Thursday, September 19, 2013

Did Kerry And His Clique Plot An End Run Around Obama On Syria?


Susan Rice is as much a hawk and a creature of the Military-Industrial Complex as John Kerry ever was. But McCain and Lindsey Graham, America's two most preeminent warmongers, sandbagged and sabotaged Rice and demanded that Obama appoint Kerry Secretary of State. Policy-wise there is no difference between Rice and Kerry and today she serves as National Security Advisor and he serves, thanks to McCain and Graham, as Secretary of State. The difference is that her loyalty is unquestionably to Obama. Kerry doesn't give a crap about Obama.

In fact, impeccable Beltway sources have told me that Kerry sees himself as the "President of Foreign Policy." He tried-- and failed-- to pull off a virtual coup in Washington over the Syria crisis. A very dominant, transpartisan and self-serving National Security clique in Washington was determined to railroad Obama, who's concerns are more about domestic affairs than foreign affairs to begin with, into a war with Syria and-- in their fondest dreams-- Iran. John Stewart looked at it with a sense of humor the other night on The Daily Show, outing Lindsey Graham for the whole nation.

Gene Lyons made many of the same points-- without pointing out Lindsey Graham's bizarre sexual dysfunctions-- at the National Memo yesterday. He starts with a quote from a Graham hero, Winston Churchill: "To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war."
Before you make the mistake of taking President Obama’s most strident critics regarding the Syrian deal too seriously, ponder this: With few exceptions, those calling the Russian-American agreement to eliminate Bashar al-Assad’s nerve gas arsenal a capitulation, a sellout, and a shameful retreat also think bombing Damascus wouldn’t have been nearly enough.

Nothing short of a boots-on American invasion of Syria would have satisfied these jokers. Prominent among them is Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who views the diplomatic breakthrough as “an act of provocative weakness on America’s part.”

McCain, who has vigorously supported all nine of the nation’s last three wars on about 316 TV talk shows, is never happy unless the U.S. is attacking somebody. Only violent solutions strike him as realistic. That’s probably the single biggest reason he never became president.

Then there’s Eliot A. Cohen, founding father of the Project for a New American Century, a now-defunct Washington pressure group whose messianic schemes for a U.S. empire stretching from the Mediterranean to Afghanistan inspired the Iraq War. Featuring such luminaries as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, to these geniuses, overthrowing Saddam Hussein was only the beginning. Next on their agenda was Iran, in case you wonder why the mad ayatollahs have been tinkering with nukes.

So anyway, just as President Obama was getting ready to ask Congress to endorse a punitive strike against Syrian chemical weapon sites, Cohen published a Washington Post column scolding Americans for their cowardice. The families of the war dead, he allowed, were entitled to their sorrow.

“But for the great mass of the American public,” he wrote “for their leaders and the elites who shape public opinion, ‘war-weariness’ is unearned cant, unworthy of a serious nation and dangerous in a violent world…Americans can change the channel if they find the images too disturbing.”

Got that citizens? Shut up, pay your taxes and avert your eyes.

Next the Obama administration pulled a large Russian rabbit out of its hat, leaving the neocons feeling foolish. For all the hugger-mugger about “red lines” and the White House’s odd decision to position a naval task force within striking range of Damascus before deciding to ask congressional permission, the end result was nevertheless remarkable.

Clumsy? Definitely. But it’s not a Bruce Willis movie; it’s a foreign policy.

“By hook or by crook,” Kevin Drum writes “Obama (a) raised the issue of Assad’s chemical weapons to an international level, (b) got Vladimir Putin (!) to take a lead role in reining them in, (c) got Assad to join the chemical weapons ban and agree to give up his stockpiles, and (d) [did] it all while keeping military pressure as an active option, but without ever firing a shot.”

In other words, for all the nonsensical talk of “appeasement,” the very crafty President Putin and the Syrian dictator now own this deal. Meanwhile, U.S. military options remain unchanged. President Obama has bought himself considerable freedom of action.

Mike Tomasky has it right: “If Assad is mad enough to use [chemical weapons] again, Obama won’t mess with Congress or even Russia. He’ll be credited by most observers…for having shown restraint the first time, and more people will agree at that point that Assad must be punished.”

Then there’s Charles Krauthammer, the Post columnist who accuses Obama of “epic incompetence,” complaining that the Russians prefer to keep Bashar al-Assad in power. He worries that “Assad is the key link in the anti-Western Shiite crescent stretching from Tehran through Damascus and Beirut to the Mediterranean.”

Hmm… Isn’t something missing here? Let’s go to the maps. It’s roughly 900 miles from Tehran to Damascus via, oh yeah… Baghdad. See, it’s precisely the U.S. invasion of Iraq championed by Krauthammer and his chums that created this supposedly scary alliance. Sectarian strife among Sunni and Shiite Muslims has erupted there at irregular intervals for almost 1,400 years. Shouldn’t these brilliant thinkers have thought of that before now?

So what do the Russians want? In a word, stability. Unlike the U.S., Russia has a large Muslim minority. Roughly 1 in 6 Russians is Muslim. Like the Tsarnaev bothers of Boston, MA, nearly all are Sunni. What Putin definitely doesn’t want is Chechen separatists getting their hands on nerve gas. Driving overland, Syria’s roughly as close to Chechnya as to Iran.

Can Putin be trusted? To do what’s good for Russia, yes. As President Obama explained to George Stephanopoulos, the Cold War is over. “I don’t think that Mr. Putin has the same values that we do,” he said. “But what I’ve also said to him directly is that we both have an interest in preventing chaos, we both have an interest in preventing terrorism. The situation in Syria right now is untenable.”

And he also quoted Ronald Reagan: “Trust, but verify.”
And when I mentioned a "transpartisan and self-serving National Security clique," it wasn't by chance. The War Party isn't just McCain, Eliot Cohen, Lindsey and Krauthammer. Many of us watched with dismay as Bronx New Dem Eliot Engel, the congressional spokesperson for AIPAC and Israel's Likud Party, cheer-led for war for the last month. House Dems have him slated to become Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee if they ever take back control of Congress. And then there's Obama's last Defense Secretary, Republican-turned-Democrat ex-congressman and neo-liberal shithead Leon Panetta. Like most of the War Party, he was furious that Obama went to Congress. Panetta sounds like McCain is writing his lines for him: "When the president of the United States draws a red line, the credibility of this country is dependent on him backing up his word."

Panetta's a clown and Obama's first Defense Secretary, Republican Robert Gates, was happy to point out why.
Gates said a strike would be like "throwing gasoline on an extremely complex fire in the Middle East." He brought up past interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya as examples of how American military action can lead to unintended consequences.

He also dismissed attacking Syria to enforce a red line.

"I believe to blow a bunch of stuff up over a couple of days to underscore or validate a point or principle is not a strategy," he said.

...Gates, who was appointed secretary of defense by former President George W. Bush and retained by Obama, said he thought America's most recent presidents "have become too quick to reach for a gun to solve an international problem."

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At 6:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Susan Rice was attacked from the left because of conflict of interest on the tar sands pipeline. Obama has surrounded himself with war mongers from the get go. He could have picked someone who was anti-war for Sec of State, he doesn't want to.

- dcblogger

At 8:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So are you saying Obama subverted Kerry's efforts to bomb and possibly make war on Syria at this time?

Cause I thought Kerry was in on the ju-jitsu that turned events on a dime by saying that supposed offhand remark about Assad turning over stockpiles of chemical weapons. I thought it was all a back-channel ploy to make it seem spontaneous so the Saudis wouldn't have time to sabotage the stepdown from war.

I think Kerry's not a peacemonger but that he is not necessarily a super war hawk like McCain.

Also, isn't it interesting that even Putin is more reasonable and easier to work with than the tea party freaks.


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