Critics of Obama’s narrow action cite Martin Dempsey’s caution — ‘act of war’

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As we await Obama’s speech today re Syria, I’m seeking to serve as a node for opposition to the “limited, narrow act” against Damascus that Obama is now whiteboarding in the White House situation room.

First, Ambassador Samantha Power has posted a couple of tweets defending US action.

1. Not a scratch, shrapnel wound, cut, nor gunshot wound, yet at least 1,429 Syrians dead, including 426 children.

2. Findings of our assessment on #Syria are clear, and there’s a reason after WWI the civilized world agreed CWs should never again be used.

But Power is getting a lot of pushback to these assertions. Among them:

Betty Aberlin ‏@bettyaberlin 15h

@AmbassadorPower how should the civilized world feel about drones? about targeted assassinations? about indefinite military detention, etc.?

Vandy ‏@Vandaliser 15h

@AmbassadorPower so death by conventional weapons is okay but CW is a bad! please save us the crocodile tears for the syrian people

David Pleasant ‏@dpleasant 15h

@AmbassadorPower The admin has given a reasonably good description of events. Now explain how proposed military response will fix it.

Massari Group ‏@MassariGroup 15h

@AmbassadorPower did the “civilize world” agree that killing 100k+ people is justifiable…just not using CWs? lol #Syria #Assad

@AmbassadorPower And explain how “limited” and “not open-ended” is assured.

A friend, reading the US government assessment of Syria’s use of chemical weapons, responds to their argument:

1. Where are all those arguments used against Hamas, you know combatants hiding within an urban civilian population, using civilians as shields? Completely missing of course [wrt to Syrian insurgents]. What collateral damage was acceptable in attacking Gaza? White phosphorous, depleted uranium shells, dum-dum bullets, anti-personnel cluster bombs with delayed triggers, all of these are okay against embedded Hamas forces. What were the collateral damage figures in Gaza? No moral outrage from the US then. Didn’t the Syrian regime have the right to clean out these civilian infested areas just as the Israelis did? Or closer to home, what about what we did in Fallujah, for example.

2. Regime has used chemical weapons 13 times without a US outcry. What kind of moral urgency is this?

3. “Assess the opposition has not used chemical weapons.” How convenient. And have they disproven those reports which have surfaced that say the opposite? No mention of these.

4. “Three days prior to the attack, we collected streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence that reveal regime activities that we assess were associated with preparations for a chemical weapons attack.” Yet, no warning, no effort to stop this attack before it happened.

5. I’d like to see full satellite detection proof. What else did the satellite detection show that night?

6. 90 minutes between strike and social media response is a bit strange.

This is less sourced and in less detail that Powell’s presentation to the UN. Could it be accurate? Yes. Could it be a fix around the policy? Yes.

The Syrian army might very well have done it. I just don’t trust anything that comes out of the mouths of this administration or of any of the intelligence services of the world. The latter are paid to lie, and the former does it on principle.

Even if the attack occurred, the morality arguments are pathetic and a lie. With the US and this administration being the last people to have the right to utter such hypocrisy.

Since this attack will make no difference one way or the other – except more dead civilians – I’d like to see proof and analysis from something like a truly neutral UN inspection team (and not one loaded with western spies).

Ilene Cohen had this response:

I just listened to John Kerry’s statement and came away as opposed as ever to Obama’s plan for a “limited, tailored” attack on Syria. Kerry spent a lot of time on describing the horrors of the chemical attack. That is not in question. Indeed, the hundred thousand previous victims of the civil war (killed by both sides) also died horrible deaths.

Much more important, whether Assad is the perpetrator or not (Kerry insisted that he is and left it at that), Kerry failed to explain what the “limited” plan is and how this latter day intervention in the Syrian civil war will achieve its aim of teaching Assad a lesson and preventing a repeat of such attacks. He failed to offer any reason to believe that Obama’s “limited and tailored” attacks on Syria will not potentially harm the very people we claim to care about or that they will not lead to other unintended consequences. That is the memory conjured up by the nightmare of Iraq: the lie of “simple and quick”—on top of the other lies, of course.

And using the scare tactics about the Iranian nuclear weapons (a little gesture to Israel, perhaps?) that Iran does not have and has not threatened to use was very annoying because it was irrelevant to the case at hand. It was at that moment that I wanted to shut him off, but I did not. As a conscientious citizen, I listened to the end.

Last, Kerry emphasized that most of all we believe in diplomacy, but he failed to offer any ideas on that front.

Barack Obama made a threat about a red line a year ago that has dogged him ever since.  That is really his embarrassing problem to work out, but not by shooting missiles into Syria so that he can save face by “doing something” that really accomplishes nothing constructive and likely will do a lot worse. Ask General Dempsey what he thinks. All of these acts of war have a way of leading to dark places—”collateral damage” (dead and otherwise harmed civilians), unintended consequences, and blowback.

Instead, let Obama stand before the American people and find a way to explain why he has decided not to go the route of the missile. Yes, the neocons will call him all the names that are in their arsenal, but I think that the majority of us will be relieved. Just because Obama uttered the words “red line” a year ago does not mean that we must of necessity drop bombs today.

Another anonymous friend also cites Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and Greek tragedy too.

As General Martin Dempsey said in his July letter to Sen. Carl Levin, attacking Syria would be no less than an “act of war.”
This attack will nullify the US classification of guerillas and combatants as terrorists.  They will all, including al quaeda fighters, become, under international law, legitimate combatants, with the right to make defensive war on the United States.
With this US attack, there are no more terrorists.
And also, Americans: Really really read some Greek tragedies…as Nina Simone said of revivals, you in one now.




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Whatever happened to “listening to the generals” (commanders on the ground)? I just heard McCaffery talking about the imminent “strike”– he suggests that ‘we’ will use Tomahawks. From the wiki, the cost of the missile: US$569,000 (1999)[1] AGM-109H/L version to $1.45 million Tactical version (2011)[2] Good article in the Nation:… Read more »

“there’s a reason after WWI the civilized world agreed CWs should never again be used” There’s also a very good reason the soi disant civilized word never updated CW legal documentation to cover weapons such as white phosphorous, cluster bombs and nukes. Ms. Power is a joke. Perhaps Cass Sunstein… Read more »

ha. Mr. Obama will wait for the vacationing and $$$ gathering Congresscritters to come home to hold a debate and a vote to “strike” Syria. (time to hit the phones……again) Now he’s talking about the governments who decide to build nukes and the governments who commit genocide… funny, he doesn’t… Read more »

Obama backed down!!

Hopefully, there will be enough Congressional and public opposition to stop this attack on Syria which seems to me to be total madness. Is this thought an example of the audacity of hope?

I am in shock. Who would have thought this would happen?

Where was Ambassador Power when Israel used white phosphorous and barbecued babies? Anyone know? Some one tweet the question for me because I won’t go back on Twitter for another few months because I am addicted. Family pissed. This isn’t a kid, but shows the effect: from