad who in several Islamic traditions forms a link between the Arabs and the wisdom of ancient Persia). Nusayri rituals, performed in private homes or out-of-the-way places, include a ceremony known as Qurban—almost identical to the mass—where wine is consecrated and imbibed in the Christian manner. As Matti Moosa, a leading scholar of the Nusayris, states in his seminal study Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects (1988):

      The Christian elements in the Nusayri religion are unmistakable. They include the concept of trinity; the celebration of Christmas, the consecration of the Qurban, that is, the sacrament of the flesh and blood which Christ offered to His disciples, and, most important, the celebration of the Quddas [a lengthy prayer proclaiming the divine attributes of Ali and the personification of all the biblical patriarchs from Adam to Simon Peter, founder of the Church, who is seen, paradoxically, as the embodiment of true Islam].

      Moosa suggests that like other schismatic groups residing in Syria, such as the Druzes and Ismailis, the Nusayris do not take their beliefs literally, but understand them as allegorical ways of reaching out to the divine. While this may be true of the educated naqibs, or spiritual elders, such belief systems may have different ramifications for semiliterate peasants, reinforcing a contempt or disdain for outsiders who do not share these beliefs. Like the Druzes and some Ismailis, Nusayris believe in metempsychosis or transmigration. The souls of the wicked pass into unclean animals such as dogs and pigs, while the souls of the righteous enter human bodies more perfect than their present ones. The howls of jackals that can be heard at night are the souls of Sunni Muslims calling their misguided co-religionists to prayer.

      It does not take much imagination to see how such beliefs, programmed into the community’s values for more than a millennium, and reinforced by customs such as endogamous marriage—according to which the children of unions between Nusayris and non-Nusayris cannot be initiated into the sect—create very strong notions of apartness and disdain for the “Other.”

      The great Arab philosopher of history Ibn Khaldun, who died in 1406, elaborated the concept of ‘asabiyya—variously translated as clannism or group solidarity—that provides a more adequate explanation of the political systems operating in many Arab countries than notions based on imported ideologies such as communism, nationalism, and socialism. Ibn Khaldun’s analysis was based on his native North Africa, but it can be adapted to the conditions of the Mashreq, or Levant—where similar historical conditions prevailed. As Albert Hourani explained in his magisterial History of the Arab Peoples (1991), ‘asabiyya is a force that informs the patriarchal family order that still underpins the structure of power in many Arab societies.

      In the past, as Hourani pointed out, a ruler with ‘asabiyya was well placed to found a dynasty, since the merchant classes of the cities, untrained in the military arts and without powerful corporate structures, tended to lack this quality. Moreover, when dynastic rule achieved in this way was stable and prosperous, city life flourished. But in Ibn Khaldun’s time every dynasty bore within itself the seeds of decline, as rulers degenerated into tyrants or became corrupted by luxurious living. In due course power would pass to a new group of hardy rulers from the margins after a period of turbulence often described as fitna, or disorder (a term with overtones of sexual disharmony, for in the family context, fitna is seen as the outcome of sexual misconduct).

      The rise and possible fall of the Assad dynasty would provide a perfect illustration of the Khaldunian paradigm under recent postcolonial conditions. Under Ottoman rule the Nusayris were impoverished outsiders struggling on the social margins. In addition to feuding among themselves, they were fierce rivals of the Ismailis, whom they expelled from their highland refuges and castles, forcing them to settle in the more arid lands east of Homs. The Ottoman governors regarded them as nonbelievers and tools of the Shiite Persians: they were not even accorded the dignity of a millet, or recognized religious community.

      When the French took over Greater Syria after World War I (including modern Lebanon and parts of modern Turkey), they flirted briefly with the idea of creating a highland Alawi state of 300,000 people separate from the cities of the plains—Homs, Hama, Damascus, and Aleppo—with their dominant Sunni majorities. The French rightly believed that the Sunni majority would be most resistant to their rule. Like other minorities the Alawis, as they preferred to be called, saw the French as protectors. In 1936, six Alawi notables sent a memorandum to Leon Blum, head of France’s Popular Front government, expressing their loyalty to France and their concern at negotiations leading to independence in a parliamentary system dominated by the Sunni majority. The memorandum includes the following points:

      • The Alawi people, who have preserved their independence year after year with great zeal and sacrifices, are different from the Sunni Muslims. They were never subject to the authority of the cities of the interior.

      • The Alawis refuse to be annexed to Muslim Syria because in Syria the official religion of the state is Islam, and according to Islam the Alawis are considered infidels.

      • The granting of independence to Syria…constitutes a good example of the socialist principles in Syria…. [But] as to the presence of a parliament and a constitutional government, that does not represent individual freedom. This parliamentary rule is no more than false appearances without any value. In truth, it covers up a regime dominated by religious fanaticism against the minorities. Do French leaders want the Muslims to have control over the Alawi people in order to throw them into misery?

      • We can sense today how the Muslim citizens of Damascus force the Jews who live among them to sign a document pledging that they will not send provisions to their ill-fated brethren in Palestine. The condition of the Jews in Palestine is the strongest and most explicit evidence of the militancy of the Islamic issue vis-à-vis those who do not belong to Islam. These good Jews contributed to the Arabs with civilization and peace, scattered gold, and established prosperity in Palestine without harming anyone or taking anything by force, yet the Muslims declare holy war against them and never hesitated in slaughtering their women and children, despite the presence of England in Palestine and France in Syria. Therefore a dark fate awaits the Jews and other minorities in case the Mandate is abolished and Muslim Syria is united with Muslim Palestine…the ultimate goal of the Muslim Arabs.

      One of the signatories to this document was Sulayman al-Assad, a minor chief of the Kalbiya clan and father of Hafez al-Assad.

      The ‘asabiyya of the Alawis was carefully exploited by the French, who polished the Khaldunian model by giving them military training as members of the Troupes Spéciales du Levant. In the turbulent years that followed full independence in 1946, their military know-how proved valuable. Bright members of the sect such as Hafez al-Assad, whose families could not afford to send them to university, joined the armed forces and were drawn to secular parties, such as the Baath (renaissance) party jointly founded by two intellectuals, Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din Bitar, with an agenda explicitly aimed at overcoming sectarian divisions.

      It would be wrong to suppose that the Alawis deliberately sought to subvert or take over the Baath or the armed forces. Their primary impulse was their own security. After independence the Syrian parliament abolished the separate representation for minorities instituted by the French, along with certain judicial rights. Nusayri sheikhs and notables encouraged young men to join the Baath because they believed its secular outlook would protect them from Sunni hegemony and persecution. Other minorities, including Christians, Druzes, and Ismailis, tended to join the Baath (or in some cases the Communist Party and Syrian Socialist National Party) for similar reasons. The eventual dominance achieved by the Alawis may be attributed to their highland military background and the default logic by which ‘asabiyya tends to assert itself in the absence of other, more durable structures.

      The first three military coups that followed Syrian independence were engineered by Sunni officers. This was followed by the disastrous union with Nasser’s Egypt in 1958 when Baath party leaders, following their pan-Arabist nationalist logic, merged their country’s identity into that of their more powerful Sunni neighbor. After Syria formally united with Egypt, Nusayri officers who had joined the Baath party became increasingly alarmed that Arab nationalism, for all its secular rhetoric, was really a veil concealing Arab Sunni supremacy. They formed a clandestine military committee led by Salah Jadid, an Alawi, which took power in a military coup in 1963. Hafez al-Assad, trained as a fighter pilot, became air force commander. Some seven hundred officers were purged, and most of their positions were filled with Nusayris. A further coup against the Baathist old guard brought Assad into the cabinet as defense minister in 1966, a position he cleverly exploited after Syria’s defeat by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967, after which it was alleged that the regime had had secret dealings with the Jewish state. A “palace coup” inside the leadership brought Assad to power as president in 1970.

      Thereafter the power of the state was firmly concentrated in Alawi hands. Of the officers commanding the 47th Syrian Tank Brigade, which was responsible for suppressing the Muslim Brotherhood’s rebellion in the city of Hama in 1982 at a cost of some 20,000 lives, 70 percent are reported to have been Alawis

    • Kathleen says:

      Kerry’s moral outrage is covered in blood and hypocrisy. So disgusting. Hell Dempsey has told Obama not to do it. Who the hell is he listening to?

    • Kathleen says:

      Kerry “unspeakable crimes” Does not matter when these crimes happen to Palestinians, to 800 Egyptian protesters killed while protesting a coup. Another President and his administration continuing the PNAC’s plan for rearranging the middle east.

      • seafoid says:

        Kathleen

        There seem to be 2 types of crimes

        -Unspeakable crimes are those carried out by Israel’s enemies
        - The others are crimes we don’t talk about.

  2. MHughes976 says:

    The BBC seemed to be ramping up to a cheerleading role in the Syria campaign based on the napalm report and to be thoroughly disconcerted when this performance was not required. I thought that it’s coverage of the anti-Cameron vote last night was marked by astonishment and by a thread of accusation of betraying the Syrians (by not bombing more of them to kingdom come).
    The desire to help the Syrians is one (entirely laudable) thing, the idea of bombing campaigns disconnected from any rational plan to actually help them quite another.

    • miriam6 says:

      The BBC seemed to be ramping up to a cheerleading role in the Syria campaign based on the napalm report and to be thoroughly disconcerted when this performance was not required.

      I don’t see that the BBC was attempting to ramp up support

      I think most British viewers of the BBC’s napalm attack report would most likely conclude that;.

      A) the suffering of the Syrian people continues.

      B) they, like me would be pondering and be rather sickened by, the hypocrisy and irony of seeing the Americans in their preparation for an attack to punish Syria for the use of the sort of weapons the Americans themselves must have huge stockpiles of , and also the past American use of weapons of mass destruction against Japan and America’s past extensive battlefield use against Vietnam of , well, – napalm.

    • seafoid says:

      “The desire to help the Syrians is one (entirely laudable) thing, the idea of bombing campaigns disconnected from any rational plan to actually help them quite another”

      Obama wants to help his funders. The Syrians don’t come into it.

      It’s akin to “doing something” about the financial crisis by flooding the markets with quantitative easing that does nothing for the unemployed and instead just reinforces plutocracy.”

      What Mencken said

      link to quotationspage.com
      “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem–neat, plausible, and wrong

  3. Citizen says:

    “My view is that US and Israel want to prolong the war, although US cannot say that. Weaken Assad and hence Iran, but not overthrow Assad for now, as they fear jihadis taking over.”
    Yep. PNAC is on a roll, disguised as FPI. Same war mongering Americans, mostly Jewish, and some with dual citizenship. And Obama morphs to Shrub-Chaney,

    OP Cast Lead didn’t matter to Obama, remember? The whole world outside the America public knows what’s going down.

    • quercus says:

      @Citizen. Didn’t mondoweiss have quite recently a link about one Edward Luttwak, writing in the New York Times that the United States should not allow either side to prevail in this conflict — supporting the rebel side only until it seems it would win, and then withdrawing support in time to prevent a ‘win’.

      It’s a vicious, amoral, position which shows a completely blatant disregard for the lives of Syrians, no matter which side they are. I would even go so far to say the position is ‘evil’ and I don’t use that word lightly.

  4. RE: “Obama lost his English poodle, but it looks like he’ll get a French one” ~ Weiss

    OH, THE IRONY: So, the English get to munch on “freedom fries” while we’re stuck with the French Poodle!

    TAKE ACTION! ! ! TAKE ACTION! ! ! TAKE ACTION! ! !

    ● FROM RootsAction.org:
    To email Obama, your senators and representative, expressing opposition to an attack on Syria, click HERE.

    ● FROM ROBERT NAIMAN:
    If you think Congress should debate and vote before any war with Syria, you can join 25,000 people at MoveOn in telling Congress by clicking HERE.

  5. doug says:

    I’m guessing cruise missiles at about 12:30AM EST. Just light enough in Syria for the drones to get high quality imagery and early enough that civilians are mostly not in the streets. Either this morning or tomorrow depending on logistics.

    Sigh.

  6. RE: “You saw President Clinton went around all his allies, NATO or the UN, after Osama bin Laden blew up those East African embassies in 1998 . . .” ~ Amanpour

    MY SNARK: Quick guys, find an aspirin factory* to bomb! ! !

    * AMANPOUR’S “PRECEDENT”, FROM WIKIPEDIA [Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory]:

    [EXCERPTS] The Al-Shifa (الشفاء, Arabic for “healing”) pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum North, Sudan, was constructed between 1992 and 1996 with components imported from the United States, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, India, and Thailand.
    The industrial complex was composed of around four buildings. It was the largest pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum and employed over 300 workers, producing medicine both for human and veterinary use. The factory was used primarily for the manufacture of anti-malaria medicines and veterinary products.
    The factory was destroyed in 1998 by a missile attack launched by the United States government, killing one employee and wounding eleven. Critics of the attack have estimated that up to tens of thousands of Sudanese civilians died throughout Sudan as the supply of necessary drugs was cut off.[1][2]
    . . . On August 20, 1998, the factory was destroyed in cruise missile strikes launched by the United States military allegedly retaliation for the August 7 truck bomb attacks on its embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya (see 1998 U.S. embassy bombings). The administration of President Bill Clinton justified the attacks, dubbed Operation Infinite Reach, on the grounds that the al-Shifa plant was involved with processing the deadly nerve agent VX, and had ties with the Islamist al-Qaeda group of Osama bin Laden, which was believed to be behind the embassy bombings and Operation Bojinka. The August 20 U.S. action also hit al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, to where bin Laden had moved following his May 1996 expulsion from Sudan. . .
    . . . The U.S. State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research wrote a report in 1999 questioning the attack on the factory, suggesting that the connection to bin Laden was not accurate; James Risen reported in the New York Times: “Now, the analysts renewed their doubts and told Assistant Secretary of State Phyllis Oakley that the C.I.A.’s evidence on which the attack was based was inadequate. Ms. Oakley asked them to double-check; perhaps there was some intelligence they had not yet seen. The answer came back quickly: There was no additional evidence. Ms. Oakley called a meeting of key aides and a consensus emerged: Contrary to what the Administration was saying, the case tying Al Shifa to Mr. bin Laden or to chemical weapons was weak.”[10] The Chairman of El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries, who is critical of the Sudanese government, more recently told reporters: “I had inventories of every chemical and records of every employee’s history. There were no such [nerve gas] chemicals being made here.”[11]
    Nonetheless, Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Cohen testified to the 9/11 Commission in 2004, characterizing Al Shifa as a “WMD-related facility”, which played a “chemical weapons role” such as to pose a risk that it, with the help of the Iraqi chemical weapons program connections he also testified to, might help Al Qaeda get chemical weapons technology.[12]
    Sudan has since invited the U.S. to conduct chemical tests at the site for evidence to support its claim that the plant might have been a chemical weapons factory; so far, the U.S. has refused the invitation to investigate. Nevertheless, the U.S. has refused to officially apologize for the attacks, suggesting that some privately still suspect that chemical weapons activity existed there.[7]
    Directly after the strike the Sudanese government demanded that the Security Council conduct an investigation of the site to determine if it had been used to produce chemical weapons or precursors. Such an investigation was from the start opposed by the U.S. Nor has U.S. ever let an independent laboratory analyze the sample allegedly containing EMPTA. Michael Barletta concludes that there is no evidence the al-Shifa factory was ever involved in production of chemical weapons, and it is known that many of the initial U.S. allegations were wrong.[4]
    The Guardian headlined the story with “[T]he loss of this factory is a tragedy for the rural communities who need these medicines” quoting Tom Carnaffin, technical manager with “intimate knowledge” of the destroyed plant.[13] One month later, a correspondent of the same paper, Patrick Wintour, elaborated that the plant “provided 50 percent of Sudan’s medicines, and its destruction has left the country with no supplies of chloroquine, the standard treatment for malaria”. . .

    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

  7. AlGhorear says:

    Clever title, Phil.

    Apparently, it’s a done deal, all based on cherry-picked evidence just like in Iraq. Just a matter of time before the missiles are launched and the US kills more Syrian civilians than the CW attack did. It doesn’t matter that there is still doubt about who is responsible, nor that there’s evidence that it was a faction of the rebels that were (possibly) unwittingly supplied with CWs by their Saudi allies, not the regime. See Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack

    Hopefully, there’s another Snowden or Manning who can tell us what really happened and what role the US and our allies may have played in the attacks.

    Meanwhile, backers of PNAC with their “New strategy for securing the realm” march on.

    It’s a shame attempts at diplomacy have been abandoned. Hopefully, it’s not an intentional acceleration on our part, designed to spark wider conflict, but I wouldn’t bet on it. The neocon plan to reshape the Middle East continues.

    • seafoid says:

      link to newyorker.com

      “HOUSTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a sombre ceremony attended by former members of the Bush Administration, the former Vice-President Dick Cheney marked the tenth anniversary of making up a reason to invade Iraq.

      The ceremony, held on the grounds of the Halliburton Company headquarters, brought together the former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and other key members of the lying effort.

      Calling the assembled officials “profiles in fabrication,” Mr. Cheney praised them for their decade of dedication to a totally fictitious rationale.

      “Making up a reason to invade a country is the easy part,” Mr. Cheney told them. “Sticking to a pretend story for ten years—that is the stuff of valor.”

      Mr. Cheney added that their “steadfast charade had raised the bar for all future Administrations.”

      “When it is time to invade Iran or Venezuela, will the President have the will to make up an entirely fake reason to do it?” he asked. “That remains to be seen.”

      The ceremony ended on an emotional note, as Mr. Cheney placed a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown W.M.D.

      Former President George W. Bush, who was said to be otherwise engaged, was represented at the event by a nude self-portrait.”

  8. NormanF says:

    Its now a matter of American credibility. If America lacks the will to face down a totalitarian regime, we will face more horrors like those Assad has inflicted upon his own people, in the future.

    No decent person wants war. But sometimes in life one has to stop evil before it becomes an unmangeable threat. There are no easy answers in Syria and no good ones either.

    America cannot now walk away from its self-declared “redline” without becoming the laughingstock of the planet.

    • just says:

      “But sometimes in life one has to stop evil before it becomes an unmangeable threat”

      Right you are. First order of business: we need to acknowledge and put an end to our best ally’s and our own “evil” first.

    • Ellen says:

      Norman F, self declared “red-Lines” are the cartoon memes of Israel just as the Netanyahu’s Road Runner cartoon bomb speech at the U.N. “This is a bomb….”

      The President of the US and the rest of the dumb pack of loyal dogs were just repeating what they are told to say. Remember, the red line rhetoric has it origins in Israel and the halls of AIPAC.

      Declare a “red line” or else scenario. With that alone you become a laughingstock. But then you make sure it is violated. Create the conditions, if needed. And with that you are even worse than a laughingstock and are a dangerous threat to many, including your own citizenry.

      • Aipac indeed is fond of trying to box in Obama by causing him to declare “red lines”.

      • seafoid says:

        Who is Israel to set red lines ?

        • miriam6 says:

          Who is America , an nation armed to the teeth with all manner of weapons of mass destruction , to set red lines?

        • Shingo says:

          Indeed Miriam.

          The US and Israel are very similar with regard to setting red lines and their hypocrisy.

          Must be one if those shared values we keep hearing about.

        • Hostage says:

          Who is America , an nation armed to the teeth with all manner of weapons of mass destruction , to set red lines?

          We can certainly make our own laws and condition our military assistance to countries like Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. on whatever basis we’d like.

        • miriam6 says:

          Shingo;

          Are you seriously trying to claim Israel is the only country OTHER than the US to be hypocritical in this ‘red line’ arena?

          Aren’t you forgetting the Frenchman Hollande’s war mongering ?

          where exactly do you live?

          Cloud Cuckoo land?

          To my knowledge only the Western countries Inc. America have been dumb enough to talk up ‘red lines’

          As a result they now look foolish…having had war mongering rejected by the British public and with the American and French public sure to follow the British…

        • seafoid says:

          Miriam, honey

          The US runs the world’s reserve currency.
          Israel doesn’t. Israel is a pimple on the arse of the world

        • miriam6 says:

          seafoid

          The US and Israel are very similar with regard to setting red lines and their hypocrisy.

          Shingo brought Israel into it not me..

          You would be better directing your silly little comment in his direction , not mine

        • seafoid says:

          Miriam

          you asked who the US was.
          What right does Israel have to run the Middle East?

        • miriam6 says:

          you asked who the US was.
          What right does Israel have to run the Middle East?

          Seafoid;

          You are attributing super powers to Israel it simply does not possess

          The fact that Israel and Syria held indirect bilateral talks over the Golan , brokered by Turkey back in 2008 is proof of two things;

          A) Israel , Syria and Turkey are all more or less equal players in the ME, also add in Egypt and Iran.

          B) The fact that Israel and Syria decided to go ahead with talks on the basis of their OWN initiative is further proof that America’s power to influence events over the heads and interests of the M.East. regional powers there is in DECLINE

          SYRIA AND ISRAEL DISCUSS GOLAN IN TURKEY.

          Israel has sent two negotiators to take part in Turkish-mediated talks with Syria on the contentious issue of the Golan border region.

          This is the fourth set of such discussions since Turkey offered to facilitate contact last May.

          JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert dispatched two top aides to Turkey on Tuesday for a fourth round of indirect peace talks with Syria, an Israeli official said. Israel and Syria launched Turkish-mediated talks in May but have not yet agreed to hold face-to-face negotiations. Turkish officials have said the long-time foes will decide during the fourth round whether to move to direct talks starting in August.

          The Israeli official, who asked not to be named, named the aides as Yoram Turbowicz and Shalom Turjeman They have been leading Israel’s first talks with Syria in eight years. Negotiations centre on the fate of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. Damascus demands the return of all the Golan. Israel, in turn, wants Syria to scale back ties with the Jewish state’s main foes — Iran, Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah.Syria has so far refused to do so.

          link to france24.com

        • The fact that Israel and Syria held indirect bilateral talks….. is proof.. Israel , Syria .. are all more or less equal players

          and by this logic holding indirect bilateral talks means players are equal? how do you expect people to take you seriously? just because you slap the phrase “the fact” in front of a thought and insert “proof” into the sentence doesn’t make your hypothesis anymore believable.

        • Miriam – - Should we note that Israel and Syria came close to a deal in 2008? But Israeli attack on Gaza wrecked it?

        • miriam6 says:

          James@;

          Miriam – – Should we note that Israel and Syria came close to a deal in 2008? But Israeli attack on Gaza wrecked it?

          James , apparently the groundwork in preparing for indirect talks between Israel and Syria began sometime after September 2007.

          The talks was initiated by the Turks who served as intermediaries between the Syrians and Israelis

          The bilateral talks between Israel and Syria had begun almost a year BEFORE the assault on Gaza, but seemingly it only became publicly known around April 2008;

          : 24/04/2008

          Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan told Syrian President al-Assad that Israel is ‘ready’ to withdraw from the Golan in return for peace with Syria

          link to france24.com

          I suppose for Israel and America the purpose of talks was to outflank Iran

          For Assad, for one thing , the talks if successful would have given him a degree of legitimacy as a strong Arab leader able to re-take Arab territory from Israel.

          Syrian alliance with Iran: 2006-present

          During the 2006 Lebanon War, Syria threatened to enter the war on Hezbollah’s side, provided support to Hezbollah, and allowed Iran to ship supplies to Hezbollah through its territory. Later, Turkey organized peace talks between the two countries, but Syria later withdrew in response to the 2008-2009 Gaza War.

          link to en.wikipedia.org

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “America cannot now walk away from its self-declared “redline” without becoming the laughingstock of the planet.”

      That’s the beauty of being a world-bestriding superpower. We don’t have to give a damn what you pipsqueak foreigners think about us. Besides, if being led around by the pocketbook by the AIPAC criminals, ignoring the zionists’ crimes doesn’t make the US a laughingstock (well, it does, but anyway…), this would be nothing.

      • miriam6 says:

        That’s the beauty of being a world-bestriding superpower. We don’t have to give a damn what you pipsqueak foreigners think about us.

        Us ‘ pip squeakers’ are thrilled that at least we in Britain actually have politicians who LISTEN to us, the electorate

        That’s the good part of being a mere ‘pipsqueak’

        DEMOCRATIC ACCOUNTABILITY

        Nevertheless we of the ‘pipsqueak Lilliputian nations’ ( Britain) are have a great time laughing at your dumb American politicians talking themselves into another grisly militaristic adventure they cannot now possibly avoid- having talked themselves with their bellicose ‘Red Lines ‘ rhetoric into the tightest corner possible

        Where are your thoughts for the Syrian people who lives are in danger now from the forthcoming American bombing raids?

        You mask has slipped again.

        Pathetically All you really care about is your desire to see America be great again

        NOT the lives of the Syrian people.

        But the sun is setting on the American Empire just as it set on the British Empire and is approaching twilight faster than you can possibly imagine..

    • seafoid says:

      “But sometimes in life one has to stop evil before it becomes an unmanageable (sic) threat”

      Yes, Norman. Let’s sort out YESHA on Monday.

    • eljay says:

      >> But sometimes in life one has to stop evil before it becomes an unmangeable threat.

      Yes, you’re right: Zio-supremacism should have been stopped. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

      What’s really shocking, though, is not just that the evil remains alive and well, but that hateful and immoral Zio-supremacists around the world, rather than calling for a halt to it, demand instead that it be permitted to survive.

    • mijj says:

      > “America cannot now walk away from its self-declared “redline” without becoming the laughingstock of the planet.”

      lol .. too late! 8-)

      But seriously, if we want to reduce world-wide thuggery, murder, destruction, etc we should assess what is the source of the most significant thuggery, murder, destruction, etc. Ie. the US should be stopped. That would make the, by far, most significant dent in evil that permeates the world.

  9. MHughes976 says:

    We have to prepare ourselves, at least hypothetically, for the possibility that the UN inspectors report, with every appearance of honesty and of scientific assessment of evidence, that they have no real doubt that the Assadists were indeed responsible for the chemical attack. I would say that even then we have to ask ourselves what military options there really are for making the lot of the poor, abused Syrians any better and that the first response should be to approach the Security Council yet again.
    The other possibility, that the inspectors cast grave doubt on Obama’s certainties and Kerry’s figures, raises another range of questions, of course.

  10. Danaa says:

    As the AIPAC based US regime prepares to launch a few good old new atrocities against Syria and its people, based on a rather transparent False Flag operation, Obama et al seem to be under the impression that they can “get away” with a “limited” action. But he, kerey and the rest of the deluded, lying administration are wrong in that assumption. Israel and its neocon thugs read from a different playbook. Just listened to some WINEP types chattering on CSPAN. Clearly limited action is not what they are after. they openly urge the break up of Syria into three regions and one was frothing at the mouth calling for “going after the troops”. There is little that will satisfy these shrill warmongers other than regime change and the killing and dispersing of Syrians far and wide followed by installed puppet regimes.

    Israelis, for the most part, have one goal for Syria – weaken it as much as possible and get rid of as many of its people as the world will tolerate. That last one is the only question to which there is some uncertainty in the answer – what WILL the world tolerate?

    There is what you get from “official” channels in israel and there’s what you get from the “man in the street” in Israel. Those who care to listen to the latter and process what israelis actually want, may have a bit of a hard time getting a good night sleep. Too many jewish Americans succumb to wishful thinking about what the israelis SHOULD want. Only a few care and/or can bring themselves to hear what israelis – as a collective, as a majority, do want. That is “lost in translation”.

    Which is why this attack is so very dangerous. the people who prepared the ground for this and staged the false flag are not the ones to be satisfied with a finger. It’s the whole arm they are after. Once they figure Obama + kerey to be ostriches, the road forward will be laid straight around them.

  11. Les says:

    EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack

    Rebels and local residents in Ghouta accuse Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaida linked rebel group.

    By Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh | August 29, 2013

    This article is a collaboration between Dale Gavlak reporting for Mint Press News and Yahya Ababneh.

    Ghouta, Syria — As the machinery for a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria gathers pace following last week’s chemical weapons attack, the U.S. and its allies may be targeting the wrong culprit.

    Interviews with people in Damascus and Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital, where the humanitarian agency Doctors Without Borders said at least 355 people had died last week from what it believed to be a neurotoxic agent, appear to indicate as much.

    The U.S., Britain, and France as well as the Arab League have accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical weapons attack, which mainly targeted civilians. U.S. warships are stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to launch military strikes against Syria in punishment for carrying out a massive chemical weapons attack. The U.S. and others are not interested in examining any contrary evidence, with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that Assad’s guilt was “a judgment … already clear to the world.”

    However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.

    “My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

    Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

    Ghouta townspeople said the rebels were using mosques and private houses to sleep while storing their weapons in tunnels.

    Abdel-Moneim said his son and the others died during the chemical weapons attack. That same day, the militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaida, announced that it would similarly attack civilians in the Assad regime’s heartland of Latakia on Syria’s western coast, in purported retaliation.

    “They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

    “When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.

    A well-known rebel leader in Ghouta named ‘J’ agreed. “Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material,” he said.

    “We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” ‘J’ said.

    Doctors who treated the chemical weapons attack victims cautioned interviewers to be careful about asking questions regarding who, exactly, was responsible for the deadly assault.

    The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders added that health workers aiding 3,600 patients also reported experiencing similar symptoms, including frothing at the mouth, respiratory distress, convulsions and blurry vision. The group has not been able to independently verify the information.

    More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government.

    Saudi involvement

    In a recent article for Business Insider, reporter Geoffrey Ingersoll highlighted Saudi Prince Bandar’s role in the two-and-a-half year Syrian civil war. Many observers believe Bandar, with his close ties to Washington, has been at the very heart of the push for war by the U.S. against Assad.

    Ingersoll referred to an article in the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph about secret Russian-Saudi talks alleging that Bandar offered Russian President Vladimir Putin cheap oil in exchange for dumping Assad.

    “Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord,” Ingersoll wrote.

    “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” Bandar allegedly told the Russians.

    “Along with Saudi officials, the U.S. allegedly gave the Saudi intelligence chief the thumbs up to conduct these talks with Russia, which comes as no surprise,” Ingersoll wrote.

    “Bandar is American-educated, both military and collegiate, served as a highly influential Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., and the CIA totally loves this guy,” he added.

    According to U.K.’s Independent newspaper, it was Prince Bandar’s intelligence agency that first brought allegations of the use of sarin gas by the regime to the attention of Western allies in February.

    The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the CIA realized Saudi Arabia was “serious” about toppling Assad when the Saudi king named Prince Bandar to lead the effort.

    “They believed that Prince Bandar, a veteran of the diplomatic intrigues of Washington and the Arab world, could deliver what the CIA couldn’t: planeloads of money and arms, and, as one U.S. diplomat put it, wasta, Arabic for under-the-table clout,” it said.

    Bandar has been advancing Saudi Arabia’s top foreign policy goal, WSJ reported, of defeating Assad and his Iranian and Hezbollah allies.

    To that aim, Bandar worked Washington to back a program to arm and train rebels out of a planned military base in Jordan.

    The newspaper reports that he met with the “uneasy Jordanians about such a base”:

    His meetings in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah sometimes ran to eight hours in a single sitting. “The king would joke: ‘Oh, Bandar’s coming again? Let’s clear two days for the meeting,’ ” said a person familiar with the meetings.

    Jordan’s financial dependence on Saudi Arabia may have given the Saudis strong leverage. An operations center in Jordan started going online in the summer of 2012, including an airstrip and warehouses for arms. Saudi-procured AK-47s and ammunition arrived, WSJ reported, citing Arab officials.

    Although Saudi Arabia has officially maintained that it supported more moderate rebels, the newspaper reported that “funds and arms were being funneled to radicals on the side, simply to counter the influence of rival Islamists backed by Qatar.”

    But rebels interviewed said Prince Bandar is referred to as “al-Habib” or ‘the lover’ by al-Qaida militants fighting in Syria.

    Peter Oborne, writing in the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, has issued a word of caution about Washington’s rush to punish the Assad regime with so-called ‘limited’ strikes not meant to overthrow the Syrian leader but diminish his capacity to use chemical weapons:

    Consider this: the only beneficiaries from the atrocity were the rebels, previously losing the war, who now have Britain and America ready to intervene on their side. While there seems to be little doubt that chemical weapons were used, there is doubt about who deployed them.

    It is important to remember that Assad has been accused of using poison gas against civilians before. But on that occasion, Carla del Ponte, a U.N. commissioner on Syria, concluded that the rebels, not Assad, were probably responsible.

    Some information in this article could not be independently verified. Mint Press News will continue to provide further information and updates .

    Dale Gavlak is a Middle East correspondent for Mint Press News and has reported from Amman, Jordan, writing for the Associated Press, NPR and BBC. An expert in Middle Eastern affairs, Gavlak covers the Levant region, writing on topics including politics, social issues and economic trends. Dale holds a M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago. Contact Dale at [email protected]

    Yahya Ababneh is a Jordanian freelance journalist and is currently working on a master’s degree in journalism, He has covered events in Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Libya. His stories have appeared on Amman Net, Saraya News, Gerasa News and elsewhere.
    link to mintpressnews.com

  12. eljay says:

    >> Speaking in the White House, Obama just said that he is considering a “limited narrow act that would help make sure that not only Syria but other countries around the world” get the message they can’t use chemical weapons.

    Will the U.S. or Israel ever bomb themselves – or each other – to make sure they get the message that they can’t use chemical weapons? I suspect not.

    The hypocrisy is not surprising.

    • Ellen says:

      other countries around the world” get the message they can’t use chemical weapons. Did the US care when Israel used US supplied phosphorous on civilians in a civilian area in Gaza?

      That was an atrocity, a horrible crime. No one cared.

  13. Blank State says:

    I know there are still those here that respect Steve Clemons. If you watched him two nights ago on Maddow, you’d have to be an idiot to still entertain that respect. If you have any doubt that he has completely and utterly sold out, you missed it. He was touting the intelligence that the Syrian military used chemical weapons as being rock solid, and he was blathering that a military response from us was not only warranted, but was necessary. He seems to have forgotten what he was taught on his old blogsite, that some of us out here in the real world aren’t blithering idiots.

  14. HarryLaw says:

    According to Vice President Nguyen Thi Binh of 2 million Agent Orange victims to whom the Vietnamese government pays compensation for combatants 1961-1975 and their children (March 2000). The figure today is greater than 3 million Agent Orange victims in Vietnam, including children of the second and third generations.
    Saddam Hussein used Poison gas in the Iran Iraq war with many thousands of Iranian victims, with the knowledge and connivance of the US, the US and UK remained silent, Saddam was their friend then. The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven.

  15. Hostage says:

    It’s clear as day and it is a violation of the most serious international law and that is about weapons of mass destruction. [Note: International law does not even use the WMD term. We know for what reason the acronym WMD was invented.]

    In fact the United States has always stopped short of endorsing international conventions which make the use of chemical weapons unambiguously illegal.

    The United States and Israel maintain enormous stockpiles of weapons that work, in part, through the effects of “radiation poisoning” that kills victims indiscriminately. The United States used them with impunity and refused to compensate our own citizens and service members in many cases. See the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (“RECA”) link to justice.gov

    More to the point, the US and Israel opposed the inclusion of a chemical weapons ban in the Rome Statute for that very reason:

    It is interesting that the United Kingdom (and the United States) seem to love couching their militaristic appeals in references to customary international law. The Attorney-General’s advice begins by claiming that Syria has committed ‘a breach of the customary international law prohibition on use of chemical weapons’.
    If I had asked my students, in an examination on international law, to answer the following ‘discuss the customary law applicable to the current situation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria’ and they were to refer to the customary law prohibition of chemical weapons and not to the customary law crime of aggression they would get 50% and fail the exam. Because I am a generous fellow, I might be tempted to give the Attorney General a couple of extra points for neat handwriting.
    The obsession of the United States and the United Kingdom with chemical weapons is intriguing. Why is this such a ‘red line’, given the humanitarian disaster that has been taking place in Syria for more than two years? For that matter, what about other humanitarian disasters in the Middle East, and elsewhere, that have taken countless lives in recent years yet have not inspired the United Kingdom, France and the United States to unilateral military intervention? What is it about chemical weapons that gets them so agitated?
    In an earlier comment on this blog I noted the absence of a crime of use of chemical weapons in the Rome Statute. Many States wanted a general condemnation of weapons that cause unnecessary suffering or superfluous harm, or that are indiscriminate. But some States blocked agreement on this because the language might then cover nuclear weapons. The result was that attempts at a specific prohibition on chemical weapons were also unsuccessful. It was argued that if the Rome Statute would not prohibit the rich man’s weapon of mass destruction, it should not prohibit the poor man’s weapon of mass destruction either.
    I know that some colleagues are debating this elsewhere in the blogsphere. The argument seems to be that a broad construction of the notion of poison or poisonous weapons, whose use is criminalised by article 8(2)(b)(xvii) of the Rome Statute, might do the trick and encompass chemical weapons. It is fine for academics to make this argument, but it is a big trap for the United Kingdom, France and the United States and I doubt that they will fall into it. That is because if we consider chemical weapons to fall into the archaic category of poison or poisonous weapons, by some form of dynamic and evolutive interpretation of the Rome Statute, then we will also have to include nuclear weapons. What could be more poisonous than nuclear weapons? And London, France and Paris won’t go along with that.
    My hunch is that the real explanation for the excitement about chemical weapons is that the UK, the US and France think that there should only be one type of weapon of mass destruction in the Middle East (or elsewhere, for that matter). And that is the weapon that they, and their local surrogate, possess.

    link to humanrightsdoctorate.blogspot.com.au

    • seafoid says:

      And Dick & Jane should know that
      But how can they find out about it ?

      It is a pity Lenny Bruce is no longer with us

      “There is just “what is” and that’s it. “What should be” is a dirty lie.”

    • piotr says:

      Since you are interested in law and international law, I have a question:

      is supplying arms to rebels a crime?

      • Hostage says:

        is supplying arms to rebels a crime?

        No, it is not illegal to supply arms to national liberation movements who engage in armed struggles against colonization, foreign occupation, or racial rule.

        But in nearly every other case, it is considered illegal intervention in the affairs of another state in violation of the UN Charter and customary norms. Compare the treatment of the support supplied to rebel groups by the two parties in Nicaragua v United States. link to icj-cij.org

        83 states have have already signed the new Arms Trade Treaty. Article 6 contains a number of prohibitions, including ones pertaining to the supply of arms in situations where grave breaches of humanitarian law have already occurred or a UN arms embargo has been imposed.

        Most UN member states agree that the Security Council intended to effectively impose an arms embargo on the Syrian rebels under the terms of resolution 2083 (2012).

        • Bing Bong says:

          My argument is that there are criticisms of Israel that can be anti-semitic, if you regard this as bogus; and as you seem to be incapable of a straight answer, it follows that your answer to this…

          “Do you think that criticism of Israel could ever be cloaked anti-semitism?”

          …is no. And as per your quote from HR35 you think that criticism of Israel that extends to the justification of “violence against Jews” isn’t anti-semitic.

          My argument rests on the the difference between all and specific criticisms of Israel. A difference that you and the article’s authors cannot grasp because you want to dissolve the notion of the ‘new anti-semitism’.

      • talknic says:

        @ piotr “is supplying arms to rebels a crime?

        Under Syrian law, highly likely. Under International Law, see Syrian law it is a sovereign state. (ditto Lebanon – UNSC Res 1701 link to wp.me )

        An interesting aside link to lebarmy.gov.lb

  16. rensanceman says:

    The similarities in memes for the Iraq wars and this one are odious: Sadaam/Assad are bad monsters; who needs the UN when our national interest are at stake; UN inspectors are superfluous; our intelligence is reliable; time is of the essence to act now; our national interest is to attack. The scripts seem to have been prepared by the same sinister forces from our shadow government which controls our ME policy. The end result being that the world’s current super power has been manipulated again to repeat the Iraq war-our worst foreign policy mistake since Vietnam. Our press corps, those who should be the protectors against government abuses, are cravenly sensationalizing the story and in some cases advocating war. The “experts” whose advice and comments are predominantly from the militant camp. Fascism has come to America. Fascism with a tinge of Zionism.

  17. just says:

    Mr. Kerry– I know you remember Vietnam. Remember Napalm, Agent Orange?

    Of course you do. Remember Nagasaki and Hiroshima? Remember Cast Lead and white phosphorus? Remember that we armed S. Hussein against the Iranians with chem weapons– over a million died. And then the Kurds died. Remember DU/white phosphorus in Iraq? And, how ’bout them drones? whoo boy!

    “It matters because if we choose to live in a world where a thug and a murderer like Bashar al-Assad can gas thousands of his own people with impunity, even after the United States and our allies said no, and then the world does nothing about it, there will be no end to the test of our resolve and the dangers that will flow from those others who believe that they can do as they will…”

    Which “allies”? Cameron (alone) and France and Israel? This is nuts. Our actions will only further the killing, the maiming, the destruction of Syrians and are antithetical to our “national security”. We said “no” you say, but we and are “allies” are guilty of using WMDs with no repercussions or accountability. We ignored UN weapons inspectors before– the war in Iraq continues. Now you ask us to put our faith in the same old bs. Tell the truth: we DON’T know who did this. And btw, calling a President of a sovereign nation a “thug and a murderer” is not exactly diplomatic. Sounds eerily like Bush/Condi/Colin/Rummy/Dick speak. Its deja- vu. So, Mr. Kerry– one more question. Is what happened in Egypt a coup or not? Moreover, do you support the military and their murderous rampage?

    Please stop catering to Israeli wishes and “intelligence”. I don’t believe the “intelligence”. Lead by example, not out of bs. I am cringing with shame.

    No “red lines”– make them purple. Don’t you and our President make this dreadful mistake– backward.

  18. It is natural that in the aftermath of the war against Iraq, which is in a way still ongoing, that the US reaction to the civil war in Syria would be seen in that context.

    As horrible as white phosphorus is, it is not the same category as what happened in Syria.

    As far as I can tell, the intelligence community can assert with clarity, where the missile bearing the poisonous sarin gas came from and where it landed and who it killed. The only question is regarding the tape of the Assad official which is Israeli intelligence.

    Bush was a willing soldier fighting the war against Iraq. Cheney and his PNAC cronies, or the semi elected Veep and the ideological fathers of the doctrine that Cheney bought into. Obama is a reluctant warrior.

    A hundred thousand have died in the Syrian civil war so far, should deaths from sarin gas cause a different reaction? As a human being they cause a different reaction, but that may be my personal reaction.

    A reaction to the sarin attack is reasonable, but without a strategy it seems “dumb”.

    I think Obama should get the approval of congress. I think that in order to get the approval of congress that he would have to make use of the neo conservative supporters of Israel and it would add up to a move accomplished by the Israel lobby and since there is no strategy it would count against the Israel lobby and so from an Israel lobby point of view it is not in the Israel lobby’s favor to get Congressional approval. but from an American constitutional point of view, I think congressional approval is important and skipping over congress is a dangerous (yet common: wasn’t Libya without congressional approval?) step.

    • seafoid says:

      “As horrible as white phosphorus is, it is not the same category as what happened in Syria.”

      Alice Walker
      ” Layer upon layer of lies, misinformation, fear, cowardice and complicity.”

    • Djinn says:

      As horrible as white phosphorus is, it is not the same category as what happened in Syria.

      And you’d know yonah? A good friend of mine sadly knows all to well. He’s a medic in Gaza City. Like many emergency workers, especially those in war/disaster areas, he’s very blunt when telling stories, he forgets that middle class white girls from Australia will not find them so easy to shake off. One that still gives me nightmares is about his time during Cast Lead when workers could not lift the body of a 4 year old boy into an ambulance to transport to the morgue because the WP that had burnt right through his tiny body was still burning. The little boy had to lie dead in the street for some time, with his mother screaming and needing to be held back from cradling his body for her own safety.

      Seriously you know NOTHING.

      • NickJOCW says:

        I do know how you feel. I once foolishly Googled images of the birth defects resulting from the US use of depleted uranium weapons in the Afghan city of Fallujah, which already surpass those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I deeply regret doing so, they are of a horror beyond imagination, you go cold and can never forget.

    • mijj says:

      > “the intelligence community can assert with clarity”

      … lol, yeh … anyone can assert with clarity. And “the intelligence community” no less! But, we don’t want vapid, faith-based assertions. Independently verifiable evidence is essential. Not assertions from untrustworthy sources.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “As horrible as white phosphorus is, it is not the same category as what happened in Syria.”

      Oh, bull. If the Syrians did what the israelis did during Cast Lead, the usual suspects would be screaming for Assad’s head. The only difference is that in Cast Lead a Jew pulled the trigger. Nothing else. You spit on the bodies of the dead with your spinning.

    • Ellen says:

      IDF white phosphorus on civilians and children

    • Bush allowed himself to be duped, sadly. Laziness, lack of intellectual curiosity, incompetent national security adviser (C. Rice) played their part.

    • Danaa says:

      Yonah: “As far as I can tell, the intelligence community can assert with clarity, where the missile bearing the poisonous sarin gas came from and where it landed and who it killed. The only question is regarding the tape of the Assad official which is Israeli intelligence.”

      And that you take verbatim from kerey’s little “speech”.

      Funny that the Russian satellites recorded images of rockets that came from rebel held areas right about the same time the attacks were supposed to have happened. So, which rockets were those vs which rockets did that other “intelligence community” record? was israel part of that community too, perchance?

      Could it be that this “intelligence community” attests – with “clarity” – to exactly that which the politicos tell them to attest to?

      You do understand yonah, that if this was a FFO then there would be all kinds of ‘clarity” inducing (but never shown) images, prepared by an “intelligence community”, which apparently does not include the UK’s, the Russians or anyone else.

      i say, show us the rocket trail, rather than rely on the “we know”. they knew all about that 1986 intercepted communication from Libya too. The one Mossad has all but admitted to carrying out. Why, if it worked once, why not a second time?

      Next, Yonah, you are going to tell me you care a hoot about Syrians – whichever side they are on – right?

  19. just says:

    “Christiane Amanpour, ever the liberal interventionist, is impatient, telling America to suck it up and let’s get on with it. On CNN, a few minutes ago:”

    Oh Christiane, I hardly knew ye.

    • Kathleen says:

      Christiane is often an arrogant ass.

      This is so depressing. Obama turning out to be such a disappointment.

      • piotr says:

        I must admit that I have a T-shirt from Obama campaign because I contributed. Turning to be a disappointment is Obama’s middle name.

        But UK is setting some trends: left-right alliance. Newsmax reported that 80% of polled Americans think that Obama has to got Congressional authorization before an attack. LA Times has an editorial to that effect, citing some obscure professor of constitutional law from Chicago who already retired.

      • Ellen says:

        Obama is a “dissapointment?” What an understatement. The POTUS is the new pet dog for powerful interests, he is a tool. He is so way over his head, he does not know how to gasp for air. He is owned.

        This is a guy with such a dilisional self understanding, he started writing his biography before he was 30. His ego carried him far, but now he dances to his puppet masters. In many ways he is a Truman in that he has no guiding morality other than feeding an ego and executing the wishes of his paymasters.

        His masters have targeted control of Syria. This has been in the works for decades. If he does not make it happen, he is likely in danger.

  20. When mining the endless seam of US government hypocrisy, don’t forget chemical weapons in Iraq. First of all the US Government is undoubtedly complicit in the use of these weapons while Saddam was in power and supported by the US.

    More to the point, people are suffering right now in Iraq from ‘chemical weapons’ used by none other than the USA. This is due to the widespread use of depleted uranium in weaponry, by the US in Fallujah and elsewhere. While not usually referred to as a chemical weapon, depleted uranium definitely has chemical as well as biological toxicity. Today the number and type of birth defects in Fallujah and other areas where depleted uranium was used is comparable in some ways to the number and type of birth defects recorded in the post WW2 Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What could be more unspeakable?

  21. Citizen says:

    Yes, French poodle. Here’s Kerry telling us and France that we now officially change the name of freedom fries back to french fries:
    link to france24.com

  22. NickJOCW says:

    The UK parliament vote reflected the will of the British people. Parliament doesn’t always do that but it does when the chips are down, and the British have long memories. The world gaped in disbelief after WWII when the Labour leader Clement Attlee, not Winston Churchill, won the first post war election. The social unease prior to WWII was nearing boiling point with the black shirts of fascism forming up against it, but the outbreak of war had put a lid on that for 6 years while everyone got on with the task to hand. For some time the Brits have resented their role of US poodle, and popular support for the Wednesday vote arises from that, which is an emotion, as much as any reasoned consideration about attacking Syria.

    Sad though it sounds, a US attack on Syria could well refresh democracy in the UK, and if it does it will send ripples through increasingly disenfranchised European populations, similarly distrustful of US (IMF) meddling in their problems. It will also surely affect foreign policies; it must be singularly disconcerting for Obama that the British appear closer to Putin than him on this one, and anything that disconcerts the US President at that level must surely disconcert Israel as well, and Israel isn’t even in this loop. There have of late been myriad small uncoordinated but cumulative instances of the US will being ignored or defied, Palestinian statehood being one obvious example, this is certainly another. Might it turn out to be the straw?

  23. amigo says:

    Here Mr Peace Nobel Prize winner are the kind of people you are supporting.Scroll down to Alledged War Crimes.

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    The following is a timeline of alleged war crimes by FSA-aligned groups:

    On 22 May 2012, an FSA brigade kidnapped 11 Lebanese pilgrims coming from Iran.[171] Four of them were killed in an airstrike by the Syrian Air Force and the rest were released unharmed.[172]

    On 20 July 2012, Iraq’s deputy interior minister, Adnan al-Assadi, said that Iraqi border guards had witnessed the FSA take control of a border post, detain a Syrian Army lieutenant colonel, and then cut off his arms and legs before executing 22 Syrian soldiers.[173]

    On 21 July 2012, Turkish truck drivers said that they had their trucks stolen by members of the FSA when it captured a border post. They said that some of the trucks were burnt and others sold back to their drivers after the goods were looted.[174]

    The United Nations report on war crimes states that the FSA’s execution of five Alawite soldiers in Latakia, post-July 2012 was a war crime. The report states, “In this instance, the FSA perpetrated the war crime of execution without due process.”[158]

    On 13 August 2012, a series of three videos surfaced showing executions of prisoners, apparently by rebel forces, in Aleppo province. In one video, six postal workers were being thrown off the main postal building in Al-Bab to their deaths, purportedly by FSA fighters. The gunmen claimed they were shabiha.[175][176][177][178]

    On 9 September 2012 the FSA exploded a car bomb near al-Hayat Hospital and the Central Hospital in Aleppo. According to Syrian state media, at least 30 people were killed[179] and more than 64 wounded.[180] The FSA claimed that the Army had occupied the hospital buildings and were using them as a base.[181]

    On 10 September 2012 the FSA’s Hawks of Syria brigade executed more than 20 Syrian soldiers captured in Hanano military base.[182]

    On 2 November 2012 the FSA’s al-Siddiq Battalion kidnapped and executed prominent Syrian actor Mohammed Rafeh. It claimed he was a member of the shabiha and was carrying a gun and military ID.[183][184]

    In May 2013, a video was posted on the internet showing a rebel cutting organs from the dead body of a Syrian soldier and putting one in his mouth, “as if he is taking a bite out of it”. He called rebels to follow his example and terrorize the Alawite sect, which mostly backs Assad. Humans Rights Watch (HRW) confirmed the authenticity of the footage, and stated that “The mutilation of the bodies of enemies is a war crime”. The rebel was Abu Sakkar, a commander of the “Independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade”. The BBC called it an offshoot of the FSA’s Farouq Brigades, while HRW said it is “not known” whether the Brigade is part of the FSA. The incident was condemned by the FSA’s Chief of Staff and the Syrian National Coalition said that Abu Sakkar would be put on trial.[185][186] Abu Sakkar said the mutilation was revenge. He said he found a video on the soldier’s cellphone in which the soldier sexually abuses a woman and her two daughters,[187] along with other videos of Assad loyalists raping, torturing, dismembering and killing people, including children

  24. amigo says:

    Obama stood idly by when Israel committed the following War Crimes.Nary a word from this most disappointing of all so called liberals.

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    In its early statements the Israeli military repeatedly denied using white phosphorus, saying “We categorically deny the use of white phosphorus”, and “The IDF acts only in accordance with what is permitted by international law and does not use white phosphorus.” It eventually admitted its use and stopped using the shells, however, saying that a “media buzz” led to its decision to do so.[28]

    Numerous reports from human right groups during the war indicated that white phosphorus shells were being used by Israel in populated areas.[29][30][31]

    Human Rights Watch said shells exploded over populated civilian areas, including a crowded Palestinian refugee camp[32] and a United Nations school where civilians were seeking refuge.[33] Additionally, Human Rights Watch said that white phosphorus injuries were suspected in the cases of ten burn victims.[34] The International Red Cross stated that phosphorus weapons had been used in the conflict but would not comment publicly on the legality of Israel’s use of the weapon, pending further investigation, contrary to what had been attributed to the ICRC in a number of media reports.[34][35][36]

    Human Rights Watch said its experts in the region had witnessed the use of white phosphorus. Kenneth Roth, the organisation’s executive director, added: “This is a chemical compound that burns structures and burns people. It should not be used in populated areas.”[37]

    Amnesty International said a fact-finding team found “indisputable evidence of the widespread use of white phosphorus” in crowded civilian residential areas of Gaza City and elsewhere in the territory.[38] Donatella Rovera, the head of an Amnesty fact-finding mission to southern Israel and Gaza, said: “Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes.”[39]

    On 5 January the Times reported that telltale smoke associated with white phosphorus had been seen in areas of a shelling. On 12 January it was reported that more than 50 phosphorus burns victims were in Nasser Hospital. On 16 January the UNRWA headquarters was hit with phosphorus munitions.[40] As a result of the hit, the compound was set ablaze.[41]

    Many other observers, including Human Rights Watch military experts, reported seeing white phosphorus air bursts over Gaza City and the Jabalya refugee camp.[42] The BBC published a photograph of two shells exploding over a densely populated area on 11 January.[43]

    Since Protocol III, of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons regulates Incendiary Weapons, and shells containing White Phosphorus,may be legal even in populated areas, more information is required to determine the legality of any shell landing in populated areas.[44]

  25. irmep says:

    If that’s the product of a $53 billion intelligence industry, we should demand an immediate and full refund.

  26. Bing Bong says:

    United Kingdom, not English poodle surely. That’s like calling Israel and the occupied territories Israel.

  27. NickJOCW says:

    First it was all indisputably Assad, next it might have been a renegade subordinate, now, having had us all on tenterhooks, he passes responsibility to Congress. How, in the name of Heaven, did that man ever produce two children. link to nytimes.com

  28. piotr says:

    Newsflash: Obama Will Seek Syria Vote in Congress.

    Oh wait, DOUBLE [...] NEWSFLASH: The Congress IS NOT GOING TO WANT TO vote for the attack IF the case SUCKS, which by the way, in case you haven’t noticed, [...] sucks so far!

    There was a poll that 80% of Americans prefer a Congress authorization for the possible attack, and 50% opposes. It was also reported that 50% of respondents correctly selected Syria on a map, which is actually a high number, the public is paying attention. (Could it also impact of Bible classes, “Road to Damascus” and so on?)

    BBC extensively reported a very blunt, direct and pretty convincing speech of Putin. link to bbc.co.uk

    And the French poodle is not really all that certain to follow the master. 64% of the polled French were opposing the attack, and while the President of France may decide alone, he has to think about elections too.

    • Walid says:

      piotr, Obama in throwing the ball to Congress has effectively handed the final decision to Israel. The panic in Israel is signalling that Israel is not ready to deal with the consequences, so we can assume that Israel may be wanting to walk away from it, and the Congress gimmick is the best face-saver for all the warmongers. If Israel would want Syria bombed, its simple nod to Congress would give Obama the cover he needs. So it’s all depending on how much Israel is spooked by these events.

      In the news this morning, Iraq’s Maliki sent a message to the WH that the bombing of Syria should not happen. Today, the foreign ministers of the Arab League countries are meeting in Cairo to give Obama its formal blessings to bomb a sister Arab country. It’s ironic how most Europeans, the American people, the British Parliament, Canada, NATO and just about everyone else is against the bombing of Syria, but that the Arab League is going along with the bombing of an Arab country. It will be its second time of backing a western group in the bombing of an Arab country, Libya, where its endorsement allowed the turkey-shoot killing of about 200,000 Libyans.

      With the AL resolution this afternoon, we’ll see if Iraq objects to the bombing as Maliki has demonstrated in his letter or if it will be going ahead with the rest and disproving Maliki’s stated objection.

      • Walid says:

        Al-Azhar in Cairo has come out against the bombing of Syria. Egypt’s Tamarod asked that the Suez Canal be closed to all anti-Syria ships.

      • Shingo says:

        Good analysis Walid,

        I think the fact that Congress is dragging it’s over the vote, as opposed to falling over one another to vote for the bombing, suggests that you are right about the indecision in Israel.

      • piotr says:

        The Empire and Israel are caught in contradictions. One goal is to have periodic shows of force to “maintain credibility”. But Israel already made little shows on its own, bombing near Damascus and Latakia, they do not need more shows just for a show.

        As far as more tangible goals are concerned, there are really hard to find. I guess that “humiliation in the Commons” is a life-saver to Cameron, and Obama can be saved by a similar punt. From the start, regime change in Syria accomplished with a jihadi holy war is a pet project for Saudis and Emiratis, with the warm support of Turkish government, but a tepid support in their military and so on.

        I think that a show of an admirably resolute attitude followed by obstruction by villifiable forces in parliaments can be the best political solution.

        • Walid says:

          Looks like it’s falling apart for the US at the Arab League meeting currently in progress in Cairo. In the opening statements, Libya (that insisted that Palestine should be the main issue), Egypt and the AL sec-gen said they wanted no part of backing a US strike on Syria and that the matter should be referred to the UN. A representative of the Syrian oppostion made a short plea since representation of the government of Syria had been suspended by the AL. The meeting that will have all members making speeches and expressing their wishes should last about 2 hours.

  29. Walid says:

    We can’t be hasty on that one, seafoid, those that are for a US attack on Syria are fewer in number but they are the one with the deep pockets to which most of the others are financially indebted, so the final vote will be surely influenced. It’s somewhat like the influence wielded by the US at the UN, which is one vote only but that influences the majority of the other member countries that are indebted to it. I would be surprised if the AL came out and clearly expressed its objection to a US strike.

    • seafoid says:

      It was a slam dunk last week, Walid. Now the people behind it are being exposed to the limelight. Israel and the sheikhs are the enemies of ordinary Arabs.
      I wonder how ordinary Saudis feel about Jihadis being funded by their government.

      • Walid says:

        seafoid, word coming out of the AL meeting is that it was resolved that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons and that the AL will be asking the UN to fulfil its responsabilities in that regard. Lebanon objected, Algeria abstained and the rest appear to have gone along. Formal statement to be issued tomorrow morning.

        Wishy washy; not exactly a slam dunk for the US, but not a flat rejection either.

        • Shingo says:

          The AL of course is just short hand for Saudi Arabia, who dominate it completely.

          In any case, it’s not going to make any difference at the UN. It’s not like the AL has any capacity to carry out any kind of investigation.

        • seafoid says:

          My impression is that Western public opinion is in the driving seat. Loads of pushback to whatever spin the WH comes out with. The AL includes Jihadi friendly Qatar and KSA of course.

          They are far richer than most other Arab Leaguers so can buy off countries presumably. But they take their cue from signals elsewhere..

          BTW it would be wonderful to link Qatar’s World Cup bid to jihadi funding in the popular consciousness.

  30. Citizen says:

    So, Obama was smart to toss the ball to congress? I wonder who coached him to do that? He went for a stroll with a guy on the WH lawn, and said he had changed his mind, and would toss the ball to congress, yet he states he’s not curbed by congress or the Constitution., even if it votes against him. He wins no matter what Congress does, and the probability is Congress will do what AIPAC et al pressures Congress/Obama to do? Is this a rope-a-dope on Congress? Both Obama and Congress seduced by AIPAC campaign cash, and the main media press narrative backup for the Zionists?

  31. W.Jones says:

    Better name: Obama lost his English lapdog, but he will get a French poodle.

  32. Hostage says:

    it was resolved that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons and that the AL will be asking the UN to fulfil its responsabilities in that regard.

    All of these state parties to the 1993 Paris Convention need to get off their collective asses and present some conclusive evidence to the International Court of Justice that supports all of theses allegations.
    link to icrc.org

  33. mijj says:

    > “it was resolved that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons”

    yeh .. a statement that is Political Decree of Truth, and nothing whatsoever to do with hard, evidential reality.

  34. Bing Bong says:

    Imagine if military action put an end to the hundreds of thousands already killed in Syria.