Thank you for the considered reply! I appreciate it. You’ve brought up many points that people have questions about and I thank you for the opportunity to extrapolate.
a/ It’s an acknowledged (if little known) fact that there have been virtually no “moderate rebels” fighting Assad in Syria since about 2013. Even the Pentagon could only find four or five moderate rebels to train by 2015. They had a 500 million dollar budget to train moderate rebels but they couldn’t even find half a dozen — and they had a lot of incentive to find them! That’s how sparse they were by 2015.
This CBS package is a very solid, very well-researched summary that uses only primary-sourced information from government sources, and it is well worth the five minutes.
So in effect, ISIS/Al Nusra/Al Qaeda and other extremist jihadist groups sidled up beside the moderate rebels in the early days and very quickly took over and made it into their own war. Heartbreakingly, they made it into a war against the Syrian citizens. They isolated them, starved them, cut them off from supplies, kidnap, threaten and kill them. This is why there were genuine celebrations when Aleppo “fell” back to Assad in December. Any anti-Assad sentiment amongst the people has long been taken over by anti-terrorist sentiment, for obvious reasons. Assad may have had his dissenters but in the balance of all things, being ruled over by headlopping Sharia law terrorists is much much worse. They just want the terrorists out and their country returned to them so they can rebuild and work out what to do from there.
We are now in a horrible situation where all efforts to overthrow Assad are only helping the Islamic State. Even worse, no money can cross the border into Syria to help the Syrian people because of the sanctions in place, so it goes straight to the terrorist groups. People who are donating out of the goodness of their heart to the Syrian people are inadvertently sending money to those who are terrorizing them.
This is of course very embarrassing for the western powers and they have done their best to spit-shine this horrendous situation into something more palatable for the viewers at home. But really — it got away from them a long time ago and they’ve backed themselves into a corner. It’s a public relations nightmare waiting to happen.
b/ Whistleblowers confirmed Seymour Hersh’s analysis as to Turkey’s involvement in the 2013 sarin attack in Ghouta in the Turkish parliament in a dismally under-reported story in Turkey’s daily paper Zazen back in 2015. Carla Del Ponte of the United Nations also said there were “strong, concrete suspicions” that the rebels used chemical weapons back in 2013.
c/ I don’t really buy the full Russian story either, but not particularly because I think they’re lying, but because it doesn’t take into account some of the emerging details. For instance, local newspapers are saying that some of the people who were gassed have been identified by the parents as the same 250 or so people who were recently kidnapped by Al Qaeda from Majdal and Khattab. They say they were taken in the vans that were seen in the footage about a week before. So what’s up with that? According to Beeley who is there right now, there are a whole lot of unanswered questions. We might even be looking at two separate events coordinated over a short distance to look like one. There’s so many unknowns at this stage, which is completely understandable because it is very early days.
But from what we know of the “rebels” which are now 95 percent or more terrorist factions, they have no qualms about attacking civilians, or making examples out of them. At this early stage, there are some truly horrifying indications that they drove the kids to the site, and the ones that were ‘helping’ them in the videos were, in fact, their killers. It’s pretty easy to put on a white helmet. You don’t need a special pass for one.
And of course there have been many attempts at “false flag” events in Syria by various factions to draw the west into a fuller commitment, and they almost religiously follow this pattern of kidnappings in the weeks before and then the event. So that’s a red flag for me, but of course it’s not the full story, and how could it be? It only just happened.
There is so much we don’t know about what happened, but that’s very normal, it’s very very early days in the investigation and it’s insane to pretend we know what happened, and we should be much more vehement in our demands for more information before acting. In a post-Iraq world, we should be demanding much more than trust and hearsay. We need evidence.
I only seek to throw shade on the western assumption that Assad did something so geopolitically suicidal on the eve of the peace talks simply because of its blatantly illogical nature.
You make the point that the peace talks might have Assad stand down anyway, and I take it but I don’t see how that miraculously turns him into a moustache-twirling comic book supervillain who just enjoys gassing kiddies for the hell of it and damn the consequences. He’s a British-educated ophthalmologist for mercy’s sake. He spent all of his youth learning how to heal people. You don’t devote years of your life to the hippocratic oath just to come out the other side with a fetish for gassing kiddies. That’s such a fantastical stretch. And you certainly don’t fear a chance to put forward your case in the measured environment of peace talks. He is well-spoken, his English is fantastic, and he is persuasive. That environment does not scare him. He certainly does not fear diplomacy so much that he would do something so freakishly irrational. It just doesn’t add up, and it especially doesn’t add up when there are much more logical explanations and people with much more obvious motivations involved. Occam’s razor demands a less tribal, less emotional and more rational investigation.
In any case, surely you have to agree that there is enough doubt here to call for a full investigation and to halt any further military action. To call this reaction knee-jerk is unduly kind.
d/ I don’t think the deep state actually enacted the chemical attack themselves. They very rarely do anything they can’t just let happen and then capitalize on. There are many assholes in the world doing many heinous things but they only draw our attention to a few strategic ones. They worked out a long time ago that they don’t have to do much other than to focus our sympathy and rage into 30 second packages and our good will takes over and manufactures consent for them.
They have done a little more than that though, in Syria’s case. This is not just a case of pointing the camera in the right direction. If you ever want to lose your lunch in disgust at what humans can do to each other, take a trip down the Erik Prince/Blackwater rabbit hole, an organization that effectively outsources the CIA’s assassinations and regime changes by funding terrorists.
And I don’t pretend to know exactly why they want to control Syria, but there are plenty of reasons why it is a strategic gain. In any case, I am a fervent believer in sovereignty and in respecting the sovereign borders of a nation state. The aiding and abetting of terrorists for another country’s gain in a civil war is reprehensible to me which is why I support the Stop Arming Terrorists Act.
e/ This sentence stood out like dog’s balls to me — “Any other option demands more bloodshed which would be acutely uncomfortable for the US now.”
The rest of your premise stands on the shoulders of that statement.
Why do you say that? As far as I can tell, the US has been united by Trump’s cruise missile strike and the mainstream media has been exultant in its praise — 18 op-eds in 24 hours, all in favor. All calls for his impeachment died off overnight even though the strike itself was unConstitutional, illegal according to international law and, wait for it, impeachable. I don’t see any discomfort at all. Trump then saber-rattled further and said there would be a further push to regime change and there was no pushback other than from the alternative media, a pocket of progressives, and the severely disappointed alt-right who elected him on this promise of ending the stupid endless wars. Other than that, it’s been one big happy family.
So I don’t understand the rest of your thesis being that that is not my interpretation of the reaction. I think the US is very very comfortable with bloodshed, it was Trump’s policy of diplomacy and appeasement that was making people uncomfortable. Since he reversed that, everybody’s happy.
That, in and of itself, is the greatest tragedy for me. I would be more than happy to be disavowed of that.
I strongly encourage you to take a look at my illuminating interview with Vanessa Beeley, who along with other badass women like Eva Bartlett and Tulsi Gabbard has actually gone to Syria, poked around and found out what’s actually going on while the propagandists stay home and regurgitate neocon bedtime stories from their studios.