By Brent Parrish
The rush to war … the rush to war … the rush to war … blah, blah, blah! How many times did we hear that refrain from the left in the lead-up to the Iraq war? And forever after?
But now the administration tells us it is “immediately necessary” to strike Bashar al-Assad’s regime for an alleged chemical attack that occurred on August 21, 2013, east of Damascus, Syria, in the Gouta area, which allegedly killed 1,432 people, including some 400-plus children. Truly a horrible crime, indeed, if true. But I must admit, it baffles me the president is so adamant about striking Syria immediately.
Let’s just rewind a bit, here. We knew for a fact that Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq War. I don’t recall anybody, either Republican or Democrat, making a strong appeal to use military force against Saddam Hussein. Of course, the horrible chemical attack of the Kurds in Halabja outraged the world. But, once again, there was no real call for going to war with Iraq at that time.
The civil war that has been raging in Syria for the past two-and-a-half years is brutal beyond belief and has killed more than 100,000 people. There have been terrible acts of violence and torture on both sides. When it comes to U.S. foreign policy regarding Syria, it really is a matter of two bad choices–a terrorist-sponsoring despot? or the terrorists themselves?
The British Parliament recently voted “no” to military involvement in Syria. Following the vote, I heard one man being interviewed by the British press say, “Outrage is not a strategy.” I could not agree more. Going to war based on outrage is not a strategy; it’s the noise before defeat.
Pardon me, if I might be a bit skeptical about launching into a shiny new war, considering the protracted conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, replete with ridiculous rules of engagement (ROE), effectively tying our military’s hands behind their backs, while they march off to fight a merciless enemy sans a solid strategy, and the operations to support it, from the Commander-in-Chief and Congress.
So much of what’s being sold to the American people as “undeniable” proof that the Assad regime conducted a chemical attack against the citizens of Gouta is primarily based upon anecdotal and video evidence.
Establishing a timeline of what actually happened east of Damascus on August 21, 2013, is not easy. But I have been doing a lot of research the past couple of nights and would like to share what I’ve learned. I’m going to try and take a who, what, when, where, why approach to the evidence currently available.
There have been reports–largely ignored by the administration and the press–of a deadly sarin gas attack that occurred March 19 in in Khan al Asal, a suburb in Aleppo, in which 26 people died and 86 were injured. The Russian Foreign Ministry says it has compiled a 100-page report detailing what it says is evidence that Syrian rebels were responsible, not forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
The Toronto Star reported (emphasis mine):
Russia says it has compiled a 100-page report detailing what it says is evidence that Syrian rebels, not forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, were behind a deadly sarin gas attack in an Aleppo suburb earlier this year.
In a statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website late Wednesday, Russia said the report had been delivered to the United Nations in July and includes detailed scientific analysis of samples that Russian technicians collected at the site of the alleged attack, Khan al Assal.
Russia said its investigation of the March 19 incident was conducted under strict protocols established by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international agency that governs adherence to treaties prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. It said samples that Russian technicians had collected had been sent to OPCW-certified laboratories in Europe.
The statement also noted that the attention paid to the Aug. 21 had diverted attention from the March 19 incident, which was the reason UN investigators were in Syria when the Aug. 21 attack took place.
A UN team spent four days late last month investigating the Aug. 21 incident. The samples it collected from the site and alleged victims of the attack are currently being examined at OPCW labs in Europe. UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon has urged the United States to delay any strike until after the results of that investigation are known.
The statement’s summary of the report said that neither the munitions nor the poison gas in the Khan al Asal attack appeared to fit what is possessed by the Syrian government. The statement said Russian investigators studied the site, sent the materials they found to study to OPCW sanctioned laboratories in Europe, and followed agreed-upon United Nations investigation standards.
According to the statement, the report said the shell “was not regular Syrian army ammunition but was an artisan-type similar to unguided rocket projectiles produced in the north of Syria by the so-called gang ‘Bashair An-Nasr.’”
In addition, Russian investigators determined that the burst charge was RDX, which is “not used in military chemical munitions.”
Russia Today reported:
Probes from Khan al-Assal show chemicals used in the March 19 attack did not belong to standard Syrian army ammunition, and that the shell carrying the substance was similar to those made by a rebel fighter group, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.
But the samples taken at the site of the March 19 attack and analyzed by Russian experts indicate that a projectile carrying the deadly nerve agent sarin was most likely fired at Khan al-Assal by the rebels, the ministry statement suggests, outlining the 100-page report handed over to the UN by Russia.
The Washington Times reported:
Testimony from victims strongly suggests it was the rebels, not the Syrian government, that used Sarin nerve gas during a recent incident in the revolution-wracked nation, a senior U.N. diplomat said Monday.
Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss TV there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels seeking to oust Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad had used the nerve agent.
Damascus has recently facing growing Western accusations that its forces used such weapons, which President Obama has described as crossing a red line. But Ms. del Ponte’s remarks may serve to shift the focus of international concern.
Ms. del Ponte, who in 1999 was appointed to head the U.N. war crimes tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, has sometimes been a controversial figure. She was removed from her Rwanda post by the U.N. Security Council in 2003, but she continued as the chief prosecutor for the Yugoslav tribunal until 2008.
Ms. del Ponte, a former Swiss prosecutor and attorney general, told Swiss TV: “Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals. According to their report of last week, which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated.”
She gave no further details, the BBC said.
The Ulstermann Report reported:
Back in May, United Nations human rights investigator Carla de Ponte publicly indicated use of sarin gas by Syrian rebels. This declaration was completely ignored by both the Obama White House and most within the Mainstream Media. President Obama instead, repeated his concerns that it was the Assad regime that might use chemical weapons, even as Carla de Ponte was indicating the evidence pointed instead to the Syrian rebels already having done so – the same “rebels” the Obama administration is pushing to more fully fund and support via money, weapons, and American-led military strikes against the Assad regime.
If the violation of the “red line” set by the president was the use of chemical weapons, why were these earlier reports of chemical attacks by Syrian rebels completely ignored by the Obama Administration and mainstream news outlets? Does it matter which side uses weapons of mass destruction? Is there an assumption on part of the administration that only the Syrian Assad Army (SAA) would deploy chemical weapons?
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has overrun a number of large SAA ammunition depots, which very well could’ve contained chemical rounds, or chemical agents, over the past two and a half years. There have been similar reports during the Iraq war of insurgents unwittingly, or perhaps knowingly, using captured chemical rounds from Saddam’s inventory for IED’s–point being that one cannot rule out the possibility Syrian rebels may indeed be in possession of SAA chemical weapons or technology.
Let’s look at U.S. intelligence on the reported chemical attack that occurred August 21 in eastern Gouta.
In Secretary John Kerry’s recent statement on Syria he cites as “undeniable” proof intelligence claims contained in a document released by the White House entitled the “Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013″ (located here). Even in the government’s own assessment of the alleged chemical attack, it states clearly that they “assess with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs on August 21.” Obviously “high confidence” is clearly not synonymous with “undeniable” proof.
A link to the map below is included with the government’s assessment and shows the rebel-held areas east of Damascus, in the eastern Gouta area, where the attack reportedly occurred.
The Fox News video above provides an overview of the alleged disposition of rebels (FSA), extremist groups (Al Nusra et al.?), and SAA forces in Syria, as it stands now, in three distinct sectors. The rebels primarily occupy northern Syria, while the Syrian Assad Army controls the south. (I’m unclear how the producers of the map determined the lines of demarcation between what they call “extremist groups” and the “rebels.”) But a corridor stretching from the border with Jordan moving toward the Syrian capital city of Damascus is being carved out by the Syrian rebels in the south. The rebels appear to control one neighborhood east of Damascus where the chemical attack allegedly occurred. The White House assessment claims the Assad regime was determined to wipe out this pocket of resistance in eastern Gouta.
Secretary Kerry provided the following timeline of events of the August 21 attack in his statement on Syria:
We know that for three days before the attack, the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons personnel were on the ground in the area, making preparations.
And we know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons.
We know that these were specific instructions.
We know where the rockets were launched from, and at what time. We know where they landed, and when. We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods.
And we know, as does the world, that just 90 minutes later all hell broke loose in the social media. With our own eyes we have seen the thousands of reports from 11 separate sites in the Damascus suburbs. All of them show and report victims with breathing difficulties, people twitching with spasms, coughing, rapid heartbeats, foaming at the mouth, unconsciousness, and death. And we know it was ordinary Syrian citizens who reported all of these horrors.
And just as important, we know what the doctors and the nurses who treated them didn’t report — not a scratch, not a shrapnel wound, not a cut, not a gunshot sound. We saw rows of dead lined up in burial shrouds, the white linen unstained by a single drop of blood.
The video below contains several reports that appear to contradict, or at least put into doubt, some of the accusations being made by both the American and French governments. Of particular interest is the CNN report from Damascus by Frederik Pleitgen, which raises troubling questions surrounding the events on August 21 east of Damascus. (Note: whoever put this video together added some captions that I do not necessarily agree with–namely the claim that the NGO “Doctors Without Borders” is a CIA front group, or the allegation Israel is providing weapons to the “fake FSA.” Be forewarned, I’m not a subscriber to all the Zionist conspiracy nonsense.)
In the the video above, an article is mentioned quoting chemical weapons expert Dan Kaszeta. According to Kaszeta, and other Western experts, the Syria footage appears inconsistent with use of a military-grade chemical weapon (more here, including video).
Haaretz reported (Dan Kaszeta text from video):
Western experts on chemical warfare who have examined at least part of the footage are skeptical that weapons-grade chemical substances were used, although they all emphasize that serious conclusions cannot be reached without thorough on-site examination.
Dan Kaszeta, a former officer of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps and a leading private consultant, pointed out a number of details absent from the footage so far: “None of the people treating the casualties or photographing them are wearing any sort of chemical-warfare protective gear,” he says, “and despite that, none of them seem to be harmed.” This would seem to rule out most types of military-grade chemical weapons, including the vast majority of nerve gases, since these substances would not evaporate immediately, especially if they were used in sufficient quantities to kill hundreds of people, but rather leave a level of contamination on clothes and bodies which would harm anyone coming in unprotected contact with them in the hours after an attack. In addition, he says that “there are none of the other signs you would expect to see in the aftermath of a chemical attack, such as intermediate levels of casualties, severe visual problems, vomiting and loss of bowel control.”
Steve Johnson, a leading researcher on the effects of hazardous material exposure at England’s Cranfield University who has worked with Britain’s Ministry of Defense on chemical warfare issues, agrees that “from the details we have seen so far, a large number of casualties over a wide area would mean quite a pervasive dispersal. With that level of chemical agent, you would expect to see a lot of contamination on the casualties coming in, and it would affect those treating them who are not properly protected. We are not seeing that here.”
Additional questions also remain unanswered, especially regarding the timing of the attack, being that it occurred on the exact same day that a team of UN inspectors was in Damascus to investigate earlier claims of chemical weapons use. It is also unclear what tactical goal the Syrian army would have been trying to achieve, when over the last few weeks it has managed to push back the rebels who were encroaching on central areas of the capital. But if this was not a chemical weapons attack, what then caused the deaths of so many people without any external signs of trauma?
The Syrian rebels (and perhaps other players in the region) have a clear interest in presenting this as the largest chemical attack by the army loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad to date, even if the cause was otherwise, especially while the UN inspectors are in the country. It is also in their interest to do so whilst U.S. President Barack Obama remains reluctant to commit any military support to the rebels, when only the crossing of a “red line” could convince him to change his policy.
The rebels and the doctors on the scene may indeed believe that chemical weapons were used, since they fear such an attack, but they may not have the necessary knowledge and means to make such a diagnosis. The European Union demanded Wednesday that the UN inspectors be granted access to the new sites of alleged chemical attacks, but since this is not within the team’s mandate, it is unlikely that the Syrian government will do so.
Kaszeta has written two papers that bring up a number of compelling questions regarding the August 21 attack near Damascus. Additionally, both papers (located here and here) delve deeper into the technical aspects of chemical weapons and the type of physiological symptoms created by exposure to chemical agents.
One of the more intriguing questions Kaszeta raises, why are the people who are handling casualties of a chemical attack not wearing any protective gear? Since nerve agents like Sarin (GB) can be trapped in clothing and other materials, coming into direct contact with people exposed to a lethal nerve agent could prove deadly, as Kaszeta points out.
Kaszeta states in his paper “What Happened? If it isn’t Sarin, what is it?“:
In the videos, people are standing around both the dead and injured. Medical providers, both professional and obvious amateurs are handling injured people and their clothing, with no protective equipment. Many dead bodies are handled with no gloves. If some of the dead and injured were contaminated with even minute amounts of nerve agent, other people would be getting ill very quickly.
Other questions as to why some victims of the alleged chemical attack do not exhibit pinpoint pupils–a known symptom of exposure to a nerve agent–or why frothing is occurring from the mouth with no discharge from the nostrils remain as well.
Having read both of Kaszeta’s papers, I also researched some of his sources. In the process, I stumbled upon an article written by Dennis Kucinich, who obviously read the same papers by Kaszeta that I had, since he cites many of the same sources I’m linking to in this article. Upon reading these articles, it became painfully clear to me that the administration has hardly presented a “slam dunk“ case to the American people on why we must rush to war in Syria.
I must digress for a moment. I do find it more than a little strange that I, as a conservative, find myself in agreement with people like Dennis Kucinich and Alan Grayson when it comes to US military involvement in Syria, while I see leaders from my own party, i.e. Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham, wanting to run pellmell into striking Syria based on some very inconclusive and questionable evidence. But it is what it is.
Kucinich’s article “Top 10 Unproven Claims for War Against Syria” poses a number of insightful questions regarding the intelligence the Obama Administration is relying on to justify a military strike against the Syrian Assad regime, especially after reading Kaszeta’s papers. As the president is so fond of saying, “America deserves answers.”
Secretary Kerry stated confidently in his statement on Syria:
We know where the rockets were launched from, and at what time. We know where they landed, and when. We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods.
Kucinich asks for more clarification in his 10-point article regarding the means of dissemination of the chemical agent the administration claims was released in a rocket attack:
- Who was tracking the rocket and the artillery attack which preceded the poison gas release?
- Did these events occur simultaneously or consecutively?
- Could these events, the rocket launches and the release of poison gas, have been conflated?
- Based upon the evidence, is it possible that a rocket attack by the Syrian government was aimed at rebels stationed among civilians and a chemical weapons attack was launched by rebels against the civilian population an hour and a half later?
- Is it possible that chemical weapons were released by the rebels — unintentionally?
- Explain the 90-minute time interval between the rocket launch and chemical weapon attacks.
- Has forensic evidence been gathered at the scene of the attack which would confirm the use of rockets to deliver the gas?
- If there was a rocket launch would you supply evidence of wounds from the rockets impact and explosion?
- What is the source of the government’s analysis?
- If the rockets were being tracked via “geospatial intelligence,” what were the geospatial coordinates of the launching sites and termination locations?
Further reading: FAIR.org report
Now this is where it gets interesting. Kaszeta’s first paper also expresses his desire for more details on how the chemical weapons were deployed.
Kaszeta clearly states that the means of dissemination is unknown. This would seem to fly in the face of the administration’s claims that they are certain it was rockets, even going so far as to say they know who fired them, and from where.
And, to add gas to the fire, Rob Miller, of Joshuapundit fame, pondered all the conflicting rebel accounts on how the gas was delivered in his excellent analysis on the Syrian bloodbath entitled Syria-Ossity:
Then, there were those conflicting claims at first from the insurgents about how the gas attack had been delivered. First, the gas was supposedly delivered via missiles. When EU politicians and our own local critters like John McCain started yapping about enforcing a no fly zone, all of a sudden the rebels started claiming the gas come via an aerial bombardment – except there was no evidence of shrapnel wounds that normally come with both artillery or airborne attacks of this kind. It’s also worth remembering that when news of the attacks first went public, the UN delegation and foreign diplomats were denied access to the attack site for a few days by the Syrian opposition because it ‘wasn’t safe’ for them.
So there appears to be no clear consensus among numerous sources on how the chemical weapons were deployed in the Gouta attack.
Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Joel B. Pollak pointed out in an interview with local talk show host Greg Garrison this week that the Syrian Assad Army primarily uses small mobile delivery systems for its chemical weapons, which would be extremely difficult to track down and destroy from the air, or from afar. If the objective is to destroy the Assad regime’s chemical weapon delivery systems, it would require US boots on the ground scouring the entire country. Hardly what one could call a limited, punitive military action if it requires a colossal commitment of US ground forces to complete the objective of destroying Syria’s chemical warfare capabilities. (Note: Secretary Kerry did not definitively rule out US troops on the ground in his hearing before Congress.)
Let’s return to some of the questions Dennis Kucinich raised in his article “Top 10 Unproven Claims for War Against Syria“–specifically, the administration’s claim the opposition has not used chemical weapons. Kucinich inquires (emphasis mine):
- Which opposition?
- Are you speaking of a specific group, or all groups working in Syria to overthrow President Assad and his government?
- Has your administration independently and categorically dismissed the reports of rebel use of chemical weapons which have come from such disparate sources as Russia, the United Nations, and the Turkish state newspaper?
- Have you investigated the rumors that the Saudis may have supplied the rebels with chemicals that could be weaponized?
- Has the administration considered the ramifications of inadvertently supporting al Qaeda-affiliated Syrian rebels?
- Was any intelligence received in the last year by the U.S. government indicating that sarin gas was brought into Syria by rebel factions, with or without the help of a foreign government or intelligence agents?
In Kucinich’s third point, he asks whether the administration has been able to debunk the allegations made by the Russian Foreign Ministry and the UN that it was Syrian rebels who were believed responsible for the chemical attacks in Aleppo March 19. Furthermore, Kucinich asks whether a disturbing report that appeared recently in the Turkish newspaper Zaman had been disproved or not.
Back in May the Turkish paper (read more here and here) reported 12 members of the Al Qaeda linked Al Nusra Front in Syria were arrested by Turkish security forces and found to be in possession of a 2 Kg cylinder of Sarin. If true, it would be damning evidence of Al Nusra Front’s ability to procure chemical weapons. Mainstream media has refused to comment on the report; it has not yet been confirmed or denied.
One of the sources cited in both Kaszeta’s papers and Kucinich’s article is Brown Moses blog–the go-to authority on weaponry being used in the current Syrian conflict. Comments and videos of UN inspectors examining the unidentified munitions linked to the alleged August 21 chemical attacks were recently posted to the blog and reveal some intriguing details.
Via Brown Moses blog:
Since the UN’s visit to Damascus, and their inspections of various sites linked to the August 21st alleged chemical attacks in Damascus, a number of videos have been posted online by activists showing them at work. Last week, I wrote about the UN inspectors examining what appeared to be a M14 140mm artillery rocket, potentially the carrier of a 2.2kg sarin warhead, and this week videos have been posted online showing the inspectors closely examining the munitions I’ve named the UMLACA (Unidentified Munitions Linked to Alleged Chemical Attacks), a munition that has been recorded at several locations after the August 21st attack, and has been linked to previous alleged chemical attacks. [Read more here.]
Brown Moses blog believes the UN inspectors are examining what appears to be a M14 140mm artillery rocket, potentially the carrier of a 2.2 Kg Sarin warhead. It’s curious that the 12 Syrian militants allegedly arrested in Turkey were reportedly in possession of 2 Kg of Sarin. Possible connection? Certainly speculation at this point.
A related story (video below) to the one in the Turkish paper appeared on Press TV–Iran’s news channel. Granted, Iran is in lockstep with Hezbollah and Assad, but Turkey certainly is not. The corroboration between the two accounts of Syrian militants in possession of Sarin from such disparate sources like Turkey and Iran is worth noting.
The Iranian report claims Syrian militants are passing freely between Syria and Turkey in the Hatay and Ad Dana areas by disguising their trucks as NGO vehicles. Of note, too, is the mention of the Hatay area. Yossef Bodansky’s compelling piece “Did the White House Help Plan the Syrian Chemical Attack?” mentions the Hatay area as well.
The Obama Administration claims that one of their sources of intelligence are “reliable NGO’s” in Syria. If Syrian militants and Al Qaeda linked terrorist are masquerading as non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), this bring into question the reliability of intelligence these NGO’s provide.
Following the alleged August 21 chemical attack, the UK Mirror reported a 20-member team of inspectors, including experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, led by Swedish Professor Ake Sellstrom, collected samples from the rebel-held areas in the Gouta suburb of Damascus three times–taking blood, tissue and hair samples.
The Mirror reported:
The team collected samples from the rebel-held areas in the Ghouta suburb of Damascus three times, taking blood, tissue and hair samples from victims.
They also took samples of soil, clothing and rocket fragments.
The experts will be testing for Sarin, mustard gas and other toxic agents.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said: “The evidence collected by the team will now undergo laboratory analysis and technical evaluation according to the established and recognised procedures and standards.
“These procedures may take up to three weeks.”
Any results will be sent at first for ‘eyes only’ to UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon.
Breitbart’s Joel Pollack reported:
The Obama administration has reacted to Syria’s announcement that it would accept a UN investigation of alleged chemical weapons attacks by rejecting the inspections, saying that they are too little, too late.
The administration claims 1,429 people died in the attack and cites a series of videos (located here and here) assembled by the French government as “undeniable” proof the alleged chemical attack in eastern Gouta was orchestrated by Assad’s forces–resulting in “thousands of deaths.” But Dan Murphy reported in the Christian Science Monitor that the number of dead attributed to the chemical attack varies wildly between French claims and those of the American government:
This morning Obama said he’s confident that Congress will authorize use of force against Syria, and asserted: “We have a high confidence that Syria used… chemical weapons that killed thousands of people.”
But France, as eager for an attack on Syria as the US, does not share that confidence when it comes to the number of dead. A report released to parliament by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault that summarizes French intelligence findings says that based on analysis of videos taken inside Syria, only 281 deaths from a chemical attack could be confirmed. (Adding after this story was originally posted: The French summary also says the country’s intelligence thinks it likely many more died. Quoting from the French government translation to English of their summary: “Other independent assessments, produced for instance by the NGO “Doctors without borders” mention at least 355 deaths. Several technical numberings, from different sources, assess the final toll at approximately 1500 deaths. Work carried out by our specialists, by extrapolating an impact model of a chemical attack on the population of the mentioned sites, is consistent with these figures.”)
There is obviously a big difference between “thousands” and 281, and the Obama administration has not been clear on how it arrived at this number. It has also not explained how it arrived at Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim on Friday of 1,429 dead, nor how that has since increased to “thousands.”
Many of the administration’s claims that are being passed off as “rock solid intelligence” do not seem to fare too well under intense scrutiny–at the very least, they seem to raise even more questions.
I’ve attempted to examine some of the who, what, why, where, when concerning the alleged August 21 chemical attack in eastern Gouta–which brings me to the final question: how.
How does the Bashar al-Assad and his regime benefit from using chemical weapons on its own soldiers and citizens? Remember, some of Assad’s soldiers were allegedly killed in the attack. The advantage for such an attack seems to favor the Syrian rebels exclusively.
And how coincidental is it that UN inspectors were only four miles away from the Damascus suburb where the August 21 attack occurred inspecting the site of another Sarin gas incident suspected to be carried out by the FSA? And now all of a sudden the SAA is responsible? It just doesn’t add up, logically speaking.
How will a missile strike by the United States degrade Syria’s chemical warfare capability? What vital national interests are truly at stake for the US? If our vital national interests are at stake, why would the US take any military option off the table? The notion the US can engage in what former assistant defense secretary Frank Gaffney calls a “goldilocks strike” (not too much, not too little, just right) is a strategy that fails to recognize the very act of a military strike is a serious escalation. There is no such thing as a limited or antiseptic war. If the US is not committed to putting everything on the table, then why engage in hostilities?
And then there’s the issue of, just who are the good guys in the Syrian conflict? There are certainly decent Syrians simply fighting to survive–caught between a rock and a hard place. But the problem is foreign fighters are pouring into Syria from Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa, Chechnya, etc. to fight for the Syrian rebels; and the FSA is under domination by Al Nusra Front, for all intents and purposes. If military action is taken, the US would ostensibly be mercenaries for Al Qaeda.
One retired US general, appearing on Fox News, claimed the US knew who the “good guys” were in the FSA … that they were “located in the north.” Well, all of the rebel forces are located in the north! The retired general also claimed Free Syrian Army chief of staff Gen. Salim Idriss is one of the “good guys” in the FSA. Well, that may be, but there’s a big problem. Gen. Idriss’ field commanders are threatening to quit the FSA if the US does not back off on its demands to break off contact with Al Qaeda linked groups.
One could argue it is the Russians who have more vital national interests at stake in Syria than the US does, considering Russia’s need for warm-water ports, and the fact they supply the Syrian Assad Army with arms.
Some congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle have called the civil war in Syria a regional conflict. Yes, there have been skirmishes between various factions along Syria’s borders. But it does not equate to a regional conflict; it is a civil war. Now the situation could blow up into an all-out regional conflict if the US goes off half-cocked and starts whipping tomahawk cruise missiles around–which could risk Russian and Chinese involvement, in addition to drawing in nations bordering Syria. Oh, and don’t forget Israel!
Unfortunately, the president apparently feels he has all the evidence he needs to strike Syria, just not all the facts. But most leftist radicals live on a fact-free diet, courtesy of the taxpayer’s dime. What really bothers me is, what is the depth of Barack Obama’s involvement in the Syria conflict? Did he help facilitate and organize the so-called “democracy movements,” i.e. Arab Spring, which lead to fomenting the war in the first place?
No one likes to think of sitting president being involved in such shenanigans. But rewind back to the war in Libya. It was another example of Obama’s penchant to rush to war. As a matter of fact, Obama brazenly violated the War Powers Act by not consulting Congress in the prescribed 90-day period, as required by the law. This is an impeachable offense. But apparently no one has the wherewithal to resist this president–which only emboldens him that much more.
And what is the result of the war in Libya? Libya has descended into chaos and lawlessness. Additionally, there have been reports of large amounts of weapons emptied from Libyan Army weapon stores going straight to the jihadis–which have then reportedly made their way to Syria. Remember, there were almost three dozen CIA operatives on the ground in Benghazi during the attack on the consulate.
Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.
CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.
What is the big secret the CIA is going to such great lengths to cover up? Agency employees that were working in Libya at the time of the attack on the consulate are being subjected to monthly polygraph tests to ensure they keep quiet. Could it be that weapons were being run through Benghazi to the Syrian rebels? There have been a number of reports of a US arms smuggling operation in Benghazi that was ongoing when the ambassador and three other Americans were killed. Is Syria to become Libya Part 2?
It is more than a little troubling to consider the very real possibility that our president and his minions are fomenting chaos and conflict around the world under the flowery guise of an “Arab Spring.” It’s getting hot in the kitchen. I think America deserves answers.
In closing, I will leave you with the words of Yossef Bodansky:
The extent of US foreknowledge of this provocation needs further investigation because available data puts the “horror” of the Barack Obama White House in a different and disturbing light.