Tag Archives: “red line”

Barack Obama to attack Syria himself in Air Force One

The way that it’s going, if U.S. President Barack Obama wants to bomb Syria, he’s going to have to drop the bombs himself from Air Force One. But he won’t be lonely on his trip; he’ll have “embedded” “journalists” along with him for the ride. And maybe the French will provide some wine and cheese for the mission.

Seriously: The British Parliament’s very wise decision yesterday not to join the U.S. in another boondoggle in the Middle East is a blow to Obama (as well as to Conservative Party British Prime Minister David Cameron).*

Now all that Obama has, pretty much, is the conspicuous silence of most of his fellow Democrats (in name only), most of whom are party hacks who don’t want to buck the Obama White House but who also know that the majority of Americans don’t want a military attack upon Syria — and, of course, the corporately owned and controlled “news” media.

The New York Times on Monday declared in an editorial:

… [President] Obama put his credibility on the line when he declared last August that [Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s] use of chemical weapons would constitute a “red line” that would compel an American response. After the first attacks, earlier this year, killed between 100 and 150 people, the administration promised weapons for the rebels but delayed in delivering them.

This time the use of chemicals was more brazen and the casualties were much greater, suggesting that Mr. Assad did not take Mr. Obama seriously. Presidents should not make a habit of drawing red lines in public, but if they do, they had best follow through. Many countries (including Iran, which Mr. Obama has often said won’t be permitted to have a nuclear weapon) will be watching. …

Wow. The Times widely is considered to be the thinking person’s media organization, and is widely to be considered “liberal.”**

Yet the Times’ central “argument” is that once you threaten to do something, you must go through with it — or risk being deemed “weak.” That’s a wise, high-minded stance? Even if something is a really bad fucking idea, you should go through with it anyway — to save face?

My own city’s main “news” organization, the Sacramento Bee, like the Times, also widely is considered to be center-left, yet in an editorial today the Bee proclaims that “The president has previously said there would be consequences if Syria crossed the ‘red line’ of chemical warfare. His reputation – and U.S. standing in the world – will suffer if that turns out to be an empty threat” (apparently the Bee’s editorial writers read the Times…) and “If it can be convincingly demonstrated that the recent massacre in Syria was the result of chemical weapons, and that Syrian forces were responsible for it, Obama will have to act, hopefully with a few allies.”

I’m guessing that that editorial was penned before the British Parliament yesterday voted against joining the U.S. in its latest boondoggle in the Middle East even if it definitively is demonstrated that the Syrian government used chemical weapons as charged.

AFP notes that “It is believed to be the first time since 1782 that a British government has lost a vote about military action,” which to me is a measure of what an incredibly fucking shitty idea it is to militarily attack Syria right now.***

So why are our corporately owned and operated “news” organizations gung-ho on an attack on Syria?

“Corporately owned and operated” is the key.

Corporations love war and the profiteering that goes along with it. Corporations not only benefit nicely in their war-related contracts (as well as in their ongoing regular military contracts) with the federal government, but the U.S. military often opens up other sovereign nations’ natural resources — like Iraq’s oil — to corporations for their free and unfettered exploitation.

War is bad for individual human beings, but great for corporations.

Also, of course, war is great for “news” “coverage.”

This is not new.

The Spanish-American War of 1898, Wikipedia states, “is considered to be both a turning point in the history of propaganda and the beginning of the practice of yellow journalism. It was the first conflict in which military action was precipitated by media involvement.”

Wikipedia goes on to note that “William [Randolph] Hearst, the owner of the New York Journal, was involved in a circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World and saw the conflict as a way to sell papers.”

I remember how the corporately owned and controlled “news” organizations handled the Vietraq War. First, they (including, of course, the New York Times’ infamous Judith Miller) for the most part uncritically repeated the Bush White House’s lies about the “reasons” to invade Iraq. Like the cowards in Congress, these “journalists” cowed to the post-9/11 hysteria and hyper-jingoism and for the most part dared not question the ever-changing “arguments” for war that the members of the Bush regime were spewing.

Then, when the invasion of Iraq that they’d wanted and pushed for actually came, they treated it like a fucking sports event, like the fucking Super Bowl.

It even had its own slogan: Shock and awe! (Actually, now that I think of it further, it probably was much more like a “professional” wrestling event…)

The “journalists” were “embedded!” in Iraq, they couldn’t tell us enough.

“Embedded,” of course, meant in bed with the White House and the Pentagon.

Sure, the Pentagon allowed the corporate media weasel-whores to feel special, rubbing shoulders with high-ranking military officials while they dutifully acted as public-relations stenographers, not as journalists.

The price for remaining “embedded,” of course, was that the “journalist” never reported anything that the Pentagon or the White House didn’t want him or her to report.

So: Our “journalists” gained some “access” but at the price of being censored. So what good was that “access” for which they had to sell themselves out? When the powers that be are tightly controlling and regulating the “access,” how meaningful can that “access” possibly be?

At this point, Barack Obama’s strongest supporters for a military attack upon Syria, apparently, are France and the American corporate media weasel-whores who want to jump into bed with him.

Former “President” George W. Bush, recall, in the post-9/11 political environment had the majority of Americans, the U.S. Congress, the British government and the corporate media weasel-whores behind him, which allowed him to launch the illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War even against the wishes of the United Nations Security Council.

In this political climate, thank Goddess, I don’t see Obama pulling off any significant military attack on Syria.

If he does so anyway, it will be, I think, a Richard-Nixon-level political mistake that he and his party will regret.

*I heard former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld — a war criminal who already should have been executed for his participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity in Iraq — blathering on news radio this morning that if only Obama had defined the mission in Syria better, and had not “led from behind,” Britain would have jumped right on board.

Never fucking mind that maybe, just maybe, the larger issue is that after the Brits were punk’d big time with the Vietraq War and Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction, they didn’t feel like being punk’d by the U.S. government again and so soon after the last time, and so this time, they ignored the White House’s cry of “wolf!”

As much as I’m not a fan of Obama and as much as I oppose his sketchy proposal to attack Syria, we can’t blame this, too, on him; the lion’s share of the blame for it rests squarely on the members of the unelected Bush regime, including Rumsfeld, of course, who lost the trust of the British over the bogus Vietraq War.

**Well, since being “liberal” these days mostly means being a Democrat in name only, a center-right sellout who changes his or her stance on important issues based upon the party affiliation of who is supporting and who is opposing those issues today, the Times actually indeed is “liberal.”

***One who is progressive and sane (which, to me, are one and the same) hopes that the majority of the citizens of the Western world finally are turning against military action as a way to resolve international (and intranational) conflicts and see that militarism almost always only benefits our plutocratic overlords, not us commoners.

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Repugnicans might unintentionally save Obama from his ‘red line’

For once, congressional Repugnican Tea Party traitors’ knee-jerk oppositional-defiant stance toward virtually everything that President Barack Obama wants to do might actually benefit the majority of Americans.

Apparently 98 Repugnican Tea Party U.S. representatives (and only 18 Democratic representatives) signed on to a recent letter to Obama that stated:

“While the Founders wisely gave the Office of the President the authority to act in emergencies, they foresaw the need to ensure public debate — and the active engagement of Congress — prior to committing U.S. military assets. Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.”

And in his own letter to Obama, Repugnican Tea Party House Majority Leader John Boehner scribbled:

“I respectfully request that you, as our country’s commander in chief, personally make the case to the American people and Congress for how potential military action will secure American national security interests, preserve America’s credibility, deter the future use of chemical weapons, and, critically, be a part of our broader policy and strategy.” [Boehner’s full letter is here.]

This is, of course, a 180-degree turnaround from how a cowardly Congress rubber-stamped the Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War in October 2002. (Yes, the unelected Bush regime consulted Congress, but it was just for show; Congress did not wisely deliberate on the cons and any actual pros of the impending Vietraq War, but just gave Bush & Co. what they wanted. After all: 9/11!) Of course, admittedly, the political environment then — that of immediately-post-9/11 hyper-jingoistic hysteria — was much different than it is now.

But it’s nonetheless interesting that the war-loving Repugnican Tea Party traitors would criticize Obama’s threat of attacking Syria over a fabricated “red line” when if it were a Repugnican Tea Party president doing exactly the same thing, the majority of them of course would be on board. Their main concern isn’t that a military attack upon Syria would be misguided and ill-advised (as it would be); their main problem is that it’s Obama who has proposed it.

The inverse of that, of course, is that apparently most Democrats in D.C. apparently are too pussy to openly criticize Obama’s pathetic proposal to take “a shot across the bow” of Syria even though Obama’s “plan,” apparently, consists primarily or even only of that: firing some missiles and/or dropping some bombs upon Syria, blowing some shit up, in order to spook Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Obama promises that the U.S. would avoid getting any further involved in Syria’s civil war than that, but, of course, once you start firing missiles and/or dropping bombs, shit can spiral out of control. Quickly. You can’t promise what will and what won’t happen once you start throwing rocks at the hornets’ nest.

Of course, Repugnican Tea Party intransigence on Obama’s ordering a military attack on Syria might give Obama the political escape hatch from his “red-line” threat that he really could use right about now. Obama could claim that Make no mistake: He really meant what he said about that “red line” — but it was the Repugnican Tea Party-controlled House of Representatives that prevented him from delivering upon his vague threat!

I don’t see what Obama has to lose in being prevented from launching a military attack that the majority of Americans don’t want him to launch anyway.

In any event, I’m not sure which pisses me off more: that more congressional Democrats haven’t publicly opposed Obama’s hare-brained “plan” to shoot rubber bands at Syria because the majority of them are a bunch of fucking cowards and party hacks who refuse to publicly oppose anything that Obama puts forth or that the congressional Repugnican Tea Party traitors oppose Obama’s plan only because it’s Obama’s plan.

But, again, this might be the highest good that comes out of the pathetically paralyzed District of Columbia from January 2011, when the Repugnican Tea Party traitors regained their majority in the House, to January 2017, when we will have a new (hopefully not Repugnican Tea Party) president.

I’ll take it, even though it is only accidental.

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Skipping toward another debacle in the Middle East

The elites of D.C. have been out of touch with the wishes of the majority of Americans for years now, but are they really going to launch a military attack upon another Middle Eastern nation — one that borders Iraq, no less — that the majority of Americans do not want? Will U.S. President Barack Obama ignore the right-wing political taunts that he’s a wimp, or will he rush in to Syria like a fool, causing even more civilian deaths?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry proclaimed yesterday that “the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity.”

“Make no mistake,” Kerry added. “President [Barack] Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Wow.

I’m trying to wrap my head around the mega-double standards that are spewing forth right now from D.C.

The casual use of killer drones against poor people in the Middle East is not the use of “the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people”? (Killer drones aren’t heinous? When’s the last time that you had to try to dodge a drone that was trying to kill you? Have you seen “Oblivion”?)

Is the method of the slaughter truly of more importance than the fact of the slaughter itself?

What’s with this fucking nerve-gas fetish?

If I shoot you or bomb you (the conventional way or with one of my “more humane” killer drones), it’s OK, it’s perfectly pardonable, hey, you have to crack some eggs to make a Freedom™ omelet — but if I gas you, that’s really heinous?

March 2003’s so-called “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (it couldn’t be “Operation Iraqi Liberation,” because that spells OIL, you see) — the U.S.-military-led invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq, which was in violation of the wishes of the United Nations Security Council — and its aftermath caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

If you simply claim, as the goody-goody-two-shoes United States of America always does, that your goal is to bring “democracy” and “freedom” and “liberation” and puppies and kittens and cute, fluffy baby bunny rabbits, does that mere claim justify, does that mere claim excuse, a body count of tens of thousands of civilians?

Oopsie! Your loved ones are dead! But it was for [fill in noble goal here]!

It widely is reported that an estimated 100,000 people, presumably on both sides, have been killed in Syria’s civil war of about two years now. The conservative estimate of the number of Iraqi civilians who died because of the bogus Vietraq War exceeds 100,000.

I’m trying to understand why the vast majority of Americans have not lost any sleep over the staggering number of Iraqi civilians whom the U.S. war machine has snuffed out over the past decade in the name of “liberating” them, but some Americans now claim to care so much about the alleged — emphasis on “alleged” — gassing deaths of a few hundred Syrian civilians.

If it’s really all about the safety and welfare of the Syrian civilians, where is the concern that even more Syrian civilians would die in the U.S.-led military bombardment of Syria and in the further chaos that easily could ensue, just like it did in Iraq? Have we really forgotten all of this already?

Is this about the well-being of Syrian civilians or is this about the United States of America (1) collectively egoistically wanting to save face because President Hopey-Changey proclaimed the Santa Claus- or Easter Bunny-like existence of some “red line” and (2) wanting to periodically flex its big military muscles on the world stage like the narcissistic, bullying nation that it is?

Given the United States’ own track record of the casual slaughter of civilians casually dismissed as “collateral damage” and refusing to be held accountable to any international body, John Kerry’s lofty words — such as “the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders” being “a moral obscenity” and the necessity of “accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people” — ring pretty fucking hollow.

If Americans, except for a perma-minority of pro-military wingnuts (most of them chickenhawks) — aren’t clamoring for a U.S. attack on Syria (and they’re — we’re — not) — maybe, just maybe, part of the reason for that is that enough Americans realize how incredibly hypocritical it is of the United States of America to talk of the lawlessness and mass-murderousness of any other nation.

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Syria’s civil war: Fools rush in

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with a German newspaper in Damascus

Reuters image

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is the new Saddam Hussein: not a nice guy, by all accounts, but is he really worth dragging the United States into yet another war in the Middle East? Is the war hawks’ — chickenhawks’ — interest in American military action in Syria’s civil war actually about the welfare of the Syrian people, or would it be just another opportunity for the U.S. military to flex its muscles again on the world stage (against a much weaker opponent — of course)?

If the allegations that the government of Syria killed hundreds of Syrian civilians with nerve gas are true — I suspect that they are, that the disturbing-enough video footage that I’ve seen of the apparent civilian victims of nerve gas is not faked — I am not sure why this particular method of the slaughter of civilians is considered to be worse than, say, how hundreds of Egyptian protesters were slaughtered by the Egyptian military earlier this month, or how hundreds have been slaughtered by U.S. drone strikes, including the confirmed deaths of almost 100 children.

Hey, how about that “shock and awe” that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians? Talk about “liberating” those Iraqis! We took away all of their problems!

I mean, dead is dead; why, exactly, the use of chemical weapons is a “red line,” as U.S. President Barack Obama put it a year ago, but being shot to death by your nation’s military while you are protesting the military coup against the president whom you’d democratically elected, or being snuffed out by an American bomb or an American weaponized drone, is regarded as A-OK eludes me.

That Saddam Hussein reportedly gassed and killed thousands of Kurds in the 1988, and that the unelected, treasonous Bush regime used this, about 15 years after the fact, as one of its many changing “reasons” to invade Iraq in 2003 (actually, Saddam Hussein was, to Washington, D.C., a “good” dictator, or at least a tolerable one, until he nationalized Iraq’s oil fields, closing them off to Big Oil* — then he was a “bad” dictator) does not mean that every time that chemical weapons are used somewhere on the planet, the U.S. military must invade that nation — because chemical weapons!

I’m not a fan of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but I’m also not a fan of yet another U.S.-led war in the Middle East while the American empire continues to rot from within (one word: Detroit).

And I’m not alone. Reuters reported yesterday:

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.

Taken together, the polls suggest that so far, the growing crisis in Syria, and the emotionally wrenching pictures from an alleged chemical attack in a Damascus suburb this week, may actually be hardening many Americans’ resolve not to get involved in another conflict in the Middle East. …

I’m not a cold-hearted bastard. The slaughter of one child is the slaughter of too many children. But how many more Syrian civilians would be slaughtered if the United States were to involve itself in Syria’s civil war?

That the president of the United States pronounced the existence of some “red line” and that the U.S. might look “weak” on the world stage if this “red line” materialized but the U.S. did nothing in response — saving face — is not a reason to take your nation to war.

Those who feel differently, those who want to drag us into a war in Syria — well, maybe we can air-drop them into Syria so that they can help the rebels, since they care about the Syrians so much.

But my guess is that, as was the case with the Vietraq War, the majority of those who would drag us to war in Syria are chickenhawks: They’ll talk a mean game — as long as it’s someone else who’s doing the dying.

P.S. In case you think it’s a closed case that the Syrian government gassed Syrian civilians, know this (from AFP):

… Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has said about 3,600 patients displaying “neurotoxic symptoms” had flooded into three Syrian hospitals on the day of the alleged [chemical-weapon] attacks, and 355 of them died.

“Medical staff working in these facilities provided detailed information to MSF doctors regarding large numbers of patients arriving with symptoms including convulsions, excess saliva, pinpoint pupils, blurred vision and respiratory distress,” said MSF operations director Bart Janssens.

MSF president Mego Terzian told AFP that “scientific” proof is still lacking.

“Syrian doctors we work with have no scientific proof. They must take hair samples, for example, and send them to a specialist laboratory,” to carry out conclusive tests, he said. …

So, thus far there is no scientific proof that chemical weapons were used. That’s pretty fucking important, isn’t it?

And even if such scientific proof materializes, would it be impossible that members of the Syrian opposition actually staged the attack in order to draw the U.S. military to their aid? Unlikely, one hopes, but again — would it be impossible?

Syrian rebels, after all, have put the deaths at more than 1,000, but the doctors of MSF are saying 355. I tend to trust the word of the MSF doctors, who don’t have the same political agenda that the Syrian rebels do.

Hopefully the United Nations will be allowed to take the lead on the investigation into whether or not the Syrian government gassed civilians — and hopefully the United States, with its partner in crime, Britain, won’t do what it did in Iraq in 2003: bypass the wishes of the United Nations Security Council and invade a weaker sovereign nation anyway.

*CNN noted earlier this year on the 10-year anniversary of the Vietraq War:

Yes, the Iraq War was a war for oil, and it was a war with winners: Big Oil.

It has been 10 years since Operation Iraqi Freedom’s bombs first landed in Baghdad. And while most of the U.S.-led coalition forces have long since gone, Western oil companies are only getting started.

Before the 2003 invasion, Iraq’s domestic oil industry was fully nationalized and closed to Western oil companies. A decade of war later, it is largely privatized and utterly dominated by foreign firms.

From ExxonMobil and Chevron to BP and Shell, the West’s largest oil companies have set up shop in Iraq. So have a slew of American oil service companies, including Halliburton, the Texas-based firm Dick Cheney ran before becoming George W. Bush’s running mate in 2000.

The war is the one and only reason for this long sought and newly acquired access. [Emphasis all mine.]

Oil was not the only goal of the Iraq War, but it was certainly the central one, as top U.S. military and political figures have attested to in the years following the invasion.

“Of course it’s about oil; we can’t really deny that,” said Gen. John Abizaid, former head of U.S. Central Command and Military Operations in Iraq, in 2007. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan agreed, writing in his memoir, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Then-Sen. and now Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the same in 2007: “People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are.”

For the first time in about 30 years, Western oil companies are exploring for and producing oil in Iraq from some of the world’s largest oil fields and reaping enormous profit. And while the U.S. has also maintained a fairly consistent level of Iraq oil imports since the invasion, the benefits are not finding their way through Iraq’s economy or society.

These outcomes were by design, the result of a decade of U.S. government and oil company pressure. In 1998, Kenneth Derr, then CEO of Chevron, said, “Iraq possesses huge reserves of oil and gas-reserves I’d love Chevron to have access to.” Today it does.

In 2000, Big Oil, including Exxon, Chevron, BP and Shell, spent more money to get fellow oilmen Bush and Cheney into office than they had spent on any previous election. Just over a week into Bush’s first term, their efforts paid off when the National Energy Policy Development Group, chaired by Cheney, was formed, bringing the administration and the oil companies together to plot our collective energy future. In March, the task force reviewed lists and maps outlining Iraq’s entire oil productive capacity.

Planning for a military invasion was soon under way. Bush’s first Treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, said in 2004, “Already by February (2001), the talk was mostly about logistics. Not the why (to invade Iraq), but the how and how quickly.”

In its final report in May 2001 (PDF), the task force argued that Middle Eastern countries should be urged “to open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment.” This is precisely what has been achieved in Iraq. …

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