Sunday, August 25, 2013

War With Syria Scheduled For Next Week?


Eliot Engel never has America's best interests at heart

Alexei Pushkov, Chairman of the Russian Duma's International Affairs Committee (imagine a cross between Cold Warriors Bob Menendez and Ed Royce), claims, with some justification, that Obama, who he claims is just a Bush clone, is moving the U.S. inexorably towards an illegitimate war with Russia's ally, Syria. He tweeted it:

If you don't read the Cyrillic alphabet: "Obama neuderzhimo idet k voyne v Sirii, kak Bush shel k voyne v Irake.Kak i v Irake, eta voyna ne budet legitimnoy, a Obama stanet klonom Busha." I ran it though Google's translation app and wound up with a garbled but understandable version-- "Obama uncontrollably goes to war in Syria, as Bush went to war in Irake.Kak in Iraq, the war is not legitimate, and Obama becomes a clone of Bush"-- of a strong message warning about U.S. warmongering in the Middle East again.
The remarks came after US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said earlier in the day that the US military was ready to take action against Syria if President Obama gives the green-light.

"President Obama has asked the Defense Department to prepare options for all contingencies. We have done that and we are prepared to exercise whatever option-- if he decides to employ one of those options,” Hagel said.

On August 21, the head of the so-called opposition Syrian National Coalition, George Sabra, claimed that 1,300 people were killed in a government chemical attack on militant strongholds in Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar.

The Syrian government, however, has vehemently rejected the allegations, saying the foreign-backed militants had carried out the attack.

On Saturday, the Syrian forces found chemical agents in tunnels dug by the militants in Jobar. A number of soldiers were suffocated as they entered the area.

On March 19, 2003, US-led forces invaded Iraq under the pretext of wiping out the stocks of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) belonging to the executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime. However, no such weapons were ever discovered in the country.
And Pushkov isn't the only observer who feels the U.S. has been looking for an excuse to bomb Syria-- obviously exactly what the neoCons and Israel's right-wing government want-- all along. David Atkins meditated earlier today on McCain's role and McCain, along with his snarling sidekick, Lindsey Graham, have only been the loudest in the chorus of American warmongers and AIPAC stooges banging the drums of war.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN) was on Fox News Sunday this morning banging the same drum. "This is not something where opposition forces have contrived something," he declared, alluding to the sloppy way Bush and Cheney lied their way into an attack against Iraq. "I hope the president, as soon as we get back to Washington will ask for authorization from Congress to do something in a very surgical and proportional way." The Likud agent, Eliot Engel (D-NY), who the Democrats decided to make the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was even worse than Corker, claiming Obama shouldn't have to ask Congress before bombing Syria. Parroting the AIPAC line he always parrots, Engel said "I just think that we have to move and we have to move quickly. I do agree with Senator Corker that Congress needs to be involved but perhaps not initially. Perhaps the president could start and then Congress needs to resolve it and ascend to it." Maybe Engel should have familiarized himself with the War Powers Act and the Constitution before being given a position so far above his level of competence.

Short version of what happened today: probably under pressure from Russia, Assad agreed to allow UN Arms inspectors and scientists examine the areas around Damascus where there have been claims of a massive poison gas attack, which is what the U.S. has been demanding all week. As soon as Assad agreed, the U.S. said it was too late and they don't care about inspections any longer.
The Obama administration said Sunday it believed Syria used chemical weapons in an offensive last week around Damascus and rebuffed the Assad regime's offer to provide U.N. inspectors access to the affected areas, saying the move came too late to be credible.

The comments by a senior administration official signaled that the White House wasn't backing away from a showdown despite apparent efforts by Damascus to ease tensions by allowing United Nations inspectors to visit the areas allegedly hit with chemical weapons.

"If the Syrian government had nothing to hide and wanted to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons in this incident, it would have ceased its attacks on the area and granted immediate access to the U.N. five days ago," a senior Obama administration official said.

"At this juncture, the belated decision by the regime to grant access to the U.N. team is too late to be credible, including because the evidence available has been significantly corrupted as a result of the regime's persistent shelling and other intentional actions over the last five days," the official added.

The official said that-- based on the reported number of victims, the reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured and other information-- "there is very little doubt at this point that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in this incident."

The official said President Barack Obama is still assessing how to respond to "this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons."

The Pentagon has prepared military options for the White House that include cruise missile strikes on regime targets, officials said.

U.S. intelligence agencies are still investigating last week's incident, and could present a final assessment to Mr. Obama within days.

Earlier the U.N. said its inspection team was preparing to start its fact-finding mission on Monday after Syria said it would allow U.N. inspectors currently in Damascus immediate access to areas around the capital where the opposition accused the regime of using chemical weapons against fighters and civilians five days ago.

A presenter on Syrian state television, reading a statement attributed to an unnamed official at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said agreement was reached following a meeting between Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and Angela Kane, the U.N. disarmament chief, who arrived in Damascus on Saturday.
Lost in all the clamouring for war is the fact that no one really knows who used the chemical weapons. The Obama Administration doesn't seem to want to let that stand in the war of bombing Syria. Did they learn nothing from Bush's Iraq fiasco? The American people seem to have. The vast majority are not ready to follow Obama into any wars against Syria (and its allies).
Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria's civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria's government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed, a Reuters/Ipsos poll says.

About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria's civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act.

More Americans would back intervention if it is established that chemical weapons have been used, but even that support has dipped in recent days-- just as Syria's civil war has escalated and the images of hundreds of civilians allegedly killed by chemicals appeared on television screens and the Internet.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll, taken August 19-23, found that 25 percent of Americans would support U.S. intervention if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces used chemicals to attack civilians, while 46 percent would oppose it. That represented a decline in backing for U.S. action since August 13, when Reuters/Ipsos tracking polls found that 30.2 percent of Americans supported intervention in Syria if chemicals had been used, while 41.6 percent did not.
Two different faces of the Republican Party on this, one utterly insane and one we should all be paying attention to and supporting:

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