Secrets about our attack on Syria & Russia to help jihadists

Summary: Trump has reversed course and attacked Assad, in response to chemical weapons attack on civilians, about which we know almost nothing. Trump risks a potentially catastrophic conflict with Russia, with jihadist rule in Syria the likely result of victory. This is madness. This is the path we travel.

Sun Tzu on Syria

NYT: “U.S., Britain and France Strike Syria Over Suspected Chemical Weapons Attack.”

We can learn much from the incident in Syria. It shows how our government works. How journalists work. It shows our gullibility.

An op-ed by famed columnist Anne Applebaum in the WaPo provides a summary that does not even attempt to be balanced. Which is odd since there is so little hard information about the chemical weapons incident.

“In the aftermath of the latest suspected chemical attack in Syria, the Russian government borrowed a tactic from President Trump. First, it denied the evidence: ‘False information is being planted about the alleged use of chlorine and other toxic agents by the Syrian government forces.’ Then, it gave the allegations a familiar label: ‘fake news.’ …

“Nor is it Russia’s only version of events. As in the past — after a missile linked to Russia took down a Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine, after an ex-spy was poisoned in Britain — the Russian government is also attacking the truth by producing multiple conflicting stories. The Russian Embassy in Washington is blaming the suspected chemical attack on “terrorists,” while the Russian Embassy in Abu Dhabi says it didn’t happen at all. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov now says the attack was “staged” by an “anti-Russian” government.”

This has layers of weirdness. First, the WaPo displays the famous amnesia of American journalists. Defending with a barrage of lies is a tactic often used – perfected with long practice – by the US government. See this big list of lies by US government officials (a long but partial list). For example, while Russia provided the missile that shot down the Malaysia airliner, the USS Vincennes actually shoot down Iran Air Flight 655. The US replied with a long series of lies (details here; more details here).

Second, the story of the poisoned ex-spy is not as clear as the WaPo implies. There is no evidence linking Russia to the poisoning. The British government’s story makes little sense (details here). The report of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) says nothing about the source of the chemical, despite UK claims that it did.

Applebaum is certain that Assad is responsible for the attack. There is no evidence for that. Assad is mopping up the remnants of the insurgency. The gas attack makes no strategic sense, except for the insurgents. There is a long history of similar false flag attacks.

Applebaum is a Pulitzer-prize winner author. She is a visiting Professor of Practice at the London School of Economics, where she runs Arena, a project on propaganda and disinformation. She well shows her skills in this bit of propaganda. But the power is not in her. The effectiveness of works such as this lie in our weakness. In our gullibility.

Why wait for the facts?

“No, no!” said the Queen. “Sentence first – verdict afterwards.”
“Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice loudly. “The idea of having the sentence first!”
“Hold your tongue!” said the Queen, turning purple.
“I won’t!” said Alice.
“Off with her head!” the Queen shouted at the top of her voice.

— America goes to war, described by Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Those that question the narrative are declared outcasts.

A fun realistic look at this madness

From “If We’re on the Brink of War, the Fault Is Ours, Not Trump’s or Bolton’s
Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone.

The fate of humanity now rests in the hands of this Twitter-obsessed dingbat executive and his new national security adviser, John Bolton – one of the most deranged people to have ever served in the United States government, a man who makes Jeane Kirkpatrick look like Florence Nightingale.

With these two at the helm, we are now facing the imminent possibility of direct military conflict with a nuclear enemy. No one in the popular press is saying it, but there could easily be Russian casualties in Trump’s inevitable bombing campaign. …

Virtually the entire intellectual consensus within Washington – with a few exceptions among progressives and Republican outcasts like Rand Paul – has been pushing the president in the direction of conflict.

Predictably, the instant Trump actually began to threaten military action against Assad and Putin, the pundit-o-sphere began to embrace a new line: They had been against military action all along!
Why, some Media Matters types, academics like UMass professor Paul Musgrave, and think-tankers like Brookings Institution fellow Tom Wright even began suggesting that it had not been they themselves, but evil foreigners, in conjunction with Fox News, who drove Trump to his “reckless” behavior. …

It started two weeks ago, when Trump announced he was pulling out of Syria. “We’re knocking the hell out of ISIS. We’ll be coming out of Syria like very soon. Let the other people take care of it now,” he said, reverting to his campaign persona in Ohio.

The D.C. intelligentsia wasted no time in hammering this decision. “Trump’s Syria Policy Isn’t Retrenchement, It’s Pandering,” sneered Foreign Policy. “Chaos reigns with his president,” said Hawaii Democrat Mazie Hirono, calling the withdrawal plan “incoherent.”

Howard Dean, a man I once voted for because he at least tepidly opposed a pointless Middle Eastern war, decided to use this occasion to taunt Trump in schoolyard fashion. “Why are you such a wimp for Assad and Putin?” Dean tweeted.

Subsequently, news emerged of a chemical gas attack on citizens in a town near Damascus. The Assad regime was blamed, but denied responsibility. Washington’s smart set instantly concluded (despite some at least faintly legitimate concern about the intelligence linking Assad to the attack) that Trump not only could not leave Syria, but also had to retaliate militarily. …

Moreover, some insisted, the gas attack was actually Trump’s fault.

  • @POTUS‘s pledge to withdraw from #Syria has only emboldened Assad,” tweeted John McCain.
  • “Clearly there needs to be a response. It needs to be an international response,” said Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, underscoring the bipartisan agreement.
  • “I would destroy Assad’s Air Force,” said Lindsey Graham.
  • “Some kind of military response ought to be considered,” said Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. “It has to be robust and unmistakable.”

The notion that Trump needed to do more than lob a few wimpy little missiles was a popular theme. …

  • “Morning” Joe Scarborough offered this armchair-tough tweet …: “Trump announced plans this week to surrender Syria to Putin, Assad, ISIS and Iran. Putin’s puppet responded to Trump’s weakness with war crimes.”
  • Among think-tankers, Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute penned the non-sensational editorial, “It’s time to assassinate Assad.”
  • “Chemical Attack in Syria Demands Stiff Response from U.S., Allies,” wroteLuke Coffey of the Heritage Foundation.

So pols, press, and talking heads were virtually all been in agreement. Attack!

——————————

Assad explains his chemical attack

A cold hard analysis

Trump Can’t Alter Syria’s Future” by Douglas MacGregor (Colonel, US Army, retired; see Wikipedia). He has a PhD in  international relations and has written five books. His latest is Margin of Victory: Five Battles that Changed the Face of Modern War. His conclusion is just good sense.

“Right now, the greatest danger to the Trump presidency is a renewal of Washington’s refusal since 1991 to accept any regional solution in the Middle East other than one imposed by American military power. The danger is a destructive collision with the triumvirate of powers that have tangible, concrete strategic interests in Syria: Russia, Iran and Turkey. Unlike the weak insurgents Americans have faced since 2001, these nations possess powerful air forces, air defenses, armies and navies.

“It is never easy for an aggressive commander in chief to resist offensive action, but any significant military action in Syria risks confrontation with these powers on strategic terms that do not favor the United States. Moreover, American military action is simply out of line with Syria’s actual importance to the United States.”

ISIS execution 12 June 2014. AP photo.
ISIS on 12 June 2014. AP photo.

If we defeat Assad, jihadists win

Almost never mentioned are Assad’s opponents: mostly jihadists, as this article in The Nation delicately mentions. If we successfully help the insurgents overthrow Assad, this will yet another nation we have turned over to jihadists. Reagan liberated Afghanistan from secularism. Bush Jr. liberated Iraq from secular culture. Obama helped liberate Libya from secular culture. Now it is Trump’s turn.

Why has America become the great enabler of fundamentalist Islam?

Conclusions

These are secrets because we do not want to know them. Although the truth is out there, such knowledge shakes our complacency. See the strong similarity between the ex-spy’s poisoning in the UK and the Syria chemical attack. In both cases there no evidence of the bad guy’s guilt and strong reasons for false flag attacks. Yet conservatives, liberals, and major journalists all present the stories as showing obvious and certain guilt. To invade Iraq they manufactured fake evidence. Now they have taken our measure and know that evidence is unnecessary. Just lies are enough.

America will be governed. If we are too lazy to do so, then others will. Just like hot-wired stolen car, we can’t expect it to be treated well. But it is not too late. The political machinery bequeathed to us by the Founders remains potent, needing only our energy and willpower to make it work.

For More Information

Important to remember when reading today’s confident predictions by pundits: “The pundits were wrong about Assad and the Islamic State. As usual, they’re not willing to admit it” by Max Abrahms and John Glaser, op-ed in the LAT, December 2017.

The big picture about US – Russia relations: We ended the Cold War by lying to Russia. They remember, even if we don’t.

Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Russiaabout RussiaGate, about propaganda, and especially these…

  1. About the Ukraine war: The first rule of American war is not to believe what we’re told.
  2. Learning from the Cold War to prevent war with Russia today.
  3. Trump says the truth about our wars. Do Not Listen!
  4. The Russian cyberattack on the world that wasn’t (again).
  5. Debunking RussiaGate, attempts to stop the new Cold War.
  6. Debunking the story about Russia’s hit on Sergei Skripal.
  7. Another rush to war! This time in Syria.

Two new books about our new Cold War.

Return to Cold War by Robert Legvold

Who Lost Russia?: How the World Entered a New Cold War by Peter Conradi.

See Tony Wood’s review of these new books in the London Review of Books.

Return to Cold War
Available at Amazon.
Available at Amazon.

 

26 thoughts on “Secrets about our attack on Syria & Russia to help jihadists

  1. Excellent post. I may write one in my old blog to lay out using maps what I think is driving the insane USA moves: a combination of Israel lobby (neocon) and Saudi influences over idiots like Bolton, Kushner and of course Trump.

    1. Fernandoleanme,

      I’m more interested in why we believe them. I doubt that their motives make any difference at this point.

  2. TYPO: America will be governed. If we are too >laZy< to do so, then others will.

    In support of your points, I have read a well presented logical article why it was Assad. The problem, it offered no evidence that demonstrated guilt.

    There are more potential solutions than problems that exist. Or as the Mexican bandito once said in a movie "Who needs evidence?"

  3. Dare I say it, the strike seem designed to avoid Russia and Iran, thus hopefully not escalating things. It seems to have struck a few symbolic targets, which were probably defunct since 2013.
    Everyone wins, Trump Macron and May get to look like they followed through on there threats, Putin is allowed to let it pass as no airfields or military bases are hit, Assad is not impeded in his reconquest of Syria.

    Dispite the Allies bluster we have just seen the limits of there usable power, if they wish to avoid a great power conflict.
    The silence from the usual Arab allies was telling, the western powers were not backed up by local powers, nobody wants the rebels to win anymore, not even the west .

    I do think Assad’s forces were to blame, the order might not have come from Assad, the Syrian chain of command has fragmented, you have Iranian militias, Hezbollah, Iraqi militias, afghan militias, local defence forces, regular army, Iranian spec forces, Russian troops and advisors, the traditional rivalries of Syrian commanders. Added to that there is a seething hatred of the rebels and the cities which have sheltered them. It wouldn’t surprise me if a local commander took great pleasure in gassing the people of that place.
    Assad would probably have been aghast that so close to victory some idiot decided on a little revenge.

    1. Gerard,

      “I do think Assad’s forces were to blame,”

      There is no evidence, but you think you know! Even Sherlock Holmes did not solve crimes by reading the newspapers. That was a skill of his smarter older brother, Mycroft. Congrats!

  4. It makes since from a divide and conquer strategy. Teddy Roosevelt supported Japan against the Czar in China. Then Fdr started sending pilots to fight the Japanese in China, leading g to the disarmament of Japan. Then when PRC was formed we let the Japanese rearm, and fought the chinese in Korea, then as we were fighting in Vietnam, Nixon went to China so as to ally against the Russians.

    1. dashui,

      “Then Fdr started sending pilots to fight the Japanese in China, leading to the disarmament of Japan.”

      Are you kidding?

    1. Allan,

      Thanks for pointing that out. Let’s look at their message. On the opening page:

      “FOR TOO LONG THE POLITICAL CENTER IN AMERICA HAS BEEN LEFT FOR DEAD. BUT NOT ANYMORE. JOIN THE FIGHT.”

      Can you suggest a weaker message? Fight for the center! Totally without meaning or significance.

      “No Labels.”

      This is the essence of sophomoric. Labels provide identification and convey messages. Why not a society where people have no names? “Hey you, no you to the left other side, no the other other side.”

      “The biggest threat facing America is not a foreign enemy. Instead, it is the refusal of our elected leaders to work together to address the serious problems afflicting our nation. The only place that problems get solved is in the center. No Labels is a citizen-led movement working to bring our leaders to work together to solve the problems that matter most to the American people.”

      First – again, meaningless. Second — somebody was not listening in American History 101. That’s quite false; action usually begins on the fringes. Third — our government works quite well for the 1%.

    2. Allan,

      I’ve seen a lot of this centrist-worship, the belief that the political center is blessed in some way. These movements die like flies because they have zero appeal to people.

    3. Yes, I agree that… there’s nothing to excite passions in lots of people to be effective.

      BTW, I found you via Dalrock and that whole conversation. I keep trying to promote and spread the word on this exceptional work. I wonder if he’d do a talk with Jordan Peterson. Easy for me to say. That level of attention might be pretty overwhelming.

      Allan

    4. allan,

      “there’s nothing to excite passions in lots of people to be effective.”

      It’s not marketing. There is nothing inherently valuable in the center. It’s just the status quo. The status quo always needs changing. The fringes provide most of the ideas about ways to change.

      More deeply, the very “left – center – right” division is a one dimensional construct that represents today’s political coalitions. Sometimes that construct has to shatter and reform. That happened when the Whig party died when it could not adapt to the abolitionist movement and new economic conditions. I believe that is happening today.

      As political scientists have been saying for years, there no longer is a center. It’s an artifact of one-dimensional scoring systems. Most of us have a mix of left and right positions, so we score (inappropriately) as moderates. But we don’t fit well into the Dem and GOP coalitions. Either time or events will shatter those coalitions, eventually.

    5. I must be unusual because the center holds no appeal to me. I see the center as very status quo driven. I am drawn more to the far right and to a lesser degree the far left because they are more populist.

  5. Why would Assad use chemical weapons even though he is winning ? because brutal dictatorships don’t operate on logic and common sense, but on fear and vengeance (Saddam did it against the Kurds in the ate 80s), and don’t forget how we got here in the first place; cracking down on protests with tanks, turning it into a full civil war within months, when the whole region was boiling and regimes were falling in early 2011. there might be no conclusive evidence, but it is not something implausible.
    The last US and Co. attack on Syria was a moral boost to the Syrian regime, their propaganda is boasting nonstop about how they are the last standing victim in the face of western imperialism, as they claim to have intercepted most of the rockets.

    the ‘secular culture’ bit is utter nonsense, Syria was and is a religious conservative society, what fosters and breeds extremism is oppression and chaos, both a result of US interventions and Syria’s regime brutality over many decades. The regime was somehow secular, but so was Pol Pot, Stalin, Franco and many others… secular is not a magic word that solves all problems].

    The US has a major responsibility in what is happening in that region, maybe the answer is not more bombs on empty buildings in Syria, but it is not freaking out about Jihadist gonna win, let’s supports the ‘secularists’, that’s what US has been doing for most of the 20th century, and the result is this.

    1. ayman,

      “because brutal dictatorships don’t operate on logic and common sense, but on fear and vengeance (Saddam did it against the Kurds in the ate 80s), ”

      This is the “making stuff up analysis.” Nicely done.

  6. Some would consider American intervention in Syria as madness, risking installation, as you say, of Sunni Jihadists and/or risk of nuclear war. Others would consider it entirely rational and an acceptable risk if it disrupts the Shia pipeline of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

    1. In that case, it’s for the Israeli’s to deal with, isn’t it? Proxy vs proxy is “acceptable” in this witch’s cauldron, risking a conflict with Russia over this beyond irrational.

    2. SDW,

      “it disrupts the Shia pipeline of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon”

      What is your evidence that there is this massive “pipeline”?

    3. Tarapsa,

      There is nothing in this article about a “pipeline” of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah. It is about Israel’s pipeline of weapons to its proxies. It does briefly mention what is well known, that Iran is a major supporter of Hez.

      Hezbollah has many sources of funding and arms, not just Iran. This Wikipedia entry is a good intro.

      More broadly, Syria — like much of the Middle East — is overrun with proxy armies of Iran, the US, Israel, the Saudis, etc. If you think that will end soon, I have a large bridge you might be interested in buying.

  7. Why do we believe them? No single answer. Perhaps in large measure it’s tribalism, despite political differences, the need for the “common enemy” is a constant and maybe the subconscious perception that it’s only thing left to hold the country together. Russia has been that reliable common enemy(of the capitalist elite anyway) for 70+ years(actually 100 years, give or take with a brief intermission during WWII). We’d have forgiven her “sins” in due time if only she’d have rolled over and played lap dog as expected after the collapse of the USSR. She didn’t and that’s simply unforgivable to our masters, who know how to play the masses here like a cheap banjo. Our only hope is Russia has more patience with our numerous provocations then one can reasonably expect, once this thing starts going ‘tit for tat’ there may be no stopping it. Enjoy each day like it’s your last…

  8. Dear Larry, very nice article because it highlights how our Government policies have been hijacked by interest groups at the expense of popular American interests. I mean, popular American interests that would make sense for the majority of Americans, like investment in domestic infrastructure.

    Donald Trump knows this, as more or less that was his campaign platform. Donald Trump compromising with the Deep State (for lack of a better description) at the expense of his election campaign promises should not be a surprise.

    Look back to previous Presidents, namely John F. Kennedy who did not toe the line the Deep State and we can understand why Donald is making compromises.

    The US covert support for Jihadists and chaos in the Middle serves the USA deep state and Israel Deep State (there are many people in Israel who question our covert support for jihadists too). I cannot see the USA changing course on its foreign policy in the Middle East because the Deep State is too strong. I think the USA will keep following this foreign policy path until we become financially bankrupt as a nation, a scenario that would likely have negative consequences for all of us.

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