"No" to Attacking Syria

by Berry Friesen (April 6, 2017)

“I’m hearing from sources on the ground in the Middle East, 
people who are intimately familiar with the intelligence 
that is available, who are saying that the essential narrative we 
are all hearing  about the Syrian government or the Russians
 using chemical weapons on innocent civilians is a sham.

“The intelligence confirms pretty much the account the 
Russians have been giving since [Wednesday] night, 
which is that they hit a warehouse where the rebels—
now these are rebels connected with al-Qaeda—
where the rebels were storing chemicals of their own and it
 basically caused an explosion that resulted in the casualties. 

“Apparently the intelligence on this is very clear. 
People both in the agency and in the military who are aware
of the intelligence are freaking out about this because
essentially Trump completely misrepresented what he
already should have known but maybe didn’t.
And they are afraid this is moving toward a situation 
that could easily turn into an armed conflict.”

                         Philip Giraldi, former CIA and DIA officer
       Member, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
                             Interviewed on The Scott Horton Show

For six years now, Syria has been fighting off foreign mercenaries funded, trained and supported by the US and its allies. With the help of Russia and Iran, the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad staved off what in August, 2015 appeared to be almost certain defeat.  Slowly since then, Syria has regained the advantage.  During the past six months, Syria has liberated its largest city (Aleppo) from al-Qaeda, regained control of the water supply for the capitol city (Damascus) and defeated al-Qaeda and ISIS fighters hidden in tunnels in the suburbs east of Damascus.

Just last weekend, the Trump Administration said the US is no longer seeking regime change in Syria and that the future role of Assad in the Syrian government is in the hands of the Syrian people.  Hurray!

So 48 hours after Assad’s big diplomatic victory, does it make sense for him to use chemical weapons to kill civilians?

Obviously, that would be the height of stupidity.  And Dr. Bashar al-Assad, the physician who trained in London to be an eye surgeon, is not a stupid man.

All of this seems to elude Western mainstream media, which have been unanimous in blaming Assad for the deaths of more than 70 civilians April 5.

Thus, Western media have dismissed the statements of Russian and Syrian government officials explaining how this happened.

Instead, Western media broadcast video clips and reports from unnamed sources in Idlib, including the widely-discredited “White Helmets,” who work hand-in-hand with al-Qaeda. There are no independent journalists in rebel-held areas of Syria; they long ago fled for their lives or were murdered.  What the media are feeding us now is pure and unadulterated al-Qaeda propaganda.*

Yet President Trump has joined the rush to blame Assad and as of Thursday evening (April 6) has directed missile attacks on Syria. **

War thrives on moral narratives.   Before a war starts, we always are given a compelling moral narrative.  And that’s how this expansion of the war in Syria has begun.

Remember February 2003 and Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech before the United Nations (UN)?  He spoke of irrefutable evidence that President Saddam Hussein of Iraq was preparing weapons of mass destruction.

It was a lie, yet the terrible war it helped launch still goes on today, fourteen years later.

Remember March 2011 and the media reports that Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi was distributing Viagra to his black mercenary soldiers and encouraging them to use rape as a weapon of terror against civilians?  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton amplified those allegations; so did Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, in a speech there.

It was a lie, yet the UN authorized armed intervention against the Libyan government in support of the rebels, which turned out to be mainly Salafist fighters, including ISIS.

Remember August 2013 and the chemical attack on civilians in Ghouta near Damascus? Secretary of State John Kerry said there was irrefutable evidence that President Assad was responsible; President Obama asked Congress to retaliate by authorizing an attack.

It was a lie.  With time we learned it likely was Turkish intelligence, working with rebel forces, who designed and resourced the attack in order to blame Assad and mousetrap Obama into an escalation of the war.  See here and here and here to read more.

Now we’re hearing a story like that again.  Once again, Salafist "terrorists" (that’s a UN designation, not mine) are the operatives on the ground, feeding Western media a story to help their cause.  This is the same group the UN documented using chemical weapons against innocent civilians in Homs in December, 2012 and in Aleppo in March, 2013. This story is already falling apart, and in time will be confirmed to be a lie.

Here’s something constructive we all can do:  email our members of Congress and tell them we do not believe what the media and the President are telling us about Syrian President Assad using chemical weapons in Idlib.  It takes only 10-15 minutes to send three emails if you cut-and-paste the first note you write into the second and third email you send.  (I timed myself.)

It's not hopeless. Already a few courageous members of Congress (such as Thomas Massie, R-KY, Tulsi Gabbard, D-HW, Rand Paul, R, KY and Chris Murphy, D-CT) are taking a stand against attacking Syria. Others will join if they hear from enough of their constituents.

Remember:  take away the moral narrative and the case for war collapses.  That’s because the empire’s survival depends more on moral legitimacy than on military supremacy.  When the empire’s stories are no longer believed, then its violence will be discredited as brutality, not justice.

It is the “yes” or “no” of people like us that makes all the difference.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*   Scott Ritter, writing April 9 in The Huffington Post, puts it this way:

"Mainstream American media outlets have willingly and openly embraced a narrative provided by Al Qaeda affiliates whose record of using chemical weapons in Syria and distorting and manufacturing “evidence” to promote anti-Assad policies in the west, including regime change, is well documented.  These outlets have made a deliberate decision to endorse the view of Al Qaeda over a narrative provided by Russian and Syrian government authorities without any effort to fact check either position. These actions, however, do not seem to shock the conscience of the American public; when it comes to Syria, the mainstream American media and its audience has long ago ceded the narrative to Al Qaeda and other Islamist anti-regime elements."

* *The power struggle in Washington between President Trump and the Deep State is now officially over.  Trump has folded, thrown in the towel and betrayed his supporters.  From here on out, US foreign policy will generally follow what Hillary Clinton would have done had she won the presidency.

Among the signs of this transition are (a) Trump’s eagerness to accept misinformation from Syria in order to abandon his priority on taking out ISIS and pursue instead regime change; (b) his elevation of Jared Kushner to ever more responsibility and his demotion of America-firster Steve Bannon; (c) the solace of having his much-loved daughter, Ivana, working as a White House advisor with an office down the hall;  (d) the recusal of straight-arrow Congressman Devin Nunes from leadership of the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Obama Administration surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition team.

We could call this “the Clinton triumph,” but by personalizing it that way we obscure who actually has triumphed:  the globalists of neo-con and neo-liberal stripe who understand the vital importance of hiding the brutality of US imperialism behind a veil of humanitarianism, multiculturalism and democracy.

So enough of Trump’s embarrassing “America First” slogan, enough of his fascist imperialism!  We now have a President moved to tears by the images of dead Syrian children on the evening news! And we will again see an America that leads the world by protecting the innocent.

I know, I know, I’m gagging too.

Who knew Lent would end this way?