Both top brass and regular servicemembers express opposition to US involvement
Paul Joseph Watson
September 2, 2013
The military revolt against the Obama administration’s plan to launch a potentially disastrous attack on Syria is gathering pace, with both top brass and regular servicemembers expressing their vehement opposition to the United States becoming entangled in the conflict.
The backlash began to spread on social media yesterday with numerous members of the military posting photos of themselves holding up signs stating that they would refuse to fight on the same side as Al-Qaeda in Syria. The photos went viral, with one post alone generating over 16,000 shares on Facebook.
Others have posted their photos on Twitter alongside the hashtag #IdidntJoin.
As the Obama administration prepares to present a draft resolution to lawmakers that is by no means “limited” in its scope and would in fact grease the skids for an open ended war, John Kerry and other State Department officials have signaled that Obama will simply ignore Congress if they vote no and launch the assault anyway.
This will do little to reassure a growing number of influential figures in the US military who are becoming increasingly recalcitrant about the United States becoming embroiled in yet another war in the Middle East.
The Washington Post reports that, “The Obama administration’s plan to launch a military strike against Syria is being received with serious reservations by many in the U.S. military, which is coping with the scars of two lengthy wars and a rapidly contracting budget, according to current and former officers.”
Republican Congressman Justin Amash also took to Twitter to state, “I’ve been hearing a lot from members of our Armed Forces. The message I consistently hear: Please vote no on military action against Syria.” Amash’s statement was followed by a series of tweets from military veterans who also expressed their opposition to the attack.
Business Insider’s Paul Szoldra also spoke to “sources who are either veterans or currently on active duty in the military,” and asked them if they supported military escalation in Syria.
“Most have responded with a resounding no,” writes Szoldra.
He quotes an active duty First Class Sergeant who states, “We are stretched thin, tired, and broke,” adding that the United States “(does not) need to be World Police.”
“Our involvement in Syria is so dangerous on so many levels, and the 21st century American vet is more keen to this than anybody. It boggles my mind that we are being ignored,” adds former Cpl. Jack Mandaville, a Marine Corps infantry veteran with 3 deployments to Iraq.
Not only are military personnel going public with their concerns, Politico reported that leaks of attack plans are also, “emanating from a Pentagon bureaucracy less enthusiastic about the prospect of an attack than, say, the State Department, National Security Council or Obama himself,” unauthorized disclosures that have the White House “peeved”.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Electronic Army hacked the official US Marines website and left an astoundingmessage calling on US soldiers to join the Syrian Army in fighting Al-Qaeda (click for enlargement).
The full text of the message reads:
“This is a message written by your brothers in the Syrian Army, who have been fighting al-Qaida for the last 3 years. We understand your patriotism and love for your country so please understand our love for ours. Obama is a traitor who wants to put your lives in danger to rescue al- Qaida insurgents.
Marines, please take a look at what your comrades think about Obama’s alliance with al-Qaida against Syria. Your officer in charge probably has no qualms about sending you to die against soldiers just like you, fighting a vile common enemy. The Syrian army should be your ally not your enemy.
Refuse your orders and concentrate on the real reason every soldier joins their military, to defend their homeland. You’re more than welcome to fight alongside our army rather than against it.
Your brothers, the Syrian army soldiers. A message delivered by the SEA.”
Sept 2, 2013
Why is the Obama administration so determined to have the U.S. military help al-Qaeda win the civil war in Syria? Why are we being told that the U.S. has “no choice” but to help rabid jihadist terrorists that are slaughtering entire Christian villages, brutally raping Christian women and joyfully beheading Christian prisoners? If you are a Christian, you should not want anything to do with these genocidal lunatics. Jabhat al-Nusra is a radical Sunni terror organization affiliated with al-Qaeda that is leading the fight against the Assad regime.
If they win, life will be absolute hell for the approximately two million Christians in Syria and other religious minorities. According to Wikipedia, Jabhat al-Nusra intends “to create a Pan-Islamic state under sharia law and aims to reinstate the Islamic Caliphate.” As you will seebelow, many members of the U.S. military understand this, and they absolutely do not want to fight on the side of al-Qaeda.
Not that we should be supporting Assad either. Assad is horrible. He should be rotting in prison somewhere. But just because a country has a bad leader does not mean that we have justification to attack them.
The U.S. military should only be put into action when there is a compelling national interest at stake. And getting involved in a bloody civil war between Assad and al-Qaeda does not qualify.
For the moment, we have a little bit of time to educate the American people about this because the Obama administration has decided to try to get the approval of Congress before striking Syria. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail.
Unfortunately, some members of the U.S. Congress are actually trying to push Obama into even stronger action. In fact, some Senators are now saying that they will not support military intervention in Syria unless it is a part of an “overall strategy” to remove Assad from power.
If the U.S. does try to remove Assad, it will unleash hell in the Middle East. Syria has already threatened to attack Israel if the U.S. tries to remove Assad and so has Hezbollah.
As I mentioned the other day, right now there are 70,000 Hezbollah rockets aimed at Israel.
When Hezbollah and Syria start sending rockets into the heart of Tel Aviv, Israel will respond with even greater force.
And if a single one of those rockets that land in Tel Aviv have an unconventional warhead, Israel will respond by absolutely flattening Damascus.
When I say that, what I mean is that a city of 1.7 million people will be gone permanently.
Do our politicians have any idea of the hell that they are about to unleash?
Do our leaders actually want Israel to be attacked?
Do our leaders actually want major cities in the Middle East to be completely wiped out?
Do our leaders actually want millions of precious people to die?
As I mentioned above, those serving in the U.S. military understand these things better than most people, and right now many of them are expressing a very strong desire to stay out of this conflict.
According to a tweet from U.S. Representative Justin Amash, he has heard from numerous members of the U.S. military that are urging him to vote against an attack on Syria…
Journalist Paul Szoldra says that he has also heard from a lot of service members that want nothing to do with this conflict…
I’ve reached out to my own sources who are either veterans or currently on active duty in the military, and asked them to share their thoughts on whether we should, or should not, intervene in the two-year-old Syrian civil war. Most have responded with a resounding no.
The following is what a Marine Corps infantry veteran with three deployments to Iraq named Jack Mandaville wrote to Szoldra…
The worst part about this Syria debacle, among many things, is how closely it resembles Iraq. Those Vietnam veterans who warned us about disastrous results in Iraq were doing so based off their experience in a war that, contrary to popular belief, was vastly different from our war and was separated by at least two decades. Many veterans of Iraq are still in their twenties and have a firsthand understanding of Arab political issues. The complicated things we faced with Syria’s next door neighbors is freshly ingrained in our memories. How quickly the American people and our political leaders forget.
Our involvement in Syria is so dangerous on so many levels, and the 21st century American vet is more keen to this than anybody. It boggles my mind that we are being ignored. My anger over this issue has actually made me seriously comment on our foreign policy for the first time since 2006 when I was honorably discharged after three stints in Iraq and subsequently watched it continue for nearly another six years. I’m sickened that we’re putting ourselves in a position for another prolonged war where the American people will quickly forget about the people fighting it.
And even an establishment mouthpiece like the Washington Post is admitting that top U.S. military officials are expressing “serious reservations” about a war with Syria…
The Obama administration’s plan to launch a military strike against Syria is being received with serious reservations by many in the U.S. military, which is coping with the scars of two lengthy wars and a rapidly contracting budget, according to current and former officers.
Having assumed for months that the United States was unlikely to intervene militarily in Syria, the Defense Department has been thrust onto a war footing that has made many in the armed services uneasy, according to interviews with more than a dozen military officers ranging from captains to a four-star general.
One officer even told the Post that he “can’t believe” that Obama is even considering a conflict with Syria…
“I can’t believe the president is even considering it,” said [one] officer, who like most officers interviewed for this story agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity because military personnel are reluctant to criticize policymakers while military campaigns are being planned.
What Obama wants to do is utter insanity.
Why would we want to enter a war on the side of Christian killers?
In areas of Syria that are controlled by the rebels, Christians are being treated brutally. The following is from eyewitness testimony from a Christian missionary who recently visited the region…
“The Christian residents were offered four choices: 1. renounce the ‘idolatry’ of Christianity and convert to Islam; 2. pay a heavy tribute to the Muslims for the privilege of keeping their heads and their Christian faith (this tribute is known as jizya); 3. be killed; 4. flee for their lives, leaving all their belongings behind.”
How would you like to be faced with those choices?
In other instances, Christians are not even given any choices. Instead, they are being summarily executed for their faith.
For example, the following is one incident that made news back in December…
Syrian rebels beheaded a Christian man and fed his body to dogs, according to a nun who says the West is ignoring atrocities committed by Islamic extremists.
The nun said taxi driver Andrei Arbashe, 38, was kidnapped after his brother was heard complaining that fighters against the ruling regime behaved like bandits.
She said his headless corpse was found by the side of the road, surrounded by hungry dogs. He had recently married and was soon to be a father.
How would you feel if a member of your family was beheaded and fed to the dogs?
And the rebels have continued to slaughter Christians even though they know the world is watching. The following is from an NBC News report on August 18th…
Syrian rebels killed at least 11 people, including civilians, in an attack on a checkpoint west of the city of Homs on Saturday that official state media described as a massacre.
Most of those killed were Christians, activists and residents said.
Sometimes these psychotic Syrian rebels actually round up Christian women and children and gun them down. The following is from a report about what the rebels did to the Christian village of al-Duvair when they took control…
Images obtained exclusively by Infowars show the aftermath of an alleged massacre of a Christian village in Syria during which men, women and children were slaughtered and churches desecrated by Obama-backed FSA rebels.
The photos, which were provided by a source inside the village of al-Duvair in Syria’s Western province of Homs, show ruined homes, ransacked churches as well as the burned remains of what looks like an infant.
According to the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) on May 29, “The armed rebels affiliated to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) raided the Christian-populated al-Duvair village in Reef (outskirts of) Homs near the border with Lebanon….and massacred all its civilian residents, including women and children.”
But sometimes women are not killed by the rebels. If they are young and lovely, they are often systematically raped. What happened to one 15-year-old Christian girl from Qusair named Mariam is a total abomination…
The commander of the battalion “Jabhat al-Nusra” in Qusair took Mariam, married and raped her. Then he repudiated her. The next day the young woman was forced to marry another Islamic militant. He also raped her and then repudiated her. The same trend was repeated for 15 days, and Mariam was raped by 15 different men. This psychologically destabilized her and made her insane. Mariam, became mentally unstable and was eventually killed.
This is who Obama wants to help?
We are going to shed American blood to help those monsters take over Syria?
Are we insane?
Of course one of the most prominent examples of rebel brutality was even reported on by CNN…
The ghastly video shows how barbaric the Syrian civil war can be.
A man, said to be a well-known rebel fighter, carves into the body of a government soldier and cuts out his heart and liver.
“I swear to God we will eat your hearts out, you soldiers of Bashar. You dogs. God is greater!” the man says. “Heroes of Baba Amr … we will take out their hearts to eat them.”
He then puts the heart in his mouth and takes a bite.
After reading that, can anyone out there possibly justify helping the Syrian rebels?
But the Obama administration insists that we “must” attack Syria because Assad supposedly used chemical weapons against his own people.
Secretary of State John Kerry says that samples taken by UN inspectors have tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, and therefore what we must do is clear.
But is it really?
According to Reuters, the UN has had evidence that Syrian rebels have been using sarin gas against Assad forces since May…
U.N. human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria’s civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin, one of the lead investigators said on Sunday.
And as I discussed the other day, Syrian rebels have admitted to an Associated Press reporter that they were the ones that used sarin gas during the incident that the Obama administration is so concerned about.
The chemical weapons were supplied to the rebels by Saudi Arabia, but the Obama administration will never, ever admit this. If the U.S. called the Saudis out on this, it would potentially endanger the status of the petrodollar.
Instead, the U.S. government is going to end up doing exactly what the Saudis want, which is to attack Syria.
But people all around the world are seeing through this charade. For example, the following is a statement that Pat Buchanan made during a recent interview with Newsmax…
“I would not understand or comprehend that Bashar al-Assad, no matter how bad a man he may be, would be so stupid as to order a chemical weapons attack on civilians in his own country when the immediate consequence of which might be that he would be at war with the United States. So this reeks of a false flag operation.”
Sadly, it doesn’t really seem to matter what any of us think. According to James Rosen of Fox News, the Obama administration has apparently made the decision to go ahead with an attack on Syria no matter what Congress decides…
A senior State Department official tells Fox News the president’s decision to take military action in Syria still stands, and will indeed be carried out, regardless of whether Congress votes next week to approve the use of such force.
The official said that every major player on the National Security Council – including the commander-in-chief – was in accord last night on the need for military action, and that the president’s decision to seek a congressional debate and vote was a surprise to most if not all of them. However, the aide insisted the request for Congress to vote did not supplant the president’s earlier decision to use force in Syria, only delayed its implementation.
“That’s going to happen, anyway,” the source told me, adding that that was why the president, in his rose Garden remarks, was careful to establish that he believes he has the authority to launch such strikes even without congressional authorization.
Very soon, the U.S. military will be embroiled in a vicious civil war between a brutal dictator and absolutely psychotic Christian-killing jihadists.
Should American blood be spilled in such a conflict?
Of course not.
Is it worth potentially starting World War III just to teach Assad a “lesson”?
Of course not.
Hopefully this war will not happen, because if it does I fear that it is going to be very, very bloody.
Sept 2, 2013
After President Obama said the United States “should” strike Syria during a Saturday speech in the Rose Garden, Republican Justin Amash (R-Mich.) took to Twitter to dispute that claim with comments from those who would likely carry out that order.
Amash has been retweeting those thoughts for more than a day. But as a possible attack on Syria looms, there is much more to share than just what can be said in 140 characters.
I’ve reached out to my own sources who are either veterans or currently on active duty in the military, and asked them to share their thoughts on whether we should, or should not, intervene in the two-year-old Syrian civil war. Most have responded with a resounding no.
The general theme of most emails bring up personal experiences in Iraq or Afghanistan, the lack of a clear objective or end state in striking Syria, and the very muddled line between anti-government rebels and al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists.
While President Obama has repeatedly said there would be no “boots on the ground,” many remain fearful that limited strikes could have consequences that lead to further action.
Here are two emails I received, and I am reprinting them here in full, only lightly edited for clarity.
From an active-duty soldier, rank of Sergeant First Class:
I have to say I am fairly conflicted about Syria. My logic is generally fighting itself and my personal feelings towards taking action.
Part of me says that we need to take a stand against chemical weapons. President Obama announced that using chemicals weapons was the line, and Assad crossed it. The fact that even the French President has called for “proportional and firm action” says something. I’m not sure how the UN can stand by while Syria kills 1300 citizens, including women and children. The line was drawn, and Assad crossed it.
But does the U.S. always have to be the one to deliver consequences? We are stretched thin, tired, and broke. My personal feeling is no.
I’m more inclined to be ok with our involvement if we’re talking about actions by the Air Force and the Navy. We are too tired to put boots on the ground. But as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal tech, I know what would go into disarmament of chemical weapons.
And that’s just not a job I want anything to do with. And I don’t want my Soldiers doing it.
Not only is the process long and exhausting, it’s dangerous in different ways than we have been dealing with.
My gut is telling me that we don’t need to be World Police. And if we don’t have the UN for back up, it’s just too much for us to take on. We still haven’t finished Afghanistan; I just don’t see how we can take on another war, or even military actions that don’t affect us.
I can’t stand to sit by and watch innocent lives be taken in such a horrible manner, but we can’t really do this alone.
But if we don’t do something, who will? How many more innocent people have to die before anyone else will take action?
From former Cpl. Jack Mandaville, a Marine Corps infantry veteran with 3 deployments to Iraq:
In mid-March of 2003, I was a 19-year-old Private First Class waiting to cross the border into Iraq. I was aware that there was a significant portion of veterans (mostly Vietnam-era) back home who were fundamentally opposed to the invasion of Iraq. Like the majority of my peers and superiors, I didn’t really care nor did I give it much thought. We just wanted our war.
A little over 10 years later, the majority of individuals in my generation have recognised the Iraq folly for what it was. I’m still proud of my service, as are my buds, but we understand that Iraq was completely unnecessary and cost way too much money and, more importantly, American lives.
We witnessed our politicians and countrymen send us to war on a surge of emotion and quickly forget about us for nearly a decade. We had the training and capabilities to deal with Iraq, but were set up for failure by timid members of Congress and the Executive branch who futilely attempted to conduct a PC war.
The worst part about this Syria debacle, among many things, is how closely it resembles Iraq. Those Vietnam veterans who warned us about disastrous results in Iraq were doing so based off their experience in a war that, contrary to popular belief, was vastly different from our war and was separated by at least two decades.
Many veterans of Iraq are still in their twenties and have a firsthand understanding of Arab political issues. The complicated things we faced with Syria’s next door neighbours is freshly ingrained in our memories. How quickly the American people and our political leaders forget.
Our involvement in Syria is so dangerous on so many levels, and the 21st century American vet is more keen to this than anybody. It boggles my mind that we are being ignored.
My anger over this issue has actually made me seriously comment on our foreign policy for the first time since 2006 when I was honorably discharged after three stints in Iraq and subsequently watched itcontinue for nearly another six years.
I’m sickened that we’re putting ourselves in a position for another prolonged war where the American people will quickly forget about the people fighting it.
Are you a military veteran? Send me an email with your thoughts on possible military action in Syria (anonymity protected if preferred) — firstname.lastname@example.org
Sept 2, 2013
One of the U.S. government’s main justifications for its claim that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack is that the rebels don’t have chemical weapons.
However, multiple lines of evidence show that the rebels do have chemical weapons.
Potential Looting of Syrian Weapons
The Washington Post noted last December:
U.S. officials are increasingly worried that Syria’s weapons of mass destruction could fall into the hands of Islamist extremists, rogue generals or other uncontrollable factions.
Last week, fighters from a group that the Obama administration has branded aterrorist organization were among rebels who seized the Sheik Suleiman military base near Aleppo, where research on chemical weapons had been conducted. Rebels are also closing in on another base near Aleppo, known as Safirah, which has served as a major production center for such munitions, according to U.S. officials and analysts.
A former Syrian general who once led the army’s chemical weapons training program said that the main storage sites for mustard gas and nerve agents are supposed to be guarded by thousands of Syrian troops but that they would be easily overrun.
The sites are not secure, retired Maj. Gen. Adnan Silou, who defected to the opposition in June, said in an interview near Turkey’s border with Syria. “Probablyanyone from the Free Syrian Army or any Islamic extremist group could take them over,” he said.
As the Syrian opposition steadily makes territorial gains, U.S. officials and analysts said the odds are increasing that insurgents will seize control of a chemical weapons site or that Syrian troops guarding the installations will simply abandon their posts.
“It’s almost inevitable,” [Michael Eisenstadt, a retired Army officer who directs the military and security studies program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy] said. “It may have already happened, for what we know.”
Last week, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said the al-Nusra Front — an anti-Assad group that has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and is also known as Jabhat al-Nusra — had seized a chlorine factory near the town of Safirah, east of Aleppo. “Terrorist groups may resort to using chemical weapons against the Syrian people,” the ministry cautioned.
Questions remaining about who actually controls some of Syria’s chemical weapons stores ….
A report by the Office of the Director for National Intelligence outlining that evidence against Syria includes a few key caveats — including acknowledging that the U.S. intelligence community no longer has the certainty it did six months ago of where the regime’s chemical weapons are stored ….
U.S. and allied spies have lost track of who controls some of the country’s chemical weapons supplies, according to the two intelligence officials and two other U.S. officials.
U.S. analysts … are also not certain that when they saw what looked like Assad’s forces moving chemical supplies, those forces were able to remove everything before rebels took over an area where weapons had been stored.
AP hit the nail on the head when it wrote:
U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders, or even completely sure it was carried out by government forces, the officials said.
Another possibility that officials would hope to rule out: that stocks had fallen out of the government’s control and were deployed by rebels in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war.
Looting of Libyan Chemical Weapons
Fox News reported in 2011:
In August, Fox News interviewed Rep. Mike Rogers, R.-Mich., who said he saw a chemical weapon stockpile in the country during a 2004 trip. At the time, he said the U.S. was concerned about “thousands of pounds of very active mustard gas.”
He also said there is some sarin gas that is unaccounted for.
The Wall Street Journal noted in 2011:
Spread across the desert here off the Sirte-Waddan road sits one of the biggest threats to Western hopes for Libya: a massive, unguarded weapons depot that is being pillaged daily by anti-Gadhafi military units, hired work crews and any enterprising individual who has the right vehicle and chooses to make the trip.
In one of dozens of warehouses the size of a single-family home, Soviet-era guided missiles remain wrapped inside crates stacked to the 15-foot ceiling. In another, dusted with sand, are dozens of sealed cases labeled “warhead.” Artillery rounds designed to carry chemical weapons are stashed in the back of another. Rockets, antitank grenades and projectiles of all calibers are piled so high they defy counting….
Convoys of armed groups from all over Libya have made the trek here and piled looted weapons into trailer trucks, dump trucks, buses and even empty meat trucks….
The highly-regarded NTI reported the same year:
In the desert near Sirte, there was no security for dozens of small armories at the complex, where weapons are removed every day by opposition fighters, paid contractors and others. In one structure, the word “warhead” was stamped on dozens of sealed containers. At another depot, empty chemical agent munitions were found.
There is at present no viable Libyan government-sanctioned force with the capacity to keep freelancer fighters from taking what they please from the warehouses, according to the Journal.
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) visited the Libyan capital, where he said gaining control over the country’s armories was a “very big topic.”
“We have a game plan to secure the weapon caches, particularly biological and chemical weapons,” McCain said.
The Telegraph reported last year:
Al Qaeda terrorists in North Africa could be in possession of chemical weapons, a leading Spanish intelligence officer said on Monday.
The head of National Police counter-terrorist intelligence, Commissioner-General Enrique Baron, told a strategic security conference in Barcelona that it was believed that the self-styled Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb – AQMI – could have acquired such arms in Libya or elsewhere during the Arab Spring last year.
Commissioner Baron told his audience: “The Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb has acquired and used very powerful conventional arms and probably also has non-conventional arms, basically chemical, as a result of the loss of control of arsenals.”
The most likely place where this could have happened was in Libya during the uprising which overthrew the Gaddafi regime, said Commissioner Baron.
In his position as the head of Spanish National Police intelligence the Commissioner-General works closely with MI6, the CIA and other Western European intelligence services.
Remember, the head of the Libyan rebels admitted that the rebels were largely Al Qaeda. CNN, theTelegraph, the Washington Times, and many other mainstream sources confirm that Al Qaeda terrorists from Libya have since flooded into Syria to fight the Assad regime … bringing their arms with them. And the post-Gaddafi Libyan government is also itself a top funder and arms supplier of the Syrian opposition. (CNN notes that the CIA may have had a hand in this operation.)
A reporter who has written extensively for Associated Press, BBC and National Public Radio reports thatlocals in the area hit by chemical weapons allege that Saudi Arabia supplied the chemicals. And see this.
We don’t know which countries did or didn’t give chemical weapons to the rebels. The point is that there are quite a few opportunities or possibilities.
Evidence of Possession and Use
The above, of course, is simply speculation. More important is actual evidence of possession and use.
The Turkish General Directorate of Security … seized 2 kg of sarin gas in the city of Adana in the early hours of yesterday morning. The chemical weapons were in the possession of Al Nusra terrorists believed to have been heading for Syria.
Haaretz reported on March 24th, “Jihadists, not Assad, apparently behind reported chemical attack in Syria“.
UN investigator Carla Del Ponte said that there is strong evidence that the rebels used chemical weapons, but that there is not evidence that the government used such weapons:
Revealed: Government let British company export nerve gas chemicals to Syria
UK accused of ‘breath-taking laxity’ over export licence for potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride
MONDAY 02 SEPTEMBER 2013
The Government was accused of “breathtaking laxity” in its arms controls last night after it emerged that officials authorised the export to Syria of two chemicals capable of being used to make a nerve agent such as sarin a year ago.
The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, will today be asked by MPs to explain why a British company was granted export licences for the dual-use substances for six months in 2012 while Syria’s civil war was raging and concern was rife that the regime could use chemical weapons on its own people. The disclosure of the licences for potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride, which can both be used as precursor chemicals in the manufacture of nerve gas, came as the US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States had evidence that sarin gas was used in last month’s atrocity in Damascus.
Mr Kerry announced that traces of the nerve agent, found in hair and blood samples taken from victims of the attack in the Syrian capital which claimed more than 1,400 lives, were part of a case being built by the Obama administration for military intervention as it launched a full-scale political offensive on Sunday to persuade a sceptical Congress to approve a military strike against Syria.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills insisted that although the licences were granted to an unnamed UK chemical company in January 2012, the substances were not sent to Syria before the permits were eventually revoked last July in response to tightened European Union sanctions.
In a previously unpublicised letter to MPs last year, Mr Cable acknowledged that his officials had authorised the export of an unspecified quantity of the chemicals in the knowledge that they were listed on an international schedule of chemical weapon precursors.
Downing Street insisted today that Britain’s system for approving arms exports to Syria is working even though licences for two chemicals capable of being used in making nerve gas were approved by the Government and blocked only by EU sanctions.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “You see the system working, with materials not exported. The facts are that the licences were revoked and the exports did not take place. The Prime Minister’s view is that that demonstrates that the system is working. There is a sanctions regime, which is a very active part.”
Critics of the Business Secretary, whose department said it had accepted assurances from the exporting company that the chemicals would be used in the manufacture of metal window frames and shower enclosures, said it appeared the substances had only stayed out of Syria by chance.
The shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna told The Independent: “It will be a relief that the chemicals concerned were never actually delivered. But, in light of the fact the Assad regime had already been violently oppressing internal dissent for many months by the beginning of 2012 and the intelligence now indicates use of chemical weapons on multiple occasions, a full explanation is needed as to why the export of these chemicals was approved in the first place.”
The Labour MP Thomas Docherty, a member of the Commons Arms Export Controls Committee, will today table parliamentary questions demanding to know why the licences were granted and to whom.
He said: “This would seem to be a case of breath-taking laxity – the Government has had a very lucky escape indeed that these chemicals were not sent to Syria.
“What was Mr Cable’s department doing authorising the sale of chemicals which by their own admission had a dual use as precursors for chemical weapons at a time when the Syria’s war was long under way?”
The licences for the two chemicals were granted on 17 and 18 January last year for “use in industrial processes” after being assessed by Department for Business officials to judge if “there was a clear risk that they might be used for internal repression or be diverted for such an end”, according to the letter sent by Mr Cable to the arms controls committee.
Mr Cable said: “The licences were granted because at the time there were no grounds for refusal.”
Although the export deal was outlawed by the EU on 17 June last year in a package of sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the licences were not revoked until 30 July. Chemical weapons experts said that although the two substances have a variety of uses such as the fluoridation of drinking water, sodium and potassium fluoride are also key to producing the chemical effect which makes a nerve agent such as sarin so toxic.
Western intelligence has long suspected the Syrian regime of using front companies to divert dual-use materials imported for industrial purposes into its weapons programmes. It is believed that chemical weapons including sarin have been used in the Syrian conflict on 14 occasions since 2012.
Mr Cable’s department last night insisted it was satisfied that the export licence was correctly granted. A spokesman said: “The UK Government operates one of the most rigorous arms export control regimes in the world.
“The exporter and recipient company demonstrated that the chemicals were for a legitimate civilian end-use – which was for metal finishing of aluminium profiles used in making aluminium showers and aluminium window frames.”
RUSSIA MAY SEND LAWMAKERS TO US TO DISCUSS SYRIA
MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian news agency Interfax says President Vladimir Putin hopes to send a delegation of lawmakers to the U.S. to discuss the situation in Syria with members of Congress.
Russian legislators Valentina Matvienko and Sergei Naryshkin proposed that to Putin on Monday, saying polls have shown little support among Americans for armed intervention in Syria to punish its regime for an alleged chemical weapons attack.
The lawmakers said maybe U.S. legislators can be persuaded to take a "balanced stance" on the issue. Putin supported the initiative, which would require formal approval by the Foreign Ministry.
Russia has been a stalwart ally of Syria’s Bashar Assad, and Putin spoke out on Saturday against the prospect of U.S. military intervention in Syria, calling such a move "foolish nonsense" that "defies all logic."
Russia sends spy ship as US prepares for possible Syria strike
Priazovye sails from Black Sea naval base as Vladmir Putin says deployment necessary to protect Russian security interest
Monday 2 September 2013 09.49 BST
Vladimir Putin said the ship was needed to protect national security interests. Russia has a naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartous. Photograph: Itar-Tass/Barcroft Media
The Priazovye left Russia’s naval base in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol late on Sunday on a mission "to gather current information in the area of the escalating conflict", said an unidentified military source quoted by the Interfax news agency. The defence ministry declined to comment.
Barack Obama said on Saturday he would seek congressional authorisation for punitive military action against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad after what the US says was a sarin gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people.
Russia says the US has not proved its case and that it believes the attack was staged by rebels to provoke intervention in the civil war.
Russia is one of Assad’s biggest arms suppliers and has a naval maintenance facility in the Syrian port of Tartous. Moscow opposes any military intervention in Syria and has shielded Damascus from pressure at the UN security council.
Interfax said the Priazovye would be operating separately from a navy unit permanently stationed in the Mediterranean in a deployment that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said is needed to protect national security interests.
The defence ministry said last week that new warships would be sent to the Mediterranean to replace others in a long-planned rotation of ships based there.
Syria asks the United Nations to stop U.S. strike
BEIRUT | Mon Sep 2, 2013 4:46am EDT
(Reuters) – Syria has asked the United Nations to prevent "any aggression" against Syria following a call over the weekend by U.S. President Barack Obama for punitive strikes against the Syrian military for last month’s chemical weapons attack.
Washington says more than 1,400 people, many of them children, were killed in the world’s worst use of chemical arms since Iraq’s Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Kurds in 1988.
U.S. military action will be put to a vote in Congress, which ends its summer recess on September 9, giving President Bashar al-Assad time to prepare the ground for any assault and try to rally international support against the use of force.
In a letter to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and President of the Security Council Maria Cristina Perceval, Syrian U.N. envoy Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari called on "the U.N. Secretary General to shoulder his responsibilities for preventing any aggression on Syria and pushing forward reaching a political solution to the crisis in Syria", state news agency SANA said on Monday.
He called on the Security Council to "maintain its role as a safety valve to prevent the absurd use of force out of the frame of international legitimacy".
Ja’afari said the United States should "play its role, as a peace sponsor and as a partner to Russiain the preparation for the international conference on Syria and not as a state that uses force against whoever opposes its policies".
Syria denies using chemical weapons and accuses rebel groups, who have been fighting for more than two years to topple Assad, of using the banned weapons. At least 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which started in March 2011 with protests against four decades of Assad family rule.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that tests showed sarin nerve gas was fired on rebel-held areas on August 21.
Ja’afari said Kerry had "adopted old stories fabricated by terrorists" based on fake photos from the Internet.
(Reporting by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Alison Williams)
CURL: Obama’s 2014 calculation: Let’s have a war
By Joseph Curl
Sunday, September 1, 2013
The first rule for President Obama: It’s all about 2014. The second rule for President Obama: See Rule No. 1.
Make no mistake: The president couldn’t care less about the plight of Syrians, the 1,500 gassed to death — including nearly 500 children. It’s all about 2014. Win the House, reign supreme.
Consider this: Mr. Obama made his dramatic Rose Garden statement Saturday — then headed to the golf course. Congress has no plans to cut short its 30-day vacation, and the president did not call lawmakers back. So much for urgency.
The conventional wisdom is, as usual, wrong. Losing the congressional vote won’t be an embarrassment for the president, as all the talking heads are still parroting. A loss would be a double win. First, because a “No” vote would allow the foreign policy neophyte to walk away from his blundering “red line” declaration on chemical weapons (“I wanted to go in, but Congress said no”). And second, should Republicans who voted for theIraq and Afghanistan wars now oppose Syria, the president would be armed with clear “evidence” that their opposition is purely political.
Keep in mind: This president knows no way to campaign other than to blame others. He’ll batter Republicans for all of 2014 as obstructionists should they be the reason the effort fails.
But the bloviating politicos are also wrong that the “Republican-controlled House” could reject the plan for partisan reasons. It is Democrats who seem most squeamish — and they were the most vocal in demanding their say before intervention in Syria. Remember, two years ago, as the president prepared to bomb Libya, 70 Democrats joined Republicans in voting against military operations. Mr. Obama bombed anyway.
Still, the entire fiasco has been hard to watch, “Amateur Hour” indeed. The president declares a “red line,” then sees the Syrian dictator cross it again and again. The Nobel Peace Prize winner declares he’ll take America to war — but only then does he seek partners and only to find a “Coalition of the Unwilling.” The United Nations says no, the Arab League says no, China and Russia say no — even the United Kingdom says no (mainly because Brits did not want to have another U.S.-led war jammed down their throats).
Back home, polls find 80 percent of Americans want Congress to decide, and nearly half oppose intervention. So the president — hoping to appear magnanimous — declares he’ll seek authorization (read: share the blame).
Still, the president and his secretary of state are absolutely right. “The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity,” John F. Kerry said. Mr. Obama, in his most powerful passage, said: “Here’s my question for every member of Congress and every member of the global community: What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?”
Of course a firm response is the correct action. And Mr. Obama doesn’t need authority to do so in Syria, just as he didn’t in Libya. While Republican support on the Hill now would help Mr. Obama save face after his “red line” throw-down, striking Syria with a few cruise missiles — however fleeting and ineffectual that would be to the course of its 2-year-old civil war — also would send a signal to the real target: Iran. That’s why, most likely, Republicans will support the president after rewriting the White House’s draft resolution.
Now, it is up to Mr. Obama’s own party: Does he still hold sway over Democrats? Will they bend to his will? Many already seem to be running for the hills. And if they don’t, will the president have the temerity to order strikes anyway?
Whatever happens, this much is clear: We’re no longer talking about the IRS targeting tea party groups, the Justice Department tapping reporters’ phone lines, the NSA’s surveillance programs, Benghazi. The president has smartly changed the subject to the most important decision a commander in chief makes: war.
And the most presidential. That, he knows, will play better in the midterm elections, whichever way Congress votes.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times and is now editor of the Drudge Report. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.
U.S. Travel Warning: Al Qaeda-Affiliated Syrian Rebels Have ‘Claimed Nearly 600 Attacks;’ State Dept.: ‘Numerous Innocent Syrians Have Been Killed’
September 1, 2013 – 11:09 PM
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Syrian rebels from the al Qaeda-affilated al-Nusrah Front. (AP Photo)
(CNSNews.com) – While President Barack Obama is now asking Congress to authorize him to use military force against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad because that regime used chemical weapons on its own people, the State Department is maintaining a travel warning advising Americans not to travel to Syria because the al-Nusrah Front, the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria–which is participating in the rebellion seeking to overthrow Assad–has carried out about 600 attacks in the country since November 2011.
These al Qaeda terrorist attacks, according to the State Department, have killed many Syrian civilians.
"There is also a threat from terrorism, including groups like al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) affiliated al-Nusrah Front," says the current State Department travel warning on Syria. "Since November 2011, al-Nusrah Front has claimed nearly 600 attacks–ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations—in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. Public places such as government buildings, shopping areas, and open spaces have been targeted."
The bolded language in this travel warning–emphasizing that the al Qaeda affiliate fighting in the Syrian opposition has been targeting places such as "shopping areas" was put there by the State Department in the online posting of its warning.
"During these attacks numerous innocent Syrians have been killed," then-State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said at the department’s press briefing last Dec. 11.
In a statement published May 16, the State Department said that Muhammad al-Jawlani, the leader of the al-Nusrah Front, had recently "pledged allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qa’ida’s leader."
When the Obama Adminisration first officially named the al-Nusrah Front as an al Qaeda affiliate and a terrorist organzation, other elements in the Syrian rebel coalition–which the Obama administration supports–objected to what the Obama Administration had done.
"In December 2012, the Obama Administration designated the Nusra Front as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and as an alias of Al Qaeda in Iraq pursuant to Executive Order 13224," said a Congressional Research Service report published on June 14. "Reactions from some Syrian opposition leaders and armed groups were negative. Several armed groups made statements of solidarity with Al Nusra, and prominent civilian figures, including then-President Khateeb of the SC [National Coalition of Revolution and Opposition Forces], requested that the U.S. government reconsider the designation."
Hezbollah mobilises ahead of potential US Syria strike
September 02, 2013 05:58 PM
A man reaches out to touch mock rockets set by Hezbollah on the ruins of the Khiam prison, Tuesday, July 23, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)
The reports come as the daily Al-Akhbar, which is close to both Hezbollah and the Syrian regime, said on Monday that the group had "called on all its officers and members to man their positions."
Residents speaking to AFP in the southern Lebanese city of Tyre said there appeared to be a general mobilisation of the group’s members, even if such a movement was not being publicly discussed.
Many Hezbollah fighters have disappeared from local villages in the last five days, though strict security measures around group headquarters and checkpoints have remained in place, residents said.
The situation is the same in the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon, a stronghold of the organisation.
Residents said fighters, including gunners, had left their regular posts, and switched off their mobile phones to ensure they could not be traced.
In the southern suburbs of the capital Beirut, also considered a Hezbollah bastion, teenagers have replaced more experienced fighters at checkpoints inspecting cars entering the district.
A Hezbollah spokesman declined to comment on the reported redeployment of the group’s forces.
On Monday, Al-Akhbar also reported that the "Syrian army has mobilised units that have not participated until now in the conflict."
"It has established an operations room… with Hezbollah and the units in charge of missiles are at an unprecedented level of alert," the daily added.
"The Islamic resistance (Hezbollah) has called on all its officers and members to man their positions," the newspaper reported.
But Obama has said he will seek approval from Congress for any strikes in response to the attack, for which the Syrian regime denies responsibility.
Hezbollah is a close ally of the Syrian regime, and has dispatched fighters to battle alongside Syrian troops and against rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
Wadah Charara, an expert on the group, says it commands around 30,000 fighters, including 10,000 with extensive combat experience.
Between 800 and 1,2000 Hezbollah fighters are thought to have taken part in the Syrian regime’s battle to recapture the town of Qusayr in central Homs province earlier this year.
Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2013/Sep-02/229675-hezbollah-mobilises-ahead-of-potential-us-syria-strike.ashx#ixzz2dkhDLF92
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)
China concerned about unilateral military action: FM spokesman
English.news.cn | 2013-09-02 17:06:21 | Editor: An
BEIJING, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) — Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Monday that China was seriously concerned about any unilateral military action against Syria.
At a regular press briefing, Hong said, "China is firmly opposed to the use of chemical weapons by any party in Syria and expresses serious concern about preparations by relevant countries for unilateral military action."
Hong said the United States has explained to China its evidence relating to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
"Any action by the international community should respect the rules of the UN Charter and basic rules of international relations," Hong said,adding that taking actions should avoid further complicating the Syria issue and avoid bringing more disaster to the Middle East.
China supports the UN Secretariat in carrying out an independent, objective and professional investigation on the alleged use of chemical weapons in accordance with relevant UN resolutions.
Hong said that no side should rush to pre-judge the results of an investigation by UN chemical weapons experts in Syria, saying that a political solution is the only practical way to solve the issue.
Paul Craig Roberts
Sept 2, 2013
While still claiming dictatorial powers to start a war on his own authority, Obama put his unilateral attack on Syria on hold when he received a letter from more than 160 members of the House of Representatives reminding him that to take the country to war without congressional approval is an impeachable offense and when he saw that no country that could serve as cover for a war crime, not even the puppet British government and the NATO puppet states, would support America’s announced military aggression against Syria.
Obama got away with attacking Libya without an OK from Congress, because he used Washington’s NATO puppets and not US military forces. That ploy let Obama claim that the US was not directly involved.
Now that the lack of cover and the challenge from Congress has caused the would-be tyrant Obama to put on hold his attack on Syria, what can we expect?
If Obama were intelligent, and clearly anyone who would appoint Susan Rice as his national security adviser is not intelligent, he would simply let the attack on Syria fade into the background and die as Congress returns on September 9 to face the insoluble problems of the budget deficit and debt ceiling.
A competent administration would realize that a government that is unable to pay its bills without heavy use of the printing press is in far too much trouble to be worrying about what is going on in Syria. No competent administration would risk a military strike that could result in a Middle East conflagration and a rise in oil prices, thus worsening the economic situation that Washington faces.
But Obama and his collection of incompetents have demonstrated that they have no competence. The regime is also corrupt, and the entire edifice rests on nothing but lies.
Now that the White House realizes that Obama cannot commit a war crime without cover, here is what we can likely expect. The argument will move away from whether or not Assad used chemical weapons and become an argument that Congress must not undermine US prestige and credibility by failing to support President Obama, the latest front man for American wars of aggression.
The White House will bribe, cajole, and intimidate the Congress. The regime’s argument will be that with America’s prestige and credibility on the line, Congress must support the President. The President and Secretary of State have made unequivocal statements of Assad’s guilt and their determination to punish Assad. Given Washington’s insanity, the way Washington punishes Assad for (allegedly) killing Syrians with chemical weapons is for Washington to kill more Syrians with cruise missiles.
If this doesn’t make sense to you, you don’t belong in Obama’s government or in the American media, and you could never be a neoconservative.
The White House will argue that Obama has compromised with Congress by letting Congress vote on the decision, and that Congress’ part of the compromise is to give its support. Meet us half-way, the White House will say.
The Israel Lobby, Susan Rice, the neocons, and warmongers such as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham will argue that lack of support for Obama’s attack on Syria hurts America’s credibility, aids the “terrorists” and “leaves America defenseless.” It is bad enough, they will argue, that Obama has shown indecision by waiting for Congress’ approval and irresolution by substituting a limited strike for the original plan of regime change.
Faced with threats of a cutoff of campaign donation munificence from the Israel Lobby and the military/security complex, the House and Senate can be brought into line to “support the country” as it commits another war crime. The combination of bribes, intimidation, and patriotic appeals to support America’s prestige can swing the Congress. No one really knows if the 160 or so members of the House are sincere about putting Obama on notice, or whether they simply want something. Perhaps they only want Obama to cough up for their approval.
If Congress gives its backing to another American war crime, British Prime Minister David Cameron can go back to Parliament and tell them that Obama “has now brought Congress on board, thus providing cover, and if Parliament doesn’t go along we will be cut out of the money.”
Few British politicians, other than George Galloway, are comfortable with being cut out of the money.
If Cameron brings Parliament around, the other NATO countries might decide to get on the payments bandwagon. The overriding rule of Western civilization is that more money is better than no money.
Washington and its NATO European puppets will criticize Russia and China for using their Security Council vetoes to block the UN from bringing justice, freedom, and democracy to Syria. These faux arguments will be used by the presstitute Western media to undermine the importance of the UN Security Council’s opposition to Washington’s attack on Syria. Why should Washington be deterred by Security Council members who support Assad’s use of chemical weapons, the US media whores will ask. The prostitutes that comprise the US media will do all in their power to ensure that Washington kills yet more Syrians. Killing is America’s hallmark.
As the history of humankind proves, people will do anything for money. Noteworthy exceptions are Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and Julian Assange. Were any of these truth-tellers to have gone to Washington and say, “buy me,” in exchange for their silence Washington would have provided large fortunes with which they could live a life of comfort.
Considering how corrupted the US government is and how determined Washington is to have its way, the UN chemical weapons inspectors are at risk. It is unlikely that they will have an accident like SEAL Team Six. But unless they are sequestered like a jury, they are targets for bribery. If the UN report doesn’t support the White House position, the Secretary General will be pressured to make the report inconclusive. After all, Washington writes the checks that keep the UN in business.
No one should expect the US Congress to vote on the basis of the evidence. Moreover, Congress has so far shown no understanding that regardless of whether Assad used chemical weapons, it is a war crime for the US to commit naked aggression against Syria, a country that has not attacked the US. It is not Washington’s business how the Syrian government puts down the effort by al-Nusra extremists to overthrow it.
Obama’s argument that it is OK to kill people with white phosphorus and depleted uranium, as the US and Israel does, but not with sarin gas, has no logic. http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/08/the-u-s-and-israel-have-used-chemical-weapons-within-the-last-8-years.html
Washington itself has contingency plans to use nuclear bunker busters against Iran’s underground nuclear energy facilities. If Washington believes that weapons of mass destruction are impermissible, why does Washington have so many of them and contingency plans to use them? Is Washington regretful that Washington dropped two nuclear bombs on civilian Japanese cities at the very time that the Japanese government was doing everything in its power to surrender?
Ever since the dangerous Cold War ended, hot war has been the mainstay of US foreign policy. George H.W. Bush attacked Iraq after Bush’s ambassador gave Saddam Hussein the green light to attack Kuwait. Clinton attacked Serbia on false pretenses and without any constitutional or legal authority. George W. Bush attacked Afghanistan and Iraq on the basis of lies. Obama renewed the attack on Afghanistan and has attacked also Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. Obama sent his NATO puppets to attack Libya, sent mercenaries into Syria, and now intends to prevent his mercenaries’ defeat by attacking Syria.
Washington is building a string of military bases around both Russia and China. These bases are extremely provocative and foretell nuclear war.
The US, a country with a vast nuclear weapons arsenal, whose political leaders are both corrupt and insane, is a great danger to life on earth. That Washington is the number one danger to the world is now universally recognized, except by Americans who wear their patriotism on their sleeve. These gullible dupes are the enablers of the demise of humanity by war.
Until the US economy collapses, Washington still has printed money, and it can buy acquiescence to its crimes. Washington can rely on the presstitute media to tell its lies as if they were facts. The world will not be safe until the American house of cards collapses.
I feel sorry for those uninformed Americans who think that they live in the best country in the world. Too few Americans care that their government has destroyed countless lives from Central America and Vietnam to the Middle East and Africa. The US military routinely murders civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and is responsible for as many as 1,000,000 Iraqi deaths and 4,000,000 displaced Iraqis. The American definition of “the best country in the world” is the country that can murder the most innocent people, people who have never attacked America, people who once looked upon America as the hope of the world and now see a deadly threat.
Too many Americans have no idea that one-fifth of their fellow citizens are dependent on government support, or if they do know, they blame the unfortunate for being leeches on the taxpayers’ purse. In the US wages and employment opportunities are declining. There are no impediments to the looting of citizens by financial institutions. There are no constraints on the lawlessness and brutality of the police, and no limit to the lies that keep the American population entrapped in the Matrix unaware of reality.
How such a people can retain liberty or restrain a government committed to war strains the imagination.
Those Republicans who worry about our children’s and grandchildren’s debtburdens are worried about a future that might never come about. Washington’s hubris is pushing the world toward nuclear war.
“The best country in the world” is the evil force that is destroying the lives and prospects of many different peoples and might yet destroy all life on earth.
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is the father of Reaganomics and the former head of policy at the Department of Treasury. He is a columnist and was previously the editor of the Wall Street Journal. His latest book, “How the Economy Was Lost: The War of the Worlds,” details why America is disintegrating.
Obama’s proposal seeks broad war power despite vow of limits
President Barack Obama, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, delivers a statement on Syria in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., Saturday, August 31, 2013. | Kristoffer Tripplaar/MCT
By Michael Doyle | McClatchy Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — While President Barack Obama insists he wants only a limited air attack on Syria, his proposed authorization of force would empower him to do much more than that. Congress is likely to impose tighter reins, as lawmakers have learned that presidents are prone to expand on powers once granted
The substantive part of Obama’s proposed authorization of the use of military force, conveyed to congressional leaders over the weekend, contains 172 words. That’s significantly more than either the 1964 Tonkin Gulf Resolution authorizing the Vietnam War or the 2001 resolution authorizing retaliation for the 9/11 terror attacks, two measures that later became notorious for how aggressively presidents used them.
The proposed resolution gives Obama a go-ahead to use the military as he “determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria.” Specifically, the president could act to “prevent or deter the use or proliferation” of the weapons or to “protect the United States and its allies and partners” from the weapons.”
Tellingly, University of Texas Law School Professor Robert Chesney said in an interview, Obama’s proposed authorization did not include a sunset date. Chesney suggested that “if the administration is serious about wanting to act in such a truly narrow, time-limited way,” then a sunset measure could be useful.
“These details may not matter much if all the president intends is a modest shot across the bow, as he suggested a few days ago,” said George Mason University School of Law Professor Ilya Somin Sunday. “But they could be significant if U.S. military intervention goes beyond that – including if it ends up expanding farther than the president may have originally intended.”
Publicly, Obama has repeatedly said that “we would not put boots on the ground.” His proposed authorization, though, did not limit the kinds of military forces that could be used. It also does not specify the forces against which force can be used.
“It would likely allow him to use force against Syrian rebels as well as the Assad regime, if it seems possible that the former have obtained chemical weapons or are likely to do so,” Somin said.
Obama’s proposed authorization would also allow military action to stop the “transfer to terrorist groups or other state or non-state actors” of the designated weapons. This includes actions involving weapons transfers “within, to or from Syria,” which potentially extends authority to act well outside Syria itself.
If it passed the House and Senate, the authorization would meet the domestic U.S. requirements of the War Powers Resolution, as well as give the Obama administration some political cover. It would not, however, necessarily address international legal requirements.
“Unfortunately, the president’s draft (authorization) states a violation of international law in every line,” said Mary Ellen O’Connell, a University of Notre Dame law professor. “Resort to military force is not permitted to punish the use of banned weapons; to address arms proliferation, or to respond to vague threats to the United States.”
National self-defense or actions explicitly authorized by the United Nations’ Security Council are the only two kinds of military action acceptable under international law, O’Connell explained.
Stymied by Russia and China, the United States has not been able to secure approval from the 15-member U.N. Security Council. Unlike the 1999 intervention in Kosovo, in which the United States led a 78-day bombing campaign, the Obama administration has not received a NATO authorization for action against Syria, either.
When political bodies do provide military authorizations, the resulting actions can grow beyond what some may have originally contemplated.
In March 2011, for instance, the U.N. Security Council authorized a “no-fly zone” in Libya and gave a go-ahead for “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. NATO forces, including U.S. warplanes, ultimately reported flying more than 26,000 sorties. The NATO air attack destroyed or damaged approximately 6,000 military targets, with several European country leaders pressing the alliance to act more aggressively toward Libyan government forces.
The congressional authorization of military action following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks has been used even more aggressively.
The measure authorized “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons (the president) determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”
The Bush and Obama administrations have subsequently invoked the post-9/11 authorization to support at least 30 different actions, including undertakings in countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and the Philippines, the Congressional Research Service noted.
On Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry declined to be pinned down on what might happen if Congress rejects an authorization of force against Syria, though he several times stressed the president’s inherent power to act in the nation’s self-defense.
“He has the right to do that no matter what Congress does,” Kerry said on CNN’s State of the Union program. “But the President believes, and I hope we will prove to the world, that we are stronger as a nation, our democracy is stronger when we respect the rights of the Congress to also weigh in on this.”
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @MichaelDoyle10
White House signals next week’s vote has no relevance whatsoever
Paul Joseph Watson
September 2, 2013
The Obama administration has made it clear that it will ignore Congress even if lawmakers vote no to military intervention in Syria and launch the attack anyway.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
While Obama’s surprise decision to seek Congressional authorization for the attack has prompted speculation that he is creating a clever exit strategy after painting himself into a corner with a year of unsustainable “red line” rhetoric, administration officials have signaled that next week’s scheduled vote will make little difference to a decision that has already been made.
Fox News’ James Rosen was told by a senior State Department official that, “the president’s decision to take military action in Syria still stands, and will indeed be carried out, regardless of whether Congress votes next week to approve the use of such force.”
Although Obama’s announcement that he would put the issue to Congress came as a surprise, the official said it had no impact on the fact that Obama has already decided to green light the attack no matter which way lawmakers vote.
“That’s going to happen, anyway,” the aide told Rosen.
In addition, Secretary of State John Kerry asserted that Obama has the right to strike Syria regardless of how Congress votes.
“We don’t contemplate that the Congress is going to vote no,” said Kerry, adding that Obama has the right to order attacks “no matter what Congress does”.
Indeed, Obama himself alluded to the notion that the outcome of a Congressional vote had little significance during his speech on Saturday when he stated, “Our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive,” adding, “It will be effective tomorrow or next week or one month from now, and I am prepared to give that order.”
The Congressional vote seems less about getting the nod for a “limited” military strike and more about expanding the scope of the intervention and possibly greasing the skids for open ended war and regime change, with the White House’s draft proposal giving Obama “the authority to do way more” than surgical strikes, reports MSNBC.
According to Rand Paul, it’s 50/50 on whether Congress will give Obama the green light to launch an attack which is being opposed by an increasing number of both top brass and regular servicemembers within the US military.
However, with the administration already acknowledging that the vote will merely be ceremonial, and with more US warships moving towards Syria, it seems that the attempt to secure congressional approval is merely window dressing in anticipation of an attack that has already been decided upon.
Sept 2, 2013
Even though President Obama delayed his golf outing Saturday to announce that he will solicit authorization from Congress before launching a military attack on Syria, there are reports out of Washington that this is but a formality.
In a move that only adds to the utter confusion that defines the president’s foreign policy, a senior State Department official tells Fox News that Obama’s decision to take military action in Syria still stands, and will indeed be carried out, regardless of whether Congress votes next week to approve the use of such force.
Chief Washington correspondent James Rosen reported that this official said Obama’s decision to seek a congressional vote was a surprise to members of the National Security Council, but insisted the request for Congress to vote did not supplant the president’s earlier decision to use force in Syria, only delayed its implementation.
“That’s going to happen, anyway,” the source told Rosen, adding that that was why the president, in his Rose Garden remarks, was careful to establish that he believes he has the authority to launch such strikes without congressional authorization.
Why would “a senior State Department official be so forthcoming?
There were suggestions that Secretary of State Kerry “lost” to the chairman of the Joint chiefs of Staff in the interagency process and this was a way to refute this claim, according to Fox News.
“Absolutely untrue,” the Kerry aide said, adding that everything Kerry said in his dramatic remarks on Friday was after “fully consulting with the White House.”
Sounds like business as usual in the Obama administration.
Obama uses phrase ‘my military’; blood pressures rise!
President Obama gave the egotistical game away Friday when he referred to U.S. armed forces as “my military” during a White House news conference explaining pending action against Syria.
“… I have had my military and our team look at a wide range of options,” he said. “We have consulted with allies. We’ve consulted with Congress …” (Check out the video below)
A guy who ticked off half the country last year when he told Americans who own successful businesses “you didn’t build that” looks pretty hollow claiming ownership over something the country inarguably built collectively.
And it didn’t take long for Twitter to come alive:
Obamaphiles who are used to making excuses for His Eloquence will probably call it a slip of the tongue, but considering it was followed immediately by “our team,” you get the impression Obama was saying exactly what he thought.
He probably does think of the military as his own. And he’s got some reasons:
He’s got a lapdog secretary of defense in Chuck “I won’t be in a policy-making position” Hagel. He’s surrounded by generals who’ve spent five years coming up with rationalizations for liberal positions like why having gays openly serving in the military is a great idea, why women should be in combat, and how, given the witch-hunt atmosphere of sexual assault in the military these days, every 18-year-old man in uniform is a rapist-in-waiting.
But having reasons for thinking so is no excuse for blurting it out, particularly on the eve of attacking another country that poses no military threat to the United States whatsoever — and never has – in what is, at bottom, a fit of imperial pique. (And even emperors have the class to say “our.”)
One thing Obama’s going to learn, fast and hard, if he goes through with dragging this country into attacking Syria:
There really is no “I” in war.
USS Nimitz carrier group sails into Red Sea in ‘prudent’ move
By Andrea Shalal-Esa
WASHINGTON | Mon Sep 2, 2013 3:30pm EDT
(Reuters) – The USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and four other ships in its strike group moved into the Red Sea early on Monday, U.S. defense officials said, describing the move as "prudent planning" in case the ships are needed for military action against Syria.
The officials said the Nimitz entered the Red Sea around 6 a.m. EDT (1000 GMT), but the strike group had not received any orders to move into the Mediterranean, where five U.S. destroyers and an amphibious ship, the USS San Antonio, remain poised for possible cruise missile strikes against Syria.
Moving the Nimitz into the Red Sea was aimed at putting more U.S. assets in place if they are needed to support what U.S. officials still describe as a limited attack against Syria after it used chemical weapons against civilians.
"It does place that strike group in a position to respond to a variety of contingencies," said one official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.
The nuclear-powered Nimitz is accompanied by the Princeton, a cruiser, and three destroyers – the William P. Lawrence, Stockdale and Shoup, according to the officials.
They said there had been no change regarding six U.S. Navy ships now in the eastern Mediterranean, but military planners were reassessing the situation given a delay in the cruise missile strikes that had been expected this past weekend.
President Barack Obama on Saturday backed off imminent strikes by the destroyers off the coast of Syria until Congress had time to vote its approval. Defense officials said the delay gave them more time to reassess which ships and other weapons will be kept in the region – and whether some may be allowed to leave. Congress returns to Washington September 9.
The U.S. Navy doubled its presence in the eastern Mediterranean in the past week, effectively adding two destroyers to the three that generally patrol the region, and diverting the San Antonio, which carries four massive CH-53 helicopters and 300 Marines, from another mission.
Two of the destroyers were due to be relieved but are now serving along with the ships that were to replace them.
It was not immediately clear how long those ships would be asked to remain in the eastern Mediterranean, but officials suggested that changes could be made to the current fleet there in coming days.
The destroyers are carrying a combined load of about 200 Tomahawk missiles, but officials say a limited strike on Syria could be accomplished with half that number.
Retired Admiral Gary Roughead, who served as chief of naval operations during the 2011 strikes on Libya, said the Navy’s decision to move the carrier into the Red Sea meant it was closer to the "points of tension."
"It’s a prudent move that provides for maximum naval flexibility in the region," Roughead, who is now a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, told Reuters. "It is not unusual to move carriers around in North Arabian Sea and Red Sea as events dictate."
Reuters reported Sunday that officials had rerouted the Nimitz carrier group, which was due to sail east around Asia to return to its home port in Everett, Washington, after being relieved in recent days by another aircraft carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman.
Officials said the USS Kearsarge, a large-deck amphibious ship, remained in North Arabian Sea, and there were no plans to move the ship into the Red Sea.
The Kearsarge, which carries 6 AV-8B Harriers, 10-12 V-22 Ospreys and helicopters, played a key role in the 2011 strikes on Libya. Two Ospreys launched from the ship helped rescue a downed F-15 pilot during that operation.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Jackie Frank and Philip Barbara)
#IdidntJoin goes viral
Paul Joseph Watson
September 2, 2013
A deluge of duty military personnel as well as many veterans are taking to Twitter to express their opposition to the Obama administration’s plan to launch an attack on Syria.
After numerous US servicemembers posted photos of themselves holding up signs on Twitter refusing to fight on the side of Al-Qaeda in Syria, the meme developed into several different hashtag trends, including #IdidntJoin and #VetsOnSyria.
Congressman Justin Amash, a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s build-up to war, has been inundated with tweets from active duty military members and veterans in anticipation of a House vote on authorization of military action which is set to take place next week.
As we reported earlier, opposition to an attack on Syria is by no means only reserved to regular servicemembers. Numerous top brass have also gone public to express their concerns and Pentagon officials are even leaking information in a desperate bid to derail the path to war.
Many members of Congress have expressed dissatisfaction at the evidence presented to them by the administration in behind closed door meetings.
In a related development, the French government released an intelligence report today which alleged “massive use of chemical agents” by the Syrian government last month. The report was “based… in part on dozens of videos culled by French intelligence services.” In other words, this damning “intelligence” report relies primarily on YouTube videos of the attack, which offer no clues whatsoever to who the culprits even were.
President Bashar Al-Assad also warned today that potential western military intervention in Syria could spark a “regional war,” adding that “chaos and extremism will spread” if Obama green lights an attack which he has signaled will take place no matter which way Congress votes.
Read a selection of tweets received by Congressman Amash from current and former members of the military below
Below are some more images from the #IdidntJoin meme.
September 2, 2013
French president Francois Hollande has called for bombing Syria. Photo: Guillaume Paumier
Socialists love war. Mussolini was a socialist before he invented fascism. He engaged in mass murder in Libya, Somalia, Ethiopia and helped his fascist buddy Franco win the Spanish Civil War. Hitler was a socialist, although establishment historians deny this. Nazi, after all, is short for Nationalsozialismus, or national socialism. Hitler came to power with the help of German industrialists and American bankers. It was the ruling elite who fostered socialism and fascism, the most effective control systems yet imposed on humanity.
Authoritarian control freaks have used the policy of siege socialism to consolidate power and impose iron-fisted rule. Hitler used it to conquer the Sudetenland and then the rest of Europe. Socialists opposed to imperialism and violence perpetuated by the state often understand how communists use naked and violent power to conquer and dominate. Michael Parenti, for instance, writes how the Soviet system was a form of siege socialism, a “beleaguered and therefore unattractive and grim kind of socialism,” asJacques T. Pauwels writes.
Socialism’s love affair with violence continues to this day. Thus it is not surprising that Francois Hollande – the current president of France, the first secretary of the French Socialist Party and a co-prince of Andorra – is one of Obama’s most ardent supporters. Like Obama, Hollande wants to illegally bomb Syria and either kill (like Gaddafi was killed) or merely depose its current leader, Bashar al-Assad.
Despite the fact the French people, like the American people, are not interested in attacking Syria, Hollande has enthusiastically called for attacking the country. “The chemical massacre of Damascus cannot and must not remain unpunished,” Hollande said in an interview on Friday with the newspaper Le Monde, according to USA Today. “There are few countries that have the capacity to inflict a sanction by the appropriate means. France is one of them. We are ready,” he said.
Hollande cited a document handed down from French intelligence and leaked to the Journal du Dimanche. It states that the Syrian government has “several hundred tons of mustard gas” and “sarin (gas)” and claims that at least 281 deaths can be attributed to the attack in areas outside Damascus.
Although widely viewed as a milquetoast socialist bureaucrat, Hollande showed his chops and taste for state violence and intervention in the affairs of other countries in January when he sent troops to chase Islamic fanatics around northern Mali. Now he wants to send troops into Syria – or at least stand on the sidelines cheering as the United States bombs the country back to the Stone Age.
Obama is a socialist, too, although not of the European pedigree, a lineage that produced some of the worst mass murderers in history. That’s why he loves war and organized mass murder just like his comrade Francois Hollande. War is a political tool same as rigging election boxes and strong-arming the opposition.
Of course, this really isn’t fair. Because Obama and Hollande, while they might be politically socialist, have very little to do with the decisions that lead to war and invading small and largely defenseless countries. Despite the control system – socialism, communism, and “democracy” (where we are said to control ourselves) – the global elite invariably use violence to gain control and steal valuable assets.
“War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it,” said Mussolini, the Nietzsche-loving nihilist, socialist journalist, newspaper editor, and fascist dictator.
Such machismo is no longer required as an excuse to wage state violence against targeted victims. Now we do it for the children. Government wages modern war under the banner of humanitarianism. It’s even more effective when a woman – for instance, Samantha Power – does the arguing that neighborhoods in Damascus should be leveled in exchange for a dictator using chemical weapons (never mind this cannot be verified).
It works much more effectively than the old style of conquering nations and shuffling around pawns on the geopolitical chessboard.