"... France's muscular new approach was first on display in Libya, when then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy led the push to establish a no-fly zone over Libya and later ordered French forces to fire the first shots of the military intervention there....
Mali was an even stronger example.... The Obama administration condemned the Islamist push but made clear it had no appetite for a military intervention to stop it.
Enter France. In early January, French airstrikes stopped the Islamist advance....
With Britain sitting out any coming U.S. intervention into Syria, France is so far the sole ally signaling a clear willingness to commit military assets of its own so the U.S. doesn't fight alone. France maintains bases in the United Arab Emirates and Djibouti that could theoretically be used as staging grounds for airstrikes into Syria. With Turkish permission, its planes could also potentially fly from the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey.... without the imprimatur of the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations or the United Nations. It would prefer to work with a broad alliance of fellow nations, but Shurkin says France is fully prepared to fight alone or solely alongside the United States...."
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:49 PM
"...In the case of Syria, the minimum follow-on steps should be to announce a strategy of working with our allies to increase humanitarian support to the Syrians, and military advisory and arms support to the moderate factions in the Syrian opposition and forces. It should be able to say the U.S. will consider collective action in terms of some no fly zone or use of airpower to both protect and empower the rebels if they can show they really have moderate leadership, can control the flow of arms and support, and will give full rights and protection to their Sunni opponents, Alawites, Kurds, and other minorities if they win. It should make it equally clear the U.S. will leave them to lose if they don't, and the U.S. should be openly ruthless in making these terms clear. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:31 PM
"...Les barrages et les portraits du président Bachar el-Assad se font plus nombreux, notamment quand on arrive dans la proche périphérie de Mezzeh. Sur la gauche s'étend l'aéroport militaire du même nom qui pourrait être l'une des principales cibles des frappes américaines, et juste derrière le quartier rebelle de Darraya que le régime n'arrive pas à soumettre complètement, après des mois et des mois d'attaques.Au barrage, un militaire arbore un écusson d'Hassan Nasrallah, le chef du Hezbollah, le parti chiite libanais qui aide l'armée régulière contre les insurgés. Les coffres une fois de plus sont fouillés, mais sans signe d'énervement. Sur la grande avenue Mezzeh qui conduit au cœur de Damas, la circulation est normale en ce dernier jour du week-end en Syrie. Dans les taxis, la radio diffuse des chansons à la gloire de l'armée syrienne, que l'on voit en exercice sur les chaînes de télévision officielles. Tout semble normal, mais pour combien de temps encore? ."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:18 PM
"... After more than a week of deliberation, Mr. Obama essentially put the onus on Congress to stop him from launching missile strikes against targets of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Lawmakers are not scheduled to return from their August vacation until Sept. 9.“I have decided that the U.S. should take military action against Syrian military targets,” Mr. Obama said, adding that he intends such action to be “limited in duration and scope.”
With Vice President Joseph R. Biden at his side, Mr. Obama said, “I’m confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable. We are prepared to strike whenever we choose. It will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. I’m prepared to give that order.”..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:29 PM
Obama will soon aggress Syria against the will of 2/3 of Americans & of his UNSC allies, the Brits and French
"... Près de deux Français sur trois (64%) sont opposés à une intervention militaire en Syrie d’une coalition internationale incluant la France, selon un sondage BVA pour i-Télé-CQFD et Le Parisien-Aujourd’hui en France publié samedi.D’après la même enquête, réalisée jeudi et vendredi, 58% des Français ne font pas confiance au président François Hollande pour mener cette possible action militaire de la France, contre 40% d’un avis contraire. 2% ne se prononcent pas.
A la question de savoir s’ils approuvent ou non «une intervention militaire d’une coalition militaire en Syrie composée notamment de la France, du Royaume-Uni et des Etats-Unis contre les forces de Bachar al-Assad» (l’enquête a commencé avant le «non» du Parlement britannique jeudi soir, ndlr), 64% des sondés répondent par la négative --30% «plutôt pas favorable» et 34% «pas du tout favorable»--. Seuls 34% approuvent (8% «tout à fait favorable» et 26% «plutôt favorable»), tandis que 2% ne se prononcent pas..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:23 PM
Friday, August 30, 2013
"...They expressed three basic positions, each with various justifications:Option B includes endless caveats and hand-wringing, but Options A and C are usually articulated with adamant resolve. That, of course, is the nature of the beast. In these situations, pundits and commentators are under enormous pressure to have a clear commitment.
Which is why I enjoyed one of Professor Dan Drezner’s tweets so much this week. The Fletcher School’s prolific blogger confessed he “does not have a firm opinion on what to do in Syria.” He also added the slightly self-deprecatory hashtag #badpundit.
Perhaps it is advancing years that lead one to become indecisive and a #badpundit. But it could also be that in the golden post-Cold War age, we have witnessed so many interventions that we can now say with some confidence that their outcome does not often bear any relation to their intended aims.
Take, for example, the intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, which was mainly launched in response to 9/11. Tony Blair, British prime minister at the time, also argued forcefully for sending in troops to rid the world of the scourge of heroin.
What happened was the opposite. In effect, overproduction became such a problem for the major producers and traffickers of heroin in Afghanistan that they periodically held back distribution of the drug in order to prop up the global market.
Idealism, as the Afghanistan war shows in many other ways, too, is not a very useful attitude to have when contemplating a military intervention. Looking at the Arab Spring and its historical antecedents, it may not serve the immediate participants all that well, either.
It was Eric Hobsbawm, the eminent Marxist historian who died in 2012, who first compared the Arab Spring to Europe’s own Spring of Nations in1848, which ended very unhappily for the idealistic revolutionaries a year later. Over the following half century, European liberals went a long way to dismantling the anciens regimes, although they often needed an intolerant nationalism to do it, culminating in the First World War.
More recently, pundits have been comparing the Arab Spring to the Thirty Years War, the horrific series of religious and great power conflicts which killed an estimated one third of the population of the territories which now make up Germany.
Despite my earlier mockery of pundits, I find it useful to ponder such analogies. Of course, a European precedent like the Thirty Years War can only act as a rough guide to what could be about to happen in the Middle East. Aside from the specific cultural and geopolitical differences between the two territories, there are numerous variables from demography to communications and, indeed, the nature of weaponry that have changed over the past 300 years.
But there are two elements of the war in Syria that may be comparable to this earlier conflict: they concern the scale of the conflict and the key to a final resolution.
The Syrian situation is not only about the use of chemical weapons (momentous though that may be). It threatens the stability of the entire region, beginning with Lebanon, because it is making the political dynamics in all neighboring countries even more volatile.
In the years after 1618, the attempts by tiny principalities in central Europe to challenge the status quo acted as a vortex, sucking in almost every major power. The now fragmented territories of Syria can exert a similar force on the neighborhood and beyond.
The second similarity lies in the question of how you solve this. At the start of the First World War, the Balkans were referred to as a powder keg. One could have imagined the same being said about the myriad territories of the Holy Roman Empire in 1618.
In fact, the Balkans of the early twentieth century weren’t powder kegs; the various principalities, Palatinates, free cities, and Imperial concessions of the seventeenth century weren’t, either. They were merely detonators laid by the great powers.
Today’s Syrian detonator can only be disarmed if the outside parties who are indirectly engaged in the conflict are prepared to find a compromise agreement. This means the United States hammering out a deal with Russia. This agreement would then need to include the three major regional powers, Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Iran and Saudi Arabia would have to lean on their proxies to accept any deal, and Israel would have to take the peace negotiations with the Palestinians seriously.
What are the chances of that? The square root of very little. So with no viable political or diplomatic talks on track, I think we can be confident that regardless of whether the West intervenes or not, things are about to get very nasty. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:09 PM
"...Former President George W. Bush opened up about the situation in Syria on Friday, saying he "was not a fan" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.“He's an ally of Iran and he's made mischief," Bush told Fox News' Brian Kilmeade on Friday morning.
Bush tried to resist when Kilmeade asked about a potential strike on Syria, saying he knew the Fox host was "trying to subtly roll me into the issues of the day."
"I refuse to be roped in," Bush said. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:00 PM
- The president should not be allowed to take the US to war on his own authority when there is not an ongoing national emergency. The WH is saying that the War Powers Act allows POTUS to do so within the reporting requirements of the act. There should be a court challenge to this assertion of presidential power. Who would have “standing” to bring such a suit?- The Congress should be encouraged to question even more deeply the supposed “evidence” produced by perjurers like Clapper and humanitarian war hawks like Kerry and Rice. - Israel is evidently the source of ambiguous SIGINT regarding Syrian military activities. The administration must make this SIGINT public if it is to claim that it is true. We should want to examine it before we accept it. Presumably it is unencrypted voice and not very sensitive.- There is reporting indicating that residents of the area struck on the 21st believe that Saudi supported rebels were involved in what may have been a “provocation” that got out of control. The name of Bandar bin Sultan comes to mind.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:49 AM
'b' at MoA
"... Israeli sources which lets one doubt its integrity.
..."The "intelligence" the U.S. claims to have that supposedly shows that the Syrian government used chemical weapons is so thin that its publishing had to be moved from yesterday to the Friday afternoon newsdump today. Even that thin intelligence is based on
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:43 AM
'Analyzing on Lebanese TV'
"... Here’s another thought to ponder: Is it possible that the Syrian chemical weapons attack was planned or coordinated with its key ally, the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps? Surely, it was in the loop. “After all, they’re running the show,” argues a Lebanese analyst who knows the Quds Force well.The main rationale for military action by the United States and its allies should be restoring deterrence against the use of chemical weapons. The strike should be limited and focused, rather than a roundhouse swing aimed at ending the Syrian civil war. But it should be potent enough to degrade Assad’s command-and-control structure so he can’t conduct similar actions in the future...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:36 AM
Thursday, August 29, 2013
"...But the question remains: Will the public, and the rest of the world, see and hear enough to be as persuaded ? Foreign Policy magazine reported this week that, in addition to the horrific video imagery of dead women and children and chemical analysis, a key piece of evidence against the Syrian regime consists of "intercepts" of telephone conversations between an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense and a leader of a military chemical weapons unit. If so, the NSA was probably involved in picking up that bit of evidence, and in order to deliver up his best case the president will have to thrust an unpopular agency back into the news. It won't be easy ."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:59 PM
"...Make no mistake, U.S. military action against Syria will be fragrantly illegal (not that President Obama’s senior advisors, most members of Congress, or much of the American public will care). Nevertheless, the Obama administration is gearing up for precisely such action—and for entirely self-generated reasons. It was Obama who declared that Assad “must go.” It was Obama who declared that chemical weapons use was a “red line.” It was Obama who put himself in a position where he can’t entertain the possibility that Syrian oppositionists used chemical weapons, because that would destroy his administration’s Syria policy. And because Obama took these ill-considered and illegal positions, he must now use American military power to preserve his “credibility.” ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:54 PM
... and yet, Washington, London & Paris insist the the 'rebels' do not have the capabilities!
"... Turkish security forces found a 2kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front who were previously detained, Turkish media reports. The gas was reportedly going to be used in a bomb.The sarin gas was found in the homes of suspected Syrian Islamists detained in the southern provinces of Adana and Mersia following a search by Turkish police on Wednesday, reports say. The gas was allegedly going to be used to carry out an attack in the southern Turkish city of Adana..."
"...Because of that lack of clarity, Harf took a beating on Wednesday. In a testy exchange during her daily briefing, Harf very nearly admitted that it makes no difference who in the Syrian government ordered the attack, a reflection of the lack of certainty that still shrouds U.S. understanding of the chemical attack that may have left as many as 1,000 people dead.In effect, Harf was left arguing that because no one else could have carried out the attack, it must have been the Syrian government. "The world doesn't need a classified U.S. intelligence assessment to see the photos and the videos of these people and to know that the only possible entity in Syria that could do this to their own people is the regime," she said.
Given that U.N. inspectors with a mandate to investigate chemical weapons use were on the ground when the attack happened, the decision to deploy what appears to have been a nerve agent in a suburb east of Damascus has puzzled many observers. Why would Syria do such a thing when it is fully aware that the mass use of chemical weapons is the one thing that might require the United States to take military action against it? ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:08 AM
There you have it! Georges Tenet helped build the momentum towards action in Iraq with his bull "slam dunk", and Obama is being coerced into action in Syria with "No slam dunk"!
"WASHINGTON (AP) — The intelligence linking Syrian President Bashar Assad or his inner circle to an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed at least 100 people is no "slam dunk," with questions remaining about who actually controls some of Syria's chemical weapons stores and doubts about whether Assad himself ordered the strike, U.S. intelligence officials say.President Barack Obama declared unequivocally Wednesday that the Syrian government was responsible, while laying the groundwork for an expected U.S. military strike...However, multiple U.S. officials used the phrase "not a slam dunk" to describe the intelligence picture — a reference to then-CIA Director George Tenet's insistence in 2002 that U.S. intelligence showing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was a "slam dunk" — intelligence that turned out to be wrong.A report by the Office of the Director for National Intelligence outlining that evidence against Syria is thick with caveats. It builds a case that Assad's forces are most likely responsible while outlining gaps in the U.S. intelligence picture. Relevant congressional committees were to be briefed on that evidence by teleconference call on Thursday, U.S. officials and congressional aides said.The complicated intelligence picture raises questions about the White House's full-steam-ahead approach to the Aug. 21 attack on a rebel-held Damascus suburb, with worries that the attack could be tied to al-Qaida-backed rebels later. Administration officials said Wednesday that neither the U.N. Security Council, which is deciding whether to weigh in, or allies' concerns would affect their plans..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:43 AM
"...U.S. officials said Tuesday that the possibility that an Aug. 8 assassination attempt on Assad prompted him or a senior official in his regime (at a time when he clearly has the upper hand) to order the use of chemical weapons last week against towns in the suburban district of Ghouta is a “working theory that analysts are looking at.”“It’s at the very least plausible,” said one official, who like the others spoke on condition of anonymity.
Salim Idris, commander of the Free Syrian Army, said sources in Assad’s inner circle tell him that’s exactly what happened. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:33 AM
"... “We didn’t really gain anything,” said longtime U.S. diplomat Ryan C. Crocker, who was the ambassador in Damascus at the time. “The behavior of our adversaries did not change. A couple of cruise missiles are not going to change their way of thinking.”
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:21 AM
"...Now, with the United States appearing close to launching a retaliatory attack for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged use of nerve gas last week, defense and diplomatic analysts are cautioning that the expected “surgical” strike will likely be symbolic and fall far short of eliminating Syria’s chemical capabilities..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:17 AM
"... American officials said Wednesday there was no “smoking gun” that directly links President Bashar al-Assad to the attack, and they tried to lower expectations about the public intelligence presentation. They said it will not contain specific electronic intercepts of communications between Syrian commanders or detailed reporting from spies and sources on the ground."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:57 AM
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
The WH doesn’t want to collapse the regime & wants to limit the role of the Syrian opposition, which has proven ineffectual & fractious"
' Q: What’s the role of the Syrian opposition?A: Both the Syrian military and political opposition are complaining that they’re being cut out of planning for a strike. The State Department counters that senior officials are in touch with Gen. Salim Idriss, the U.S. point person for relatively moderate rebel factions. And Ambassador Robert Ford, the envoy to Syria who now serves outside the country, is in Istanbul meeting with Syrian opposition leaders.
In all likelihood, the U.S. wants to limit the role of the Syrian opposition, which on the political side has proven ineffectual and fractious, and on the rebel side has become dominated by al Qaida-linked jihadist fighters.
A scenario the White House doesn’t want to see: the Assad regime collapsing and Syria being overrun with Islamist extremists. But that’s a real risk, analysts say, and a foreign military intervention could hasten that depending on how big a strike is...'
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:48 PM
'Mahmud' to MOD Official: "Yes, boss. I just used the Chemical weapons that you ordered me to use & which was ordered by Bashshar himself to use!"
Evidence of the CW in Syria:
'... So we are told that the evidence of Syrian regime use of Chemical Weapons is found in intercepted calls. Intercepted calls is the evidence? How? Like the US possesses recording of Syrian intercepted calls in which the Ministry of Defense talks to the office in charge thus: Hey, Mahmud. Did you use the Chemical Weapons that we ordered you to use? And then Mahmud answers: Yes, boss. I just used the Chemical weapons that you ordered me to use and which ordered by Bashshar to use. All was accomplished. ...'
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:24 PM
"... 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..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:58 PM
"... Pushed by influential Persian Gulf states, the 22-member Arab League issued a strongly worded five-point statement after a two-hour session in Cairo. It called Syria “fully responsible for the ugly crime and demands that all the perpetrators of this heinous crime be presented for international trials.”
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/08/27/200564/us-wins-arab-league-backing-as.html#.Uh4WDuBHlYI#storylink=cpy
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:26 AM
"Translation: Obama will hit back — but probably not with the intent of delivering a knockout blow to Assad"
"... “The Rices and the Powers of the world realize they’re not really working for a humanitarian intervener,” O’Hanlon said. “We have a president who is fatigued by these operations, who senses that the country is fatigued by them, who would rather not do much with them and has probably overcorrected.”
But chemical weapons appear to have changed Obama’s calibration, if not his calculus..., ...
White House press secretary Jay Carney suggested Monday that any American use of force against Assad would be “a response to the clear violation of an international norm” rather than a broader effort to oust him. The revelation laid bare the lengths to which Obama will go to avoid appearing to tip the scales in Syria: U.S. policy is to aid Assad’s enemies and punish him for the chemical attack, but not drive him from power.Translation: Obama will hit back — but probably not with the intent of delivering a knockout blow to Assad.“What we are evaluating is a response to the clear use on a mass scale, with repugnant results, of chemical weapons,” Carney said, carefully differentiating between past reports of more limited use of chemical weapons. That could give Obama room to argue both that this use of chemical weapons was sufficiently bad enough to justify U.S. force, and that future chemical-weapons attacks don’t cross that line.
“The president is profoundly averse to getting involved in another Middle Eastern conflict,” said a former senior administration official. “He has resisted argument after argument going back quite a number of months now from the Defense Department, State Department, CIA. Nothing has swayed him.”
O’Hanlon says it will take a much more committed intervention, including some ground troops, for the United States to help establish and maintain a negotiated settlement in Syria.
“Limited military involvement isn’t going to produce an outcome,” he said."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:21 AM
"... I've argued repeatedly that Syria is a trap, and that given the president's priorities and legacy -- helping the middle class, not fixing the Middle East -- he's been right to be cautious. This isn't Iraq in 1990. It's a cruel and bloody civil war that America can't end, and it shouldn't be stuck with the enormous bill for cleaning up after the fact. Moreover, it's not as if the broader region is a poster child for stability. It's all a mess.Whatever decision the president makes, he must lay out an honest rationale for why he's acting. He cannot circumscribe U.S. actions without undercutting American resolve in front of Assad and his supporters...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:12 AM
"... Too often, American presidents have cast their policies in the idealized rhetoric of U.S. values. And while values and interests sometimes overlap, fixing Syria's broken house by assuming the lion's share of responsibility for getting rid of Assad and supporting whatever government replaces him is neither a vital American value nor a vital national interest. Obama knows it and so do the vast majority of the American people who are against military invention. The president is just having a hard time admitting it."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:09 AM
The Guardian tries to be coy with this August 27 article (April & August attacks, but the conclusion is clear: UN thinks that the Insurgents did it!
"As the Syrian revolt continues to tear the country apart, the international community has been eager to condemn Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, even as it became clear that the rebels do not, in fact, represent a popular uprising against the oppression of the Assad regime. According to UN diplomat Carla del Ponte, however, it appears that the recent chemical weapons attack, in April (READ the UPDATE below on August 21st attack) , was carried out by the Syrian rebels and not the regime, as it had been widely assumed. Speaking to a Swiss television channel, del Ponte said that there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels had carried out the attack. She also said UN investigators had seen no evidence of the Syrian army using chemical weapons,
UPDATE: This article was updated to clarify one or two points that some of our readers found misleading: The chemical attack earlier this year was widely blamed on the Syrian regime. It is this attack that the UN now concludes was carried out by Syrian rebels. It appears unlikely – for a number of reasons – that the most recent August 21st attack was carried out by government forces – despite the rush to judgement within the international community – although this has yet to be fully determined. It is clear that both sides in the Syrian conflict have the means to use chemical weapons and it would be misguided to assume that either side has a moral objection to such attacks. As Jean Pascal Zanders, formerly of the European Union Institute for Security Studies, has pointed out ”In fact, we – the public – know very little beyond the observation of outward symptoms of asphyxiation and possible exposure to neurotoxicants, despite the mass of images and film footage. For the West’s credibility, I think that governments should await the results of the U.N. investigation.”..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:10 AM
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
"... Although JCS Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel opposed military action, once the President made the decision, the objectives of the Pentagon shifted to controlling the targeting decisions and limiting the possibility of an all-out war. For Obama and his inner circles of advisors (Rice, Jarrett, Axelrod, Power, Michelle Obama), the level of military attack had to be sufficient to avoid Republican attacks for only making a symbolic response to the alleged CW attacks, while avoiding a major escalation or a clear intervention to give the rebels a decisive edge. It appears that cruise missile attacks are planned, to target command and control sites and storage facilities for missiles, other delivery systems, and possibly some CW.Secretary of State Kerry has spoken with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, and has informed him of the American plans, along with reassurances that the United States is not targeting any Russian strategic interests in Syria or seeking regime change. The Russians were told that the U.S. is convinced Assad's forces used chemical weapons, and the U.S. actions are in retaliation for the Syrians crossing Obama's "red line." One source indicated that there is sometacit agreement from the Russians that, so long as the attack is so limited, they will not escalate. This is, of course, a very risky proposition, given the degeneration of U.S.-Russian relations of late. It is likely that there are also military-to-military back channels communicating this message as well, although I do not have details.There is no clear assessment of how Iran will respond, and what impact this will have on the new Rowhani government in Tehran..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:08 PM
Evidence to Obama on Syrian CWs attack occurred: information provided by Unit 8200, (Israel's equivalent of the NSA)
"... From a series of meetings in Washington today with a number of contacts, I have reached the following conclusions regarding an imminent U.S. attack on Syria.
First, as of late Friday afternoon, Aug. 23, President Obama concluded that Syrian government forces had used chemical weapons in the Aug. 21 attack in a Damascus suburb. At that point, the White House put out a statement to select reporters from an "unnamed senior White House official" making it clear that the President was convinced of the Syrian government's use of CW.
Initially, Obama decided on a two track response. Track I was to go to the UN Security Council seeking authorization to use force. Track II was to build up an alliance of European, Arab and Asian countries to back military action in the event of a UNSC veto by Russia and China. Over the weekend, approximately 32 governments were contacted by Obama Administration officials, soliciting their support in retaliatory military action against Syrian targets.
The primary source of the evidence that convinced the Administration "with certainty" that a Syrian CW attack had occurred was information provided by Unit 8200, the Israeli equivalent of the NSA, who intercepted a communication from a Syrian Army unit operating near the site where the CW attack allegedly took place. Neither Doctors Without Borders nor the UN inspectors have yet to provide definitive on-site analysis of what happened, or evidence of who might have carried out the attacks if they did occur. The Unit 8200 information was exclusively provided to the United States and Germany.
By Tuesday morning, the Obama strategy and timetable had shifted and some hardened decisions had been made. Track I was abandoned because it would take too much time to go to the UN Security Council when there was near-certainty that Russia and China would veto. By then, enough European, Arab and other allied states had agreed to back a retaliatory action that it was felt there was enough credible international support to attack soon.
Two other decisions were made by this time. First, Obama would not go to Congress for authorization under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution or the War Powers Resolution. Select leaders of Congress would be informed, but no Congressional consent would be sought. Second, the United States would build up an international alliance in support of military action, but the U.S. would act unilaterally.
Although JCS Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel opposed military action, once the President made the decision, the objectives of the Pentagon shifted to controlling the targeting decisions and limiting the possibility of an all-out war. For Obama and his inner circles of advisors (Rice, Jarrett, Axelrod, Power, Michelle Obama), the level of military attack had to be sufficient to avoid Republican attacks for only making a symbolic response to the alleged CW attacks, while avoiding a major escalation or a clear intervention to give the rebels a decisive edge. It appears that cruise missile attacks are planned, to target command and control sites and storage facilities for missiles, other delivery systems, and possibly some CW.
Secretary of State Kerry has spoken with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, and has informed him of the American plans, along with reassurances that the United States is not targeting any Russian strategic interests in Syria or seeking regime change. The Russians were told that the U.S. is convinced Assad's forces used chemical weapons, and the U.S. actions are in retaliation for the Syrians crossing Obama's "red line." One source indicated that there is some tacit agreement from the Russians that, so long as the attack is so limited, they will not escalate. This is, of course, a very risky proposition, given the degeneration of U.S.-Russian relations of late. It is likely that there are also military-to-military back channels communicating this message as well, although I do not have details.
There is no clear assessment of how Iran will respond, and what impact this will have on the new Rowhani government in Tehran.
Israel and the Israel Lobby have been pressing for such U.S. action since last week. Israel believes that the longstanding cease-fire deal that they had with Syria is over, given the penetration of both Al Qaeda and Hezbollah networks inside Syrian territory. Last week, rockets were fired into northern Israel and Israeli intelligence concluded that the rockets were fired by Al Qaeda linked rebel factions. Israel wants the United States to take care of the Syria crisis fast, because the status quo is intolerable for Israeli security.
It would appear that these limited strikes by the U.S. are imminent, and that they could likely occur before President Obama leaves early next week for St. Petersburg for the G-20 heads of state summit."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:59 PM
Kerry LYING again. UN says it requested access to Syria's sites, and were granted access by the GOS 24 HOURS LATER! (not 5 days later)
UN's Farhan Haq confirms that the UN formally requested access to alGouta on Saturday, 24th August, and it was granted the NEXT day.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:55 PM
A decade after Powell's "thick file of firsthand descriptions of biological weapons", ....we have Kerry's YOUTUBES!
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:50 PM
"...SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL: One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq’s biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents. Let me take you inside that intelligence file and share with you what we know from eyewitness accounts. We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails. The trucks and train cars are easily moved and are designed to evade detection by inspectors. In a matter of months, they can produce a quantity of biological poison equal to the entire amount that Iraq claimed to have produced in the years prior to the Gulf War. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:38 PM
"... And so to the Kill Assad option. On Monday John Kerry spoke with remarkable passion about the "moral obscenity" of using chemical weapons, and about the need to enforce "accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people." Amen, Mr. Secretary, especially considering that you used to be Bashar's best friend in Washington.
But now those words must be made to mean something, lest they become a piece of that other moral obscenity: the West's hitherto bland indifference to Syria's suffering. Condemnation can no longer suffice. It recalls the international reaction to Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia, captured by the magazine Punch:
"We don't want you to fight/but by jingo if you do/We will probably issue a joint memorandum/Suggesting a mild disapproval of you." Mussolini went on to conquer the country—using chemical weapons.
The world can ill-afford a reprise of the 1930s, when the barbarians were given free rein by a West that had lost its will to enforce global order. Yes, a Tomahawk aimed at Assad could miss, just as the missiles aimed at Saddam did. But there's also a chance it could hit and hasten the end of the civil war. And there's both a moral and deterrent value in putting Bashar and Maher on the same list that once contained the names of bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki.
There will be other occasions to consider the narrow question of Syria's future. What's at stake now is the future of civilization, and whether the word still has any meaning."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:53 PM
'I watched Jay Carnie today as he spluttered and tried to bully his way through a statement to the WH press corps on Syria. When asked for something more than an inference from supposedly unique capabilities he could not answer and replied that an assessment is expected from the IC any day now.A little bird tells me that the only direct "evidence" in hand is a third party intercept report provided by the Israelis that could be interpreted as a coded order to carry out such an operation.Sure. pl'
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:18 PM
'Note: Saudia is the only territory that did NOT condemn the bombing in Rwais
(30 dead & hundreds wounded)'Daily Press Briefing
"QUESTION: -- the U.S. Ambassador in Beirut condemned everything, but she stopped short of calling the – calling this a terrorist attack. Are there rules to call attacks terrorist or not?MS. PSAKI: Well, we do note a group calling itself Aisha, the Mother of Believers Brigades for Foreign – let’s see – Missions has claimed responsibility for the attack. We have condemned it in the strongest terms. As you’re right, I don’t have any more for you on it. We’re obviously still looking into the details of what took place.
QUESTION: But you’re not calling it terrorist?
MS. PSAKI: I am not at this point..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:56 AM
"... "To us, it looks as though [George W.] Bush, [Dick] Cheney and [Donald] Rumsfeld never left the White House," says Alexei Pushkov, chair of the State Duma's international affairs committee."It's basically the same policy, as if US leaders had learned nothing and forgotten nothing in the past decade. They want to topple foreign leaders they regard as adversaries, without even making the most basic calculations of the consequences. An intervention in Syria will only enlarge the area of instability in the Middle East and expand the scope of terrorist activity. I am at a complete loss to understand what the US thinks it is doing," he says. "
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:44 AM
"... "There is a general perception here that any Western-led action in Syria will turn into another long-running mess, and there will be no turning to Moscow for diplomatic help in solving it this time," says Mr. Lukyanov. "Indeed, this might have the effect of drawing Russia closer to Iran. Moscow may find ways, through different channels, to support Iran, knowing that Iran will never stop helping Assad," he adds...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:42 AM
Architect of Syria War Plan: "Assad has shown an incredible capacity to endure pain & we don't have the stomach to deter him"
"... Now, a former U.S. Navy planner responsible for outlining an influential and highly-detailed proposal for surgical strikes tells The Cable he has serious misgivings about the plan. He says too much faith is being put into the effectiveness of surgical strikes on Assad's forces with little discussion of what wider goals such attacks are supposed to achieve."Tactical actions in the absence of strategic objectives is usually pointless and often counterproductive," Chris Harmer, a senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, said. "I never intended my analysis of a cruise missile strike option to be advocacy even though some people took it as that."
"I made it clear that this is a low cost option, but the broader issue is that low cost options don't do any good unless they are tied to strategic priorities and objectives," he added. "Any ship officer can launch 30 or 40 Tomahawks. It's not difficult. The difficulty is explaining to strategic planners how this advances U.S. interests."
In July, Harmer authored a widely-circulated study showing how the U.S. could degrade key Syrian military installations on the cheap with virtually no risk to U.S. personnel. "It could be done quickly, easily, with no risk whatsoever to American personnel, and a relatively minor cost," said Harmer. One of the study's proposals was cruise missile strikes from what are known as TLAMs (Tomahawk land attack missiles) fired from naval vessels in the Mediterranean.
The study immediately struck a chord with hawkish lawmakers on the Hill who were frustrated with the options outlined by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey that required a major commitment by U.S. military forces with a pricetag in the billions.
"For a serious accounting of a realistic limited military option in Syria, I would strongly recommend a new study that is being released today by the Institute for the Study of War," Sen. John McCain said in July, referring to Harmer's study. "This new study confirms what I and many others have long argued: That it is militarily feasible for the United States and our friends and allies to significantly degrade Assad's air power at relatively low cost, low risk to our personnel, and in very short order."
Not all surgical strikes are created equal, of course. And there's no guarantee that the Obama administration's strike plan would look like Harmer's. Regardless, Harmer doubted that any surgical strikes would produce the desired results -- especially if the goal is to punish the Assad regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons.
"Punitive action is the dumbest of all actions," he said. "The Assad regime has shown an incredible capacity to endure pain and I don't think we have the stomach to deploy enough punitive action that would serve as a deterrent."
He also doubted the effectiveness of taking out Assad's chemical weapons capabilities. "If we start picking off chemical weapons targets in Syria, the logical response is if any weapons are left in the warehouses, he's going to start dispersing them among his forces if he hasn't already," he continued. "So you're too late to the fight."
Tehran to Jeffrey Feltman: "Mr. Feltman. If you are sincerely seeking success in Geneva, then you must visit Damascus!"
AsSafir, & "... Iran’s state TV showed Feltman meeting Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, saying the two discussed regional issues including Syria.Feltman visited Iran last September, accompanying U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to a non-aligned movement summit in Tehran. He is the highest-ranking American diplomat to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution toppled the pro-Western Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and brought clerics to power..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:03 AM
"...The question therefore becomes what the United States and the new coalition of the willing will do if the red line has been crossed. The fantasy is that a series of airstrikes, destroying only chemical weapons, will be so perfectly executed that no one will be killed except those who deserve to die. ...
A war on chemical weapons has a built-in insanity to it. The problem is not chemical weapons, which probably can't be eradicated from the air. The problem under the definition of this war would be the existence of a regime that uses chemical weapons. It is hard to imagine how an attack on chemical weapons can avoid an attack on the regime -- and regimes are not destroyed from the air. Doing so requires troops. Moreover, regimes that are destroyed must be replaced, and one cannot assume that the regime that succeeds al Assad will be grateful to those who deposed him. One must only recall the Shia in Iraq who celebrated Saddam's fall and then armed to fight the Americans.Arming the insurgents would keep an air campaign off the table, and so appears to be lower risk. The problem is that Obama has already said he would arm the rebels, so announcing this as his response would still allow al Assad to avoid the consequences of crossing the red line. Arming the rebels also increases the chances of empowering the jihadists in Syria.When Obama proclaimed his red line on Syria and chemical weapons, he assumed the issue would not come up. He made a gesture to those in his administration who believe that the United States has a moral obligation to put an end to brutality. He also made a gesture to those who don't want to go to war again. It was one of those smart moves that can blow up in a president's face when it turns out his assumption was wrong. Whether al Assad did launch the attacks, whether the insurgents did, or whether someone faked them doesn't matter. Unless Obama can get overwhelming, indisputable proof that al Assad did not -- and that isn't going to happen -- Obama will either have to act on the red line principle or be shown to be one who bluffs. The incredible complexity of intervening in a civil war without becoming bogged down makes the process even more baffling.Obama now faces the second time in his presidency when war was an option. The first was Libya. The tyrant is now dead, and what followed is not pretty. And Libya was easy compared to Syria. Now, the president must intervene to maintain his credibility. But there is no political support in the United States for intervention. He must take military action, but not one that would cause the United States to appear brutish. He must depose al Assad, but not replace him with his opponents. He never thought al Assad would be so reckless. Despite whether al Assad actually was, the consensus is that he was. That's the hand the president has to play, so it's hard to see how he avoids military action and retains credibility. It is also hard to see how he takes military action without a political revolt against him if it goes wrong, which it usually does..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:11 AM
Monday, August 26, 2013
"... The fundamental question to be asked now is: What does the United States intend to achieve by a military strike? Does it have an objective other than showing that Obama is a man of his word? An American assault might be limited to a single blow. Or it might consist of a series of assaults on strategic targets such as a chemical weapons factory, arms depots or even an assault on the presidential palace in Damascus in order to deter Assad. The result in any case will follow accordingly. Assad will emerge from his hideout to announce to whatever is left of his nation that he will not yield to predatory American imperialism on Syrian land.Under such circumstances it is very likely that Israel’s name will also find its way onto the list of those who connive against Assad, those who try to divide and destroy his country. Several days after such an assault, hundreds of thousands of Syrians will conduct demonstrations in support of their leader. They will protest the fact that the Americans and their partners join hands with the rebels to oust their president, who is fighting for his life and for the liberty of his country.Such an assault will not achieve a thing. Syrian citizens — those not involved in the fighting and who do not live at the sites of Syrian army battles and war crimes — will unite around their president. This is a well-known phenomenon during times of crisis: Civilians put aside inner tensions and dissent to unite against a common external enemy. We can also assume that a large portion of Syria’s citizens who viewed the harsh pictures from the chemical attack are convinced that it was nothing short of fraudulent propaganda on the part of the rebels.This argument has already seen the light of day in Syrian blogs, several of which espouse a completely different narrative from the one we all are familiar with. As far as they are concerned, Syria is now fighting for its life, its future and its very essence. It is fighting heroically against the great forces of evil that are impelled by unmistakable imperialistic interests. In their view, this is what transpired in Egypt, after former President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown; this is also what happened to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, and this is what happened in Tunisia. Now, they believe, it is Syria’s turn to pay the price for its independence and liberty.This interpretation of the events does not come from regions such as Homs, Hama, Daraa and other epicenters of battles that have felt the evils of the Assad regime, but from sections of Syria far from the battlegrounds. An assault by the United States or any Western coalition is likely to strengthen such an interpretation. Thus the important question is whether, in addition to a military strike, Obama also intends to implement a strategic plan to banish Assad and deal with the leadership vacuum that will remain. The collective American memories of Iraq and Afghanistan are still fresh, and so are the lessons learned from the deposing of a regime, however brutal and insane as the regime might have been.On one hand, a country that views itself as the “world’s policeman” has a moral responsibility to depose evil, murderous regimes and support their replacement with suitable governments. On the other, such a step involves, in most cases, dealing with the murderous terrorism of extremist Islamist groups. The situation in Syria is not likely to be much better; in fact, it may even be a great deal worse. Regarding the lack of unity among the rebel forces against Assad, almost everything has already been said. The armed rebels are splintered and at odds with one another and have been infiltrated, in the last 2½ years, by armed Salafist extremists. These Salafists dream about establishing an Islamic caliphate and exploiting the chaos in the country to promote their goals. These cells have already blocked American and European aid to forces fighting against Assad.We can assume that the American moment of truth — of whether to depose the Syrian president — has not yet arrived. The United States will probably take action together with a coalition of countries (excluding Israel, so as not to arouse extreme opposition in the Arab world). This coalition will assemble a joint international alignment and conduct a series of surgical strikes. The news broadcasts will cover the attacks, retired generals will provide wise commentaries and that will be the end of that..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:37 PM