Pratfall in Damascus
Nancy Pelosi’s foolish shuttle diplomacy
Washington Post Editorial, 2007-04-05

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.
See also Wikipedia.]

HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
offered an excellent demonstration yesterday of
why members of Congress should not attempt to supplant the secretary of state
when traveling abroad.
After a meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus,
Ms. Pelosi announced that
she had delivered a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that
“Israel was ready to engage in peace talks”
with Syria.
What’s more, she added,
Mr. Assad was ready to “resume the peace process” as well.
Having announced this seeming diplomatic breakthrough,
Ms. Pelosi suggested that her Kissingerian shuttle diplomacy
was just getting started.
“We expressed our interest in using our good offices
in promoting peace between Israel and Syria,”
she said.

Only one problem:
The Israeli prime minister entrusted Ms. Pelosi with no such message.
“What was communicated to the U.S. House Speaker
does not contain any change in the policies of Israel,”
said a statement quickly issued by the prime minister’s office.
In fact, Mr. Olmert told Ms. Pelosi that
“a number of Senate and House members who recently visited Damascus
received the impression that despite the declarations of Bashar Assad,
there is no change in the position of his country
regarding a possible peace process with Israel.”
In other words, Ms. Pelosi not only misrepresented Israel’s position
but was virtually alone
in failing to discern that Mr. Assad’s words were mere propaganda.

Ms. Pelosi was criticized by President Bush for visiting Damascus
at a time when
the administration -- rightly or wrongly --
has frozen high-level contacts with Syria.

Mr. Bush said that thanks to the speaker’s freelancing
Mr. Assad was getting mixed messages from the United States.
Ms. Pelosi responded by pointing out that
Republican congressmen had visited Syria without drawing presidential censure.
That’s true enough -- but those other congressmen
didn’t try to introduce a new U.S. diplomatic initiative in the Middle East.
“We came in friendship, hope,
and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace,”
Ms. Pelosi grandly declared.

Never mind that that statement is ludicrous:
As any diplomat with knowledge of the region could have told Ms. Pelosi,
Mr. Assad is a corrupt thug
whose overriding priority at the moment is not peace with Israel
but heading off U.N. charges that he orchestrated the murder
of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.
The really striking development here is
the attempt by a Democratic congressional leader
to substitute her own foreign policy
for that of a sitting Republican president.
Two weeks ago
Ms. Pelosi rammed legislation through the House of Representatives
that would strip Mr. Bush of his authority as commander in chief
to manage troop movements in Iraq.
Now she is attempting to introduce a new Middle East policy
that directly conflicts with that of the president.
We have found much to criticize
in Mr. Bush’s military strategy and regional diplomacy.
But Ms. Pelosi’s attempt to establish a shadow presidency
is not only counterproductive, it is foolish.

[Declaring Mr. Assad a “corrupt thug” is, in this context,
a gratuitous effort to smear him,
quite irrelevant to whether he is interested in
peace with Israel and normalizing relations with the United States.
Further, even if he is interested at a given point in time
in avoiding being linked to the murder of Mr. Hariri,
that does not mean that he may not be interested in a peace deal as well.
Even Mideast “dictators”
may be capable of working towards two goals at the same time.

For plenty of references that Syria, under Assad,
is interested in a negotiated peace with Israel
and that it is the U.S. and/or Israel that is uninterested in negotiations,
see Chapter Nine of ILUSFP.
As a partial explanation for that lack of interest in the U.S.,
take this editorial.
There is not the slightest hint that talks,
by either the United States or Israel,
with Syria would be a good idea.

The effort of the Graham-Hiatt regime at the washington post
to forestall negotiations with Iran and Syria
is transparently the result of their obeisance to American Jewish interests,
whose stooges they so transparently are.]

Moscow May Host Middle East Follow-Up
Interest Growing in Talks On Israel-Syria Relations
By Robin Wright and Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post, 2007-11-29

Boy, talk about an article with a Zionist bias!
So far as I can tell,
only two people outside of government are quoted in this article.
Here is how they are described:
  • Martin S. Indyk,
    a former ambassador to Israel who now heads
    the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy”
  • David Schenker,
    a former Pentagon Middle East expert
    now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy”
    who is also billed as
    a “foreign policy expert close to the administration.”

Let’s take a quick look at what these guys have in common:
  1. Both are Jewish
    (for Schenker, see this).
  2. Both have strong ties to one or both
    of the Jewish-founded and –funded Washington organizations
    AIPAC and Washington Institute for Near East Policy
    (for further information on WINEP, click here).
    In 1982, Indyk began working as a research director
    for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
    Following his stint at AIPAC,
    Indyk served eight years as the founding Executive Director
    of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy,
    Schenker, as the WP states, is currently employed at WINEP.

What this article perpetrates is
WaPo’s role as a mouthpiece (if not megaphone) for the Israel Lobby,
of which AIPAC and WINEP are key components.
When it comes to Mideast issues that might have an effect on Israel,
it is almost a sure bet that WaPo
will give us the views of one or more “experts” at WINEP or the Saban Center,
or of the one-man quote machine on all matters related to Israel,
former AIPAC and WINEP honcho, Martin Indyk.
But rather than pointing out Indyk’s AIPAC and WINEP background,
he is invariably identified as a “former Ambassador to Israel.”
Isn’t it really, really dishonest for WaPo to omit
the Israel Lobby part of his background?
What if they asked
a former research director for the American Petroleum Institute
for his opinion on matters related to the oil industry?
Could they get away without mentioning his previous connection to Big Oil?
Or how about a former lobbyist for CAIR?
Imagine how the Jews would howl
if the Post neglected to point out his Islamic connection.

Perhaps the Post rationalizes this
by denying the existence of the Israel Lobby.
After all,
practically all of their coverage of Mearsheimer and Walt’s book on it
has been intensely negative.
But how can any knowledgeable, sane, unbiased person deny that
AIPAC and WINEP are at the heart of The Lobby,
along with the ADL, AJC, and CPMAJO?

To make a positive, hopefully constructive, suggestion to the media:
Why not balance all the “expert” opinions you run
from people associated with think tanks
that Mearsheimer and Walt have identified as being part of the Israel Lobby
with some opinions from people affiliated with the
Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy and the
Council for the National Interest?

Wouldn’t that give your pieces a little more balance?
And perhaps give opinions that might reflect the American interest,
rather than the interests of your big advertisers?


In Syria, U.S. ambassador drops diplomatic niceties
By Andrew Quinn
Reuters, 2011-09-13

U.S. ambassadors are usually the most measured of professionals, weighing each word in a delicate dialogue to advance America's interests with a minimum of public fuss.

But Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, is taking an undiplomatic tack -- flouting government travel restrictions, courting opposition figures and taking to Facebook to publicly denounce Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's brutal crackdown on unarmed protesters.

"An ambassador is a very visible symbol of American interest, and I'm a very visible symbol of the American people, so you can't just hide behind closed doors," Ford told Reuters in a telephone interview. "I do have a job to do and it is important that we be seen doing that job both by the Syrians and by the American people."

One of the State Department's top Arabists, Ford arrived in Damascus in January with a very different brief.

As the first U.S. ambassador to Syria in five years, he was expected to implement a policy of gradual rapprochement in hopes of prizing the Assad government away from its alliance with Iran, Hezbollah and other Islamist groups and facilitating cooperation on new peace moves with Israel.

This was part of President Barack Obama's outreach to traditional adversaries, including Iran, but ran into criticism in the U.S. Congress where there is deep suspicion of Damascus and its support for Hezbollah, a sworn foe of Israel.

The Obama administration sent Ford to Damascus last year in a "recess appointment," a temporary move because the U.S. Senate would not confirm Ford's appointment.

The soft-spoken envoy proceeded to radically redesign his mission to become one of the most outspoken critics of Assad now operating in Damascus.

This appears to have helped him in the Senate, where the Foreign Relations Committee voted on Tuesday to confirm him as ambassador. He must still be approved by the full Senate.

"This is not your typical diplomatic engagement," said Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "It really turns engagement on its head and mixes things up on the ground in Syria."


Ford made his first public move in July, when he traveled from Damascus to the restive city of Hama to show support for protesters some 14 weeks into the wave of bloody anti-Assad demonstrations sweeping the country.

In Hama -- scene of a 1982 massacre which symbolized the ruthless rule of Bashar al-Assad's father Hafez -- Ford was welcomed with flowers and olive branches, visited injured protesters and talked to local residents.

The trip infuriated the Syrian government, which accused him of inciting unrest. Three days later, after Ford posted a note on Facebook explaining the trip, pro-Assad loyalists attacked the U.S. embassy compound in Damascus.

The Obama administration toughened its position in August, saying Assad should step down and imposing sanctions on the petroleum industry, a major government money-earner.

Ford made a trip to another restive Syrian city last month, ignoring government requirements that he give prior notice of his travel.



New Iran and Syria 2.doc
The State Dept. PDF of the email.
2012-12-31 22:00 (Wikileaks had this dated 2000-12-31;
it has been suggested that is in error, and the true date is 2012-12-31;
that is the date I used in the above.)

[This mysterious, to me (as of 2016-03-23) email
appears in the WikiLeaks archive of HRC's emails,
with both "From" and "To" fields blank, and with the above questionable date.
Its contents are significant, I think.
Its opening sentence, and its conclusion (emphasis added):]

The best way to help Israel deal with Iran's growing nuclear capability
is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.


With the veil of fear lifted from the Syrian people,
they seem determine to fight for their freedom.
America can and should help them —
and by doing so help Israel and help reduce the risk of a wider war.

[As usual, it's all about Israel.

Some research is needed to identify the author and true date of origin of this document.

Jason Dietz, 2016-03-22, among others, claims that
the author is Hillary Clinton herself.
Dietz writes (emphasis added, but grammatical problems left as is):]

It is rare for a succinct foreign policy platform paper to so fully encapsulate a candidate’s thinking process. A State Department email of Hillary Clinton, available on WikiLeaks, lays out the Democratic front-runner’s strategy as an architect of US intervention in Syria, shows the flawed reasoning that beget the scheme. Perhaps most importantly, the document shows utter blindness to the huge problems that the war ultimately led to.

As with so many US wars in the Middle East, it all starts with Israel, and then-Secretary of State Clinton saw the US imposing regime change in Syria as primarily about benefiting Israel and spiting Iran, a position that closely mirrors that of several Israeli officials.

The Clinton ideal was that the US would impose regime change by supplying arms, but without US troops, and that Russia wouldn’t dare oppose America (noting Russia did nothing during Kosovo), that the new US-backed Syrian government would abandon ties with Iran, turn against Hezbollah, and potentially negotiate a peace settlement with Israel, while the rest of the Arab world cheers America “as fighting for their people.”

There are myriad flaws in this reasoning, and in hindsight very few of Clinton’s predictions came to pass, from her declaration that the Iran nuclear talks wouldn’t lead to a deal, that Russia wouldn’t defend the Assad government from US-backed rebels, that US pledges of arms would lead to more defections from the Syrian military, etc.

Perhaps the most glaring mistakes was
the failure to acknowledge even to the prospect of
Islamist groups getting involved.

Five years into the civil war, US-backed rebels are still comparatively ineffectual,
despite huge weapons shipments,
and ISIS and other Islamist groups control more than half of the country.

Clinton’s position seems to be wrong at nearly every turn, with her one correct analysis being the fairly trite observation that Israel wants to retain a nuclear monopoly in the Middle East, without offering any plausible reason for why the US should commit forces to supporting of this objective

While the paper reveals Clinton’s interventionist leanings, it may also be elucidative regarding interventionist mentality in general, showing how quickly the notion of a “low cost” war becomes official policy, and that policymakers are ultimately blind not just to the reality on the ground, but also to the bigger risks of their schemes.


U.S. military officers have deep doubts about impact, wisdom of a U.S. strike on Syria
By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post, 2013-08-30

The Obama administration’s plan to launch a military strike against Syria
is being received with serious reservations by many in the U.S. military,
which is coping with the scars of two lengthy wars and a rapidly contracting budget,
according to current and former officers.

Having assumed for months that the United States
was unlikely to intervene militarily in Syria,
the Defense Department has been thrust onto a war footing
that has made many in the armed services uneasy,
according to interviews with more than a dozen military officers
ranging from captains to a four-star general.

Former and current officers,
many with the painful lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan on their minds,
said the main reservations concern
the potential unintended consequences of launching cruise missiles against Syria.

Some questioned the use of military force as a punitive measure
and suggested that the White House lacks a coherent strategy.
[And who is the White House National Security Advisor?
Oh yes, Susan E. Rice.]

If the administration is ambivalent
about the wisdom of defeating or crippling the Syrian leader,
possibly setting the stage for Damascus to fall to fundamentalist rebels,
they said,
the military objective of strikes on Assad’s military targets is at best ambiguous.

“There’s a broad naivete in the political class
about America’s obligations in foreign policy issues,
and scary simplicity about
the effects that employing American military power
can achieve,”
said retired Lt. Gen. Gregory S. Newbold,
who served as director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the run-up to the Iraq war,
noting that many of his contemporaries are alarmed by the plan.


A war the Pentagon doesn’t want
By Robert H. Scales
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2013-09-06

Just Whose War Is This?
by Patrick Buchanan
buchanan.org, 2013-09-06


Yesterday, too, came a stunning report in the Washington Post.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
has joined the Israeli lobby AIPAC
in an all-out public campaign for a U.S. war on Syria

The Republican Jewish Coalition, too, bankrolled by Sheldon Adelson, the Macau casino mogul whose solicitude for the suffering children of Syria is the stuff of legend, is also backing Obama’s war.

Adelson, who shelled out $70 million to bring down Barack, wants his pay-off — war on Syria. And he is getting it. Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have saluted and enlisted. Sheldon, fattest of all fat cats, is buying himself a war.

Yet, is it really wise for Jewish organizations to put a Jewish stamp on a campaign to drag America into another war that a majority of their countrymen do not want to fight?


Does the Republican Party really want to own a war that could end with
al-Qaida in power or occupying sanctuaries in Syria?

Does the U.S. Jewish community really want to be responsible for
starting a war that ends with two million Christian Syrians
facing a fate not unlike that of Poland’s Jews?


Iran and Russia agree chemical weapons were used.
Vladimir Putin has said Russia will back military action against those who did it.
The Russians have put out a 100-page document tracing the March use of chemical weapons to the rebels.
The Turks reportedly intercepted small amounts of sarin going to the rebels.
We claim solid proof that Assad’s regime authorized and used chemical weapons.

Why not tell the Russians to meet us in the Security Council where we will prove our “slam-dunk” case.

If we can, and do, we will have far greater support for collective sanctions or action than we do now.
And if we prove our case and the U.N. does nothing,
we will have learned something about the international community worth learning.

But the idea of launching missiles
based on evidence we will not reveal about Syria’s use of chemical weapons,
strikes that will advance the cause of the al-Qaida terrorists
who killed 3,000 of us and are anxious to kill more,
would be an act of such paralyzing stupidity
one cannot believe that even this crowd would consciously commit it.


Take the Russian Gift Horse’s gift and run like hell to North America
by Michael Scheuer

One has to be amazed at the number of chances to save itself that America keeps encountering and refusing to grasp and exploit in the Arab world. We were safely out of Iraq when Obama and the Republicans returned us to that hell hole created by Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair, and Israel First. We were safely and serenely sitting on the sidelines and happily watching the descent of the Muslim world into a massive sectarian war when Obama signed us up to fight on the side of both Saudi Arabia and Iran, thereby knowingly and deservedly earning the hatred of Sunnis and Shias. We were completely out of harm’s way from the migrant mess the effeminate Europeans are either too stupid or too cowardly to halt, and Obama, his party, and the Republicans have sent a half billion dollars of our taxes for the EU to waste while it commits suicide-by-migrant, and now want to bring 100,000 migrants into an already migrant-drowning and internally insecure America.

Now, miraculously, another and perhaps last chance to save ourselves has fallen into our increasingly unworthy laps. As our enemies would say, “God is great!” Russian President Putin is moving military forces into Syria, and seems to have concluded a deal with Iran which will see Tehran occupy the Shia areas of Iraq once the nuclear deal cannot be undone. In addition, the media report that our European “allies” are moving in Putin’s direction, with chancellors, prime ministers, pundits, and politicians in Italy, France, Germany, Britain, and elsewhere claiming that the West needs to be more “realistic” and ally itself with Russia, Syria, and — implicitly — Iran to defeat the Islamic State. And, finally, Thursday’s FOX news brought word that Israel has signed up with Putin and his Arab and Persian sidekicks by setting up “a joint mechanism with the Russian military to coordinate their operations in Syria and avoid any accidental confrontations.”

In the space of the foregoing paragraph readers can see that, under Mr. Putin’s auspices, all of the following enemies of the United States will soon be killing each other in the Syria-Iraq theater: Russia, Syria, Lebanese Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, other Syrian Islamist groups, the Islamic State, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. The killing will be applauded and temporarily supported by the EU’s taxpayer monies, aircraft, and an accommodation with Assad, while it simultaneously and desperately tries to stave off the need send any of Europe’s tiny — except for Turkey — and antiquated armies to the war. Israel’s deal with Russia — which implicitly approves Moscow’s military plans for Syria, as well as Iran’s in Iraq — is surprising because no matter how the approaching disaster ends, it will render terrible news for Israel’s security.

The Russian, Iranian, and EU intervention on Assad’s behalf will, of course, damage their already bankrupt economies, raise Shia-vs-Sunni tensions in Europe, and unite Russia’s Sunni mujahedin in the North Caucasus and motivate them to step up attacks. The intervention will also be another case of a Western — or, in Moscow’s case, perhaps semi-Western — led invasion of Muslim territory, and it will be seen by the Sunni world as an action meant to provide victory and territorial expansion to the hated Shia and Alawite heretics. Needless to say — save for those who govern Western states — this intervention will again validate all the Islamic State has said about the Crusaders’ hatred for and threat to the existence of Sunni Islam.

As is the case in each Western intervention in the Islamic world, a Russian-led intervention also will fast become the Islamic State’s most capable recruiter, and new fighters will flow in from across the Islamic world and/or they will stage attacks in their home countries. Because of Moscow’s clear intention to help Iran achieve primacy in the region, moreover, the Saudis, Emiratis, Kuwaitis, and other Arab tyrannies will continue publicly damning IS, while at the same time beginning to clandestinely send money and arms to IS, al-Qaeda, and any other organization willing to kill Shias and the Russians and Europeans who back them.

And the outcome of all of this will be the defeat of Russia and its allies and helpers, a victory for the Islamists that will ensure the accelerated growth of their worldwide movement, the likely consolidation of the IS caliphate in Syria and Iraq, and a massive increase in the flow of migrants to Europe. Why?

Well, first, in three recent wars against the Islamists — Afghanistan and two in Chechnya — the Russians have lost two and tied one, and the latter will cross over into the lost category once Moscow’s actions in Syria unite the mujahedin in North Caucasus and they undertake military activity in earnest.

Second, today’s Russians wage war much more mercilessly than the West, but these Russians are not Stalin’s boys. They ran out of determination, money, and patience in Afghanistan and gave up after racking-up high but not sufficient kill totals against both Afghan insurgents and civilians. In the first Chechen war they simply were beaten. To defeat the Islamists in Syria-Iraq, the Russian military will have to kill at least as well as the Red Army did to win its war against the Wehrmacht or as the United States Marine Corps did against the Japanese imperial forces. Indeed, the latter probably is the only method of military operation with a good chance of success in fighting the mujahedin. The Marines learned quickly that Japanese serviceman gave and expected no quarter. The Marines mastered that code of behavior and mercilessly killed as many Japanese fighting-to-the-death for the glory of their god-emperor as was required. And even with the Marine’s success, two Japanese cities were rightly incinerated to prompt Tokyo’s surrender and avoid what would have been for both sides a bloody invasion of Japan, an invasion with attendant fighting that would have killed far more Japanese — not least because of their eagerness to die for the emperor — than did the nuclear attacks.

Third, the Russians will discover the absolutely lethal handicap of going to war with contemporary European states as allies or supporters. Putin and his generals will find that none of the Europeans know that war involves killing or that fighting Islamist forces and winning means killing massive numbers of them and their active civilian supporters and silent abettors. It is not much different than fighting the Japanese Empire, in fact. But as soon as Russian and Iranian forces start to kill the enemy, the Europeans will start whining — as they did in the Afghan and Iraq wars — that too many people are dying, civilians are being killed, old ruins are being demolished, and the Russian military does not have adequate numbers of homosexuals, feminists, nifty transgender folks, and other such privileged minority groups in their ranks.

Poor old Putin will wish he had never heard of the Europeans, who are great to have as enemies because they are militarily weak, womanish, decadent, and feckless, but are terrible allies for exactly the same reasons. Putin, however, will have the last laugh. His intervention in Syria will create a wave of migrants that will dwarf the current wave and it will completely undo the EU and European leaders, men and women who have absolutely no idea of how to defend their nations and appear to doubt whether Europe is even worth defending.

So by sheer and unmerited good fortune, the United States has one last chance to pack up and voluntarily get out of the Arab world lock, stock, and barrel, before we are disgracefully driven out by the mujahedin. Safely back in North America, the bankrupt, authoritarian, incompetent, and lawless U.S. government can watch the exorbitant price of unnecessary overseas interventions and wars be paid for in the funds and soldier-children of other nations.

There is not much chance that the current bipartisan governing class will learn a lesson and act appropriately, but an observant American public will watch and recognize that from the beginning of the war in Syria to how and whenever it ends, the genuine national interests of the United States were never once at risk. They can then use that knowledge and vote for the most genuinely America First candidate they can identify in 2016.


As Syria Devolves Further, Allies Criticize American Policy
New York Times, 2016-02-11

In Re Syria:
by Patrick Lang
turcopolier.typepad.com (his blog), 2016-02-11


• IMO the policy of the US remains both belligerent and ignorant of actual conditions in the ME region.
The notion that a pan-Sunni armed force can be created for the re-conquest of Iraq and IS controlled Syria is a fantasy.
Answer: There are no Sunni dominated countries who either have the forces needed
or who are willing to deprive themselves of the homeland presence of what are in essence internal security forces.
The idea that Saudi Arabia with its puny actual combat power could be the core of such a force
is known to be ridiculous by all with a modicum of actual knowledge of the region.
Any such force would inevitably be a screen for the employment of major US ground forces to do the real fighting.
The US citizenry will not accept such a thing.
The US government appears to be living in a world of its own dreams and group think.

• There has been some speculation recently on SST [his blog] concerning
the causes of the low quality and inaccuracy of MSM reporting in the US, Britain and other countries.
IMO there are two basic causes of such journalistic malpractice.
1- Corporate leadership is integrated into
the world-wide informal group think network of governments, media. academia, think-tanks and mega-capitalists
that I have shorthanded as the Borg.
Such corporate stakeholders are easily pushed in editorial directions desired by governments and special interest groups.
The tools are always the same; money for sponsorship of programs and access to supposedly key people.
2- Media people at the operational level (especially in TV) are generally not well educated.
They are typically products of schooling and experience in the communications arts (including journalism).
Such people are often woefully ignorant of the Humanities (history, languages, area studies, etc.)
and lack any context with which to understand events on the world scene.
They are easy prey for the editorial policy given them by the corporate leaders.
There are occasional moments of comedy created by the dissonance brought to the fore by confrontations with reality.
Yesterday, CNN's Jake Tapper was distracted from the primary election circus long enough
to show us all film done recently by a CNN reporter in government occupied Aleppo neighborhoods.
Life looked quite normal.
There was a lot of food in the markets.
Children played in the streets.
Women walked around without their faces covered.
Taxis drove up and down picking up and discharging fares.
Several older men were interviewed and they attributed their good conditions to the hard fighting and victories of the Syrian Army.
Tapper did not know what to say and changed the subject.

By Patrick BAHZAD
Sic Semper Tyrannis (Patrick Lang's blog), 2016-04-05


Another aspect which is not going to help the rebels' PR-campaign is the regime's highly successful offensive against the Islamic State. For months, even years, we have been spoon-fed the story according to which Assad and ISIS were two sides to the same coin. Worse, Assad had created ISIS and only if he left was there a chance of fixing the ISIS issue. I have always wondered how anybody in his right mind could come up with that twisted a logic and still get such a warm reception in so many parts of the world.

[I have my answer to that question,
but many people with power do not like that answer.
They dismiss it as "a conspiracy theory".]

The Islamic State, in its present form, has been around since 2006 at least. It was born in Iraq, which still is its centre of gravity, and a large number of its most senior executives are Iraqis. The Islamic State’s expansion into Syria is as much the result of some cynical moves made by the Syrian regime (in particular the release of Islamist detainees early in 2011), as it is the end-product of sectarian politics in Iraq (where Sunnis still feel pretty much second-class citizens), US failure to properly deal with the issue when they still had the chance and Western blindness as to what was at stake in the region in general. Add to this the Saudi war by proxy against Iran, as well as neo-Ottoman thoughts of “grandeur”, and you get a highly volatile environment.

But now, that narrative of "Assad must go", combined with "Assad is not fighting ISIS" has lost a lot of traction. Probably even more so among ordinary people in Western Europe and the United States than among elites and an establishment that has been busy selling us the pipedream of a democratic and peaceful future for Syria. Sadly, there was never any chance the toppling of Assad by the opposition would end in anything else than large-scale bloodshed, death and chaos. Libya by contrast would look like a walk in the park compared to what Syria would have turned into, if the regime change crowd had had it their way.


51 neocons at State want another Iraq
by Patrick Lang
SST, 2016-06-17

[After quoting from a CNN report on the FSO memo,
Lang begins his comments with (using his underlining):

Well, well. These people have no idea what they are talking about.


[And he continues his commentary with:]

2. The fabulous 51 are frustrated IMO by the unwillingness of the Syrian government to roll over and die to clear the way for what they think would appear to replace it. They imagine this would be a coalition of the existing government (minus Assad and his associates) and its forces plus the FSA plus all the AQ related jihadi groups (Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, etc.) and that this coalition would destroy IS in Syria and then create a multi-confessional representative democracy.

3. IMO all of this is a delusion. IMO what would occur is that the Syrian government would not survive decapitation and would collapse as did the Iraqi government after we defeated their forces in our invasion


"Israeli Intelligence chief: We do not want ISIS defeat in Syria"
Sic Semper Tyrannis, 2016-06-20

"Israeli intelligence Chief, Major General Herzi Halevy,
said that the last three months have been the most difficult for ISIS since its inception.
In a speech delivered at “Herzliya” conference yesterday ,
Halevy explicitly said
“Israel” does not want the situation in Syria to end with the defeat of ISIS“,
the Israeli NRG site reported.
“Withdrawal of the super powers from the region and letting Israel alone in front of Hezbollah and Iran that possess good abilities
Will make “Israel” in a hard position”.
Therefore, we’ve to do all we can so as not finding ourselves in such situation”,
the Israeli chief intelligence added." AMN

Obama Stepped Back From Brink, Will Hillary?
by Mike Whitney
Counter Punch, 2016-10-12

The American people need to understand what’s going on in Syria.
Unfortunately, the major media only publish Washington-friendly propaganda
which makes it difficult to separate fact from fiction.
The best way to cut through the lies and misinformation,
is by using a simple analogy that will help readers to see that
Syria is not in the throes of a confusing, sectarian civil war,
but the victim of another regime change operation launched by Washington
to topple the government of Bashar al Assad.

With that in mind, try to imagine if
striking garment workers in New York City decided to arm themselves
and take over parts of lower Manhattan.
And, let’s say, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided that he could increase his geopolitical influence
by recruiting Islamic extremists and sending them to New York to join the striking workers.
Let’s say, Trudeau’s plan succeeds and the rebel militias are able to seize a broad swathe of US territory including most of the east coast stretching all the way to the mid-west.
Then– over the course of the next five years–
these same jihadist forces proceed to destroy most of the civilian infrastructure across the country,
force millions of people from their homes and businesses,
and demand that President Obama step down from office
so they can replace him with an Islamic regime that would enforce strict Sharia law.

How would you advise Obama in a situation like this?
Would you tell him to negotiate with the people who invaded and destroyed his country
or would you tell him to do whatever he thought was necessary to defeat the enemy and restore security?


The fact is,
the US is using foreign-born jihadists to topple another sovereign government
[referring to the Assad regime in Syria],
the same as it used neo Nazis in Ukraine to topple the government,
the same as it used US troops to topple the sovereign government in Iraq,
and the same as it used NATO forces to topple the sovereign government in Libya.
Get the picture?
The methods might change, but the policy is always the same.
And the reason the policy is always the same is because Washington likes to pick its own leaders,
leaders who invariably serve the interests of its wealthy and powerful constituents, particularly Big Oil and Israel.
That’s how the system works. Everyone knows this already.
Washington has toppled or attempted to topple more than 50 governments since the end of WW2.
The US is a regime change franchise, Coups-R-Us.

Hillary Clinton is a charter member of the regime change oligarchy.
She is a avid Koolaid drinker and an devoted believer in American “exceptionalism”,
which is the belief that ‘If the United States does something, it must be good.’

Hillary also believes that
the best way to resolve the conflict in Syria
is by starting a war with Russia.

Here’s what she said on Sunday [2016-10-09] in her debate with Donald Trump:

“The situation in Syria is catastrophic.
And every day that goes by,
we see the results of the regime by Assad
in partnership with the Iranians on the ground, the Russians in the air…
I, when I was secretary of state,
I advocated and I advocate today a no-fly zone and safe zones.”

Repeat: “I advocate today a no-fly zone and safe zones.”

This is a very important point.
Hillary has supported no-fly zones from Day 1 despite the fact that–by her own admission–
the policy would result in massive civilian casualties.
And civilian casualties are not the only danger posed by no-fly zones.
Consider the warning by America’s top soldier,
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford.
In response to a question from Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi)
on the potential dangers of trying to “control Syrian airspace,”
Dunford answered ominously,
“Right now…
for us to control all of the airspace in Syria
would require us to go to war against Syria and Russia.”

This is the Hillary Doctrine in a nutshell:
Confront the Russians in Syria and start WW3.
If there’s another way to interpret Dunford’s answer, then,
please, tell me what it is?



Philip Giraldi says IC-Military Doubt Assad Gas Narrative
Scott Horton interviews Philip Giraldi
Libertarian Institute, 2017-04-06

The Syrian Gas Attack Persuasion
by Scott Adams
blog.dilbert.com, 2017-04-06

Donald Trump Is An International Law Breaker
by Publius Tacitus
SST, 2017-04-07

Where Are the Heroes?
by Publius Tacitus
SST, 2017-04-09

Trump administration says new evidence
discredits Russia’s claims on chemical attack in Syria

By Missy Ryan and Greg Jaffe
Washington Post, 2017-04-11 : April 11 at 3:05 PM


Senior officials said that U.S. signals and aerial intelligence, combined with local reporting and samples taken from victims of the attack, showed that a Russian-made, Syrian-piloted SU-22 aircraft dropped at least one munition carrying the nerve gas sarin on the northwestern town of Khan Sheikhoun.


For the first time since last week’s attacks, the White House described what it said was the Syrian regime’s motivation for turning to chemical weapons.

While senior officials declined to say whether they had clear evidence that Assad himself had ordered the attacks, they said that the Syrian military had used the weapons to prevent the loss of a key airfield that was threatened by a recent rebel advance on the strategic city of Hama.

“They were losing in a particularly important area and that’s what drove them,” said one of the senior officials.


The Assad Regime's Use of Chemical Weapons on April 4, 2017
White House, 2017-04-11

Intel Professionals: Trump Should Rethink Syria Escalation
Two dozen ex-U.S. intelligence officials urge President Trump
to rethink his claims blaming the Syrian government for the chemical deaths in Idlib
and to pull back from his dangerous escalation of tensions with Russia
by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Antiwar.com, 2017-04-11

Why Is Trump Fighting ISIS in Syria?
by Thomas L. Friedman
New York Times Op-Ed, 2017-04-12


There are actually two ISIS manifestations.

One is “virtual ISIS.” It is satanic, cruel and amorphous; it disseminates its ideology through the internet. It has adherents across Europe and the Muslim world. In my opinion, that ISIS is the primary threat to us, because it has found ways to deftly pump out Sunni jihadist ideology that inspires and gives permission to those Muslims on the fringes of society who feel humiliated — from London to Paris to Cairo — to recover their dignity via headline-grabbing murders of innocents.

The other incarnation is “territorial ISIS.” It still controls pockets in western Iraq and larger sectors of Syria. Its goal is to defeat Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria — plus its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies — and to defeat the pro-Iranian Shiite regime in Iraq, replacing both with a caliphate.

Challenge No. 1: Not only will virtual ISIS, which has nodes all over the world, not go away even if territorial ISIS is defeated, I believe virtual ISIS will become yet more virulent to disguise the fact that it has lost the territorial caliphate to its archenemies: Shiite Iran, Hezbollah, pro-Shiite militias in Iraq, the pro-Shiite Assad regime in Damascus and Russia, not to mention America.

Challenge No. 2: America’s goal in Syria is to create enough pressure on Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah
so they will negotiate a power-sharing accord with moderate Sunni Muslims
that would also ease Assad out of power.

[Why should that be America's goal in Syria?
The assumption is that the regime which would replace Assad would be better,
in some sense, than the Assad regime.
I can see NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER to have faith in that assumption.
Look how Libya worked out, after the demonized Qaddafi was eliminated.]

One way to do that would be for NATO to create a no-fly safe zone around Idlib Province,
where many of the anti-Assad rebels have gathered
and where Assad recently dropped his poison gas on civilians.
But Congress and the U.S. public are clearly wary of that.


[Friedman, and others of his ilk,
are selling the idea of "moderate rebels" in Syria.
Sounds good, but many with experience in the ME
say any true moderates would be swept aside, or worse,
by Islamic extremists if the Assad regime were ended.

Friedman ends his column with:]

Syria is not a knitting circle.
Everyone there plays dirty, deviously and without mercy.
Where’s that Trump when we need him?

[That would seem to support my point:
Why should anyone believe a replacement for the Assad regime
would be in any meaningful sense superior?]

"About the Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria."
By Theodore A. Postol
SST, 2017-04-12

White House "Intelligence Assessment" Is No-Such-Thing -
Shows Support for Al-Qaeda

by Bernhard
Moon of Alabama, 2017-04-12

The White House Report
by "The Twisted Genius (TTG)"
SST, 2017-04-13

Video Evidence of False Claims Made
in the White House Intelligence Report of April 11, 2017
by Ted Postol

by Publius Tacitus
SST, 2017-04-15

Debunking Trump’s Casus Belli
Intelligence community insiders are getting restless
for a whistleblower to step forward.
By Philip Giraldi
The American Conservative, 2017-04-24

Did Assad Order the Syrian Gas Attack?
Once again, actual intelligence seems sparse.
By Philip Giraldi
The American Conservative, 2017-04-25

The French Intelligence Report of April 26, 2017 Contradicts the Allegations in the White House Intelligence Report of April 11, 2017
by Dr. Theodore Postol
posted by Publius Tacitus
SST, 2017-04-27

[I am going to skip over the content of the post
and copy several of the comments to that post:]

Keith Harbaugh said...

PT, let me point out something that should be clear:
There are many people who believe what the New York Times says.
With that in mind,
since you claim to know so much about what happened in Syria on April 4,
could you take some time and provide a critique of what is right and what is wrong in the video report the NYT published on April 26?
(It was featured at the top, center of their web page on that date;
that is what brought it to my attention.)
“How Syria and Russia Spun a Chemical Strike”
That video purports to
a) support the U.S./MSM/anti-Assad story, and
b) undermine the Assad/Russia story.

The New York Times is, like it or not,
for many people the “newspaper of record”.
If what they are saying is a distortion of reality,
I think it is important to point out just why that is.
Ignoring it allows its misreporting to go unnoticed.
In fact, if anyone has good counterarguments to that video,
they can post them as a comment to that video.

27 April 2017 at 06:09 PM

Publius Tacitus said in reply to Keith Harbaugh...

I posted the following on 7 April. These are the facts from someone who had full knowledge of what happened before, during and after the bombing of the Al Nusra weapons cache:

Here is what happened:

The Russians briefed the United States on the proposed target. This is a process that started more than two months ago. There is a dedicated phone line that is being used to coordinate and deconflict (i.e., prevent US and Russian air assets from shooting at each other) the upcoming operation.
The United States was fully briefed on the fact that there was a target in Idlib that the Russians believes was a weapons/explosives depot for Islamic rebels.
The Syrian Air Force hit the target with conventional weapons. All involved expected to see a massive secondary explosion. That did not happen. Instead, smoke, chemical smoke, began billowing from the site. It turns out that the Islamic rebels used that site to store chemicals, not sarin, that were deadly. The chemicals included organic phosphates and chlorine and they followed the wind and killed civilians.
There was a strong wind blowing that day and the cloud was driven to a nearby village and caused casualties.
We know it was not sarin. How? Very simple. The so-called "first responders" handled the victims without gloves. If this had been sarin they would have died. Sarin on the skin will kill you. How do I know? I went through "Live Agent" training at Fort McClellan in Alabama.

27 April 2017 at 06:28 PM

Keith Harbaugh said in reply to Publius Tacitus...

PT claims to report information from

“someone who had full knowledge of
what happened before, during and after
the bombing of the Al Nusra weapons cache”.

Let me switch gears here, to the issue of
what gets leaked and what doesn't.
We have seen a veritable tsunami of leaks coming from one or more of
the IC, the justice system, or the political system,
leaks which assert the USG collected information that
the Trump campaign was communicating with the Russians before the election.
The spin is that these communications were severely damaging to America.
These leaks were all published in the most generally respected newspapers in America.

OTOH, according to Philip Giraldi at least,
there are people in the IC who believe the MSM narrative is (totally?) false.
See the 2017-04-06 interview
Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer and Director of the Council for the National Interest, says that
“military and intelligence personnel,” “intimately familiar” with the intelligence,
say that the narrative that Assad or Russia did it is a “sham,”
instead endorsing the Russian narrative that Assad’s forces had bombed a storage facility.
Giraldi’s intelligence sources are “astonished” about the government and media narrative
and are considering going public
out of concern over the danger of worse war there..
although Giraldi did not seem to repeat those claims about the IC in his more recent (2017-04-24)

And there is also the source for your statements.

The question then is:
Why are leaks from such people not being published in the MSM?
Some possible answers:

•Such people in fact do not exist.
•They have tried leaking to their MSM contacts,
but the MSM does not publish what they say.
•They are afraid to leak to the MSM,
fearing that the MSM in fact is hostile to their point of view,
and would expose them to USG security as leakers.
In other words, the MSM
protects those who leak information it likes, but
exposes those who try to leak information it does not favor.
No doubt there are other possibilities as well.
In any case,
we seem to have a situation where secrets putting Trump on the defensive
get leaked vociferously,
while information casting doubt on the guilt of the Syrian government
simply does not appear, or is labeled as a “conspiracy theory”.
Interesting, or worse.

27 April 2017 at 07:34 PM

kooshy said in reply to Keith Harbaugh...

"we seem to have a situation where secrets putting Trump on the defensive
get leaked vociferously,
while information casting doubt on the guilt of the Syrian government
simply does not appear, or is labeled as a “conspiracy theory”.
Interesting, or worse."

well, same can be true for your analogy, why you don't make a conclusion based on points you raised and figure out who and which group can benefit from both scenarios you raised above. Only one group will benefit to expose and put Trump on defense a d at the same time blame everything on Assad, that group is the Mccainites, Neocons, or as is better known here the Borg.

27 April 2017 at 08:44 PM

Keith Harbaugh said in reply to Keith Harbaugh...

Addendum to my comment:
Sorry, I should have added this extremely relevant link:
“Debunking Trump’s Casus Belli”
Intelligence community insiders are getting restless
for a whistleblower to step forward.
By Philip Giraldi • April 24, 2017
Thanks to Chris Chuba for mentioning it in a comment below.

And let me add comments re the New York Times and Washington Post:

Is the NYT’s true policy, by empirical observation, not
“All the news that’s fit to print.”
but rather
“All the leaks that fit our agenda.”?

Re the Washington Post:
For a newspaper now featuring the slogan
“Democracy Dies in Darkness”,
precisely why is it that a search at their website for
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
only yields a negative, critical article?
And a search for
Patrick Lang
yields nothing relevant to our Patrick Lang?
Sure looks like the WaPo keeps
information from sources that do not support its agenda
in near total darkness.

28 April 2017 at 02:30 PM

DianaLC said in reply to Publius Tacitus...

Why, then, did the Russians claim they, not Syria, had hit the site? Was that simply an effort to prevent Trump from doing what Trump did?

27 April 2017 at 07:45 PM

Yeah, Right said in reply to Publius Tacitus...

Where I'm struggling is this: there are two people involved in those conversations - one is a USAF officer, but the other is a Russian air force officer.

Therefore we don't need the USA to come clean about what it had been told and when it was told to them, because the Russians are equally in-the-know regarding those briefings.

The Russians can just release that information - transcripts, recordings, whatever. Doing that would shoot down the US lies.

Heck, they could just dump it on WikiLeaks.

Yet...... nothing.

No leaks. No cryptic comment from Lavrov, no pithy remark from Putin.


If the Russians did brief the USA in the manner that you report then, surely, they would be in possession of a paper-trail detailing those briefings.

What would stop them from putting that out in the public arena?

28 April 2017 at 12:56 AM

Thomas said in reply to Yeah, Right...

"If the Russians did brief the USA in the manner that you report then, surely, they would be in possession of a paper-trail detailing those briefings."

Yes, all communications are recorded.

"What would stop them from putting that out in the public arena?"

It is not their style with regards to state to state relations, they will bank it in the archives to be used, if needed, in further private diplomacy.

29 April 2017 at 01:04 PM

Donald said in reply to Keith Harbaugh...

I just watched the NYT video and would welcome a detailed critique of it, but that said, it seemed pretty thin to me. They made a point of Assad being all over the map with his claims of what was hit, but didn't actually refute him. They show a clip of three explosion clouds, identify three small buildings that were hit, show the crater that Dr. Postol has been analyzing, argue that the two large buildings that fit the Russian description were hit in 2015 and rely heavily on local activist testimony. And they argue the Russian and Syrian claim about timing is wrong.

I think they deliberately avoided talking about Dr. Postol's claims. I have no idea who is right, but the last time the NYT played at being forensic scientists with their rocket trajectory analysis of Ghouta they know who proved them wrong.

27 April 2017 at 07:09 PM

jonst said in reply to Keith Harbaugh...

KH, without getting into the substance of matters here, that you raise, the long held, and long treasured, belief that the NYTimes is; "...for many people the 'newspaper of record'" should be challenged now, if, indeed, not retired completely. I know of no objective evidence proving my contention...but then again, I know of no objective evidence to prove the long held assertion. Further, I do not know what to make of your statement about "generally respected newspapers'. I know of many formally "generally respected newspapers". Not so sure they exist anymore. This is, sadly, a hallmark of the split between the Borg, and 'the rest of us' mortals. Brexit, by a slight majority, and Trump, by an electoral majority (and perhaps LePen, soon enough) in a Luther like announcement, said, 'no more'. We lack any 'generally agreed upon'reliable 'gatekeeper platforms. We're adrift.

28 April 2017 at 08:41 AM

james said in reply to jonst...

thanks jonst.. my own thought on this, and i didn't bother to respond to keith about it due my impression people have to figure out things for themselves, is the msm has become a foot soldier for rubber stamping whatever the corporate agenda wants.. the agenda here is more war and money for the military and financial complex.. the nyt, wapo, wsj - command 0% respect in my book as they are bought and paid for by these corporations. corporate rule - info can be manipulated up the yin yang, but people will stop viewing these media outlets with anything resembling integrity too.. that's where i am at with them..

28 April 2017 at 12:18 PM

Nick said in reply to Keith Harbaugh...

Firstly the Western Axis voted down the Syrian axis request for an OPCW on the ground investigation! WHY? Secondly the Syrians were winning the war on the ground and the US and others were publicly stating that Assad would be now allowed to remain in power. There would be no regime change! So why would he "snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory" by making such an attack? and timing of such an attack? If you were to drop Sarin bombs would you first give the US the coordinates and time of such an attack instead of doing it covertly?
Apply the question Cui Bono and employ a modicum of basic common sense please!

29 April 2017 at 12:28 PM

More NYT ‘Spin’ on the Syria-Sarin Case
by Robert Parry
consortiumnews, 2017-04-28

Who Is Destroying Syria?
The Arab Gulf States, Israel, and Turkey all prefer anarchy to Assad
by Philip Giraldi
The American Conservative, 2017-05-03

The New York Times Video Analysis of the Events in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017:
NONE of the Cited Forensic Evidence Supports the Claims

by Dr. Ted Postol
(Posted by Publius Tacitus)
SST, 2017-05-30

In this report, I show that NONE of the forensic evidence
in the New York Times video and a follow-on Times news article
supports the conclusions reported by the New York Times.

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