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Moral obscenities in Syria

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Kerry on Syria
Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department talking about Syria.
(Photo: Associated Press)

The threat of a reckless, dangerous, and illegal US or US-led assault on Syria is looking closer than ever.

The US government has been divided over the Syria crisis since it began. Some, especially in the Pentagon and some of the intelligence agencies, said direct military intervention would be dangerous and would accomplish nothing. Others, especially in Congress and some in the State Department, have demanded military attacks, even regime change, against the Syrian leadership, even before anyone made allegations of chemical weapons. The Obama administration has been divided too, with President Obama seemingly opposed to any US escalation. The American people are not divided—60 percent are against intervening in Syria’s civil war even if chemical weapons were involved.

But the situation is changing rapidly, and the Obama administration appears to be moving closer to direct military intervention. That would make the dire situation in Syria inestimably worse.

The attack that killed so many civilians, including many children, last Wednesday may well have been from a chemical weapon. Doctors Without Borders, in touch with local hospitals they support, said that while the symptoms “strongly indicate” that thousands of patients were exposed to a neurotoxic agent, they “can neither scientifically confirm the cause of these symptoms nor establish who is responsible for the attack.” The United Nations chemical weapons inspection team already in Syria to investigate earlier claims was granted permission by the government to visit the new site today; they have not yet reported any findings.

No one knows yet what actually happened, other than a horrific attack on civilians, many of whom died. No one has yet made public any evidence of what killed them, or who may be responsible. All attacks on civilians are war crimes—regardless of whether they are carried out by the Syrian army, rebel militias or US cruise missiles.

And yet the calls, the demands, the assumptions of a looming US attack on Syria are rising. NBC News reported that the US had “very little doubt” that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons. The Wall Street Journal quoted an anonymous “senior defense official” who said the military strikes being considered “would be conducted from ships in the Eastern Mediterranean using long-range missiles, without using manned aircraft. ‘You do not need basing. You do not need over-flight. You don’t need to worry about defenses.’ ”

Despite Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim that a chemical attack was “undeniable,” we still don’t know for sure that it was a chemical weapon, and we certainly don’t know who did it. Kerry spoke this afternoon, calling the attack a “moral obscenity.” If it was a chemical attack, as appears likely, it certainly is just that. So far in this war, over 100,000 people have been killed and millions forced from their homes—aren’t all of those moral obscenities?

Even If

Kerry seems to believe that this moral obscenity requires military action in response. Graham and McCain said so earlier. But he’s wrong. It’s likely that it was a chemical agent of some sort that led to mass sickness and many deaths in the Damascus suburb. And maybe it was the Syrian regime that was responsible for it. The questions that would then need to be asked, the questions “even if,” have to start with “So what should we do?”

Does anyone really believe that a military strike on an alleged chemical weapons factory would help the Syrian people, would save any lives, would help bring an end to this horrific civil war? What’s the best we could hope for, that a cruise missile strike would actually succeed, would accurately find its target and explode a warehouse full of chemical agents into airborne clouds of death?

Illegal Even If

The US government is creating a false dichotomy—it’s either a military strike, or we let them get away with it. No one is talking about any other kind of international accountability, nothing like the International Criminal Court. Last month, the White House “law group” noted that arming the rebels might violate international law. Do they think a cruise missile strike is okay? We heard President Obama a couple of days ago refer to international law. He said “if the US goes in and attacks another country without a UN mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it … and those are considerations that we have to take into account.”

But what we’re hearing now is that the model under consideration for a US military strike on Syria would be that of Kosovo. Remember that one, back in 1999, at the end of the Bosnia war? That time, knowing it was impossible to get Security Council agreement for an air war against Serbia over the disputed enclave of Kosovo, the US and its allies simply announced that they would get their international permission slip somewhere else. That would be the NATO high command. What a surprise, the NATO generals agreed with their respective presidents and prime ministers, and said, sure, we think it’s a great idea. The problem is, the UN Charter is very clear on what constitutes a legal use of military force—and permission from NATO isn’t on that very short list. If the Security Council does not say yes, and there is no legal claim of immediate self-defense (which even the US isn’t claiming regarding Syria), any use or threat of use of military force is illegal. Period. Full stop. Claiming that NATO or someone else said it was okay isn’t part of international law—the air war was illegal in Kosovo, and it would be illegal in Syria.

Cui Bono?

But let’s go back a minute. Let’s remember that we don’t know for sure that it was a chemical weapon. We don’t know for sure that it was a weapon at all. Crucially, let’s remember we don’t have any evidence of who might have used such a weapon. So then what do we ask? Maybe we start with the age-old question, Cui bono? Who benefits?

It’s easier to say who loses—the Syrian people, most importantly the victims and their families. Whole communities are being decimated. (We shouldn’t forget that Americans will pay a price too—a new war will result in more military spending. That will create pressure on Congress to cut domestic spending even further, cutting vital social programs even more.)

But who benefits is a little more complicated.

It’s certainly not impossible that the Syrian regime, known to have had a chemical weapons arsenal, used such a weapon. If so, why? Despite remaining under pressure from sanctions and facing increasing international isolation, Damascus has been seeing some success on the battlefield. It’s certainly possible a mid-level Syrian officer, worried about some past defeat and desperately afraid of being held accountable for it, might have chosen to use such a weapon to gain a gruesome battlefield victory despite the increase in the threat of direct military intervention. But it is very unlikely the regime’s leadership would have made such a choice. Not because they “wouldn’t kill their own people,” they’ve been doing just that. But because they stood to lose far more than any potential gain. It’s not impossible. But as brutal as this regime is, it isn’t crazy. It’s unlikely.

Then there’s the other side, the diverse opposition whose strongest fighters are those claiming allegiance to Al Qaeda and similar extremist organizations. Those who benefit from this attack, are those eager for greater US and Western military intervention against the Assad regime in Damascus. Further, Al Qaeda and its offshoots have always been eager to get the US military—troops, warplanes, ships, bases, whatever—into their territory. It makes it so much easier to attack them there. Politically it remains what US counterintelligence agents long ago called a “recruitment tool” for Al Qaeda. They loved the Iraq war for that reason. They would love the Syrian war all the more if US targets were brought in. All the debate about “red lines,” the domestic and international political pressure to “do something,” the threats to the UN inspectors on the ground—who inside Syria do we think is cheering that on?

(And as for the opposition’s capacity and/or willingness to use such weapons… we should also remember that the opposition includes some defectors. Who knows what skills and weapons access they brought with them? And do we really doubt that Al Qaeda wannabe extremists, many of them not even Syrians, would hesitate to kill civilians in a suburb of Damascus?)

UN Inspectors Pulled Out?

The most dangerous signal of US intentions may be the call for the United Nations weapons inspectors to withdraw. To his credit, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon rejected the Obama administration’s call, and kept the inspection team in place, to do its work. On the eve of the war in Iraq, forty-eight hours before US warplanes began their assault on Baghdad, George W. Bush issued an even more direct demand for UN weapons inspectors and humanitarian workers to be withdrawn. Then Secretary-General Kofi Annan pulled his team out, understandably afraid for their lives. But what if those scores of UN staffers had been given the choice to stay? Might the risk of killing dozens, scores of UN international staff, have made the United States pause for just a moment before beginning its assault? Maybe those staffers would have changed history. This time around, like before, diplomacy rather than military action is the only way to enable the UN inspectors to continue their work to find the truth.

Let’s be clear. Any US military attack, cruise missiles or anything else, will not be to protect civilians—it will mean taking sides once again in a bloody, complicated civil war. And Al Qaeda would be very pleased.

This time, maybe the Obama administration isn’t about to launch cruise missiles against Syria. Maybe there’s still time to prevent it. Right now, those risking their lives on the ground to help the Syrian people are the UN inspectors. If the United States is really concerned about their safety, and recognizes the legitimacy of UN inspectors, the Obama administration should immediately engage with the UN leadership and with the Syrian, Russian and other relevant governments to insure their safety while they continue their crucial efforts. Cruise missiles will make that work impossible. What’s needed now is tough diplomacy, not politically motivated military strikes that will make a horrific war even worse.


This article originally appeared in The Nation.

Phyllis Bennis

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50 Responses

  1. just on August 27, 2013, 6:30 pm

    Thanks Phyllis, David and The Nation.

    Big, huge mistake to bomb Syria. Innocents will pay with their lives– again. We don’t KNOW anything really, do we? Our government is not entirely trustworthy. I can only hope that the UN does the job it is meant to do………………..

    Colin Powell says that:
    “”I have no affection for Assad,” Powell told Bob Schieffer on US show Face the Nation, while mentioning he knows the Syrian president and has personally dealt with him. “He’s a pathological liar.” ”

    Interesting that one of the biggest liars to ever present lies at the UN is calling names.

    We will lose– again. Our hypocrisy and manipulation and aggression seemingly knows no bounds. It just might be “pathological”.

    One more thing– we’ve been responsible for more than a few “moral obscenities” ourselves. Many, many, many.

  2. Les on August 27, 2013, 6:31 pm

    Though the Egyptians killed many many more innocents than were the Syrian victims of the chemical attack, the Egyptians didn’t use chemical weapons like those the US provided Saddam Hussein to gas Iranians.

  3. Walid on August 27, 2013, 7:26 pm

    On the UN inspectors’ first day on the job, their motorcade was attacked by sniper fire as it left the hotel. Their work was delayed for a few hours until they were able to get a replacement for the lead vehicle that was all shot up.

    Unidentified shooters opened fire on the UN disarmament team’s motorcade in Syria Monday as they set out to begin their inspection, the United Nations has said.

    As the UN inspection team headed out from their hotel to the site of Wednesday’s chemical attacks in Damascus, one of the cars in the convoy reportedly came under gunfire.

    “The first vehicle of the Chemical Weapons Investigation Team was deliberately shot at multiple times by unidentified snipers in the buffer zone area, ” said a statement released by the UN.

    It appears no one was injured in the shootings, but the convoy was forced to return to a checkpoint and replace their vehicle. According to the statement, the team will be continuing with their work and return to the area.

    But even small holdups might mess with the team’s findings.

    “Every hour counts. We cannot afford any more delays. We have all seen the horrifying images on our television screens and through social media. Clearly this was a major and terrible incident,” UN chief Ban Ki-Moon has said. He has also called the use of chemical weapons a crime against humanity that should be punished.

    The Syrian regime had previously reached an agreement with the UN top disarmament chief Angela Kane, who’d arrived in the country Saturday to let the UN carry out their investigation. Both the government and the rebels had also accepted a ceasefire in order to let the inspectors thoroughly and safely gather evidence.

    • just on August 27, 2013, 7:31 pm

      whodunnit? I’ll wager that only the snipers know, and I’ll bet they stay mum.

      • seafoid on August 27, 2013, 11:41 pm

        Interesting how long it took for New Yorkers in the Rockaways in Queens who were wiped out by hurricane Sandy last October to receive federal aid compared to the easy availability of billions to bomb the shit out of Syria. I guess you need to have your own Super PAC to get things done promptly.

      • Walid on August 28, 2013, 12:40 am
    • seafoid on August 28, 2013, 10:10 am

      Robert Fisk had an article that mentioned 3 Hezbollah fighters were hit with nerve gas – did you hear anything about it, Walid?

      “Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side?

      For example, no-one is going to be interested in persistent reports in Beirut that three Hezbollah members – fighting alongside government troops in Damascus – were apparently struck down by the same gas on the same day, supposedly in tunnels. They are now said to be undergoing treatment in a Beirut hospital. So if Syrian government forces used gas, how come Hezbollah men might have been stricken too? Blowback?”

      • Walid on August 28, 2013, 1:05 pm

        “3 Hezbollah fighters were hit with nerve gas ”

        Haven’t heard or read about it, seafoid, but I saw it reported somewhere that there had been many funerals for the fallen Hizbullah fighters in Syria.

      • marc b. on August 28, 2013, 1:57 pm

        don’t know if it’s been reported here elsewhere, but FP’s adam schactman reports that there were intercepted telecommunications from the Syrian military command wondering wtf was going on when the attack took place. some quoted taking this as evidence that it was a Syrian attack, perhaps not authorized. (not the only or even most rational interpretation, without seeing the actual text of the communications.)

      • Kathleen on August 28, 2013, 4:39 pm

        And allegedly these communications were intercepted by the Israeli’s. And if the U.S. and Israel can listen in you know they can be the voices on either side of the communication or hell both sides. Do not trust the U.S. or the Israeli so called intelligence. Until internationally verified then all is a question

      • marc b. on August 28, 2013, 6:37 pm

        no, I don’t trust the sources. i’m questioning the interpretation of the information if it is legitimate. it actually seems to support the contention that the rebels were responsible for whatever it was occurred. in my opinion, and it’s just an opinion, the rebels used some chemical short of weaponized agents. I assume that military grade agents would have some sort of ‘fingerprint’ which would help identify the original source, and that wouldn’t be helpful to the cause.

  4. bilal a on August 27, 2013, 8:40 pm

    The Kurds are pointing at allied nations supporting the Al Qaeda rebels in Syria:

    Was the Syrian delivery mechanism smuggled Binary agents?

    Israel maintains advanced national scientific-technical CW research and development (R&D) infrastructure, in addition to well-respected academic and industrial chemistry communities. Israel openly publishes defensive CW research, but does not officially comment on its CW capabilities or policies. [10] According to the Swedish Defence Research Agency, Israel at some point had an advanced CW program capable of producing nerve agents, mustard gas, riot-control, and even “binary” nerve agents (agents comprised of two relatively harmless substances that become toxic when mixed in the field).[11]

    ] In 1998, Dutch authorities publically confirmed that the 1992 El Al cargo plane that crashed in Amsterdam en route to Israel carried 190 liters of dimethyl methylphosphonate. [70] Media reports alleged that the Israelis intended to use it for the manufacture of sarin, and that the amount carried on board could have yielded up to 594 pounds of the nerve agent….A team of Swedish defense analysts have claimed that Israel produced advanced binary nerve agents. [76]

    • seafoid on August 29, 2013, 1:18 am

      The jihadis have been ethnically cleansing thousands of syrian kurds and forcing them at gunpoint into iraq.

      • Walid on August 29, 2013, 4:32 am

        About the Syrian Kurds that make up 10% of Syria’s population, these too were repressed, harrassed and discriminated against for decades by the regime and in 1962, 120,000 of them stripped of their Syrian citizenship. In 1973, 140,000 were deported outside their areas and replaced by Arab settlers.

        Wiki says “Many were arbitrarily categorized as “ajanib” (‘aliens’), while others who did not participate in the census were categorised as “maktumin” (‘unregistered’), an even lower status than the “ajanib”; for all intents and purposes, these unregistered Kurds did not exist in the eyes of the state. They could not get jobs, become educated, own property, participate in politics, or even get married. In some cases, classifications varied even within Kurdish families: parents had citizenship but not their children, a child could be a citizen but nor his or her brothers and sisters. Those Kurds who lost their citizenship were often dispossessed of their lands, which were given by the state to Arab settlers.”

        When the Syrian situation exploded a couple of years back, the regime quickly naturalized about 60,000 Kurds to lessen the presure on it at least from the Kurdish side that had also started to join the anti-regime demonstrations. The Syrian army eventually left all the Kurdish areas and life was starting to look up for them. Now the takfiri rebels are on their case.

        A couple of weeks back, Massoud Barzani the Kurdish leader in Kurdistan al-Iraq threatened the rebels that if they don’t stop their harassment of the Kurds, he would send a force from Iraq to protect them.

        The takfiri rebels have been just as violent on Syria’s Christian community but regrettably there isn’t a Christian “Barzani” around to look out for them.

  5. anthonybellchambers on August 27, 2013, 8:43 pm

    There is a grave flaw in the US/UK decision to attack Syria – and that is that according to the BBC, the intelligence upon which the decision has been predicated, has been offered to the American and British governments by the intelligence department of Binyamin Netanyahu.

    If I were the president or prime minister of either of these two great democracies, I would be hesitant in the extreme before accepting “intelligence” from the only undeclared nuclear weapons state in the world that has refused to ratify the international agreements on nuclear proliferation and chemical weapons (NPT) (CWC) of which both the US, UK (and all EU states) are signatories.

  6. riyadh on August 27, 2013, 8:43 pm

    Despicable. You’re not being good progressives by opposing any form of US intervention. You’re just defending secular fascism under the guise of Arab nationalism

  7. American on August 27, 2013, 9:26 pm

    Excellent presentation.
    Particulary the point on International law recourse vr mad dog action by the US.
    And…” would accurately find its target and explode a warehouse full of chemical agents into airborne clouds of death?’
    Is my question also… much airborne fallout would result?
    Petition signed.

  8. Mayhem on August 27, 2013, 9:41 pm

    What about a petition against Russia’s continually obstructionist stance in the UN security council that has led to the Syrian situation getting as bad as it now is?

  9. giladg on August 28, 2013, 12:11 am

    Syria has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world. With all the uncertainty in the country, are you suggesting Philip that the world should hope for the best that these weapons will remain under lock and key? Are you that naive? Remember Sadam Hussains munitions bunkers that were abandoned by the Iraqi army? These weapons can be smuggled to any part of the world.

  10. Byzantium on August 28, 2013, 3:30 am

    The petition seems entirely geared toward American signers (it talks about “our constitution” and requires the provision of a zip code). Is this deliberate, based on the assumption that non-American voices would not likely sway the US administration? If not, a more inclusive effort will certainly result in a great many more signatures.

  11. Egbert on August 28, 2013, 4:05 am

    This has been long planned.

    On 20 Sep 2011 General Wesley Clarke was informed by someone who had worked for him in the Pentagon “Sir, we’re going to war with Iraq” Clarke “Why?” … “I don’t know. I guess they don’t know what else to do … We don’t know what to do”.

    A few weeks later after the bombing of Afghanistan had started, Clarke asked “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” … “Sir, it’s worse than that. This is a memo from upstairs [Sec of Defense] that describes how we are going to take out 7 countries in 5 years, starting with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing off with Iran”.

    This is a premeditated, long planned act of aggression. As with Iraq, the alleged use of WMD is ‘a reason we can all agree on’ and ‘the facts are being fixed around the policy’. The US doesn’t give a hoot about the Syrian people. It barely cares about its own (e.g. Katrina).

  12. seafoid on August 28, 2013, 4:10 am

    “The Syrian atrocity, where the death toll has been reported by opposition-linked sources at 322 but is likely to rise, was damned as a “moral obscenity” by US secretary of state John Kerry. The killings in Egypt, the vast majority of them of civilians, have been estimated at 1,295 over two days. But Barack Obama said the US wasn’t “taking sides”, while Kerry earlier claimed the army was “restoring democracy”.
    In reality, western and Gulf regime intervention in Syria has been growing since the early days of what began as a popular uprising against an autocratic regime but has long since morphed into a sectarian and regional proxy war, estimated to have killed over 100,000, balkanised the country and turned more than a million people into refugees.
    Now covert support has become open military backing for a rebel movement split into over 1,000 groups and increasingly dominated by jihadist fighters, as atrocities have multiplied on all sides. While the focus has been on Ghouta this week, rebels have been ethnically cleansing tens of thousands of Kurds from north east Syria across the border into Iraq.
    Until now, the western camp has been prepared to bleed Syria while Obama has resisted pressure for what he last week called more “difficult, costly interventions that actually breed more resentment”. Now the risk to US red line credibility seems to have tipped him over to back a direct military attack.
    But even if it turns out that regime forces were responsible for Ghouta, that’s unlikely to hold them to account or remove the risk from chemical weapons. More effective would be an extension of the weapons inspectors’ mandate to secure chemical dumps, backed by a united security council, rather than moral grandstanding by governments that have dumped depleted uranium, white phosphorus and Agent Orange around the region and beyond.”

  13. seafoid on August 28, 2013, 6:49 am

    A big upset for the warmongers in the UK

    “David Cameron’s hopes of gaining widespread Commons support for the impending military strike against Syria suffered a blow on Wednesday when Labour demanded the involvement of the United Nations.”

    The bots and the neocons, the people who brought you the Iraq war, want the same for Syria.
    (via pipistro)

    But there is only 25% public support in the UK for another dose of pure evil in pursuit of deluded pride.

    • just on August 28, 2013, 7:30 am

      If only we had any meaningful opposition to any war within our ‘government’……….instead, we have a compliant and complicit Israel- first Congress.

      • seafoid on August 28, 2013, 9:25 am

        In fairness to the UK there is no Fox echo chamber and the country learnt lot from the Iraq mess. Nice to see Labour putting the brakes on for the moment.

    • Justpassingby on August 28, 2013, 11:21 am

      so the uk’s are more warmongering than the american people these days. Ugly degeneration.

  14. Taxi on August 28, 2013, 6:58 am

    Obama. Mister Pulitzer Peace Prize.


    Down the corridors of power on Capitol Hill, Obama has earned himself the reputation of being the ‘Vacillator In Chief’ and the ‘Coward In Chief’. Across the globe, world citizenry are tsk-tsking and shaking their heads in disbelieve and disappointment at the long list of Obama-promises broken. They are dismayed and appalled especially at his insidious war programs across central Asia and the middle east, that have killed scores upon scores of unarmed civilians (read: drone wars and arming alqaidaesque armies who are still spreading havoc and mass death across the middle east). Our president’s reputation is not in the toilet, it’s the toilet itself. So are the democratic party’s chances of winning in 2016.

    What better way to save face, therefore, than for Obama to show some (seedless) balls and strike at a weaker country, already entrenched in violence and turmoil – what better way to turn his PR fortunes than by faking moral outrage and claiming the moral high ground regarding Syria.

    And what better way to appease aipac, what better way to get that monkey off his back, guaranteeing therefore aipac’s FULL support in 2016, than by assaulting one of israel’s resistor neighbors?

    It’s so worth it for Obama to strike Syria. Especially if our own politically lethargic citizens only ever whine and never take to the streets with absolute resolve to put a lid on rogue warmongering presidents for once and for all.

  15. Taxi on August 28, 2013, 7:34 am

    Here’s William Rivers Pitt on Syria:

    And here’s a couple of links I picked up from commentators from the above link:
    “The JFK Assassination Marked the End of the American Republic”:

  16. just on August 28, 2013, 8:43 am

    From The Guardian:

    “The bulk of evidence proving the Assad regime’s deployment of chemical weapons – which would provide legal grounds essential to justify any western military action – has been provided by Israeli military intelligence, the German magazine Focus has reported.”

    (frightening, eh?)


    “Meanwhile, demand for gas masks and protection kits from the Israeli public continued to rise. The Israeli postal authority said telephone inquiries had increased by 300% and queues had formed outside distribution depots.

    According to a report in Ma’ariv, Israel’s home front command is grappling with the problem of providing gas masks to men with beards, extremely common among ultra-Orthodox Jews. A special mask, which can accommodate a beard, is available but the high cost means it is only distributed to men over 65 or whose beards are for health reasons.

    “Men who grow beards for religious reasons will have to shave in the event of a chemical attack,” Ma’ariv reported.”

    Who is going to give protection to the Palestinians– even those without beards??? Aren’t the Occupiers responsible for the Occupied? Why yes, they are.

    “One source of the obligations imposed on Israel toward residents of the Gaza Strip is the laws of occupation, which are incorporated in the Hague Convention (1907) and in the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949). These laws impose general responsibility on the occupying state for the safety and welfare of civilians living in the occupied territory. The laws of occupation apply if a state has “effective control” over the territory in question.”

  17. marc b. on August 28, 2013, 9:10 am

    dhk, a hong kong based news agency, had an Israeli chemical weapons expert on its English-language broadcast the other night. according to him, the videos he saw of victims of the attack did not show symptoms consistent with the use of sarin. maybe an industrial chemical agent, but not a weaponized nerve agent.

  18. AlGhorear on August 28, 2013, 10:56 am

    Arutz Sheva has an interesting Op-Ed on Obama & Syria: “Liberal Hypocrisy in Iraq and Syria”

    When Obama said “Change we can believe in”, who knew he meant he was going to change?

    In 2002, a minor Chicago politician with a funny name achieved an undeserved level of prominence with a speech declaring we should not attack Iraq because “Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States”, “the Iraqi economy is in shambles” and “the Iraqi military (is) a fraction of its former strength” and advised that instead Saddam “be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.”

    When that minor politician came to power, suddenly the dustbin of history that was good enough for Saddam, wasn’t good enough for Qaddafi or for Assad.

    As Obama prepares to add a second unilateral regime change war to his Nobel Peace Prize trophy shelf, joining him for their very first war together as cabinet members will be two other prominent doves.

    John Kerry’s senate career began with a bang when he traveled to Nicaragua to obstruct President Reagan’s policy of arming the anti-Communist Contra rebels. Now Secretary of State John Kerry is taking part in arming the Free Syrian Army rebel allies of Al Qaeda and pawns of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    In his Sandinista days, Senator Kerry had said that America should not subvert its values “by funding terrorism to overthrow governments of other countries”. Since then John Kerry has changed his mind. It turns out that he was only against funding terrorists to overthrow the governments of other countries before he was for it.

    Sitting in as Secretary of Defense is Chuck Hagel, who got his job because of his opposition to the Iraq War and attacks on Bush over WMDs, who will now be overseeing a new war over Syrian WMDs.

    Three anti-war doves will be leading a war that represents everything that they claimed to stand against

  19. Justpassingby on August 28, 2013, 11:18 am

    Here is a regime (US) that commit warcrimes on daily basis with drone strikes, but no, when pakistani people die, or when somalis or iraqis die there are no “moral obscenity” comments by this long-faced liar called Kerry.

  20. kalithea on August 28, 2013, 12:03 pm

    Before I write a comment, I want to use the images in the following link as a kind of “prologue”:

    And before you all reply to “Cui bono” the most? Think about why 8200 was so eager to be involved…

  21. Qualtrough on August 28, 2013, 12:37 pm

    The USA is now completely under the rule of men, not law. Our leaders do what they want because they have complete immunity to the laws that ordinary Americans are bound to follow. Nothing will change until these people are charged and convicted for the laws that they break.

  22. kalithea on August 28, 2013, 1:04 pm

    Why is the U.S. writing the manifesto for war or Act of war if you wish BEFORE the results of the U.N. inspectors are in? The Administration received intelligence from Israel’s 8200 stating that they intercepted a communication between the Syrian gov and Syrian troops proving the CW attack was authored by them. Hello! So why has the administration STILL not shared these findings or “conclusive” proof with the U.N.??? And why aren’t they blurting them aloud over their megaphone media and to the four winds and the American mass and revealing the SOURCE of this intelligence and emphasizing how “credible” it is???: ISRAELI INTELLIGENCE he-he.

    Here’s the thing: they’re having the media beat that drum for war in a deafening crescendo, stating the Administration has CONCLUSIVE proof, stating that military action is imminent, and STILL, they’re leaving everyone in the dark! We’re being assailed with the deafening drums of war IN THE DARK.

    Now some of you are thinking Assad’s a bad guy, and he’s definitely not anyone’s favorite uncle, but people, who do you think broke this??? And who do you think always looks the other way when so many other worse crimes against humanity and war crimes are committed?

    Who do you think had operatives in Syria from the beginning stirring up trouble and inciting rebel factions??? How do you all think this got started? Syria was okay for years, Iraqis fled to Syria by the thousands as refugees of a U.S. invasion, and then, suddenly Syrians got inspired by the Tunisians and Egyptians to rise up….bull shet! The problem is that disgruntled Syrians weren’t budging much at that time so they needed goading by the big 3: the U.S., Israel and the Saudi kingdom because Syria was strategic to the bigger plan.

    And don’t gimme dat that the rebels don’t have the capacity. The attack could have come from anywheerrrrrrrrrre, like this one in the following link, that the U.S. refuses to call a terrorist act!:

    No doubt they don’t call it that only because the plan is to let the war…crimes spill over into Lebanon! So you can’t call it a terrorist act because it’s happening precisely according to PLAN.

    The U.S., Israel and Saud are responsible for INSTIGATING a civil war in Syria, they’re responsible for the deaths of Syrians on BOTH sides providing training, material and logistical support to rebels who are in league with radical salafists and Al Qaeda ; the 3 are responsible for the destruction of a country that until less than 2 years ago was functioning despite many tribal factions.

    So in other words the 3 BROKE IT! And now they want to finish it off! Millions of refugees and tens of thousands dead in a civil that was cooked up in the inner chambers of three nations so greedy to control the world’s wealth by toppling a domino that would set their depraved plan in motion.

    • Walid on August 29, 2013, 12:48 am

      “… Syria was okay for years, ”

      No it wasn’t, Kalithea. It had been suffering for decades under an oppressive regime and things changed when it was decided for them by the outsiders you mentioned that the time had come for the change. The Brothers had been quietly waiting since 1982 to get back at the regime that crushed them and kept them subdued all these years. If the conditions would not have been ripe for a revolt, no button pushing by the Saudis or the US would have accomplished anything. The outsiders simply gave the movement oxygen and plenty of arms. But it would have happened anyway sooner or later. It’s a shame because a lot of innocent people are getting trampled in the process.

    • yrn on August 29, 2013, 9:36 am

      “Now some of you are thinking Assad’s a bad guy, and he’s definitely not anyone’s favorite uncle, but people, who do you think broke this???

      Typical commenter in MW……
      ASAD Butchered 100,000 of his own nation , Millions of refugees,
      And read this comment.
      Only on Mondowiess.

  23. Kathleen on August 28, 2013, 1:42 pm

    Kerry referring to “moral obscenities” is absurd. The U.S. pointing out “moral obscenities” is an obscenity. Even though the U.S. government, the MSM, the American people try hard to not talk or report much about Iraq. The pile of Iraqi and American bones in the shadows looms large. All so Orwellian.

    So great that Ban Ki Moon is not pulling out the UN inspectors.

    • seafoid on August 29, 2013, 10:45 am

      Weapons the US uses such as depleted uranium and white phosphorous are also chemical. It’s pure semantics to get up on one’s high horse over what was used in Syria. Where was the moral outrage in DC when Israel bombed Gaza with WP?

      • Kathleen on August 29, 2013, 2:45 pm

        Stephen Walt has a good one up over at Foreign Policy about this very point.

  24. Kathleen on August 28, 2013, 2:34 pm

    Our country is about to pre-emptively attack another nation based on alleged claims without allowing inspections to finish and the American public is reduced to signing petitions which just do not seem to matter. We have another case of the alleged use by the Assad regime of chemical weapons being used to follow through on the neocons and Israel’s agenda. 9% of Americans support such an action…but Obama and team just do not give a rats ass.

    • Susan A on August 28, 2013, 6:33 pm

      My first thought when I heard of this horrendous attack was that surely Assad wouldn’t be stupid enough to carry out a chemical attack just after weapons inspectors had arrived in the country, would he? A few minutes later, Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East editor, on BBC Radio 4, said something to that effect too. We both thought it was possible, but we both questioned the feasibility of this. Since then, all those who are gagging for military strikes are taking it as a given (or at least saying) that Assad is responsible. Since that day I haven’t heard mention, from any quarters about Bowen’s and my obervation, has nobody else taken this into consideration. And now to learn that Israeli military intelligence has the ‘proof’ can only add to my scepticism.

      • Kathleen on August 28, 2013, 11:27 pm

        Kerry”undeniable” Biden “without a doubt” These folks sound more and more like the Bush administration every day. Internationally verify and then attack the Egyptian military too for conducting a coup of a democratically elected leader and then killing 800 protesters for protesting that coup

      • Bumblebye on August 29, 2013, 8:45 am

        Danny Yatom was on bbcR4’s PM news prog yesterday evening, he’s a former MK & former Mossad head, and I’m sure I heard him say (I was in another room) that the intel should be confirmed by another source before action.

  25. seafoid on August 29, 2013, 5:07 am

    The case for intervention is so flaky

    “Q: Saying the opposition did not do it is not proof that Assad did it.

    (UK deputy Prime Minster) Clegg says all the evidence suggests Assad’s troops were responsible. They had access to the chemical weapons, and they had the weapons to deliver them too.

    Q: But you would not get a conviction in court.

    Clegg says given they had the weapons, and the ability to deliver them, it is hard to see how anyone else could have done it.

    “A report by the Office of the Director for National Intelligence outlining that evidence against Syria is thick with caveats. It builds a case that Assad’s forces are most likely responsible while outlining gaps in the U.S. intelligence picture. Relevant congressional committees were to be briefed on that evidence by teleconference call on Thursday, U.S. officials and congressional aides said.

    The complicated intelligence picture raises questions about the White House’s full-steam-ahead approach to the Aug. 21 attack on a rebel-held Damascus suburb, with worries that the attack could be tied to al-Qaida-backed rebels later…

    In addition, an intercept of Syrian military officials discussing the strike was among low-level staff, with no direct evidence tying the attack back to an Assad insider or even a senior Syrian commander, the officials said.”

  26. just on August 29, 2013, 9:59 am

    “Syria: feeding the fire

    After eight western interventions in Arab or Muslim countries in 15 years, sceptical generals and a hostile western public at large are entitled to answers. They are surely entitled to demand clarity from their political leaders, not least because the consequences, unintended or otherwise, of previous interventions show little sign of abating.”


    “Iran has a terrible collective experience of chemical weapons used by Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war, to which the US and Britain, who were at that time backing the Iraqi dictator, turned a blind eye. If the process of trying to prevent the use of chemical weapons in Syria was kept within the framework of the UN, or if, as the price of avoiding an airstrike, Iran could back the idea of a permanent UN presence in Syria monitoring Mr Assad’s stocks of chemical weapons, then a way back to the negotiating table could be found. This is a slim hope. More likely, waves of cruise missiles could soon be heading towards Syria to feed a fire that is already well lit.”

  27. eljay on August 29, 2013, 10:27 am

    Iran has a terrible collective experience of chemical weapons used by Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war, to which the US and Britain, who were at that time backing the Iraqi dictator, turned a blind eye.

    A very real “moral obscenity” is the breath-taking hypocrisy of Western powers.

  28. talknic on August 29, 2013, 3:03 pm

    PNAC 1998

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