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War on Syria: Twenty Pounds of Stupid in a Ten-Pound Bag--William Rivers Pitt

Society & Culture  (tags: activists, americans, children, culture, dishonesty, education, ethics, freedoms, government, media, politics, safety, society, violence, world )

- 1701 days ago -
Flatten a few buildings, blow some children sideways out of their kitchens during breakfast, take a victory lap on the Sunday morning talk shows...what could possibly go wrong?

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Kit B (276)
Tuesday August 27, 2013, 9:15 pm
Photo Credit: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

I'm just going to throw this out on the stoop and see if the cat licks it up: instead of attacking Syria, how about we don't attack Syria?

Crazy, I know; this is America, after all, and our presidents like nothing more than to flip a few cruise missiles at other countries, combined with a few bombing sorties for good measure, because it's a hell of a lot easier than actual statecraft. Besides, it looks good on television, and all those meanies in Congress can't accuse the Commander in Chief of not doing anything. Oh, also, cruise missiles and bombs cost a lot, so if we pull the trigger on Syria, someone will get paid handsomely.

What ho, this we call "diplomacy," right? Flatten a few buildings, blow some children sideways out of their kitchens during breakfast, take a victory lap on the Sunday morning talk shows...what could possibly go wrong?

Quite a bit, as it turns out.

Once again, it is weapons of mass destruction at the crux of the matter. Unlike our Iraq debacle, however, there seems to be a fairly impressive body of evidence to suggest that chemical weapons were used in Syria. Doctors Without Borders seems pretty convinced it happened, despite the fact that the use of such weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense, given the fickle nature of chemical weapons and how closely concentrated his own forces were near the area of the attack. A rogue military commander, perhaps? The rebels themselves?

The answer to whether or not a chemical attack took place will soon be forthcoming, as UN inspectors have arrived at the scene to investigate after being greeted with sniper fire. If it is established that the Syrian government did this, enormous pressure will be brought to bear on President Obama to "punish" the Assad regime with a military attack of some kind.

The short version of why such a course of action is an invitation to catastrophe: Syria is no paper tiger, and is very much capable of both defending itself as well as attacking American interests in the region if provoked. Syria and Iran are strategic allies and are pledged to each other's mutual defense, which means all the Iranian missile sites in the mountains above the Persian Gulf coast could launch their missiles in retaliation...and those Iranian missiles, by the by, are advanced enough to spoof Aegis radar systems, which means thousands of American service members currently manning our warships in the Gulf could very quickly be delivered into a watery grave. Russia is also a staunch ally of Syria, and could also be provoked into getting involved by backing Assad even more forcefully than they have to date.

In essence, any attack on Syria could quickly escalate into a full-scale war that would further destabilize the region and quite probably lead to the kind of conflagration found in the last chapter of the Bible. Finally, and not for nothing, but if Mr. Obama and his generals manage to come up with the perfect military plan and successfully end the Assad regime, the folks who will take over Syria in his absence are exactly the kind of people we started this whole "War On Terror" to confront and destroy in the first place. Or so I was told. The story seems to change so often, doesn't it?

An article published in Saturday's New York Times makes it very clear the degree to which American military action against Syria is a no-win scenario:

Indeed, it would be disastrous if President Bashar al-Assad's regime were to emerge victorious after fully suppressing the rebellion and restoring its control over the entire country. Iranian money, weapons and operatives and Hezbollah troops have become key factors in the fighting, and Mr. Assad's triumph would dramatically affirm the power and prestige of Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, its Lebanon-based proxy - posing a direct threat both to the Sunni Arab states and to Israel.

But a rebel victory would also be extremely dangerous for the United States and for many of its allies in Europe and the Middle East. That's because extremist groups, some identified with Al Qaeda, have become the most effective fighting force in Syria. If those rebel groups manage to win, they would almost certainly try to form a government hostile to the United States. Moreover, Israel could not expect tranquility on its northern border if the jihadis were to triumph in Syria.

Given this depressing state of affairs, a decisive outcome for either side would be unacceptable for the United States. An Iranian-backed restoration of the Assad regime would increase Iran's power and status across the entire Middle East, while a victory by the extremist-dominated rebels would inaugurate another wave of Al Qaeda terrorism.

So there's all that, which is, in the end, a bunch of realpolitik game-of-thrones crap. If you need a flesh-and-blood reason why attacking Syria would be a tremendously stupid mistake, look no further than the shattered nation of Iraq. On Sunday, 47 people were killed there in a wave of car bombings and shootings. More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq in July, as the sectarian tensions unleashed by America's colossal military blunder there simmer close to the boiling point.

Make no mistake: America did that. Every body that hits the ground as a result of Sunni-Shia violence in Iraq is our fault. The uncounted thousands upon thousands in Iraq who were slaughtered, maimed or displaced in the first decade of this century are our fault. If we attack Syria, Iraq will simply explode, and Syria could very easily become another Iraq.

Say No to Attacking Syria here.

If it is established beyond doubt that chemical weapons were used in Syria, either by the Assad regime or the rebels, a response of some kind is both necessary and justified. But the military option must be kept on the shelf, high out of reach. As deplorable as the use of such weapons surely is, attempting to fix the situation with military action will only deepen the problem, cause even more unnecessary carnage, and will essentially destroy what it is we would be trying to save.

It is also worthy of mentioning that some 60% of the American people do not support military action against Syria, according to the most recent poll. You can't get 60% of Americans to agree on what color the sky is, but apparently, most of us have had quite enough of this whole eternal war thing, thank you very much.

I think I read somewhere that Mr. Obama is a pretty smart guy. Now would be a fantastic time for him to prove it by coming up with an answer to this that does not involve cruise missiles, bombs and mayhem.

By: William Rivers Pitt | Op Ed | Truthout |

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JL A (281)
Tuesday August 27, 2013, 9:20 pm
I find it very ironic that the Pentagon says it is a no-win scenario to use military force, but the diplomatic agency (State) and some in Congress is calling for just that. In this case the American people (60% is the usual proportion) oppose military intervention--and it seems that they are more grounded in fact and have the position consistent with international law.

Tim C (2420)
Tuesday August 27, 2013, 10:11 pm

Bryna P (139)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 12:54 am
Thank you for the excellent post. I wish peace could be establishe in Syria, but I'm not sure the people in that part of the world are willing to do so. I also think war is out of the question, and it almost never solves anything. I also recall Dwight Eisenhowers statement, "Beware the military comple. Beware indeed, yet I also do not beleive we can stand by while he kills men, women,, and children with chemical weapons. (n, p, t)

Sherri G (128)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 2:05 am
TY Kit. Noted. Looks like we are going in no matter what. It may have been possible to stay out of it but the Pres made a threat he feels compelled to back up. Most of us will never know the truth behind who was responsible for the chemical weapons. Yes Bryna Eisenhower was absolutely right and I agree we can't stand by while men, women, and children are killed. The tough part is we are damned if we do and damned if we don't. Whether it is Bush with his wanted dead or alive comment or Barack with his chemical weapons will cross a line both threats bolster the hawks who bent on war to grow the military complex. Where is a leader today with the wisdom of Eisenhower.

Ljiljana M (116)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 3:14 am
Carefully read & Duly noted & Thank you Kit.

Arielle S (313)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 8:49 am
Great article as always - I applaud the President for not jumping into war (can you imagine if McCain was President?) and I like to think he will avoid getting us in too deep. But he's between that proverbial rock and a hard place....

Gene Jacobson (290)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 9:47 am
"Make no mistake: America did that. Every body that hits the ground as a result of Sunni-Shia violence in Iraq is our fault. The uncounted thousands upon thousands in Iraq who were slaughtered, maimed or displaced in the first decade of this century are our fault. If we attack Syria, Iraq will simply explode, and Syria could very easily become another Iraq."

Funny how we don't like to talk about that. Our illegal war in Iraq. I was only semi-wrong when I said during that war, many times, that when the last U.S. soldier left the country civil war would break out and we'd have one more American hating Islamic country to deal with. I am not sure you can call this helter skelter murder going on there now a civil war as there is nothing civil about it and it as much a product of the eternal conflict between Sunni and Shia factions as anything else but it would not have happened, were it not for the manufactured war of Bush-Cheney.

It does seem evident that a chemical attack was made in Syria, likely not the first, but the question I am not hearing asked and would really like answered is "where did Syria GET those weapons?" It isn't as if they made them on their own. Who sold them to them because that country is as guilty as Assad. The weapons merchants of the world should be pariahs, including the United States. Export food, not war. Everyone. If within countries they must use violence with each other let it be with whatever they have made themselves. No more surrogate wars. They have been immoral since the first and will never be anything else. Providing the means for people to commit horrendous acts is as bad as committing them in my opinion. If the world stops doing that, wars fought with goat herding staffs will soon no longer be on the evening news. How is the UN can't get a resolution passed forbidding the international transfer and trafficking in weapons? Money, as usual. And a lack of morality in the world at large, as usual. There is NO accountability for these crimes against humanity which is what trafficking in weapons is. And there should be.

Kit B (276)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 10:57 am

I don't know where the Sarin nerve gas came from, though I do believe it was used. The rebels or the government could have made the gas, components are available on the black market. I realize that the US has long made statements about crossing lines, and the trouble with those lines, someone will always cross them.

One thing seems certain, there is no easy course for Syria and nothing that the Russians or the US does is going to suddenly mend the many internal conflicts. I would be strongly supportive for humanitarian aid in the form of medical supplies, food the refugees and even sanitary facilities for the refugee camps, without that cholera will soon be rampant. Neither Jordan or Turkey can afford to properly care for so many people without homes. We could help, we could accomplish far more by helping in this way.

Angelika R (143)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 11:04 am
I bet Obama has already regretted many times he ever mentioned that red line.. and I do wonder about that phone call US intel has supposedly caught. You should listen to Obama's announcement on PBS tonight.

John J (0)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 12:12 pm
by Ted Crnnl
It's just convenient -- awfully convenient. That's all I'm saying. It's convenient for U.S. Mideast policy that after three years of covert support for the al-Qaeda mercenaries who lead the Syrian "rebels," the Obama Administration should suddenly be gifted with an attack on civilians, attributed to the Syrian government, by means of one of the most despised weapons ever devised by mankind: poison gas. This attack by the Syrian government comes with good timing, just as support was wavering for a publicly acknowledged U.S. military presence in the region. It also takes attention off the Administration's mess in Egypt, in which it supported the Nazi-spawned, terrorist Muslim Brotherhood against the Egyptian majority, despite broad evidence of a stolen election. Now that the military has taken over, the Administration has compounded its errors by cutting funding for what may be the best hope for a reasonably moderate democracy in the land of the Pharaohs. Stepping up the rhetoric about Syria also serves as yet another distraction to keep America from thinking about Benghazi, an attack that occurred not because of an anti-Muslim YouTube video but because the Administration was once again collaborating with terrorists and smugglers to get heavy weapons and personnel into Syria by way of Turkey. Something went sour on that deal, and we wound up with four dead Americans. As Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said, the U.S. is like "a monkey with a hand grenade" in the Mideast. It's strange to think, after what happened to Saddam Hussein in neighboring Iraq after the world thought he used nerve gas against Kurds, that the Syrian government that has been wrapped up in civil war for three years would suddenly throw caution and international opinion to the wind. The Syrian government had to know that chemical weapons would be a guaranteed way to get the nations of the world to beat a path to its door. It's curious that the Syrians would invite such trouble. On the other hand, anybody who had an ax to grind with Syria but who wanted to appear worthy of his unearned Nobel Peace Prize would have a lot of incentive to stage a phony attack. ... Perhaps someone with delusions of carving out a reinvigorated Muslim caliphate under his personal control. Yes, such an attack would be very convenient indeed.

Phil P (94)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 1:00 pm
I disagree on this one. I'm a little tired of pussy-footing around with these paper tigers and worrying about Russia, Syria and Iran's fictitious capabilities. Maybe, just maybe we need to adopt the Russian method of diplomacy, i.e. go in, break some heads (I'd like to start with leveling Assad's Palace then take out his air force) and then say: don't like it - f-you. Then let the Syrians sort it out on a level playing field . Meanwhile you tell Iran: sit the f' down at the table and start negotiating on the nukes. Would they do it - you betcha.

David F (39)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 1:28 pm
I am of the opinion that the West should stay out of all these Shia/Sunni civil wars. Let the violent radical fundamentalists fight it out. The world would be better off without them. We live on a fantastical beautiful earth and all they can think about is destruction. The U.S.A has earned no friends in the region by their actions. Take your mind off all this turbulence and admire the beauty around you. Read this essay:
and this;
and then maybe you'll feel better and not get sucked into a battle that is not yours. We respond to the outer events only if they resonate with what is inside us. Find peace and enjoy peace.

Robert B (60)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 1:57 pm
This is another tragic situation where the "Family of Man" has once again failed. Religion has failed, the UN has failed, and we all just sit there and let another Dictator slaughter his own people every time they protest his sorry ass lack of leadership. This is a sticky situation, but just HOW MANY TIMES will the world simply just sit there with it's collective thumbs up it ass while the Arms merchants make money and a tin horn Despot rapes his own country? We let Hitler get away his crap until he just finally went too far. What will it take to stop shits like Assad? Shame on Russia, China, AND Iran they all could have put enough pressure on Assad to stop this bullshit. But it's always about GREED, posturing and crooked Power Grabbing Politics. When something like this happens EVERY COUNTRY needs to step up and say NO! Assad is guilty of MASS MURDER of unarmed and innocent Civilians. WHERE IS THE COURT OF WORLD OPINION?????? The 1% rake in their trillions and everyone looks the other way. Just Disgusting!

Roger G (154)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 2:01 pm
noted, thanks

. (0)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 2:58 pm
Robert, I give you a star, as you rightly said in other words, the world is to blame for Assad. Now, where do we go from here?

Lois Jordan (63)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 3:59 pm
Noted. Thanks, Kit.
I say "Let the weapons inspectors do their job and present their report."
It was about this point in time when Bush intervened in Iraq and told Hans Blix to get out of there before his job was done. Many innocent souls have paid the price for not waiting with their lives over all these many years due to the U.S. invasion. Are we really so stupid to make that "mistake" again? Are we really that heartless...a nation full of warmongers?

Mike M (43)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 4:32 pm
It is time the world did something an America just step back. to many American innocent hurt, killed, and mutilated for no reason other than feeding money to the war machine masters and for sense of pride for who?

Kit B (276)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 4:59 pm

It's fascinating to read the various opinions on this. I have no doubt that the United States and her allies could go into Syria and kick butt however, this is far more complicated than just venting our exasperation with this country or the region. I for one do not want to spend the next few years watching Americans die while trying to keep peace in Syria, that's a losing proposition. The US did not put Assad in power, his father did and he has followed the same policies as his father. It's not a large country, it does not have great arable farming land, and relies heavily on oil exports and food and service imports. Within this small country are various forms of the Muslim religion, a few sects of Christians, some communities of Druze and all seem to hate one another. How these disparate groups can be brought together and forced to settle a peace is something that would be tantamount to a magic trick.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 5:10 pm

Jelica R (144)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 6:24 pm
John J. put it right: stop messing with other countries! First, stop sending mercenaries to Syria, close training camps in Turkey and Jordan, negotiate a cease-fire and let the UN team finish their investigation re. use of chemical weapons. Allegedly, on Sunday, samples were sent to a French lab and, judging by latest pro-war cheering and pressure on UN to stop their investigation, I think that the use of sarin was not confirmed. I might be wrong, but some experts have expressed their stance that some industrial poison/pollutant might have been used.

What was not reported is that UN investigators came to Syria on invitation from Syrian government. Their mandate was to get samples from 3 sites of 17 where chemical weapons were allegedly used. Shortly after their arrival, on Aug 21 the reports of another chemical attack emerged. Video of causalities was uploaded on YouTube on Aug 20 from a location outside Syria, a day BEFORE the attack. After 4 days accusing Syrian government of not allowing the UN team to visit the location of the latest attack, "... the formal request from the United Nations for access to the site did not go to the Syrian government until Angela Kane, U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, arrived in Damascus on Saturday, as Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, conceded in a briefing in New York Tuesday." As you might be aware, UN inspectors operate under mandate from UN, and Syrian government can not tell them where to investigate. Not that it bothers War Lords in their gearing for another "humanitarian" intervention to save people of another country pushed into manufactured nightmare.

Jelica R (144)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 6:51 pm
BTW, that "all religious groups seem to hate each other" is a myth. They might have their differences and objections, as different groups have everywhere in the world; but here it is used to add on existing Islamophobia in NATO members countries so their citizens can easier swallow the indigestible war which will anyway soon get stuck in our throats. Why are we so eager to comply with war machine is another matter...


RootsAction: No to Humanitarian Imperialism in Iran & Syria

MoveOn: President Obama: Don't Strike Syria Without Congressional Approval ... better yet, don't strike at all!

Kit B (276)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 7:09 pm

Umm, I don't buy that Jelica. I read that in Al Jazeera and many other middle east experts have repeated the same. The central cause of the rebels in each group is primarily religious differences. It's not Islamophobic to repeat what these independent groups have said about themselves. Nor is it derogatory to repeat their stated complaints. These people are killing each other, with or without US intervention, that should be clear enough. The countries of Jordan and Turkey have burgeoning refugee camps from those fleeing the constant violence.

I have already signed these petitions.

Jelica R (144)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 7:16 pm
TruthOut has many excellent articles on Syria today which I am reading right now.

Here are some links for older inputs on Syria:

RT: Turkey finds sarin gas in homes of suspected Syrian Islamists; May 30, 2013

Pravda.Ru: Syria: The predictable and false "chemical" attack; Aug 21, 2013

Global Research: Evidence Indicates that Syrian Government Did Not Launch a Chemical Weapon Attack Against Its People; Aug 24, 2013

James Corbett: Suicidal act by Bashar al-Assad? -- video; 6:15

YouTube: Syrian army finds chemical agents as US navy expands presence in region; video, 3:59; Aug 24, 2013

Patricia Martinez (63)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 8:12 pm
Assad has already fled to Iran. If all hell hasn't broken loose yet, it certainly will when the Obama administration and the other countries stick their nose in this.

This is one hell of a big mistake. IN NO WAY SHOULD WE BE GOING INTO SYRIA. If things aren't already a disaster, you can bet we'll look on this conflict as the good old days.

Thanks for the article. Now if someone could just knock some sense into the POTUS's head.

Kathy Chadwell (354)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 9:28 pm

Robert Fisk

Tuesday 27 August 2013
Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side?

‘All for one and one for all’ should be the battle cry if the West goes to war against Assad’s Syrian regime

If Barack Obama decides to attack the Syrian regime, he has ensured – for the very first time in history – that the United States will be on the same side as al-Qa’ida.

Quite an alliance! Was it not the Three Musketeers who shouted “All for one and one for all” each time they sought combat? This really should be the new battle cry if – or when – the statesmen of the Western world go to war against Bashar al-Assad.

The men who destroyed so many thousands on 9/11 will then be fighting alongside the very nation whose innocents they so cruelly murdered almost exactly 12 years ago. Quite an achievement for Obama, Cameron, Hollande and the rest of the miniature warlords.

This, of course, will not be trumpeted by the Pentagon or the White House – nor, I suppose, by al-Qa’ida – though they are both trying to destroy Bashar. So are the Nusra front, one of al-Qa’ida’s affiliates. But it does raise some interesting possibilities.

Maybe the Americans should ask al-Qa’ida for intelligence help – after all, this is the group with “boots on the ground”, something the Americans have no interest in doing. And maybe al-Qa’ida could offer some target information facilities to the country which usually claims that the supporters of al-Qa’ida, rather than the Syrians, are the most wanted men in the world.

There will be some ironies, of course. While the Americans drone al-Qa’ida to death in Yemen and Pakistan – along, of course, with the usual flock of civilians – they will be giving them, with the help of Messrs Cameron, Hollande and the other Little General-politicians, material assistance in Syria by hitting al-Qa’ida’s enemies. Indeed, you can bet your bottom dollar that the one target the Americans will not strike in Syria will be al-Qa’ida or the Nusra front.

And our own Prime Minister will applaud whatever the Americans do, thus allying himself with al-Qa’ida, whose London bombings may have slipped his mind. Perhaps – since there is no institutional memory left among modern governments – Cameron has forgotten how similar are the sentiments being uttered by Obama and himself to those uttered by Bush and Blair a decade ago, the same bland assurances, uttered with such self-confidence but without quite enough evidence to make it stick.

In Iraq, we went to war on the basis of lies originally uttered by fakers and conmen. Now it’s war by YouTube. This doesn’t mean that the terrible images of the gassed and dying Syrian civilians are false. It does mean that any evidence to the contrary is going to have to be suppressed. For example, no-one is going to be interested in persistent reports in Beirut that three Hezbollah members – fighting alongside government troops in Damascus – were apparently struck down by the same gas on the same day, supposedly in tunnels. They are now said to be undergoing treatment in a Beirut hospital. So if Syrian government forces used gas, how come Hezbollah men might have been stricken too? Blowback?

And while we’re talking about institutional memory, hands up which of our jolly statesmen know what happened last time the Americans took on the Syrian government army? I bet they can’t remember. Well it happened in Lebanon when the US Air Force decided to bomb Syrian missiles in the Bekaa Valley on 4 December 1983. I recall this very well because I was here in Lebanon. An American A-6 fighter bomber was hit by a Syrian Strela missile – Russian made, naturally – and crash-landed in the Bekaa; its pilot, Mark Lange, was killed, its co-pilot, Robert Goodman, taken prisoner and freighted off to jail in Damascus. Jesse Jackson had to travel to Syria to get him back after almost a month amid many clichés about “ending the cycle of violence”. Another American plane – this time an A-7 – was also hit by Syrian fire but the pilot managed to eject over the Mediterranean where he was plucked from the water by a Lebanese fishing boat. His plane was also destroyed.

Sure, we are told that it will be a short strike on Syria, in and out, a couple of days. That’s what Obama likes to think. But think Iran. Think Hezbollah. I rather suspect – if Obama does go ahead – that this one will run and run.

Jelica R (144)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 10:03 pm
Kit, these groups are fighting NOW. Before hell opened, they managed to live side by side and, at least they somehow tolerated each other. After 2+ years of bloodshed, after seeing family and friends murdered just for being _______, yup, even the most peace loving people will fight. I live in a country which has in vitro experience with this so called "eternal hate" among nations and religions, and I think that, without meddling from abroad, people somehow settle their differences and go on. Not without grievances ans animosities, bit most certainly without bloodshed.

Kathy, Obama knows about Al-Quaida. Obama and Pentagon surely know what forces will they have to fight, and exactly what kind of weapons these forces posses. Sadly, Obama was reckless enough to "draw the line" and war-mongers have made sure that this line appears to be crossed. Maybe Obama wishes he never mentioned that line, but here we are and it's all down the drain now. By all, I mean WW3.

CodePink Petition: Tell Obama, Peace Not War in Syria!

Past Member (0)
Thursday August 29, 2013, 12:14 am
Thank you KIt.

Kathy Chadwell (354)
Thursday August 29, 2013, 1:55 am
Code Pink petition signed
Thank you for signing the petition to tell President Obama that violent intervention is not the answer. Take the next step and share the message before it’s too late!

Colin R (0)
Thursday August 29, 2013, 1:57 am
I doesn't take more than one brain cell to realise that:
Assad doesn't need to use chemical weapons, he is more than holding his own against the Western sponsored terrorists who are trying to wreck Syria;
The major world producers and suppliers are the US and Brirain; any chemical weapons in Syria would have come from them. There are regular secret shipments of *supplies" from the UK to Turkey, a convenient channel for getting "supplies" to the rebels in Syria.
The West has long been agrieved that Iran and Syria are the major countries in the region that do not do business with them. It is contrary to their philosophy and that of Israel's of absolute control over the region.
They need an excuse to get militarily invilved, and who better to give them that excuse than the rebels with chemical weapons.

Craig Pittman (52)
Thursday August 29, 2013, 4:07 am
It's my view there are no good guys in any of this, just victims. Why not take the money that would is earmarked for military intervention and apply it to relief efforts for the huge number of refugees created by this conflict. Russian, China, the U.S. and its allies could also curb the sale of military hardware and technology to anyone anywhere.

Kit B (276)
Thursday August 29, 2013, 6:00 am

There are shipments of supplies to Turkey and Jordan, if they are shipping secret weapons how the hell do you know, not so secret is it. No one on the face of the globe needs a government to buy the most exotic and dangerous weapons, that is what the highly profitable international arms trade is all about. Many sources for sarin are available for purchase from arms dealers. The UN inspectors can tell us that sarin or another neuron attacking gas was used, not who used it or who sold the gas.

Religious Groups

The Alawites (12 percent of Syria’s population)

The Assad family and the Syrian security forces are Alawite. Alawites identify as Shiite Muslims, but their religion includes aspects of Zoroastrian, ancient pagan, Christian and other beliefs. They believe in the divinity of Ali, the son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad.

The French administered Syria after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century and even created a short-lived Alawite “state” in 1922 which was separate from Syria until 1942.

After World War I, French colonial officials recruited ethnic minorities to fill government positions, and Alawites began to fill up the military’s upper ranks. The Alawite air force officer Hafez Assad, Bashar al-Assad’s father, staged a coup in 1970, and the Alawites have been in power since.

The Sunnis (about 60 percent)

Sunni Muslims form the majority in Syria. In Syria and Lebanon, they tend to support the rebels and oppose the Assad regime, and Syrian Sunnis have been subject to ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Alawite minority in recent months. While Alawi officers dominate the military leadership, the majority of troops are Sunni, according to the State Department.

Sunni Muslims have been gaining ground elsewhere in the region, as well — the Arab Spring brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt and Tunisia.

Greek Orthodox Christian (9 percent)

Syria’s Orthodox Christians have so far shown support for keeping the Assad regime in place, if only because they fear the alternative.

Kurd-Sunni (9 percent)

The Kurds say they want an end to Assad’s regime, but they also fear that a potential future Sunni government might enact extremist policies.

There has been little cooperation between the armed Kurdish groups in the north and the Free Syrian Army, and their relationship seems to be one of mutual distrust, according to a recent report by the Washington Post’s Babak Dehghanpisheh

Armenian-Christian (4 percent)

Much like the Orthodox Christians, Syria’s 80,000 Armenians have generally supported Assad’s government because of the relative stability it provided.

“It is natural that the majority of Armenians would support Bashar al-Assad, since they led safe and prosperous lives under his leadership, ethnic rights were fully protected, they have schools and churches,” Arax Pashamyan, a specialist in Arab studies at the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, told Armenia Now.

The Druze (3 percent)

The Druze, who are ethnic Arabs, incorporate aspects of Islam, Judaism and Christianity into their belief system.

Like Syria’s other religious minorities, they fear being disavowed in the event of a Sunni resurgence.


elderberry C (47)
Thursday August 29, 2013, 11:10 am
Illegal White Phosphorous was used by israel on Gaza Strip in operation cast lead Dec 27 2008 - Jan 18 2009. 1,100 - 1,400 deaths.....400 were children. No reaction/punishment by international community then.....Iraq, "depleted" Uranium + white phosphorous by USA, ditto......

Kit B (276)
Thursday August 29, 2013, 11:13 am

Yes, and....

Lona G (80)
Thursday August 29, 2013, 11:55 am
Thanks, Kit, for trying to make things a little clearer in a very complex situation.
Assad is one of the 'great dictators' in this region who has kept his people in line by forcefully suppressing ALL diversity in his country, be it religious, tribal, ethnic, linguistic... just as his friends Saddam Hoessein, Gadaffi, and Mubarak. There are many more to add to this list, one of which, in Europe, is Tito of former Yugoslavia. By oppressing all diversity (not necessarily minority, because they often belong to a minority themselves) these dictators united their countries in a strange way, that is by way of the opposition of these groups to him.

As soon as their regime falls, this uniting factor in their countries, disappears too and all the age-old feuds return as if they've never been away. The feuds may be - as you've pointed out - on religious differences (e.g. sunni-shiitte) or against ethnic groups (Kurdes, Armenians) but to make matters even more complex, along ancient tribal lines as well. And each of countries of the fallen (or about to fall) dictators has its own very specific mix of these religious fractions, ethnic groups and tribes.

When the western world gets involved in these countries, either before or after the dictator topples, they usually have no idea about the religious and ethnic groups, but perhaps worse, they have no inkling of what the tribes are and what they mean politically. That is why Afghanistan is a tribal marsh where every western occupational force has failed and no new government can unite the tribes' warlords. They wear this name with pride for a reason
Europe has underestimated the flare-up of old 'tribal' feuds in Yugoslavia after Tito's demise. They didn't see the ethnic (religious) "cleanses" coming, but even if they had been more aware of the centuries old hate between Christians and Muslims, they did not expect the warring among the Christians along ancient ethnic or 'tribal' lines. And even though the wars have ended 20 years ago, there's still feuding going on and of late the Roma's are victimised again in the Balkan.

So it would be unwise for outsiders to intervene in Syria. Whichever side wins, in the period following the victors will start to fight among themselves because they are far from one united front and need to establish a new status quo within the region. And that will probably involve fractions from outside Syria too.
And I doubt any of the involved has a clear understanding of the whole situation.

Jelica R (144)
Thursday August 29, 2013, 6:52 pm
Kit, thanks for illustrative intro to ethnic/religious groups in Syria. As stated, Alawites were privileged, but also tolerated because other groups were safe and have their rights protected. Ditto for Libya, Iraq, Egypt... Then, by popular demand, dictators were toppled and now there are sectarian clashes all over MENA countries. Makes one wonder...

Lona, I lived in Tito's Yugoslavia for 35 years and I was never aware of "centuries old feuds and religious animosities". There were none! But, when run for Tito's place started, a bunch of people began talking about alleged injustices their religion/nation suffered under Tito. Those "victims of dictator Tito" were educated for free, up to highest academy levels in Yugoslavia and abroad; they had good jobs, free medical care, public housing, religion freedoms (with places of worship registered as national cultural heritage and granted state money for maintenance)... While there were inherited differences in development between republics, richer republics were aiding development both with money and know-how assistance. When finger-pointing started, suddenly everybody felt exploited and blamed the others. Since no one was capable to take over Yugoslavia, a war was needed to convince people that dismantling of federation was the best option. Now we have 7 national elites which had plundered and privatised everything we created in 45 years, and mostly destroyed free education, health care, pension system, agriculture and pretty much everything they touched. Next we will start building golf clubs in protected national parks and selling water to Saudis, all in the name of development... IMO, those "old feuds" were needed to enable the redistribution of wealth and resources, and not for protection of ethnic and religious freedoms, civil and human rights and the betterment of peoples of Yugoslavia. Therefore, I am very suspicious whenever chanting "dictator has to go" starts because, quite frankly, I think that there is not a single national leader which can't be painted as bad as you wish - they all have issues and weak points, and citizens who suffered injustice under their administration. Just throw a dart into a world map and start building a case. There is a difference in degree though, but not in absolute absence of any systemic injustice. You can find oppressed and privileged groups in every country, all regulated and normed by some prospective law.


Jelica R (144)
Thursday August 29, 2013, 7:03 pm
New petition, from No Syria War!


Jelica R (144)
Thursday August 29, 2013, 8:47 pm
ANSWER Coalition: BREAKING NEWS: British Parliament Votes “NO” on war against Syria -- Obama ready to pursue unilateral strikes on Syria

Today (Aug. 29), the British House of Commons voted to reject Prime Minister David Cameron's plan to join with the Obama administration in launching missile strikes against Syria. Cameron is the closest partner that President Obama has. This was an enormous setback for the war makers.

Yet, Obama's top aides told the New York Times immediately after the House of Commons vote that the president was preparing to attack Syria even if the British government did not join the operation.

This is an outrage. The people of the United States and the people of the UK are dead set against another war of aggression in the Middle East.

Such an attack would be nothing other than a new lawless and reckless act of aggression by the world’s greatest military superpower. The consequences of such an assault are unknowable in advance. In addition to further exacerbating the suffering of the Syrian people, the potential for a wider war is very real. Russia has announced it is moving warships to the eastern Mediterranean; Iran has stated that if Syria is attacked by the United States, Israel will be hit also.

But until the missiles are fired and the bombs dropped, it is still possible to stop the war before it starts. It is critically important that all those who oppose a new war and who demonstrated today stay in the streets over this crucial weekend. What people do can make a difference!

Many demonstrations are already being planned for this Saturday, August 31 in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Albuquerque, New Orleans and many other cities.

Click here to find a listing of demonstrations nationwide.

Please let us know the details of actions that are being planned in your area over the next few days. Click here to fill out the Event Listing form.

Hands Off Syria – No New U.S. War in the Middle East!

Jelica R (144)
Thursday August 29, 2013, 8:50 pm
New petitions:

Credo Mobilize: No U.S. Military Intervention in Syria!

Credo Action: Tell President Obama: Don't bomb Syria

Kathy Chadwell (354)
Friday August 30, 2013, 12:49 am
Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) cautioned against hasty military action in Syria during a Tuesday interview with The Hill, claiming that air strikes would help al Qaeda and lead to much broader conflict.

"So what, we're about to become Al Qaeda's air force now?" Kucinich said, presumably referring to reports that the terrorist group has also vowed "revenge" on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. "This is a very, very serious matter that has broad implications internationally. And to try to minimize it by saying we're just going to have a 'targeted strike' -- that's an act of war. It's not anything to be trifled with."

The Obama administration has confirmed its belief that Assad is responsible for killing as many as 1,000 innocent civilians in a chemical attack last week. The United Nations also concluded that a chemical substance was used in the strike, but has yet to determine that it came from Assad's forces, who have accused rebel forces of also using chemical weapons.

While momentum for retaliatory military action builds in the West, Kucinich told The Hill that it would be unwise to rush into a decision that could possibly lead to "World War Three."

Kucinich also suggested that it would be unconstitutional for Obama to order a strike without congressional approval, a viewpoint that both the president and Vice President Joe Biden once shared as members of Congress. The Ohio Democrat made a similar argument in 2011, claiming that it could be an impeachable offense for Obama to take military action in Libya without first consulting lawmakers.

Kucinich has attracted scrutiny for his input on Syria in the past. In 2011, he went on a "fact-finding" mission to the Middle Eastern nation, a trip that gave rise to reports by state-owned media claiming that Kucinich had lavished praise on Assad for his willingness to "negotiate." Kucinich's office responded by saying that the then-congressman's actual comments had been "lost in translation."

Kit B (276)
Friday August 30, 2013, 7:05 am

And... now we wait and see what will be next. Petitions are signed, most were in my email, letters written to each Senator and to each of 435 members of the House and another to President Obama. Personal feelings tweeted to those that have tweeter accounts. It would not hurt if you each did the same. I also put in call with a message about my feelings on this subject to the local offices for my Senators and House representative.

Jelica R (144)
Friday August 30, 2013, 7:56 pm
There are going to be protests all over the world this weekend.

... ... ... Map of Global Rallies ... ... ...

USA: "">Hands Off Syria - Take action against U.S. intervention!

UK: National demonstration: No attack on Syria

Global: #NoWarWithSyria Global Rallies on August 31, 2013

... ... ... Compilation of No War on Syria events -- scroll down for FB pages of rallies around the world

Jelica R (144)
Friday August 30, 2013, 7:59 pm
Alan Grayson Petition: Don't Attack Syria

Correction for misspelled link:
USA: "">Hands Off Syria - Take action against U.S. intervention!


Anne P (174)
Saturday August 31, 2013, 9:25 am
As usual, Mr. Pitt is right on. The president is under tremendous pressure by the neocon warmongers - and I am praying he doesn't cave in. Thanks for posting, Kit.

Jelica R (144)
Saturday August 31, 2013, 9:10 pm
The Russian position on the chemical attack on East Ghouta affirmed; August 31, 2013

You see, they have satellite shoots of the shelling from Douma on the Aug 21/22 night.

... and fast rewind ... Breaking news: Rebels admit gas attack result of mishandling chemical weapons; Aug 31, 2013

Past Member (0)
Saturday August 31, 2013, 9:38 pm
The only thing worse than having a country with more death weapons than all the other nations in the world put together and run by two right-wing parties is a country with more death weapons than all the other nations in the world put together and run by two right-wing parties that, for all their faux outrage at each other, suddenly exhibit amazing bipartisanship to fulfill a corporate agenda including the imperative to endless war. Actually, there is something worse than that: an American public that insists on pretending that such a two party sham constitutes a choice. So, the world's biggest bully is about to instruct yet another country in the fine points of democracy with bombs, cruise missiles, and drones. #HandsOffSyria #NoWarWithSyria #Obama
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