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Mon Aug 26, 2013, 06:01 PM

Blasts from the past. Knighthood for Assad, Dinners, Strolls through the gardens

This of course, was all then

Assad close to being knighted under Blair
Dipesh Gadher Published: 1 July 2012


Asma and Bashar al-Assad meeting the Queen during their 2002 visit (Kirsty Wigglesworth/Scott Barbour)

TONY BLAIR’S government considered asking the Queen to bestow an honorary knighthood on President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, official papers reveal.

The decision to court Assad came despite the Syrian leader attacking Israel and comparing pro-Palestinian terrorists to the French resistance at an event attended by Blair.

Discussions about the honour took place ahead of Assad’s visit to Britain in 2002 during which he sought “as much pomp and ceremony as possible”. The Arab leader was granted audiences with the Queen and the Prince of Wales, lunch with Blair at Downing Street, a platform in parliament and many other privileges.

...

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/National/article1072174.ece


And it wasn't just Blair. BuzzfeedBenny has been taking Twitter down Memory Lane all morning

The Kerrys having dinner with the Assads in 2009


Assad hosts Kerry in Damascus in 2009. Kerry said "President Assad has been very generous with me..."


I'm adding this one



BuzzFeedBenny ‏@bennyjohnson 2h

Assad greets Fmr. Congressman Dennis Kucinich


Assad and President Carter stroll through the Syrian countryside


Assad, apparently showing Pelosi how to ride a horse. Syrian presidential palace, 2007.


Kerry/ Assad meeting in 2010 in Damascus.

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Reply Blasts from the past. Knighthood for Assad, Dinners, Strolls through the gardens (Original post)
Catherina Aug 2013 OP
Catherina Aug 2013 #1
dixiegrrrrl Aug 2013 #2
DevonRex Aug 2013 #5
kelliekat44 Aug 2013 #15
DevonRex Aug 2013 #18
Scuba Aug 2013 #22
DevonRex Aug 2013 #23
Scuba Aug 2013 #26
DevonRex Aug 2013 #32
Scuba Aug 2013 #34
DevonRex Aug 2013 #35
Scuba Aug 2013 #36
DevonRex Aug 2013 #37
Scuba Aug 2013 #38
DevonRex Aug 2013 #39
Scuba Aug 2013 #41
DevonRex Aug 2013 #42
Pretzel_Warrior Aug 2013 #3
kenny blankenship Aug 2013 #4
KittyWampus Aug 2013 #6
DevonRex Aug 2013 #25
sabrina 1 Aug 2013 #7
KittyWampus Aug 2013 #9
SomethingFishy Aug 2013 #40
JI7 Aug 2013 #11
sabrina 1 Aug 2013 #16
DevonRex Aug 2013 #27
KoKo Aug 2013 #28
Segami Aug 2013 #30
struggle4progress Aug 2013 #8
KittyWampus Aug 2013 #10
JI7 Aug 2013 #12
Recursion Aug 2013 #13
KittyWampus Aug 2013 #14
JI7 Aug 2013 #17
DevonRex Aug 2013 #20
nadinbrzezinski Aug 2013 #19
KittyWampus Aug 2013 #21
geek tragedy Aug 2013 #24
KoKo Aug 2013 #29
Benton D Struckcheon Aug 2013 #31
The Link Aug 2013 #33
KoKo Aug 2013 #43
Bluenorthwest Aug 2013 #44

Response to Catherina (Original post)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 06:15 PM

1. And let's not forget this blast from the past which has disappeared from the internet

but DU has a short excerpt of it and The Atlantic has an article about how meticulously this was scrubbed from the internet

Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert
by Joan Juliet Buck | photographed by James Nachtwey


Syria is known as the safest country in the Middle East, possibly because, as the State Department’s Web site says, “the Syrian government conducts intense physical and electronic surveillance of both Syrian citizens and foreign visitors.” It’s a secular country where women earn as much as men and the Muslim veil is forbidden in universities, a place without bombings, unrest, or kidnappings, but its shadow zones are deep and dark. Asma’s husband, Bashar al-Assad, was elected president in 2000, after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, with a startling 97 percent of the vote. In Syria, power is hereditary. The country’s alliances are murky. How close are they to Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah? There are souvenir Hezbollah ashtrays in the souk, and you can spot the Hamas leadership racing through the bar of the Four Seasons. Its number-one enmity is clear: Israel. But that might not always be the case. The United States has just posted its first ambassador there since 2005, Robert Ford.

...

Two hundred children dressed variously as elves, reindeers, or candy canes share the stage with members of the national orchestra, who are done up as elves. The show becomes a full-on songfest, with the elves and reindeer and candy canes giving their all to “Hallelujah” and “Joy to the World.” The carols slide into a more serpentine rhythm, an Arabic rap group takes over, and then it’s back to Broadway mode. The president whispers, “All of these styles belong to our culture. This is how you fight extremism—through art.”

Brass bells are handed out. Now we’re all singing “Jingle Bell Rock,” 1,331 audience members shaking their bells, singing, crying, and laughing.

“This is the diversity you want to see in the Middle East,” says the president, ringing his bell. “This is how you can have peace!”

http://www.vogue.com/vogue-daily/article/asma-al-assad-a-rose-in-the-desert


MY HOW THE TUNE HAS CHANGED!

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Response to Catherina (Reply #1)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 09:53 PM

2. We have a history of liking our puppet dictators...until we don't.

Surely Assad was aware of this...

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Reply #2)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 10:21 PM

5. That is the silliest post I've read on DU today.

You should learn little before you speak, especially on foreign relations.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syria%E2%80%93United_States_relations
Syria–United States relations are the bilateral relations between Syria and the United States. Relations have often been tense throughout the years. Priority issues between the two states include the Arab–Israeli conflict, the Golan Heights annexation, the Iraq War, and Syria's Arab Spring protests. Snip

Terrorism
Syria is considered to be a secular dictatorship with a poor human rights record.[4] Syria has been on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism since the list's inception in 1979 and deems it to be a “safe-haven” for terrorists. Syria rejects its classification by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terrorism. In 1986, the U.S. withdrew its ambassador and imposed additional administrative sanctions on Syria in response to evidence of direct Syrian involvement in an attempt to blow up an Israeli airplane. A U.S. ambassador returned to Damascus in 1987, partially in response to positive Syrian actions against terrorism such as expelling the Abu Nidal Organization from Syria and helping free an American hostage earlier that year.

Syria has publicly condemned international terrorist attacks, and has not been directly linked to terrorist activity since 1986, as it denies any involvement in Hariri killing. Syria actively bars any Syrian-based terrorist attacks and targeting of Westerners. Instead, Syria provides “passive support” to groups it deems as legitimate resistance movements.[5] The United States characterizes this as providing safe-havens for terrorists groups, as the Syrian government allows groups such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command to operate within its borders .[6] The U.S. believes that Syria provides tactical and political support to these groups and in April 2010 condemned Syria as it believes it provides SCUD missiles to Hezbollah forces in Lebanon.[5]

OTOH, Russia-Syria relations are quite COZY.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia%E2%80%93Syria_relations
The Syrian port city of Tartus hosts a Soviet-era naval supply and maintenance base, under a 1971 agreement with Syria. The base was established during the Cold War to support the Soviet Navy's fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. Since Russia forgave Syria of three-fourths, or $9.8 billion, of its $13.4 billion Soviet-era debt and became its main arms supplier, Russia and Syria have conducted talks about allowing Russia to develop and enlarge its naval base, so that Russia can strengthen its naval presence in the Mediterranean.[4] Amid Russia's deteriorating relations with the West, because of the 2008 South Ossetia War and plans to deploy a US missile defense shield in Poland, President Assad agreed to the port’s conversion into a permanent Middle East base for Russia’s nuclear-armed warships.[5] Since 2009, Russia has been renovating the Tartus naval base and dredging the port to allow access for its larger naval vessels.[6]

Syria for the past few years has reached out to Russia to obtain modern weapons that included many modern anti-tank and anti-air missile systems that will further improve its combat capabilities. In 2008, Syria agreed to purchase MiG-29SMT fighters, Pantsir S1E air-defense systems, Iskander tactical missile systems, Yak-130 aircraft, and two Amur-1650 submarines from Russia. Russia's foreign minister said his country's sale of weapons to Syria would not upset the balance of power in the Middle East. The sales he stated are "in line with the international law" and "in the interests of strengthening stability and maintaining security" in regions close to Russian borders, Sergei Lavrov told reporters during a visit to the United Nations in New York.[7] As of 2011, Syria's arms contracts with Russia were worth at least $4 billion.[8][9] Dmitri Trenin reports in the New York Times that from 2000 to 2010 Russia sold around $1.5 billion worth of arms to Syria, making Damascus Moscow’s seventh-largest client.[10]

Economic relations
Russia has significant trade relations with Syria. Its exports to Syria were worth $1.1 billion in 2010 and its investments in the country were valued at $19.4 billion in 2009 according to The Moscow Times.[11][12] Besides lucrative arms contracts worth at least $4 billion, Russian firms have a substantial presence in Syria's infrastructure, energy and tourism industries.[8]Stroitransgaz, a natural gas facility construction company, has the largest Russian operation in Syria. In 2010, it was involved in projects worth $1.1 billion and had a staff of 80 Russians working in Syria. Stroitransgaz is building a natural gas processing plant 200 kilometers east of Homs in the Al-Raqqa region and is involved in technical support for the construction of the Arab Gas Pipeline. Tatneft is the most significant Russian energy firm in Syria. The company began in 2010 through a joint venture with the Syrian national oil company to pump Syrian oil and it planned to spend $12 million on exploratory wells near the Iraqi border.[11] Other firms with large business interests in Syria include steel pipe manufacturer TMK, gas producer ITERA, and national carrier Aeroflot.[8]

Political relations
Russia was one of two countries to vote against a formal UN Security Council condemnation of the Bashir al-Assad government for its attack on civilians in the city of Homs in February 2012. It also opposed any sanctions or intervention against the regime.[10] Russia's association with the ruling Assad family go back four decades.[10] Recently though, Russian politicians have begun to acknowledge Bashar's potential downfall, saying "An opposition victory can't be excluded, unfortunately, but it's necessary to look at the facts: There is a trend for the government to progressively lose control over an increasing part of the territory," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Moscow's Middle East envoy, said during hearings at a Kremlin advisory body.

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Response to DevonRex (Reply #5)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 11:26 PM

15. Wikipedia?...Puhleeeees. nt

 

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Response to kelliekat44 (Reply #15)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 11:38 PM

18. Assad is in Russia's debt to the tune of $4.4B in arms purchases

every year. And Russia partners with Syria for their pipeline. And has been selling them arms since 1956. The Assad family has been in power since 1971 and gave Russia a naval base there in 1972. That combined with the arms contracts wiped out Syria's debt to Russia. So you see, Assad is Russia's puppet. Always has been. Now he's Putin's puppet.

Syria never has been, and never will be, the USA's puppet. That should be obvious to anyone with a modicum of understanding of Russia and its interests in the area and a little knowledge of why Syria turned to Russia so long ago.

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Response to DevonRex (Reply #5)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 07:24 AM

22. See post #7 and if you have a lick of sense you'll delete this "silly" post.

 

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Response to Scuba (Reply #22)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 02:03 PM

23. Seriously????? Hahahahaha!!!!!!! That's all you have?

A Sabrina1 post that has batshit-nothing to do with Syria to prove Assad is OUR puppet, while I've given you actual historical facts to prove the ENTIRE ASSAD FAMILY HAS BEEN RUSSIA'S PLAYTHING SINCE FUCKING 1971.

I'm laughing so hard my sides hurt.

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Response to DevonRex (Reply #23)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 02:10 PM

26. It's not about whose puppet is who's, for crying out loud.

 

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Response to Scuba (Reply #26)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 03:28 PM

32. Uh, that's what this subthread is about. Look up.

Or is this not the conversation you thought you were having?

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Response to DevonRex (Reply #32)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 04:11 PM

34. Dixiegirl said we have a history of liking dictators. You said that was silly.

 

That's the exchange that prompted my comments.

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Response to Scuba (Reply #34)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 04:20 PM

35. and continues to say, "Surely Assad was aware of this."

If you don't understand it I can't help you.

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Response to DevonRex (Reply #35)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 04:23 PM

36. You don't think Assad knows we like dictators?

 

Or is your point that Dixiegirl was implying that Assad was our pet when he was Ivan's? If that's it, then I get it.

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Response to Scuba (Reply #36)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 04:27 PM

37. Assad was NEVER our puppet. He was Russia's puppet.

As I said over and over. Gave citations for. Many of them. Right here in this subthread.

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Response to DevonRex (Reply #37)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 04:29 PM

38. Please re-read my last post. I agreed that Assad was Ivan's pet dictator.

 

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Response to Scuba (Reply #38)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 04:30 PM

39. That's what I said at the TOP OF THE THREAD TO DIXIE.

Never ours.

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Response to DevonRex (Reply #39)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 04:32 PM

41. Yes, but she never said Assad was ours, although I can see where one might think she implied that.

 

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Response to Scuba (Reply #41)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 04:34 PM

42. Yes, she did. Very clearly. Have a nice day. nt

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 10:00 PM

3. Yeah, and then a little thing called Arab Spring happened, and Assad went apeshit

 

Attacking protesters--shooting them down mercilessly until even sections of his own military deserted him to take up fighting against such wanton bloodlust.

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 10:03 PM

4. Back then he was helping us carry out our torture program-

-what has he done for us lately? Hmmm?

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 10:24 PM

6. Catherina, have you heard of the "Arab Spring"? Did you know that Syria has had civil uprisings

 

for the last several years? Are you aware of how repressive Assad has become?

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Response to KittyWampus (Reply #6)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 02:05 PM

25. But but she posted pictures of diplomats playing nice!!!

We're supposed to believe that MEANS something!!

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 10:35 PM

7. We sure are fickle. We used to love Saddam too.

And we loved Mubarak. Biden said he was 'like a member of my family'.

And Osama Bin Laden was our go to guy in Afghanistan.

And once upon a time we loved Noriega.

And so far, we still love the Dicator of Uzbekistan.

And the dictators of Bahrain.

And the fundie Government of Uganda.

And we never stopped loving Pinochet.

We do love our dictators, until they get a bit arrogant from all that power we give them.

And then we manufacture reasons to 'take them out'.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #7)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 10:46 PM

9. And DU'ers who hated Wes Clark's guts some years back are rec'ing his speeches now.

 

I remember vividly a good number of DU'ers calling him a war criminal and defending Milosevic.

Times change.

Politics by definition means dealing with opposition.

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Response to KittyWampus (Reply #9)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 04:31 PM

40. And that is our problem in a nutshell.

A country that runs on hypocrisy and greed. Damn shame that so many are so proud.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #7)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 11:20 PM

11. we never loved them, it was always about what helped us politically, especially during the cold war

against the soviets.

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Response to JI7 (Reply #11)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 11:27 PM

16. That was the excuse. We always have an excuse. When we lost our excuse

after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the 'think tanks' realized we needed another one, as quickly as possible. So the PNAC was formulated and signed by the usual suspects.

It wasn't long before we had an even more lucrative excuse. TERROR!

And there is no chance of that ever ending, making a far superior 'enemy' than the Soviet Union ever was.

We are always at war. It's extremely profitable, for the select few.

Why do we have so many 'enemies'? Enemies area fantastic commodity.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #7)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 02:19 PM

27. Russia: $4.4B arms sales to Syria annually, 1 naval base, 1 SIGINT base,

Last edited Tue Aug 27, 2013, 06:36 PM - Edit history (1)

1 air force base in country. Also $1.1B in other exports to Syria annually.
Billions of Dollars of Russian Business Suffers Along With Syria

russian-business-suffers-along-with-syria/443078.html#ixzz2dCNCjgMc
The Moscow Times
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/billions-of-dollars-of-russian-business-suffers-along-with-syria/443078.html

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #7)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 02:28 PM

28. Indeed! Recommend.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #7)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 02:35 PM

30. +1

 

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 10:45 PM

8. It's rather in the nature of international relations that one tries to talk with others

Kerry, for example, as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee over several years, had some moral obligation to develop and maintain some expertise in the subject, which plausibly includes efforts to create relationships and understandings through cordial conversation

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #8)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 10:50 PM

10. Politics by definition means dealing with an opposition, factions you don't agree with.

 

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 11:21 PM

12. things are not always the same, people in the Arab World started to rise up against the leaders

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 11:23 PM

13. Once again DUers are astounded that the US tries diplomacy before warfare

I've never understood why that's so shocking to this board.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #13)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 11:24 PM

14. I honestly think a lot of DU'ers will be profoundly disappointed if there is no war with Syria.

 

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Response to KittyWampus (Reply #14)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 11:31 PM

17. yes, there are many hoping it happens, just like they hoped it would happen with iran

they love to play a certain game .

here is the thing, i think Assad used those weapons on his people, but even then i'm not so sure about what and whether we should respond. we need to consider whehther it could make things worse.

why can't those who oppose it have the above position ? why do they need to make things black/white and usually it's some conspiracy crap. because they have convinced themselves they are so morally superior . and saying not to respond to something like this does nto come off so moral.

so they make up things .

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Response to Recursion (Reply #13)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 11:45 PM

20. But, they took pictures and stuff!!! OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!

Puppet strings must be involved somewhere and THE FUCKING QUEEN!!!



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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #19)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 11:46 PM

21. Ah, the DU'ers who go full on PNAC. LOL! Of course for the FULL PNAC we need a "Pearl Harbor".

 

To get public opinion behind an invasion. Which is decidedly not present now. So are you predicting a terror attack?

Or maybe it's the pepsi-lite version of PNAC like Poppy's Desert Storm where we'll have bogus stories about babies ripped from incubators… OH WAIT! There are real dead babies this time.

SO maybe it's Wag The Dog- the NSA story is SOOOO damaging, Obama needs to bomb a few targets in Syria.

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 02:05 PM

24. "If we engage in diplomacy with a dictator, we must support his right to massacre his own people."

 

Um, no thanks.

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 02:30 PM

29. Recommend! It's obvious that it's Syria's alliance with Russia

that's the object of our "intervention" when it comes.

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Response to KoKo (Reply #29)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 03:27 PM

31. That would definitely be PART of it.

But if that was really what we were after we would have attacked them when McCain wanted us to, which I think was something like day two of the freakin uprising.
OTOH, it does explain Russia's anxiety. Syria's their last Arab client. Once they're gone, all they've got is Iran. So under no conceivable circumstances will they agree to any sort of action re Syria.
On the third hand, Iraq will probably wind up as a Russian ally if we attack Syria and that results in Assad's fall. Iraq won't be happy, and they're no longer ours, as most of our troops are out of there. So we'll lose that one. I don't know if they've gamed this out at the Pentagon, but it's likely someone's thought of it. It would explain the reluctance up until now - Iraq is a far bigger prize than Syria. We could make it very tough on Iraq as they can't get their ships out of the Persian Gulf without us, but I don't know how far we could carry a game like that.
So it goes in the ME; you could spend all day spinning all the different possibilities of how things would fall out over there, both with and without US intervention.
BTW, the US has told the Syrian opposition to prepare for peace talks in Geneva. Given all of the above, the most likely scenario is a limited strike that keeps the current stalemate in place. Everyone knows what a hornet's nest the ME is.

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 03:33 PM

33. Remember those pictures of Rumsfeld shaking Saddam's hand?

 

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Response to The Link (Reply #33)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 05:42 PM

43. Yes...and there was more...hopefully folks will drag out of Memory Hole...

But, still the photos above show the complicity...and Blowback is going to occur on us one day for Supporting the People we then "Take Out."

Disgusting!

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Response to The Link (Reply #33)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 05:44 PM

44. That handshake happened about 4 months after Saddam used gas on the Kurds

 

just as a point of fact red lines wise and all. People say 'not since WW1' but they are lying.

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