Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 29, 2013

WaPo Claims "Liberal Hawks" Are Quiet While Describing The Opposite

The Washington Post claims: Liberal hawks were vocal on involvement in Iraq but have been quiet on Syria
[A]mid the burst in outside engagement, one influential group seems noticeably silent. The liberal hawks, a cast of prominent left-leaning intellectuals, played high-profile roles in advocating for American military intervention on foreign soil
[E]ven as the body count edges toward 100,000 in Syria and reports of apparent chemical-weapons use by Assad, liberal advocates for interceding have been rare, spooked perhaps by the traumatic experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and the clear reluctance of a Democratic president to get mired in the Middle East. Call them Syria’s mourning doves.
The piece than names eight "liberal hawks" who argue for intervention in Syria (Vali Nasr, Bill Keller, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Paul Berman, Samantha Power, Michael Ignatieff, George Packer) and two "liberal hawks" who argue against it (Tom Friedman, Fareed Zakaria).

How can the central thesis of the piece be true when the author finds four times as many pro-war as anti-war "liberal hawks"?

Fact is that the "liberal hawks", like their fellow neoconservatives, have been quite noisy arguing for intervention in Syria. Fact is also that the U.S. has intervened from the very beginning of the "revolution" and continued to do so by providing thousands of tons of weapons and ammunition, foodstuff as well as other secret support to the insurgents. It is also managing, not successful though, the exile opposition.

What then is the purpose of a page 1 piece in the Washington Post pushing the obviously false claim that "liberal hawks" are quiet?

Posted by b on May 29, 2013 at 6:14 UTC | Permalink


Liberals are a bunch of hypocrites criticizing Bush but not Obama!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29 2013 6:17 utc | 1

Nasrallah gave the clue - Bosnia

They are repeating the Clinton administrations' Bosnia policy - including the involvement of Croatia- just this time Iran is not involved - or is it?

Posted by: somebody | May 29 2013 6:55 utc | 2

Evidence Of Jabhat al-Nusra With Croatian Weapons

So the Obama administration is arming Al Nusra but does not want their fingerprints on it.

Posted by: somebody | May 29 2013 7:00 utc | 3

The intention of saying "liberals do not support war" may be telling liberals not to support war.

On the al-Nusra issue. Can you make sense of this strange episode.

I thought I saw a US trainer at an al-Nusra training camp in Daraa on an al-Nusra propaganda video. The signature is the khaki color tactical pants that "Craft International" operatives and lookalikes are found of wearing. I commented on the issue on our wiki here. A few hours later the video was pulled from YouTube. Makes me think Langley is reading our wiki.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | May 29 2013 7:27 utc | 4

German BND chief rumoured to have visited Damascus
ARD is Germany's state owned television - they report a rumour only if there is an official reason for it

Let's assume Damascus did arrest German Jihadis - Germany's courts presumably cannot lock them up for what they did in Syria. That applies to the "authorized Jihad" of all European countries.

So in the future, Europe will own militarily trained Jihadis in its suburbs with nothing much to do ...

The BND officially has come clean with the fact that 200 members of the Caucasus Emirate live in Germany ...

Jihadi groups can be infiltrated and used by any party in any conflict, for some reason the history of the Syrian (and Libyan) conflict mirrors the Chechen wars.

Posted by: somebody | May 29 2013 8:10 utc | 5

I guess liberal hawks will have to be muted if they do not wish to get completely discredited:

The Bosnia trail: interview in Der Spiegel with Ali Hamadi on his time fighting for Al Qaeda in Bosnia

Hamad: Al Qaeda in Bosnia was not interested in protecting Muslims but in akquiring a base like the US running bases worldwide. Some Western leaders realized this, however did not do anything about it ...

The Bosnian army and our units were supplied with armaments from Iran despite the embargo.

Spiegel: The Haague tribunal wants to know from you whether the Mudschahiddin who were known for their cruelty, were commanded by Bosnians.

Hamad: In 1992 Mudschahiddin travelled en masse in the direction of the Balkans.The route went via Zagreb, Split and from there via Mostar to Bosnia. Croatians and Bosnians let us pass. Who wanted to akquire a Bosnian passport got it, we mostly used wrong names for that. We were supported by the political and military leadership in Sarajewo and were immune to the Bosnian police.

Spiegel: There were no protests against your fighting methods?

Hamad: Of course we were cruel. Al Qaeda demanded to torture the enemy to saw him to pieces with chain saws, to massacre with knives. Though officially we were commanded by the Bosnian army, our conditions were accepted. No Bosnian general was allows to give commands to us.

Spiegel: Against the Dayton peace agreement foreign fighters remained in Bosnia as sleeper cells for future terror attacks on the European continent.

Hamad: The Bosnian leadership gave us Bosnian passport and advised us to marry Bosnian women so that we could remain in the country. Many members of Al Qaeda joined humanitarian organisations and could stay that way ...

Iran and Hezbollah must own some interesting documentation, the Haague tribunal is still at it...

Posted by: somebody | May 29 2013 8:40 utc | 6

add - Ali Hamadi -

the route went via Frankfurt ....

Posted by: somebody | May 29 2013 8:59 utc | 7

'American military intervention on foreign soil'

note the language...the US never 'invades' it merely intervenes'

imagine the media language if Iran was to 'intervene on foreign soil' the US's!

Posted by: brian | May 29 2013 9:18 utc | 8

slaughtering [1] to a new world order
via those wonderful *ngo*s !

Posted by: denk | May 29 2013 10:32 utc | 9

"They worry that Obama is sending the message to dictators that brutality will go unchecked and that he is ceding the battlefield to the United States’ more strategic enemies, including Iran. The advocates worry that Obama’s blurring of red lines over the use of chemical weapons weakened American credibility and moral authority and reduced any chance for a diplomatic solution."

It's this exact kind of nonsense that Obama SHOULD be ignoring. This is the same rationale that has always lead to disaster - the "domino effect" has become "sending messages to dictators".

What people seem to be missing is that the world is no longer subject to the whim and will of the United States. Gone are the days when the US could get by on a combination of goodwill and a preponderance of force. The Kennedy axiom: "We we will" doesn't apply any more. The world is pressing back and doesn't intend to let us have our way because the US has shown itself to be self-centered, unreliable, and aggressive.

All of these best laid plans will not come to pass, anymore than they did in Libya. Now, that might be okay for the neo-cons who don't care at all about the state of the world or the people in it, but for the supposed "Liberals" it seems that maybe they're just being smart about what is involved here. Unfortunately the game here is clear... use the intellectual class to pressure Obama into doing something that is not only stupid, but also against the will of the American people.

These excuses for war are all lipstick on the fattest, dirtiest pig around. Let John McCain kiss it if he wants to - the rest of us say NO WAY.

“The intellectuals are groping,” Nasr said. “They know where they were before is not probably right, but you don’t have a clarity of what we are going to do as a country.” Maybe it's just time to admit you're a bunch of idiots perhaps? Maybe if the "groping intellectuals" were to start to ignore their own precious, self-important musings and pay attention to the democratic will of the American people they might get a little "clarity."


None of the people mentioned would be considered "liberals" by any definition except for the perverted and dysfunctional political system of the USA.

"[E]ven as the body count edges toward 100,000 in Syria and reports of apparent chemical-weapons use by Assad"

Even with all the fake propaganda, they still don't buy it (except for that most of them do...) Go figure.

Posted by: guest77 | May 29 2013 12:50 utc | 10

I shouldn't be too critical. The fact that the USA isn't full-on militarily involved in Syria is a major accomplishment in itself.

Whoever is responsible for this spell of sanity certainly deserves some appreciation.

Posted by: guest77 | May 29 2013 16:00 utc | 11

The only reason USA isn't elbow deep in Syria is cuz we've been spanked. We're spread too thin, we're outta money and our troops are killing themselves. America is hobbled we don't want to fight, we can't fight cuz we will lose. It's true, we kept fighting in 'Nam cuz we had tons of money and we could pour young lives, equipment and treasure into that black hole of a country. A waste, a total waste. Clinton only engaged in air strikes in the Balkans and Mesopotamia. Why?!!! Cuz it was cheap!!
When the Somalis started rising up during the black hawk down incident. No war was declared, a limited action to place and that was it. Clinton wanted to leave a legacy of a surplus and he knew that throwing the country into war would destroy that.
Bush sits in the Oval Office, he has a surplus, he's got this beautifully rebuilt military, a stable prosperous country and a terrorist incident. He could have either engaged in a limited police action caught and tried Osama Bin Laden, avenged our mudered fellow citizens and rode of into the sunset. Or he could hurl the military power of the USA and smash Iraq and Afghanistan, attack 5 countries in 5 years.
Now Odummy is aware that a war will destroy America. That's why he's holdin back. No principles, no ideals just dollars and cents.

Posted by: Fernando | May 29 2013 17:58 utc | 12

This article is all about the Israel Lobby, yet neither Israel nor its American lobby is mentioned once. On the front page of the reliably neocon WaPo, Jason Horowitz profiles former Obama official Vali Nasr who is peeved that Obama didn't swallow his advice whole. Not only are the Republican Israel Lobby pundits (neocons) calling out the Democratic Israel Lobby pundits (liberal hawks), some Democratic Israel Lobby pundits are calling out their fellows (even those who still agree with them) for not being vocal enough often enough. If they would just pick up the tempo of their drum banging, Obama would finally follow their parade:

“I am not the first or the only person who has wanted to know the views of the American writer who has done more than anyone else in recent years to emphasize the humanitarian responsibility of democratic countries in the face of giant massacres — namely, Samantha Power,” Paul Berman, an essayist and author who has been a consistent voice for intervention, wrote in an e-mail.

Power, who declined to comment, is being vetted for the position of undersecretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights at the State Department, according to several sources. She is said to be acting behind the scenes to build support for intervention in Syria. But given Obama’s apparent lack of interest — he told the New Republic that a humanitarian crisis in Syria alone does not justify U.S. military involvement — it is not clear whether having Power in the administration is as useful as having her as a clear voice outside it.

Other left-leaning supporters of previous interventions haven’t exactly been taking up the slack.
George Packer, one of the most compelling voices for humanitarian intervention in Iraq and elsewhere, argued in the New Yorker that as much as Obama may want to pivot toward the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East requires his prolonged engagement. Since then, Packer has remained mostly silent, saying that Syria is not his area of expertise.

In an e-mail, Michael Ignatieff, a Harvard professor and author whose writing is said to be influential in the administration, wrote that he and others “have been saying something must be done and something can be done.” But fellow advocates of intervention said they wished Ignatieff would say such things in more prominent arenas so that the president might hear.

If Powers is being vetted for "undersecretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights at the State Department," won't she be in a position to use all of those "Democracy Building" institutions and NGOs at State to foment color revolutions and implement regime change across the world, including Syria? Why would she want to go out on a limb before she gets confirmed?

George Packer pimped Vali Nasr's book and viewpoint in his puff piece on Hillary back in February. But obviously, Packer hasn't been banging the war drums often enough since then; so he has to be prodded to do his part in the effort, even though war weary citizens -- especially Democrats -- are becoming more and more skeptical about the Syrian opposition.

Most telling that the underlying issue about Syrian intervention is about what the Israel Lobby wants is that, while the influence of "realists" within the administration is bemoaned, the only "realist" quoted is Stephen Walt (co-author of "The Israel Lobby"):

Even the former liberal hawks who have changed their minds have noticed that many of their one-time compatriots seem mum.

“However one feels about these issues, as a public intellectual you owe the public your best thoughts on it,” said Fareed Zakaria, who said the historical lessons of Iraq led him to oppose intervention in Syria. “I’ve tried to be as honest and open about my reservations about it.” He suggested that perhaps his fellow liberal hawks have been “somewhat chastened by the Iraq experience and relatedly how Afghanistan has turned out.”

The development has pleased traditional foreign policy realists, who applaud Obama’s reluctance to be drawn into the conflict.

“If you have a constant drumbeat in the op-ed columns and on the talk shows and inside the journals of opinion,” said Stephen Walt, a Harvard professor and leading realist thinker, “there are going to be some people within the administration who get influenced by it.”

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | May 29 2013 18:49 utc | 13

The republicans are a bunch of hypocrites criticizing Obama but not bush!

Posted by: Kanzanian | May 29 2013 19:26 utc | 14

And the most obvious hypocrisy of the US administrations re: the Middle East: Intervening in Syria is a MUST DO, but intervening in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory granted them by the UN and their apartheid treatment of Palestinians? Meh.... Too difficult, so just give the Israelis what they want.

Posted by: jawbone | May 30 2013 12:56 utc | 15

@ 14 -- And many Dems are "are a bunch of hypocrites criticizing" Bush but not Obama!

Obama just may be the better bamboozler.

Posted by: jawbone | May 30 2013 12:58 utc | 16

"In an e-mail, Michael Ignatieff, a Harvard professor and author whose writing is said to be influential in the administration, wrote that he and others “have been saying something must be done and something can be done.” But fellow advocates of intervention said they wished Ignatieff would say such things in more prominent arenas so that the president might hear..."

Those surprised by the fanatical zionism of the Harper government in Canada should consider that Ignatieff (whose father, from a white Russian Tsarist courtier family, claimed to be the author of the North Atlantic Treaty) was the leader of the "opposition" Liberal party which almost disappeared under his illiberal and uninspired leadership. He is a political "typhoid Mary."

Posted by: bevin | May 30 2013 16:29 utc | 17

..."typhoid Mary." Syria is lucky to be the object of his anger.

Posted by: bevin | May 30 2013 16:30 utc | 18

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