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BOMBING SYRIA September 1, 2013

Posted by wmmbb in Middle East.

Senator Carr, who for rest of  this week, is Australia’s Foreign Minister was fulsome in his support of President Obama’s decision to bomb Syria apparently because of the use of chemical weapons.

They are as gruesome and horrible in their effects on their victims nuclear weapons, depleted uranium weapons and drone missile attacks.  The American Government has a confounding morality, that easily receives acceptance by its fawning acolytes on the altar of sacrifice. To whom are the victims of the deterrence being offered? Or is it simply a sacrilege of indifference of people who will remain nameless and unknown to be forgotten in the flow of sensation that represents the news? The rule of morality is much like the rule of law, otherwise it does not apply. It is not clear exactly where “the arc of the moral universe is bending”.

The Israelis were the source of the damning intelligence (telephone intercepts).  Such evidence cannot be publicly assessed. There are suggestions that the some among the coalition of the rebels in the Civil War, which in all likelihood has CIA influence in one form or another might be responsible because it is said they were losing. We might be unwise to exclude the role of Saudi Arabia and Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Presumably the Iranians are supporting the Assad regime. And to complete a picture, there is as well Turkey, and how does that fit into the Sunni-Shia demarcations created by previous US intervention?

So what would be the full repercussions, short term and long term? To introduce a note of impartiality, what would be the implications of not acting? Is the responsibility of any country to be the arbiter in these matters? Alan Greenblatt at NPR writes:

Airstrikes may or may not put an end to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. But they certainly won’t end the conflict there.

“This is a potentially game-changing move by the Obama administration that’s very risky for his overall foreign policy,” says Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning think tank. “It can risk getting him pulled in, in ways he himself doesn’t know.”

Here is the danger: If Obama acts now, he will have himself crossed a line that will make it difficult for the U.S. to retreat back to the sidelines.

Obama says his goal will not be to end the Assad regime or even tilt conditions on the ground. But it will be difficult to sustain an argument that chemical weapons are an issue entirely separate from the broader conflict — especially if and when Syria retaliates against the U.S. or neighboring allies such as Lebanon or Israel.

“Sometimes credibility is too simply evoked as how you’re perceived, but at a certain point you do get trapped by your promises,” says David Ekbladh, a historian and expert on U.S. foreign relations at Tufts University. “This is one of those times,”

The assumption that the US can act an independent umpire in this conflict beggars belief. Noam Chomsky in an interview with Mohammed Attar says:

For a long time, the Arab world and other places beside have played host to stories and illusions about the supernatural power of the United States, which controls everything through complex conspiracies and plots. In this worldview, everything that takes place can be explained in terms of imperialist conspiracies. This is an error. Without a doubt, the United States are still a great power and capable of influencing events, but they are not always able to manipulate them by means of complex conspiracies: this really is beyond their capacities. Of course the Americans do sometimes try to do this, but they fail, too. What happened in Syria is not outside our understanding: it began as a popular and democratic protest movement demanding democratic reforms, but instead of responding to it in a constructive, positive manner, Assad reacted with violent repression. The usual outcome of such a course of action is either a successful crushing of the protests or otherwise, to see them evolve and militarize, and this is what took place in Syria. When a protest movement enters this phase we see new dynamics at play: usually, the rise of the most extremist and brutal elements to the front ranks.

The obvious comparison and contrast can be made with the developments in Egypt, where the brutality of the violent suppression bearing rated a mention and is now forgotten. Those of us who express moral outrage are required to be consistent.And we might also be expected to suggest and provide the practical tools to bring these situations to a peaceful and just resolution. The only means that the American Government, supported by Australia, although I would praise, if for the first time ever, Tony Abbott’s more cautious approach.

There is a case to be made against the launching of cruise missiles. Isn’t it in effect an act of war, in this case without any legal fig leafs. The act of supreme hubris.

What happens if the Syrian fire missiles, which they apparently have, that hit the US war ships? Does the US then retaliate? While the consequences may be unpredictable, the process is very predictable. What would such a scenario have for Australia, regardless of who is the Government next week?


The attack on Syria has been delayed for now.  President Obama has sought approval from Congress, who will have to reassemble. He does so, while claiming the prerogative to launch an military assault without congressional imprimatur, assuming that the victims of aggression will never respond to an act of war.

The surrender of executive privilege reflects the vote against the attack on Syria by the House of Commons. Congress is likely to support Obama. The opposition by Conservative members in Britain was the stand out feature, suggesting an independence that will probably not be possible for a brought and indebted Congress.

Paul Jay interviews Chris Hedges on The Real News Network:

David Bromwich  summarizes the Obama position in Huffington Post:

In his August 31 remarks on Syria, the president announced he has decided that as president he has the constitutional authority to order missile strikes against Syria without consulting Congress, and

  1. He has decided to strike and intends to, but
  2. Not immediately, after all, and
  3. Only after Congress has debated and voted on the idea, because
  4. He wants Congress to share the responsibility with him, and
  5. He will risk this even in the face of the unhappy British parliamentary vote.
  6. Meanwhile, Americans should know he will never put “boots on the ground,” and
  7. Our rebel allies should know we will continue our support of their attempt to overthrow the government, although
  8. Only by “limited and narrow” assistance such as these missile strikes. All of which will serve unavoidably
  9. To prolong the Syrian civil war and increase the toll of deaths and flight of refugees, thereby assuring that
  10. Any sensible diplomacy with Iran will be postponed indefinitely, or aborted until his lame-duck years, when there will be a built-in excuse. Nevertheless there may now be a hope, through Congress, of putting a definitive stop to an incoherent policy in Syria. It can be done by a vote of no confidence in “humanitarian war” which only augments the violence of the warring sects of the Middle East.



Mairead Macquire gives her direct account of the situation in Syria:



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