• Some Hindsight: The Lies that Dumped America Into the Syrian War

    September 2, 2016 // 40 Comments »

    assad


    Checking out the news these days, it might seem pretty clear why the U.S. is at war in Syria: destroy ISIS. That is almost certainly the way the two main presidential candidates will see it during their upcoming first debate, in a rare point of agreement.


    The funny thing is that ISIS did not become the reason for what now is a major regional war until late in the game.

    If we rewind about three years, the original justification was to “rid the world of the dictator,” Syrian president Bashar Assad. The U.S. involvement was started under the pretext that Assad was using chemical weapons against the other side in what was once confined to a civil war. American declared Assad thus had to go to avoid a genocide and humanitarian disaster.

    FYI: If you read no further, remember anytime a politician uses the word “genocide” these days we’re about to be dragged into another conflict that will morph into a quagmire.

    So here’s a reprise of something I wrote three years ago. Let’s revisit it and see whether or not any of the current disaster, political and humanitarian, could have been anticipated.


    From Three Years Ago:

    As for intervening in Syria, the United Nations does not say to do it. The United Kingdom voted against it, the first time in two decades the UK has not supported U.S. military action [the UK later changed it’s policy and is now involved across the Middle East again]. The U.S. Congress will not have an opportunity to vote on it, though many members have reservations. Many in our own military have doubts. Half of all American oppose it. Why does the president insist America must attack Syria?

    Obama’s reasons seem vague at best, something from the 19th century about “firing a shot across Assad’s bow” as if this is a pirate movie. Or maybe protecting the U.S., though Syria (and others) have had chemical weapons for years without threatening the U.S. Even Saddam did not use chemical weapons against the U.S. during two American-led invasions of his own country. To protect the women and children of Syria? If that is the goal, the U.S. might best send doctors and medicine to the refugee camps, and nerve gas antidotes into Syria itself.

    Vagueness is a very poor basis for the U.S. entering into another war in the Middle East, throwing itself deeper into a chaotic and volatile situation it little understands.

    So let’s reprise our handy questions summary:

    — The U.S. is intervening in Syria’s civil war because maybe it was Assad who used poison gas.

    — The poison gas killed a couple of thousand people. A horrible thing by any measure.

    — Close to 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war to date [in 2013; the death toll is now likely in the millions].

    — The U.S. is thus going to war again in the Middle East because a tiny percentage of the deaths were caused by gas instead of artillery, aerial bombs, machine guns, tanks, rockets, grenades, car bombs, mines, bad food, or sticks and stones.

    Because it seems Obama is not asking himself some important questions, here’s a list he may wish to consult:

    — Is it Iraq again? That went well.

    — Does it have oil?

    — Does it pose a direct threat to America, i.e., knife to our throat?

    — Can you define specifically what U.S. interests are at stake (no fair just citing generic “world peace” or “evil dictator” or a magical “red line”)?

    — Does the Chemical Weapons Treaty say it is the U.S.’ job to take punitive action against violators? [Trick question; it does not.]

    — Is Syria’s evil dictator somehow super-worse than the many other evil dictators scattered across the world where the U.S. is not intervening?

    — Did Syria attack any U.S. forces somewhere? Kidnap Americans? Commit 9/11?

    — Does the U.S. have a specific, detailed follow-on plan for what happens if Assad departs or is killed?

    — Does the U.S. have a specific plan to ensure weapons given to the rebels, some of whom are openly al Qaeda [Now ISIS], won’t migrate out of Syria as they did in Libya?

    — Does the U.S. believe its secret deal with the “rebels” whoever the hell they are to hand over Syria’s chemical weapons after they take power is airtight?

    — With that in mind, can the U.S. tell with accuracy the “good” rebels from the “bad” rebels?

    — Has the U.S. considered in detail what affect a rebel (Sunni) victory in Syria will have on chaotic Iraq next door and the greater Middle East?

    — What are the possible unintended consequences of another military strike? Are they worth whatever is hoped to be gained by the strike?

    Obama, if the answer was “No” to any of the above questions, you should not intervene in Syria.

    NOTE: Obama did intervene, and golly, who could have thought it, look what happened!




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    Guilty! UN Report on Syria Does Not Say What John Kerry Says it Said

    September 24, 2013 // 3 Comments »


    (This post originally appeared on Fire Dog Lake)

    The UN released its report on chemical weapons use in Syria. You can read it here. It’s not that long, just some forty pages including legal appendices. John Kerry says it confirms that the Assad regime fired the gas rockets. Unfortunately, that is not what the actual report says. In a court, Kerry’s case might be seen as circumstantial at best, certainly not enough for a jury to return a guilty verdict in a murder trial.

    Kerry said this (emphasis added):

    And what did they [the UN inspectors] learn? They returned with several crucial details that confirmed that the Assad regime is guilty of carrying out that attack, even though that was not the mandate of the UN report. But anybody who reads the facts and puts the dots together, which is easy to do – and they made it easy to do – understands what those facts mean.

    The White House added: “Indeed, several crucial details confirm the regime’s guilt.”

    The problem is that the report does not confirm anything other than chemical weapons were used. I can’t give you a quote because the report simply does not say– anywhere– that the Syria Army, or the rebels, or anyone by name– used the weapons. But don’t believe me. Unlike Kerry, I provide links, so check the full text of the report. If you don’t care to read it all, skip to page five, “Conclusions.” It just isn’t there. No one is named as the culprit.

    Regardless, Kerry goes on to make his circumstantial argument:

    We, the United States, have associated one of the munitions identified in the UN report, the 122-millimeter improvised rocket, with previous Assad regime attacks. There’s no indication – none – that the opposition is in possession or has launched a CW variant of these rockets such as the kind that was used in the 21st of August attack. Equally significant, the environmental, chemical, and medical samples that the UN investigators collected provide clear and compelling evidence that the surface-to-surface rockets used in this attack contained the nerve agent sarin. We know the Assad regime possesses sarin and there’s not a shred of evidence, however, that the opposition does.

    Objection your Honor! The prosecutor is jumping to a conclusion not supported by the evidence. He has found a gun next to the body. That the victim is sadly dead was never in question. That that gun was used to kill him was never in question. However, what, if anything, ties that gun and thus the murder to my client? Where is that evidence your Honor? The prosecutor is jumping from A to C in a capital case without putting the gun in my client’s hand.

    Sustained. The prosecution must show evidence that the defendant actually used the gun to commit the crime.

    Who shot the gas rockets? Could they have been fired by rogue military elements not acting under Assad’s orders? Could the Syrian army have lost control of some rockets which were picked up by the rebels (Vladimir Putin has made that very claim, that the rebels themselves fired the gas rockets in an attempt to draw the United States into the conflict)? Could a third party have supplied such rockets to the rebels to create a pretext for war? As there is no evidence in the UN report that the trigger was pulled by the Syrian Army under Assad’s orders, there is no evidence that the rebels pulled it and no evidence that someone else did. That’s why the UN report does not draw a conclusion of guilt– there’s no evidence on which to base such a conclusion.

    A final point. Page 22 of the report says:

    As with other sites, the locations have been well-traveled by other individuals prior to the arrival of the [UN] Mission. Time spent on the sites was well-used but limited. During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.

    Evidence tampering? A contaminated crime scene? Your Honor, I move that charges be dismissed against my client.

    Sustained. Prosecutor Kerry, I hold you in contempt!

    The U.S. is wholly misrepresenting facts in favor of another Middle East war. Unlike a fictional murder trial where one man’s life is on the line, should the U.S. attack Syria many, many people will lose their lives.

    I feel no jury would convict on the evidence presented by John Kerry, but, hey, you be the judge.




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    Let’s Not Have Another War (Syria Edition, A Handy Checklist)

    August 29, 2013 // 11 Comments »



    This article also appeared on the Huffington Post

    Hah! You just crossed my red line with your chemical weapon eyes, clearing the way to me cruise missile you!

    But enough about me. Like me, I am sure that you are overjoyed at the prospect of the U.S. inserting itself even deeper into another MidEast civil war (I think it is still Syria at present but the U.S. could have invaded another place between the time this was written and when you are reading it.)

    The United Nations does not say to do it. The United Kingdom voted against it, the first time in two decades the U.K. has not supported U.S. military action. The U.S. Congress will not have an opportunity to vote on it, though many members have reservations. Many in our own military have doubts. Half of all American oppose it. Why does the president insist America must attack Syria?

    Obama’s reasons seem vague at best, something from the 19th century about “firing a shot across Assad’s bow” as if this is a pirate movie. Or maybe protecting the U.S., though Syria (and others) have had chemical weapons for years without threatening the U.S. Even Saddam did not use chemical weapons against the U.S. during two American-led invasions of his own country. To protect women and children? If that is the goal, the U.S. might best send doctors and medicine to the refugee camps, and nerve gas antidotes into Syria itself.

    Vagueness is a very poor basis for the U.S. entering into another war in the Middle East, throwing itself deeper into a chaotic and volatile situation it little understands.

    So let’s reprise our handy questions summary:

    The U.S. is intervening in Syria’s civil war because maybe it was Assad who used poison gas.

    The poison gas killed a couple of thousand people. A horrible thing by any measure.

    Close to 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war to date.

    The U.S. is thus going to war again in the Middle East because a tiny percentage of the deaths were caused by gas instead of artillery, aerial bombs, machine guns, tanks, rockets, grenades, car bombs, mines, bad food, or sticks and stones.

    Because it seems Obama is not asking himself some important questions, here’s a list he may wish to consult:

    Is it Iraq again? That went well.

    Does it have oil?

    Does it pose a direct threat to America, i.e., knife to our throat?

    Can you define specifically what U.S. interests are at stake (no fair just citing generic “world peace” or “evil dictator” or a magical “red line”)? Even John Boehner made sense on this question.

    Does the Chemical Weapons Treaty say it is the U.S.’ job to take punitive action against violators?

    Is Syria’s evil dictator somehow super-worse than the many other evil dictators scattered across the world where the U.S. is not intervening?

    Did Syria attack any U.S. forces somewhere? Kidnap Americans? Commit 9/11?

    Does the U.S. have a specific, detailed follow-on plan for what happens if Assad departs or is killed?

    Does the U.S. have a specific plan to ensure weapons given to the rebels, some of whom are openly al Qaeda, won’t migrate out of Syria as they did in Libya?

    Does the U.S. believe its secret deal with the “rebels” whoever the hell they are to hand over Syria’s chemical weapons after they take power is airtight?

    With that in mind, can the U.S. tell with accuracy the “good” rebels from the “bad” rebels?

    Has the U.S. considered in detail what affect a rebel (Sunni) victory in Syria will have on chaotic Iraq next door and the greater Middle East?

    What are the possible unintended consequences of another military strike? Are they worth whatever is hoped to be gained by the strike?

    Obama, if the answer was “No” to any of the above questions, you should not intervene in Syria.

    BONUS: The U.S.’ use of white phosphorus and tear gas against civilian areas in Fallujah during the liberation of Iraq, and the use of depleted uranium munitions during the Iraq and Afghan crusades clearly do not in any way constitute the use of chemical weapons. Nor did Agent Orange and napalm in Vietnam.

    Also this:




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    Syria: Crossing the Red Line

    June 14, 2013 // 16 Comments »


    Hah! You just crossed my red line with your terrorist reading eyes, clearing the way to me invading you and arming whatever thugs oppose you!

    But enough about me. Like me, I am sure that you are overjoyed at the prospect of the U.S. inserting itself even deeper into another MidEast civil war (I think it is still Syria at present but the U.S. could have invaded another place between the time this was written and when you are reading). So let’s try another handy quiz:

    The U.S. is intervening in Syria’s civil war because Assad used poison gas.

    The poison gas killed 100-150 people.

    Close to 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war to date.

    The U.S. is thus going to war again in the Middle East because 0.001 percent of the deaths were caused by gas instead of artillery, aerial bombs, machine guns, tanks, rockets, grenades, car bombs, mines, bad food, or sticks and stones.


    (Also, please note that the U.S.’ use of white phosphorus and tear gas against civilian areas in Fallujah during the liberation of Iraq, and the use of depleted uranium munitions during the Iraq and Afghan crusades clearly do not in any way constitute the use of chemical weapons. Nor did Agent Orange in Vietnam.)




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