Ted Cruz: U.S. not ‘Al Qaeda’s air force’
Sen. Ted Cruz called President Barack Obama’s efforts to authorize military intervention in Syria a public relations move, saying the U.S. military shouldn’t be “Al Qaeda’s air force.”
The Texas Republican said Tuesday on TheBlaze that while he’s glad the president listened to calls from him and others to bring the issue to Congress, America shouldn’t get involved and risk helping terrorists in the rebel forces.
“We certainly don’t have a dog in the fight,” Cruz said, calling it a civil war in Syria. “We should be focused on defending the United States of America. That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military, not to, as you know, serve as Al Qaeda’s air force.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters that Cruz sounded “totally uninformed” in his comments and that there is “overwhelming” evidence that the Free Syrian Army is still the dominant opposition force on the battlefield, not terrorists. McCain met with the army’s leader, Gen. Salim Idriss, in June.
“This is based on this assumption that they’re all extremists,” McCain said. “That’s just false, totally false. That’s someone that’s totally uninformed.”
Instead of being focused on securing chemical weapons in Syria, Cruz said, the president is too focused on “international norms” and his own public image.
“It appears what the president is pressing for is essentially protecting his public relations because he drew a red line, and, essentially, the bluff was called,” Cruz said.
Cruz said of nine major groups of rebels fighting in Syria, at least seven had ties to Al Qaeda, and a strategy from Obama that would arm those groups “makes no sense whatsoever.”
“I’ll give you one of the simplest principles of foreign policy that we ought to be following: Don’t give weapons to people who hate you. Don’t give weapons to people who want to kill you,” Cruz said.
Putin ‘does not rule out’ approving Syria strike with evidence Assad used poison gas
By Thomas Grove
MOSCOW | Wed Sep 4, 2013 4:48am EDT
(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin saidRussia did not rule out approving a military operation in Syria if clear evidence showed Damascus had carried out chemical weapons attacks, but said any attack would be illegal without U.N. support.
In an interview with AP and Russia’s First Channel, released the day before a G20 leaders’ meeting in St Petersburg, Putin said he expected to hold talks with the U.S. President Barack Obama on the summit sidelines, saying there was much to discuss.
Ties between the United States and Russia have fallen to one of their lowest points since the end of the Cold War over numerous issues including violence in Syria, where Russia has been President Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful protector.
Putin’s comments appeared intended to show readiness to remain constructive in U.S.-Russia ties, despite Obama’s decision to pull out of a bilateral summit between the leaders.
Obama comes to St Petersburg having secured support from key figures in the U.S. Congress for his call for limited U.S. strikes on Syria.
When asked whether Russia would agree to military action if Damascus were proven to have carried out a chemical weapons attack, Putin answered: "I do not rule it out."
However, he also made clear that Russia is not yet prepared to accept U.S. and European assertions that Assad’s forces were behind an August 21 chemical weapons attack that Washington says killed more than 1,400 people.
"We have no data that those chemical substances – it is not yet clear whether it was chemical weapons or simply some harmful chemical substances – were used precisely by the official government army."
Putin said no strikes on Syria could be legal without approval by the United Nations Security Council, where Moscow has a veto that it has repeatedly used to protect Assad.
"According to current international law, only the United Nations Security Council can sanction the use of force against a sovereign state. Any other approaches, means, to justify the use of force against an independent and sovereign state, are inadmissible," he said, adding it would amount to aggression.
The United States and France, its main ally on Syria, say they are prepared to launch strikes without a U.N. Security Council resolution because they believe Moscow would veto any authorization for force.
A senior Western official said that – while Moscow was unlikely to say so in public – there were signs Russian officials believe Assad was indeed responsible for the chemical weapons attack and it had strained Russian support for him.
Western countries are hoping that once any military strikes are finished, probably over Russia’s public objections, Moscow will be more cooperative than in the past in seeking a political solution, the official said.
Foreign ministers will also attend the G20 summit and will meet to discuss Syria.
Looking confident and relaxed, Putin said the burden was on other countries to convince Moscow Assad had used chemical arms. Russia has previously said it suspects rebels were behind the attack to provoke a U.S. military response. Putin said there was an "opinion" al Qaeda-linked rebels were to blame.
He also said that Moscow had already sent to Syria some components of an S-300 missile system but was holding off on the delivery of final parts, something Putin threatened could happen if "existing international norms" were violated.
Western governments are concerned about the S-300 surface-to-air system, which could be used against their planes.
"We have supplied separate components, but the whole delivery is not finalized; we have suspended it for now. But if we see steps being undertaken that would violate existing international norms, we will think how to move forward, including on deliveries of such sensitive weapons," Putin said.
Regarding his relationship with Obama, Putin called the U.S. leader "a no-nonsense, practical person," and tried to dispel speculation that body language between the two leaders belied poor personal relations.
After cancelling a bilateral summit with Putin last month Obama said the Russian leader’s slouch can sometimes make him look "like the bored kid in the back of the classroom" but that his conversations with Putin were often constructive.
Obama had pulled out of the meeting with Putin, scheduled for before the G20 summit, after Russia granted temporary asylum to fugitive former U.S. spy contractor Edward Snowden, wanted by the United States for leaking information about surveillance programs. Putin said he still hoped to talk with Obama.
"I’m sure that even if we hold a meeting… on the sidelines of the summit, it will be useful in itself. In any case, we have many issues that we have been working on and we are interested in settling them," he said.
(Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Gabriela Baczynska in Moscow and John Irish in Paris; Editing by Peter Graff)
Congress and the Imperial Presidency Debate Syria – An Analysis
by Lawrence Davidson
Part I – The President Goes to Congress
President Obama has sidestepped the political hole he had dug for himself (what we might call the “red line” hole) over his proposed attack on Syria. Having insisted there must be “consequences” for a breach of international law, specifically the alleged use of banned chemical weapons by the Syrian government, he was faced with both popular American reluctance to support military action and Congressional pique over not being included in the decision process.
As a consequence President Obama announced on 31 August 2013 that he now supports a Congressional debate and vote on the issue of attacking Syria. Then he told us how he sees the situation, “This [Syrian chemical] attack is an assault on human dignity…. It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons…. Ultimately this is not about who occupies this [White House] office at any given time, its about who we are as a country.”
Part II – The U.S. and Chemical Weapons
For all I know, the president really believes his own words, but I am pretty sure his implied question of “who we are as a country” is meant to be rhetorical. If one was to give an evidence-based answer to that inquiry, as it relates to chemical weapons, it would be embarrassing in the extreme. Lest we forget, the U.S. defoliated parts of Vietnam with a chemical weapon called Agent Orange and by its use killed a lot more than large swaths of jungle. Agent Orange killed and maimed an estimated 400,000 Vietnamese and an estimated half a million children have subsequently been born deformed. It also did a fatal job on many of the American troops that handled the stuff. Later, the U.S. sold chemical and biological weapons-grade material to Saddam Hussein and followed up by helping his army aim the stuff accurately at Iranian troops. Saddam also used it on the Iraqi Kurds. Then there is the fact that our “very special friend,” Israel, used phosphorous bombs (a banned chemical weapon) on the civilians of Gaza. At the time Israel did this, President Obama occupied the oval office. I don’t remember him displaying any moral angst or positioning U.S. ships in the eastern Mediterranean with cruise missiles aimed at Israeli airbases. The truth is that during all of these episodes no one in the government worried (at least publicly) about what our actions or lack thereof, said about what sort of country this is.
However, this question does deserve a direct answer. What sort of country is the U.S. in relation to the use of chemical weapons? The kindest answer one can give is it is a bloody hypocritical nation.
Part III – Back to Congress
Nonetheless, sending the issue of a possible attack on Syria to Congress is a timely political move for the president. It puts off having to face the dilemma of taking military action that cannot both constitute meaningful punishment for the violation of international law and, at the same time, keep the U.S. from becoming ever more deeply embroiled in the Syrian civil war.
It also could be a good political move for the U.S. as a whole because it creates a good precedent. Having Congress debate and vote on the issue of military action against Syria could help resuscitate the moribund War Powers Act. Although Obama claims he has the authority to launch an attack no matter what Congress decides, he would be politically hard pressed to do so if the legislators said don’t do it. Thus the maneuver might narrow the otherwise rapidly expanding powers of the imperial presidency. Of course, none of this means that Congress can’t be scared or otherwise bamboozled into giving the president the power to do something militarily stupid. Vietnam and Iraq stand as powerful precedents in that regard.
There is another very interesting potential consequence of the president’s going to Congress. It might create a situation where there is a publicly noticeable difference between the express desires of a majority of the voting population and the special interests now encouraging military action against Syria. In my last analysis I laid out the idea that in the interim between elections, the influence of powerful special interests have much more to say about policy than do the voters, most of whom pay little attention to foreign policy. Now, however, we have a rare moment when the populace is paying attention and polls indicate that a healthy majority do not want further intervention in the Middle East. Who will the Congress respond to in the upcoming debate and vote, their special interest constituents or the voting kind?
Part IV – Conclusion
Of course, the notion that the President of the United States, with or without Congressional approval, has the authority to act as the world’s “policeman” and punish violators of international laws, that it itself flaunts, is offensive and dangerous. There are international institutions in place such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) that, imperfect as they are, can be used to prosecute violations such as the use of banned weapons. (It is to be noted that the cause of “human dignity” would be greatly advanced if the U.S. would stop refusing to ratify the treaty empowering the ICC).
How do you characterize a situation where one or a small number of community members takes it upon themselves to go outside the law to punish alleged wrongdoers? Here in the U.S. this is known as “vigilante justice.” Most often this sort of behavior results is a “lynching” based on little or no reliable evidence.
President Obama’s going to Congress will not change the vigilante nature of U.S. intentions. Let’s just hope that Congress listens to the people this time around and tells the President to keep his cruise missiles to himself. And then, lets hope he does just that.
DR. LAWRENCE DAVIDSON is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism. His academic work is focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He also teaches courses in the history of science and modern European intellectual history.
His blog To The Point Analyses now has its own Facebook page. Along with the analyses, the Facebook page will also have reviews, pictures, and other analogous material.
Americans oppose U.S. military strikes in Syria, polls find
President Obama said Tuesday he was confident he would be able to work with Congress to pass a resolution authorizing military intervention in Syria.
By Morgan Little
3:13 p.m. CDT, September 3, 2013
WASHINGTON – President Obama has to persuade not just Congress on military intervention in Syria. New polling shows the American public is highly skeptical of the administration’s plan for limited missile strikes in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.
Fifty-nine percent of Americans oppose unilateral U.S. military action, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday soon after Pew Research found that opponents of a strike outnumber supporters, 48% to 29%.
The divide tightens when Americans are asked about missile strikes conducted in conjunction with allied nations, with 51% in opposition and 46% in favor, according to the ABC News/Washington Post poll.
Americans are even more opposed to providing weapons to rebel forces in Syria, with 70% siding against a step that Obama has already decided to take, according to Pew.
Opposition to intervention appears to have grown since polling conducted last week by NBC News, which found a 50%-42% split against U.S. military action in response to the use of chemical weapons.
At the root of this opposition is not widespread skepticism about the chemical weapons attack , as 53% told Pew that there was clear evidence the Syrian government did carry it out.
One possible cause is the belief that Obama has yet to clearly state his case for action, with just 32% of Americans saying he has done so and 48% saying he has not, according to Pew.
Those who believe Obama has not offered an adequate explanation includes higher percentages of Republicans (60%) and independents (54%) than Democrats (33%). Pew’s polling was partly conducted after Obama’s Saturday address to the nation on his decision to ask Congress for its approval of any military response.
There’s little optimism about the possible aftermath of missile strikes, with 74% thinking they would prompt a backlash against the U.S. and allies, 61% predicting a long-term military commitment and just 33% thinking they would prevent the use of chemical weapons in the future, according to Pew.
Pew’s poll was conducted from Thursday to Sunday among a random sample of 1,000 adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday among a random sample of 1,012 adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 points. Both were conducted through land lines and cellphones.
Syria Conflict: Opposition Leader Haytham Al-Manna Criticises Plans For US Military Intervention As ‘Satanic’
Posted: 02/09/2013 12:50 BST | Updated: 02/09/2013 13:51 BST
Western military action in Syria would be a "satanic intervention against a satanic regime", a leading Syrian opposition figure has warned.
Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, Haytham al-Manna, the Paris-based spokesman of the National Coordination Committee (NCC), said: "Our position is against any [western] aggression against Syria. There is no [option of] military aggression against the regime, it will be against.. the population."
The NCC, which consists of a dozen or so secular, leftist political parties inside Syria, is not a member of the Syrian National Council (SNC), the coalition of opposition groups recognised as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people by several western governments. The latter has long supported western military intervention against Assad; the former does not.
The NCC’s Manna, a veteran human-rights activist whose brother was killed by the Assad regime, said US ordnance won’t "make the distinction between military and civilian targets. I saw what happened in Iraq..and all the [previous] American interventions."
Manna’s brother was killed by the Assad regime but he doesn’t support military intervention
Manna added: "We are against the intervention in Syria of Hizbollah [and] of foreign fighters from al Qaeda. We cannot build democracy in Syria with others."
Criticising the United States, Turkey, Israel and other regional powers, he said: "We are not in favour of a satanic intervention against a satanic regime."
Several other opposition groups have criticised the NCC for being too soft on the Syrian government, with the rebelFree Syrian Army (FSA) dismissing it as "just the other face of the same coin". But Manna insisted that the "political opposition outside Syria" is a "minority inside the country". The NCC spokesman claimed that "the majority of Syrian society is against any [foreign military] intervention".
Referring to the proposed ‘Geneva II’ UN-backed peace conference in Switzerland, Manna warned that "we have now the opportunity.. to push all parties, the regime and the opposition, to go to Geneva.. Up to now, [the Assad regime] accepted it had to go to Geneva.. I am not sure [Assad] will go at the end of the year."
Manna wants pressure to be put on Assad and the rebels to attend peace talks in Geneva
However, most of Syria’s opposition groups, as well as a growing number of Western diplomats, believe Assad will not agree to negotiate with his opponents unless there is a credible threat of US-led military action. Manna disagrees. "If [Assad] doesn’t accept [he has] to go, Russia will change its position [of support] because it is an essential part of Geneva II."
Responding to his critics who take a more hardline stance against the regime, and insist on Assad’s resignation as a precondition to peace talks, Manna said that the rebels had been refusing to negotiate with the Syrian president for over two years "and we lost more than 70,000 people in Syria because of this position". The prolonging of the Syrian civil war, he explained, "is only in the interests of Assad and al Qaeda".
For Manna, there is no alternative to negotiations. "The regime and the opposition must go to Geneva II without preconditions," he told HuffPost UK. "The only precondition is applying [the principles of the] Geneva communique. And this is in the interests of the democratic opposition, not of al Qaeda [or] the Islamists." TheGeneva communique, published in June 2012, called on all parties to the conflict to recommit to a "sustained cessation of armed violence" and immediately implement the then UN envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan.
In recent days, US and UK officials have spoken about the importance of "enforcing the international norm with respect to chemical weapons" and taking military action to punish the Assad regime for its alleged use of sarin gas against civilians in Ghouta, east of Damascus on 21 August.
Manna, however, pointed out that enforcing international law "is not a decision for Congress or for the French parliament.. We don’t accept any unilateral decision from any country in the world, whether it is the US or Iran or the UK."
Is The United States Going To Go To War With Syria Over A Natural Gas Pipeline?
By Michael Snyder, on September 3rd, 2013
Why has the little nation of Qatar spent 3 billion dollars to support the rebels in Syria? Could it be because Qatar is the largest exporter of liquid natural gas in the world and Assad won’t let them build a natural gas pipeline through Syria? Of course. Qatar wants to install a puppet regime in Syria that will allow them to build a pipeline which will enable them to sell lots and lots of natural gas to Europe. Why is Saudi Arabia spending huge amounts of money to help the rebels and why has Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan been "jetting from covert command centers near the Syrian front lines to the Élysée Palace in Paris and the Kremlin in Moscow, seeking to undermine the Assad regime"? Well, it turns out that Saudi Arabia intends to install their own puppet government in Syria which will allow the Saudis to control the flow of energy through the region. On the other side, Russia very much prefers the Assad regime for a whole bunch of reasons. One of those reasons is that Assad is helping to block the flow of natural gas out of the Persian Gulf into Europe, thus ensuring higher profits for Gazprom. Now the United States is getting directly involved in the conflict. If the U.S. is successful in getting rid of the Assad regime, it will be good for either the Saudis or Qatar (and possibly for both), and it will be really bad for Russia. This is a strategic geopolitical conflict about natural resources, religion and money, and it really has nothing to do with chemical weapons at all.
It has been common knowledge that Qatar has desperately wanted to construct a natural gas pipeline that will enable it to get natural gas to Europe for a very long time. The following is an excerpt from an articlefrom 2009…
Qatar has proposed a gas pipeline from the Gulf to Turkey in a sign the emirate is considering a further expansion of exports from the world’s biggest gasfield after it finishes an ambitious programme to more than double its capacity to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG).
"We are eager to have a gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey," Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the ruler of Qatar, said last week, following talks with the Turkish president Abdullah Gul and the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the western Turkish resort town of Bodrum. "We discussed this matter in the framework of co-operation in the field of energy. In this regard, a working group will be set up that will come up with concrete results in the shortest possible time," he said, according to Turkey’s Anatolia news agency.
Other reports in the Turkish press said the two states were exploring the possibility of Qatar supplying gas to the strategic Nabucco pipeline project, which would transport Central Asian and Middle Eastern gas to Europe, bypassing Russia. A Qatar-to-Turkey pipeline might hook up with Nabucco at its proposed starting point in eastern Turkey. Last month, Mr Erdogan and the prime ministers of four European countries signed a transit agreement for Nabucco, clearing the way for a final investment decision next year on the EU-backed project to reduce European dependence on Russian gas.
"For this aim, I think a gas pipeline between Turkey and Qatar would solve the issue once and for all," Mr Erdogan added, according to reports in several newspapers. The reports said two different routes for such a pipeline were possible. One would lead from Qatar through Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq to Turkey. The other would go through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey. It was not clear whether the second option would be connected to the Pan-Arab pipeline, carrying Egyptian gas through Jordan to Syria. That pipeline, which is due to be extended to Turkey, has also been proposed as a source of gas for Nabucco.
Based on production from the massive North Field in the Gulf, Qatar has established a commanding position as the world’s leading LNG exporter. It is consolidating that through a construction programme aimed at increasing its annual LNG production capacity to 77 million tonnes by the end of next year, from 31 million tonnes last year. However, in 2005, the emirate placed a moratorium on plans for further development of the North Field in order to conduct a reservoir study.
As you just read, there were two proposed routes for the pipeline. Unfortunately for Qatar, Saudi Arabia said no to the first route and Syria said no to the second route. The following is from an absolutely outstanding article in the Guardian…
In 2009 – the same year former French foreign minister Dumas alleges the British began planning operations in Syria – Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar that would run a pipeline from the latter’s North field, contiguous with Iran’s South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets – albeit crucially bypassing Russia. Assad’s rationale was "to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas."
Instead, the following year, Assad pursued negotiations for an alternative $10 billion pipeline plan with Iran, across Iraq to Syria, that would also potentially allow Iran to supply gas to Europe from its South Pars field shared with Qatar. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project was signed in July 2012 – just as Syria’s civil war was spreading to Damascus and Aleppo – and earlier this year Iraq signed a framework agreement for construction of the gas pipelines.
The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline plan was a "direct slap in the face" to Qatar’s plans. No wonder Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, in a failed attempt to bribe Russia to switch sides, told President Vladmir Putin that "whatever regime comes after" Assad, it will be"completely" in Saudi Arabia’s hands and will "not sign any agreement allowing any Gulf country to transport its gas across Syria to Europe and compete with Russian gas exports", according to diplomatic sources. When Putin refused, the Prince vowed military action.
If Qatar is able to get natural gas flowing into Europe, that will be a significant blow to Russia. So the conflict in Syria is actually much more about a pipeline than it is about the future of the Syrian people. In a recent article, Paul McGuire summarized things quite nicely…
The Nabucco Agreement was signed by a handful of European nations and Turkey back in 2009. It was an agreement to run a natural gas pipeline across Turkey into Austria, bypassing Russia again with Qatar in the mix as a supplier to a feeder pipeline via the proposed Arab pipeline from Libya to Egypt to Nabucco (is the picture getting clearer?). The problem with all of this is that a Russian backed Syria stands in the way.
Qatar would love to sell its LNG to the EU and the hot Mediterranean markets. The problem for Qatar in achieving this is Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have already said "NO" to an overland pipe cutting across the Land of Saud. The only solution for Qatar if it wants to sell its oil is to cut a deal with the U.S.
Recently Exxon Mobile and Qatar Petroleum International have made a $10 Billion deal that allows Exxon Mobile to sell natural gas through a port in Texas to the UK and Mediterranean markets. Qatar stands to make a lot of money and the only thing standing in the way of their aspirations is Syria.
The US plays into this in that it has vast wells of natural gas, in fact the largest known supply in the world. There is a reason why natural gas prices have been suppressed for so long in the US. This is to set the stage for US involvement in the Natural Gas market in Europe while smashing the monopoly that the Russians have enjoyed for so long. What appears to be a conflict with Syria is really a conflict between the U.S. and Russia!
The main cities of turmoil and conflict in Syria right now are Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo. These are the same cities that the proposed gas pipelines happen to run through. Qatar is the biggest financier of the Syrian uprising, having spent over $3 billion so far on the conflict. The other side of the story is Saudi Arabia, which finances anti-Assad groups in Syria. The Saudis do not want to be marginalized by Qatar; thus they too want to topple Assad and implant their own puppet government, one that would sign off on a pipeline deal and charge Qatar for running their pipes through to Nabucco.
Yes, I know that this is all very complicated.
But no matter how you slice it, there is absolutely no reason for the United States to be getting involved in this conflict.
If the U.S. does get involved, we will actually be helping al-Qaeda terrorists that behead mothers and their infants…
Al-Qaeda linked terrorists in Syria have beheaded all 24 Syrian passengers traveling from Tartus to Ras al-Ain in northeast of Syria, among them a mother and a 40-days old infant.
Gunmen from the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Levant stopped the bus on the road in Talkalakh and killed everyone before setting the bus on fire.
Is this really who we want to be "allied" with?
And of course once we strike Syria, the war could escalate into a full-blown conflict very easily.
If you believe that the Obama administration would never send U.S. troops into Syria, you are just being naive. In fact, according to Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School, the proposed authorization to use military force that has been sent to Congress would leave the door wide open for American "boots on the ground"…
The proposed AUMF focuses on Syrian WMD but is otherwise very broad. It authorizes the President to use any element of the U.S. Armed Forces and any method of force. It does not contain specific limits on targets – either in terms of the identity of the targets (e.g. the Syrian government, Syrian rebels, Hezbollah, Iran) or the geography of the targets. Its main limit comes on the purposes for which force can be used. Four points are worth making about these purposes. First, the proposed AUMF authorizes the President to use force “in connection with” the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war. (It does not limit the President’s use force to the territory of Syria, but rather says that the use of force must have a connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian conflict. Activities outside Syria can and certainly do have a connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war.). Second, the use of force must be designed to “prevent or deter the use or proliferation” of WMDs “within, to or from Syria” or (broader yet) to “protect the United States and its allies and partners against the threat posed by such weapons.” Third, the proposed AUMF gives the President final interpretive authority to determine when these criteria are satisfied (“as he determines to be necessary and appropriate”). Fourth, the proposed AUMF contemplates no procedural restrictions on the President’s powers (such as a time limit).
I think this AUMF has much broader implications thanIlya Somin described. Some questions for Congress to ponder:
(1) Does the proposed AUMF authorize the President to take sides in the Syrian Civil War, or to attack Syrian rebels associated with al Qaeda, or to remove Assad from power? Yes, as long as the President determines that any of these entities has a (mere) connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war, and that the use of force against one of them would prevent or deter the use or proliferation of WMD within, or to and from, Syria, or protect the U.S. or its allies (e.g. Israel) against the (mere) threat posed by those weapons. It is very easy to imagine the President making such determinations with regard to Assad or one or more of the rebel groups.
(2) Does the proposed AUMF authorize the President to use force against Iran or Hezbollah, in Iran or Lebanon? Again, yes, as long as the President determines that Iran or Hezbollah has a (mere) a connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war, and the use of force against Iran or Hezbollah would prevent or deter the use or proliferation of WMD within, or to and from, Syria, or protect the U.S. or its allies (e.g. Israel) against the (mere) threat posed by those weapons.
Would you like to send your own son or your own daughter to fight in Syria just so that a natural gas pipeline can be built?
What the United States should be doing in this situation is so obvious that even the five-year-old grandson of Nancy Pelosi can figure it out…
I’ll tell you this story and then I really do have to go. My five-year-old grandson, as I was leaving San Francisco yesterday, he said to me, Mimi, my name, Mimi, war with Syria, are you yes war with Syria, no, war with Syria. And he’s five years old. We’re not talking about war; we’re talking about action. Yes war with Syria, no with war in Syria. I said, ‘Well, what do you think?’ He said, ‘I think no war.’
Unfortunately, his grandmother and most of our other insane "leaders" in Washington D.C. seem absolutely determined to take us to war.
In the end, how much American blood will be spilled over a stupid natural gas pipeline?
September 4, 2013
Ron Paul experiences ‘technical difficulties’ with his satellite connection while on CNN’s The Situation Room discussing possible US intervention in Syria.
No vote could spark constitutional crisis if White House launches attack anyway
Paul Joseph Watson
September 4, 2013
Current indications suggest that Congress could reject the Obama administration’s draft resolution on Syria, setting up a potential constitutional crisis if Obama goes ahead and launches the attack anyway, as Secretary of State John Kerry has clearly suggested will happen.
According to a whip list compiled by the Hill, while the Senate vote to authorize the attack is already in the bag, 44 members of the House are either “no” or “leaning no” compared to just 17 who are “yes” or “leaning yes”. 31 Congressmembers are “undecided” or “unclear,” according to the Hill.
That leaves a further 343 members of Congress who have yet to take a public stance on the issue, although with national polls of Americans clearly showing that a majority oppose the strike, negative sentiment towards the idea of launching an attack seems to be the dominant factor.
“Most House Republicans who have taken a stance are vowing to vote no, or are leaning no,” the report notes. Despite receiving the backing of leadership allies like Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner, the consensus is that Obama faces an “uphill battle” to convince Congress as a whole.
According to Congressman Justin Amash, a staunch critic of military intervention, his visits with constituents have revealed, “Almost unanimous opposition to U.S. strikes.”
“It’s running at almost 100 to 1 against strikes in terms of people contacting me,” Amash told CBSaffiliate WWMZ-TV. “It’s pretty overwhelming. I think it’s pretty solidly against military strikes.”
Other House members, such as Rep. Eric Swalwell, have remarked that they cannot vote for the Obama resolution because it is far too broad and greases the skids for boots on the ground and open ended war throughout the region.
A great deal of this opposition could of course be fairly easily overturned if we were to be presented with another convenient chemical weapons attack or a strike on US interests blamed on Assad before the vote takes place.
However, as we highlighted on Monday, both Secretary of State John Kerry and another State Department official have indicated that Obama will go ahead with military intervention anyway even if Congress does not give the green light.
“We don’t contemplate that the Congress is going to vote no,” Kerry asserted on Sunday, adding that Obama has the right to order attacks “no matter what Congress does”.
Kerry restated the same position yesterday during his confrontation with Senator Rand Paul, prompting Paul to respond, “You’re making a joke of us, you’re making us into theater.”
Obama has also insisted that he has the authority to launch the attack without Congressional backing, emphasizing once again that the whole process appears to be little more than a fig leaf or mere window dressing for a decision that has already been made.
The Obama administration’s apparent disregard for the fact that the founders intended war powers to be firmly within the control of Congress is setting the stage for a major constitutional confrontation the likes of which America hasn’t witnessed for decades.
Let us recall the words of James Madison, the architect of the Constitution, who stated, “In no part of the constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature.”
Should Congress reject the authorization to launch the attack on Syria and the White House, as it has promised, goes ahead and orders the strike anyway, a constitutional crisis could be sparked and at the very least there will be calls from Republicans to begin impeachment proceedings against Obama, just as there were when he failed to obtain Congressional approval for the attack on Libya in 2011.
Corporate media makes it sound like Secretary of State opposed to boots on the ground
September 4, 2013
If the CIA’s al-Qaeda shock troops at work in Syria get their hands on chemical weapons, Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, the United States should respond with ground troops.
“In the event Syria imploded, for instance, or in the event there was a threat of a chemical weapons cache falling into the hands of al-Nusra or someone else and it was clearly in the interest of our allies — and all of us, the British, the French and others to prevent those weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of the worst elements,” Kerry told Congress, “I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to the president of the United States to secure our country.”
Kerry said Obama does not want to discount the possibility of U.S. boots on the ground. “I don’t want anything coming out of this hearing that leaves any door open to any possibilities, so let’s shut that door now, as tight was we can,” he responded following remarks made by Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, who said Congress will make sure U.S. troops will not be used.
The Secretary of State said bombing Syria and possibly deploying troops to topple the al-Assad regime and defeat his military should not be characterized as going to war.
“Let me be clear: President Obama is not asking America to go to war,” he told the committee.
Near the end of Kerry’s testimony — and as if on cue — professional and foundation funded protester Medea Benjamin of Code Pink interrupted the proceedings by stating the obvious: “we don’t want another war” and “launching cruise missiles means another war.”
She was politely escorted from the hearing.
Drudge, Buchanan, Rand Paul & Justin Amash highlight hypocrisy of Obama supporters
Paul Joseph Watson
September 4, 2013
Clockwise: Matt Drudge, Justin Amash, Pat Buchanan, Rand Paul.
While ideologues of the so-called “anti-war” left have offered milquetoast dissent or even supported Barack Obama’s planned attack on Syria, conservative icons in both politics and media are leading the backlash against another potentially disastrous foreign intervention.
It’s a phenomenon that many are attempting to understand – what happened to the substantial and vehement army of anti-war leftists who opposed George W. Bush in the run up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq? The vast majority of them undoubtedly voted for Obama once if not twice, and are apparently placing their slavish devotion to the President above the interests of the country by refusing to speak out against an aggressive intervention that could spark a far wider regional conflict.
It’s a sentiment encapsulated by Democratic Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who admitted that the only reason she and other Democrats would vote for Obama’s resolution on Syria was out of “loyalty” to the President.
While leftists have largely remained silent , media conservatives like Matt Drudge and Pat Buchanan, along with political heavyweights like Senator Rand Paul and Congressman Justin Amash have comprised the tip of the spear in opposing the White House’s rush to war.
As the Washington Times’ Ryan James Girdusky highlights, Syria has thrown fresh spotlight on the rise of the anti-war right.
“Where is the antiwar left on the war?” he asks, “Mostly silent. Not even Vermont’s Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders has come out in early opposition of a war with Syria.”
“Our Nobel Peace Prize-winning President has killed thousands of innocent children across the Middle East with his drone strikes as well as the antiwar left with his empty rhetoric,” adds Girdusky, calling on Republicans to “leave behind the foreign policy of President Bush.”
Just check out some of the tweets from recent days by leading conservative thinkers in both media and politics, individuals who are not only putting the so-called anti-war left to shame but also establishment Republicans like McCain, Graham and Boehner who have all voted to back Obama’s war.
Compare this sentiment to the likes of “anti-war icon” Noam Chomsky, who has actually expressed support for increased military intervention in Syria by advocating the Obama administration arm the Al-Qaeda-led rebels.
“I believe you should choose the negotiating track first, and should you fail, then moving to the second option” — backing the rebels — “becomes more acceptable,” said Chomsky, while calling for an attack so long as it is backed by the United Nations.
One notable exception on the left has been Oliver Stone, who has aggressively opposed Obama on Syria and recently called the President a snake in light of the NSA spying controversy and the Edward Snowden affair.
Conservative backlash against an attack on Syria has also been dovetailed by a wave of active duty and military veterans taking to Twitter to express their opposition to fighting on the same side as Al-Qaeda as part of the #IdidntJoin meme.
Will Obama take the ultimate step to embodying ‘war criminal’ status?
Sept. 4, 2013
Syrian activists have taken to forming “human shields” around military installations in the capital of Damascus in efforts to discourage the Obama administration from authorizing “limited” military strikes on the Syrian regime.
According to RT, a coalition of activists have placed themselves around the predicted target of Mount Qasioun, an installation northeast of the Syrian capital of Damascus home to “security and military buildings” as well as Syrian regime armed forces.
Still from RT video
“Protesters rallying beside the place called themselves a ‘human shield’ and hold banners featuring slogans such as ‘No more American bombing democracy’ and ‘Hands off Syria,’” RT reported today.
Still from RT video
“We are here to express our loyalty to our country in the face of American threats,” a participant reportedly told RT, adding, “We don’t want what they did in Iraq over chemical weapons claims to be done in our country.”
Still from RT video
Should Obama authorize military strikes in the face of this form of protest, he will have assuredly assumed the role of war criminal, if his past transgressions haven’t already earned him that title.
Late last month, we documented how the Syrian people were already hard-pressed to find places they could safely hide from Obama’s “humanitarian love bombs” should he sway in the direction of cruise missile strikes.
“We live in the capital. Every turn, every street, every neighborhood has some government target. Where do we hide?” one panicked Damascus resident told Reuters.
“What about my friend?” asked another woman whose family was lucky enough to escape to a safe area. “Her whole family lives in this neighborhood. There is no place for them to go.”
Apparently unfazed by the UK parliament’s historic “no” vote last week in response to Prime Minister David Cameron’s request to attack Syria, Obama, bellicose members of Congress and a compliant lapdog media have been undeterred in their efforts to try to convince the American people chemical weapons used in Syria pose a serious threat to American interests, despite the fact no evidence has been produced directly implicating the Syrian government.
September 4, 2013
A new report from Russia lends evidence that the March 19 chemical attack in Syria was in fact carried out by the Obama-backed Syria rebels, highlighting the reality of the latest attacks.
In a new breaking report released by the Russian Foreign Ministry just moments ago, it has now been announced that the March 19 chemical weapons responsible for the attacks in Syria and blamed on Assad’s government army are linked up to rebel-made weaponry. Specifically, the findings state that the chemical weapon shells are very much different from the standard Syrian army weaponry and extremely similar to those made by the US-funded rebels who have been caught time and time again burning villages full of innocents.
The report from Russia’s RT reads:
“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.”
And perhaps more importantly, the report goes on to mention that “the way is being paved for military action” through the blame on Assad for launching the attacks despite evidence showing the contrary. In fact, Syrian officials have gone on record in the past saying that evidence was submitted to the UN showing how there was information pointing towards the rebels carrying out the attacks. The relationship to the latest attacks is undeniable.
Prominent Analysts Label Attacks ‘False Flag’
The latest report coincides with what major analysts have been saying about the entire event as well as what I have been saying in reports regarding the latest attacks. Initially pushing the concept into the media, it was Ron Paul who went on air and labeled the attacks a false flag in a report that has now gone international in a major way. Paul was then followed by Pat Buchanan, who went on air saying that the attacks ‘reeked of a false flag’.
Now, it seems extremely clear to those who are following what’s going on that we were indeed correct in this analysis when considering this news. Yet, despite this reality, Obama and his handlers continue to push the nation into a hot war with Syria that could involve boots on the ground and the ignition of heavy military action against Assad.
Russia releases key findings on chemical attack near Aleppo indicating similarity with rebel-made weapons
Published time: September 04, 2013 17:02
Edited time: September 04, 2013 18:05
People injured in what the government said was a chemical weapons attack, breathe through oxygen masks as they are treated at a hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo March 19, 2013 (Reuters / George Ourfalian)
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.
A statement released by the ministry on Wednesday particularly drew attention to the “massive stove-piping of various information aimed at placing the responsibility for the alleged chemical weapons use in Syria on Damascus, even though the results of the UN investigation have not yet been revealed.”
By such means “the way is being paved for military action” against Damascus, the ministry pointed out.
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 key points of the report have been given as follows:
• the shell used in the incident “does not belong to the standard ammunition of the Syrian army and was crudely according to type and parameters of the rocket-propelled unguided missiles manufactured in the north of Syria by the so-called Bashair al-Nasr brigade”;
• RDX, which is also known as hexogen or cyclonite, was used as the bursting charge for the shell, and it is “not used in standard chemical munitions”;
• soil and shell samples contain “the non-industrially synthesized nerve agent sarin and diisopropylfluorophosphate,” which was “used by Western states for producing chemical weapons during World War II.”
DETAILS TO FOLLOW
Syrians behead Christians for helping military, as CIA ships in arms
The Washington Times
Thursday, June 27, 2013
A priest and another Christian were beheaded before a cheering crowd by Syrian insurgents who say they aided and abetted the enemy, President Bashar Assad’s military, foreign media reported.
An undated video that made the Internet rounds on Wednesday showed two unnamed men with tied hands surrounded by a cheering crowd of dozens, just moments before their heads were cut off with a small knife, Syria Report said. The attackers in the video then lifted the head for show, and placed it back on the body. The incident took place in the countryside of Idlib, the media report said.
Syria Report said that foreign militants have increased attacks on civilians in recent weeks — and that many of these insurgents are supported by the West and by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Just recently, a Catholic priest was recently executed by radicals, and last month, an entire Christian village in Homs was burned to the ground, Syria Report said. Moreover, two Christian bishops kidnapped in Aleppo at the beginning of the year are still missing.
The reported beheading of the two Christians comes about the same time America has started sending arms to rebel fighters, the Wall Street Journal revealed this week. The Journal reported the Central Intelligence Agency just began transporting weapons to Jordan for eventual transfer to Syrian fighters.
The weapons transfer is aimed at helping Free Syrian forces oust Mr. Assad. It’s scheduled to coincide with arms shipments from other European and Arab allies for a planned and coordinated rebel attack set for August, the Journal reported.
The CIA weapons transfer will take about three weeks, and involves light arms — and possibly antitank missiles, the Journal said.
John Nichols on September 4, 2013 – 12:19 AM ET
A man sits in front of houses destroyed during a Syrian Air Force air strike in Azaz, Syria on August 15, 2012. (REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, backs President Obama’s request for authorization to intervene militarily in Syria, as does House Democratic Minority Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
The president has done a pretty good job of selling his plan to congressional leaders.
He has not, however, sold it to the American people.
Thus, when members of Congress decide which side they’re on in the Syrian intervention votes that are expected to take place next week, they will have to consider whether they want to respond to pro-war pressure from inside-the-Beltway—as so many did when they authorized action against Iraq—or to the anti-war sentiments of their constituents.
Reflecting on the proposed intervention, Congressman Alan Grayson, D-Florida, allowed as how“nobody wants this except the military-industrial complex.”
The level of opposition might not be quite so overwhelming.
But it is strikingly high.
And, even as the president makes his case, skepticism about intervention appears to be growing.
A Pew Research survey released Tuesday found support for air strikes had collapsed from 45 percent to 29 percent, while opposition had spiked. “The public has long been skeptical of U.S. involvement in Syria, but an April survey found more support than opposition to the idea of a US-led military response if the use of chemical weapons was confirmed,” Pew reported Tuesday. “The new survey finds both broad concern over the possible consequences of military action in Syria and little optimism it will be effective.”
The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, released after the president announced he would seek congressional authorization for an attack on Syria, and after several days of administration lobbying for that attack, found that voters are overwhelmingly opposed to intervention.
“The United States says it has determined that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in the civil war there,” the Post/ABC poll asked. “Given this, do you support or oppose the United States launching missile strikes against the Syrian government?”
* Sixty percent of registered voters (59 percent of all respondents) express opposition. Just 36 percent support intervention.
* Self-identified Democrats are opposed 54-42—a 12 point gap.
* Republicans are opposed 55-43—a similar 12 point gap.
* The fiercest opposition is among independents, who disapprove of intervention by a 66-30 margin. That figure suggests that members of Congress who represent swing districts might actually be more vulnerable if they vote to authorize the attack.
In addition to being broad-based, the opposition sentiment runs deep. Even if US allies such as Britain and France join in, a 51-46 majority is still opposed to missile strikes.
The idea of going further and trying to topple the Syrian regime appears to be a political non-starter. Seventy percent of those surveyed oppose supplying weapons to the Syrian rebels, while just 30 percent support the proposal that has been floated by President Obama and Republican hawks such as Arizona Senator John McCain.
What is especially notable about the polling data is the intensity of opposition to any sort of intervention—including missile strikes targeted at suspected chemical weapons sites—among groups that lean Democratic at election time.
* Sixty-five percent of women surveyed for The Post/ABC poll oppose missile strikes, while just 30 percent favor them. (The Pew survey found an even lower level of support among women: just 19 percent)
* Among Americans under age 40 who were surveyed for the Post/ABC poll, 65 percent are opposed.
* Among Hispanics, 63 percent are opposed.
* Among African-Americans, 56 percent are opposed.
On the question of arming the rebels, opposition numbers skyrocket.
* Seventy-six percent of women surveyed for the Post/ABC poll are opposed.
* Seventy-four percent of those under age 40 are opposed.
* Seventy-three percent of African-Americans are opposed.
Regionally, the Democratic-leaning states of the Midwest and the Northeast are more opposed than the Republican-leaning states of the South.
It is true that foreign policy is not always made on the basis of polling data. It is true that patterns of war weariness and concern about how to address the use of chemical weapons makes the current circumstance volatile. And it is true that poll numbers can change. But it is worth noting that discomfort with launching air strikes—let alone any other intervention—is running strong among voters who have followed the story closely and among voters who have only recently begun to engage with it. Pew reports that “opposition to the idea is prevalent regardless of people’s level of interest—nearly half oppose airstrikes among the most and least attentive segments of the public.”
September 4, 2013
MSNBC talking head, former cop and indefatigable cheerleader for Obama and the Democrat side of the one party political system, Chris Matthews, has declared Syrian babies and grandmothers must die to salvage Obama’s dismal political future. He didn’t say it like that, of course, but he might as well have.
It should be obvious to all who bother to pay attention there is no difference between Obama, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, John McCain, Barbara Boxer, et al, ad infinitum and ad nauseam.
All to varying degrees and with differing tact support the War Party and the apparently endless drive of the military-industrial complex to foment profitable wars and shake and bake the geopolitical chessboard to keep the game going for the bankers and their transnational corporate buddies. Because the political system is rigged like a game of three-card Monte and the antiwar movement is dead as a doornail, none of them have to worry about losing their cushy careers.
It’s Matthews’ job to provide cover – no matter how feeble – for mass murder, even though hardly anybody tunes MSNBC in anymore except a few hundred thousand diehard “progressives” who are pathetically deluded into thinking military intervention in Syria is somehow humanitarian.