Tag Archives: Syria

War Fever, by Daniel Lazare

The push towards war touts flawed logic and relies on unproven and dubious assertions. From Daniel Lazare at consortiumnews.com:

There is a fever that seizes this land from time to time and it is the fever of war, a condition that this time seems immune to all known cures, starting with reason, as Daniel Lazare explores.

What happens when an unthinkable war meets an unbeatable case of war fever?  Thanks to Russia-gate, unsubstantiated reports about the use of poison gas in Syria, and a slew of similar factoids and pseudo-scandals, the world may soon find out.

In saner times, including during the Cold War at even its most heated, political leaders knew not to push a conflict with a rival nuclear power too far.  After all, what was the point of getting into a fight in which everyone would lose?

Cooler heads thus prevailed in Washington while more excitable sorts were shipped off to where they could do no harm.  This is what kept the peace during the U-2 affair, the Berlin Wall, and the Cuban missile crisis and what promised to continue doing so even after the advent of American “unipolarity” in 1989-92.

But that was then.  Today, the question is no longer how to avoid a fight that can only lead to catastrophe, but how to avoid a showdown with a country that “in the past four years has annexed Crimea, intervened in eastern Ukraine, sought to influence the American election in 2016, allegedly poisoned a former Russian spy living in Britain and propped up the murderous government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria,” to quote the bill of indictment in a recent front-page article in The New York Times.

Given that the list of alleged atrocities expands with virtually each passing week, the answer, increasingly, is: no way, no how.  Since Russia is bent on spreading “conflict and discord” throughout the west – if only in the eyes of the U.S., that is – confrontation grows more and more likely.

 

To continue reading: War Fever

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Every Kingdom Divided Against Itself, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

America is a house divided, and the rest of the world knows it. From  Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

In Matthew 12:22-28, Jesus tells the Pharisees:

Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.

In 1858, US Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln borrows the line:

On June 16, 1858 more than 1,000 delegates met in the Springfield, Illinois, statehouse for the Republican State Convention. At 5:00 p.m. they chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for the U.S. Senate, running against Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. At 8:00 p.m. Lincoln delivered this address to his Republican colleagues in the Hall of Representatives. The title reflects part of the speech’s introduction, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” a concept familiar to Lincoln’s audience as a statement by Jesus recorded in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke).

 

Even Lincoln’s friends regarded the speech as too radical for the occasion. His law partner, William H. Herndon, considered Lincoln as morally courageous but politically incorrect. Lincoln read the speech to him before delivering it, referring to the “house divided” language this way: “The proposition is indisputably true … and I will deliver it as written. I want to use some universally known figure, expressed in simple language as universally known, that it may strike home to the minds of men in order to rouse them to the peril of the times.”

On April 12, 2018, the Washington Post runs this headline:

We need to go big in Syria. North Korea is watching.

The WaPo is undoubtedly disappointed that James Mattis prevailed over more hawkish voices in Washington and the least ‘expansive’ attack was chosen.

Then after the attack, Russian President Putin warns of global ‘chaos’ if the West strikes Syria again. And I’m thinking: Chaos? You ‘Predict’ Chaos? You mean what we have now does not qualify as chaos?

Yes, Washington Post, North Korea is watching. And you know what it sees? It sees a house divided. It sees an America that is perhaps as divided against itself as it was prior to the civil war. An America that elects a president and then initiates multiple investigations against him that are kept going seemingly indefinitely. An America where hatred of one’s fellow countrymen and -women has become the norm.

An America that has adopted a Shakespearian theater as its political system, where all norms of civil conversation have long been thrown out the window, where venomous gossip and backstabbing have become accepted social instruments. An America where anything goes as long as it sells.

In an intriguing development, while Trump pleased the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN and MSNBC, his declared arch-enemies until the rockets flew, his own base turned on him. While the ‘liberals’ (what’s in a word) cheered and smelled the blood, the right wing reminded the Donald that this is not what he was elected on – or for.

To continue reading: Every Kingdom Divided Against Itself

Trump: Prisoner of the War Party? by Patrick J. Buchanan

As Obama was held hostage to George W. Bush’s wars, Trump may be held hostage to Bush’s and Obama’s wars. All these wars are the brainchildren of the war party. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

“Ten days ago, President Trump was saying ‘the United States should withdraw from Syria.’ We convinced him it was necessary to stay.”

Thus boasted French President Emmanuel Macron Saturday, adding, “We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term.”

Is the U.S. indeed in the Syrian civil war “for the long term”?

If so, who made that fateful decision for this republic?

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley confirmed Sunday there would be no drawdown of the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, until three objectives were reached. We must fully defeat ISIS, ensure chemical weapons would not again be used by Bashar Assad and maintain the ability to watch Iran.

Translation: Whatever Trump says, America is not coming out of Syria. We are going deeper in. Trump’s commitment to extricate us from these bankrupting and blood-soaked Middle East wars and to seek a new rapprochement with Russia is “inoperative.”

The War Party that Trump routed in the primaries is capturing and crafting his foreign policy. Monday’s Wall Street Journal editorial page fairly blossomed with war plans:

“The better U.S. strategy is to … turn Syria into the Ayatollah’s Vietnam. Only when Russia and Iran began to pay a larger price in Syria will they have any incentive to negotiate an end to the war or even contemplate a peace based on dividing the country into ethnic-based enclaves.”

Apparently, we are to bleed Syria, Russia, Hezbollah and Iran until they cannot stand the pain and submit to subdividing Syria the way we want.

But suppose that, as in our Civil War of 1861-1865, the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, and the Chinese Civil War of 1945-1949, Assad and his Russian, Iranian and Shiite militia allies go all out to win and reunite the nation.

Suppose they choose to fight to consolidate the victory they have won after seven years of civil war. Where do we find the troops to take back the territory our rebels lost? Or do we just bomb mercilessly?

To continue reading: Trump: Prisoner of the War Party?

What Do We Know About Syria? Next to Nothing, by Charles Hugh Smith

Perhaps the only “facts” you can rely on about Syria are those you would gather on your own if you were actually there. It’s safe to assume everything we read about Syria is coming from someone pushing an agenda and may or may not be factual. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Anyone accepting “facts” or narratives from any interested party is being played.

About the only “fact” the public knows with any verifiable certainty about Syria is that much of that nation is in ruins.Virtually everything else presented as “fact” is propaganda intended to serve one of the competing narratives or discredit one or more competing narratives.

Consider a partial list of “interested parties” spinning their own narratives about events in Syria: (in no particular order)

1. The government of Syria

2. non-state groups in Syria

3. Turkey

4. Saudi Arabia

5. Iran

6. Jordan

7. The government of Iraq

8. non-state groups in Iraq

9. The Kurds

10. Hamas

11. Israel

12. Lebanon

13. The Gulf States

14. Russia

15. United States

16. European Union

17. United Kingdom

18. France

19. Germany

20. Italy

21. China

This doesn’t exhaust the list of interested parties, of course, but it reflects the spectrum of competing parties pushing a narrative that supports their particular interests in Syria. These include neighboring countries, regional powers, global powers and consumers of Syrian energy exports.

Let’s start by stating the obvious: the only way to gain any reasonably accurate contexts / assessments in Syria is to have intelligence-gathering assets on the ground. The situation is fluid and complex, and there is no one “truth.”

The only way to get any sort of handle on the military, political and social dynamics in Syria is to have access to the intelligence assessments and analyses of all the major players’ intelligence agencies.

In other words, the only way to get any sort of comprehensive understanding would be to have a WikiLeaks-type release of intelligence reports from all the players with assets on the ground and have a deep enough understanding of the history and culture of the region to make sense of the overlaps, conflicts, nuances and shades of “truth” presented in each of the intel reports.

Only by collating “raw” (unfiltered) intel gathered on the ground and high-level analysis by those directing the various interests’ campaigns could a reasonably accurate assessment be assembled.

To continue reading: What Do We Know About Syria? Next to Nothing

 

The Real Message Behind Trump’s Syrian Strike, by JP Sottile

The Syrian strike showed us that Donald Trump is no Barack Obama. From JP Sottile at antiwar.com:

We are seeing a lot of hyperbole about the start of “World War 3” and a lot of speculation about how this will play out … so, let me pump the brakes a bit. Here goes …

No, there was no legal or constitutional justification for this strike. Sorry, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, this does not fit neatly into an Article Two-sanctioned use of force to protect America’s invariably internationally-located “national” interests. And no, we still haven’t seen compelling proof that Assad was responsible for the attack in question and, in a throwback to attacks past, the OPCW‘s inspectors didn’t even get a chance to conduct their investigation before Uncle Sam pulled the trigger.

Paging David Kay … come in, David Kay

But, to be clear, this also doesn’t mirror the lead-up to, or start of, the Iraq War … Trump’s unintentionally ironic use of “Mission Accomplished” notwithstanding. Trump’s mission was, in fact, accomplished, because the mission wasn’t regime change or a crippling strike a la John Bolton. Nor was it a “message” to Assad’s “enablers,” as Deep State All-Star Oliver North framed it on Fox News.

No, this limited attack was very much like LAST YEAR’S Tomahawk parade (stock tip: buy Raytheon). It was a Mattis masterpiece of shadowy puppet theater designed to give Trump a way out of his self-painted corner. This was a well-crafted face-saving scenario. And this was a way for Trump to prove that his red line bloviations mean something, unlike the red line sissy-dancing of his predecessor.

To get there, Mattis cut down the target package to THREE … yup, just THREE … facilities that, one can safely assume, the Syrians likely knew would be targeted. And although Chief Of Staff Joseph Dunford claimed there was no “coordination” with Russia (as was the case with last year’s ridiculous strike on an evacuated tarmac), “coordination” is itself a specific term that doesn’t preclude the possibility of artfully telegraphed intentions by the Pentagon as they developed their target list. Add to that the use of well-established “deconfliction” procedures and what you have is a military operation that was designed to give Trump, along with British Prime Minster Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron, an opportunity to put-up instead of shutting-up and, thereby, somehow risking their so-called “international reputations” as leaders.

To continue reading: The Real Message Behind Trump’s Syrian Strike

Kabuki Warfare, by James Howard Kunstler

Well Syria settle into an uneasy quasi-stability? From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

When this chapter of US history is finally written, it will look like a deep dive into a vat of lentil soup. In Syria Friday night, we came, we saw, and we slung 103 cruise missiles into largely symbolic targets, including a supposed chemical weapons plant just outside Damascus, and some other places where we were not likely to kill Russian military personnel. The Russians apparently decided to just suck it up, knowing that the civil war in Syria is nearly over. Then what?

Will the US tolerate what has effectively become a Russian client state in the Levant, with some Iranian sprinkles on top? The Saudi Arabians clearly don’t relish that prospect, and one wonders how much the nominal Saudi leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, put the squeeze on US officials (including the Golden Golem of Greatness) to do something (!) when he paid a call here a few weeks ago. Israel may not like having Hezbolah’s patron, Iran, camped on their doorstep, but there’s reason to believe that Bibi and Putin understand each other well enough, and that Russia will do what’s necessary to moderate the Iran-Hezbolah-Shia axis of maniacs. Israel’s February strike against Syrian air defense installations was a reminder to all concerned that they will act on their own when they choose to. Finally, Russia certainly has no interest in protecting the caliphate maniacs, since the Bear has plenty of restive Islamic factions in its neighboring former soviet republics.

The various moves and statements having been made, the balance of power in Syria may be settling into a sort of freeze. Actually, anything that arrests the process of Syria turning into another failed Middle East state is better than the alternative. Before al Qaeda, Isis, and their many mutant armies showed up, before Russia came on the scene, before the US set this regional meltdown in motion next door in Iraq, Syria was not the world’s problem. But neither, really, was Vietnam in 1963.

To continue reading: Kabuki Warfare

Why Theresa May Must be Impeached, by Rob Slane

To register their horror at the alleged Syrian attack that released chemicals into the atmosphere, May, Trump, and company conducted missile attacks on chemical plants and risked releasing copious quantities of chemicals into the atmosphere. From Rob Slane at theblogmire.com:

So the moment we’ve been holding our breaths for a week finally came. In the end, I am mighty glad that this particular strike seems more like the impotent thrashing of the neocon snake that didn’t dare to attack places where Russian servicemen were likely to be killed, than it does the start of World War III. For the moment, at least, thank God.

But the fact that it was a fairly limited strike — compared to what it might have been — in which the majority of missiles failed to hit their targets, having been eliminated by Soviet-era air defences, does not in anyway absolve those who ordered the strike from the grave and reckless action they have taken and for which they are responsible. Not only did they authorise this action before an investigation had been carried out in Douma, and in fact hours before the OPCW inspectors were due there, they did so without consulting their respective legislative bodies, without knowing how many of their missiles would or would not hit their targets, or — and this is crucial — knowing for sure whether their actions would elicit a response from Russia.

In other words, if you live in Britain, France or America, you now know just how cheaply the leaders of your country hold your life, and the lives of your fellow countrymen. They have taken action which could have resulted — and might still result — in a direct clash with the Russian military, and while you have breath left in you, you must never forget this, and do all you can to hold these people to account for their lawless, reckless and enormously dangerous actions.

You must also remember that they did so not because they cared about ordinary Syrians, but because their diabolical attempts to topple the Syrian Government, by backing Islamic terrorist groups such as Jaysh al-Islam, has been thwarted.

But there is one more thing. Amongst the myriad of mind-boggling and often deceptive remarks made by Theresa May during her statement after the attacks, I was particularly struck by this:

“Together we have hit a specific and limited set of targets. They were a chemical weapons storage and production facility, a key chemical weapons research centre and a military bunker involved in chemical weapons attacks. Hitting these targets with the force that we have deployed will significantly degrade the Syrian Regime’s ability to research, develop and deploy chemical weapons.”

So the response to an alleged and unproven chemical weapons incident was to attempt to blow up alleged stockpiles of chemical weapons. I confess that I am not an expert in blowing up chemical weapons stockpiles, but it does seem to me to be a reckless and insane thing to do. If there really were stockpiles of chemical weapons in those places, exactly what guarantee could Donald and Theresa give that such chemicals would not then be released into the atmosphere? As I say, I’m not an expert in blowing up chemical weapons stockpiles — I doubt that there are many in the world who are — but it does seem to me at least possible that an action such as this is potentially catastrophic.

To continue reading: Why Theresa May Must be Impeached