On The Anniversary of 9/11 – A Victory for Clear-headed Thinking

It appears that the appeal of millions of American citizens as well as opposition from American allies around the globe has had the desired effect that could likely prevent the military action the Obama administration was pursuing in response to what appears to have been a chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime on Syrian residents.

 syrian and russian foreign ministers

Secretary of State John Kerry suggested last Monday, as an off-the-cuff “rhetorical argument”, that the U.S. would consider putting the threat of a targeted missile strike against the Assad regime on the back burners if Assad would agree to removing his chemical weapons arsenal. But the Russians, Syria’s biggest ally, saw this as opportunity to scale down the threat of U.S. intervention and got Syria to agree to such a proposal.  And in short order the wheels have been set in motion to not only remove chemical weapons currently in Syria, but get Assad to sign the ban against using such weapons.

Kerry has remained skeptical however and isn’t convinced that such a proposal can be carried out with easy verification and a willing compliance from the Assad regime.  He remains steadfast about implementing a military strike, informing everyone that it was the “credible use of force [that] for the first time [has] brought this regime to even acknowledge that they have a chemical weapons arsenal.”

No doubt that much of what has played out since the chemical attack occurred on over 1400 men, women and children on August 21st has brought us to this point.  And though the threat of force did likely play a strong factor in changing the position of Assad and the Russians, it has been the boisterous outcry by progressives normally loyal to the President, as well as many on the far right, that gave the Obama administration pause to reflect on taking the serious action of a military strike on targets in and around Damascus.  Had this protest not been there and at the level it was, the plans already set in motion by the Executive branch might have been carried out.

I think Obama made the right decision in putting the brakes on U.S. military action to deal with the heinous use of sarin gas in Syria.  Much evidence points to the Syrian regime as the likely perpetrator but it is also possible that some rogue general, not Assad himself, made the call to use a weapon that was banned by most countries, including Syria, back in 1925.

Some of that evidence comes from a report made by the Human Rights Watch organization.  The U.S.-based rights group said it had reached its conclusion after analyzing witness accounts, remnants of the weapons used and medical records of victims.  On Monday HRW tweeted:  Syrian government is likely responsible for chemical attack@hrwhttp://bit.ly/187aC6x

HRW said it did not believe the attack could have been carried out by rebels or other “terrorists” as a smokescreen, as suggested by Assad. “Human Rights Watch and arms experts monitoring the use of weaponry in Syria have not documented Syrian opposition forces to be in possession of the 140mm and 330mm rockets used in the attack, or their associated launchers,” the report added.

HRW however has its critics.  SOURCEWATCH has noted on their website that the “founders of HRW were staunchly pro-Israel, and over time they have intervened to temper critical reports about Israeli actions.”

Following lobbying by UN Watch, a zionist pressure group, HRW removed Prof. Richard Falk from one of it human rights committees.  Falk, a prominent international jurist and professor at Princeton, was a vocal critic of Israel.   SOURCE 

AIPAC, the powerful Israeli lobby in Washington, D.C., has given its blessing to a U.S. military intervention in Syria.

Be that as it may and despite Kerry’s “credible use of force” claim, the world has been spared for the time being of yet another use of military force to aid rebels in deposing the dictator in the Middle East.  With UN approval, the U.S., British, Canadian and French air and naval forces supported Libyan revels in 2011 with missal and air strikes to defeat forces of Muammar Qaddafi.  Critics of this action have claimed that Qaddafi’s ouster has led to an increase in terrorist attacks in Mali and other parts of that region. 


One of the horrifying images Obama viewed of Syrian children dying from a chemical gas attack by the Assad regime

In his speech last night the President made an impressive and even passionate plea to the American people by relying too much I think on the emotional aspect of the issue, referring to the horrific images on videos of children reacting violently to the effects of the nerve gas sarin.  Anyone who hasn’t been horrified by someone killing their own people with poison gas has ice water running through their veins.  And the need to react swiftly to such an atrocity is compelling for responsible people everywhere.

But cooler heads need to prevail in this very complex situation.  In the end a select missile strike on targeted areas in Syria may send a message to Assad and his captains, but the Islamic terrorists who have labeled the U.S. and their western allies as the great satan will feel no compulsion to end their war on their perceived enemies.  This missile strike will be used by such hostile groups to convince angry young Muslim men of what many in this region have been indoctrinated with over the last decade or two, which is that the West is determined to wipe out their culture and replace Allah with their Judeo-christian God.

By standing up against the status quo and giving Obama pause to carry out his stated goal, enough time has elapsed for Syria and their Russian partners to offer an olive branch of sorts to the international community.  In the final analysis, if Syria carries out the promise of this plan to remove their chemical weapon stockpiles, no other innocent children will be subject to the cruel death of poison gas.  Regrettably the same cannot be said about other weapons of war.

This is an apparent victory for Americans opposed to U.S. military intervention in Syria as well as the Syrian opposition who can hopefully feel safe from any further chemical attack.  The war however there will rage on with continued use of conventional weapons.   Men, women and children will continue to die and many will continue to flee the battle-scarred country to refugee camps already over crowded in neighboring Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.

One can only hope that this gesture from Assad to reduce the threat of further death and destruction, with Russia’s participation, will find its way into the broader spectrum of unrest this country has been undergoing.  American energies spent in this direction, as opposed to military action, will go a long way to securing stability in the region as well as removing a recruitment message by militant jihadist who always grow stronger when U.S. military might rears its ugly head.


19 responses to “On The Anniversary of 9/11 – A Victory for Clear-headed Thinking

  1. Great piece there. But one comment, there was, in my view, nothing “off the cuff” about John Kerry’s remark. It is slowly emerging that this possibility was actualy discussed in Russia at the G20 in an unoffical conversation. It was a way out for everybody. Everyone gains if this strategy works out.

    Russia is painted as the demon in this situation and it has to be remembered that they too see legitimate threats to their “national interest” Firstly, they don’t want to see Assad regime colapse into chaos as might result from a western attack. All those chemical weapons could land up in the hands of the fundmentalists – including the Chechins – offering a real and immediate threat to Russia. Secondly, they can’t abandon their ally, but neither do they want to start a hot war with the USA. An attack on Syria would have incalculable results across the world. As the circle of groups and countries getting sucked into the conflict it wopuld bring Russia and the West back to a Cuban missile crisis situation.

    As Churchill said “Jaw Jaw is better than War War”

    • ” there was, in my view, nothing “off the cuff” about John Kerry’s remark. It is slowly emerging that this possibility was actualy discussed in Russia at the G20 in an unoffical conversation.”

      I read that recently too Bill. It was Kerry’s spokesperson, Jen Psaki, who made this claim back on Monday. The claim was made because it probably didn’t want to make Kerry look like he was back-pedaling on Obama but at the time no one really knew that Russia and Assad would take it to heart.

  2. I’ve got mixed feelings about this whole issue, and maybe it’s my law enforcement background. But if you make pronouncements, you better be ready to follow through with sanctions, or it soon becomes clear that you are a joke, and not to be taken seriously..

  3. I think historically this will be one of the more fascinating foreign policy situations. I am conflicted on some of the points made. So I have remained fairly quiet. I am fairly against this bombing, but on the other hand, I think it might be necessary. So I sit in the middle and wait. I hope this disarmament might turn out to be a solution. Much depends on whether it is actually sincere or merely a delaying tactic. Time will tell. I’m inclined to the latter by the players involved, but I live in hope. Great piece as always Larry.

    • “I am fairly against this bombing, but on the other hand, I think it might be necessary.”

      We are all torn between these two scenarios but history has often proven that military action simply begets more hostilities. Unlike WWII where conventional armies “played” by conventional standards, today’s freedom fighter/terrorists do not.

  4. The thing to understands is that since WW2 nobody “wins” wars anymore. They end in a nasty mess, with resenment and remifications that will last for genrations. In WW2 there was a job to be done, crush the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese forces.

    This achieved, the two countries were put back together with the help of the victors and now Germany and Japan are unfeared and respected members of the world community. That ain’t ever going to happen again.

  5. Woodgate, your optimism is as endearing as it is unrealistic. Watching all this Syria bullshit only makes me MORE pessimistic for the future, which is really saying something.

    Syria has been on America’s Enemies List for longer than anyone can remember. They supposedly fund terror and they definitely torture. Uncomfortably for North American governments, Syria has been involved in US rendition programs & have provided rent-a-torturer facilities for foreign governments who “don’t torture”. http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=5525340c-7b64-4a50-bf1b-038a8f5e5863 (It’s worth noting another American “Operation Look The Other Way During Arab Spring” alumni, Egypt, also provided such services.)

    Over the last couple of years, Syria has killed about 100,000 of its own people, at least 1,400 through 2 Weapons Of Mass Destruction attacks. Despite cries for help from rebel groups who’ve shown promise for victory, the West has done nothing but waggle its finger and mouth feel good platitudes. The only result has been an acceleration of civilian killing.

    Compare this to the treatment of other similarly situated Arab nations. Libya got an an air war with international support and involvement. Iraq, which neither had rebels, nor harboured terrorists, nor had WMD, was invaded, occupied, their leader executed and their citizens tortured. So why does Syria get off so lucky? One, they have a friend in KGB controlled Russia. Two, they don’t have much oil. That’s it.

    Sure, even though only a precious few are directly affected by America’s 1984-like state of perpetual war, Americans are as tired of hearing about war as they are of hearing about starving Africans, But that’s not really what the resistance to Syrian involvement is about. Despite the Asshat government meeting every MORAL criteria for action (minus invading another country) only the World’s Policeman, the US government wants to get involved…and just barely. From what I can translate into English, the MOST Obama is proposing is hitting some airstrips and chemical weapons facilities with cruise missiles or drones. This is such a meaningless “action”, I almost fell asleep typing it. That move passed its Best Before Date 1-2 years ago.

    At this stage, there is absolutely NO point whatsoever in doing anything that doesn’t hope to bring about regime change. Yet that is expressly off the table.The truth is that the ONLY reason Obama is even suggesting these meaningless strikes is because of his “red-line” statement. If he doesn’t do something, no matter how insignificant, he sends a message that you can get away with giving the US Empire the finger. THAT (and some unusually limited pro-Israel sentiment) is the entire summation of support for military action.

    But this isn’t a victory for peace. Aside from some hippies who are against war as a concept (and non-existant God love ’em for it), the resistance comes from the fact that the bulk of people just don’t give a shit. Sure, they may recognize Asshat as evil, but they aren’t even willing to raise somebody else’s finger to do almost nothing about it. A No Fly Zone, or air war, would only expose the Empire’s flyboys to minor risk, but would mean a lot to rebels and civilians. Are a couple of paid flyboys who volunteered to participate in America’s Death Machine and who wouldn’t be missed if they died or committed suicide while on leave worth more than hundreds of thousands of Syrians? Yes! Of course that goes without saying, but I wanted to say it anyway because I’m an asshole.

    Now, if there was something for America or the West to gain, (say, better access to oil fields) by taking out Asshat, you bet your sweet bippie that Patriots would be burning Syrian flags and the march to war would be unstoppable. The propagandists would make Asshat worse than Hitler. Reports of active Syrian agents in America would be in every paper alongside stories of how chemical weapons could be launched on Europe or placed in suitcases in NY. The public support for war would be triple what it is now and all the players in DC would be clamouring for camera time with the troops.

    I’m on the fence about military involvement, but I think that Asshat deserves it as much (or more) as any other victim of American military involvement since Vietnam. Given that America has an established policy of targeted assignation of individuals, even US born citizens, based upon the mere ok of “high ranking” US officials for crimes like operating a hate-filled website calling for violence, or being the teenage son of a guy operating a hate-filled website calling for violence, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/6/7/exclusive_nasser_al_awlaki_to_obama I think Asshat most certainly qualifies under that program’s very low threshold, a program that kills more innocent civilians than actual targets.

    However, I’m sure of one thing; whatever will or won’t be done in Syria will happen for the wrong reasons.

    And one final thought, in 1990 America signed a treaty to destroy its massive chemical weapons stockpile by 2007. It currently has about 10% of its stockpile left, which is at least 10 times what Syria has. The US military makes vague claims about eliminating the rest by 2017. (What they got 1 senile old man with a walker doing the dismantling?) And, as if it even needs them, America still reserves the right of retaliation using chemical weapons.

    • Yes, SM, it is a rotten, despicable world we live in. Always has been. Yet people throughout the course of human history still try to balance out their cynicism with a certain measure of optimism. Without it I suppose things would be a lot worse than they currently are. 😦

      It’s either that or cut open an artery to end it all quickly.

      Try not to let my cheery comments here however ruin the day for you. 🙂

  6. Great post, Larry. This Syria situation is a hairy diplomatic dance. Russia’s part in this is fascinating, and self-serving. And wars can’t be won anymore – unrest continues with new players. But if we can remove the threat of chemical weapons, that’s at least a worthy goal.

    • As you know Jean, end game results in this more complicated geo-political chaos start with tiny steps but require consistency. By biggest fear is that apathy will allow similar situations in the future to manifest themselves. But for the time being this was a welcome response from the Russians and the Syrian government.

  7. Thank you. Perfectly said. It only makes sense — if the greatest diplomatic, military, and humanitarian strategists our nation has can’t figure out a useful course of action — to take no action for the time being. Step back and think. Our bombs and missiles aren’t going anywhere, we can always kill more people later if we want.
    I think you are right, it was the outcry from Americans and citizens in other nations that finally put the brakes on this crazy war escalation in the middle east.
    People should be proud of themselves. We do make a difference. Our president gets to save face, hopefully no more kids will get killed by us or by Syrian chemicals, and hey, maybe the U.S. could put some of the money we just saved towards humanitarian aid to make some friends instead of more enemies.

    • Thanks for commenting Melanie. Clearly its a long way from any genuine stability in Syria but this sigh of relief is a welcome one with all that has transpired thus far.

  8. Its all bullshit, I know a young Syrian lady who when asked by me said Assad is a very good ruler where is father was not. Has anybody even bothered to notice that all those evil little countries that us an Israel are trying to save, are sitting on a shitload of oil. Lets be honest the powers that be covet their resources. I realize we liberated Iraq, lybia. afghanistan, just look how happy they are being liberated. Bullpussy its all about money and oil. Anybody care to bet Mali is next. We seem to forget Viet Nam was a big lie and 59000 of our young people died so faggotts like Dick Cheney and our last president Alfred E Newman could get richer. Cheney said he had other priorites , so did the 59000 that got killed. Bush actually said it wasnt a romantic enough war for him. {yes i heard him say that] I am sure wuth a million men in our armed forces somebody would have thought he had a cute butt and then he would have his romance. Lets not lie to ourselves its allabout money and pleasing our Israeli masters. Thus ends the word of todays holy gospel.

    • I understand your anger here pete. I share some of that too, especially about Israel’s influence here. But let me ask you one question. The Syrian lady who told you Assad was a “very good leader” compared to his father – was she Alawite, the Sunni sect that Assad and his ruling party are members of, or was she a Shiite, the people who represent most of the rebels fighting against the Assad regime and who for the most part have been repressed by Assad and his father before him?

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