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Obama’s greatest achievement– blinking on Syria

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On Saturday afternoon three weeks ago President Obama stepped out of the White House to announce that he was attacking Syria– and instead he blinked. He said that while it was a matter of urgency to attack Syria, he would refer the matter to the Congress.

It was the greatest moment of Obama’s presidency. In an instant he diverted the currents of American militant ideology in the Middle East. Granted an opening, the American people spoke out loudly that they do not want such an attack; and since then we have seen an onslaught of diplomacy. The Russians and Iranians have thrown themselves into public relations efforts in the west to convince American leaders of the need for a negotiated solution in Syria. Americans have gotten to see the Iranians in an entirely new light: And for the first time in decades it appears that the U.S. will be talking to Iran.

The biggest loser in this shift is Israel and its ideological soulmates in the United States, the Israel lobby and the neoconservatives. In falling on his own sword– in allowing himself to be portrayed as “weak”– Obama took down the neoconservatives and Israel lobby with him. He recruited John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and AIPAC as the sponsors of an attack on Syria; and promptly buried them in a tsunami of public opinion.

AIPAC has been exposed as never before, as a militant voice in our politics opposed to popular opinion; and its powers have been greatly diminished. Alan Grayson’s populist campaign against AIPAC — a Democratic congressman who has always had the support of the Israel lobby — has demonstrated the cleavage between the lobby’s interests and the American people’s.

The dearest desire of the lobby and Israel, indeed the reason that they went to bat for the Syrian attack, is the prospect that the United States will attack Iran. Attacking Iran would keep the U.S. on one side forever in a civilizational war, the Jewish democracy versus the heathen Islamists. Attacking Iran would insure that Syria becomes another Vietnam, undergoing a decade of ruin in a society that Iran’s leader rightly calls “a jewel of civilization” (in the Washington Post). Attacking Iran would join the United States to Israel’s hip in a thermonuclear mind-and-body meld for as far as any American policymaker could see. Attacking Iran would empower the neoconservatives over the realists and isolationists for another 10 years. And an attack has never been less likely.

This is Obama’s achievement. In one moment, the president diverted the currents of American policy and ideology. The great correction that we all anticipated in the wake of the Iraq disaster may at last come to pass: and the fools who supported that war will finally be held to account, and the neocons marginalized among the elite councils in D.C. There is a real chance, too, that we will see a political solution in Syria– again, because Obama blinked.

I am sure that many readers don’t want to give Obama credit. They will point out that he is a Afghan hawk and a drone-master, they will say that if there has been a diplomatic breakthrough on Syria it is to the credit of the Labour Party in Britain, which catalyzed Obama’s stand-down by rebelling against David Cameron a couple of days before Obama’s appearance in the Rose Garden. They will say that Obama has pushed for an attack on Syria even as he yielded to the Congress.

These readers underestimate the institutional pressures that Obama was under. He entered the White House thinking that he could undo the pressure of the lobby and the neoconservatives and make an opening to the Arab world and Iran, but he was taught a harsh lesson in his first year, by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who humiliated him on the question of settlements. Obama surely spent a ton of political capital behind closed doors putting off an attack on Iran by Israel– and the United States– but I remind you, all this happened behind closed doors. He could not undo the covert political forces that demand such an attack and that put such financial pressure on him during the last presidential campaign, when he caved to Israel on Jerusalem in a disgraceful moment at the Democratic convention. Obama had surely underestimated the influence of the lobby in the corridors of policymaking, and then catered to it; but his reversal on Syria has done what a hundred Walt and Mearsheimers could not do, he has exposed that influence and made it a subject of popular debate, and in an instant deprived the lobby of much of its power.

There will be no attack on Syria. There will be no attack on Iran. The Israelis know this, and are angry about this– as whingeing Michael Oren showed in denouncing the Iranians’ p.r. offensive as “spin”. Yes, suddenly Rouhani and Putin are publishing editorials in our leading newspapers. The Israelis are on the back foot now. They are enraged to see that they will have to make room for other actors in the court of American foreign policy-making.

And inevitably, these other actors will be putting more pressure on Israel over its criminal brutal occupation. Rouhani, in the Washington Post

we must address the broader, overarching injustices and rivalries that fuel violence and tensions.

This is the great achievement of Obama’s second term. He achieved this breakthrough, and no one else.

Years from now, scholars will write books and convene panels to discuss why Obama did this. Memos will be unsealed, memoirs will disclose new details. My own belief is that, influenced by his powerful wife, Obama said to himself on that Friday night when he had decided to attack Syria, that this is not why he became president. That he had run against a warmongering neoconservative policy, and this was not going to be his legacy, to start another Middle East conflict. The introverted reflective president reasoned that to bring down the lobby, it was worth destroying his own word and taking a giant political loss in Washington. To bring down the lobby he would demolish his own ego.

The result has been a complete triumph. As Rouhani said on NBC, when asked if Obama was weak:

“We consider war a weakness.  Any government or administration that decides to wage a war, we consider a weakness.  And any government that decides on peace, we look on it with respect to peace.”

Let the new era in the Middle East begin.

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112 Responses

  1. ziusudra
    September 20, 2013, 9:09 am

    Greeting P. Weiss,
    Do i now understand that i didn’t understand that Pres. Obama Auto-Think Tank.
    That he & his confident geo stratagists recognized the Kairos (opportunity of the Moment) & playing their chesse move of making this clever decision because the UK backed away & Aipac was out inthe open swirling like vultures about a slam-dunk shot finally saw his chance to ‘jaw on’, but not ‘war on’ also saving face not only for him but, Congress crippling Nitwit-jahud in the making? Truly a Macheavelli & Klausowitz ‘Born Again’.
    Do i get it now?
    PS Much tks for a great article.

  2. Theo
    September 20, 2013, 9:19 am

    Now all we needs is a few brave congressmen to start demanding that AIPAC should be registered as an agent for a foreign power! That certainly would give heart aches to a few thousand die hard zionists and their neocon friends.
    After AIPAC there is a long list of available candidates for the same action.

    • Krauss
      September 20, 2013, 10:31 am

      This cannot be a pipe dream. AIPAC is a 5th column in American politics and this must be a longer-term goal in any progressive and/or Republican realist foreign policy.

      It will be lead by progressives as the progressive movement has demographics on its side and it will be supported by the Rand Pauls of the Republican party.

      For too long progressives have simply blindly accepted the neocon establishment framework. A truly progressive foreign policy puts diplomacy as the center-piece, but it must also recognize the foreign elements working to undermine American independence within the nation, and AIPAC is a prime example.

  3. bintbiba
    September 20, 2013, 9:21 am

    Mr.Weiss… Brilliant piece.
    I just hope and pray you are right. We so need you to be right!!

    • Krauss
      September 20, 2013, 10:28 am

      It is for these articles that I read Mondoweiss and why I donate. I can get news from the other contributors but nobody has the gift of writing as Philip, to put what has happened into context.

      I’ve often charged that Phil is overoptimistic, but I must concede that he’s right on this issue. Obama hates being pushed into a corner, perhaps with the sole exception when it happens by the public. And by recruiting AIPAC moments before he left with his key political staff for an entire week abroad, he played to their vanity and exposed them standing alone pushing for a war nobody wanted.

      AIPAC should have seen the trap, but they were driven by arrogance and they took the bait he set out for them, to be seen as the sole driver behind the war. It would increase their mythological status even more. Instead they got crushed between the rocks of public opinion over the course of an entire week, and exposed in their suffering and thus their halo of invincibility that they’ve carefully nurtured was brutally taken away from them.

      Obama has been wrong/too timid on a lot of domestic issues, not all of them explainable by the political opposition that he faces(like his insistance to keep promoting pro-Wall Street democrats like Summers or his reluctance on the drug war)

      At the same time, I know many republicans who concede that Romney would have been a total disaster on foreign policy as neocons crawled all over his campaign and whose biggest funder was Adelson.

      Can anyone imagine a Romney presidency funded by Adelson and with a ton of Bush-era neocons within it during this moment? Even if Romney himself was doubtful he would have gone with it, as he would have had no constituency to maneouver. Elections do matter, and Syria is a very good example of that.

      • annie
        September 20, 2013, 11:01 am

        nobody has the gift of writing as Philip, to put what has happened into context.

        i completely agree.

      • ziusudra
        September 20, 2013, 1:57 pm

        Greetings Annie Robbins,
        Kudos to Philip Weiss & may i add kudos to the majority of Posters here on MW. They give excellent perspectives of the pro & con, in & out of any situation & topic arising.
        I also dabble into Press TV & Al J both bring on informative themes & good writers, but only a few of the Posters on Al J give the literary quality of MW Posters.
        Yes, Annie, you are very much loved & admired here on MW.
        PS I feel that i am in the company of Finkelstein, Chromsky & Hitchens.
        PPS I’m sitting here in Germany & i don’t use Paypal. How can i get me shekel contribution to you? Thank you.

      • annie
        September 21, 2013, 1:07 am

        ah ziusudra, your words are so sweet. i’m blushing….

        re your donation question..we do have a snail mail address, just scroll:

        and thank you so very much.

      • ziusudra
        September 21, 2013, 3:12 am

        Greetings Annie Robbins,
        Much tks,

  4. joemowrey
    September 20, 2013, 9:53 am

    Once again, so many well-intentioned commentators underestimate Obama’s mastery of the long con. As the above link indicates, surprise surprise, there will be “troops on the ground” needed to enforce the sham chemical weapons agreement. That’s a big win for Obama since prior to this, the notion of troops on the ground was a major stumbling block for his war efforts. In addition, with an internationally recognized agreement in place concerning Syria’s chemical weapons, the next false flag operation using those weapons (which of course will be blamed on the Syrian government) will give Obama a “legitimate” reason to bomb the hell out of Syria.

    So here is what Obama’s “blink” on Syria will accomplish for him and his gang of war mongers: U.S. troops on the ground in Syria, ready to follow up on the shock and awe bombing of that country which will ensue once the Syrian government allegedly “violates” the chemical weapons agreement which is being put in place. It’s a win win situation for Obama, not a blink or a backing down or any kind or a change in his bellicose war-mongering foreign policy designs.

    Doesn’t anyone get what Obama and company are up to? They will have their war on Syria, followed by an eventual war on Iran. Bet on it. Ten bucks says it will be bombs away over Syria before the end of the year.

    • marc b.
      marc b.
      September 20, 2013, 10:58 am

      I didn’t read the link, Joe, but I don’t think your analysis can be completely discounted. most disturbing is the fact that Russia could ultimately be confronted even more directly if Putin is portrayed as the impediment to ‘peace’ and the accurate accounting of Syrian chemical weapons. (there is a potential downside to being the ‘peacemaker’ here for Russia) it does appear as if the Syrian opposition forces are beginning to unravel, fighting amongst themselves as frequently as engaging Assad’s forces. so maybe some bright guy in the Pentagon figured out direct intervention is the only realistic option for a win in Syria. (this is the pessimistic argument.)

    • Keith
      September 20, 2013, 3:45 pm

      JOEMOWREY- Bless you, Joe. You are an oasis of sanity on a website where Phil leads his cadres on endless irrational flights of fantasy. Remember Egypt and Libya?

    • Hostage
      September 20, 2013, 4:55 pm

      As the above link indicates, surprise surprise, there will be “troops on the ground” needed to enforce the sham chemical weapons agreement.

      That link doesn’t indicate there will be US troops in Syria at all. A reporter asked “if U.S. troops were prepared to assist should an international agreement allow Russia to take control” of Syria’s weapons and the Defense spokesman refused to speculate about a hypothetical agreement or any hypothetical US military role. The headline draws the unfounded conclusion that “Securing Syria’s Weapons May Require US Troops”.

      In fact, it’s certain that The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will be conducting the inspections and supervising the turnover of materials and that members of the Security Council can veto the involvement of any outside parties to conduct that work. Nationalities of inspectors as well as the guards who will provide security for them have still not been determined. —

      • joemowrey
        September 20, 2013, 10:31 pm

        “The White House and the Pentagon have repeatedly ruled out “boots on the ground” in Syria, but { Defense Department officials were less certain Thursday on whether U.S. military personnel might be sent to help secure or destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. Pentagon Press Secretary George Little gave a vague answer} when asked if U.S. troops were prepared to assist should an international agreement allow Russia to take control of the tons of chemical weapons believed to be in the stockpiles of President Bashar al-Assad.”

        I bracketed the items in this paragraph from the article which are of import to my analysis. I think it’s fair to say that the DOD being “less certain” about “no troops on the ground,” and giving a “vague answer,” is a good indication that there will be troops on the ground at some point. It’s a familiar form of doublespeak which is all too common to the history of U.S. lies and subsequent actions concerning incursions in other countries. There are far too many examples of this for us to pretend it isn’t more likely than not.

        And how is it that “In fact, it’s certain that The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will be conducting the inspections and supervising the turnover of materials.” Because the governments involved in crafting this agreement tell us so?

        The point of my post was that I believe Obama is conning us with this chemical weapons agreement. It isn’t a change of heart or a change of plans. It’s only a con to take them closer to their goal of war with Syria and then Iran. Time will tell. My $10 bet still stands. Bombs away over Syria by Christmas. Well, okay, maybe they’ll wait till spring.

        If you’ve read the PNAC documents (Project for a New American Century) you’ll see that the program for full spectrum global dominance on the part of the U.S. is moving ahead as planned. Remember that Libya was on the list of countries we need to overthrow, as is Syria and Iran. It doesn’t matter who is in the White House. These plans will continue to be implemented.

        Here is a link to an article by Finian Cunningham which also suggests this latest circus is little more than another stepping stone toward war with Syria. I’m not the only one entertaining this notion. Again, only time will tell. But if the past is any indicator or future events, I think my bet is a pretty safe one.

      • Taxi
        September 21, 2013, 1:28 am


        A USA war on Syria is now a USA war on Russia. Plain and simple. Any takers now? Not from the pentagon, that’s for sure.

        PNAC will carry on trying to achieve its dastardly conquest agenda, yes, but they’ve been forced back to the drawing board with the Russians now suddenly asserting themselves into the picture. “The bonds between Syria and Russia are old and deep”:

        America has just about, by now, accepted that it has no hegemony over the northern Levant: because Russia has now officially reclaimed it.

        I doubt very much that the USA will put “boots on the ground” to secure chemical weapons dismantlement. If it does, then Russia too will put boots on the ground.

        Please people, do not discount the Russians when analyzing the Syria-USA relationship and future. The Russians are now a fixed and permanent player in the Syria crisis.

        P*ssing off the israelis at no end.

      • joemowrey
        September 21, 2013, 4:47 pm


        I certainly hope you are right and I am wrong. But just as we can’t forget about the Russians in any consideration of future wars, we also can’t forget that we aren’t dealing with rational human beings when it comes to the sociopaths who are in power in the U.S. or in most places in the world for that matter. I believe this is particularly true in the U.S. and Israel because of the cult of exceptionalism which exists in these two rogue nations. Inciting World War III would mean nothing to them. The would feel they are entitled to such irrationality. And they would probably assume they would “win,” no matter how devastating the conflagration might be for humanity and the planet.

        These people are megalomaniacal maniacs, many of whom are, in my opinion, actual psychopaths who truly relish the thought of being able to order the bombing of cities and the slaughter of innocent people. Some say I go too far in making that kind of statement. But if the people who give these orders and create this kind of havoc around the world have any conscience at all, it’s certainly not the kind I’m familiar with. In our day to day world, we call people who behave this way deranged killers. On the national and international stage, they are called “leaders.”

      • Taxi
        September 22, 2013, 11:22 am


        Actually, I don’t see a WW3 igniting in the middle east – the global 1% won’t allow it as it would collapse the global economy. But I do see a gradual American political withdrawal from israel over the next couple of elections (for a variety of reasons: economic, strategic and domestic); I see a panicked lone israel, still unable to make ‘friends’; I see a desperate israeli attempt at a preemptive strike at one of its many native foes outside of occupied Palestine – except the targeted foe has better intelligence and slams israel with the help of other regional allies. A regional war, yes I see a regional war, quick and decisive but with astronomical loss of life on both sides. And when the dust has settled…. where is tel aviv? Smoked. And israel? What israel?

        The natives are patient

        Far fetched to imagine a drift between us and israel? To some, yes. We Americans might be greedy and dumb, but we’re not suicidal – as we proved loud and clear last week regarding a strike on Syria.

      • joemowrey
        September 23, 2013, 1:14 pm


        Let’s hope you are right.

        And for anyone still reading this thread, here’s an article indicating what the U.S. is really up to with this chemical weapons agreement. Just looking for a backdoor into their war. So much for the idea of Obama “blinking” on Syria. We don’t blink, we bomb.

      • Taxi
        September 23, 2013, 3:27 pm


        Let me clarify that this is a new era we’ve entered into, marked by the Syria crisis. We are now witnessing a shifting relationship between the USA and Russia. Empire is now being challenged by an old timer whose been, not exactly dormant, but preoccupied with making dollars (the irony of an ex communist eh?). Empire is now being challenged by an old foe who’s been too busy making filthy Benjamins for the past two decades, instead of grandly executing plans for military world dominance.

        They are both feeling the tremendous pressure of this growing challenge between them; and they know the world is watching. But Russia and America cannot economically afford to go to war against each other, as much as they may like to. That’s why there won’t be a World War Three erupting from the middle east. It’s really as simple as that. Don’t get me wrong here: there will indeed be future war(s) between USA and Russia. But not in the traditional sense. The era of two immense armies directly facing each other is now long gone. They will instead now go to war through proxy armies/mercenaries in volatile countries, etc – if strategic interests or natural resources are involved.

        Neither power can economically and strategically afford to have the middle east spin right the eff outta whack – they both don’t mind a bit of useful chaos here and there, however. Yes, they’re both interested in milking the middle east for what its worth and more – they just have different styles in doing it. Different influences. One is a zionist, and the other is, well…. not.

        Whoever wears the albatross in a fight, loses.

    • JennieS
      September 21, 2013, 7:17 pm

      I would dearly like Phil’s assessment to be right but I really think you have a better handle on the situation Joe. Although Assad has begun handing over information to the UN there are already accusations of lying and sending chemical weapons to Iraq. Then there is the fact that collecting and destroying the weapons is not going to be simple in the middle of a civil war. I’m about 90% certain that an excuse will be found to bomb Syria by the end of the year.

  5. marc b.
    marc b.
    September 20, 2013, 9:53 am

    so then is this the beginning of the end of the GWOT? will Obama and Putin and [anyone but Netanyahu] … be sitting down for the 21st century equivalent of the Potsdam Conference to discuss ‘spheres of influence’ and the changing map of the ME/SW Asia? the republic of Kurdistan perhaps.

  6. pabelmont
    September 20, 2013, 9:58 am

    Great piece Phil.

    I’d add a point of mystery, here. We know that BIG-ZION (AIPAC, maybe the Evangelicals) were pushing USA/OBAMA toward war. If we “follow the money”, always good advice in American politics, we might find that BIG-ARMS (Mil-Ind-Complex) was also pushing for war. Maybe others. The big question, in my mind, is why the president paid attention — if indeed he did — to the desires of the people of the USA (Bush II never did). Is it possible (this is my “mystery”) that other elements of the American ruling establishment (perhaps BIG-BANKS, for instance) were quietly opposing an attack on Syria? Or quietly opposing AIPAC more generally? Quietly opposing a USA attack on Iran, which is the commonly understood end-game of an attack on Syria?

    If any significant BIGs were opposing either the attack on Syria or opposing AIPAC more generally, then THAT would be the real story. But I guess we’ll never know.

    • lysias
      September 20, 2013, 1:02 pm

      The Dow went up hundreds of points in the days after it became clear there would be no war over Syria. (It’s gone up hundreds more since Summers bowed out of the competition to head the Fed.)

      • lysias
        September 20, 2013, 4:30 pm

        Dow dropped nearly 200 points today, however, apparently because of the Fed’s announcement yesterday.

  7. gingershot
    September 20, 2013, 10:07 am

    ‘It was the greatest moment of Obama’s presidency. In an instant he diverted the currents of American militant ideology in the Middle East. Granted an opening, the American people spoke out loudly that they do not want such an attack; and since then we have seen an onslaught of diplomacy.’

    I think this is a genuinely historic moment in American history – seemingly almost by sheer dumb luck Obama has forced AIPAC-domination into direct conflict with the American populace. This moment should be taught to every child in every jr high school class in America, and in the context of what the Israeli Lobby did to America with Iraq and have been trying to do with Iran.

    It was as if America as a whole almost organically rose up and said ‘no more AIPAC-ginned up wars for Israel’ and found the Constitution there to help us as the tool or club we needed.

    Was it finally the expression of wisdom by our founding fathers in our Constitution (separating war-making powers from Bush-like or Wannabe Bush-like Executives) which took us out from the clutches of Neocons and AIPAC?

    My mind just doesn’t want to believe it was all dumb luck by which this constitutional professor somehow threw AIPAC up against the wall of the Constitution. Did Obama somehow finally USE the Constitution to protect himself from the dark forces of AIPAC, as almost an unconscious or desperate reflex to stop those forces that had begun to possess him that he had no other way of stopping?

    Without Syria there is going to be no Iran, and without Iran, Apartheid has no cover. This is also a historic debacle for decades-long Israeli grand strategy, the Pro-Apartheid forces of current Israel and her Israeli Lobby, and Israeli history itself

    Now the pathetic Lindsey Graham is hell-bent on preventing the American people from ever standing in the way again of his obsessive treasonous devotion to Israel and trying to get his ‘Automatic Pre-Authorization to Attack Iran on a Moment’s Notice of a Ginned-up False Flag by Israel or the Israeli Lobby’ – in order to sidestep the Constitution. Graham is both an enemy of the state and the American people – a particular circle of hell that has a very exclusive membership

    I hope Graham’s hail mary is brought to a vote because it seems so obvious to me that at least the House is going to do the same thing to anything AIPAC and Graham manage to cook up against Iran that smells just like what he and McCain tried to cooked up with Syria before it flopped. Man – I just hope a Graham bill gets out there publicly enough that so that when it is killed in committee the revolt against AIPAC wars intensifies. What is Congress going to do after this jailbreak from the confines of AIPAC?

    Will Netanyahu start calling the founding fathers ‘anti-Israel’ and the Constitution ‘anti-Semitic’ because we seem to be in a honeymoon of having taken the war-making powers out of the reach of warmongering AIPAC?

    Anything that thwarts Israeli ethnic cleansing and their set-up and running of apartheid IS ‘anti-Semitic’ to the Netanyahus and Dershowitzs so I guess we have our answer here as laid out by Israelis – ‘stopping Israelis’ is anti-Semitic by their OWN definition. So be it…

    If being ‘Anti-Apartheid’ and ‘Anti-Ethnic Cleansing’ is defined as ‘anti-Semitic’ by these con-artists who are still laughing to themselves that these smears actually WORK – then lets have MORE of this particular flavor of ‘stopping Israelis’ (which they conveniently define as ‘anti-Semitism’) until Apartheid Israel is stopped and stopped cold.

  8. Karl Dubhe
    Karl Dubhe
    September 20, 2013, 10:13 am

    I do believe you have it. Except for the part about destroying his own ego, in doing what you’ve written about he’s become one of the greater men of our collective history. The whys and hows will be debated for years.

    It should be fun for lurkers like me to read about.

    I wish I could donate more than nice words to you though. :(

  9. irmep
    September 20, 2013, 10:29 am

    Great observations. Now why would a smart guy like Obama throw Syria to the most dysfunctional Congress ever….?

    Americans had yet another chance to see the mainstream media invite the usual parade of war-mongers and pseudo-analysts, the minority yet pro-war, onto the Sunday yack shows, NPR, CNN, Fox etc, as if Iraq never happened. In DC, the Diane Rehm show dripped non-stop with liberal interventionist and neocon war venom, from the usual sources.

    If a poll were taken, it is likely that viewer contempt for how big media performed, would show huge disappointment. Big media, with a few exceptions, failed again. Thankfully, the Internet was there to provide a venue for intelligent rebuttal, educated debate, informed comment, and ridicule.

    Of course, it’s never over, and always too soon to celebrate.

  10. HarryLaw
    September 20, 2013, 10:32 am

    Could it have been fear of impeachment [however unlikely]? Biden had made speeches before becoming Vice, warning that taking the country to war without congressional approval was an impeachable offence, of course Obama thought that congress would rubber stamp his call for strikes, until those opinion polls came out, one congressman warned other members that “they had better prepare to clear their offices out” this wonderful quote certainly concentrated their minds leaving Obama, the constitutional Professor, to take the country to war with both houses of Congress, the American people and most of the armed forces [as indicated by Dempsey’s cool approach] against him, what is a man like Obama [a non risk taker at the best of times] to do to avoid impeachment? Enter Vlad to save his skin, after Kerry mistakenly gave Assad the chance to give up his chemical weapons. It is strange that with US foreign policy having been so disastrous over the years, for once they get it right, because of a mistake.

  11. HarryLaw
    September 20, 2013, 10:46 am

    Could it be because of the decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would end up costing as much as 6 trillion dollars, the equivalent of 75,000 dollars for every American household that the American public finally woke up and said no to the warmongers. This 6 trillion calculation was made by the prestigious Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.$6-trillion

  12. geofgray
    September 20, 2013, 10:49 am

    it is a great development, maybe a decisive victory. but phil wants to find a reason to admire obama. could not a more likely explanation for his change of heart be simply self interest–don’t you think obama thought that in going to war unilaterally– no allies, no cover–if things went wrong like lots of people dead or metastasizing violence, that he might be held accountable, even impeached?
    obama leads from the back. imho he looks out for himself first, that’s why he threw AIPAC under the bus. had the brits not blinked, we’d be at war now.
    nevertheless, the peace train has arrived. it’s leaders are putin, pope francis, and the people of the world.

    • eljay
      September 20, 2013, 11:13 am

      >> it is a great development, maybe a decisive victory. but phil wants to find a reason to admire obama. could not a more likely explanation for his change of heart be simply self interest–don’t you think obama thought that in going to war unilaterally– no allies, no cover–if things went wrong like lots of people dead or metastasizing violence, that he might be held accountable, even impeached?

      IMO, that seems a much more likely explanation.

    • libra
      September 21, 2013, 9:11 pm

      geofgray, my thoughts exactly. Obama does lead from the back. That’s why it was so important to get the more compliant British and French governments to lead the charge to war, even though they lack the capability to act independently against Syria. Had the British parliament not, for once asserted itself, the outcome would, as you say, almost certainly have been different.

      • RoHa
        September 22, 2013, 1:48 am

        “… British and French governments … lack the capability to act independently against Syria. ”

        Why do you think that they cannot act independently against Syria? Both Britain and France have strong military forces.

  13. Chu
    September 20, 2013, 10:53 am

    It’s not so much of achievement, as it is a political opportunity. Punting to Congress was an opportunity for the president to pass this to Congress and say you debate it – ‘if I’m going down on this one, I’m taking y’all with me’.

    He would have been insane to launch a strike on his own without backing from Congress. I think there was a visceral reaction when this first came out, as people were furious that we were witnessing another cowboy in office, when they thought they elected the prince of peace.

    But Obama does take a lot of the lumps, when the media shills fail to accurately unveil what is happening. Even today, any of the mainstream articles only mention Israel as a footnote to Syria – they depict Israel like they’re a fragile goose egg, when we’re all aware of Clean Break and the rise
    of Neocons. At any rate, someone is eventually going to have to break the necks of the neoconservatice I-first traitors and Obama isn’t the hero to do it – he’s a cookie pusher.

    There’s a good expression here that is apt for Syria-Iran: killing the chickens to scare the monkeys.

    • marc b.
      marc b.
      September 20, 2013, 11:30 am

      There’s a good expression here that is apt for Syria-Iran: killing the chickens to scare the monkeys.

      here’s hoping that what’s left of Syria (which that dipshit walnuts McCain recently acknowledged is/was one of the most advanced countries in the ME) is preserved, and Iran is negotiated with rather than bombed.

      see link below: could read ’30 (and more) reasons not to bomb iran’

      • lysias
        September 20, 2013, 4:45 pm

        Iraq used to be the most advanced of the Arab countries (I would have said of the Middle East countries, but there’s Turkey).

      • annie
        September 21, 2013, 1:24 am

        turkey is not a middle eastern country. someone from iraq told me that (he was adamant). i think it’s a relatively new western(DC) concept. turkey is between europe and asia, the near east. and i don’t think turks consider their country part of the middle east.

        Recently, someone who has deep ears in Washington whispered to me that Turkey was increasingly seen as a Middle Eastern country by Washington.

        Of course, I was astounded and somewhat disturbed by this comment. My contact further elaborated that this could be bad news for Turkey. I agreed.

  14. Citizen
    September 20, 2013, 10:54 am

    Here’s the opposition picture when Obama was attending the G20–note the details as to just how immensely lopsided calls to Congress were, saying NO to a strike on Syria:

    Surely Obama was tuned into this at the time.

    He totally surprised his own staff when he told them he had (finally) decided (walking around the WH grounds with that Irish guy) to strike Syria (in a very limited way) AND he would first seek the approval of Congress:

    He had campaigned against the rush to war against Iraq; maybe he was looking out for his legacy library? He wanted no part of any possibility he’d be painted in the history books as lone warrior Shrub II? When he made his decision to toss the ball to Congress, he’d already been advised there was no hurry to strike Syria. Sooner or later was OK. No rush.

  15. annie
    September 20, 2013, 10:56 am

    In falling on his own sword– in allowing himself to be portrayed as “weak”– Obama took down the neoconservatives and Israel lobby with him.

    yep, this was my thinking when i wrote “What if Obama never cared if he looked like the loser? ……..It’s pretty slick marketing if this was his agenda, sticking it to the lobby, flushing them out and pitting them against the American public . ”

    • Citizen
      September 20, 2013, 11:11 am

      Here’s the case that Obama was merely a weak, not a super slick leader:

      It argues his decision was a poll-driven punt.

      • annie
        September 21, 2013, 1:39 am

        i agree that his decision was poll driven, but we probably disagree about when the decision was made. from your link:

        Our purpose is not to opine on whether America should or shouldn’t attack Syria. The issue is nerve wrenchingly complex and there are very persuasive arguments for, and against, taking action. …..The President, however, saw the national poll numbers on the question of military action in Syria crashing after Syria crossed the line he had drawn in the sand. So he tossed the decision to Congress.

        first off, it’s not ” nerve wrenchingly complex”. second, what crashing numbers? a crash implies there was previously support for an attack on syria before the aug 21 attack. i posit there wasn’t. i think obama knew quite well there was no support there. a crash implies a huge shift. show me the shift in polls.

  16. MHughes976
    September 20, 2013, 11:23 am

    I agree with annie that everything about Obama’s body language suggested that he didn’t want a war, even though he had thought he was trapped into threatening one or rather making incredible threats/promises of a ‘narrow’ attack that wouldn’t cost much in lives or money. He must in part have been aware of the money problem now that he’s going into another round of fiscal cliff negotiations. Public opinion in the West – you can’t fool all the people all the time – is also aware of and uneasy about the fact that public finances are very unsound and that there would be an inevitable rise in the already high cost of fuel. This awareness is an important new factor in the whole situation.

    • Donald
      September 20, 2013, 12:55 pm

      “I agree with annie that everything about Obama’s body language suggested that he didn’t want a war, even though he had thought he was trapped into threatening one or rather making incredible threats/promises of a ‘narrow’ attack that wouldn’t cost much in lives or money”

      I didn’t quote your whole remark, but to me it’s a better summary than Phil’s resurrected Obama love–I had hoped we might finally have outgrown that bit of liberal left infatuation by now, but Obama only has to do one thing right and his former fans go all dewy-eyed. It’s obviously correct that Obama didn’t want a war with Syria and doesn’t want a war with Iran, but it doesn’t make him a political genius. It makes him a politician with enough sense to recognize a quagmire when he sees one, a quagmire he very nearly blundered into.

      “Digby”, a liberal blogger at “Hullabaloo”, wrote something that made sense to me a week or two ago. Obama is the sort who likes covert violence–he’s no peacenik, not at all, but he likes drone assassinations and (I would add) harsh brutal sanctions, because for Westerners they are cheap ways of inflicting violence that don’t result in Americans coming home in bodybags, don’t contribute to the deficit, and which don’t lead to mass protests. He’s smart enough to realize that the last thing the US needs is yet another large scale war in Asia, something that might conceivably have happened in Syria if Assad had absorbed a “punitive” strike and then sometime later, yet another gas attack occurred. What then?

      I give him some credit, because clearly in American politics we have whackjobs who’d like nothing better than have another war–some of the diehards think that Iraq was a success. In this sort of political environment anyone who shows indications of having an IQ in the low triple digit range will look like an intellectual giant. So three cheers for Obama for realizing the blatantly obvious, that there was no support in America for yet another stupid war.

      • eljay
        September 20, 2013, 12:59 pm

        >> I give him some credit, because clearly in American politics we have whackjobs who’d like nothing better than have another war …

        A nightmare scenario with John “bomb bomb Iran” McCain as president immediately comes to mind.

      • Clif Brown
        Clif Brown
        September 20, 2013, 6:49 pm

        Donald, you have it exactly right. Bumbles Obama finally bumbled in the right direction and suddenly he is a genius. The accolades are bursting out as if a bottle of champagne had been opened. That he decided to throw the issue to Congress could as well be an act of desperation by a person who put himself in a corner. I think the HOPE corps is still yearning to find evidence they were not deceived. We’re imagining future historians looking back at this with awe? Please, let’s just get Bumbles through the remainder of his term without disaster.

      • Walid
        September 21, 2013, 1:14 am

        ““Digby”, a liberal blogger at “Hullabaloo”, wrote something that made sense to me a week or two ago. Obama is the sort who likes covert violence–he’s no peacenik, not at all, but he likes drone assassinations and (I would add) harsh brutal sanctions, because for Westerners they are cheap ways of inflicting violence ”

        You and Digby are making him into a sleazebag with even less morals than McCain. Obama doesn’t know what to do and is just feeling his way through his term in office.

      • Donald
        September 21, 2013, 9:39 am

        “You and Digby are making him into a sleazebag with even less morals than McCain”

        I don’t agree. Advocates of drone strikes think it as fighting the “war on terror” in a way that inflicts fewer casualties than a full scale war. It still kills innocent people, and it’s an immoral policy, but the death toll is far less. McCain, on the other hand, is salivating for more full scale wars. If one has to choose between evils, Obama is, so far at least, the lesser one.

        As for what goes on inside Obama’s psyche, who knows? I’m just going by his actions. He ran for President, had to know what the pressures would be, and signaled all along that he wasn’t the dream liberal that people like Phil imagined him to be. (It also turns out that some “liberal” supporters of Obama are perfectly fine with America behaving like a bully–they just prefer it be done in a more subtle manner. Here I don’t mean Phil, but some of Obama’s other supporters I see at other blogs.)

      • Donald
        September 21, 2013, 9:56 am

        I think the distinction between Obama and McCain (or Bush) is just an example of a larger pattern. Anyone who makes it to the White House takes American imperialism for granted–if they didn’t they would be dismissed as too radical and weeded out during the primaries. (Jimmy Carter is closest thing we’ve had to a dissident President, but when he was in office he supported Indonesia’s genocidal occupation in East Timor and various other atrocities, and began arming the rebels in Afghanistan). But within that framework you have people who believe in wielding American power in a relatively subtle way, at least pretending to care what the rest of the world thinks, and then you have people on the far right who believe that taking world opinion into account is a sign of weakness and who take a more open brute force approach.

  17. dbroncos
    September 20, 2013, 11:37 am

    With the help of Putin and Rouhani, Obama has stumbled onto the exit from the neocons ME war plans in spite of lacking a coherent strategy of his own. However, it’s too early to celebrate. AIPAC will throw eveything they have at preventing a deal with Iran. Unfortunately, Obama has thus far not shown a willingness or an ability to stand up to the powers that be on any tough issue. His record is a turd. Polishing it doesn’t help.

  18. American
    September 20, 2013, 11:41 am

    ‘He could not undo the covert political forces that demand such an attack and that put such financial pressure on him during the last presidential campaign, ”

    I am not sure what happened to make Obama toss the Syria decision to congress.
    A lot of people want to think O was playing some smart game with Syria that would have even larger far reaching US- FP effects in the future.
    I am not convinced of that—–sometimes things happen ‘by accident’–you set out on a road and then hit a road block and have to double back or choose a alternate course or destination.
    I see the unusual US public opinion outcry, the UK defeat and Putin as being the road blocks Obama hit.
    You could say that Obama then (wisely) chose to double back to congress and it occured to him as he saw how things were going that some ‘future’ US -FP benefits might come out of the Syria flap like the Iran issue.
    So I am more inclined to give O ‘credit’ for seizing the political and stragetic ‘opportunties’ that occured, like the public outcry, to not do what he didnt’ want to do in the first place.

    But I dont care who gets credit— if even half the things Phil believes are correct and come true something important in the future ‘may’ come from this.

    But we are still arming the rebels in Syria against Assad looking for regime change–so the US meddling in the ME hasnt changed.

  19. dbroncos
    September 20, 2013, 11:59 am

    “These readers underestimate the institutional pressures that Obama was under. ”

    Has Obama tried to defeat an institution more powerful than Jim Crow? Not even close. Unlike MLK and Lyndon Johnson, who were playing with much higher stakes, Obama is unwilling to pay the price for challenging institutional power.

    • lysias
      September 20, 2013, 4:43 pm

      Unlike MLK, Lyndon Johnson never challenged the institutional forces that compelled him to wage war in Vietnam.

      Both MLK and JFK were willing to challenge those forces, and they both paid a very high price as a result.

      • dbroncos
        September 21, 2013, 2:42 pm

        “Both MLK and JFK were willing to challenge those forces, and they both paid a very high price as a result.”

        Was LBJ worried that the Civil and Voting Rights Acts would cost him his life? If he wasn’t maybe he should have been.

        Presidents are targets regardless of what they say or do. What were John Hinckley Jr.’s “reasons”? If Obama, his handlers or his fans are that worried about him not surviving his term, as you suggest above, he should not have run for office – especially if that worry paralyzes his willingness to lead.

  20. DaveS
    September 20, 2013, 12:54 pm

    Wow, Phil, I think you give Obama way too much credit. It seems to me like he bumbled and stumbled his way through Syria. I agree that his decision to ask for Congressional support was a huge moment that so far, has resulted in a very favorable outcome, but I see no reason to believe that Obama foresaw this result. He did initiate military action in Libya without Congressional support, and continued it even when Congress voted against it. He certainly lobbied hard for Congressional approval for a Syria strike, and even suggested, or had underlings suggest, that he would not be bound by a negative vote by Congress. You also seem to feel it is a done deal that Obama will continue to refrain from attacking Syria. I’m not nearly as optimistic. Sure he doesn’t like to be publicly humiliated by Netanyahu, but he seems quite amenable to toeing AIPAC’s line as much as possible.

    • Henry Norr
      Henry Norr
      September 20, 2013, 2:10 pm

      I’d like to think that an attack on Syria is now off the agenda, that AIPAC and the neocons have been defeated, etc., but like David Samel, I don’t think this episode is over. Kerry for one seems determined to push Assad into a corner, where he might balk, and the war party will seize on that to renew the push for an attack. Besides, the whole situation is clearly fraught with opportunities for provocations and false-flag operations by those who want a wider war – perhaps the Mossad, perhaps the Saudis via Prince Bandar, perhaps even elements of the CIA.

      One other observation: though I obviously have no information about deliberations within the administration, I suspect that Gen. Martin Dempsey and his allies among the military brass deserve a lot of the credit. His public statements earlier in the year, plus his terseness and body language at the recent Congressional hearings, made it very clear that he (and presumably a substantial faction, at least, among the military chiefs) continued to think attacking Syria is a ridiculous idea, even as they prepared for it and nominally supported it as long as it was Obama’s policy. Without their opposition, I doubt Obama would have dared to stand up to the warmongers.

      Along the same lines, I wonder about Hagel’s role. His nomination as Secretary of Defense was an earlier indication of Obama’s reluctance to start another war, and his confirmation was this year’s first major defeat for the Israel lobby and the neocons. If we’ve in fact avoided war on Syria, it’s got to be in part a fruit of that battle. (None of which is to say that Hagel or Dempsey are good guys in general, just that they appear to be willing to stand up to the war party.)

    • Patrick
      September 20, 2013, 5:03 pm

      I agree entirely with David. On Syria, Obama has been reacting to events, not orchestrating them. It was clear that he never wanted to take military action in Syria, but then he made some ill-advised comments about red lines and saying that ‘Assad must go’. When a large-scale chemical weapons incident occurred he had to act to avoid looking foolish and preserve some credibility. Since he remained reluctant to get the US military involved, he settled on a limited attack as his response. The turning point was the vote against Cameron in the UK House of Commons. This gave Obama an out – he could turn it over the Congress to authorize action and show that the US was a democracy too. Perhaps he did this with the expectation that Congress would balk. Putin’s proposal gave a useful diplomatic exit that he, unsurprisingly ,was quick to seize.

      “These readers underestimate the institutional pressures that Obama was under.”

      I do give Obama some credit for doing his best to avoid a military clash with Iran. Perhaps this will indeed be his greatest achievement, much like avoiding war with the Soviet Union is sometimes said to be Eisenhower’s major achievement. In this Obama has faced institutional pressure to launch such a war. It’s also worth noting that he also has had major support as well, with the locus of that support being with the U.S. military. This is a major difference with Iraq where the military was all gung-ho for the attack.

  21. Sycamores
    September 20, 2013, 1:03 pm

    the greatest achievement was the US public, all Obama did was let democracy work as the president should.

    from day one the Syrian conflict has been way to messy for Obama. from false flags, red lines, members of the UNSC and allies backing down Obama and Co. have manage (unwittingly?) to delay US military intervention for almost 2 years.

    US intervention in Syria would have open the Pandora box, creating a domino effect of wars in the region and perhaps dragging in other world powers, not neccessary WW3 but at least another 10 years of billions of US taxpayer dollars wasted trying to get the US out of the M.E. not to mention the millions of lives lost and the countless refugees.

    it’s no secert how Obama feels about israeli warmongers (neocon’s and aipac included) so if he did manage to trap aipac into expousing its ugly face to the US public which in turn averted the lastest fiasco, it would make Obama one of the best brinkmanship statesman of this century so far.

    however don’t fool yourself Obama is still as corrupt as he always was, seemingly though at the moment he’s that wee bit less corrupted then his peers. as time goes on aipac will lick its wounds, recover, revaluate and come back fighting. just for now hands off Syria and therefore Iran. it’s more of a band aid then a permanent repair.

    band aid or not there has been a global collective sigh of relief for that alone the US public should be very proud of their achievement, keep the momentum going!

  22. Castellio
    September 20, 2013, 1:55 pm

    I agree with David Samel at 12.54. I would add that the turning point really was the British parliament’s rejection of the war.

    We underestimate the importance of the British-American alliance in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 in legitimizing war in the popular mind. That held in Afghanistan with both nation’s boots on the ground. The alliance fell apart going into Syria, and was very clearly seen to fall apart. The American public knew it was both standing alone and being had.

    I imagine that behind closed doors Obama is arguing that Assad can still be defeated, that further opportunities will arise, and that regime change in both Syria and Iran is a priority of his administration, if not actual military war against them “at this time”.

    • marc b.
      marc b.
      September 20, 2013, 2:30 pm

      castellio, it’s already been pointed out by others, but I don’t buy into the Obama as grand chess master theory either. I don’t believe he wants the legacy of being the 1st black president to enter the US into a world war, however I agree that it was likely the combination of the Brits and the near mutiny of the US military on this point that were the decisive factors. I heard a bit of BBC commentary on the radio on the way to work this morning, and it’s also become clear that there is nothing like a unified rebel opposition to Assad, and that there is not likely even an effective ‘moderate’ faction amongst the various rebel cliques. (all this happy horse shit about ‘no boots on the grounds’ is nonsensical.)

      • lysias
        September 20, 2013, 4:38 pm

        I’m no longer in uniform, but, if I still were and I got an order originating from the president to take part in an attack on a country that I knew the Congress had already voted down, I would give very serious thought to disobeying that order. The oath that officers take is to the Constitution, not to the president:

        I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

    • RoHa
      September 20, 2013, 10:15 pm

      “We underestimate the importance of the British-American alliance in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 in legitimizing war in the popular mind.”

      Gosh! Americans are even dimmer than we think!

      They have been told over and over again that Israel is their absolutely totally bestest ever most important ally, and yet they still think that an alliance with a country that actually sends troops to fight alongside American troops is important.

      What slow learners they are!

  23. Justpassingby
    September 20, 2013, 2:19 pm

    “It was the greatest moment of Obama’s presidency. In an instant he diverted the currents of American militant ideology in the Middle East”

    Stop protecting Obama, he have been very militant in the middle-east. Aslong as people cheer obama there will never be peace. Quit being fooled.

  24. Taxi
    September 20, 2013, 2:31 pm

    Oh c’mon, Phil Weiss – Obama ain’t all that. He’s a self-centered, craven politician – dry and simple. He’s like the rest of them, especially like Hilary: he too never gets out of bed unless the polls for him doing so are favorable. He didn’t do anything to expose aipac – they darn well did it themselves cuz they thought it was ‘business as usual’ and as it turned out, it ISN’T anymore!

    What stopped the attack on Syria were the American people on one side and Putin on the other . Obama the slimy eel swam right through the tunnel with them at the 12th hour.

    This article’s view of Obama is way too absurdly romantic. The guy’s a real b*astard, a hypocrite and ehm a war criminal (drone massacres of civilians). And you forgot to mention what he did to Libya, Phil – the way he pushed to kill that Arab country is still fresh in some people’s minds – not yours for some reason.

    The times changed while Obama and aipac weren’t looking – that’s what happened. It is actually Obama’s treasonous support of alquida in Syria that pricked up American people’s sleepy ears, not his frigging opium-for-the-masses ‘moral’ speeches and most certainly not his vain and pathetically out of touch wife!

    Alquaida in Syria and the internet – that’s whom we should be thanking for waking up the American people – the American people stopped the war by harassing their congressmen en mass. That’s what objective historians will be writing about.

    • Walid
      September 21, 2013, 1:25 am

      All these analyses about what made Obama stop and nobody is crediting the 50,000 missiles aimed at Israel as having had anything to do with it. Taxi, don’t believe it for a second that Israel is upset that Syria wasn’t bombed; it’s all part of the act. I’m sure Israelis are breathing better because Syria was not bombed.

      • Taxi
        September 21, 2013, 1:47 am

        I agree Walid, the 50,000+ missiles aimed at tel aviv were a major reason too – I’ve stated this before but forgot to mention it in the above post. Being here in the south of lebanon at the peak of the crisis, you could tangibly feel it in the air: that is, you could actually feel the intense fear of israelis riding the winds blowing northerly towards Lebanon. And when you saw tv footage of gas mask distributions and panic in israel, well that just about told you what you needed to know: israelis was utterly petrified of a USA attack on Syria. After all, Syria did say that if the USA strikes it, then its first retaliatory missiles will be aimed at tel aviv. They weren’t kidding: existential threats and all. Nevermind also that hizbollah’s silence throughout the crisis put the heebeejeebeez in every israeli from Kiriat shamona to eliat.

        For all their gestapo bravado, the israelis are not militarily or psychologically ready for a missile war with its neighbors, a war that will hit every isreali city and town and every illegal settlement in occupied Palestine. And in fact, they will never be ready for such a war, a war that will utterly destroy israel, regardless of the heavy damage they would inflict on their neighbors.

        Here lies the new reality of the middle east. A missile war is the next war. A war that israel has no chance of winning. A reality that israel is trying hardest to keep shtump about.

      • Walid
        September 21, 2013, 5:11 am

        Taxi, if Israelis could only see how men of fighting age are completely invisible in the south, they would be spooked into rushing back to where they came from. It’s rumoured that since 2006, over 100,000 Shia men have been fully trained in military combat either in Iran or by Iran-trained instructors. So its as you said about the missiles war, but there’s a Nasrallah promise out there about the next war being taken to TA. Israel’s existential threat is not from Syria, that hasn’t fired a shot in 40 years on the Golan, or from Iran that’s got other problems on its mind.

      • Taxi
        September 21, 2013, 6:51 am


        The only reason why I decided to extend my visit to the south of Lebanon, is because of the acute feeling of security that hizbollah has instated in the south, despite a hostile israel laying in prey along the boarder shadows some 38 kilometers away from my rented farmhouse. It’s a fact southern Lebanese take for granted that most of their men are capable and well trained, either in Iran or locally, to fight the next war against israel, coupled with the knowledge that hizbollah possesses, and has yet to use, it’s anti-aircraft missiles. There is an undeniable quiet confidence that exudes from southern Lebanese residents with regards israel – and the hizb men are, like you said, utterly invisible and never bragging.

        I can’t tell you how many distressed emails/fonecalls I’ve gotten from friends/aunts/uncles/cousins back in LA, imploring me to leave Lebanon, fearing an imminent attack by israel on south Lebanon. And I have consistently told them that no such attack is possible without tel aviv paying the price too, a price that israel cannot afford. I think they’re beginning to believe me now.

        And you’re right about hizbollah being israel’s primary and immediate existential threat. This is what israel’s military eggheads are daily sweating over, while their politicians are keeping the extent of this threat away from their fearful citizenry by exaggerating the Iran threat instead – oh the politics of distraction. Yes, Iran is a threat, but it’s a faraway threat and in the future, while the hizb threat is in their faces and everyday. A threat that cannot be overcome easily, if ever. The boys of south Lebanon mean business. And if 3,000 of them sent 35,000 israeli soldiers scurrying backwards in 2006, just think what 100,000 hizb fighters can do to the idf in the Galilee come the time.

        Not forgetting all the training that the hizb is now getting in preparation for the liberation of the Golan, coming to our political screens in the near-to-medium future. I have a hunch too that Putin gave word to Bashar that he will back him militarily and diplomatically to get the Golan back, if Bashar would give up his chemical weapons: chemical weapons for the liberation of the Golan – not a bad Russian idea and not a bad deal for Bashar either. And of course israel will violently resist any attempt at liberating the Golan, but the Syrians will have international law on their side and the hizb and Russia at its back.

        In other words, soon enough, it will become clear that israel no longer controls the Levant – their neighbors have grown powerful and destructive. Everything israel has built and achieved can easily now turn on the dime of a single war.

  25. American
    September 20, 2013, 2:36 pm

    Another thing I question is that O deliberately drew AIPAC into this to somehow expose it.
    In fact I question that O ever actually ask AIPAC to ‘help’ him.
    “If” you believe that O did ask for the Lobby’s help— then you also have to believe that O really wanted to bomb Syria.
    “If” you believe that O didn’t really want to hit Syria—then you have to ask why he would called in AIPAC’s well know control of congress to push an attack.

    Every source I have found for the ‘Obama called AIPAC for help’ is a Zionist or Israeli and Israel promoter source. Quoting unnamed WH officals and the ‘details’ are very fuzzy….the call was instigated by ? and ? implied this and ? gave a green light for AIPAC and so forth.
    The reports of O’s call for help appear to have been started by Jeffery Goldberg, Eli Lake, ‘other usual suspects and unnamed officials quoted in the JP and Israeli press.
    My take is that regardless of whether or not O really wanted to hit Syria calling on AIPAC is not what he would have done because then he would have to give them something back on I/P and Iran and it would give them more ammuntion on Iran—-and I think it is obvious O has been and is trying to avoid an Iran.
    So bottom line I think the Lobby and it’s helpers formulated the O called AIPAIC story as a cover for Isr and AIPAC to push a Syria hit which is what Isr wanted
    and still wants–they just dont want to get seen as pushing a another war on the US.

    Just another typical and transparent Isr and Lobby ploy……
    Eli Lake

    ”A senior official at AIPAC tells The Daily Beast that the organization’s leadership received a phone call from a senior White House official on Saturday, after the president’s surprise announcement that he would be seeking congressional authorization for a Syria strike, asking what AIPAC’s position would be on a congressional resolution. This official said the lobby received similar calls from Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.”
    The senior AIPAC official said the conversation with the White House was informational. “‘Where are you going to be on this?’ That was a similar message that came from the Hill as well,” this official said in describing the call from the White House and congressional leaders. “It was not so much an ask as much as an inquiry of where you are going to be.”
    How AIPAC Became the Syria Strike Scapegoat
    Obama asked AIPAC to support a strike. Now everyone’s blaming the Jews
    Published: September 9, 2013
    The push by the group, known as Aipac, which included asking its supporters to call members of Congress, came as Israeli newspapers reported Monday that President Obama urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to get personally involved in lobbying Congress. The reports said that Mr. Netanyahu had called several members himself.
    “It is a major dilemma, what Israel should do on the Hill,” a senior Israeli official said Monday, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of a dictate from Mr. Netanyahu not to discuss the Syria situation publicly. “We don’t want to be identified with pressing for a strike. This is not for us — we don’t want anybody to think this is for us,” the official said. “But if the president asks us for assistance, who are we to refuse?”
    The Israeli official who spoke anonymously pointed to a Facebook post last week by Michael B. Oren, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, agreeing with President Obama’s argument for attacking Syria, as having given the green light for Aipac to spring into action.
    Mr. Obama and his secretary of state have repeatedly invoked Israel in their arguments for a strike. The White House has reached out to Aipac, as well as to the Anti-Defamation League and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who held a conference call on Monday to discuss lobbying strategy.
    Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York, said five members of Congress had called to consult with him in the past four days
    It would be better to be clear about the fact that we did not initiate it and that Obama asked us.”

    Redstate of all sites did a pretty good exposed of the spider web of all this:
    The Obama Administration Gets Pwned By AIPAC?
    if you can’t spot the mark at the table, you’re the mark

    lol….I love this one…..”“But if the president asks us for assistance, who are we to refuse?”
    This is why Isr PR always fails…….they gotta be the dumbest, most simple minded, fell off the turnip truck yesterday, people on the face of the earth. They trumpeted to the public AIPAC getting involved because O asked them—- so now everyone is talking about AIPAC pushing the US to war again. So naturally they are now screeching about how the innocent Israel and Jews are being blamed cause they tried to stay out of it and Obama drug them into it with his call for them to ”help the US..”…so unfair being ‘scapegoated again!

    • Taxi
      September 20, 2013, 2:45 pm

      And don’t you just love how quoted aipac “officials” never have names or faces – soooo newspeak.

  26. ritzl
    September 20, 2013, 3:06 pm

    Brilliant article (and comments).

    I would distinguish cause and effect though. The cause of this shift is pure unadulterated serendipity in Obama terms. There were/are so many fundamental reasons for this change that he completely dismissed in a pedal to the metal biz-as-usual rush. If Obama is to get credit, it’s that his windblown weakness gave an avenue for these fundamentals to expressed. Just enough of a political vacuum.

    The effect is as stated.

    As so many upthread have said, it’s not over. But this is a great, build-able start to a real shift in our ME policy. Those fundamental drivers for the public opinion shift away from war and chaos are not going away. Not soon. Maybe not ever.

    Thanks to everyone. Very enlightening and hopeful. TBC.

    Oh, and we owe the Brits, BIG time. Thanks British people. :)

  27. rpickar
    September 20, 2013, 3:09 pm

    I have to disagree with this, Phil. Your article assumes an “MSM” version of events, which is false . Try to recapture the spirit of TWA 800, where you saw that the Official Story was false.

    We know that Obama was against intervention about 6 months ago and was a thorn in Netanyahu’s side. But the chemical weapons attack on Aug 21 was very strongly likely, with evidence and logically likely, to have been done by the rebels, NOT by the Assad government. Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia is implicated in arranging the false-flag attack.

    Given that Obama was so resistant in the past, we have to assume that Obama came under some kind of unbearable pressure, perhaps blackmail of some kind, perhaps pressure from international banks. Obama went from being resistant to being overtly eager for the attack.

    Then the loud and sharp response from the American public and from the vote in the UK. Obama decided that he had no choice politically but to put the question to a vote in Congress, he was courting extreme political danger. However, he insisted that he still had the right to attack, no matter what the Congress said. He is still four-square behind it, *even though he knows that the premise, the chemical weapon attack, is false*.

    John Kerry, BTW, used a phony photo of dead bodies to garner sympathy that was actually taken in Iraq in 2003.

    John Kerry committed an unscripted gaffe whereby he offered that an attack could be stopped if Syria turned over all their chemical weapons, but he said “it’s never going to happen”. Kerry had no authorization to make this offer, and the State Department tried to walk it back, saying that it was “rhetorical”. Of course the Russians jumped on it, and the rest is history.

    It was this gaffe that derailed the attack on Syria, of course it is unknowable what would have happened if Kerry hadn’t made it.

    The main point is that the elites (Israel Lobby, Netanyahu, international banks) who put unbearable pressure on Obama to attack have not gone away and they want their war. I think that we have a temporary respite before another provocation, such as another false-flag attack, before the elites achieve what they want, another war.

    • lysias
      September 21, 2013, 4:40 pm

      Obama’s change may have been due to the NSA scandals. The intelligence community may have put great pressure on him to provide a distraction.

  28. radii
    September 20, 2013, 4:48 pm

    unless Obama is way craftier than any us expected … he and Putin (and the voters of Iran) completely outfoxed israel … Syria has admitted to and signed off on dismantling its entire chemical weapons program and Iran is willing to commit to a total inspection regime to insure it never makes nuclear weapons … ha-ha zionist thugs, no more wars fought with U.S. blood and treasure for your regional superpower goals

  29. Keith
    September 20, 2013, 4:59 pm

    PHIL- “He entered the White House thinking that he could undo the pressure of the lobby and the neoconservatives and make an opening to the Arab world and Iran….”

    OH……..MY……..GOD! Get some therapy! A sure sigh of mental instability is the delusion of psychic powers. This is pure projection, unsupported by empirical facts. All of his appointments and actions indicate that this corporate flack is Wall Street’s White House lawyer. No doubt Penny Pritzger’s appointment and floating Larry Summers as his favorite for Fed Chief are more examples of Obama’s Machiavellian assault on AIPAC and Wall Street? What happened was a tactical adjustment, nothing more.

    The empire seems to be divided into two schools of thought, those who favor soft power and those who prefer hard power. That the press chose to cover this the way they did indicates that significant numbers of elites are resisting the overemphasis on hard power. The goals of both groups are essentially the same, American dominance of the global corporate/financial empire which has evolved. Obama is the most effective imperial president we have ever had, the more effective evil. Even worse than slick Willie, and that is saying a lot. You, however, have consistently made excuses and spun reality in favor of this enemy of the people.

    The world is undergoing a restructuring which will eventually encompass the global financial system in order to deal with the impossibility of never-ending compounding of interest obligations. The geostrategic stakes are enormous, and this is where empire’s priorities are. I finish with a quote and a link to an article I highly recommend.

    “But Africa and the Middle East appear to fascinate by the abundance of available raw materials and strategic importance. There is where one sees the constant signs of US involvement and its competition with Russia and China. And because direct conquest is geared towards full destruction of the countries attacked, it is clear that pacification for business purposes is not sought. Rather it appears that control over the supplies of oil and raw materials is secondary, but that it is clearly a struggle for the control of access to those materials by competitors like Russia and China. (Gui Rochat)

    • Citizen
      September 21, 2013, 8:59 am

      @ Keith
      MIC, Big Interational Banking, & Israel Hegemony in ME is the Devil’s pitchfork and the US & World 1% drives it.

  30. David Doppler
    David Doppler
    September 20, 2013, 6:03 pm

    Let me point out that Norman Podhoretz in the WSJ, from his perspective on the opposite shore of the River Neocon, also considers Obama’s move to have been both deliberate and skillful:

    “let me suggest that it signifies not how incompetent and amateurish the president is, but how skillful. His foreign policy, far from a dismal failure, is a brilliant success as measured by what he intended all along to accomplish. The accomplishment would not have been possible if the intention had been too obvious. The skill lies in how effectively he has used rhetorical tricks to disguise it.”

    His characterization of what Obama was seeking to accomplish is, of course radically different, but you can read that diatribe for yourself, if you cannot already imagine it.

  31. OlegR
    September 20, 2013, 7:25 pm

    Such hubris …

  32. kma
    September 20, 2013, 8:05 pm

    Weiss is easy to please. Obama supports the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians 100%.

  33. Oklahoma farmer
    Oklahoma farmer
    September 20, 2013, 8:17 pm

    #1 Do you really believe Obama plotted this? It’s an interesting idea but I don’t believe it for one moment.

    #2 So what is your game Weiss? You trying to play the White House to use your fantasy as the truth, to further the split between the W.H. and Israel? If so…it’s a long shot but, what the hell….it’s worth a try.

  34. chris o
    chris o
    September 20, 2013, 9:39 pm

    Very interesting points here. Any attack on Iran would seem to be completely off the table in the wake of the dynamics that just occurred (although Iran does occupy a special place of opprobrium in the US dating to 1979). But to say it is his greatest achievement is kind of funny because of how they bumbled into it. First the red-line declaration and then on the eve of the attack, Kerry’s unintentional proposal in how to prevent an attack. And then the rising up in opposition of the public, the Congress, the UK Parliament and leading international figures.

    Upon thinking of the future scholarly panels discussing this, maybe Obama finally looked into the wormhole and had enough. With his drone wars, his assassination of al-Awlaki, the strike on Libya in violation of the Constitution and Congress and the War Powers Act, harsher and harsher sanctions on Iran, the NSA continuing out of control, and just the sense of seamless continuity with Bush on of the National Security State. Was he finally going to top it all off with an attack on Syria in defiance of the Congress and most of the world?! That’s what he was faced with. Either that, or being totally humiliated in Congress and backing down.

    • Citizen
      September 21, 2013, 7:19 am

      chris o
      Be interesting to see Phil Weiss response to your comment.

  35. DICKERSON3870
    September 20, 2013, 10:32 pm

    RE: “I am sure that many readers don’t want to give Obama credit. They will point out that he is a Afghan hawk and a drone-master, they will say that if there has been a diplomatic breakthrough on Syria it is to the credit of the Labour Party in Britain, which catalyzed Obama’s stand-down by rebelling against David Cameron a couple of days before Obama’s appearance in the Rose Garden.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: I think a lot more credit is due the unnamed woman (a U.K. reporter, I assume — and a genuine heroine, in my opinion) who asked during Kerry’s stop in London whether there was anything Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government could do or offer that would stop an attack by the U.S. on Syria (VIDEO, 01:24).
    Why is it that the mainstream press/media in the U.S. never asked the Obama Administration this simple, obvious question? Is it because they feared offending the Obama Administration’s “gatekeepers”, and consequently losing their “privileged access” to the Obama Administration’s gates? [See the “Sourcing Mass Media News” filter below.]

    FROM WIKIPEDIA [Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media]:

    [EXCERPTS] “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” (1988), by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, is an analysis of the news media, arguing that the mass media of the United States “are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion”.*[1] . . .

    Editorial bias: five filters

    Herman and Chomsky’s “propaganda model” describes five editorially distorting filters applied to news reporting in mass media:
    Size, Ownership, and Profit Orientation: The dominant mass-media outlets are large firms which are run for profit. Therefore they must cater to the financial interest of their owners – often corporations or particular controlling investors. The size of the firms is a necessary consequence of the capital requirements for the technology to reach a mass audience.
    The Advertising License to Do Business: Since the majority of the revenue of major media outlets derives from advertising (not from sales or subscriptions), advertisers have acquired a “de-facto licensing authority”.[4] Media outlets are not commercially viable without the support of advertisers. News media must therefore cater to the political prejudices and economic desires of their advertisers. This has weakened the working-class press, for example, and also helps explain the attrition in the number of newspapers.
    Sourcing Mass Media News: Herman and Chomsky argue that “the large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access . . . acquiring […] and producing, news. The large entities that provide this subsidy become ‘routine’ news sources and have privileged access to the gates. Non-routine sources must struggle for access, and may be ignored by the arbitrary decision of the gatekeepers.”[5]
    Flak and the Enforcers: “Flak” refers to negative responses to a media statement or program (e.g. letters, complaints, lawsuits, or legislative actions). Flak can be expensive to the media, either due to loss of advertising revenue, or due to the costs of legal defense or defense of the media outlet’s public image. Flak can be organized by powerful, private influence groups (e.g. think tanks). The prospect of eliciting flak can be a deterrent to the reporting of certain kinds of facts or opinions.[5]
    Anti-Communism: This was included as a filter in the original 1988 edition of the book, but Chomsky argues that since the end of the Cold War (1945–91), anticommunism was replaced by the “War on Terror”, as the major social control mechanism.[6][7] . . .

    SOURCE –


    • DICKERSON3870
      September 20, 2013, 10:54 pm

      P.P.S. RE: “I think a lot more credit is due the unnamed woman (a U.K. reporter, I assume — and a genuine heroine, in my opinion) who asked during Kerry’s stop in London whether there was anything Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government could do or offer that would stop an attack by the U.S. on Syria (VIDEO, 01:24).” – me (above)

      MY ELABORATION: Just listen to how this woman sets up the question(s) (like a good trial lawyer cross-examining a hostile witness) so as to greatly reduce the opportunity for Kerry to give a “canned” answer; thereby essentially forcing him to go off script.
      That’s what REAL JOURNALISM is all about! ! !

      • Citizen
        September 21, 2013, 6:34 am

        @ Dickerson
        Good point! She sure did score; hence, so did we. Kerry is very dangerous because he’s the type of person that can instantly conjure up a revised sales pitch with high emotion and conviction–no matter how much the revision is antithetical to the original sales pitch assigned to him to deliver. The old adage about good used car salesman comes to mind.

      • Sumud
        September 21, 2013, 12:14 pm

        Hmmm, call me a cynic but i don’t believe this guff about Kerry’s gaffe.

        Agree the journalist sets the question nicely, but Kerry’s response doesn’t see as spontaneous as it’s been made out to be.

        Sound to me like Obama didn’t really want to go to war with Syria, and they used Kerry’s supposed gaffe as an out.Wouldn’t be surprised if this had been coordinated with the Russians.

      • annie
        September 21, 2013, 2:53 pm

        my take exactly sumud.

      • DICKERSON3870
        September 22, 2013, 11:23 pm

        Do you think the woman in the U.K. who asked the question (VIDEO, 01:24) was part of some plan by Obama and/or Kerry? Without her asking the question, how would the plan have unfolded? Would the Russians have made a spontaneous proposal?
        If Obama and/or Kerry were just hoping someone would ask the question or make the suggestion, that’s a hell of a way to formulate foreign policy.

      • chris o
        chris o
        September 25, 2013, 12:06 am

        The thread is a little dated but I just want to say, I appreciate your comment. It would be interesting and sublime and genius to derail the imminent attack with the proposal. But No.Fucking.Way. I think Kerry was ad-libbing. He was a Senator for ever. That’s what they do (or used to). Talk and debate. And yield the floor and take the gentleman or gentlelady’s question. I don’t think anything like that was vetted and the White House and Obama were surely thrown for a loop by Kerry’s statement and the Syrian acceptance.

  36. Taxi
    September 21, 2013, 2:56 am
  37. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    September 21, 2013, 3:59 am

    “There is a real chance, too, that we will see a political solution in Syria– again, because Obama blinked.”

    Nonsense. Assad will never cede real power unless it is taken from him. And I don’t see the anti Assad forces as giving in to Assad. So this statement regarding Syria is just mere nonsense. Assad’s chances of achieving rule over all of Syria is unlikely and a de facto partition of the country would take ten to twenty years to come about. but a real political solution in Syria, meaning a real compromise by Assad. Nonsense.

  38. Taxi
    September 21, 2013, 4:45 am
  39. MRW
    September 21, 2013, 6:16 am

    I think you need to go back four days before Obama made his Saturday announcement. On Tuesday, August 27, Glenn Beck made a surprising plea on his radio/tv show to everyone to call congress and object because we are “not going to survive” an attack on Syria. That was the same day 64 or 68 neocons signed a bloviating Weekly Standard letter demanding that Obama bomb Syria, which curiously was ignored by MSM reports that night. The Beck piece spread to progressive sites. People who don’t like Beck were saying he was right. That night Hannity made the same plea on Fox.

    Both Beck and Fox started the avalanche that became a tsunami the following week.

    What struck me that day, Tuesday, is how similar the talking points were between Beck and Hannity.

    That all said, here’s my take. Someone under Dempsey’s command was given clear instructions to ‘talk’ to Beck and Hannity, someone with enough clout that both those men would think they were getting the inside skinny on military/intel insight.

    It was beyond circumstantial that the two most influential right-wing talk hosts would sound the alarm of a Syrian attack with such force on the same day with similar talking points and urge action by their listeners. They would have simply discussed Syria as a topic with their usual back and forth and lists of who was to blame. After all, McCain and Graham were for it. McCain and Graham are their boys. The week before (I think that’s the timing) Dempsey had a testy appearance before McCain on the Hill over Syria, and Hannity was backing McCain all the way. So what happened in a few days? What changed?

    Someone intervened. [I wish I had the clips to show you this progression.]

    You could have knocked me over when I heard Beck say that we have to join forces with good liberals and good republicans to stop this war. “We are not going to survive.”

    This happened on Tuesday. The next day Congress started to get calls from their constituents, the beginning of the tsunami. Thursday was going to be bomb day. Obama dawdled. Saturday, Obama threw it to Congress.

    Then he left town while the whole thing gathered a head of steam.

    I think there was a strong military component to this because Dempsey was dead set against this. As the VIPS letter to Obama showed, no one in the CIA, intel, or US military believes that Assad attacked his own people with sarin.

    EDIT: So whether this was a covert military coup against presidential intentions, or it was done in concert with Obama (not his staff for obvious reasons), something was afoot. You only have to view the clips over that time period to see it.

    • ritzl
      September 21, 2013, 1:36 pm

      Scott Ritter said that Gore would have attacked Iraq had he been elected. It wasn’t just a Bush “thing.” The forces pushing him/us to do that were that powerful. I suspect that meant specifically, the forces to use our military to kill and be killed for Israel.

      It’s probably not a revelation that Obama was/is under the same pressures, but it sounds like the military got tired of being used to support political opportunism, at such high cost. I wonder if Hagel had anything to do with that.

      Thanks MRW. Great perspective. Lots to think about. Particularly when the warfighters become the last bastion/arbiters of political sanity. Not good.

      You mention “coup” from the balking military perspective. I mentioned “coup” a while back from the “doesn’t matter what Congress does” perspective. Neither may be accurate (or we’re closer to that than [collective] we imagine), but this is not good. It means we’re close to some kind of governing pivot/tipping/breaking point. All for Israel.

      • MRW
        September 22, 2013, 6:55 am


        Lots to think about. Particularly when the warfighters become the last bastion/arbiters of political sanity. Not good.

        Actually, good. Means they were trained well. ;-) Few realize that US military officers before 2000 are the most educated group in the country. They think a guy named Colonel, or whatever, is a grunt who make it up the ranks. Hah. 92% of US military officers created before 2000 have double Masters or PhDs. Some of the smartest mofos in the country. People who graduate from Harvard have nothing on those who graduated from the US Army War College, which is the #1 school in the country, light years ahead of Harvard according to SAT tests. And they wear their learning lightly. I have immense respect for them. And they have to keep their mouths shut in the face of a civilian leadership that isn’t fit to polish their shoes intellectually. The rules relaxed after 2000, but I hear it’s going back, now, to the standards they had before.

      • MRW
        September 22, 2013, 7:10 am

        I offer as Exhibit#1: our Hostage, retired military US Air Force JAG. (Think I have that right.)

        You think there is an equal specimen in the IDF, that cannon fodder running around taunting or killing Palestinians? Not a chance. Low-rent peasant class by comparison. And they will never match US military training because the entire country isn’t there yet; it doesn’t have the intellectual prowess. It’s in the Dark Ages, and proud of it.

      • ritzl
        September 22, 2013, 11:53 am

        @MRW “Trained well…” Yes! Completely agree. They take that responsibility VERY seriously (most of the ones I’ve come to know anyway; there are opportunists in the military just like anywhere else), but that is not their primary responsibility. That military constitutional training is the fallback to the fallback (to the fallback…?), imo.

        As a last resort it worked (or was part of the solution), this time, in this case. But I have no input into “black-box” Pentagon decision making process and decisions. Decisions that may not be so positive next time (e.g. Iraq). That’s why I highlighted “political.” It’s just not their job to make these judgements.

        You’re right, we were close to something big on this Syria event. Maybe we still are close.

      • ritzl
        September 22, 2013, 12:12 pm

        @MRW Yes again. Andrew Bacevich as another archtype.

        Our officer corps is better. Isn’t that to be expected given the money, candidate pool, and the lack of a universally racist indoctrination growing up? On the ground, we do our share of atrocities (though not for 65 years, ongoing), but our guys tend to get PTSD and the boot over them, not back pats or promotions.

        Yep. “Dark Ages, and proud of it.” Works for me.

      • Taxi
        September 22, 2013, 12:24 pm


        Shock & Awe was not just for Saddam, it was a golden opportunity for the pentagon to show the Russians and Chinese the destruction we’re capable of inflicting; to show ’em what we’re militarily capable of as a sole superpower. It was a very important Empire message to deliver to the ‘East’ of the world.

      • American
        September 22, 2013, 1:01 pm

        The US military code does not include racism or ‘enjoying’ mindless, pointless killing of all ‘others’——-which is why Iraq-Afgahan have produced this:

        Underscores the suicide risks faced by the U.S. veteran population.U.S. military veteran suicides rise, one dies every 65 minutes |…/us-usa-veterans-suicide-
        ‎CachedFeb 1, 2013 – WASHINGTON (Reuters)
        – The most extensive study yet by the U.S. government on suicide among military veterans shows more veterans are …22 veterans commit suicide each day:
        VA report – U.S.…/16811249-22-veterans-commit-suicide-each-d…‎CachedFeb 1, 2013 – An estimated 22 veterans committed suicide in America each day in 2010, according to a report released Friday by the U.S Department of …18 veterans commit suicide each day | Army Times |…/18-veterans-commit-suicide-each-day‎CachedApr 22, 2010 – Suicide attempts by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans remains a key area of concern”

        And this is why if it were within my power I would happily see a bullet put thru the brain of every neo and zio war monger and sleep like a baby at night knowing the entire world is better off for it.
        This is the ‘Greater Good Doctrine’ if there ever was one.

      • MRW
        September 22, 2013, 2:55 pm


        They didn’t listen to General Peled when it mattered. I don’t mean to broad brush our military as something they’re not. Big difference when you let your military become doctrinaire and your top rank are perfumed princes; we had our share of those during the Kosovo and Iraq Wars. CJCOS Dempsey discovered the anti-Muslim teaching and training going on when he first took over, routed it out, and suspended the officers involved. Salon’s Security Room (?) broke that story and had downloads of the course powerpoints, which I looked at. Pretty outrageous stuff, and done with help of Israeli military who had Pentagon clearance.

      • ritzl
        September 23, 2013, 12:57 am

        Agree, Taxi. Merging what both you and MRW say, Iraq v. Syria exemplifies the excruciatingly taut balance of interests that play into top-level military decision making and the viability/constancy/fragility of that process in saving us from our political selves.

        I don’t know the answer… Good to discuss it though. MRW raises important points.

      • ritzl
        September 23, 2013, 1:46 am

        @MRW This is fascinating. I know you’re not broad-brushing, but there is a qualitative difference between our military leadership and Israel’s. imho. Dempsey seems to be more direct than his predecessors about resisting “cheap” use of US military.

        Mullen seemed to be learning those lessons before he retired. Dempsey has the benefit of a war-weary populace (and maybe more importantly military families; a strained system), and several more years of the pattern becoming obvious as a seemingly unstoppable SOP, politically speaking.

        Bacevich was just on Moyers (Phil Donahue, guest host unfortunately; lamenting the fact (among other things) that an all-volunteer army promotes this “cheap” political use of military force. Our military leaders have that, political pressures outside their control, and internal pro-Israel influencers to deal with, but they do seem to have the ability to learn hard lessons (going back to what you said) and correct course, however glacial the process.

        It is a qualitative difference. I think that’s hopeful, in many ways.
        Thanks for bringing it up. Cheers.

        PS. Another thing is that the US people are not Israelis. I think our military introspectiveness, such that it is, is substantially driven by the sensitivity and introspectiveness, such that that is, of the US people. I think that bodes well for us coming out of this extreme Israel-dominated political mode we’re in. Awareness is building on the level of that exclusionary and singular Israeli influence, though also glacially.

        I think the people to people distinctions/contrasts are also becoming noticeable, by US people.

        Sorry for the length. Interesting, relevant stuff.

    • Danaa
      September 23, 2013, 3:07 am

      I agree with you MRW. Some powers went to work that had immense influence over the right wing hosts. And that could only be one force – the military. I think you are on to it – the military brass must have gone to work overtime on Tuesday, and they do have influence over the right wing, big time. Far more influence than just Lobby and/or mere money. Beck doesn’t go anti-war lightly. And neither does Hannity. or the rest of Fox for that matter.

      I heard from my own military sources that week. By Wednesday it was thumbs down across the board, and i was told that’s how everyone thinks. One army officer i know took the trouble of specifically contacting me to let me know that it’s not going to go down, asking me practically to spread the word (he knows I’m politically “tuned” into the progressive networks). The military simply refuses to work with Al-Qaeda, much less with the Saudis and Israelis who manage it. It was funny how informed some who i thought were not interested in politics suddenly turned out to be. The distrust of Saudi Arabia in particular runs deep in military circles. High and low. That’s who done 9/11 didn’t they?

      Later, in front of the congressional hearings, we were all treated to Dempsey’s dejected body language. He took a sip of water whenever Kerry opened his mouth. When it was his turn to answer he did so criptic-like, in monosyllables. Could anyone be clearer that they were not on-board?

      I also think you are right MRW about OBAMA. he must have heard not just from the military but from his intelligence guys. The verdict must have been unanimous; get out of it somehow – it’s not going to end up well. So he punted to Congress. Then there was that famous Kerry “slip”. And whoosh – in flew the Russians with an olive branch, no doubt agreed to a priori by their respective military and intelligence guys.

      Alas, it ain’t over till the fat lady sings. Saudi Arabia and Israel refuse to accept defeat. They’ll continue to try, every-which-way they can. They are both flush with power – and money – and the power of self-deception. To think that all we have in the breech are the militaries – the US and the Russian!

  40. just
    September 21, 2013, 6:18 am

    ““We consider war a weakness. Any government or administration that decides to wage a war, we consider a weakness. And any government that decides on peace, we look on it with respect to peace.””

    I believe that Rouhani is correct. There has been too much suffering dealt and blood spilled by us and our allies in that region of the world. It’s time to stop. I want to believe that this Administration realized this long ago and has put a new way forward. Our Congress still reeks to high heaven, and our citizenry remains mostly uninformed about foreign affairs, BUT there is some hope. I fervently hope that we don’t get any more nutso neocons in our next elections………

    Thanks, Phil. I am going to revisit this beautifully written essay often. I think that history will redeem Obama. After GW and his horrendous actions, I often wondered how or why anyone would want to become President — it was such a mess to try to clean up.

    I remain grateful that the Obamas are in the WH.

  41. gingershot
    September 21, 2013, 9:00 am

    ‘On Saturday afternoon three weeks ago President Obama stepped out of the White House to announce that he was attacking Syria– and instead he blinked’

    I want the advance copy of Obama’s memoirs to see how this all evolved (as if…) – and if, as I suspect, how the Lobby/Netanyahu stood him up last year by forcing him to originally set down a ‘red line’ in the first place (probably by blackmail threat to attack Iran or more intrusively bomb all of Syrian chemical sites repeatedly), then proceeded to fix and fabricate violations of his ‘red line’, and then demanded he attack

    Stood up, set up, knocked down – and then – the bowling pin punted to Congress. Was Obama just a puppet of the Lobby the whole time – until that fateful last moment?

    And then the near-immediate exploitation of the vacuum created by the war with Syria having been precipitously called off, to stick the stake in AIPAC’s heart with an historic deal with Iran…

    Could the Israel/Neocon near-successful war with Syria be just their last desperate gasp to PREVENT the coming historic Iran deal? What timing!

  42. Bandolero
    September 21, 2013, 12:55 pm

    Phil, I think this article is wishful thinking.

    Doing the bidding of the Israel lobby and other war hawks Obama started or expanded three major wars:

    – A surge on Afghanistan causing the death of ~30k people
    – A war on Libya causing the death of ~50k – 100k people
    – An irregular proxy war on Syria causing the death of ~ 120k people

    Obama planned and started or expanded all these wars based on lies, directly causing death of 200 – 250k people and bringing misery over many more million people. Obamas greatest achievement was to wage his wars of aggression in a cheap way, using means of irregular warfare, massive decpetion to trick people into killing each other and using cheap local deathsquads for the dirty work instead of paying big money to US personell to do the job.

    And now, in the face of opposing Iranian and Russian might backed by China, Obama put a catastrophic direct US military attack on the Syrian-Iranian treaty states on the backburner exposing the lobby and it’s cohorts as warmongers.

    I can’t see much difference there to the policies of George W. Bush except that Obama prefers killing other people in a cheaper way, thereby taking a bit pressure from the US war budget.

    If one writes a laudatio on Obama’s deadly policies lauding him for putting a catastrophic direct US military attack on the Syrian-Iranian treaty states on the backburner, I see no reason to give George W. Bush exactly the same credits.

    George W. Bush also waged wars for the lobby thereby exposing them as warmongers, and he also put a catastrophic direct US military attack on the Syrian-Iranian treaty states on the backburner while the lobby pushed for this war. So, why not write an article titled:

    Bush’s greatest achievement– blinking on Iran

    It would be as factually true as “Obama’s greatest achievement– blinking on Syria” is.

    But the fact is, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama used wars as a means of politics thereby causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and causing misery for many more. And both were only stopped waging more wars by strong opposing military forces from other states.

    • Taxi
      September 21, 2013, 3:51 pm

      Right on the money, Bandelero.

      Except I can’t for the life of me think of a “strong opposing military force” that stopped Bush’s wars.

      It is the ‘result’ the our Phil is excited about: aipac caught with its hands in the war-cookie jar. He’s got that bit right. But to think it was all a genius ploy by Obama is a bit too hero-worshiping and utterly off the mark, giving credit where tongue-lashings are in order. I don’t relate to Phil’s state of mind on this whatsoever.

      Our president is a poisonous snake in the grass. He’s a sly effer not a sly fox. Insidious! His atrocious lack of morality and his obese levels of hypocrisy, his smooth and suave evil, make him no better than that reckless, bumbling idiot, George W. Bush – especially if we’re using ‘body counts for measure’ – and not forgetting here that Obama still has 3 more years to reach the million plus mark: people killed in the name of his so-called progressive liberalism. Disgusting!

      And it wasn’t just aipac that was exposed, it was the corruptible Democratic party too. No one in their right mind should vote republican OR democrat in the next election. To everyone out there who thought they were genuinely voting for change, well how about you change your voting habits first – it ain’t gonna happen any other way.

      Neither the Republican or the Democratic party have any interest whatsoever in change. They’re both heavily zionized, comfortable and content with the status quo. You should all know this by now, and it be good to act accordingly, responsibly.

      • Bandolero
        September 22, 2013, 11:34 am

        The “strong opposing military force” that stopped Bush’s wars was the forces of the resistance. The military force of the resistance bogged down the US-led forces in Iraq. Iran’s Qods forces did a lot in the background to help the Iraqi resistance in the south of Iraq and Syria did a lot to help the resistance in the north west of Iraq. These opposing military forces made what was intended to be a quick and cheap US win in Iraq became a bloody and very expensive desaster for the US. In Afghanistan the situation is a bit different, of course, but Iran is doing a lot to get the US bogged down in this Persian speaking neighboring country, too. As the Israel lobby & George W. Bush wanted to proceed with it’s original plans to finaish off Iran after “taking out” Iraq and Afghanistan, they found out that they couldn’t because US troops were very vulnerable to the military forces of the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan. The quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan were already so costly that they led to an inevitable financial meltdown in the US. That’s why the US didn’t attack Iran under George W. Bush. The military forces of resistance had bogged down the US in Iraq and Afghanistan and the wars became too costly.

        Obama continued Bush’s war plans against the resistance, but changed some operational details. He spent a lot of money trying to secure the US bases in Afghanistan which are needed for any US war on Iran because else Afghanistan would give Iran stretegic depth. But, due to the military forces of the resistance, Obama largely failed and just produced another costly quagmire, and gave up many US positions in Iraq because these positions were no US assets for an attack on Iran, but US liabilities, targets for retaliation for the resistance.

        So, instead of continuing the plans in the original way, he then proceeded trying first to take out Iran’s friends in a cheap way, mainly by the means of deception. And, with these tactics, Obama really managed well to destroy Libya, one of the main external providers for anti-US-fighters in Iraq, in a very cheap way. But Syria is better to defend for the military forces of resistance. Obama did do his utmost to destroy Syria, but he failed. Neither deception worked, nor sending in lot’s of heavily armed proxy forces, the military forces of the resistance were stronger. So, the lobby urgently wanted to sent in US military in the open to get that aim done and Obama agreed. But he failed with his plans for an open and expensive war because the US military knows that Iran has a mutual defense treaty with Syria and the Iranian military takes a US attack on Syria as an attack on Iran. And the US military also knows quite well what it means that the Iranian-Syrian axis has the full backing of Russia and China, with Russia having a dozen warships securing the Syrian cost and promising Syria more weapons deliveries when attacked by the US. It means that the US in an all out war on Syria and Iran would be bogged down another time by the military forces of resistance. That’s why the all out US attack on Syria was called off, not because Obama lacked the desire for more wars. Obama has proven with his actions that he uses very bloody wars of aggression as a means of politics.

        If Obama really wanted to stop the wars and the war pressure of lobby, he would say the truth, ie that there is reliable intelligence that the chemical attack in Damascus is false flag terror event designed by Israel to drag the US into an open war against Syria.

      • Taxi
        September 23, 2013, 2:22 am

        Thank you Banolero for your excellent summery. Yes, of course, the Iraqi resistance!

        I’m like you, I see Obama as a fake humanist and a war criminal, an Empire elitist, a one-eyed general in civilian clothing.

        The aggressive neocon ideology has become Empire ideology regardless of whether the president is Republican or Democrat. But how to change this at this stage with neoconism so entrenched in our foreign policy? How to make our country democratic again, not just domestically, but globally? I mean how many decades will it take before American folk realize that our love of democracy stops at our borders – that we strut our stuff overseas like a seasoned dictator, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths per year: and it ain’t white people that Empire’s policies are killing.

      • Bandolero
        September 23, 2013, 11:09 am

        “How to make our country democratic again, not just domestically, but globally?”

        I’m off the opinion that change of the jingoism of the US empire will not come internally, but over the next one or two decades it will come from the outside. The main driving force for this change is the rise of China.

        Look at what the Bilderberger paper “The Economist” has to say to this perspective:

        When China is the leading power in the world, the US jingoism will come to an end and the war hawks know it.

        So, what I would suggest to do is to throw the war hawks of the empire as many stones in the way as possible in their attempts to use the still available time frame of US dominance to launch more catastrophic wars for their short-sighted goals, build unideologic coalitions from far left over the center up to the far right to limit the desasters in the next few years and to antagonize any and all attempts of the warmongers to demonize any small country or statesman as “evil” in preparation for more tension.

        The latter should be quite simple. The US-led hubris is so obvious, when the NSA country wants to bring freedom to other parts of the world, when the Guantanamo operators want to bring human rights to other parts of the world and when the world’s leading food stamp nation wants to bring economic prosperity to other parts of the world, the unreal motives of the empire are just self-evident.

      • Taxi
        September 23, 2013, 4:12 pm

        Thanks for the illuminating link, Bandolero – great charts allow for a wider context of evaluation.

        “throw the war hawks of the empire as many stones in the way as possible “.

        May I recommend throwing wet bars of soap instead.

        Or giant kegs of gunpowder, a-la Roadrunner Cartoon style :-)

  43. Misterioso
    September 21, 2013, 6:31 pm

    We are witnessing the beginning of the end of the “special relationship.” All nations must eventually act in their own best interests. It is abundantly clear that Israel’s belligerent/illegal/brutal occupations of Palestinian and other Arab lands and its accelerating serial violations of international humanitarian law are doing great harm to America’s best interests both economically and geopolitically. In 20-25 years there will be 3 billion Muslims worldwide, over 600 million Arabs and about 10 million Palestinians between the River and the Sea. Can there be any doubt as to where America’s interests lie? Certainly not with Israel.

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