Carla del Ponte’s Faux Pas

Poor Carla del Ponte – as soon as she let the cat out of the bag on the Syria “sarin gas” hoax a flurry of articles appeared in the mainstream media reporting panicked denials by UN officials and reminding us all of her past sins.

John Hudson, writing in Foreign Policy, led off with a piece entitled “UN Investigator on Syria: Out Over Her Skis Yet Again?” Did you know she once said it was her duty to investigate war crimes committed by NATO, as well as by the Serbs, in the course of the Kosovo war? Since everyone knows the Western powers never commit war crimes – they’re inherently incapable of it – her office had to “walk back” her comments.

It happened again with the publication of her book, The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals, in which the famed war crimes investigator gave credence to widespread allegations of organ-farming by the criminal gang that took over Kosovo after the “liberation.” “Appalling!” screeched the critics – not in response to the considerable evidence that the “Kosovo Liberation Army” and allied Albanian Mafia did indeed harvest organs from Serb prisoners, but in reaction to her being so impolitic as to mention it.

It didn’t stop there. She went on to say she was “shocked” by the International Criminal Court’s acquittal (on appeal) of Croatian commander Ante Gotovina, indicted at The Hague for the brutal ethnic cleansing of Serbs from the Krajina region of the former Yugoslavia – an acquittal that was clearly a political ploy rather than an act of justice. Yet more proof poor Carla is “over her skis” – because when it comes to the Balkans the politically correct rule is ignore all war crimes except those committed by Serbs.

All of this is meant to divert attention away from – and discredit – what del Ponte said in an interview with the Italian television network RIS:

“According to the testimony we collected, the rebels have used chemical weapons, using sarin gas, although the investigation is far from concluded. Our investigations will have to be further examined, tested and proven through new witnesses but as far as we could determine, at the moment only opponents of the regime have used sarin gas.”

That’s a rough Google translation. The London Independent has her saying this:

“Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated. This was used on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.”

Del Ponte went on to say that although the UN probe hasn’t seen any similarly direct evidence of sarin gas use by the Syrian government, excluding this possibility would require further investigation.

The furious pushback from the White House and the US State Department is rumored to be responsible for the “worst weather day of the week” in Washington, D.C., although the clouds parted later on when it became clear that most news editors were cooperating with the memo to downplay del Ponte’s remarks. Given the right “spin,” our spin-meisters can deal with anything.

Of course, the whole thing is completely unbelievable: who could imagine those cuddly Al-Nusra fighters – who have launched car-bomb attacks, carried out summary executions, burned churches, and set up a strict Sharia law dictatorship in the areas they control – doing such a dastardly deed as utilizing sarin gas in their holy war against Bashar al-Assad? Why, in order to believe that you’d have to believe that their allies and bosses in the top leadership of Al Qaeda would kill almost 3,000 innocents in New York City.

After all, who cares if del Ponte and her investigators have been all over this question of war crimes in Syria for months, carefully combing through the physical evidence compiled by hospitals, and the testimony of doctors and eyewitnesses? The US government, which was caught flat-footed by this sarin gas brouhaha, and has very few people on the ground, knows better: they know the rebels don’t have possession of sarin, and that the Ba’athists do – and besides, how could all these Washington know-it-alls, who pontificate daily on a country they’ve never been to, possibly be wrong?

Every once in a while, the curtain is drawn back and the real nature and meaning of the drama being enacted on the world stage stands revealed: the actors, caught unaware, are surprised: they are half-made up, their costumes are askew, and they aren’t quite ready for prime time. We must savor these moments, like a fine and very expensive wine, because they contain that rare ingredient: truth.

Carla del Ponte is one of those rare individuals – someone who takes her job seriously: that’s why she told astonished reporters she’d investigate NATO, too, if there was evidence of war crimes committed by Kosovo’s vaunted “liberators.” That’s why she pointed to the disturbing and quite extensive evidence of grotesque crimes carried out by the “President” of Kosovo, formerly a Mafia don who has ensured his country’s status as the premier exporter of refined heroin in Europe. That’s also why she let the cat out of the bag in regard to those lovable Syrian “rebels” and their use of sarin gas in that country’s increasingly brutal civil war.

Although del Ponte prefaced her remarks by saying the evidence of rebel sarin gas attacks is not yet incontrovertible, Western news editors let it be known that the UN commission of which she is a leading member is “distancing” itself from her remarks by stating that firm conclusions as to the use of sarin by either side are premature – which is essentially what del Ponte had to say in the first place. But nobody reads these stories: they just read the headlines, and the “distancing” word is key to spreading the meme that del Ponte is, well, “out over her skis” – yet again!

Move along, now – nothing to see here….

What I want to know is this: why do we have to wait until after the US has intervened, and embroiled itself in yet another bloody, unwinnable, and thankless crusade to bring some kind of order – never mind “democracy”! – to the Middle East before we learn that the “intelligence” wasn’t so intelligent after all? That the “red line” – or the “line in the sand” – were just pretexts for carrying out a foreign policy agenda unrelated to our ostensible goals?

Why not just cut to the chase and find out the truth before we jump into this latest quagmire? That way we can have a debate about the real objectives of an administration that seems intent on installing radical Sunni Islamist regimes from Tripoli to Damascus.

That, of course, is the last thing the Washington politicians and their trained seals in the DC thinktank crowd want: they would much rather debate these matters among themselves, and leave the hoi polloi “out in the cornfields,” as they say, out of it. Because, don’tcha know, Americans are inveterate “isolationists,” vulgar selfish materialists who just care where their next dollar is coming from rather than how to save the world. It’s up to the Washington know-it-alls to, well, know it all, keep the rest of us in the dark, and Do The Right Thing.

The White House is trying to look cautious – but then so was FDR when all the while he was scheming and plotting to get us into the war. The Obamaites threw caution to the winds, however, when del Ponte blew their cover, coming right out and saying: we know the rebels didn’t use sarin, when they couldn’t know any such thing.

The White House would dearly love to be able to intervene in Syria: it would shut up a lot of people in Obama’s own party who want to see some Middle East action, not least of all several prominent Democratic Senators, and the “humanitarian” interventionist policy wonks who inhabit the higher reaches of liberal foreign policy wonkdom. Intervention would also appease the Israel lobby, whose Middle East “experts” are invariably cited in what purport to be objective news accounts of what is happening in Syria.

There’s just one big problem: Obama’s political advisors are against it. I don’t have any inside knowledge of their consultations with our commander-in-chief, but all one has to do is look at the poll numbers: Americans overwhelmingly oppose jumping into that particular snake pit.

The War Party usually gets around this by conjuring up atrocities attributed to their intended victim: in Iraq, it was “he’s gassed his own people!” Of course, as Robert Fisk pointed out on “Democracy Now” the other day, they didn’t mention that the gas came from New Jersey, and that Saddam was our ally at the time. Assad and his regime have given them plenty of material to work with, but the War Party requires something spectacularly spooky and icky in order to sufficiently horrify us into going along with the program – which is where the sarin gas ploy comes in.

Ah, but there’s another problem: a morality play requires heroes – or, at least, virtuous victims – as well as villains, and there’s a dearth of the former in war-torn Syria. Indeed, the kind of person who leaves a pressure cooker bomb laden with nails and bb-gun pellets next to a young child has good reason to valorize Syria’s “rebels” – for those “freedom fighters” exhibit and epitomize the same fanatical ruthlessness as the Boston Marathon bombers, who emulated and supported their cause.

Del Ponte’s revelation that the UN investigation has unearthed “strong suspicions” of sarin gas use by the rebels upended the War Party’s carefully orchestrated propaganda campaign precisely because it is so believable. After all, we are talking here of people who regularly utilize suicide bombers, and whose fiercest (and most numerous) fighters have openly pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda. Indeed, for years the US government has been warning us that these very same terrorists are intent on deploying weapons of mass destruction in the US – but now we’re supposed to think they’d never do it in Syria?

What’s interesting about the barrage of war propaganda we’ve had to endure these past few weeks is how woefully threadbare it is: tattered and torn with huge holes in it, they’re running it up the flagpole anyway, hoping people will dutifully salute. I’ve never seen such a perfunctory job of systematic lying in all my years at this job. They’re getting awfully sloppy, and downright lazy, perhaps hoping no one will notice. But guess what – I notice. And now, so do you – if, by some chance, you hadn’t already.

All in all, it’s been a bad week for the War Party’s paid and unpaid propagandists. They could turn it around, however, by simply accepting del Ponte’s assertion and saying: See? We have to secure those Weapons of Mass Destruction before that sarin gas blows toward Israel, or before the evil jihadists – whom we’ve supported since the beginning of the rebellion – get their hands on them. Of course, this would nullify months of propaganda depicting the rebels as the Muslim equivalent of George Washington and the troops at Valley Forge, but hey, a good war propagandist is nothing if not flexible.


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Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].