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Libby’s Stew: US Applies WMD’s Playbook to Syria

“Braying for war against Syria” by Bill Van Auken:

Van Auken accuses the Washington political establishment of seriously escalating a campaign of propaganda about the alleged use of chemical weapons. This has been prompted, contends Van Auken, from Syrian government forces having military successes in recent weeks.

Large sections of the Syrian population, explains Van Auken, who originally opposed the Assad regime “are even more hostile to elements like Al Nusra [linked to Al Qaida] and the prospect of a Western military intervention in their country.”

Van Auken:

The cutthroats braying for war against Syria out of supposed concern over the use of chemical weapons have already killed a million Iraqis and hundreds of thousands of Afghans to this end, and they are prepared to slaughter millions more people.


"Obama and U.S. Military Divided Over Syria" by Shamus Cooke

Shamus Cooke contends that the political establishment along with the media are spewing confusing and contradictory declarations re US foreign policy in Syria.

Cooke compares Obama’s ”red line” talk to Bush, Jr.‘s "stupid, tough guy talk." War-mongering politicians are now adding to the stupidity by declaring that now that Obama has threatened intervention it would be weak not to take action.

Cooke writes:

This seemingly childish argument is in fact very compelling among the U.S. political establishment, who view foreign policy only in terms of military power.


In the real world it appears that the U.S.-backed Syrian rebels are the ones responsible for having used chemical weapons against the Syrian government. It was the Syrian government who initially accused the U.S.-backed rebels of using chemical weapons, and asked the UN to investigate the attack. This triggered the Syrian rebels and later the Obama administration to accuse the Syrian government of the attack.

Cooke explores the roots of the alleged chemical weapons attack and by whom:

A very revealing New York Times article quoted U.S.-backed Syrian rebels admitting that the chemical weapons attack took place in a Syrian government controlled territory and that 16 Syrian government soldiers died as a result of the attack, along with 10 civilians plus a hundred more injured. But the rebels later made the absurd claim that the Syrian government accidentally bombed its own military with the chemical weapons.

Interestingly, the Russian government later accused the United States of trying to stall the UN investigation requested by the Syrian government, by insisting that the parameters of the investigation be expanded to such a degree that a never-ending discussion over jurisdiction and rules would eventually abort the investigation.

Cooke concludes:

Thus, yet another secular Middle Eastern government — after Iraq and Libya — is being pushed into the abyss of Islamist extremism, and the shoving is being done by the United States, which The NewYork Times discovered was funneling thousands of tons of weapons into Syria through U.S. allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. We now know that these weapons were given to the Islamist extremists; directly or indirectly, it doesn’t matter.


"US ramps up plans for military intervention in Syria" by Joseph Kishore:

Joseph Kishore does not mince words about what US direct involvement in the war in Syria would mean:

The massive escalation of military violence in the Middle East, led by the United States, threatens to engulf the entire area in a regional war that could lead to the deaths of millions of people. A regional war could also quickly involve Russia and China, traditional allies of both Syria and Iran.

Only a few months into its second term, the Obama administration is setting a course with catastrophic consequences for the people of the Middle East, the United States and the entire world.

Kishore reveals that the US military intends to deploy 200 US troops to Syria’s southern neighbor, Jordan, to set up military headquarters for the 20,000 or more troops to arrive in upcoming months.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced at a meeting in Istanbul with “core” members of the Friends of Syria group that the US would be doubling its “non-lethal” assistance to the “so-called rebels” to $250 million. Reuters reports that such aid would include: “for the first time battlefield support equipment such as body armor and night-vision goggles. ... US officials have said in the past that the equipment could include armored vehicles and advanced communications equipment.”


Since the beginning of its efforts to instigate civil war in Syria, the United States has relied heavily on Islamic fundamentalist forces, particularly the Al Nusra front, which recently officially declared its allegiance to Al Qaeda. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have supplied weapons to these forces, while the US has been engaged in covert operations to send Islamist forces from Libya and other countries to assist in the campaign against Assad.


"Chemical Weapons Charade in Syria" by Sharmine Narwani

Narwani observes that with the ten year anniversary “of an Iraqi invasion and occupation based entirely on false and falsified data on Weapons of Mass Destruction” it is pathetic that western media is excitably asking about “red lines” and not for “iron-clad evidence” of chemical weaponry.

Narwani also points out that anti-rebel Syrians have been warning this past year about the possibility of a “false flag” operation on the part of the western powers and their proxy jihadist fighters.


I asked a State Department spokesperson the following: “Does it mean you don't know who has had access to the sample before it reached you? Or that the sample has not been contaminated along the way?”

He responded: “It could mean both.”

Chuck Hagel expands on that jaw-dropping admission: “We cannot confirm the origin of these weapons.” Although he goes on to conclude anyway: “but we do believe that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have originated with the Assad regime.”

Four-year-olds shouldn’t have confidence in the US intelligence community at this point. Yet we are supposed to believe that the Syrian government must be behind a chemical weapons attack because Hagel says so.

Narwani maintains that the Syrian army’s ability to push rebel fighters away from Damascus in the past few weeks have driven the so-called rebels' enablers, the US and its allies, to pull out the WMD’s playbook to justify their own directly military involvement to ensure illegitimate regime change.


The constant reference to CWs in this conflict is suspect – there is no conceivable military advantage to be gained from the use of these munitions. Writing for Foreign Policy in December, Charles Blair says using CWs against rebels makes no tactical or strategic sense:

“The regime would risk losing Russian and Chinese support, legitimizing foreign military intervention, and, ultimately, hastening its own end. As one Syrian official said, ‘We would not commit suicide.’”

In fact, there is plenty of evidence that the government has calibrated its military responses throughout this conflict to avoid scenarios that would create a pretext for foreign military intervention on “humanitarian grounds.”

Just as there is evidence aplenty that rebel forces will go to great lengths to create a pretext for foreign intervention that would help them oust Assad.

On March 19, a suspected chemical weapons attack near Aleppo prompted the Syrian government to ask the United Nations to launch an investigation. Witnesses reported the “smell of chlorine in the air,” which led to speculation that this could have been a rebel-led attack given that opposition militias had seized Syria’s only chlorine gas bottling plant, east of Aleppo, that August.

The use of chlorine gas-based explosives by insurgents was seen not so long ago in Iraq, where attacks against both authorities and civilians are traceable to 2006. US military spokespeople, at the time, claimed that insurgent tactics had become deadlier, seeking to draw maximum attention and impose widespread suffering.


"Syria and Sarin Gas: US Claims Have a Very Familiar Ring" by Robert Fisk:

Robert Fisk is disgusted with the mendacity, hypocrisy and double standardism of Washington:

Reports of the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons are part of a retold drama riddled with plot-holes

Is there any way of escaping the theatre of chemical weapons? First, Israeli "military intelligence" says that Bashar al-Assad's forces have used/have probably used/might have used/could use chemical weapons. Then Chuck Hagel, the US Defence Secretary, pops up in Israel to promise even more firepower for Israel's over-armed military – avoiding any mention of Israel's more than 200 nuclear warheads – and then imbibing all the Israeli "intelligence" on Syria's use/probable use/possible use of chemical weapons.

Then good ol' Chuck returns to Washington and tells the world that "this is serious business. We need all the facts." The White House tells Congress that US intelligence agencies, presumably the same as Israeli intelligence agencies since the two usually waffle in tandem, have "varying degrees of confidence" in the assessment.


In any normal society the red lights would now be flashing, especially in the world's newsrooms.


It all comes back to that most infantile cliché of all: that the US and Israel fear Assad's chemical weapons "falling into the wrong hands". They are frightened, in other words, that these chemicals might end up in the armoury of the very same rebels, especially the Islamists, that Washington, London, Paris, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are supporting. And if these are the "wrong hands", then presumably the weapons in Assad's armoury are in the "right hands". That was the case with Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons – until he used them against the Kurds.


"Arming the Syrian Rebels is Pouring Petrol on the Fire" by Sir Andrew Green, former British Ambassador to Syria:

Sir Andrew Green urges political leaders from US and UK to rethink the consequences of military intervention in Syria. He writes:

Harmless-sounding "assistance to the opposition" threatens to be a slippery slope that will drag us into the chaos that is developing in Syria.


So the only effect of "removing Assad" would be to have him replaced by one of the ruthless generals that have held the Syrians in their grip for 40 years.

Green gives a detailed overview of the realpolitik in Syria now and the grim consequences of a forced regime change:

If Bashar has been overestimated, his Alawite clan have been seriously underestimated. They are a mountain clan, an obscure sect loosely linked to the Shia, who number only about 10 per cent of Syria's 22 million people. Nevertheless, they have been the backbone of the Syrian army since French colonial times before the Second World War.

For the past 40 years they have been strengthening their grip on the country and have been violently suppressing the opposition, led by the Muslim Brotherhood. With that history behind them, they simply dare not lose power. If they were to, they believe that they and their families would be massacred. After the events of the last two years, they could well be right.

They have not held power alone. The many minorities - Christian, Druse, Kurds and others - preferred their rule to that of the Sunni majority. Indeed a fair number of Sunnis preferred an effectively secular regime to an alternative that might be run by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Living in Syria, one was very conscious that it was a tough police state. ... Syrians had come to take this in their stride, knowing that the alternative would be either an Islamic dictatorship or a descent into sectarian competition, not to say strife.


... The Alawites and their supporters will fight to the bitter end. With the military support of Russia and Iran, plus the political support of China (all for their own good reasons) the regime can last a while yet. If it eventually falls, Syria will descend into chaos. That is why so many of us who know Syria have been, from the start, strongly opposed to a "regime change" policy, however dressed-up.

The chaos will be intensified by the sectarian divisions in Syria and by the fact that these are revenge societies. For personal and traditional reasons, those who have suffered will be determined to exact revenge on the perpetrators or their families. 

Eventually, one of the many opposition groups will come out on top. The strongest candidate is Al-Nusra, the jihadist group who say they are allied to al-Qaeda, who have been the most courageous and effective of the opposition fighters. They have a further and critical advantage. They and their leaders are secret, while their competitors are publicly known. I would certainly not put it past them to intimidate and, if necessary, murder their competitors or any rival leaders who challenge them.

Green maintains that the western policy is pointing the wrong direction. “Supplying arms to the opposition would simply be pouring petrol on the fire.” Not only is there a danger in the weaponry falling into the “wrong hands,” but it would be contributing to the collapse of a government that would bring disaster not only to more of the citizenry but other countries such as Lebanon and Iraq and beyond.


"US pledges to arm Syrian opposition as new terror bombing hits Damascus" by Alex Lantier: 

Alex Lantier stresses the nightmare that US military involvement in Syria will invite:

As it fans the flames of sectarian warfare, Washington is setting the stage for a war that could ignite the entire Middle East and be far more destructive and costly than the already deeply unpopular wars launched by the Bush administration. The broader US objective is regime-change in Iran—Syria’s main regional ally—and the establishment of unchallenged US imperialist hegemony over the entire Middle East.


Taking a page from the Bush administration’s lying “weapons of mass destruction” propaganda in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, Obama is using completely unsubstantiated charges of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime as a pretext for an escalation of the US-orchestrated war for regime-change that has already killed tens of thousands of Syrians and turned a million more into refugees.

Lantier points out that Washington itself designated Al Nusra Front “a terrorist organization” last December. It noted that Al Nusra [Al Qaeda-linked] had carried out 600 terror bombings which had injured and killed multitudes of innocent Syrians. And yet re Washington’s “ends justifies the means” amoral predatory war-mongering,

Lantier declares:

The operational alliance between the US and Al Qaeda underscores the criminal character of US foreign policy and the political fraud of the so-called “war on terror.”

Lantier further calls out the posturing of the US administration:

Obama’s invocation of “international law” is cynical and repugnant. His administration is the biggest violator of international law on the planet, its crimes including drone assassinations that have killed thousands in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; the abduction of alleged terrorists and their transfer to allied regimes and CIA black sites to be tortured; the illegal detention, abuse and torture of alleged terrorists at Guantanamo and other US prisons around the world; and the adoption of a policy of preemptive war, i.e., aggressive war against current or potential rivals of US imperialism.

Obama is hypocritically invoking international law to justify the escalation of a war that Washington has pursued in large measure through terrorist bombings carried out by its proxy forces in Syria.

Sections of US media Lantier laments are recklessly “braying for an immediate war.” He cites Richard Cohen, a so-called liberal columnist at the Washington Post, as comparing Obama to the “Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz.”

Lantier reminds us once again that Washington is plowing ahead with more reckless warring despite the will of the populations of both the US and the Middle East.

Washington is escalating its proxy war in Syria in defiance of massive public opposition in both the United States and the Middle East. A New York Times /CBS poll published yesterday found that 62 percent of the US public opposes intervention in Syria, with only 25 percent expressing support. Fully 77 percent oppose war with North Korea.


"Washington fabricates chemical weapons pretext for war against Syria" by Bill Van Auken:

Van Auken:

Knowing that they have no proof and what evidence there is points to the Al Qaeda-affiliated elements they have supported, the US and its allies are nonetheless determined to use the accusations over chemical weapons to sell another war to the public.


But what gives the US the moral authority to proclaim “red lines” on this issue? In its nearly nine-year war in Iraq, the US military used chemical weapons to devastating effect. In its barbaric siege of Fallujah, it employed white phosphorus shells and an advanced form of napalm, both banned by international conventions, to burn men, women and children alive.

The legacy of these weapons continues to plague the Iraqi people—with huge increases in child leukemia and cancer, and an epidemic of nightmarish birth defects in Fallujah, Basra and other cities subjected to US military siege.

In recent days, Van Auken contends, Washington, NATO allies, Israel and Qatar are broadcasting “trumped-up” charges that Syria has used chemical weapons.

Van Auken writes:

There is no proof whatsoever that the Assad regime used chemical weapons. The Syrian government has itself charged the US-backed “rebels”—dominated by Al Qaeda-linked elements who boast that they have obtained such arms and are prepared to use them—of carrying out a gas attack in the village of Khan al-Assal near Aleppo last March. According to the Syrian military, the weapon was a rocket carrying chlorine gas that was fired from a rebel-controlled area at a military checkpoint in an area controlled by the government. A number of soldiers were among its victims.

The Assad regime requested that the United Nations send an inspection team to investigate the incident, but the US, Britain and France demanded that any team be given unfettered access to the entire country and all Syrian facilities. This would have created the same kind of inspection regime used to prepare the US invasion of Iraq.

Van Auken asserts that the pretext of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime arises from growing frustration of the US and its European allies that their proxy forces in Syria are not making enough headway in regime change. This is because there is still enough of a popular base of support in Syria for the Assad regime as well as a growing number of people who despite detesting the Assad regime “hate and fear even more the Islamist “elements” -- “from the Muslim Brotherhood to Al Qaeda -- which are pushing to replace it.

Van Auken:

Behind the pretense that the cutthroats that rule the US and Europe are concerned about human rights and Syrian lives, the reality is that they are preparing bombings, the use of cruise missiles and Predator drones, and potential ground invasion that will dramatically increase Syria’s death toll.

The motives underlying such a war have nothing to do with qualms about chemical weapons, but rather concern definite geostrategic interests.


The principal losers in a successful war for regime change would be Iran, which recently signed a major pipeline deal—bitterly opposed by Washington—with Syria and Iraq that is ultimately aimed at bringing Iranian gas to the Mediterranean Sea, and Russia, which has sought to expand its own influence in energy development in the region.

The principal winners would be the US and its allies, together with the major US and Western European-based energy conglomerates.

The real goal for military intervention in Syria by US and NATO allies, according to Van Auken, is to prepare the way for a far larger war against Iran. Why war with Iran? For “neocolonial control over the vast energy-producing region stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Basin.”

Van Auken:

The real issue in this conflict is not the nature of the Syrian regime, but the nature of the regimes that rule the US, Britain, France and Germany, which are embarking on another predatory carve-up of the world like those that produced the First and Second World Wars.




Have we learned nothing from the government/media seductive garden-path of evil to the Iraq War? Will we as a citizenry embrace denial or minimization of this heart-of-darkness Syrian reality by over-trusting a government, and corporate media for that matter, that has proven to be devastatingly untrustworthy and dooming for us and the global family of men, women and children?

[cross-posted on open salon]

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Submitted by jawbone on

misinterpretations, in misleading the public, in bringing death, destruction, and chaos.

But it all springs from the NeoCon/NeoLib desire to apply hegemonic US power wherever they can. And, of course, from longstanding US hubris that if a nation does not kowtow to the USA's demands, the government of that nation must be crushed, by whatever means necessary. Small plane accidents, for the single leader. Instigation of "color revolutions," if possible. Assistance in developing, directing, and arming "rebellions" and terror attacks in more difficult to manipulate nations. Small coups where applicable. Illegal invasion and occupation for the most recalcitrant nations. Those who oppose the US will be destroyed. Or will suffer economically. For as long as it takes.

Obama is right there, leading, sometimes up front, sometimes "from behind." But he has his clear marching orders and is following them. Otherwise he would not have been vetted by the Powers That Be to be the Dem nominee for president.

And the press plays an important role in bamboozling the public into believing any of these actions which can be traced back or are forthrightly done by our government are being done to "save" the people of the nation so attacked. Doing good through death, destruction, and chaos.

The Mainstream Coporate Media is playing the role of the yellow journalists during the Spanish-American War. NPR and CBS, which I've been following somewhat, somehow find barely any information from supporters of the Syrian government, but are awash with reporters embedded with the "rebels" and "terrists" -- but never calling them terrists. The BBC is slightly more aware of Syrians who support the government, but the majority of coverage and editorializing is about the brave "rebels."

Now, anonymous WH officials are saying the US will soon supply "lethal weapons" to the "rebels," but, of course, we've been doing that for almost two years now. And still the government stays in power, while great swathes of Syria's urban areas are pulverized, their populations forced to flee.

We, the people of the US, who support our government with our taxes if not our assent, are, through our government, through our Nobel Peace Prize president, bringers of death, destruction, and chaos to Syria. And to many other small nations.

We have to live with that...

Submitted by libbyliberal on

jawbone, thanks so much for your sanity and perception. some of my fellow bloggers at open salon are getting out the torches and pitchforks against me for maligning Obama who's teflon-ness (or he really deserves a more modern and powerful metaphor) is unimpeachable (that is the right word choice, sadly). Mainstream media NEVER brings up international law just as it avoids constitutional law on the domestic scene. At least with the Bush cabal there was moral outrage and indignation among so much of the population. When Obama spoke about Gitmo and hunger strikers he deserved an Academy Award, blaming outward and acting like he just found out about it yesterday. Oy vey. Randy Shields refers to Obama's Barackodile tears! How can we push back against the war mongering gamespeople in Congress, administration and WH when the will of the people is so neutered by the faux-progressive cronyism of team Dem and Obama? More lives lost. We as Americans are accessories to MASS MURDER!

Thanks for commenting, my friend.

best, libby