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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mad times

What do you do when the world around you goes mad? Do you hopelessly plead for your fellow citizens to regain their senses? Or do you just settle into your chair at the beach (either a literal or a figurative chair will do), put on your shades, clink the ice in your drink, smile and say wheeeeeee as you watch it all go to hell?

Screw the rule of law. In the New York Times, Ian Hurd says: "Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal." Hurd is a professor who has written a book called After Anarchy. At least the man knows what he wants.

Proof that the rebels did it? I generally trust Pepe Escobar. This is from his Facebook feed:

Khalil Harb, of Lebanese paper As-Safir, confirmed a few minutes ago to my great friend Claudio Gallo an article published in Arabic two days ago, quoting a Russian source.

According to the source, Russia's ambassador in the UN Security Council, Vitaly Churkin, presented conclusive evidence - based on documents and Russian satellite images - of two rockets carrying toxic chemicals, fired from Douma, controlled by the Syrian "rebels", and landing on East Ghouta. Hundreds of "rebels", as well as civilians - including those children on the cover of Western corporate media papers - were killed. The evidence, says the Russian source, is conclusive. This is what Lavrov himself was hinting at yesterday. And that's the reason there's no UN Security Council resolution against Syria, and why Washington does not want the inspectors to find anything.
That Lebanese paper, Al-Safir, gets quoted a lot. (Remember, another Lebanese journal, Al-Shiraa, broke the story that led to the Iran-contra scandal.) That newspaper is currently reporting that a strike against Syria may come as soon as tomorrow. At least, that's the impression conveyed by Google's machine translation...
If ratified by the U.S. Pentagon leaks, will wake tomorrow morning, on the impact of the giant U.S. missiles cross the skies of Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine into Syrian territory.
The United States does indeed seem intent on striking before the inspectors can properly inspect. This rush to judgment is telling. If Obama won't let the UN inspection team finish its work, he will have acted even more rashly than Bush did.

The evidence. We now learn that the main evidence indicating Syrian culpability comes down to an undetermined number of phone calls allegedly made by a Syrian defense official and intercepted by American spooks.

Is this some kind of joke? Are we going to launch air strikes -- strikes that will probably kill more people than died at Ghouta -- based on the say-so of an intelligence community headed by a guy who lied to Congress not long ago?

Are we really supposed to believe that, after so much discussion of the NSA's capabilities, a Syrian defense official would be stupid enough to blab about his responsibility on an open line? On any line?

And even if we presume that this report is true, Fox News -- yes, Fox, god help us all -- raises a legitimate point:
If a Syrian defense official was questioning the chemical weapons unit about the attack, it raises the possibility that it was a rogue event -- or, to the contrary, cleared at the highest levels, without the say-so from mid-level defense officials.

"It's unclear where control lies," one unnamed intelligence official reportedly told Foreign Policy.

One official added that the U.S. does not know why the attack happened. "We just know it was pretty f------ stupid."
Indeed so. From the standpoint of the pro-Assad forces, attacking civilians just a couple of miles away from a UN team served no discernible military purpose.

Syria is not acting like a guilty party -- in fact, the government has asked the United States to produce the evidence of Syria's guilt.
President Assad's government denied involvement from the outset, however, suggesting the rebels were behind the use of chemical agents in Ghouta. On Saturday, Syrian state TV broadcast images of what the government claims were chemical agents discovered by soldiers in tunnels used by rebel forces in the suburbs.
Upping the stakes, official Syrian sources now say that not only were "terrorists" responsible for the Ghouta attacks, but that these same terrorists -- that is, anti-Assad groups -- will soon launch a chemical weapons attack in Europe, in order to frame Assad again.

Make of that statement what you will.

The "Whodunnit" question: Further evidence. From a CNN story published on the 22nd:
Government forces did not appear to be in imminent danger of being overrun by rebel factions in the areas concerned; in fact, many observers believe a bloody stalemate has set in around Damascus. And regime forces have also made gains recently against rebels around Homs and elsewhere. Why would it risk an action that would likely kill hundreds in a heavily-populated area and risk stirring up an international appetite for intervention?

Would it also have risked using an agent as lethal as sarin just a few kilometers from the heart of Damascus -- to both the southwest and northeast of the city -- on what appears to have been a quite windy night?
Over the top? The Week listed yours truly among four "over the top" voices raised against intervention in Syria; the others are Sean Hannity (ew!), Glenn Beck (double ew!) and Dennis Kucinich (not an ew). Although the company of Sean and Glenn is unpleasant, I am grateful for this article, since it gives a fair overview of the argument against air strikes.

In the UK, where libel laws are tough, reporters have perfected the art of denying a story in order to get it on the record. (Example: "This writer most certainly does not believe the scurrilous reports that Lord Tragamour sleeps with goats.") The Week's Peter Webber seems to have pulled off a similar trick, sneaking anti-interventionist opinions before the eyes of an audience that might not otherwise seek such views.

Russia's alleged threat. A number of bloggers (including our friends at Corrente) have noticed a European Union Times report that Putin has vowed to attack Saudi Arabia if the west attacks Syria...
According to Kremlin sources familiar with this extraordinary “war order,” Putin became “enraged” after his early August meeting with Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan who warned that if Russia did not accept the defeat of Syria, Saudi Arabia would unleash Chechen terrorists under their control to cause mass death and chaos during the Winter Olympics scheduled to be held 7-23 February 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
It goes on and on like that. But there's a problem: The EU Times appears to be a massive disinformation exercise. This tale gets pretty wild, folks...
The European Union Times isn’t exactly a venerable news source akin to, say, The Associated Press. It is registered to Jessica Nachtman, wife of Christopher Nachtman. [Editor's note: After the initial posting of this blog item, Jessica Nachtman wrote Hatewatch to say that she merely provides Web hosting for "a European who lives abroad," who she declined to identify further. She said she does not publish or modify any of the site's content.] Christopher Nachtman is a former member of the neo-Nazi group National Alliance who more recently has been active in Volksfront, a racist skinhead group.

In October, Nachtman stabbed another man during an altercation at a luxury hotel in Palm Beach County, where Holocaust revisionist David Irving was giving a talk. No charges have been filed. The man who was stabbed, John Kopko, has also been involved in neo-Nazi activities in the past.
I'm reminded of the massive frauds perpetrated by Gregory Douglas. Is someone funding these guys?
I heard someone [can't remember who] say Thursday was the day. Not sure if that was letting the cat out of the bag or what. Guess we'll know soon. Could've been on Al Jezeera America. I've been tuning in, on and off, during their debut week.

How funny [or maybe the word's ironic] that you're now considered over-the-top. Blowing stuff up, getting involved in a mission that could go terribly wrong for everyone--that's reasonable. Calling for caution and level heads in a no-win situation is now deemed hyperbolic.

Orwell where are you???

Of course being loaded into Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck's wagon is an insult. But Kucinich has been right on quite a few issues.

So, we're going to get bombs in Syria and Larry Summers at the Fed. Life is grand. And self-destruction is us!

Once again Obomber bitch-slaps anyone naïve enough to believe he is anything other than what his predecessor was: a war criminal. Contingents of the US marines have been moved into place so they can carry out strikes on/invasion of Syria, just as Representative Cantor called for a couple of weeks ago. The marines are now Israel's foreign legion, and the icing on the cake is the Israelis don't even have to pay them or replace their equipment. What a deal!

Putin and others still hold some cards, so this isn't a slam-dunk by any means. If the Russians and the Chinese start dumping US treasuries in 10 billion dollar lots, the problems that would appear immediately would preclude any possibility of scratching off another line from Israel's shopping list. The outcome could be mutual assured financial destruction, so no one is pulling that trigger without serious thought.
I am perplexed by some on the right having the correct attitude on this matter, for now.

Not only Rush and Hannity, but I've also heard John Bolton, Jerome Corsi, locally aired syndicated right wing talkers, and etc., all with the same points-- likely the rebels did the chemical attacks, that Assad would never do them as he was winning without doing that, etc.

I've always figured the right as sock puppets for Zionist positions, and having the US attack Syria as the rebellion has failed to topple Assad seems only a Zionist idea. Odd to see them turn against their sponsor's wished for outcome, unless a) all know it won't happen and b) that provides an opportunistic attack line against Obama, although he's been dragged to this position against his preference as I see it.

"Indeed, you can bet your bottom dollar that the one target the Americans will not strike in Syria will be al-Qa’ida or the Nusra front."

Well I wouldn't bet mine. Nor would I assume that the US hasn't been supporting both sides.

The Syrian government accuses the US, French and British of helping the Front use chemical weapons. They've also called for inspectors to visit certain specific sites they haven't been to yet.

Since the government appear to be winning using conventional weapons, a first-order analysis would suggest that it's the other side who've reached into the chemistry cabinet.

I'm speculating, but I would have thought the SAS have been in Syria for some time. The flip-flop of the US-UK story is extraordinary. More dramatic than Alexander Haig calling Lord Carrington a "duplicitous bastard" during the Falklands/Malvinas. Where's the weak point, I wonder?

Meanwhile in nuthouse UK, the guns are going to be out for the badgers. WTF?

The National Farmers Union are bad enough as it is, without setting up armed front organisations called "culling companies"! Welcome to the Chinese 'Great Leap Forward'. In particular, the war against the sparrows, 1958. How long until famine?

My feeling is that talk of chemical weapons is soon going to give way to talk of chemical and biological weapons.
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