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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 37,305

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We went to war in Iraq over the WRONG suspicion they had WMD, we toppled Gaddafi after he gave up


If any leader thinks we can be deterred from killing them because they give up nukes or WMD, they have been sadly disabused of that notion.

Now we aren't sure Assad gave the command to use CW but we need to punish or get rid of him to show an example to Iran and N. Korea to deter them. See how ridiculous that sounds to think we will be deterred from anything when you are on our hit list?

The PNAC has had an agenda for years and they will follow it using whatever justification they can. But really its not about deterrence. If what happened to Saddam Hussein didn't stop all of Middle East "defiance", what kind of worse example do we need to make of Syria to "stop" the rest?

Maybe it IS about causing chaos and turmoil in the Middle East so they can control whatever they want to control. It's just oddly suspicious to me how our bombs keep killing Arabs. No wonder they hate us.

So good intentions? My ass. I don't believe them anymore.

Alan Grayson: ‘They have no smoking gun that the attack was ordered by Assad’

Alan Grayson is a Democratic congressman from Florida and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He’s also one of the House’s most vocal skeptics of striking Syria. We spoke on Friday. A transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity, follows:

Ezra Klein: Let's begin at the beginning. Give me your broad thoughts on intervening in Syria.

Alan Grayson: The great uncovered story at this point is there's no practical way for military action to significantly deter the use of chemical weapons. What I'm hearing from other members is that the efficacy isn't there. There's no connection between what's being proposed militarily and what's happened. This is weighing heavily on internal discussions among members. For people who have to vote on this, it's another mismatch between means and end.

The ideal attack would be some kind of magical-wand attack where you eliminate the chemical warfare capability. But there is this practical fact that if you blow up a chemical weapon, you spread poison gas in the immediate vicinity. It's even worse than an attack on a nuclear facility: Then there's some risk radioactivity will spread. If you attack a chemical stockpile, it's guaranteed it will spread.

EK: But the Pentagon knows that, right? My understanding of the target plan is that it focuses on military infrastructure: Things like rocket launchers and runways and aircraft. In theory, the idea is this is the infrastructure that delivers chemical weapons, but in practice, it's punishing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by degrading his general military capabilities.

AG: Well, first you can see that's not ideal. Talk to people in the public about this and say we're not going to do anything to prevent a future chemical attack but do this other thing; you've lost them. But there are other problems:


If this Syria thing is really about Iran we are not getting into solely surgical strikes.

It sounds like we are potentially getting into something very very bad and long and involved.

I am beginning to think we have no idea what the administration has in store for us.

Syria: The Administration’s Attribution Failure

Reuters confirms something that I have long suggested: the government doesn’t know who ordered the CW attack in Syria on August 21st.

Remember, we’ve already had anonymous admissions that the intelligence community isn’t really sure who controls Assad’s CW; nor do they know what happened when rebels took over a location where weapons had been stored.

Over the past six months, with shifting front lines in the 2½-year-old civil war and sketchy satellite and human intelligence coming out of Syria, U.S. and allied spies have lost track of who controls some of the country’s chemical weapons supplies, according to the two intelligence officials and two other U.S. officials.

U.S. satellites have captured images of Syrian troops moving trucks into weapons storage areas and removing materials, but U.S. analysts have not been able to track what was moved or, in some cases, where it was relocated. They are also not certain that when they saw what looked like Assad’s forces moving chemical supplies, those forces were able to remove everything before rebels took over an area where weapons had been stored. [my emphasis]

And months ago, the government worried a rogue officer might launch Assad’s CW.

So on multiple occasions the intelligence community has raised ways — rebel capture, non-authorized capture on the Syrian side, or rogue officer — in which CW might be released against Assad’s wishes. Yet their case tying this attack to Assad relies on mere assumptions that none of those things have happened, even while they know the chain of command did not operate as it normally would have.

- See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/09/07/syria-the-administrations-attribution-failure/#sthash.ZuSGOo12.dpuf

Red Line: it's about Iran and Israel

So, Assad’s use of poison gas, and not Israel’s security, is the predicate cause of the current crisis. Yet there is an Israeli national security component to Obama’s request to Congress, albeit a second-order component.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel would prefer that Obama enforce his red line on chemical weapons use, because he would like to see proof that Obama believes in the red lines he draws. From Netanyahu’s perspective, Israel isn’t unduly threatened by Assad. Syria constitutes a dangerous, but ultimately manageable, threat.

Netanyahu believes, of course, that Iran, Syria’s primary sponsor, poses an existential threat to his country, and so would like the Iranians to understand very clearly that Obama’s red lines are, in fact, very red. As Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told me last night, the formula is simple: “If the Iranians do not fear Obama, then the Israelis will lose confidence in Obama.”


The Nation: Obama's Syria War Is Really About Iran and Israel

Obama's Syria War Is Really About Iran and Israel
Bob Dreyfuss on September 5, 2013 - 12:25 PM ET

The dirty little not-so-secret behind President Obama’s much-lobbied-for, illegal and strategically incompetent war against Syria is that it’s not about Syria at all. It’s about Iran—and Israel. And it has been from the start.

By “the start,” I mean 2011, when the Obama administration gradually became convinced that it could deal Iran a mortal blow by toppling President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, a secular, Baathist strongman who is, despite all, an ally of Iran’s. Since then, taking Iran down a peg has been the driving force behind Obama’s Syria policy.

Not coincidentally, the White House plans to scare members of Congress into supporting the ill-conceived war plan by waving the Iranian flag in their faces. Even liberal Democrats, some of whom are opposing or questioning war with Syria, blanch at the prospect of opposing Obama and the Israel lobby over Iran.

Item for consideration: a new column by the Syria analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the chief think tank of the Israel lobby. Andrew Tabler headlines his piece: “Attacking Syria Is the Best Way to Deal with Iran.” In it, he says:

At first glance, the festering Syria crisis seems bad news for diplomatic efforts to keep Iran from developing nuclear capabilities. In actuality, however, achieving U.S. objectives in the Syria crisis is an opportunity to pressure Iran into making hard choices not only in Syria, but regarding its nuclear program as well. More U.S. involvement to achieve its objectives in Syria will inevitably run counter to Tehran’s interests, be it to punish the Assad regime for chemical weapons use or to show support for the Syrian opposition in changing Assad’s calculus and forcing him to “step aside” at the negotiating table or on the battlefield.


U.N. Ambassador: U.S. Thought Iran Wouldn’t Tolerate Syria Using Chemical Weapons

United Nations ambassador Samantha Power spoke on Friday to the Center for American Progress, continuing the Obama administration’s attempts to win over more liberals for Syrian military strikes. In laying out a more humanitarian argument for intervention, Power spoke of all the non-military tactics the United States attempted beforehand, revealing that they were hoping the U.N. would be able to come up with a report on Syria’s use of chemical weapons that would “convince Russia or Iran… to cast loose” Syria.

Power argued in her speech that the United States has pursued every single non-military option possible with no success in deterring the use of chemical weapons in Syria. She talked about the U.S.’ attempts to work with the United Nations and what an official report might accomplish.

We worked with the UN to create a group of inspectors and then worked for more than six months to get them access to the country, on the logic that perhaps the presence of an investigative team in the country might deter future attacks. Or if not, at a minimum, we thought perhaps a shared evidentiary base could convince Russia or Iran – itself a victim of Saddam Hussein’s monstrous chemical weapons attacks in 1987-1988 – to cast loose a regime that was gassing its people.

That remark stuck out, considering what Iran has been saying recently about potential strikes in Syria. U.S. officials recently intercepted a message in which Iran appeared to suggest retaliation for any Syrian strikes on the part of the United States, culminating in what is surely one of the most amusing headlines to emerge from this crisis:

“Iran Softens Public Tone, Plots Revenge for U.S. Attack on Syria”



DETROIT (AP) — Americans are paying record prices for new cars and trucks, and they have only themselves to blame.

The average sale price of a vehicle in the U.S. hit $31,252 last month, up almost $1,000 over the same time last year. The sharp increase has been driven by consumers loading cars up with high-end stereos, navigation systems, leather seats and safety gadgets.

It's a buying pattern that began around two years ago with low interest rates that let buyers choose pricier cars while keeping monthly payments in check. And automakers have also offered cheap lease deals that include fancy options.

Add in booming sales of expensive pickup trucks, and you get record high prices.


Is there an alternative to bombing Syria? Rep. Chris Smith thinks so.

The House Republican from New Jersey introduced a bill Wednesday to set up a Syrian war crimes tribunal as an alternative to missile strikes against Bashar Assad’s government.

Smith’s resolution would call for an immediate ceasefire in Syria and direct the president to work with the United Nations to set up a tribunal to investigate war crimes committed by both the Syrian government and rebel groups in the country.

I spoke with Rep. Smith by phone about how his proposal would work, and why he was opposed to the Obama administration’s push for military action.

Brad Plumer: Tell me about your proposal to set up a Syrian war crimes tribunal. Why is this preferable to military strikes?

Chris Smith: I’ve worked on three different war crime tribunals over the years: The Yugoslavia tribunal, the Sierra Leone tribunal and the Rwanda tribunal. What I’ve seen is that if there's the political will to go after people who have committed crimes against humanity, and if you have a dedicated team of prosecutors, then it’s a non-lethal way of holding people to account.


I think I like this idea.

It makes no sense that Obama et al. went forward with no good evidence that Assad ordered the attack

It also makes no sense that Assad would have used chemical weapons at the very time UN inspectors landed in Syria.

There is something else going on here, I don't know what but there has to be more.
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