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Israelis and Neocons Bang the War Drums Louder

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: Syria, Israel, USA, Obama, Netanyahu, chemical weapons, military, republicans, warmongering, intelligence )

- 1974 days ago -
For those putting on the war paint in Tel Aviv and Washington, the leading question is obvious: Did Assad use chemical weapons that could prove a threat to people throughout the region, Israelis among them? "Yes, but," says the Obama White House ..>


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Angelika R (143)
Saturday April 27, 2013, 6:27 pm
Bibi Netanyahu's Israeli government and William Kristol's neoconservatives are once again pushing for war, this time over allegations that the Syrian regime of Basher al-Assad used Sarin gas against rebels. This campaign for military action has caught the White House on its back foot, largely because President Obama has painted himself into a corner by calling the use of chemical weapons "a red line" and "a game changer."

"The political reality is that he put himself in that position that if the 'red line' is crossed - he made it very clear - it would change his behavior," said Arizona senator John McCain, long a neocon hero. The intelligence "is a compelling argument for the president to take the measures that a lot of us have been arguing for all along."

The intelligence on Syria appears neither negligible nor in any way conclusive. And - as McCain would applaud - it makes more likely the fulfillment of his call to Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran, especially since Obama has painted himself into another corner by promising to keep the Iranians from achieving "a nuclear weapons capability."

For those putting on the war paint in Tel Aviv and Washington, the leading question is obvious: Did Assad use chemical weapons that could prove a threat to people throughout the region, Israelis among them? "Yes, but," says the Obama White House in an unexpected letter to Congressional leaders on Thursday: "Our intelligence community does assess, with varying degrees of confidence, that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent Sarin."

Officials tell reporters that the assessment was based on soil and blood samples from attacks last months in a village near Aleppo and in the outskirts of Syria's capital Damascus. As far as I can tell, no independent experts have confirmed the testing. More than once bit, more than twice shy.

Could the rebels have used the gas? In March, the Syrian state news agency SANA accused "terrorists" of firing a rocket "containing chemical materials." The Russians, who still support Assad, though with diminishing enthusiasm, backed the claim, and the Israeli minister for strategic affairs, Yuval Steinetz, held open the possibility that the rebels had used the weapons. An Obama administration official said last week that the White House had "no information suggesting opposition groups have chemical weapons capability" and officials continue to believe that "any use of chemical weapons would very likely have originated with the Assad regime."

At the same time, the White House claims that the "chain of custody" of the weapons is not clear and it questions whether the attacks were deliberate or "accidental." This sounds less like a serious intelligence assessment and more like diplomatic language aimed at Assad. As weapons expert Jeffrey Lewis told the Washington Post, "If we're wrong and he's still restraining himself, Assad may conclude that he's already paying the price of using chemical weapons. What we don't want is for Assad to massacre thousands of civilians like Saddam did in Halabja," the Kurdish town that the Iraqi dictator gassed in 1988.

The Israelis and their neocon allies have long pushed for greater US military involvement in both Syria and Iran, but they heightened their war of words only days ago, just after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ended his visit. The escalation came at the annual security conference at Tel Aviv University, when Israel's top military intelligence analyst, Brigadier-General Itai Brun, accused Assad's forces of repeatedly using lethal chemical weapons, probably Sarin, against armed rebels. >From fragmentary accounts, Hagel appeared not to have heard Brun's findings while in Israel, an omission that - if true - could hardly have been accidental. In any case, the Israelis have made no secret that they feared Syria's chemical arsenal would end up in the hands of jihadi fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Once Brun's finding became public, the neocons in the US swung into action. "It is increasingly clear that Basher al-Assad has used chemical weapons in his war against the Syrian people - crossing what President Obama has previously described as a 'red line' for the United States," declared the directors of Foreign Policy Initiative. FPI is the group that Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan founded in 2009 to replace their earlier creation - the Project for a New American Century, which led the way in taking the US to war in Iraq. FPI also provided most of the foreign policy brain trust for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

"The United States must take action now both to prevent further use of such weapons and to hasten the end of Assad's rule," the declaration continued. "The alternative is to make it clear, by inaction, that the 'red line' was not intended to be enforced. This will encourage further use of chemical weapons by Assad and perhaps in the future by others."

Besides putting pressure on Washington, the push for military action parallels Netanyahu's comments in Britain last week that he might be ready to abandon his official neutrality on Syria and join with the Sunni Arabs of Jordan and Syria in arming some of the supposedly more moderate rebels.

Professor Juan Cole is looking at this closely and is well worth following.

JL A (281)
Saturday April 27, 2013, 6:57 pm
I sure wish people would want more definitive evidence as reason for going war than what is stated in this article where who did what seems so uncertain.

Munro Tapper (80)
Saturday April 27, 2013, 8:45 pm
Long war drums, little information of substance. That is the very frightening part, isn't it? Excellent posting. Thank you.

Angelika R (143)
Saturday April 27, 2013, 8:49 pm
I encourage you all to also read Juan Cole's contribution (link at bottom of comment/article)

Tamara Hayes (185)
Saturday April 27, 2013, 9:52 pm
Is everyone else as sick of the ongoing parade of warmongering as I am? The US will find any excuse to jump in with all barrels loaded if given half a chance regardless of the reason. Thank you Angie for this update on the continuing crises happening overseas.

Angelika R (143)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 8:34 am
I for one sure AM! Yes Tamara. The CONSTANT REPEATS on TV are SICKENING , meant as a prelude to a war involvement, no question. I am somewhat disappointed in Hagel for seemingly giving in, though he just cited the WH's words which left everything open. If you check the link I added to follow Juan Cole you'll see more clearly who's been pushing, in case anyone has not figured it out yet...

Kit B (276)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 7:33 pm

We do keep banging the drums of war, and so does Israel. If there has been a full decade of no war since 1945 then I do wish someone would let me know.

Angelika R (143)
Monday April 29, 2013, 7:48 am
"We do keep banging the drums of war, and so does Israel." - I am not so sure anymore about the order, I assume the reversed order of the headline was NOT coincidental.

Gloria picchetti (304)
Monday April 29, 2013, 8:32 am
Green Star Angelika. It's news I have not heard before.

Angelika R (143)
Monday April 29, 2013, 9:08 am
amazing, Gloria- guess then you haven't listened to any news.. thanks, returning one.

Arielle S (313)
Monday April 29, 2013, 9:36 am
I applaud the White House for not jumping right in - if Israel wants to go to war, they should go. I see no reason why we must get involved in everything - what? Oh, yeah, because Haliburton and the other war machines make big bucks on wars, don't they? So, maybe Haliburton et al should move to Israel?

Mike Kowalchuk (40)
Monday April 29, 2013, 9:44 am
Angelika R,good comment,its something to have knowledge on subjects reading your comment made it easier to understand thank you for that.

Angelika R (143)
Monday April 29, 2013, 10:20 am
They do of course, Arielle. By my knowledge any foreign aid in money that the US gives to foreign countries is tied to be spent in the US. And if I remember correctly what I read not long ago, Israel is the only country exempted from this regulation. Which does not mean they are not buying military equipment in the US, just not exclusively there. What an ally, what a friend!

Robert K (31)
Monday April 29, 2013, 10:34 am
You can never go wrong doing the precise opposite of everything and anything William Kristol is in favor of. I bet the moron even hates ice cream. His record is so shameful that if he had any self awareness he'd never step outside his home.

Angelika R (143)
Monday April 29, 2013, 11:02 am
With a chair on the Emergency Committee for Israel he naturally declares this and likely most other incidents an emergency. Also a board member of "Keep America Safe" -co-founded by Cheneys daughter- the link to Haliburton is obvious.

James Maynard (84)
Monday April 29, 2013, 12:28 pm
By all means, let's just go fly off the handle and
bomb the crap out of another country whether
we have confirmed intelligence or not, Senator
McCain. What the heck happened to you? You
used to have a tiny bit of rational sense...not any

Robert K (31)
Monday April 29, 2013, 12:47 pm
James, McCain has never been what he appears. His father was Barry Goldwater's best friend and Goldwater detested the ground he walked on. His opinion was that he had zero scruples. And remember, he graduated almost last in his class, crashed so many planes through incompetence, was outed by some of his fellow prisoners as a collaborator with the NVA, although that hadn't been proven. The fact that he has been on the right side of things on occasion doesn't really ameliorate his being wrong almost all the time and obviously a slimy twit.

And those are McCain's good qualities.

Birgit W (160)
Monday April 29, 2013, 2:24 pm

Kirsten Taufer (43)
Monday April 29, 2013, 3:43 pm
You know, if we're so broke as a country that we can't support our own educational system, then where do we get the money to throw away on endless wars?!?

Herbert E (10)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 1:35 am
Those warmongers never see a battlefield with their own eyes, only sending others to do the dying for them. And, there is a lot of money to be made by making war - for some.

Angelika R (143)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 8:28 am
John - "As to Syria, let the Arabs and Europeans handle it as it is their backyard. " Right, and Turkey even pointed out a few times they "could hanlde it on their own", but problem is, US only listens to Israel.
Don't know what a "moable" red line is. If you meant "mobile" this is not the case as the prez has never said anything different from now. Nor has reality now changed any iota from what it was months ago.
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