Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 30, 2013

Awaiting Obama's Climb-down

The parliament of the United Kingdom voted against a war on Syria. For now. I am certain there will be an attempt to reverse this decision. The propaganda onslaught for ssuch an attempt already started with new BBC claims (vid) of another "atrocity". Several scenes in this video seem to me to be quite obvious fakes.

The U.S. Obama so far seems to continue to want to go it alone. But the "senior officials" quoted are probably all from the National Security Council and Obama's National Security Adviser Susan Rice is the one who drove this bus against the wall. Her utter mis-management of this incident - a rush to war then retreat, an attempt to block the UN observers thrn lrt them work, presenting dubious intelligence, bad management of potential allies - will end her career within the next few weeks.

Any claim of the U.S. would attack Syria in service of some "international community" is now proven to be utterly false. Let's count who is against bombing Syria: The United Kingdom parliament, the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations Secretary General, NATO, the U.S. military, the U.S. intelligence community, the public in the United States, Israel, Turkey and about everywhere else. Even France's gung-ho Hollande is wobbly.

The "intelligence" the U.S. claims to have that supposedly shows that the Syrian government used chemical weapons is so thin that its publishing had to be moved from yesterday to the Friday afternoon newsdump today. Even that thin intelligence is based on Israeli sources which lets one doubt its integrity.

Obama is now in a catch 22. The House Republicans demand answers to detailed questions about the war Obama wants to wage that he will not be able to give. 80% of U.S. citizens want Obama to go to Congress before waging war. But if he calls Congress back from vacations to vote on a war resolution he will risk, like Cameron, utter defeat. If he does not call back Congress and proceeds with a strike he may face impeachment. He can of course stand down on the issue but will then be damaged goods in international affairs and a lame duck at home.

It will be well deserved.

Posted by b on August 30, 2013 at 9:57 UTC | Permalink

next page »

Dont forget that the alleged evidence hasnt been presented yet. That could change the situation very fast.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 30 2013 10:01 utc | 1

1) Not really, a pretext is a pretext, nothing else. Either people want to go to war in Syria or not. They don't. Obama was betting on gunboat politics. He did not get anything out of it.
Iran has tried to give an educational - lets hope they have some effect. I have no illusion this educational might only work because it is backed up by military power.

Greetings to all friends, The recent abhorrent developments in Syria once again highlight the fundamental legal, political and moral question on the utility and effectiveness of the use or threat of force to advance humanitarian causes or even national policies. This has been a constant intellectual and practical concern for me over the past three decades. A few thoughts on the current issue and wider implications:

1- Any use of chemical weapons must be condemned, regardless of its victims or culprits. This is Iran's unambiguous position as a victim of chemical warfare. But has it always been the position of those who are now talking about punishing their presumed culprit? How did they react when civilians in Iran and Iraq were victims of independently established massive and systematic use of advanced chemical weapons by their then-friend Saddam Hussein? So, it is prudent to take their assertions at face value now, particularly since the circumstances and available evidence indicate the likelihood of the use of chemical agents by extremist groups.

2-Violence, repression, killing and extremism are repugnant crimes and every actor with influence in Syria must compel the parties to come to the negotiating table. But is a threat to use force the solution? Or does it represent the paradigm and the mentality that have helped to create this humanitarian tragedy and political catastrophe?

3- Are all options really on the table as the US president repeatedly declares? Is every nation with military might allowed to resort to war or constantly threaten to do so against one or another adversary? Isn't the inadmissibility of resort to force or threat of force a peremptory norm of international law? Is there any place for international law and the UN Charter at least in words if not deeds?

4- Can one violate a peremptory norm of international law in order to punish - taking the claim at face value - a violation of law or even a crime?

5- Why in fact has the UN Charter -- and other sources of international law dating back to the 1928 Paris Accord - have prohibited the use or threat of force? Is this a wishful idealism of a bunch of lawyers? Or is it in fact a legal reflection of a political reality? In other words, is war a useful instrument to advance foreign policy or humanitarian responsibilities in the 20th and 21st centuries? Or have war and the use of force been prohibited because they lost their practical utility?

6-Have those who maintain "all options on the table" noticed what these options have brought them and others in the past 100 years? Have they examined empirical evidence of the outcome of wars in the 20th and 21st century, all of which were initiated by those who were assured that their military might will lead to "shock and awe" and a quick victory? Have they not examined the fact that initiators of wars were totally annihilated or failed to achieve their objectives in 85% of the cases?
and ...
Let us hope that we can avert another catastrophic adventurism.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 30 2013 10:37 utc | 2

National Security Adviser Susan Rice is the one who drove this bus against the wall. Her utter mis-management of this incident ... will end her career within the next few weeks.
That would be good.

It occurred to me, while reviewing some of the replays (start at 05:27) of the principals involved from December 2007, that Joe Biden might be leading the move to impeach BO'b in the next few weeks ... that's leave ole Joe in the highchair at the White House himself. Never say never anymore ...

Barack Obama

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

Joe Biden:

[T]he President has no constitutional authority to take this nation to war ... unless we’re attacked or unless there is proof we are about to be attacked. And if he does, if he does, I would move to impeach him.

Posted by: john francis lee | Aug 30 2013 10:46 utc | 3


Since when have the people/population decided when states go to war?
Another UK vote could vote in favor of war after the alleged "evidence" and UN report are put out to public.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 30 2013 10:53 utc | 4

Following up on a link from bevin a few days ago I read the memorandum presented to the parliament in the UK by the late Ian Brownlie following their Kosovo 'adventure' and found it very thorough. Even if the US constitution did not deny the potus the pleasure of following his dick ... international law provides no basis for his, or anyone other tumescent imperialists', doing so.

Posted by: john francis lee | Aug 30 2013 10:55 utc | 5

Amazing the lenghts zome people go to make sure Iran is front and centre.

Posted by: hmm | Aug 30 2013 10:58 utc | 6

Stupid France now not only say the attack is about to happen they even put a date for it..

With such threats Syria would be legal to carry out Preemptive attack on France.


I notice that too, apprently they try to drag Iran into the war.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 30 2013 11:18 utc | 7

4) People have always done that, the English (17th century), French (18th century) revolutions started with people refusing to pay for the King's wars, Russian revolution was started by Russians tired of fighting in WW1 ...
There will not be another vote with only 11 percent of the population supporting war across party lines.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 30 2013 11:24 utc | 8

Well, the BBC is in full propaganda mode this morning. Quite sickening really, the only thing BBC news had in common with FOX news was a three letter name ... now its a carbon copy. I guess the next few days will be The BBC, Sky New and others trying to make the UK general public "feel bad" about NOT 'giving succour' to Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda and others of that ilk.

Posted by: Rod Brown | Aug 30 2013 11:28 utc | 9

UK, U.N. and U.S. get jitters over intervention in Syria - CNN

Well, this is not how you prepare a population for war.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 30 2013 11:38 utc | 10

false flags can look alike: in execution and objective: here is Operation Himmler: see the similarities to OPeration Obama:

'some similarities with US efforts: 'Naujocks, who died in 1960 and who never faced a war-crimes tribunal, disclosed how he had been summoned to the Berlin office of Reinhard Heydrich, the feared head of the German secret police. "Heydrich told me 'Within a month we shall be at war with Poland. The Fuhrer is determined. But first we have to have something to go to war about. We've organised incidents in Danzig, along the East Prussian border with Poland, and along the German frontier. But there has to be something big and obvious'."
Naujocks described how Heydrich strode over to a wall map of Eastern Europe and stabbed a finger at Gliwice. "This is where you come in. The idea is that six men and yourself will burst into Gliwice radio station, knock out the staff and broadcast a speech in Polish and German, attacking Germany and the Fuhrer and announcing Poland's intention of taking the disputed territories by force."''

Posted by: brian | Aug 30 2013 12:12 utc | 11

10) The amazing thing is that everybody seems to feel they need these kind of things.

They could just say "We think it is a good idea to attack xy, because ..."

Posted by: somebody | Aug 30 2013 12:23 utc | 12

11) So actually it is more likely some faction trying to pressure Obama, not Obama planning this ... which would also explain the flawed execution.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 30 2013 12:25 utc | 13

There is an interesting acknowledgement in RT

"Punishing" Assad has yet another unintended consequence. Assad considers the civil war to be an existential one. It is very unlikely he will compromise while being attacked by NATO forces from the air. Also, key players in the region such as Iran and Saudi Arabia do not deal in half measures. Washington’s current confused policy may encourage regional players to up the ante when it comes to determining the facts on the ground in Syria. All the while, some of the most unsavory terrorist types in Syria’s rebel camp will continue to force their ideological and religious views on all they come across. This is a reality that Washington and company can’t come to grips with.

Misunderstanding Moscow’s intentions
So, what is the role for diplomacy now, and what can we expect from permanent UN Security Council members Russia and China?

Russia has warned the US about directly involving itself in the Syria civil war, correctly citing the parallels about how the Iraq war started and later ended in catastrophe for all involved (minus the profits earned by western arms producers).

There is a gross misperception about Moscow’s position when it comes to Syria. Russia is not Assad’s protector, or even his friend. Russia has a strong interest in seeing Syria preserved as a sovereign state. Any decision coming out of Washington to escalate the war undermines Syria’s ability to survive within its current borders.

On the issue of diplomacy, it appears extremely unlikely that anyone from the Assad regime will sit at the same table with those (outside) powers who have killed Syrian civilians, including children. This surely disappoints Russian diplomats. A peace plan and a post-war settlement has always been Moscow’s policy objective. Now it appears to be a dead letter.

Russia will continue to support the integrity of the Syrian state, possibly with more arms.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 30 2013 12:31 utc | 14

"11) So actually it is more likely some faction trying to pressure Obama,"

Even though the Brit Ex Chief of Defense said that an overt military attack on Syria was a bad idea, he DID lie and claim that the "Chemical Attack" was obviously the work of Syrian gov't.

Pretty clearly his main intent was to tie the Syrian Gov't to the attack

Later on he can be used in interviews, posed as a peacenik, (a military peacenik!! Like Fallon - not at all contradictory) to spread lies and propaganda

Ed Milliband can be used in the same way

"Well I was initially against a military strike, as you all know, but with this latest intelligence (from an anonymous middle eastern ally) . . . . . even I HAVE TO ADMIT . . . . "

Posted by: hmm | Aug 30 2013 12:35 utc | 15

I think "b" is right in his assessment of the political conundrum the US has put herself in. This predicted military action was already suffering from the lack of international legality. Now, with the UK parliment refusing the mandate for war, other allies fudging the action and the population in the western countries resolutely against such adventures, the administration has lost the hope for the badly needed legitimacy to balance out the legal side.

A planed military/political action with no legality, neither legitimacy, which also endure the enforcement power credibility (it couldn't have had it anyway) is doomed to fail, no matter what the decision or the outcome.

Posted by: ATH | Aug 30 2013 13:01 utc | 16

Here is Congress demanding more information from Obama: U.S. intelligence committees say they're not properly consulted on Syria

U.S. congressional intelligence committee leaders believe the Obama administration has not properly consulted them as the president engages in final deliberations for possible military action in Syria, according to congressional officials.

One of the officials said the administration's discussions with critical lawmakers, including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein and her House counterpart, Mike Rogers, had been limited to "very brief status updates."

Another official said such talks had largely taken place over unclassified non-secure phone lines, making it difficult to discuss sensitive intelligence findings or details of the administration's plans for a possible U.S. military response.

There is new poll somewhere where 80% of Americans want Obama to consult Congress.

Posted by: b | Aug 30 2013 13:13 utc | 17

It's fun to see the characteristically stenographic US MSM do a 180, eat some crow, and come around to our way of thinking.

Once staunch opponent of Bush Iraq policy, Obama faces similar path on Syria

President Obama, with Great Britain having rejected military action in Syria, finds himself on the verge of pursuing the very kind of go-it-alone approach that he accused his predecessor of using in Iraq.

Obama, though, may not even have a "coalition of the willing” at his back, as George W. Bush did, should he choose to pursue the military option in Syria. America's most vital ally, Great Britain, effectively pulled out before the fireworks began, when the House of Commons voted against military action on Thursday evening.

Thank you, thank you, Ed Miliband and congrats to Vladimir Putin.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 13:26 utc | 18

b gets a big THANK YOU too for highlighting this issue and sticking with it. MOA changed the world!(we say)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 13:28 utc | 19

"Well I was initially against a military strike, as you all know, but with this latest intelligence (from an anonymous middle eastern ally) . . . . . even I HAVE TO ADMIT . . . . "

I don't think that would wash, now. It is very doubtful that the UK would try again to curry favour from the US on this matter. Nobody in the UK has the slightest interest, in both senses of the word, in bombing Syria to boost Obama's testosterone rating and stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel's Nazis.

What has happened is that people have begun to put two and two together as in: "How come we can afford to spend millions bombing Damascus when the National Health Service is saving money by cutting off nutrition to old folk in hospitals? Thus finishing them off to the benefit of taxpayers. And freeing up cash to buy bombs. Are these the priorities we support?"

The cheap propaganda with which the war parties insult the intelligence of the people is wearing off. Remember that both the wars on Iraq and Libya were advertised as surefire ways of increasing prosperity at little expense. They were wars that would pay for themselves, people were told. Now they see that the costs were enormous and are still increasing.

The truth is that the US government is run by people who cannot express themselves except in the language of killing. Missile attacks "send a message".
Syria's "actions" need to be answered. How?
By killing people in large numbers.
That these people-Obama, Rice, Powers, Kerry and thousands like them- are mad is plainly demonstrated by their actions, and ordinary citizens are beginning to understand this.

Posted by: bevin | Aug 30 2013 13:28 utc | 20

I'm not convinced that "a peace plan and a post-war settlement has always been Moscow’s policy objective." Where has such a plan ever worked? "Peace talks" are normally a cover for those seeking victory on the battlefield. Russia knows it's going to win in Syria because the US has been unsuccessful at every turn -- why compromise?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 13:33 utc | 21

@Anonymous #1
Dont forget that the alleged evidence hasnt been presented yet. That could change the situation very fast.

Don't you think that if the US had any evidence it would have been produced by now? But it doesn't. The UK debacle happened because of a lack of evidence. The parliament expressly didn't want to repeat Iraq.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 13:39 utc | 22

Don Bacon

They are about to present it (the alleged evidence) by any day now.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 30 2013 13:53 utc | 23

This is what passed for "intelligence" in UK (the US assessment is identical). From the Aug 29 UK report:

Unlike previous attacks, the degree of open source reporting of CW use on 21 August has been considerable. As a result, there is little serious dispute that chemical attacks causing mass casualties on a larger scale than hitherto (including, we judge, at least 350 fatalities) took place.

And then, in both countries, the "assessment" that (1) the anti-government forces were incapable of such an attack and (2) only the Syria government had the weapons and delivery systems.

It was simply too much like Iraq for the Brits (including the Tories that voted against their own party leader).

And Obama? He's twisting slowly in the wind, to repeat a Watergate-era quote. And he's the boy that cried wolf, Professor Cole has said.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 13:56 utc | 24


To me the medium-term plan appears to be merely to keep the pressure on, not go to all out war. If milliband has posed as anti-war it's clear that such a zionist is not really anti-war those who actually make the decisions have decided against war right now

as pointed ot earlier, Milliband did not so much vote against war, as vote against Cameron's War. He made an alternative War proposal and voted FOR that one. So he can't reasonably claim to be against War on Syria

So Miliband can (and will imho) later use his new-found 'anti-war cred' to later help push for sanctions on Syria. He can do this because at no point did he give the game away and claim what all know is true, that "these Zio-Nazi Phone intercepts are a load of auld bollix" - so Milliband clearly is willing to pretend that the Zio-Nazi claims are real


Kerry claimed several months ago that he was gong to escalate the "Aid" provided to the NATO Mercs. A month or 2 later that "aid" had not filtered down to the rank and file Mercs.

It was becoming clear then that the aim was not to kill the Assad gov't but to seriously wound it, affecting it's ability to function but not eliminating it entirely

Now it is clear that the promised "Aid" has STILL not arrived in the hands of the rank and file ZATO Mercs

So it seems obvious that the strategy for up to now, has been to create destruction without all-out overt ZATO/ZUSA attacks.

and so far I have not seen anything that signals a major change of direction from the Zio-Cons/Dems/Labour&Conservative "Friends of Israel"

Posted by: hmm | Aug 30 2013 14:02 utc | 25

Regarding evidence, I think that the US move to downgrade the significance of Syrian evidence, to discredit the UN and to get the UN out of Syria soonest is instructive.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 14:03 utc | 26

21) A peace plan works when participants in the fight are exhausted/defeated and outside players don't see any advantage in keeping the fight up.

So a peace plan would work if outside players told the rebels that's it at the same time as exacting a price for that from Assad. The likely price is getting less and less, though there are bound to be a lot of things he is gladly willing to pay a price for.
Neither Assad, nor Iran, nor Russia are prepared to risk their alliance for any price, and that is the price the West has tried to exact.
The sooner they recognize they failed the better for everyone.
The West has worked on the cynical assumption that this war does not cost them and weakens their adversaries - the longer the better.
So the aim of the planned strikes is to prolong the civil war, the longer the better. Not being able to prolong, ie. Assad winning means the West is paying a huge political price in the Middle East. However the calculation has just changed, as Syria, Iran, Hezbollah retaliating also exacts a potentially huge price which might or might not be Israel.
Obama really can throw the dice now. Politically I do not think he can convince congress. Cameron just failed.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 30 2013 14:04 utc | 27

Oh poor innocent Israel

change the record zomebody, that one you keep pimping clearly has a scratch in it

Posted by: hmm | Aug 30 2013 14:06 utc | 28

Remember, the US administration including State has never mentioned military strikes. That has all come from Pentagon leaks. State has repeatedly said that Obama is considering all options including military. So a non-military "response" is a possibility as a US fall-back position (as I have commented previously).

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 14:07 utc | 29

Drip, drip, drip, as with water torture, the pressure will continue on Syria. As others here have stated, the game is destableization, not a full frontal assualt. Syria is all about Iran. When the "rebels" are defunded, this situation could change,but, don't look for that any day soon. Time and money is on their side.

Posted by: ben | Aug 30 2013 14:17 utc | 30

I am not sure TIME is on their side.

Posted by: ATH | Aug 30 2013 14:27 utc | 31

It's panic time -- anonymous "U.S. officials" are stepping up the leaks.

CNN has learned the United States has intercepts of conversations among top Syrian military officials discussing the chemical weapons attack after it took place last week, according to a U.S. official.

CIA/Mossad are working up the tapes as we speak. But it's a day late and a dollar short.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 14:34 utc | 32

re #24: cole is a warmongering POS; a cheerleader for the murder of Ghadaffi, a wannabe of the same for Assad, and a crypto-zionist.

Posted by: bfrakes | Aug 30 2013 14:38 utc | 33

Brown Moses claims he has all the videos and that it's the Syrian army arming the rockets (of course, they were their red berets). Just as for the rest since 2011: why would people film themselves doing that?

Posted by: Mina | Aug 30 2013 14:39 utc | 34

I strongly disagree with the attitudinizing or prophesizing of 'b' that Obama "can of course stand down on the issue but will then be damaged goods in international affairs and a lame duck at home." Obama has said repeatedly he's not 100% sure that the Syrian government was the culprit in the chemical weapons incident. Speaking of the chemical weapons incident on 23 Aug, Obama said "If the US goes in and attacks another country without a UN mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it." If Obama eventually decides the evidence isn't clear enough to hold up in a court of law (where you must not convict the defendant in the presence of reasonable doubt), it will show that Obama is judicious and sensible, and not dumb & rash. Everybody including the Russians and Chinese think the incident deserves investigation. Even the Russians and Chinese would probably vote for a strike against the Syrian government in the event of crystal clear evidence that the Syrian government was the culprit and was lying about it. If Obama decides the evidence is inadequate (which it definitely is), it will be good for Obama's standing going forward, among all reasonable people.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Aug 30 2013 14:51 utc | 35

strictly machavellian, what Barry should do right now is (A) blame it on the republicans, point out John McCains going to Syria to met associates of the lung munchers and the impossibility of helping "moderate' freedom loving Syrians surrounded by Al Queda backed brigades. (b) fire a sacrificial lamb like John Kerry. Otherwise he just slowly more leak support and crediblity for the remainder of his term and eventually become the new Jimmy Carter.

hmm 25
But what has happened is that the PM now has to go to Parliament for an authority to use the military so if Miliband becomes PM (big if) then he run into the same road block because everybody loathes him or any other PM much more than needing to beat up on Assad.

Posted by: heath | Aug 30 2013 14:52 utc | 36

35) Actually I agree, he has the political cover in public opinion. Problem however is that he would have to throw a large part of his administration under the bus as they clearly indicated otherwise.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 30 2013 14:54 utc | 37

Your reasoning can stand when facing a decision in a legal challenge. This is a political issue with power play being the operating mode. In politics it's not the truth neither justice that are the main deciders but legitimacy and credibility. In this sense "b" assessment is fundamentally correct.

Posted by: ATH | Aug 30 2013 15:00 utc | 38

Oh, the HORROR!! Some extras from World War Z forgot to take off their costumes!!!

Wow, the level of make believe in this BBC video - chortle - of an incendiary bomb which the - nudge wink - evil Assad dropped on a schoolyard full of children is almost too much to bear.

Add it to the ever increasing pile of nonsense since the false flags par excellence of 9/11.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 30 2013 15:01 utc | 39

Us ,israe, saudi, uk, french, etc have unlimited military, cash resources, experience.
They can manufacture the perfect false flag operation in great detail.
"proof" would be prepared as part of it.
Forensically finding the faults in it will be a vital task.

Hopefully this operation is by amateurs.

Posted by: boindub | Aug 30 2013 15:05 utc | 40

@Mina #34
Brown Moses claims he has all the videos and that it's the Syrian army arming the rockets (of course, they were their red berets).

Brown Moses made no such claim.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 15:11 utc | 41

The British Government's case for war amounted to 3 sides of paper and based almost entirely on "open source" information (that's youtube videos produced, approved and distributed by rebels), leading them to argue:

"There is some intelligence to suggest regime culpability in this attack."


Next stop, the US is set to reveal intercepted phone calls between Syrian officials asking each other 'what just happened?'. I don't know about you, but this certainly leaves me in no doubt..

Is the delay in releasing this an attempt to delay embarrassment, or to sex it up a bit? Maybe have some John McClane sound bites inserted?

Yippee-ki-yay, motherfuckers!

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Aug 30 2013 15:12 utc | 42

The US objective has been "to hold Syria accountable for the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons," somehow, while attacking Russia -- "We’ve seen two years of Russian intransigence on the Syria issue at the UN."

The objective has not been to work constructively with others to end the conflict. Obama merely wants to "send a warning shot across Syria's bow."

This is not a strategy that addresses the Syria conflict in its totality, a giant conflict where one side has the active and continuing support of the US and its regional allies while the other side, Syria, has the active support of Russia and Iran.

The lack of a coherent US strategy can be laid at the feet of the neophyte US national security advisor Susan Rice. It's put her boss in a giant hole, and for that she should be dismissed.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 15:12 utc | 43

Gregory Djerejian of Belgravia Dispatch, who first was for intervention, is really pissed by this Obama show: Make It Stop

Several days ago I wrote I was extremely conflicted on the question of punitive action in Syria, but no longer. I am now staunchly opposed having better detected an utter lack of true seriousness by the Obama Administration. The myriad leaks around what type of mission, the palpable trigger-happiness among some, the British debacle (they won't even have their poodle this time, the cat-calls will ring!) and the ‘shot across the bow’ nonsense showcases an Administration unready for an invigorated course correction of its flailing Syria policy. Frankly, I am astonished by the lack of seriousness and mediocrity on display. Our NSA Advisor has taken to Twitter to issue inanely faux-imperious pronunciamentos that would embarrass prior occupants of the office like Kissinger, Brzezinski, or Scowcroft, while abdicating an inter-agency coordination role that would actually bottoms-up a credible policy.
This past 72-96 hours have been a titanic embarrassment for anyone who cares about U.S. foreign policy. It appears a rush job to beat the St. Petersburg summitry on a quiet August weekend that everyone hopes will be quickly forgotten, except for the mighty 'lesson' learned. It’s worse than unprofessional and cowardly. It’s contemptible in the extreme. Make it stop. Declare the orgy of speculation and movement of naval carriers have already doubtless ensured the boy dictator will think more carefully in the future using such weaponry. Mission accomplished! Better than risking gross unintended consequences by a team that, alternatively, does not really have the stomach for the fight, or are simply not up to it strategy-wise, and in the President's case, perhaps both.

Posted by: b | Aug 30 2013 15:14 utc | 44

I vote "damaged goods" and "lame duck."

Posted by: D | Aug 30 2013 15:20 utc | 45

Somebody 27

Barry is in the same spot Cameron was yesterday. He's caught between not going to congress and being accused of acting unconstitutionally (even though those republicans would do even worse if they held the White House) or if he does go to Congress, they will seek to break him and everything he has strung together so far.(such as it is) you know sausage making and all that.

Posted by: heath | Aug 30 2013 15:21 utc | 46

Woah - Foreign Affairs(!) says war on Syria would be illegal: The Legal Consequences of Illegal Wars

So, unless the Security Council authorizes action, the United States and its participating allies would be in violation of international law in using military force against Syria. Call it what you will: “illegal” if you are frank, “inconsistent with international law” if you are a lawyer, “difficult to defend” if you are a diplomat. They all amount to the same thing: No international law supports a U.S. attack on Syria, even in the face of mass killing by internationally prohibited weapons.

Posted by: b | Aug 30 2013 15:24 utc | 47

Where does people get the crazy idea that congress wouldnt support war against Syria? Congress are one of the forces behind a war on Syria.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 30 2013 15:25 utc | 48

I strongly disagree with the attitudinizing or prophesizing of 'b' above when he says "The parliament of the United Kingdom voted against a war on Syria. For now. I am certain there will be an attempt to reverse this decision." The UK's Minister for Defense said on TV after the vote last night: "The mood of Parliament tonight was there should be no military involvement, and there will be no military involvement." -- ref. I came across a similar comment by Ed Milliband today someplace, and you can find loads of similar comments from British politicians today. There will be no attempt to reverse the decision under any circumstances.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Aug 30 2013 15:28 utc | 49


Those behind the war might prefer to have Obama broken and driven out within a year. The Saudis can build up an army to keep going after the Syrians, and then Biden can help with military force later. The war is also about breaking Iran and Hezbollah, plus, of course, pressuring Russia and China one day.

So Congress might vote to embarrass Obama.

Posted by: Ozawa | Aug 30 2013 15:33 utc | 50

Reference for Ed Miliband saying the UK's decision to not intervene militarily was not going to be reversed:

Posted by: Parviziyi | Aug 30 2013 15:33 utc | 51


I guess congress is one step above Obama in wanting war, the congress will not miss this chance.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 30 2013 15:38 utc | 52

48) I heard no sound of the Israel Lobby supporting a strike on Syria - have you?

Posted by: somebody | Aug 30 2013 15:41 utc | 53

Just read Petri carefully: Jobar IS the clue. It is one of the hottest spot since the very beginning (just trace it on Twitter: the nights demos in 2011 etc). Thanks for your work!

Posted by: Mina | Aug 30 2013 15:43 utc | 54

Really? Of course, when I read it on a smartphone screen, it makes a different effect, but still=
"I've just been sent a series of high resolution photographs showing the munition linked to the alleged chemical attacks in Damascus. "
"Over the past week I've been collecting videos and images of munitions used in the alleged chemical attacks in Damascus on August 21st. "
"The following images were sent to me today by an activist in the local area. "
"" which actual title is "Video Shows Assad's Forces Loading, Firing, Munition Linked To Chemical Attacks"
"Also note among the group men in red berets"

Posted by: Mina | Aug 30 2013 15:51 utc | 55

Ooops, it looks like it was Bandar who gave the weapons to the rebels. That's gotta hurt.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 30 2013 15:53 utc | 56

@heath #46
. . .acting unconstitutionally (even though those republicans would do even worse if they held the White House)

Wrong. Bush-43 went to Congress and had the full support of Democrats on Iraq, including Biden, Clinton and Kerry in the Senate, plus ex-VP Gore.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 15:59 utc | 57

'b' wrote above: "France's gun-ho Hollande is getting wobbly". The link goes to a site that misinterprets what Hollande said on 28 Aug 2013.

Hollande said on 28 Aug 2013: "Everything must be done to reach a political solution, but that will not happen unless the [Syrian opposition] coalition is capable of appearing as an alternative, with necessary force, notably its army. We will only achieve this if the international community is capable of bringing a stop to this escalation of violence, of which the chemical massacre is just one illustration." , ,

Regarding France I'd like to repeat an item I've said several times before on this board: France has a fundamental firm longstanding and bipartisan policy that the UN Security Council is the only authority that can authorize a military attack against a sovereign country, and that policy is self-serving for France due to France's status on the UN Security Council. What has wobbled in Hollande in recent days is his avowals of that fundamental firm longstanding bipartisan policy, but I cannot expect Hollande to jettison this foundational policy, castrating France's own power on the UNSC, for the sake of Syria issues.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Aug 30 2013 16:01 utc | 58

Ooops, it looks like it was Bandar who gave the weapons to the rebels. That's gotta hurt. Zerohedge link. Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 30, 2013 11:53:28 AM | 56
We've been discussing the original to which that article refers exhaustively, in large parts of the previous two threads. take a look.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Aug 30 2013 16:02 utc | 59


You said: "Brown Moses claims he has all the videos and that it's the Syrian army arming the rockets" which strongly suggests that "the rockets" were the ones on Aug 21. Wrong, false and counter-productive.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 16:02 utc | 60

Hollande's "escalation of violence" phrase is code-words for "Syria is winning" so we western patriots must change the balance of power, as if they could. It's simply another indication of the downfall of the West, and non-recognition of the Libya failure engineered by France.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 16:06 utc | 61

Down with Google translations!

Here you go for the typos:
While waiting for the exit of the Committee of the medical point in East Gouta, we interviewed this witness and he told us what he saw during the CW strike, and that he heard strange noises when the rockets.
(Please add end of the sentence)

‫لحظة اطلاق الصواريخ‬ المحملة بلرؤؤس الكمياوية على الغوطة الشرقية حسبي الله ونعم الوكيل فيك يا بشار (The moment of firing rockets charged chemical Ppleras on East Gouta God and yes you, O Bashar agent)
actually means "moment of the firing of the rockets charged with the chemical heads towards the Eastern Ghuta; God is our witness; in your (face) Bashar!"
(the way kimyawiyya is given instead of kimya'iyya points to an Egyptian writing this, same for the pseudo "amr musa", not a fan of the former probably but that is a common Egyptian name that everybody has in mind)

اليكم الدليل إغتنام صواريخ حرارية مضادة للطيران من اللواء 38 في درعا يتسأل الشهيد الذي قصفه الطيران (Directory you seize the anti-thermal rockets from General Aviation 38 in Daraa Atsal the martyr who bombed Aviation)
"for you, the proof of the seizing of the warm rockets used against planes, from the brigade 38 in Dar3a, interviewing the witness who was shot at by the pilot" (not sure for the end, maybe Lysander can correct)

Posted by: Mina | Aug 30 2013 16:06 utc | 62

#39 JSorrentine
Re: "evil Assad dropped on a schoolyard full of children is almost too much to bear."

Do schools really operate in rebel-held areas. Who pays the teachers salaries?

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Aug 30 2013 16:10 utc | 63

#13: "So actually it is more likely some faction trying to pressure Obama, not Obama planning this ... which would also explain the flawed execution."

It does seem Obama is reacting and not coordinating the unrolling of a plan. Of course, that looks bad but how else could it look?

This then is the defining moment of his presidency: how he responds when the deep state set him up. Strikes me that with yesterday's decision by the UK Parliament, he's getting some badly needed help from above.

Posted by: berry | Aug 30 2013 16:11 utc | 64

@48, true, but they(mostly) don't like Obama. If a Republican were POTUS, Syria would be toast.

Posted by: ruralito | Aug 30 2013 16:12 utc | 65

@my #29
FoxNews has come up with other "redline" options for the Maximum Leader.
#Beefing up the Opposition
#Buffer Zones
#More Sanctions
#Put it to Congress (what a concept)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 16:12 utc | 66

"Obama has said repeatedly he's not 100% sure that the Syrian government was the culprit in the chemical weapons incident. Speaking of the chemical weapons incident on 23 Aug, Obama said "If the US goes in and attacks another country without a UN mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it."
Posted by: Parviziyi | Aug 30, 2013 10:51:41 AM | 35

Can you not see that Barry hand-balled this issue to Cameron in order to side-step, or overwhelm the legalities? It's not a carbon copy of the Bush/Bliar Iraq beat-up but it's a good imitation. Cameron piled the bathos on a ton at a time for hours and painted every minute of delay as a mini war crime (o/wise known as the bum's rush). It was only the reminder that "evidence should proceed action, not the other way around" that restored just enough sobriety for sanity to prevail at vote time. Had the Brits voted YES, the legalities would have been quickly "forgotten" - like all unpunished USUK illegalities to date of which there are many, many, more.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 30 2013 16:17 utc | 67

"only from those who were rescued to Kafr Batna"
is correct.

It is highly improbable in the current circumstances that hostages have been brought to Damascus suburbs from the remote Kurdish Christian North East areas, or from Lattakie (not sure where I read this among other hypotheses); but so many people have been kidnapped around Damascus that you don't need that.
Possible also that there was some shelling and that the "rebels" thought it was the best way to get some attention by adding there own stuff to the apocalyptic madness (BTW, in French slang, "Jobar" means someone mad; what people start to thing about Hollande).

Posted by: Mina | Aug 30 2013 16:18 utc | 68


Yes Israel and its supporters are the main party driving towards war in Syria.
You should read the "Israel lobby" by Mearsheimer & Walt then they exposed how the israeli lobby got United States to attack Saddam Hussein, they use the same tactics today.

This lobby, they contend, has pressured the U.S. government into Middle East policies that are strategically and morally unjustifiable: lavish financial subsidies for Israel despite its occupation of Palestinian territories; needless American confrontations with Israel's foes Syria and Iran; uncritical support of Israel's 2006 bombing of Lebanon, which violated the laws of war; and the Iraq war, which almost certainly would not have occurred had [the Israel lobby] been absent

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 30 2013 16:24 utc | 69


No need to get snooty. Not every poster is able to camp out here all day. You should be glad that more and more people are waking up and the information is spreading to wider audiences. Sheesh.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 30 2013 16:29 utc | 70

Kerry is about presenting the "evidence" any time now live, obama wanted the UN team out fast, is there an attack coming days after all?

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 30 2013 16:31 utc | 71

Putin reportedly has threatened to bomb Saudi Arabia after that country hinted it might support terror attacks at the Moscow Olympics. If any nation ever needed to be bombed it is Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: Andoheb | Aug 30 2013 16:33 utc | 72

The death of the UN Charter.

Each country is sovereign to participate or not in an operation," Hollande told the French newspaper. "That is valid for Britain as it is for France."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 16:34 utc | 73

@ JSorrentine

Good point. I support you.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 16:35 utc | 74

Don 57

the difference this time is that the Republicans want to inflict a major defeat on Obama something they have been unable to do so far and 9/11 was a long time ago

Posted by: heath | Aug 30 2013 16:36 utc | 75

69) I was asking now - Syria - as in Egypt popular coup where their support is well documented ...

Posted by: somebody | Aug 30 2013 16:43 utc | 76

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 30, 2013 12:24:47 PM | 69

.. one of the best examples (if not the best) of bullet-proof prose ever written.
The Hasbarites couldn't find one chink in it. Every time they hear that essay mentioned, "Israel's" vampires weep tears of blood and gnash their fangs.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 30 2013 16:44 utc | 77

Steno pool yukking it up waiting for Kerry to speak.

Posted by: biklett | Aug 30 2013 16:45 utc | 78

More typos for Petri,
هـااام جدا || القابون - لحظة إطلاق الصواريخ من ثكنة الوحدات الخاصة نحو الغوطة الشرقية 25-8-2013 Very important: al-Qaboun - rockets being fired from the barracks of the Special Forces towards East Gouta 25/08/2013.

الصواريخ التي تطلق من الواحدات الخاصة في حي القابون بدمشق باتجاه الغوطة الشرقية (Rockets fired from special units in Kaboun neighborhood in Damascus toward East Gouta)
Note the typo in the word "الواحدات". Should be "الخاصة" = unit.
A: The translation is correct. The typo is just a typo, an extra A, or it might be that the writer has no orthography at all (Egyptian?); the second word is correct: al-khassa means "special (units)".

القابون | لحظة إطلاق صاروخ أرض أرض من الوحدات الخاصة باتجاه الغوطة (Qaboun | Launching surface-to-surface missile from Special Forces base towards Ghouta)
means= "al-Qabun: moment of firing a surface-to-surface rocket from the special units in direction of the Ghuta.

Posted by: Mina | Aug 30 2013 16:48 utc | 79

Correct me if I am wrong: the UN team has now left Syria and they didn't go to Khan al Assal? Waw.........
As Petri and Caustic Logic had it "An "operations room" in Khan Al-Assal has issued a statement demanding that the Investigators first go to Ghouta, or else they won't get access to Khan Al-Assal. The Russians say Syria is ready for "maximum" cooperation. Maybe your first suspicion among the line of "dead investigators are bad for Damascus" was spot on. --CE (talk) 11:24, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
Fascinating twist there. They are really being pushed, geographically, to this spot(s), in a palpable way that's ominous. Also, distracting from Aleppo is central, and this helps show that. Statement should continue: "if you go to Gouta first - ALL sites and there are five more we forgot to mention - and get here, alive, we promise to cooperate fully, and that if anyone gasses you here, it will be the regime, not us." --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:19, 23 August 2013 (UTC)",_August_21,_2013

Posted by: Mina | Aug 30 2013 16:57 utc | 80

kerry lies live here now:

Nothing new yet amazing.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 30 2013 17:02 utc | 81

live video on Kerry.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 17:07 utc | 82

Kerry, the new Colin Powell.

Posted by: ben | Aug 30 2013 17:09 utc | 83

Haha what a jerk kerry is endlessly try to drag in Israel's security and hate on Iran/Hezbollah.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 30 2013 17:10 utc | 84

Kerry is using the prefix "We Know" far too much to suggest they actually know a damn thing .. sounds a lot like "There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know."

He said to view the 1000's of evidence ... where? is he referring to *Rebel* video and statements?

Posted by: Rod Brown | Aug 30 2013 17:10 utc | 85

UN inspectors braved Regime gunfire?? huh?

Posted by: Rod Brown | Aug 30 2013 17:13 utc | 86

Such crocodile tears!

He said nothing new, he just keep ranting emotional nonsense and lies! I thought I was going to have evidence presented on powerpoint after powerpoint!

What he said, could have been written by Netanyahu himself all this rhetoric about Israel and he even dragged in Iran and Hezbollah into the speech shows exaclty how this possible attack is ABOUT ISRAEL!

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 30 2013 17:18 utc | 87

Steno pool clearly disappointed with very long joke without a punchline.

Posted by: biklett | Aug 30 2013 17:19 utc | 88

The fact that its Kerry doing the talk is significant. The political environment is tough now and the a political shield is needed.

Posted by: ATH | Aug 30 2013 17:19 utc | 89

Kerry the flip-flopper on his "universal values." Long after it became apparent that there were no WMD in Iraq, and that such claims were all lies:

GRAND CANYON, Ariz., Aug 9, 2004 (Reuters) - Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said on Monday he would have voted for the congressional resolution authorizing force against Iraq even if he had known then no weapons of mass destruction would be found.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 17:20 utc | 90

Memories of Rumsfeld.

"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 17:23 utc | 91

The Al-Nusra terrorists were in possession of sarin gas as far back as May of this year when one of their cells was arrested in Turkey in possession of the weapon.

Posted by: Gareth | Aug 30 2013 17:24 utc | 92

And as if by magic BBC and Sky go into overdrive to big up the evidence Kerry just presented? WHAT F***'n EVIDENCE?

Posted by: Rod Brown | Aug 30 2013 17:27 utc | 93

I dont know what is more funny, the lies of kerry or his boxed-in-rocky-balboa face.

Did you not that suddenly 1500 died of the attack, Doctors without borders counted around 350+.
Someone should make a list of all lies in his speech.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 30 2013 17:28 utc | 94

news report
Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that there is clear evidence that chemical weapons were used in Syria, as he continued to make the case for intervention in that country.

"I'm not asking you to take my word for it," Kerry said, pointing to a newly released intelligence assessment detailing the chemical weapons use.

"This is what Assad did to his own people," Kerry said.

The assessment is here.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 17:28 utc | 95

You have to give them some props trying to force this tired 9/11 BS logic on everyone again.

1) Copious video evidence of something happening

2) An explanation - no matter how far-fetched - trotted out to explain event in copious footage.

3) Proof of official explanation? Why back to #1!!!


Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 30 2013 17:32 utc | 96

"WE assess the Syrian opposition does not have the capability to fabricate all of the videos, physical symptoms verified by medical personnel and NGOs, and other information associated with this chemical attack."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 17:33 utc | 97

Thanks for the link Don ... geebus, there is even less in that report than in the JIC report .. its slightly longer ... but contains not a jot of sourced evidence? they are already endlessly repeating Kerry flapping his gums.

Posted by: Rod Brown | Aug 30 2013 17:39 utc | 98

Kerry talks BIG:
This is the way the war ends, Not with a bang but a whimper

Posted by: bevin | Aug 30 2013 17:41 utc | 99

Buck McKeon, House Armed Services Committee Chairman, and a certified bonafide warmonger (albeit Republican), has been given pause.

“There are two things Senator Kerry left out of his remarks today and last night that give Chairman McKeon pause. First, what is the military objective that will achieve the political goal of deterring Assad. Second, what legal justification will the President use? The President ought to be able to answer those questions to Congress, but more importantly to the American people, before he determines his course of action,” a House Armed Services Committee staffer said in an email.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 30 2013 17:43 utc | 100

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